Random 11+: Vacations We Went On

Matt in the Bahamas

I think my favorite vacations with Matt were the ones where we saw lots of natural sights. These vacations usually involved more driving, but that was okay. Matt never wanted to go to the same place twice and he was always financially savvy about our plans. The first years of our marriage, I did most of the planning, especially for the road trips. Later, Matt did the leg work although I had a big say in where we went. (Yes, you can read this as Matt being a bit of a control freak. I was always happy with his plans and was happy to not have the burden of planning.) We did a lot of beach vacations and they were never Matt’s favorite. He didn’t like to swim and he didn’t like all of the salt and sand. Still, Matt usually remembered the vacations fondly, even if I wasn’t sure he was enjoying himself at the time.

  • Cancun – This was a really good vacation except for the day that we tried scuba diving. The weather was grey, the boat was small and I threw up several times. The hotel we stayed at was really nice and reasonably priced.
  • Road trip to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and San Francisco (2000) – We drove in the Porsche 951, with Oliver in the back and it was a fantastic vacation. We drove very fast through Texas. I remember camping outside of Yosemite and freezing at night and then just driving through the park the next day and being disappointed that we couldn’t spend more time there. We visited a friend in San Francisco and a waitress at one of the restaurants guessed we were newlyweds. Then on our way back we drove through the Grand Canyon for the second time.
  • Bahamas (2001) – I remember this vacation being a dud. We stayed at the resort Atlantis, although not on the main property, and everything was prohibitively expensive for us. We didn’t feel comfortable trying to navigate the island outside of the resort so we mostly sat on the beach and read. It wasn’t the sort of vacation Matt liked– he preferred being fairly active, doing activities and seeing sites. This was the first vacation that we had a digital camera.
  • Road trip/camping to Colorado and New Mexico (2002) – This time we had two puppies and a BMW M3. We camped in Mesa Verde on our way where there was a lot of wild fire damage.
  • Maui (2004) – Summer was six months old and every day of the vacation at dinner time, she would melt down without fail. But Maui is beautiful and we saw and did many wonderful things.
  • Caribbean Cruise (2005) – This was the vacation that our marriage counselor encouraged us to take. I don’t like cruises; the idea of being confined on a boat with a bunch of people does not appeal to me. But we took the advice, leaving Summer for the first time. I don’t remember it being a strained vacation.
  • Colorado (2006) – Rocky Mountain National Park, the Denver Zoo, Garden of the Gods
  • California (2007) – Yosemite, Los Angeles, San Diego Zoo. Once again, an infant (Cole this time) meant a lot of crying, but this is the sort of vacation we liked best with lots to do and see and wide open spaces.
  • Miami and Disney World (2008) – We went to visit my sister Anna and the beach. Last minute, Matt decided we should take a trip to Orlando and go to Disney World. (I think he was tired of my family.) We were reading Summer The Wizard of Oz at the time and we told her that we were going to Oz. We got right up to the Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom and she still didn’t know where we were till we told her.
  • Paris (2009) – To celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary (sans kids). I had just found out I was pregnant with Luke before we left and by the end of the vacation was starting to feel morning sickness.
  • South Padre Island (2009) – I remember the turtle rescue center and running after Cole at 6 months pregnant when he took off across the beach and Matt had already gone back to the condo.
  • Michigan (2010) – This was such a good vacation, even with three children. I just remember turning on the vacation switch and feeling so relaxed the whole time.

All of our big vacations were week long vacations. Before we were married we took a road trip to the Grand Canyon, went to Daytona and Niagara Falls. We did other shorter trips after we were married to New York City without the kids, Dallas for a baby moon before Luke was born, ski trips before the kids were born to Salt Lake City, Wolf Creek, and Angel Fire.



