Sunday, December 14, 2008

On the run

This weekend Dawn spent most of it studying for her exams on Monday. However, to make sure that her brain did not turn to mush from all of the studying, we did take a couple of breaks.

Saturday night we went to the Light Boat Parade at Tempe Town Lake and Tempe Beach Park. They had some booths, food, and stuff at the park. However the main attraction was the piles of “snow” setup for kids. Rule number one for these areas was “no throwing snowballs”, so all of the kids (and adults) were throwing snowballs. Then we walked along the lake to watch the fifty or so boats that were decorated for the parade. There were a lot of different boats, but some of the more interesting ones were the kayaks that were decorated with lights. The parade was capped off by fireworks. I have added some pictures to the photo album of the parade.

Then Sunday morning we ran in the Fiesta Bowl 5K. In our quest to get in shape, we picked this race about two months ago as a motivator to keep going. First off, today was cold. It has been the coldest day of the “winter” and race temps were in the upper 40s. I had promised to stay with Dawn no matter what during the race and she promised that we would not finish last. I am happy to say that both promises were kept. We are planning to do some more events like this in the future as milestones to our long term goals.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thanksgiving... and catching up

Finally getting caught up with the blog. We had planned to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner outside; however, it actually rained for the first time since before Labor Day. So we had to settle for eating inside.

Things have been going along pretty well. I still bike to and from work everyday and Dawn is finishing up her classes for the semester. The girls are busy with school and holiday concerts and we have the tree up in the living room. We fortunate that our tree just barely fit in there.

Ironman Weekend

The Ironman Triathlon was held in Arizona on Sunday, November 23. The Ironman Arizona is one of six races in the US that is a qualifier for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. Dawn and I decided it would be fun to volunteer to help with the race as a way to meet folks here in the valley.

Lindsey had been sick that week so when we went to the volunteer’s meeting on Saturday, she was not able to go with us. Because of that, she did not go with us to hike to the top of “A” Mountain at ASU after the meeting, but Lexi joined us at the top.

Fortunately Lindsey was feeling better and was able join us on Sunday. We were part of Run Aid Station 5, one of the food and water stations on the marathon course. The runners had already completed a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride by the time they got to us. They had 17 hours to complete the course, but the winner took not quite eight and a half hours.

We had a good time and will probable help again next year. I have added some pictures to the ASU and AZ Fun photo albums.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ASU Homecoming

This past weekend was the ASU Homecoming. This year’s theme was Maroon and Golden Anniversary, celebrating 50 years of Arizona State University. I emphasized University because it was 50 years ago that the voters of Arizona approved the name change from Arizona State Teacher’s College to ASU. We are the only University to gain university status through a voter referendum.

There had been activities going on all week, but we took part in the Homecoming Block Party and football game. I was part of the planning committee that designed and ran the ASU Online & Extended Campus booth. It was a lot of fun to see such a huge party with lots of activities, food, freebies, and of course a parade.

Then there was the game. ASU opened a new “bubble” as a practice facility for the football team this year. Everything was fine until a monsoon burst the bubble and ASU dropped six straight games. Ironically, when the bubble was repaired and re-inflated, they started winning again.

Historic Sun Devil Stadium was the home to the Phoenix and Arizona Cardinals (name changed in 2004), Super Bowl XXX (1996), the Fiesta Bowl (1976-2006), and the BCS Championship Game (1999 & 2003). The stadium can seat over 73,379 and they said 61,490 attended a game that at kickoff was 81 degrees.

Washington State is one of the worst teams in the Pac-10 and ASU took advantage of the situation. It was a great game and a lot of fun to watch. We were sitting halfway up the upper level and was in the sun for the first half, but the shadow of the press box fell across us and cooled us off some. The game was a lot of fun, after each time ASU scored, they set off fireworks. Since ASU won 31-0, there were a lot of fireworks.

Hopefully ASU will beat UCLA and our arch rival The University of Arizona, if that happens we will be bowl eligible. Next year we will hopefully have Jack Elway as quarterback. You may have heard of his dad, John.

There are more pictures of the day in the AZ Fun album.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

DST ends for you

We hope you enjoyed changing your clocks last weekend. Arizona does not observe daylight saving time because we already have enough sunlight. What this really means is that we are now two hours behind the east coast. The major impact is than NFL football now starts at 11am, instead of 10am.

We had to adjust our DVR recording schedule since some HD channels are scheduled for the east coast, meaning that when you are watching Mythbusters at 9pm, we now get it at 7pm (which is when prime time starts for us).. Before the clocks changed, we were recording it at 6pm.

Trick or Treat

Halloween is big here. There are a ton of haunted houses set up all over the valley and everyone dresses up. A major plus is that there is not an age limit to trick or treating like in Virginia, nor is there a curfew.

