We flew into Belfast International Airport and rented a small car, circling the northern half of the island. Driving in Ireland proved to be an adventure, not just because the steering wheel wasn't where I typically expect it, nor just because the traffic flowed in a direction that seemed counter intuitive to me. The windy narrow roads encourage creative driving and a certain amount of faith and good luck, further compounded by the Irish tendency to park anywhere and everywhere that's convenient for the person parking. Having the car did give us the freedom to explore at our rapid pace, always in a bit of a hurry as there was far more we wanted to see than we really had time for.
We followed the coastline through Northern Ireland, then headed down the west coast into the Republic of Ireland through Galway into Doolin from some traditional music. We explored a couple of caves, and got as far south as the Cliffs of Moher, offering a spectacular view. We then cut across the center of the country and headed east into Dublin from where we flew back to England.
My original plans to fly to New Zealand changed, evolving into a trip through Europe visiting friends. Jamie still had a few more weeks off from school, so we planned a quick trip to Ireland via England. We landed in Manchester and stayed a night with one of her friends, then set off on a far-too-rushed train journey to a few locations around England. We whizzed through Stratford-upon-Avon to visit Shakespeare's birthplace and final resting place, then continued down to Salisbury to see the Stonehenge. Finally we headed through London up to Ipswich to visit friends I'd met years ago when working in Florida.
With the current exchange rate of two British Pounds for ever American Dollar, the country proved far more expensive than I'd quasi-planned. In addition, the time required to travel by train was greater than we'd expected, cutting into our time to actually enjoy the destinations. In spite of that, the whirlwind trip proved to be a lot of fun.
I flew into Sacramento and rented a car, driving up to Chico to pick up Robyn. Together we headed down to La Selva Beach to hang out with Austin for the weekend. We enjoyed hanging out for a couple brief days, hiking through Redwoods and learning to surf on the beaches south of Santa Cruz. Austin grew up in these parts, and it turns out he's a very patient, excellent teacher. The water was freezing, but our wetsuits made it tolerable. Our second night in the area Austin had to work, so Robyn and I set up a couple of tents on the beach in front of his place, enjoying a spectacular sunset and a fantastic fire-cooked meal of Tuna steak and vegetables. It all made for a very enjoyable weekend.
While working in San Francisco I got a call from a cousin that I was expecting but not looking forward to, telling me that my grandmother had passed away. She'd taken a quick turn for the worse in the past week or so, suffering a major stroke and fighting pneumonia and a relapse of cancer, the latter which she'd survived once already 30 years earlier. My mom was enroute from Alaska to McMinville, and I'd been planning a visit myself in a few days hoping for one last chance to say goodbye.
I stayed in the Portland area along with my mom at her youngest brother's house. We spent much of the visit packing up my grandma's stuff, moving her out of the home we'd moved her into not that long ago. It was a strange feeling to be surrounded by all her stuff filled with memories of the past, realizing it was the last time I'd be surrounded by all her photo collections and all the things that I'd associated with her for as long as I can remember. She was my last living grandparent, and the one I'd gotten to know the best by virtue of being an adult while she was alive. For years I'd been calling her on the telephone once every week or two and visiting once or twice a year, as often as I could pass through Oregon. I try and not think back on the weeks I didn't call when I should have, happy that I got to know her as well as I did.
I flew into the San Francisco area to attend the 2007 OSCMS Summit, hosted by Yahoo! at their Sunnyvale campus. I originally got started using Drupal in 2002 when the creator, Dries Buytaert, contacted me regarding the scalability problems I was experiencing trying to run KernelTrap on PHP-Nuke. I quickly became a fan of the code base and the developer community. Over the years I've been an active developer myself, and now even make a living writing and maintaining Drupal code. It's been exciting to watch what started as a humble open source project develop into vibrant and rapidly growing community.
After the conference I was one of five speakers at the Performance and Scalability Workshop which raised $5,800 for the Drupal Association. It was an honor to speak along with Drupal creator Dries Buytaert and other Drupal luminaries such as Matt Westgate and James Walker.
While in California I stayed with my old high school buddy, Leif, and his wife, Erika. It was great to get a chance to catch up over various fires in their backyard in Berkeley. They're expecting their first child in August, so I'll have to be sure to make my way back to the area in the fall.
