Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Goodies

We've reached that time of year: when all the good intentions and will power of the entire year give way to the plethora of holiday goodies in our home. To make matters worse, I was out-of-town all of last week, which seemed to compound Heather's baking desires, leading to a slew of fresh treats. If anything, our dentist will be having a merry January, as the season's indulgence catches up to me.

One of the better treats, though, is our annual Gingerbread House. As a child, building the house with my five siblings was a hallmark of the season. Mom would make the House, and we'd spend an evening decorating it with a wide variety of goodies, while clandestinely nicking candy from either other's allotments. Each side of the House had a unique style, and over the next few weeks, eaves, shutters, decorations and people would vanish from the House. The season finally culminated in a scene any epidemiologist would find horrific: a group "bashing session" during which my siblings and I would each get sick on stale candy and even staler gingerbread—not to mention whatever germs landed on the sticky exterior of the House during the intervening weeks.

This year, our family did our own Gingerbread House. Hannah is started to get old enough to get into the spirit of the season, and she's always game for any activity which involves a copious amount of treats. The finished product didn't turn out too bad:
Hannah and the Gingerbread House

Now, if Hannah can go three weeks without picking at it, I'll be seriously impressed.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thanksgiving Fun

This year we spent the Thanksgiving holiday with Hyrum's family. It was great to see everyone that could make it. As the family gets bigger we may need to start taking our tent with us!

We enjoyed lots of good food and good company. Friday, the women folk traditionally make an early morning run to Jo-Ann Fabrics, this year it happened at 7:30 pm--it included some soul searching, I was trying to resist. Hannah loved playing with her cousin Josh. Every morning when they met in the kitchen she would exclaim, "Josh, Josh . . ." and carry on until some acknowledged his presence. It was as if she wanted to make sure he wasn't a dream. Jonathan enjoyed his bean bag throne we rigged in the kitchen so he could hang out with us with out breaking my back. He just smiled and told us stories when he could get a word in. Family is great. Things aren't always perfect but it's fun to laugh and play.

I miss my parents and sibling terribly but I'm so blessed to have in-laws that treat me as if I am a daughter. It helps so much especially at this time of year. I'm grateful for the opportunity to get to know these people that have spent so much time with my dear Hyrum. I have learned a lot about him and continue to be surprised--for the better. Happy belated Thanksgiving to all of you and I hope you have a Merry Christmas. In all we do may we remember the Lord, his miraculous life and wondrous atonement that makes it all worth while.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Alabama's Cheaha Mountain

The year is rapidly slipping by, and I was moderately concerned about visiting a state highpoint during the year. Today my fears were soothed as I got a chance to visit the top of Alabama: Cheaha Mountain. I was at the FSE-16 conference in Atlanta and made the early morning drive across state lines to visit the highpoint. It was a bit chilly, but the leaves were nice, and it was good to get out of the hotel for a bit. See the trip report for a full account of my trip.

Monday, November 10, 2008

And then there were four . . .

I feel compelled this evening to write a bit. The last couple of months have been full of ups and downs. We've been so blessed to have grandmas here to help take care of us and the support of dear friends here and friends and family everywhere else. Jonathan's birth, Hyrum's appendectomy, bishopric calling and travels and just all of us generally trying to adjust to Jonathan's addition has created a little craziness around our house.

Jonathan continues to bless our life everyday as does Hannah. Hannah loves her little brother and I'm sure she will have no problem mothering him for the rest of his life. She loves to give him hugs and kisses. Today she kept wiping the drool off his chin. Jonathan continues to grow and look so cute with his double chin. I wait everyday for that first real giggle. I think I heard one the other night but it may have been a dream.

Hyrum is out of town again this week but happily for me this his last trip for the semester, at least work related travel. He and Ian are hatching a trip for over Christmas break, we'll see what happens with that. I sure miss him when he's gone and so does Hannah. Today she heard the wind rustling leaves outside our door and asked if it was daddy. I said no and she followed up with Grandpa. She was pretty disappointed that neither Daddy nor Grandpa was going to walk in our door.

We've seen the Wrights for the last two weekends and she loves seeing them. We are glad they live close enough to see pretty often. We wish we could see my parents more often though. We're feeling pretty lucky for having seen them twice this year. Family is a wonderful blessing. We're so lucky to be part of two big wonderful families. We just wish we could all live a little closer together. I have siblings in Utah, Idaho, and Colorado with my parents in New York and Hyrum's parents are in Texas with siblings in Texas and Utah.

I'm really looking forward to the holiday season. I love the smells, the music and just the general feelings. I love shopping for Christmas presents and planning my goodies for the holiday. I bought fabric the other day to make a tree skirt. I am really excited. I love creating things whether it's crafts, dresses for Hannah, food or something else. I feel intelligent when I figure out how to make a pattern for the project I have in mind. These days, an opportunity to use my brain is greatly appreciated. I always hated math in school but I have to admit that I use it a lot when I am making a pattern. I never thought I'd say that.

