Maker Faire 2016

A bit of video from this year’s Bay Area Maker Faire:

Video montage (5:35 minutes, 114 MB)

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Keith and Matha’s Wedding

Click through for my photo gallery from Keith and Matha’s wedding (May 15th, 2016):

The “FileMaker Family Group Shot”

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Bed and Breakfast and Elephants

Two weeks ago, Darlene and I enjoyed a weekend stay at the Vision Quest Ranch in Salinas, CA.  It’s a facility that keeps and cares for a host of 100+ various exotic and domestic animals.  Their prime business used to be training and providing animals for use in the film and television industry, but with the increasing use of computer-generated, all-digital animals, they’ve turned more to adopting at-risk or retired animals, doing more educational programs and training programs and transforming the facility into a fully, open-to-the-public zoo, “The  Monterey Zoo”.  This effort is still in progress and so they’re now only open for short, daily, guided tours while they build out larger, more engaging enclosures for their animals.  However, they also run a bed and breakfast service based on several cabin-like tents situated on the property and provide a number of up close encounters with various animals, particularly a couple of retired circus elephants who greet you at your cabin as your breakfast is served.

You can read more about the history of the facility, stories about their numerous animals and information about their various educational efforts on their web site.

A video montage of our visit.

Click through for the full gallery of pictures:


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California Railroad Museum

For Darlene’s birthday this year, we went to Old Town Sacramento for the weekend and stayed on the steamboat-turned-hotel “Delta King”.  We spent a good part of Saturday checking out the fantastic California Railroad Museum which makes up almost all of the pictures in my gallery:


No pictures, but we also spent time wandering around Old Town and checking out the shops.  That afternoon we participated in another “escape room” and successfully solved “The Study” at Escape Sacramento and then, after dinner, went to a fun play put on by the B Street Theater in town.  (Take note: skip the Suspects Mystery Dinner Theater option on the Delta King – it gets terrible reviews on Yelp and TravelAdvisor.)  Sunday was filled with a long bike ride out and back along part of the 30+ mile bike trails along the American River.

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Tahoe Ski Season

This is a handful of pictures and a couple of videos from this season of skiing (and an afternoon of sledding).  Featuring… Darlene, Mike, Nanci, Rick, Maxine, Greg, Erin, Jon, Bill, Kat, Jim and myself.

Click through for the gallery:


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Cordless Garden Tool Stress Test

I recently researched the available cordless power gardening tools (string trimmers, blowers, mowers, etc) to see what might be worth buying.  Many companies are now offering 40V and 56V lithium battery systems and Greenworks now has even an 80V system (though higher voltage doesn’t necessarily mean more power is provided in the tool). There were a few reviews here and there and a few video demos but nothing that showed how well these newer, more powerful tools could handle more challenging tasks in the yard, like cutting down yards of tall, thick thistles.

I eventually decided to try both the string trimmer and blower from Ego Power+, based on their 56V battery system.  And so I’ve put together a little video demonstration of a more serious test of their capabilities that might be useful to anyone else considering upgrading or switching over to cordless:

So I read a lot of reviews and settled on trying the Ego Power+ 56V system.  From someone’s takeapart video, they seem to have designed their battery layout well, and they have a very good rapid charger that keeps the batteries cool while charging.  I was going to try the Greenworks 40V system but I came across a number of complaints about build and design issues.  For what it’s worth, I’m definitely happy with the Ego Power+ system so far and I recommend checking it out!

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In Memory of Gina Grandolfo

I’m posting here to share a collection of images of Gina that I’ve gathered together in this photo stream:

I’ll add to it if I find more pictures.  Here’s information on her memorial life celebration, this Sunday, March 20th.

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Death Valley Super Bloom

Death Valley is in the midst of a rare “super bloom” of wildflowers right now.  Darlene and I were able to drive down there for a brief overnight visit, camping along one of the backcountry roads.


Click through above to view my gallery of pictures.  For more info on the current status, see the week-by-week wildflower update for this year’s bloom.

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Skiing/Gaming Week in Tahoe

Here’s the pictures and video from our annual week of skiing and tabletop gaming, this year back in Tahoe again with Jon, Jim, Bill, Kat and Brin. We were unfortunately in a bit of a very warm and dry spell for California at the end of February. This kept us to the freshly groomed runs, rather firm in the morning, soft in the afternoon and refrozen over night, but we hit up Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Sugarbowl and Northstar over the course of the week.

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Dancing Chicken Show

Last month Darlene and I finally made it over to the Glaum Egg Ranch in nearby Aptos during open hours to pick up some eggs and see their dancing chicken show:

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