Kiddo test services

After having a one-year-old in the house for a few days, I can safely say that if you want to test an electronic device, just hand it to the kid. They will press buttons in sequences the designers never considered. In about one minute Jesse unlocked my phone, started up the camera and the flashlight and was well on his way to deleting data. If I had known this while I was working, I could have saved a lot of money on software test services.

Yesterday we visited the San Diego Zoo for the first time in a couple of years, and they’ve definitely used the COVID break wisely. New paths, new exhibits – they’ve upped their game and it was already world-class. We visited on a cool morning and the animals were out and active. Great day with some great pictures, a few included here. Have a hippo.

People watching at the zoo was also…interesting. It’s amazing what folks consider appropriate clothing for a day at the zoo. I saw several couples that were pretty obviously walking reality shows – psychedelic clothes and hats, micro dogs on bejeweled leashes, inappropriate tattoos, oddball shapes and sizes – there are definitely some stories there. I guess I’ve lived a sheltered life.

Feels like old times

At the RB Inn today for a strategy and team building session with one of my companies. Feels like old times – conference rooms, catered meals, writing shit on big pages pasted on the walls. This wasn’t one of the things I hated about corporate life, so it’s not too bad.

Summer daze

It’s only been 24 hours since Em, Greg and the boys got here. We’re already having a great time. Swimming pools are the perfect vehicle for spending time with kids and keeping everyone happy. In the picture below me, Greg and the boys are enjoying a classic sunny Socal day in the pool.

I think even the pool is happy to have some kids playing in it.

To err is human, but to really screw things up you need a computer

Southwest Air had a bad day yesterday. Some of the most weird and egregious reservation system errors I’ve ever seen.

I had booked flights for Emily and the family to come to Socal using accrued reward miles. We did this back in January. On the same day that we booked their three seats, we changed the flights to a better schedule. SW confirmed the change and we’ve just waited for six months for the travel day.

Yesterday when she checked in SW had moved them back to the original, less desirable flights. I called SW to get it fixed, and after a loooong delay on hold I talked with a nice reservations agent who “fixed things”.

The new reservation message I received had the right flights for the three of them, but the confirmation also listed three other random people (!) attached to the confirmation number. WTF? That’s something I had never seen before.

After another long on-hold period, the reservation agent sent a third confirmation message, this time without the strangers. She couldn’t explain what had happened.

Today, when Emily and family got to the boarding gate, it turns out SW had overbooked that flight by SIX people. I’m pretty sure I know which six people caused the overbooking. Fortunately, the family was able to board and are in route – I suppose SW had to pay some big rewards to get six people to volunteer for other flights.

My theory about all this is that during the recent SW computer problems, some reservation system databases got improperly “restored”. They lost some transaction data and they remapped our reservations to the old, original flights. For a mature OLTP system like Southwest’s, that’s a pretty big error. If I were the CIO I’d be looking into how/why this happened.

And the mapping of random people into an incorrect confirmation number…that’s even worse. Moral of the story – after an airline announces they’ve had computer problems, always check your future reservations to make sure they’re still intact.

Update, several hours later. Yikes! This USAtoday article says that SW just cancelled a boatload of flights this weekend. We were very lucky to get the family en route and on time. Southwest’s scheduling and operations woes continue.

Baby proof

Because the grandsons are coming to visit (yay!), today and tomorrow are baby-proofing days. Plastic plugs into electrical outlets, childproof locks on exterior doors, corner cushions for tables and hearths. The toughest problem is how to keep Jesse from walking/crawling off the back deck, where we expect to spend a lot of time. The vertical bars are just a little too wide. So I think I’ll use some rope, weave it across the wood slats and create smaller openings.

Lots to think about with little ones in the house. But worth it. Jeese pictured above really happy about his slice of pizza.

Handy

I had a handyman day yesterday – I did some carpentry, some plumbing and some engine maintenance. Each project went well. For once I had all the tools I needed and just got the job done.

The engine maintenance was the one most likely to cause problems. My Stihl 350 backpack blower wouldn’t run any faster than idle, so it had been sitting unused for a few weeks. OK, maybe months. But after consulting The Google, I found this video of a guy who showed how to fix the most likely culprit – a clogged spark arrestor. To fix this, you have to take the blower apart a bit. Normally this would be the source of infinite frustration and error, but Stihl has made the device very serviceable. The most fun part was torching the arrestor, which is really only a wire mesh filter. It was clogged with gummy oil and carbon, so a blowtorch cleaned it up in a few minutes. With a satisfying secondary burn of the hydrocarbons, I must say.

Even so, I was surprised when I reassembled the blower and it started up perfectly and went full throttle. My ex father-in-law told me once that it was a great thing that I had gone to college and made a living with my brains, because “…if you had to make a living with your hands you’d starve to death”. He was famously blunt. For once I proved him wrong.

Back to Hawaii

Here we go again with WordPress. I just spent 15 minutes trying to publish some Hawaii pictures, and WordPress promptly took my effort and coughed up a hairball. Arrgh. Second try…

I realized I haven’t published many pictures of the recent Hawaii trip. So here are a few that I like.

First, one of many epic sunsets from the western side of The Big Island.

Next, a pack of green sea turtles lollygagging on a black sand beach.

And from the eastern side of the island near Hilo, a nice shot of Rainbow Falls via the 50-230mm zoom lens.

Finally, a Mars-scape atop Mauna Kea with lots of astronomical toys. The pictures don’t do justice to the extreme weirdness of that place.

It was a good trip for photos; I got a lot of great shots. Still sorting through them.