We're doing well just trying to make it one day at a time. We are loving life and dealing with all the excitement and the daily happenings that remind us we're alive and really blessed. I'm glad that my problems are potty training our toddler and keeping our infant happy. Those things really are pretty simple compared to things other people have to deal with. I'm grateful for my husband. I have two beautiful children and the opportunity to care for them and love them is such a blessing. God has blessed us and for that I am grateful.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Allen 31, Wylie 28

It's been almost ten years since I graduated from "dear old Allen High," but yesterday, I had a chance to go back in time for a few minutes. My youngest brother is a drum major in the Allen Eagle Escadrille marching band, and a senior this year, so we decided to take in a game and a halftime show. Heather and I packed up the letter jacket, loaded up the kids and made the 4-hour trek up to Allen for the final home game of the season.

It's the first high school football game I've been to since being in high school myself, and I'd almost forgotten what high school football in Texas is like. The football wasn't particularly stellar, but the environment can't be beat. Even the little kids enjoyed it, though I think they were ready to leave after we saw the band at half-time. Seeing the 500+ member marching band perform was amazing. It was also a new experience, since I've always been in the band, not watching it.

Allen ended up winning the game by 3 points, and will mostly likely go the playoffs, though based upon what I saw last night, I'm not very confident in their chances. Still, for a few hours, it was good to be an Allen Eagle again.

Monday, October 20, 2008

On Appendices

In a book, an appendix is usually a little bit of text at the end which elaborates on a specific aspect of the work, or gives a bit of extra clarification. It isn't complete necessary, or else it'd be in the text proper, but it is usually good to have, and helps give some good context to the main text. I sometimes read the appendices to books or papers, especially if they look interesting, but mostly I just leave them be.

The appendix in the human body is similar. It's little appendage connected to the large intestine near the it's junction with the small intestine. Nobody is really quite sure what this finger-sized organ does, though recent studies suggest that it keeps a "backup copy" of the bacteria which as needed for proper gastrointestinal function. Because of humans' extensive social interaction these days, we can usually get new flora from other people if we need it, so the appendix is really a bit redundant, though it usually gives people no trouble, myself included.

Until today.

I woke early this morning to a dull pain in my gut, and could not get back to sleep. After a couple of hours, I called the nurse helpline at the student health center, and was referred to the urgent care clinic which opened at 8am. I also called a couple brethren from Church to bless me, which turned out to be a wise idea. After poking and prodding at the urgent care, they referred me to the hospital with possible appendicitis. By this point the pain was starting to localize, and it was also a bit intense at times.

After meeting the surgeon, who poked and prodded even more, we decided to proceed with a laproscopic appendectomy. It took a bunch of waiting around, but eventually an operating room opened up, and the surgeon was able to remove my appendix. Things are settling down now, and I'm recovering, but it's been a long day with lots of poking and prodding. Heather has been a great support, as always, I think I'll be able to go home tomorrow. If nothing else, this has sure helped cure my jet lag from last week's trip to Germany!

And now I don't have to feel so guilty about not reading appendices in the future.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Subversion Developers' Summit

me in munichThis past week, we've been holding the 2nd Subversion Developers' Summit, colocated with SubConf 2008 in Munich, Germany. It has been a very productive several days. After wandering around Munich for several hours on Monday, the developers have spent the last three days working out issues with the current code, discussing problems about upcoming features, and just brainstorming more goodness for the Subversion user community. I've finally gotten to meet a number of other members of the developer community face-to-face.

Some highlights:

One of the coolest parts of the Summit for me was a off-hand conversation between Mike Pilato and I about how to fix some storage inefficiencies in our current FSFS backend. Over the course of the last few days, I've been hacking on the code, while Mike has been finishing up work on the fs-rep-sharing branch. Hopefully both improvements will make it into Subversion 1.6. The synergy of getting a bunch of developers in the same room has been amazing.


In some ways, it's pretty surreal to be at a conference dedicated to an open source project that I work on largely in my spare time. During the Subversion Roundtable held on the eve of the conference, we got some good feedback from current users, and people that are still waiting on features to do large-scale rollouts. All-in-all, it's good to see how people are actually using Subversion; I spent a lot of time focusing on minute details of the project, and taking a step back every once in a while is useful.

Unfortunately, I haven't gotten the chance to see as much of Munich as I had originally planned, but I did get to see a few things during my wandering on Monday. Definitely a cool town, and one I'd like to visit again.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Unanswered Question

(First, I'd like to apologize in advance to all who feel like they've been browbeaten by the media regarding the "mortgage meltdown," the "economic crisis," or the "we-can't-call-it-a-recession-yet-but-we-will-anyway." I normally don't like ranting on such topics, but here goes...)

As somebody who attempts to know a little bit about the inner workings of the economy, I've been following the roller coaster ride of the last year with some interest. I'm fairly insulated from it all as a grad student—there's not much difference between being poor because you're in grad school and being poor because you just got laid off—but it has been interesting to watch, especially people losing their heads over problems which will just sort themselves out in the long run. As a society, we've become greedy and impatient, and that's the root of the problem, bad mortgages aside.

The vogue thing to do in political circles these days seems to be promising relief for "Main Street" as well as Wall Street. And usually when politicians presidential candidates make those promises, they tend to focus on people who are in the midst of losing their homes. "These are good people," we hear, "who just can't afford to make the payments anymore." While I can't vouch for the character of the individuals involved, I can sympathize with not having enough money to buy something I want. When that happens, though, I don't run to the bank (or the government!) and ask for money. Instead, I go without.

