Jeanine, Nicolai, and I attended a combination celebration, fund-raiser, and launch for the Concord River Institute this evening at the home of presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Richard Goodwin, former speech writer for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Their son, Michael, is one of three co-founders and a former CCHS teacher who pioneered the Rivers and Revolutions program in which Nicolai was an inaugural student. The institute hopes to help transform our educational system by training teachers, administrators, and students in an experiential, interdisciplinary, student owned approach to the classroom experience. We made a generous contribution to support what we believe is the future of education and to recognize the transformative impact this approach had on Nicolai’s education.
Also in attendance, seated in the row in front of me, was Lewis Katz (pictured above), co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and former co-owner of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and NBA’s New Jersey Nets. Mr. Katz and his three guests along with the three person crew of his Gulfstream jet all perished when it crashed on take-off from the Hanscom Field later in the evening.
When I made the connection, I was accutely reminded of the importance of living in the moment and without regrets. The Calabria family extends our sincere condolences to all who suffered loss as a result of this tragedy.
Kyle has accepted a paid internship with Palo Alto Networks. While we are all very excited for him, it is also sad to think that he will not be coming home for the summer (for the first time). Fortunately, he has made arrangements for time off to attend our big Calabria family reunion in Wisconsin later this month. Jeanine and Maya are also planning to visit him in California while Nicolai and I are in Brazil for the World Cup.
Jeanine and I spent most of the day flying back to Boston from Los Angeles and were pleased to find that Nicolai and Maya had behaved quite responsibly during our absence.
Jeanine declared that she was prepared to move to Pasadena if only so that she could frequent the Urth Cafe. Offering organic coffee, teas and light meals featuring locally sourced ingredients, the food is incredible. We enjoyed breakfast together before I departed for work and then a late dinner after viewing a documentary film by Katie Couric called Fed Up. This investigation of childhood obeisity should be mandatory viewing for every parent in the US. The upshot; sugar is the new tabacco.
My attention turned to business this morning as I met with colleagues in our Pasadena office. A stark contrast to iRobot’s Bedford headquarters, our office here is located on the third floor of this upscale office building. After work, I joined my boss and two others for a nice dinner at a local steak house, quite a nice departure from camp fare (dehydrated lasagna cooked in its own pouch).
Day two on East Anacapa Island was spent exploring. The ranger gave us the key to the lighthouse which we toured at our leisure. I spent a good portion of the morning kayaking. Jeanine enjoyed our tandem outing yesterday but was not as keen on shooting the arch or paddling into the sea caves as I was.
The most amazing sea cave I can imagine is called Cathedral. Inside it is the size of a small room and can be accessed by one of three portals given the right sea conditions. A fourth “window” lets in the most beautiful aqua-tinted light. I spent about five minutes inside but failed to take a single decent photo although I did shoot enough video to give a real sense of the experience.
Jeanine and I made several excursions to Inspiration Point from which we could see the other two islets but alas the weather conditions were never favorable for photography.
In addition to the birds and sea life we encountered a most unusual White-lined Sphinx Moth which could easily be confused with a small hummingbird given how quickly it beat its wings. It took a shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second to freeze motion.
After tolerating my fourth camp cooked meal, I believe Jeanine was quite happy to pack up and head down to the dock to meet our return boat. We reached the Pasadena Hilton where we grabbed much anticipated hot showers before setting out to find a nice Mexican restaurant for dinner.
Anacapa Island is part of the Channel Island National Park and is composed of three narrow volcanic islets (East, Middle and West Anacapa) each 6 miles long. Located about 11 miles off the coast of Ventura, California our camping destination for the evening is East Anacapa. With two semi-permanent residents, the park ranger and his girlfriend, our visit doubled the human population. The island is also home to the largest breeding colony of the California Brown Pelican in the United States and the largest breeding colony of Western Gulls in the world.
Our timing could not have been better with the cutest gull chicks hatching left and right across the tiny island.
Know as an exceptional sea kayaking destination, we rented one on the mainland and took it on the boat with us to the island. Immediately after making camp and having a quick lunch we set out to explore the famous arch and numerous sea caves as well as the sea lions which abound.
The Joshua Tree night skies are dark enough for good astrophotography. It may be necessary to click on the above photo to fully appreciate the details of the Milky Way. After breaking camp we made visits to Skull Rock, Split Rock, and the Cholla Cactus Garden.
