Charming Llama

I was unable to play soccer this morning due to an injured hamstring (fortunately not badly and I should be back in action next week). Jeanine was ready for a distraction from her never ending work so we spent a few hours house hunting.  We are still a year away from selling our house but it never hurts to be on the lookout for that perfect property. Amazing what you come across when driving about the suburbs of Boston.

Beyond Repair

The verdict is back.  Our Audi Q5 needs a new engine.  It is suspected that the timing belt slipped causing massive internal damage. Fortunately, the folks at Audi agreed with my strongly worded letter on the subject that a properly maintained engine should not fail catastrophically after 77K miles. They have agreed to cover the full cost of the $12,000+ repair.  We hope to have the car back in 3 weeks.  In the mean time, Maya will be without a car and I will be providing Uber service.

Olin Bound

After weeks of suspense, Maya announced her decision to attend Olin College today.  We could not be more thrilled with her choice.  Of the eight schools to which she was accepted, I believe it has the strongest engineering program and the one best aligned with her learning style; very hands on, project oriented and collaborative. They have a reciprocal class arrangement with Wellesley, Babson, MIT, and Brandies which will give her access to virtually any subjects beyond those offered on campus.  The fact that she will be remaining in the area is a bonus and we have promised not to encroach on her college experience. When I heard the news, I immediately drove to the campus, paid the deposit and picked up some Olin gear to celebrate the occasion.

Spring Has Sprung

Each year there comes a day when it feels like spring has finally arrived. Today was that day. I enjoyed a brief tour of the yard and could have easily spent hours capturing the many signs of renewed life.

Three Strikes

Maya and her co-counsel, Millie, argued in moot court this evening in front of a three “judge” panel and a courtroom of spectators which included Jeanine, John and I. They have reached the semi-finals of the 16 team moot court competition. The winning side, which will be announced tomorrow after the judges have had a chance to deliberate, will proceed to the finals. They were assigned to defend California’s “Three Strikes” law, a response to the Polly Klaas abduction and murder which despite good intentions has led to some Draconian outcomes. The “lawyers” in moot court are evaluated based on a complex rubric with significant weight attached to their responses to intense questioning from the justices. Win or lose, Maya and Millie did a phenomenal job, both in preparation and in court.  Not sure what it says about their parents, but all of our children seem to be highly proficient at arguing.

UPDATE:  Maya and Millie will advance to the finals.

Capital Campaign

As renovation of Open Table’s new facility nears completion, Jeanine asked me to take this photograph which will be used in conjunction with their fundraising efforts. The organization’s goal is to raise just over a million dollars to cover the cost of their new space.  Jeanine has never been so busy as she leads the all volunteer organization through the biggest and most exciting transition in its nearly 30 year history. Donations can be made at Open Table.

White Squirrel

While on the Boston Common yesterday I spotted this lovely white squirrel.  It is a very rare genetic variation of the grey squirrel (not an albino, which would have red eyes).  In the “wild” this squirrel’s lack of camouflage would certainly contribute to an early demise. Not so in an urban park absent its normal predators. In fact, I would predict, based on natural selection, that we will see a rise in the number of white squirrels over time. They are such a novelty that visitors to the park tend to feed them more than their grey cousins. I have read reports that Massachusetts General Hospital is home to a few as well. 

March for Science

The Boston Rally for Science, a satellite of the March for Science being held today in Washington, D.C. was organized to celebrate the discovery, understanding, and sharing of scientific knowledge as crucial to the success, health, and safety of the human race.  Jeanine, good friend Carolyn Hardy and I joined tens of thousands gathered on the Common to champion not only science itself, but also publicly funded and publicly communicated scientific knowledge as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity.  The intermittent rain was of little consequence and did not dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm. Arriving early we secured a great position from which to observe the stage.

Jeanine and I returned to Boston again later in the evening to attend a performance by comedian Rita Rudner at the Wilbur Theater.  Her insights into the differences between men and women were hysterically spot on. Highly recommended if you ever get a chance to catch her act.

Washington University

Today’s photos are courtesy of Maya who is on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. It is the only remaining school on her short list which she has not visited.  With just over a week remaining before her college choice must be made, it is a very exciting time.  I am confident she will get a great education and enjoy any of the schools she is considering.  My advice to her is to pick the school where she will find the most joy and make the happiest memories.

Diving Header

After driving Maya to the airport (she is traveling to St. Louis to attend Washington University’s Accepted Candidates Day), I enjoyed catching up with former iRobot colleague Rob Figler (standing left) over lunch today. An extremely talented engineer/manager and one of the nicest people you will ever meet, we share an interest in hiking and the great outdoors.

Small engine repair and lawn mowing occupied the rest of my afternoon.  I had to take apart and clean the fuel path on an old 21″ push mower that has been sitting idle for the last five years.  Unfortunately I got it to work and spent the next 3 hours mowing our back field cursing my decision to sell our John Deere riding mower at every turn.

