Category Archives: Family

Disneyland Wrap-Up

I just got back from a five night stay at the Disneyland Resort. It was perhaps the best vacation I’ve ever been on, for one big fat main reason: Almost every restaurant, from the high-end venues to the carts on the sidewalks, have gluten-free options. Oh yeah, and the kids had fun too… 😉

First of all we drove down to Anaheim on the 28th. Getting the kids out of bed was surprisingly difficult, considering especially that Maxwell has been asking if we can go to Disneyland every day for the past three months.

We stopped on the way at a Wendy’s so I could feed the troops and get myself one of their baked potatoes. No baked potatoes – we’re out. Drive on cursing while the smell of french fries and burgers fills the car. Feh.

When we got there, we checked in to our hotel – the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. I always wanted to try this place out. Very nice – I’m impressed.

I wrote up a detailed review for each restaurant on Yelp.com. The good gluten-free experiences were:

The sucky restaurants that had poor gluten-free dining options included:

The Disneyland Resort’s head chefs keep a gluten-free information sheet available at the main info desks. For Disneyland, go in to City Hall just to the left as you enter the park. For Disney’s California Adventure, again go to the information office just to the left as you enter their gates. Ask at either location for a gluten-free info sheet and they will give you one right away that is updated regularly. It will tell you what options you have for most restaurants and food carts, from the fast food places all the way up to the nicer venues. Some of the table service locations have dedicated gluten-free menus. Others will send the head chef out to talk with you personally about your options. Food cart items such as popcorn, turkey legs, and hot dogs are GF. Ask for a gluten-free ice cream scoop and they’ll dip it in a new box for you. Some places such as Pizza Port and the hotel caf√s stock tapioca buns, GF pizza crust, and rice pasta. I actually was able to order a burger with fries, pizza, pancakes, and spaghetti like a normal human.

The kids of course had a blast the whole time. It was too cute to watch Dylan running around finding stuff to do and Max going ballistic on the rides or chasing down his favorite characters. He had a wrestling match with a one of the gorillas from Tarzan, Pluto, Dale (of Chip & Dale) and Stitch, and he got to jam on pots and pans in the kitchen with Goofy, a big giant bear, and Pluto again. And he did a little hula dance with Daisy Duck, Lilo, and Stitch. So funny. He rode the roller coasters with his eyes shut, and his arms held out way up high above his head while shouting “wooooooooooo!!!”

The crowds were unreal – kind of like going to the Hajj or something. Just seas of people moving around. Some lines moved fast but we seemed to be close to a few too many failed rides – the Monorail broke down one morning, I got stuck for over an hour in the underground part of the line for the busted Indiana Jones thing, and another time the Star Tours thing died while Yingwen was trying to go check it out.

The park was open until 2 AM for New Year’s Eve, and they had two fireworks shows that night. We made it until about 11:45 before our legs collectively gave out from under us, but the cool thing was that our hotel room faced the fireworks and we could (and did) watch each show from our balcony.

That was a blast. We’ll definitely do that one again next year.

Snow

We had snow at 1000 feet on Mt. Diablo today, and we all drove up there this afternoon to check it out. We saw Channel 7 news crews filming kids playing in the snow, and one guy had a little snowman built on top of his truck. Max and Dylan were having a blast. Max quickly figured out that the goal was to throw as many snowballs as possible, while Dylan was just amping out:

Dylan in a yellow jacket and smiling in the snow on Mt. Diablo
Fig.1: Dylan amping out.

It’s so cold right now. It should dip into the 20s tonight, and I’m betting we’ll get a bit of snow down here in the foothills sometime this weekend. It rarely snows here at this elevation, so this may be our chance…

Happy New Year

I can’t believe it is just hours away from 2006 already. Looking back, 2005 was one of the best. I spent my first year at my dream job, moved into my dream home, practiced a respectable amount of music, completed some study on CSS and PHP, and watched my kids grow up. Dylan began walking and talking, and is hitting his terrible twos a tad early, while Max has been progressing very well and enjoying his preschool activities. Yingwen is fully booked for piano teaching for 2006, and she has a waiting list. Not bad.