The relief being promised to delinquent home owners varies, but it usually involves having the taxpayers buy the mortgage, and then renegotiate the terms taking into account the decreased value of the home. There are a number of problems with schemes like this, but the question I haven't yet heard addressed is this: What happens with the homeowner sells the home in a few years?

Only two people should care what the "value" of a home is: a potential buyer, and the county tax assessor. The "value" of a home is only what somebody else is willing to buy it for, and that only happens when the owner looks to sell. The fact that somebody may be "underwater" in their mortgage isn't worth a hill of beans, unless they try to sell the home. The flaw in the proposed rescue plans is that they look at home values right now in a depressed market. What happens when the government writes down the values of these homes, renegotiates the mortgage, and then the homeowner sells for a nice profit down the line? He gets a nice chunk of change, but the taxpayers end up footing the bill.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all in favor of helping the innocent victims, but I think they number far fewer than we think. Instead of decreasing the mortgage amount, why don't we just subsidize the loss somebody takes when he sells his home? It wouldn't "bail out" people who can't make their current payments, but it would help them—by forcing them to either live within their means or find a way to make that payment. It may be tough love, but hopefully this approach will introduce some accountability back into the system.

In either case, though, I'm not too worried about a Main Street rescue happening: it's just a campaign promise, after all.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I am so proud to report that I have completed all of my projects for this summer and more. I started this summer with several things in mind to complete and as August quickly comes to a close I realized that I've done it. I started with three tasks: make Hannah a butterfly quilt for Christmas, make the baby a blanket similar to Hannah's favorite blanket, and get Hannah's scrapbook updated. These three projects quickly expanded to completing a Texas Quilt for Hyrum, one I've been promising since we got married, updating our family photo album, getting all of the baby clothes washed and finding a place for them, making a book bag for our rocking chair, keep the apartment clean, get some meals in the freezer for when our help leaves us, make some more room in general for a new family member, and get a head start on the Christmas shopping. And I've done it.

I've also purchased the necessary items for Halloween costumes. Hannah is going to be a princess once I alter a dress I made for her last year for her birthday. It still doesn't fit so I decided to shrink it so she can wear it. And a pumpkin costume for the baby. With all of these projects finished I'm glad to take a little time off doing too much and just reading a book or two before I jump into more.

Since writing the above I have finished a biography on Agatha Christie, one of my favorite detective story writers and started work on the Halloween costumes. And . . . Hyrum is home!! So I get to work on what I can while we hope the baby comes sooner rather than later.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Public Transport

I like to drive. I enjoy the freedom that comes with hitting the open road and exploring new places and seeing new sites. I pour over maps, planning routes, and dreaming of places to see on my next road trip. (Incidentally, this dovetails nicely with my highpointing quest.)

With high gas prices, and especially lacking a car this summer, I've discovered something new: public transportation. Growing up, "public transportation" meant the school bus, a slow, smelly contraption driven by a grumpy driver, and filled with rowdy kids, none of which were friendly to me. Needless to say, this harrowing experience poisoned my impression of public transportation for many years. In fact, my first practical use of a bicycle was commuting to school as an alternative to the bus.

Even after moving to Austin and using the university-provided shuttle system to get to school, I was still pretty wary of using "normal" public transportation. Few routes are useful to me, and the times that I have managed to ride the city bus, the experience pretty much paralleled my school bus nightmares of years ago. I've learned that public transportation in Austin (and other cities in Texas) consists of an underfunded, poorly-planned system that attracts the more uncouth elements of society. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, but it does tend to scare away those of us who would otherwise use the system more often.

But, spending the summer in the Bay Area (and during my trip to Portland for OSCON), I've learned to love a well-planned public transportation system. Using buses, trains, light rail or my bike, I've been able to get just about everywhere I've wanted to, from airports to sports stadia to church or just sightseeing. It's been great, and has really opened my eyes to how useful a well-implemented public transportation system can be. It's opened my eyes to what public transportation could be (and I hear things across the pond are even better!)

Maybe I should start planning highpointing trips around public transportation.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Train Up a Child . . . "

Proverbs 22: 6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

This scripture has taken on new meaning in the last couple of days. There is obvious spiritual context but I have come to appreciate a physical application. I've realized just how much I try to do this with Hannah on a regular and daily basis with something as simple as saying, "Please," or "Peeees" as it comes out of Hannah's mouth. It also includes letting her help me make dinner and washing dishes, even if it means pineapple juice or water everywhere.

Sometimes I question my ability to deal with such messes patiently but I have learned their value. So, tonight we repeated the process. As I watch and think about this new ritual, I have thought about the many "things" Hannah may become. I am happy to say that at least, provided things continue as they are now, she will grow up to be a responsible young woman, and one who will make a good wife and mother as she learns these little skills from me now. I'm grateful for my own mother's help in teaching me these same things. Besides, what better way for us to hang out and become better friends than by mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

So I will continue our forays into the world of domestic competence and someday maybe some one besides myself will clean the bathroom.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Hannah!

img_0395Well Hannah is now officially two years old. We had a pretty good day yesterday even though it was just Hannah and I to celebrate. Yesterday morning we had a little party. I thought it would be fun to make doughnuts and what fun are doughnuts if you can't share them? So we had about 16 people crammed into our little apartment for an hour yesterday. I think everyone had fun. The kids played while we adults enjoyed one another's company. It's the only way to have a party for a two year old.

