Testing photo sizes #blog


Two weeks off … and now it’s back to work … and trying to lose the Holiday 15! LBS that is …


Renfest Prize

29Oct11

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Cali

28Oct11

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Wow, November 11, 2010. Just call me a slacker!

A lot has been going on since last year. Another wonderful Christmas came and went. Emma surprised me with a new fishing kayak which I was pining for – a Jackson Coosa. She boxed it up nicely to fit under the tree :)

Cool kayak Christmas ornament.

Emma got a new Nespresso CitiZ to feed her (my?) caffeine addiction. This little machine has broken our shackles from Starbucks and Caribou. I’m amazed how good home espresso machines have gotten. If you can get your hands on one, do it.

Another typical day with the Nespresso machine.

We took some trips to get out of the weather …

Anemone

… and the animals enjoyed staying inside and warm.

Bailey and Hazelnut relaxing.

Ethan honed his ninja skills, and is in love with Tae Kwon Do. We couldn’t be prouder with his progress and his focus to “get a black belt”. He’s moving through the belts pretty quick.

Yellow Belt!


Green belt!

Personally, I fell back into one of my passions – craft beer. So much, in fact, that I started a “side project” start-up with a friend called Hopshunter. It’s a new social way to enjoy, experience and discover craft beer in your neighborhood. Think of beer + social + location and you get the idea :)

Right now only the website is accessible. Visit, sign up and take it for a spin! We’re working hard on an upcoming iPhone app, which should be released very soon. Thankfully, we’ve got plenty of good beer to enjoy to help us along the way.

Ahh, good times.

Oh, and my new wife Emma? Well, in a word – amazing. Our one year anniversary is right around the corner. Which reminds me, I need to get on some planning!


Snapshot

11Nov10

My dad circa sometime in the 70’s. This photo always amazed me when i was a kid. My dad was a 7th Dan black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and not far behind in Hapkido. Alas, my life in the dojang didn’t last that long.


I’m beginning to think we’re cursed when it comes to international travel. First, it was Eyjafjallaj√∂kull that grounded our honeymoon plans to Portugal and left me scrambling at the last minute for a new trip. This time, it was Mexicana airlines. I should have known …

The vacation started out innocently enough. I read some rumblings of Mexicana having financial problems, but I pushed them aside since it was purely speculation. Besides … I was dreaming of white sand, blue water and margaritas.

The flight there went off without a hitch. We arrived and shuttled to the Hyatt Regency Cancun. Nice hotel. A bit modern, but not over the top. Excellent service as well. If you get the chance, upgrade to the club level. Free breakfast, snacks and drinks all day.

Interesting hotel architecture. One huge circular atrium that made us dizzy when we looked down.

Nice ocean views from our balcony.

After breezing through check in it was time to properly get vacation started.

The rest of the week went something like pool, beach, eat, drink, repeat. One of the main reasons I chose the Hyatt was the beach. They rebuilt it after the hurricanes, and threw in a breaker wall for good measure. Makes a world of difference in Cancun, as the waves can cause red flag conditions quickly. Our little slice of beach never went red – but walking down the beach red flags aplenty.

Calm water made for a happy Ethan and put our over protective paranoid minds at ease.

Not crowded. Not crowded at all.

We took a few side adventures during our stay. One was to Xcaret, which is an eco adventure park. Another was a speedboat snorkeling adventure. It was Emma’s first time snorkeling and swimming in the ocean. After a few false starts, everything fell in place and she had a great time. Ethan was like an old pro. I swear that kid has no fear when it comes to the water.

The highlight of Xcaret was our SNUBA experience. First time Ethan has ever gone underwater – and he loved it. I have a feeling when he’s old enough, he’s going to be dragging me overboard in SCUBA gear. The show at the end of the evening was also entertaining.

These guys sat in front of us at the start of the show. I wanted to ask him to move his feathers as he was blocking my view. I don’t think he would have been pleased.

The show was had a little bit of everything. Fire hockey anyone? And of course there was dancing and music. Lots and lots of music.

As we were winding down the week, that nagging feeling that something might happen with Mexicana never went away. And it didn’t. It reared its ugly head. Mexicana officially declared bankruptcy. Uh oh. First, we were notified that our flight home on Friday was canceled and that they re-booked us for a Saturday flight. I had to play phone tag with Expedia and Mexicana to see if anything could be done. Eventually, they told me I had to come back to the airport and speak with a desk agent in person to make any changes. WTF?!?

Of course, going to the airport and talking to the agent was a complete waste of time. There was nothing they could do. We were stuck with the new Saturday flight. Of course, they assured us that we’d get home on Saturday. So two cab rides and $60 out of pocket, I was back in the hotel room scrambling to make sure our pet sitter and boarding accommodations could all be taken care of. And oh yeah, I gotta make sure we still have a ROOM for one more night. Not a fun day.

Having resolved ourselves that an extra night vacation wasn’t the worst thing in the world, we enjoyed our extra time and headed for the airport Saturday morning. Everything was fine until we got to the check-in and they dropped the bomb. Sir, your flight home has been canceled. Again. Mexicana directed us (and hundreds of other stranded passengers) to another gate so they could “process” our rebookings.

So we quickly jumped on another shuttle, got the new gate only to find … no one. There was no Mexicana gate. There was no Mexicana agent to be seen. We were playing Where’s Waldo in an airport that was completely foreign to us. Thankfully, we eventually spotted a MOB of angry people at the end of the terminal. Yes, this must be our ticket home!

Except it wasn’t. Mexicana had already canceled our flight twice, and all signs pointed to us bending over a barrel again. I was hearing rumblings from folks in line of “we’re stuck here till Thursday … all U.S. flights are booked … sleep at the airport …” I immediately went into triage mode and told Emma to call up Expedia, while I whipped out my netbook and began searching for flights. We must have looked like two crazy nerds, but we eventually found a way home. An expensive, last minute, 1st class way home. Yes … let’s just say the flight back home cost more then our trip. But the only other choice we had was to stay in Cancun till Wednesday, which was the first POSSIBLE re-booking that Mexicana could offer. No thanks. I didn’t feel like waiting till Wednesday to get screwed again.

Of course, the only bone Mexicana threw at us was a discounted (not free) hotel stay at a nearby Marriott. Fine. By that point, we were barely holding it together. We were one of the first families to check in. By the time we finished dinner at the hotel, there was a mob of Mexicana refugees in the lobby waiting to check in. Apparently, they had held out hope … only to be told by Mexicana there was none.

I actually consider us lucky. While we had to pay out the nose for our tickets home, other families had to pay hundreds of dollars more cause they waited a couple hours. There was one family of six from New York that was just stranded, unless they miraculously could come up with six seats and, oh, about $6,000 on the spot. There is no doubt that when airlines smell blood, they pounce with no remorse.

The trip home was its own adventure as well, complete with airplane electrical delays, missed connections, re-booking fun and a nice long cab ride from DCA to Dulles. But, we survived. Emma was, as she always is, a rock and absolutely wonderful and understanding through the whole process. If she wasn’t, I probably would have stroked out by Saturday afternoon. Thankfully Ethan took everything in stride as well – even with an ear infection. The kid deserves to be spoiled.

When we finally got out of the cab, I was never happier to be home from any other trip in my life. That whole cliche about needing a vacation after my vacation? This time, it was absolute truth. We’re holding out hope that we get some restitution from Mexicana … but it remains to be seen.

Now, about that anniversary trip next year to Portugal …




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