Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Backpacking Trip to Navaho Pass

This past weekend I went backpacking ("backpacking" referring to camping on foot) with friends in Navaho Pass, which is in the eastern fringe of the Cascade Mountains. Fabulous weather and gorgeous scenery -- check out all the photos.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We're Pregnant!

It's taken far too long to post this news on the blog, mostly because we felt it was important enough to merit more effort than a normal post. Well, as it turns out, that means we'll just end up putting off the post for months. So, to make this easier to write for us, here's a convenient FAQ:

Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Are you really?
A. Technically, no. Only Sarah is pregnant. Michal is biologically incapable of becoming pregnant, as are most human males.

Q. When's the due date?
A. October 18, 2010

Q. Wait! That mean's Sarah's 24 weeks.
A. Actually, 24 weeks and 1 day as of this posting.

Q. How do you know that?
A. There's an iPhone app for it. Actually, I use two.

Q. What iPhone apps do you recommend for pregnancy?
A. What To Expect and iPregnancy. You have to pay for iPregnancy, but it's totally worth it.

Q. Okay, enough with the software. Can I see the baby?
A. Yes. We've posted first trimester ultrasounds and second trimester ultrasounds.

Q. Is it a boy or a girl?
A. We don't know. Please feel free to tell us your guess based on the ultrasounds linked above (they are sufficient to tell). If you are a medical professional and have experience reading ultrasounds, please keep your guess to yourself. But otherwise feel free to tell us, even if you are 89% certain you can tell the gender. Better yet, send us an email with an edited copy of one of our ultrasounds, circling the relevant bit. (I would surmise at least one of you will end up circling a hand or some other anatomically irrelevant part.)

Q. What are you naming it?
A. $USER, after you! Thanks for asking, now you've gone and ruined the surprised for yourself.

Q. Are you having a baby shower?
A. Babies don't need showers. In fact, they don't even need a bath every day.

Q. Are you registered anywhere?
A. Yes. We're registered with Amazon and Target.

Q. Why aren't you registered with Babies R Us?
A. I'm throwing in this question to explain to the world that Toys R Us and Babies R Us are the worst company you can potentially have to deal with. They handled a crib recall for us, and they were terribly unpleasant and unprofessional to deal with. Michal received 4 different pieces of spam within a 24 hour period from them, and they canceled an order twice, while continuing to show available inventory on the website. A few years ago, Amazon was sued by Toys R Us for violating an agreement to allow Toys R Us to be the exclusive provider of toys on because Toys R Us proved to be such a horrible experience for Amazon customers. Turns out, Amazon was right. The reviews of agree with me.

Q. I'm just finding out through the blog. How come you didn't tell me in person about this big news?
A. Sorry. We've been discussing the pregnancy with friends as we've seen them. Perhaps you haven't seen us in a few months, or perhaps we simply forgot we hadn't told you. To make up for this transgression, we've decided to name the baby after you, $USER.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Michal's Birthday

Michal celebrated his thirtieth birthday with tons of presents, food, and friends. Here's how big the birthday stack started at the beginning of the evening. We continued to dinner, and whittled down the gifts over the course of 16 hours or more. And then he spent the rest of the weekend playing with his new stuff.

See all the photos.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend: Camping at Bullards Beach State Park in Oregon

A couple of weeks ago Sarah and I joined our friends Ethan and Stefanie and two of their friends for a camping trip based in Bullards Beach State Park in Oregon. It turns out that it was far enough South (9 hours!) that it was almost in California, and more importantly, the weather was nice. We spent three nights there before working our way up the Oregon coast on Hwy 101 -- with the completion of this trip Sarah and I have (at one time or another) driven all of Hwy 101 through Washington and Oregon. Lots of adventures abounded, including relaxing on the beach and holding lion cubs. See all Michal's photos plus Sarah's few token images.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Review: Delivering Happiness

Okay, so I don't regularly do book reviews here (ie, never), but a few months ago I came across and signed up for a special program for bloggers where the publisher would send you an advance copy of the book if you were 1) a blogger and 2) promised to put a review of the book on your blog sometime during this week. Apparently having a blog makes one a blogger, and so I got a copy of the book. Read through the entire review for a special reader bonus!

The book is, clearly, about Zappos, but the first half is really an auto-biography where Tony Hseih introduces himself and summarizes his entrepreneurial efforts starting with mail order businesses in childhood through his first job as a college graduate which lasted all of five months before he quit and founded LinkExchange. I didn't know he was behind LinkExchange, a banner ad trading network for websites in the early 90s in which I myself was a member. Of course Microsoft bought the company in 1996 and effectively killed it, but Tony took his money and started investing in other companies.

Ultimately he's convinced to invest in an idea which ultimately becomes Zappos, and Tony gets involved in the company as CEO when it's on the brink of bankruptcy and he cashes out his real estate and personal wealth and pours it into the company. The second half of the book is focused primarily on this process and bringing Zappos through its dark days into a profitable and well respected company.

Unfortunately there's a section in the middle of the book which goes over Zappos' ten core values with 2-3 page essays written by Zappos employees. While Zappos has somewhat non-standard core values, and the essays attempt to give varied personal perspectives on each value, the end result is a not-quite-cohesive hodgepodge of brief stories.

The book itself isn't a very dense read and goes quickly. It can be pretty enjoyable, but go into it with expectations of fluffiness rather than a serious discussion of business practices. There's a disclaimer in the very beginning from Tony where he makes it clear he's not a professional writer and he's not using a ghost writer, and while I appreciate the honesty, you can see why.

 In addition to sending me an advance reading copy so I could write this review, the Delivering Happiness Crew also sent a second copy for me to give away. So, if you'd like a free copy of this book, leave a comment on this blog post before June 10th with enough information so I know who you are, and I'll pick randomly and send it to you. As of right now this is the top selling book on Amazon, so it's clearly popular.