Later, before going out to dinner, we opened presents from Grandma and Grandpa Hollingshead and the card that had come in the mail. Hannah just loved opening all of these things. Today she though she got to open everything that was in the mailbox. We had dinner at Applebee's and then we came home to watch a movie together. The choice was "Chicken Run." Hannah had a great time, especially since she got to stay up two hours past her bedtime, well probably closer to three and a half by the time she finally went to sleep. The day was apparently so great that she was full of energy and was still making noises when I finally fell asleep.

We had a party a couple weeks ago too while Hyrum was home. She got to open presents from us and Grandma and Grandpa Wright. We also enjoyed a Teddy Bear Birthday Party Cake and some strawberry ice cream. Hannah wasn't too impressed with the ice cream and the cake but she loved the frosting and liked looking at the teddy bears. Dad had to blow out the candles which was probably a good thing because if Hannah had really tried we might have had a soggy cake.

We are so glad to have our Hannah Bug in our life. She sure helps to make it interesting and keep things light. I've realized that you have to have a sense of humor when you have a toddler. She certainly makes us laugh. We look forward to enjoying many more years with her.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Our Little Girl

Hannah paintingThis morning, while eating breakfast, Hannah pointed and said, "clock." At first I was curious to see what she was pointing at. Would you believe that she was pointing at the clock? Well, now my curiosity was shock. I must have looked it because she pointed again and said, "clock," in answer to my look.

So why, you ask, does this warrant a blog entry? I have been pondering over the last few days, especially with her birthday coming closer, the things that have happened in the last two years. It is amazing to me how much she has learned. She went from a little baby who can do absolutely nothing for herself to a little kid who can talk, using that liberally, of course, get around relatively on her own, and probably feed herself although I don't think a diet of goldfish and graham crackers is approved by the FDA. I'm constantly amazed at the little things she does.

In April, we started changing her diaper in the bathroom so she could get accustomed to that and hopefully put together the fact that the bathroom is used for such things. Well a couple days ago, she walked in there when I told her it was time to change her diaper and she promptly opened the cupboard, retrieved a clean diaper and the lotion, and laid down on the floor awaiting my help. How is it that she has decided to help me with this but when I ask her to pick up her toys, something she has been doing for about a year, I still have to send her to timeout before I can convince her that is a good thing to do? These little ones are so smart. At the tender age of two she is already an expert at stalling bedtime. HELP!! Those are all of the "terrific twos" type things she does. I promise she's not a rascal all the time. Today she also wanted to give me hugs and kisses all day. She says "cheeks" and then puckers up to kiss me on the cheek. It's really very cute.

This evening, as is tradition for Monday nights, we had Family Home Evening. When I told her it was Family Time she giggled and jumped up on the couch. Tonight we talked about Family History and then I had her help me a little with her scrapbook as a form of Family History. She had so much fun. We painted the background for a couple pages in her book, with her hand prints. It's so fun to have a little one who can interact so much. I love being mom and I love our Hannah. As she continues to grow I look forward to having even more fun.

Monday, August 4, 2008

No practical difference

While watching Tropical Storm Edouard track toward Austin, I caught this gem in the NOAA forecast discussion:

Translation: "Just 'cause we don't call it a hurricane, doesn't mean you shouldn't be worrin' about it!"

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Marin Century

What was I thinking?!? kept coming to mind. I was staring up yet another climb on my ride of the Marin Century, a 100-mile bike ride through Marin County in the Bay Area of California. One of the premier centuries in the area, the ride goes through pleasant valleys, redwood forests, and even spends a few miles on Highway 1 on the California coast. I had registered for it a couple of months earlier to give me a goal for my summer cycling activities, but I was now having second thoughts as to my sanity in doing so.

The day started out pleasantly enough. After an early morning drive up the peninsula and across the Golden Gate Bridge, I was off to a chilly start on would would prove to be a remarkable day. I rarely ride with others, so group starts are somewhat of a treat, and I also enjoyed the support provided by the Highway Patrol as we made our way out of town. The group thinned quite a bit, but through the course of the entire ride, I never lost site of the rider in front of me.

The course profile was about as flat as a line our 2-year-old daughter would draw, and I paid for it dearly. I've done a few other centuries, but they were much flatter, and my lack of preparation for this one showed. The first couple climbs were challenging, but doable. By the time I hit the "Marshall Wall" a third of the way through the ride, I was starting to feel a bit sore. I was only a third of the way into the ride, but already thinking of the SAG wagon. I survived, thanks to my triple crankset and granny gear, with whom I became quite good friends over the rest of the course. Even the "flat" parts of the route were full of rollers, little hills which seem innocent until repeated ad nauseam.

The wind was another factor. No matter which direction I was going, there always seemed to be a headwind. Riding toward the coast and up Highway 1 I kind of expected it, but even after the turnaround point at Valley Ford we still had headwinds. Because I wasn't drafting anybody, I had the benefit of fighting the wind the entire time. At the end of the day, I was glad to finally roll into the finish and enjoy the prepared food. Cycling is a great teacher, especially about physiology: I hurt places I never knew I had before!