One of my long-term goals, and I’m talking decades at this point, was to get the notes for the G minor Violin Sonata by Bach under my fingers on the guitar (transcribed for the instrument in A minor). I found a Bach folio of lute works while browsing bins of old sheet music at Lark in the Morning in Mendocino, California (or were they in Fort Bragg then?) way back sometime in the mid-1980s. I never really got serious about playing classical guitar though until exactly one year ago when I finally went and purchased an instrument. After one year of having the guitar and practicing regularly, I have that piece memorized, as well as most of the Lute Suite No.1 in E minor learned.

I didn’t practice the double bass with as much consistency as I would have liked, although I did practice way more guitar than I expected, and to be fair I did practice the bass a lot in spurts. It is a less resistant path to pick up a guitar and start working on something while the baby sleeps, as opposed to picking up the bass and getting everything set with the music, bow, rosin, metronome, etc. So one goal for 2006 is to spend a little more practice time on the bass – If I can get in a consistent bass practice session in each night then I’ll be very happy. On top of that, I need to find some venues for performance. I have been playing a lot of music “in the lab”, relearning my instruments after a long break, and it’s time to take some of the theory to the real world. Public solo performance is a skill in itself.

Another 2006 goal is to continue the exercise thing that I started back in November, but again with more consistency. I have a treadmill now in my office, and it’s really easy to prop up my PowerBook on a music stand and start watching DVDs during the workout.

One goal that is a bit newer this year is to start with some serious composition and arranging. I’m about halfway done with the first movement of the Bottessini Concerto No.2 arrangement for guitar accompaniment, and have sketches going for a prelude for piano and a string quintet. My aim is to complete the above three items for 2006, and re-orchestrate the variations on a theme by Grieg that I did back in 1986 that won me the Dave Brubeck scholarship award.

Book-wise, I have on my stand three PHP books and one inspirational book written by an old friend (more on that one later.) I’m just about to finish one of the PHP books on security, and the other two are on more advanced concepts. Let’s call this goal “always have a book open”. I also want to try to read more non-geek material for a change. In ten years, I think I read only one book that wasn’t about code or computers, but I used to read tons of novels back in the day. That’s the thing with being an obsessive personality in a technology career: You always feel like you have to stay on top of the trends, and any new book on something interesting winds up in the queue on my nightstand. My thinking the past several years has been: “If it’s not going to help me with my career, then I don’t have time right now.” But now I think it’s time to introduce a little balance in my reading curriculum.

I think that should do it. A bit of playing music, some exercise, and four compositions. Let’s see how we do…

Overdue post on December

So lazy on the blogging front this month. But it’s been busy and there’s been little time to think about der blög.

First of all – my birthday fell once again on December 11. Strange how that always happens on the same day. Anyway, I made it to 3.8 decades so I suppose I should feel lucky that I made it this far, and that I haven’t surpassed that big round 4.0 yet. We had a small but wonderful party at my house with just a few of my closest friends that go way back, and everyone bought food. Michael and Rochelle’s salsa and queso dip was my favorite. I can’t describe how yummy it was, but it went in the oven and got all mixed together as people hit on it, and I gotta get a copy of that recipe one day…

Presentation at InterlabThe following week was spent at the InterLab 2005 conference, where I had a short bit on XHTML/CSS layouts. It went well, but I’ve had a lot of practice doing this show over the past year. this time I only had 45 minutes as opposed to the usual hour and a half that I give to the lecture, so for the first time I actually practiced the bit and tried to combine talking and writing code at the same time. I think I only went a minute or two over. Washington that week was a very cold place – we were hitting lows of about 20ºF all week, and most of the smaller creeks and ponds were frozen solid. Very pretty though.

Somewhere last month I began the process of redesigning the presentation of this weblog. It is coming along but again there’s little time to work on such frivolities. The goals are to produce as lightweight and flexible standards-based layout that makes room for things like book and music recommendations as well as the usual categories, blogroll, links, and other goodies. The current layout is based on the default Kubrick hypertext from WordPress and my own stylesheet, but I intend to completely redo both in the next cycle. Given the current rate of progress, look for it sometime in 2007.

Xmas was fun – the kids seemed to have a blast with everything. Max sang in the children’s choir at Yingwen’s church and I gave a horrific rendition of a Bach prelude on guitar – succumbed to a profound lack of sleep and a long stretch without any public solo performance, and my brain just floated away in the middle of the piece somewhere…. 😉 I’m off this whole week. In-between family trips and dinners, I’ll be reading some PHP books and doing some serious music practicing. And that pretty much wraps up the month! Cheers!