We had hoped to make Lost Palms Oasis our final destination in the park but found the access road closed due t construction. With a little extra time in our budget we decided to drive to Santa Barbara for dinner where we enjoyed a fine Italian meal and a leisurely stroll up and down the main tourist corridor and a quick visit to the beach.
An early start had us in Joshua Tree National Park in time to secure a nice secluded site in the Jumbo Rocks campground. The 794,000 acres park has less than 500 sites and we knew they would fill quickly on this holiday weekend.
With our base of operation established we set out to visit the park and made several 1 mile hikes to visit Hidden Valley, Arch Rock, White Tanks, Barker’s Dam, Keys View, and Cap Rock.
Jeanine and I flew to Los Angeles this afternoon and then drove to Riverside where we stayed at the romantic Mission Inn. Originally built as a two-story adobe guesthouse in 1876, the Inn has been expanded over the years into an enchanting European castle. The Inn has hosted 10 American presidents, dozens of celebrities, and an impressive list of social leaders (my favorites: Albert Einstein).
Jeanine was in the mood to prepare a lovely dinner this evening, our last with Maya, before we leave for a one week vacation in California. Nicolai returns from his week long visit with with Kyle on Saturday and we will miss him by one day. He lost his phone just before departing and we have not had many details of the sibling reunion.
I will try to post from the road during the coming week, hopefully, with better follow through than my last attempt from Spain.
Today I had a rare chance to do some actual engineering at work. You would be amazed at how much of my normal day is consumed with meetings, resource planning, budgets, schedules, staffing issues and the like. To top things off, I came up with an extremely creative new feature for one of our products that could make a huge difference in the market if we elect to implement it.
At iRobot we make extensive use of our AVA 500 Telepresence Robots. Last week, for the first time ever, we had a meeting with two participants attending via AVA. I have proposed an idea for a cartoon which has a bunch of AVAs sitting around a table having a virtual meeting. If I ever find a free moment at work, I may orchestrate a photo of exactly such a scene. I think it would be really funny.
With real sadness, I placed my John Deere tractor up for sale on Craig’s List today. I need to start making room for the new BMW when it arrives. I purchased it when Kyle was born and it has been a reliable workhorse that has never let me down. Since moving to Concord (11 years ago) it has remained largely idle as we employ a lawn service to mow the lawn. I had a half dozen inquiries within hours of the listing going active. John Deere tractors of this vintage were made to much higher standards than the current ones and even those stand a cut above the competition.
Maya produced an exceptionally nice goal this afternoon , scoring from the top of the box on a powerful left footed drive. She played center midfield for 90 minutes and helped her team to a 4-1 win. Her distribution, vision, and tenacity on the ball reminded me so much of her brothers. They would have been very proud of their baby sister today.
Although I was almost feeling match ready, I wisely sat out this morning to give my tweaked hammy a little more time to full mend. My team managed to tie Belmont, the first place team in the division, which was a great outcome given how many injured players we have at the moment.
The Concord Journal carried a nice article about Nicolai this week covering his involvement with Powerade and trip to Barcelona to meet Andres Iniesta. First Spain, then Italy, and today Nico is off to California to visit with Kyle for a week. He is racking up the frequent flier miles.
My day started with a very enjoyable test drive of a Tesla Model S. In twenty five years, I predict people will look back and regard the internal combustion engine as a relic. This is the car that will have set those dominoes in motion. It is a no compromise Automobile 2.0 whose only downside is an exorbitant price tag. As battery technology improves, electric cars will eventually cost less than their petroleum fueled counterparts. Despite the extreme temptation to pick up the Model S, I think I will stick with my original plan and wait until the company comes out with their all wheel drive Model X cross-over, scheduled for release in 2015.
My brother-in-law’s father, John “Jack” Elliott Quinn, age 79, passed away yesterday from Parkinson’s Disease complications. Jack was a gentle and kind soul who loved spending time with his grandchildren, Johnnie and Rachel, and his “grand puppies”, Harpo and Bella. Jack also loved gardening, was a wonderful cook, enjoyed doing Civil War re-enactments, and was an avid reader of anything history or Civil War related. He served in the army from 1957-1959 and worked at the General Electric company for his entire career. A fellow photographer, Jack enjoyed documenting his adventures and kept meticulous photobooks, labeled with fine details.
Our thoughts are with my sister Alissa and her family on this sad day.