In spite of all the difficulties (and post-ride soreness!), I really did enjoy myself. The views from some of the roads were amazing, the rest stops fantastically stocked, and the descents swift and energizing. My bike worked wonderfully, and I only fell over once (a sudden stop, and I forgot to clip out of the pedals). On more than one occasion, I felt like I was in the Tour de France, zipping though forests and past farms and cows, though at a slightly slower pace.

So, what's next? Transportation and other issues will probably force me to abandon an attempt to ride the Santa Cruz brevet in a couple of weeks, but I'd like to shoot for another century a little closer to home in October. With the new baby coming, school starting up, and life getting hectic again, it may be a long shot.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Second Honeymoon

Since Hannah and I would be spending the summer away from Hyrum, we thought a trip to California would be in order. We also thought it would be great if it were just Hyrum and I, considering that September will add yet another dimension to our lives with the new baby. After this trip we decided that spending a few days together without kids when we're expecting a new one isn't a bad idea at all.

We spent the first night in Monterey at a neat place called Asilomar. It was just a quiet place right on the beach. It was cold and foggy that night so walking on the beach held no appeal however the next morning we did enjoy a little walk after breakfast.

The next day we spent at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. That was really neat. They have a wonderful jellyfish exhibit. And of course a lot of fish. We even got to touch starfish and other sea creatures. When we left the aquarium we had about an hour of sun and then the fog rolled back in. We drove down to Carmel by way of the 17-Mile Drive.

In Carmel we saw an old Spanish mission, Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo. It was an interesting experience. We ate lunch then headed up the coast to Half Moon Bay. The drive was filled with fog but we did stop for a moment to see a lighthouse at Pigeon Point. The lighthouse is in disrepair so we couldn't go in it but we did take some neat pictures.

We moved north up the coast and pulled into Half Moon Bay at about 3:00 that afternoon. It is a pretty sleepy town from what we could see. We stayed at a quaint little bed and breakfast called the Mill Rose Inn. We highly recommend it if your looking for a quiet and romantic place to spend a night. The next morning we enjoyed a gourmet breakfast and then we were off.

We decided to spend Saturday in San Fransisco. We began our tour of the city with what else but the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. It was a bit chilly and windy as we walked out onto the bridge. Hyrum was sure to stay between me and the edge of the bridge. It was quite the sight. Heather and Hyrum at the Golden Gate BridgeThen we went down below the bridge to tour Fort Point, a National Historic Site. From there we made our way through the street of San Fransisco to park just a couple blocks from Ghirardelli Square. We enjoyed lunch at a diner there and then decided to walk down to Fisherman's Wharf. We didn't find anything too interesting there, unless you are going to eat fish, and we weren't. We made our way up to Coit Tower. It really was up too. We stopped a lot to give me a chance to breath. From there we made our way down to China Town.

China Town was quite an experience for me. It was a long street that was filled with vendors of Chinese paraphernalia. There were some fine jewelry stores, restaurants, and shops selling spices, but mostly it was clothing and cheap toys. It was amazing how many people were there. It was great. Thanks, Hyrum, for humoring me.

Next we walked to the Cable Car Museum. Hyrum really enjoyed this. We got to see the actual cables that pull the cable cars through the city. It is amazing to think that these four cables pull the working cable cars up and down the streets of San Fransisco especially considering that they are extremely hilly streets. Then we caught a ride back down to Ghirardelli Square on a cable car. Going down the hill was crazy especially since Hyrum and I were hanging on the outside of the car. At one point of our ride the car stopped at the top of the famous Lombard Street, the curviest street in the world. Apparently there were some people skateboarding down it. Insanity at its best.

After four hours of walking through the city we were bushed. Hyrum wanted to check out Muir Woods National Park , which isn't too far north of San Fransisco so we drove out there and after we couldn't find a parking space close to the Visitors Center we decided that our aching feet would be alright if we just turned around. On the way back to the city we stopped at 7-Eleven for some needed refreshment. The slurpies made the trip worth it.

With our tour of the city nearing its close, we had one more sight to see on our way to Hyrum's Apartment in Palo Alto. You may have guessed it, Lombard Street, the curviest road in the world, (for a block at least) was waiting to be driven. We drove from the Golden Gate Bridge to about four blocks west of the famous street at 5:00 pm with no problem, then we came to a stand still. It took us about half an hour to get up to Lombard Street. This apparently was something to see. One of the best parts of this wait though was the grade. The cars parked along the streets have to park perpendicular to the sidewalk otherwise they will roll down the hill. We were really glad we weren't driving our manual. I definitely don't recommend driving a manual in San Fransisco. We finally got to the top of Lombard Street and then carefully made our way down it's curves. It was fun and really quite pretty with the view over the city and the landscaping they've done along the road.

We then made the drive to Palo Alto and got ourselves a quick bite to eat than settled down for the evening. Sunday brought church and an opportunity to hang out with old friends. Bruce, who graciously left us the apartment for the weekend, and our friend Samantha joined us for dinner and a couple hours of looking at pictures of our family. We love to show off Hannah and her antics and Bruce and Sam were good enough to let us. We took a drive around Palo Alto including the Old Honda road which Hyrum informs me he rides up on occasion to give himself a good workout. Just as long as he doesn't try to ride down it, I'm ok.