Fatigued from the 4 mile (calculated) tour of my back yard, I was not expecting much of myself during a makeup soccer match played under the lights this evening.  Surprisingly, I managed to step up with a pivotal goal. An abbreviated account of the match written by the team manger follows:

Concord United 2, Medfield 2

45th minute – CU 0, Medfield 1.  We gift them a penalty kick inside the box.

60th minute – CU 0, Medfield 2.  A passing combination frees their young left striker who comes in on goal.  Troupe comes off his line but their striker chips the ball nicely to the upper corner.

70th minute.  CU 1, Medfield 2.  A nice set piece cross by Fisch is glanced on a charging header by Michael.  The ball heads left of the goal, and probably 21 players assumed it was going out for a goal kick.  Carl’s back post flying header proves otherwise.

80th minute. CU 2, Medfield 2.  On a counterattack George sends a long pass to Eric who finds Baltay charging in undefended from the right. Baltay calmly puts the ball away inside the back post.

This game was a tale of two cities.  The first sixty minutes belonged to Medfield, with occasional spasms of life by us.  Carl’s great goal breathed life into us, and after Baltay scored it even looked like we could win, until a spurt by Medfield in the last five minutes forced us back on defense.  A well deserved tie, and I believe we carry the momentum into Medfield for Week 6.

Wi-Fi Water


After putting so much work into the repair of our irrigation system over the past week, I decided to replace our antiquated controller with a modern wi-fi connected unit.  In addition to enabling control from our phones and computers, the software keeps track of temperature, rainfall and humidity to reduce water use when possible.  I installed the unit in less than an hour. Identifying, mapping, and programming all eleven zones in our system took another two. Going forward the system should operate with almost zero intervention while saving thousands of gallons of water.

Audi No Go

Maya has been driving our Audi Q5 since I picked up my BMW i3. It has been fairly reliable except for problems related to Nicolai’s attempt to add engine oil by way of the radiator. It is now in the shop after stranding her at Tufts while visiting Caleb. The dealership to which we had it towed has been completely unresponsive.  They have little motivation (other than their reputation, one would think) to respond quickly when the car cannot be taken elsewhere without being towed.

The Boston Marathon

For the first time since moving here 13 years ago, I took the time to witness the Boston Marathon. It was intensely inspiring; a profound tribute to human spirit and grace. I arrived in Wellesley near the 12 mile mark two hours ahead of the first athletes to observe preparations and position myself for good sun and an unobstructed view.

I managed to capture both the women’s and men’s eventual winners (Kiplagat; 2nd from left and Kirui; left of Rupp) before repositioning on the opposite side of the so called “scream tunnel.”

I then jumped in my car and drove to Boston where I arrived in time to hear the women’s and men’s finish but needed another 45 minutes to make my way to a shooting position on Boylston Street. I really enjoyed photographing the race and walked a quarter of a marathon myself in the process.

 

Easter Baskets

Jeanine loves to celebrate Easter and enjoys giving gift baskets (buckets this year) to members of the family. Maya, a young adult by every measure, was as thrilled as a three year old with her basket which contained a variety of goodies. The message behind the contents of my basket required skillful interpretation informed by years of marriage.  During our honeymoon phase, I would have envisioned a romantic, candle lit evening with a dose of Aspirin to alleviate the strains of my morning soccer match paired with a chocolate aphrodisiac.  After nearly 27 years of marriage, however, I am confident that the correct decoding of my Easter basket message follows: Thank you for fixing the irrigation system, the lighter on the outside grill is not working, take one baby Aspirin a day so you don’t have a heart attack, I just had my IUD removed so birth control is now on you.

Herr San

Jeanine and I entertained my former colleague and close friend Laurin Herr and his wife Trisha during their short visit to Boston from their home in Oakland, CA. Jeanine prepared a light lunch before we ventured to the Minuteman National Historical Park where we watched a reenactment of “Parker’s Revenge” (patriots picking off the British as they retreated from Concord). Our next stop was the Old North Bridge and Visitor Center followed by a pitstop at Kimball Farm for ice cream. We finished the day with a tour of Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, a quick excursion into the adjacent Blue Heron rookery, a walk around Walden Pond and brief drive through the deCordova Sculpture Park before enjoying a fine dinner at Wood’s Hill Table.

Laurin, a technologist and expert on all things Japan, was my partner in crime at RasterOps/Truevision where we developed lucrative partnerships with companies including Panasonic and Sony. My love of Japan, its culture and people was first ignited by Laurin who introduced me to the country,  language, customs, and history during our many visits there.

 

Tufts

Maya and I spent the day at Tufts University attending one of their “Jumbo Days” (school mascot is an elephant) for accepted students.  Because she will be spending the remainder of the weekend with Caleb (a freshman here) and his family, we drove separately.  I decided to beat the traffic and arrived in time for morning light and a sleeping student body. The campus is quite lovely, perched atop a hill offering a nice view of downtown Boston.  The engineering program is typical of those offered by liberal arts colleges and will present Maya with a distinctly different choice than others she is considering.