Girl Talk

How lucky I am to have this video. I had never heard of Girl Talk when Matt told me he was going to get tickets to the concert. We lined up outside of Austin Music Hall (for the second time in a month since we went to see Cake for New Year’s). I discovered that I was surrounded by a bunch of people wearing 80s style work out clothes. Matt explained to me that Girl Talk is a guy who is an engineer by day and mixes music at night. It turns out that going to a Girl Talk concert means taking part in a dancing hard sweat fest. It was so much fun and I remember Matt enjoying it so much. He told me afterwards that he “really needed that” because he hadn’t been able to run in his current health. I don’t remember it being work for him to dance so hard, but he looks so thin here and his eyes are almost too bright.


This week I was at the daycare picking up Luke. Summer was with me and we had just come from a successful shopping trip at the mall for new tennis shoes. As Luke came off of the playground, Summer said, “Luke, look, I got new shoes.” Luke looked over and said “Ooooooo.” I observed this adorable sibling exchange and at the same time heard Luke’s “oooooo” as if it had come out of Matt’s mouth.

I’m afraid I’m at the point where I had to rack my brain for a few moments to reassure myself that I was remembering correctly, that his response wasn’t familiar for some other reason. Matt didn’t say it very often, but sometimes when one of the kids (or me) was showing him something special, he would say “ooooo” in a sort of childlike or silly way, with an inflection halfway. I’m certain Cole never uses this response. Summer maybe has said it before, but Luke has it down precisely.

Some people want to believe that a loved one’s spirit is with them and can send them messages from beyond. I want to believe that even if Luke does not explicitly remember much of his father, his implicit memories of him are there, planted deep and blooming forth through his life.

Today, Luke was looking at his birth pictures in the bedroom and it dawned on him that Matt was with him when he was a baby. (I realized that he’s still too young for the word “alive” to really mean anything to him.) “Daddy was here when I was a baby?!” He was delighted and he asked me, “How old was I when daddy was here?” When I said zero, he thought it was the silliest answer ever.


Matt's Words

In an email introducing LiveMosaic:

Business Plan. I’ve got a lot of this but very little of what is on paper is current. I’ve enclosed scope and strategy documents from when the working name was “circle.com” Things have changed quite a bit but this is probably still helpful. The enclosed Biz plan is more current (just ignore the schedule).

We don’t have any technical documentation except for code and comments. That’s something that we’ll need to fix as the development team grows.

UI – There’s a storyboard but it’s on paper (flip charts). At this point everything on the storyboard is in the design. We’re just fixing bugs and making enhancements as they are requested. Once we’re ready to start adding the next wave of functionality we’ll need to go back and update the plan.

AWS – We’re using:
EC2 (small instances. One for production and one for test. As we grow we’ll either need to move to larger instances or start load balancing across multiple instances).
EBS. We use this to store our application, user data and the database
S3. We just use this for backup and to store instance images
We aren’t currently using SQS, the DB, dev pay, etc.
In addition to Amazon’s offerings, we are also using RightScale’s management front end.
A consultant sort of half set up MySQL replication and failover and Scalr elastic scaling. We can get him to finish the job when we need it.
Programming Languages:
The App server uses:
Base Application Framework is TurboGears 1.0
TG is a Python-based framework – see this http://www.turbogears.org/about/
We’ve replaced many of their components:
We’re now using SQLAlchemy for the ORM, MySQL DB, Genshi Templates
There is also a video encoder application that runs python.
It also calls a BASH script that handles calling the various encoding tools (FFMPEG, etc)
Both of the server apps are managed with Supervisord
On the client side, we use:
jQuery and its plugins for just about all javascript.
SWFUpload for the multi-select uploader
Slideshow Pro for the video/image slideshows
We haven’t tested in chrome. From what I hear, it’s not quite ready for prime time. But it will be eventually…

There are many areas where you could take ownership. The trick will be to find something that’s important enough to require your skills, but that isn’t so urgent as to preclude a ramp up. It would also be good if most of its complexity were not already completed, so that you can really own it. I’m thinking that the LiveMosaic site might be a good candidate.

As I mentioned, we’re also behind on test…

29 September 2008