Monday, we enjoyed breakfast at a diner in Palo Alto and walked down Main Street, of course none of the shops were opened but it was neat. It was like a small town you'd see on TV except the shops were selling Persian rugs, high end beauty supplies and there were all sorts of eclectic eateries. It was fun. Then Hyrum showed me his office and the VMWare campus. I know it's strange but a small part of me is a little jealous. I use to dream of working in such an environment, but I do love being at home with Hannah and taking care of our little family and home.

All in all it was a great trip. It was nice to have a little pampering and some good quality time together. It also gave us a chance to realize how much we missed Hannah. She is really a great part of our lives. It was a great experience and really helped me feel better about maybe living there someday if that's where Hyrum's work takes us.

My Side of the Story

The title of this blog is H Squared and I realized I have a long way to go to make sure that title is true. Hyrum has done a wonderful job of chronicling our adventure but without him here for the summer I thought I probably ought to add a few words from Austin.

Hannah and I spent the first six weeks of our family separation at Hyrum's parent's house in Allen. We broke it up a bit for a trip to Provo and my weekend in California--more on that later. My youngest brother entered the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah so my mom invited Hannah and I out to see him off. He's headed to Denver Colorado to serve a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He'll spend about 9 weeks in the MTC learning Spanish. All my sibling were with us except my second brother who is in Mexico serving a mission. It was fun to hang out with my family and see them. They're a little further away than Hyrum's parents so we don't get to see them nearly as often. We spent time with Nathan and Emily and of course Adam. We spent one day in Salt Lake with my Aunt Julye and her family. The Saturday we were there the adults went to the temple and enjoyed an endowment session. It was pretty special to be there with my parents and siblings.

While in Allen, Hannah had a great time playing with all of Grandma and Grandpa Wright's toys. Here is Hannah with one of her favorites, the Tent.

We spent a lot of time swimming and I spent a lot of time sewing. Since Hyrum and I got married I told him I would make him a Texas Flag quilt. Well I had been working on it and shortly before we left for Utah I realized that I could have it done before I went to California and give it to him for Father's Day. I spent every moment I could working on it. We spent Memorial Day weekend with the family and Nate, Margaret, and Josh joined us. It was great to see them. Mostly we just hung out. I helped with what Mom would let me, which generally meant washing dishes and making dinner once a week.

It was great to have family around and a little break from Hannah. She and Rachel are best buds. Hannah had a great time bonding with her cousins, Samantha and Josh, since she saw both of them over the course of the six weeks.

Then Father's Day weekend, I flew to "sunny" California, only to find out that that means southern California to spent the weekend with Hyrum. Hannah hung out with Grandma and Grandpa Wright. Hyrum loved his quilt. We spent another week with the Wrights and then it was homebound while they had their vacations. We went to Allen again for a week July 12-18. We had to come home because Hyrum joined us in Austin, for which we were so happy. While he was coming home for school work we had a great time seeing him. It was so fun to hear Hannah's giggles while her dad played with her on the floor. I'm not so good at that right now. Monday afternoon we spent some time at the pool. It was nice to share that with Hyrum.

Tuesday we put Hyrum on a plane to Portland to present a paper at OSCON. We loved having him home and look forward to this weekend when we get to see him again, even if it is brief. Then we'll have just four more weeks without him. At this point we're counting the weeks for so many reasons. About 7 weeks until the new baby is due and four until Hyrum is home for good. The summer has gone by fast and we're glad for that.

There have been some hard moments but we sure have learned a lot. I've figured out I can do this but that I'm really glad I have Hyrum to help me. We're also really glad that we have family around to help out too. We're grateful for good friends and neighbors that have helped get Hannah and I out of the house even though the weather is miserable. One of the best things is that Hannah and I get to enjoy some good time together before little brother arrives. There are blessings in trials, that's for sure.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Welcome to our world!

Friends and family,

I am going to give this a go. I was reading in the Ensign the other day and realized that this was something I could do help educate people on our faith. That isn't only reason I'm doing this and I promise it won't be all churchy stuff but seeing as that is a huge part of our lives there may be a little. I figure this is also a good opportunity to practice my writing skills. One of my many dreams is to publish a novel. Considering that the closest I am to that is three chapters into one manuscript it may be a while. So in the mean time I will thrill you all with the stories of my life and family. Ocassionally if I get brave I may even through some really writing out there for you to comment on and help me out with. If you want to learn more about Hyrum's musings you can check out his blog at

Monday, June 30, 2008

Adventure Aborted

Packed and ready to goSince moving from Utah almost 2 years ago, I've been aching to get back into the mountains for a few days. Our previous attempt as a family notwithstanding, I've been looking forward to a chance for some serious mountain hiking and backpacking for a while. Rooming with Bruce this summer has been fortuitous in that we both enjoy the outdoors, having done a few hikes while living together previously as roommates at BYU.