Six months have passed since I sold my house of 3 years in Margate and left South Florida, my home of 7 years. I'd been missing my wonderful neighbors who'd become a big part of my life, especially Matt and Joe who'd visit most every day after school and on the weekends. I also got to visit with John and to meet his new love, Katie, happy to see that life has taken a wonderful turn for the better for him. I also hung out with Tim and Stephanie who sold their house and are eying new states to possibly call home.
St. Augustine was only five hours north, so I couldn't resist a road trip to visit Jamie for a few days. It was too short a visit, so she accompanied me back down to Florida for the last few days before I headed out to the west coast. I didn't have time to visit everyone I'd have liked to, but I was happy to see everyone that I did. It was nice to be back, and very nice to be warm again.
I spent the first part of March in New York City meeting "the friend of a friend" whom I'd been emailing off and on for a few months. She and I had each ended a long term relationship at about the same time, and a mutual friend quickly suggested that we were similar people and should get in touch with one another. Our friendship was nothing more than very infrequent emails for many months, growing in regularity as time passed. Jamie is getting her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University Of St. Augustine in northern Florida, and with her spring break approaching I suggested that we meet each other somewhere not in Florida. We selected New York City, the reason for my visit to this metropolis.
As our mutual friend had suggested, we very much hit it off. Enough so that I've been very neglectful of other aspects of life, such as work and maintaining KernelTrap. Our three days in New York turned into a little over a week thanks to Jamie doing less than perfectly on a final that earned her an unrequested two month break from school. It was only the beginning of what's proved to be a whirlwind of fun and distraction, and ultimately a new relationship.
After Jamie returned to Florida, I stayed in the city a few more days to catch up with Micah, an old friend and fellow out-the-roader, and his girlfriend Sam. We all stayed up far too late each night talking, laughing, and seeing awful movies. All in all, it was an amazingly fun time.
I was very excited to get to Craig, not just to see Josh and Shelby, but to see my niece, Greta, again. I ran into the living room with a huge smile and walked right up to her as friendly as could be. She took one look at me and totally freaked out, crying and turning around in her mother's arms to try and get away from me. I was heartbroken. Fortunately this proved to just be a phase, and within a few hours we were good friends again. Unfortunately she had recently gotten sick, as everyone would during the week and half I was in Craig. Josh and Shelby keep a busy schedule, and I diligently rose at 6am each morning to accompany Josh to school and get some work done myself. Shelby teaches half time in the mornings, and then spends the rest of the day with Greta, a full time job and then some.
For most of my visit, Greta was pretty miserable from being sick. She was restless, breathing loudly through her nose, and complaining frequently. My final day in Craig, however, she started feeling well again and was a totally different person. She entertained herself on the floor, nearly able to crawl, and would happily be held without complaining. I even got a chance to feed her, though more of the food ended up on the two of us and everything in between rather than being swallowed.
On my way south from Haines, I visited in Juneau with my good friends Keri and Ajax for a few days. We took in a local opera, played around on the wintery streets on bicycles, and generally just enjoyed ourselves. I then caught the fast ferry to Sitka, the trip taking an impressive 4.5 hours, a very fast, beautiful ride.
In Sitka I stayed with my friend Bill on his sailboat, the Remedy. My first memories of Sitka are from visiting it as a kid to attend the Sitka Fine Arts Camp on the Sheldon Jackson campus many years ago. More recently I also spent a couple months there winter commercial fishing for King Salmon. It was nice to see the town again, and to hang out with Bill who's hard at work building a new clinic for his physical therapy department at the hospital.
I arrived in Haines shortly before Christmas, spending the holidays with my parents at their farm 37-miles out the highway. After 7 years of living in South Florida, any snow seems like a lot of snow, but this really was a lot of snow. They've had over 20 feet fall out of the sky already this winter, and with many winter months still to come it looks like it's going to be a dramatically record breaking year. Through Christmas until New Years involved hours every day of moving the white stuff with my dad, making paths to the animals and clearing buildings so they wouldn't collapse under the ever growing weight. Perhaps the extra exercise sufficiently counteracted the extra eating I was doing thanks to being spoiled with mom's home cooking -- all my favorite dishes, many multiple times (including potato salad four times, my personal favorite).
