Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sunday afternon on the Mac

I don't remember the last time I sat down and just played on the computer. Sure I have jobs I really should be doing right now, but what the hell. It started off as a job- to get my email up to date. I've only been intermitently being checking it in the last month, and then there is so much it gets overwhelming and I just can't face it. So I took the bull by the horns and went for it today. Thank God for Gmail. The spam box was 600 messages full. No more. I cleared out all the ones whch are too late to answer now anyway and the notification emails I get about travel etc, which I do like to get once in a while. but do they build up too. Then I have all the ones which get forwarded from work, which is also ok when I need them but otherwise they just clutter up the email. So I am down to about 5 in the inbox and now I am a happy person! All are related to work and will have to be dealt with but not on a Sunday afternoon! I also got to write to Sue and Chris- I worked with both of them at different times in the past. It is good to catch up on news of mutual friends as well as their own news. We are all on different continents- Sue in Hong Kong, Chris in England. Both had responded to our annual Christmas message I sent out with the Christmas cards. That was also an eye opener- it turns out we had quite a full year last year after all and travelled more than I had remembered. I decided I liked receiving similar missives from friends and have stopped apologising for sending out a more personal message, though I do try to write a line or two that is more personal in the cards themselves. So while I was writing emails I noticed a link to blogging out the corner of my eye and decided to set it up there and then. Now I just have to work out how to find the blog again and correct the spelling!

Here is my Christmas letter which I am posting to remind myself of our 2005. However I am going to edit out some things that should not be public....

"Well my Dad summed it up nicely this morning... You? Not ready for Christmas? That's unusual! I still can't work out what happened to December!

Anyway, enough of that. The best bit was when Dick and I ran away from everything and went on our first cruise for 5 days to the Bahamas :-) We drove down to Jacksonville, Florida in the Mustang, and had five days of reading, sleeping and relaxing on the boat. Oh, and we walked around Freeport, and Nassau too. It was very pretty 'mon'! Ate conch and rum cake and had no Internet connection for 5 days! How did Dick survive you ask? Barely :-)

Working backwards in time, September I hit the big 40, and Dick surprised me with a party two days after. Everyone just turned up at our house at the appointed time and I had no idea. I had my first real American present and got some very comfortable cowboy boots which I love, and my sister Jane tells me are very trendy right now. The first time I have been 'in' for years! Part of my birthday treat was a girls weekend in Texas visiting an old neighour who built a house on Lake Dallas, complete with wonderful views and a pool in the back garden. It was exactly what I needed :-)

Talking of Jane, she is pregnant and they are expecting the little one to arrive at the end of January. Therefore we will be coming back to England in early Spring, and we will be driving around to see as many as we can as we haven't been back in over two years, and both Jane and Dad have moved house since. Mary, Dick's mum, came out in June – more on that later, and is here with us for Christmas and the New Year. We saw Kirsty, Dicks sister, only two weeks ago, she came out with Mary for a quick visit on her own and she shopped until we all dropped. It seems things are still cheaper here. We also went to see the new Georgia Aquarium which is the largest and newest in the world and is fabulous.

The main reason we did not come back to England in late spring as planned was originally due to Uncle Sam, and the IRS. I hate the 'try to work out how much you will owe in taxes' plan because you don't always work it out right! So the plan was to use air miles to get us to stay with some friends in Los Angeles for a cheap holiday instead. Well, things didn't quite work out that way! It just so happened, that the 'Java One' conference was happening in San Francisco around the same time. For those non geeks among you, it is the ultimate Java Geek conference and Dick was invited on an all expenses paid trip to attend. Shame :-) Well, I couldn't let him stay in San Francisco all on his own could I? Mary even came out to house and dog sit :-) We changed our free flights from LA to San Francisco, and Dick geeked for a week while I explored during the days. We were wined and dined every night by the local Sun Microsystems guys whom Dick has got to know well, and Dick met and spoke to some of his Java Idols. Dick himself is well known in the Java circuit and was recognised several times at the conference which he found both amazing and embarrassing. My shy quiet hubby turns out to be Java hero! Java has turned out to be very significant in his life this year.. more on that later.

Anyway, post conference we hired another mustang convertible, (which was paid for by the company because they had not had to pay for flights :-), and we drove down the beautiful Route 1 four hundred miles on the Pacific Coast highway with stunning views all the way to LA. We stayed with Joel and Stevie and explored the area including Universal Studios and the Paso Robles vineyards. (Need I say more?) The only thing we never saw was the actual Hollywood sign, even though we drove down Rodeo drive (it was behind us all the time we were told after !) Stevie is an animator for Disney and she took us on a private tour around the studios, and then later down to the original Disney world (now 50 yrs old), which was an amazing experience. It was nothing like we expected and Dick admitted after he was not looking forward to going until he went on some of the rides, which were not all aimed at children! In fact, we plan to take someone down to Florida to see the bigger more modern Disneyland someday.

To top it all, the very last weekend we were there happened to be the World Superbike race at Laguna Seca, which is just south of San Francisco. It was the first time in 10 years that the top level of motorbike racing in the world was going to be in States, and we normally only watch it on TV, so Dick in particular was very excited. Unfortunately it didn't quite work out out be the day we had hoped. It took 2½ hours to get from the entrance of the park to a parking spot, and we only just got there in time to see the 40 minute race, and it then took 3 hrs to get back out again- it was a good job our flight home was the next day! As I've told you before, we go to two other race tracks every year, one here in Atlanta, and one in Birmingham, Alabama, both of which deal with large crowds and the latter in particular, a new course, would have done a much better job of hosting it. Needless to say we won't be going to see it there next year, Dick said a beer and a bar sounds like a better idea! However, the Java One conference is in May in 2006 so maybe we'll go North and explore the Napa Valley after this time :-)

Back to Java and Dick. First he now regularly writes about Java for an online magazine called Developer.com. Both Dick and I have iPods (I listen to more books than I read these days) and as usual, he is way ahead of some of the geeky trends, so he begun a 'Podcast' (for those of you who have not heard of it, it is like a mini radio program) on Java called the 'Java Posse' about all the news in the Java world and some interviews too, which he does at least once a week with two guys in California, one who works for Sun Microsystems, the other works for Google. If you do a search for 'Dick Wall' on Google, you can see some of what he does! We haven't updated our home web site in a long time, so that needs to be on our resolution list this year. "

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