The Plan was to spend this entire week in the Trinity Alps Wilderness in Northern California. (In spite of what people in the Bay Area will say, there really is a substantial part of California farther to the north.) The Trinity Alps are part of a relatively-unknown area which contains large amounts of virgin timber and several dozen high alpine lakes, the perfect place to disappear from civilization for a week.

Unfortunately, we managed to pick the weekend when the entire state of California turned into a giant campfire. With packs loaded and ready to go, we drove over 12 hours during the course of a 24-hour period, looking for a place to go backpacking, from Oregon to Yosemite, but to no avail. I refer the interested reader to Bruce's fascinating writeup and analysis for more information, but suffice it to say I'm spending the evening writing this post instead of counting the stars in the Milky Way. Bummer.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Bike and meWhile I've been in California this summer, I've been pretty car-less and with gas prices the way that they are, I'm not complaining. Instead of a car, I have a new bike, a Trek 2.3. I have wanted a road bike for a long time, and this summer turned out to be a opportune time to get one.

Of course, I decided to go ahead and register for the Marin Century, even though I hadn't done any regular riding for the last two years. My daily commute is around 7 miles, round trip, which gives me a chance to do push myself, but I really enjoy the longer rides as well. This morning, I decided to go for a 65-mile jaunt around the South Bay: over Dumbarton Bridge, out through Newark and Milpitas, down around San Jose and back through Cupertino and Los Altos. There weren't any major climbs, but it turned out to be quite the ride, and has given me some confidence for riding a century only 5 weeks hence.

On an unfortunate note, I did forget the sunscreen today, so I'm sporting some rather odd tan burn lines.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tomatoes and Drunk Drivers

The CDC has reported that since April, 552 persons infected with Salmonella Saintpaul. As a nation, our reaction has been almost heroic. We've pulled tomatoes from store shelves and fast food restaurants, banished them from sandwiches and let tons of stock spoil. In spite of its long-known and far-reaching health benefits, the tomato has overnight become the worst villain in the culinary industry. (Fortunately for our family, home grown tomatoes are still considered safe—for now.)

In 2006, the last year for which numbers are available, an estimated 17,602 people died in alcohol-related traffic accidents. In 2001, more than half a million people were injured in crashes where police reported that alcohol was present (source). That's one injury every minute of every hour of every day for the entire year. For those keeping score at home, that's one Salmonella case for every 208 alcohol-related injuries, just since April.

Although no known deaths have occurred due to the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak, we've bent over backwards to "fix" that problem, but whatever efforts we make to curb drunk driving seem to have little effect. Putting my personal religious disdain of alcohol aside, it would just seem sensible to put the same vigor into the problem of drunk driving as we do to contaminated tomatoes. We seem to accept drunk driving and the consequent deaths as an unfortunate part of life, whereas we have a right to eat tomatoes risk-free. Maybe it's just me, but this seems a bit backward. I guess it just shows that the rational man is still an elusive creature.

As Joseph Stalin once remarked, "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic". And that smells of rotten tomatoes.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Family Campout

We've tried camping with Hannah a couple times before, but they were both trying experiences. We'd like to think that we learn from our mistakes, so we planned another family campout for this spring. Due to a number of postponements, we were finally able to go camping this past Monday.

We went to Pedernales Falls State Park, and I think Hannah enjoyed herself. The campground was relatively empty, and the weather, despite threatening rain, was only overcast and not even too windy. We had a good meal Monday evening, and managed to get Hannah tired enough to go to bed easily. Tuesday morning, we stopped by the falls, and then went downriver to the swimming hole and waded around for a bit.

With me leaving for the summer and #2 coming in September, it might be a while before we go camping as a family again.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The good ol' days

"...when men were men and wrote their own device drivers."* I've never gotten around to writing any serious device drivers, but a recent article by Jeff Atwood over at Coding Horror reminded me of my first programming language: QBasic. I first started writing Basic programs in the early 90's while in the eighth grade using Microsoft's provided environment. (We created faux-"DOS Box" programs for Windows 3.1 which induced significant head scratching among the computer illiterate at my middle school.) What more could one want than an interpreter with as-you-type syntax checker and nary a native compiler to be found?

Well, at least it's good to know that some things never change.

* With apologies to Linus Torvalds, of course.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm a Switcher

For several months, I've been wanting an Apple MacBook Pro. I've kept putting it off, first waiting on the release of Leopard, and then for the latest hardware revision. A couple of weeks ago, the Mac Book Pros were upgraded to use more recent Intel processors, as well as have bigger hard drives, and I soon found myself with a compelling need to have a laptop. So, on March 7, 2008 at approximately 8:37pm Central Standard Time, I became a Switcher.

So far, the experience has been mainly positive. Like others, I appreciate Apple's attention to detail, both in hardware and software. It's also been nice to have a handy Unix development environment for hacking code. I've already played around a bit with Photo Booth, and I'm looking forward to editing home video. It may take a while to get used to different key bindings for common commands, and other differences between OS X and Ubuntu, but I don't think the transition will be too painful.