A hint of a promise

Miracle of miracles, it rained in Socal last night. Unfortunately, it was a classic Socal rain, not a rambunctious Kentucky rain.

We got 0.01 inches of “rain” last night, the first moisture in months. That’s right, one-hundredth of one inch. Kind of a hint of a promise of water, a thin mist. That brings our annual rainfall total to 6.91 inches, when our long-term average is about 15.5 inches. Our rainfall calendar ends on June 30, so 6.91 is where we’re going to end up. This has been a DRY year, one of the worst since we’ve lived in Fallbrook. This does not bode well for the late summer and early fall, our traditional wildfire season. Most likely we won’t see any more precipitation until November-ish, so the landscape here will go from dry to drier. Stay tuned.

Back in Socal

Back in Socal after a fast but satisfying trip to Louisville. Just my luck, after 90+ degree heat my entire stay, the weather there is mid-70s today. Go figure. The flights back to Socal were once again packed. Every seat full. I think the airline industry is rebounding very quickly, and for my chosen “two homes” lifestyle, that’s a good thing. A necessary thing. Post-pandemic you can’t take anything for granted – just because we used to travel across country freely and relatively cheaply doesn’t mean we will always have that luxury.

The universal mask-wearing on airlines is still a negative, and I expect it to end within a couple of months. I would be OK if the new social or legal norm was temperature-taking at check-in and a wristband requiring you to wear a mask if you have any flu/virus/etc symptoms. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that wearing a mask around others if you’re contagious is a considerate and good thing.

Today is a day to catch up on a few things and make the extensive travel plans for upcoming trips. The travel blog will be busy – I need to take a few more and better pictures to include.

Last thought – I’m missing my daily Con Huevos brunch today. Probably a good thing, given the expanding waistline. Turns out walking there and back doesn’t burn off the delicious calories they serve.

Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day. Today I make the pilgrimage back to Ashland to see my Dad. It’s not an easy trip, but it’s important. In the last month three of my friends have lost their fathers. I suppose I’m simply at the age when the prior generation starts to check out en masse. Very sobering to realize that in 20-25 years it will be my generation’s turn.

But Dad is still with us, and getting some extra time with him is great. I’m pretty certain we gave him a few extra years by checking him into the assisted living facility in January 2020, where they could get his health straightened out. I don’t think he would have survived 2020 otherwise. The picture below is from 2019 on a good day.

And this evening I’ll get to have a meal with Emily, Greg and the grandsons. That’s all the Father’s Day I could ask for. Yesterday I lectured Hudson about how important it is to be extra nice to his Dad on Father’s Day – we’ll see if any of that sank in. With kids you never know what will stick and what gets blended into the noise.

My FD present to myself was discovering that Sling TV allows me to record the US Open at Torrey and watch it later tonight. Technology to the rescue!

First night

First night in the new place, and some first impressions.

Getting ready for even staying a single night was a lot of work. A bit overwhelming, in fact. Had to buy and assemble a bed, buy a coffeemaker (and coffee, belatedly), get Internet service installed, buy some towels and a few types of soap, get the place deep-cleaned, acquire a few tools for the bed assembly, go to a closing meeting and get the keys, meet the neighbors…whew! I was whipped at the end of the day.

We have fireflies! Or lightning bugs, as we called them when I was a kid. Our backyard is full of them and they’re beautiful. I did some research and it turns out that spraying the yard for mosquitos will kill the fireflies, so I’m cancelling that service. Taking one for the firefly team.

Turns out that having no chairs is a problem. Can’t sit down to write or eat, have to sit down on the stairs just to put shoes on. Will have to get a few.

Met the neighbors on one side, and they were nice. Learned a few things about the property line and parking, and entertained them with my story of this being a second home and living primarily in CA. They stated that they’d never heard of such a thing – I think they consider me to be exotic.

The place is in great shape, and I’m thankful for that. No big remodel projects necessary.

I have a great son-in-law. He helped me carry and assemble the bed and brought in some badly-needed libations as we were working. Good man.

It was 94 degrees and humid yesterday, so it’s awesome that the AC works. Works very well, in fact. I had to get up in the middle of the night and figure out how the thermostats worked to increase the temp a bit.

I’m only a couple of blocks away from Con Huevos, so I walked here this morning for a classic Louisville breakfast. Was the second person in the door. At the moment I’m busy licking the plate and hoping no one notices.

All in all, a successful first night in the new place. Now for some chairs and maybe a TV…

Layover

Feels like old times. I’m ensconced at an airport bar in Houston, between flights. Have almost two hours to kill. Not much has changed, other than masks. Bad wine selection, high prices, patrons all studiously staring at their phones. Or at their computer, like me.

Some poor woman on the flight to Houston had three big seizures, so we did a hot landing and run to the gate. The firemen/medics came on board and took her away – I hope she’s OK. Everywhere I turn these days there’s someone with a bad health problem or someone whose family member just died. It feels like a message.

Aside from the medical emergency, flying on UA was pretty good. I’ve flown soooo much SW that I’ve forgotten what the experience on other airlines is like. I’m pleased to say that the UA flight was just fine. That’s good to know, because we have a long flight on them later this year, to and from southern South America.

I’m really happy about heading for Louisville this trip, as it fulfills a dream I’ve had for a long time – a place of our own there, something to share with the kids and grandkids. And someplace to have houseguests and share the Louisville experience. This trip I’ll only have electricity, water, a bed, Internet service and a coffee pot – the bare necessities of civilized life. Other furniture and possessions will happen over time.