I'd lived at 37-mile alone for three years about a decade ago, so it was familiar country. I got out snowshoeing as much as possible with friends, visiting with wonderful neighbors, and simply taking in the impressive beauty of the area.
On July 31st, 2006, my niece Greta Lauren Andrews was born weighing 7 pounds 7 ounces. I'd been planning to get up to Craig ever since to meet her, and finally made it for Thanksgiving. With her heart-stopping smile she was even cuter than I'd been told, and the first infant I've felt comfortable holding. One of the highlights was when I carried her to a winter bazaar and she fell asleep, somehow relaxing and comforting to have an infant asleep in your arms.
I visited Josh and Shelby and Greta for a few weeks, the first couple staying with them on their 32' sailboat along with two dogs. Not a lot of space, but we all managed to get along fine. The third week we moved into a house sitting gig. I went up to the high school where my brother teaches each day to take advantage of the high speed internet, getting some work done. Prince of Whales is a pretty island, somewhat surprising considering all the clear cutting that's happened there. All in all, an enjoyable visit, I'm already planning to head back and see how much Greta has changed in a couple of months.
From Hollywood I jumped on I-5 and headed back up to Chico to catch a Lou Reed concert with my friend Robyn. The concert was good, just Lou Reed and two bass players, performing lots of slowed down covers of his old Velvet Underground songs as well as many from his more recent Magic and Loss and The Raven albums. The concert included accidental side shows, to one side of us a man snored through the whole concert then commented at the end how good it was, and to the other side a couple argued and ultimately ended their relationship with the woman storming out and the man just shrugging his shoulders and staying for the rest of the concert.
Earlier in the day we drove up to Lassen Volcanic National Park, but at the gate we were told there had been some slides and the road was blocked off within a mile from the entrance. We went in as far as the "Sulfur Works", then followed a trail up above the snow line.
My drive down Highway 1 ultimately led me to Los Angeles where I visited my cousin who is an up-and-coming television star, Eric Millegan. The day I arrived he had some time off, so we enjoyed ourselves wandering around and catching up. That evening we went to the grand opening of the Original Penguin along with his friend Ben Blair, a bizarre red-carpet affair at a Hollywood clothing store where I literally ran into Lindsay Lohan and rubbed shoulders with Paris Hilton, attended by dozens of other Hollywood stars generating excitement but whom I wasn't familiar with. From there we ended up at a casino playing Texas Hold'em where I quickly lost my $40, as did Eric, while Ben turned his into a couple hundred.
The following day I accompanied my cousin to work at Fox Studies, spending the entire day on the set of Bones. I got to spend quite a bit of time with the entire cast and crew, all of whom turned out to be exceedingly friendly and accommodating. Being the guest of one of the main actors, I was made to feel a bit like royalty. I was particularly impressed by Emily Deschanel, T.J. Thyne, and Tamara Taylor, all of whom spent quite a bit of time talking with me and even hugged me good-bye. I also spoke at length with the show's creator, Hart Hanson, who seemed quite nice though was obviously the top of the pecking order. The other big name I met that day was David Duchovny from the X-Files, who had directed the previous episode of Bones and was on-set to finish up one last scene.
Celebrating the new year, the KernelTrap.org theme has been updated to a new and improved look. The Drupal software that manages the website has also been upgraded to a newer version. If you run into any problems with the new website, please post a comment here or send me an email. Improvements to the website will continue to be implemented in the upcoming weeks.
I was surprised this morning to check my email and get only a handful of emails -- the lack of spam should have been a give away that something was wrong as usually I have to download between 300 and 500 spams per day. As the day went on, and mail slowed to a ridiculous trickle, I finally got suspicious and found that it wasn't possible to resolve the kerneltrap.org domain on the Internet. (I didn't notice right away locally as I have it hard coded in my /etc/hosts file) Connecting to my DNS provider's website I learned that for the first time in the five years I've used Zone Edit both servers hosting my DNS were down. The result being that http://kerneltrap.org/ was inaccessible for much of today.