Lest this be seen as simply another fanboy post, I still find plenty of things different and unexpected (where is universal 3rd button copy-and-paste?!?), but overall the experience has been a good one thus far.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Trip planning made easy

Joel Spolsky recently mentioned on his blog, and since we're going to be doing a lot of traveling this summer, I figured I'd give it whirl. I've been thoroughly impressed. I'll refer the reader to Joel's post for the gory details, but suffice it to say that a good interface, nice integration with other sites, and a handful of useful tools make TripIt a winner.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Morning with Bill Gates

One of the advantages of going to a largish university is the opportunity to have interesting events on campus, and to occasionally attend these events. Due to the highly publicized Clinton-Obama debate tomorrow evening on the University campus, today's lecture by Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, was largely overlooked by all but the more technical students. The announcement went out on Friday, Monday morning I got a wristband for the talk, and this morning I had the chance to listen to Mr. Gates in person. In spite of whatever ideological and technological differences we may have, it is hardly debatable that he has had a tremendous influence in the area of computer technology over the past 30 years. Listening to him in person was a rare opportunity.

The talk itself wasn't earth-shattering or groundbreaking in any way, rather it was a forward-looking view on what Gates believes the future of computing, and specifically software, to be. He talked about changing the way we interact with the PC, such as 3-D input devices and more intelligent displays. He also expressed a belief that software will be the tool to solve much of the complex research problems of the future: "Just as mathematics was the handmaiden of the sciences during the 19th century, software will be the handmaiden during the 21st." I'm still deciding if I like being a handmaiden or not.

Gates also spoke a lot about the Gates Foundation and some of the work going on with it. He talked especially about the ways that software will be used to combat some of the problems facing the third world, and the unique challenges relating to that environment.

The interesting part of the lecture was the question and answer section, with unscreened questions. I was not impressed with the caliber of the questions. There was everything from gift offers and invitations to visit to asking for a letters of reference and recommending the suffering children in Palestine for Foundation aid. I wasn't impressed, especially since it left so little time for serious questions and responses.

The good questions, and the ones which I take the most issue with were regarding Microsoft, and its place in the marketplace. One person asked about open source and Microsoft's response to it. Gates deftly dodged the question, and specifically called out the GPL as being anti-economic, invasive, and freedom limiting. Such a viewpoint is understandable from his perspective, but it can hardly be argued that open source doesn't create jobs. Giving such a response does little to dispel the notion that Microsoft actively spreads FUD against the open source community.

The other question was about the proposed Microsoft buyout of Yahoo!, which Gates euphemistically called a "merger". (I somehow doubt the folks at Yahoo! are thinking that.) He mentioned that the search and advertising market is currently dominated by one company, and that MicroHoo! would increase competition in that space. (Funny, I thought that 3 choices is more than 2.) Gates also mentioned that search is the only market where the user doesn't receive a benefit from viewing ads, unlike television or newspapers. (That's right, the search results aren't particularly beneficial to the person using the search engine.) Finally, I loved the statement that "we have lots of ideas that make today's search look terrible." And Windows Live is one of them.

Overall, it was an interesting experience, which helped both to reinforce some long-held beliefs and give me a bit of personal insight into Mr. Bill Gates.

Fun bits:

  • He showed the CES video about Gates' last day at Microsoft, as well as bloopers from the filming of the video.

  • At one point during the question about the Yahoo! bid, Gates kept referring to an unnamed "current leader in search," without mentioning Google by name. At one point he slipped, and referred "the merger with Googl---er, Yahoo!"

  • One of the questioners described a problem he was having with his XP-based machine in which whenever he booted the machine, Windows Media Player would open with a bunch of errors. He asked Gates whether an upgrade to Vista would make the errors go away, and Gates responded, "no, you'll just get different errors!"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Stomping through Victorian England

When I was in high school, my brother got the complete Sherlock Holmes stories for Christmas one year, all 4 novels and 56 short stories. While I never read them, I often wanted to. After some recent reading, I decided to go for something a bit lighter, and picked up my own copy of the Sherlock Holmes Collection, by Arthur Conan Doyle. It made for good reading over the holidays, and took me about 2.5 months to get through all 1800 pages of the work.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Conan Doyle does a great job of painting the late Victorian era of British life, complete with the famous detective and his sidekick. I was unfamiliar with many of the stories, and while some were a bit too brief, most were engaging and interesting. I often myself trying to solve the mystery given the clues as described by Watson, and even came out right a couple of times. (In all fairness, Holmes often uses knowledge with which the reader is generally unfamiliar with, which makes such armchair sleuthing a bit difficult.) Some of the stories seem quite similar, though I account that to my reading them in a condensed time period, and volume, not in their original serial format.

If anyone ever longs for a good mystery and some fun mental stimulation, I heartily recommend the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Subversion 1.5 branched

For those who don't know, we've been in the process of developing the next release of the Subversion version control system for almost 2 years. During that time, lots of new features, including the primary feature of merge tracking, have gone into trunk. Two weeks ago, the development team created the 1.5.x release branch, to begin stabilization for a 1.5.0 release. The branch is considered "feature complete", and we'll soon start cutting release candidates from it.

Until the time we cut the first release candidate, people eager to test 1.5 can check out the nightlies page, where they can download the latest and greatest code from the 1.5.x release branch. Of course, the code is completely untested and not formally released, so please, please don't use it on data you can't afford to lose. As always, bug reports and comments should be submitted on the Subversion homepage.