Many houses are decorated for Halloween and it seems like at least one family on every street has pulled their back yard fire pit out onto the driveway. There were a lot of little neighborhood parties out on the driveways and streets of the neighborhood. After we got tired of trick or treating, we ended up down the street hanging out and eating with a bunch of our neighbors.

This year we have been near record heat during October. On Halloween the high was 91, but it dropped to the low 80s after sunset. Most of the chocolate candy was a little gooey and had to be put in the fridge so it could be eaten.

For those of you wondering, it did not rain at all here during the months of September and October. This follows the third wettest August on record here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

AZ State Fair

This past Saturday we decided to go to the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix. We began the day with the Tour of Texas booth where you were able to take a virtual tour of Texas from a kayak. We did this to kill time before the first show of CSI: Live. The show begins with a magic act and in the very beginning I am called up on stage. I hold a “lightning” stick for the act while the assistant inside the box has an “accident”. So I go back and to sit with the family and the CSIers show up and recruited Lexi (among others) to help find clues to solve the case. I ended up having a couple of small parts in the show and had to sit with the other “suspects”. Of course, I did look for opportunities to blame the other suspects whenever I could. Too bad the story had me as the perpetrator who committed the crime.

We strolled around the fair that had your normal 4H and animal stuff, petting zoo, rides, and really bad food. I decided that this was a great time to try a deep fried s’more on a stick. Basically it was your regular s’more that was wrapped in dough and then deep fried.

There was also a lot of displays from the cooking, art, and sewing competitions. One group was offering these little ceramic figurines for free for kids to paint to get them involved in art.

Now it was time for racing and we started with the Banana Derby. The Banana Derby is basically monkeys serving as jockeys on dogs running around a track. Lexi got chosen to be a cheerleader and as such was able to get her picture made with the winning “jockey” for free.

We picked this past weekend for a reason, we wanted to end the night with figure eight racing. We are not “race fans” but who can ignore a great crash (safely of course). By the end of the night we had our crashes. There were six races and while you had some nice little spinouts and bumps during first several races, the last race featured a guy getting boxed in as they entered the crossing traffic and surviving only to get driven into a concrete barrier.

Thus ended a nice quiet Saturday. See the pictures in the photo album.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tour de Fat

We have hopped into festival season with “bikes and beers,” The Tour de Fat presented by Fat Tire Beer. This zany event attracted over 2,500 cyclists, many of which dressed up in costumes and some rode custom “artful” bicycles. We purchased a bike for Dawn a couple of weeks ago and all four of us rode in the four mile bike parade through Tempe. The event highlights how bicycling is good for everyone and the environment and raises money for great cycling related causes. “Ride on!” See some more pictures in the AZ Fun photo album.

The event was rather chilly and very windy. The high temps have dropped from the near 100s to the mid 70s in about a week. At night, the temps have found their way into the lower 50s. We have the pool covered with a solar blanket and expect to be in it next weekend when the temps get back into the 90s.

On a related note, it is so funny to hear the high school bands (I pass two on my way to and from work) practicing at 6am in the morning. That is how school activities like football and band deal with the heat, they avoid it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nightmare on Main Street

Tonight was Mesa’s Second Friday event and the theme was Nightmare on Main Street. We have not had time to put together the girls’ Halloween costumes yet; however, that had not stopped Linds and Lexi from quickly making their own. I grabbed my kilt and wore comfortable shoes and the four of us hit the town.

The event is a nice way to see some of the downtown shops and restaurants and we really enjoyed walking the street. There were a lot of people out in costume, but I came in second place in the adult category of “cutest”. I lost out to a Capt Jack Sparrow who actually had a peg leg.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Random Thoughts

It is hard to blog about the interesting things we are doing when most of your time is spent clean and arranging stuff in the house, moving and emptying boxes, and spending too much money at IKEA, Costco, and Home Depot.

Fall has finally arrived here in the valley. We were still topping out at 100 degrees or more until Wednesday. This weekend the highs were in the mid 80s. But never fear, we should be back in the upper 90s in the next couple of days.

This time of year is great because the festival season starts back up. We are planning on going to a couple of events and will post pictures and stories of them as they happen. To give you a hint about next weekend, I bought Dawn a new bicycle last weekend for the festival we are going to attend.

Sunday mornings are great out here. The first NFL kickoff is at 10am. I have never watched the end of so many Sunday night and Monday night football games as I have this season (it is only Week 5!). In fact, the night games finish around 8:30 or 9pm.

Do you like he picture of the lake? It is not a lake, it is a park. If you look closely, you will see picnic tables in the middle of the water. That is how they water the grass at parks, ball fields, and some homes. The ground is built up to contain the water and they flood the area about once a week in the summer and every two or three weeks the rest of the year. I am so glad that I do not have a yard full of grass.

I am hoping to start making pictures of the house to share soon, in addition to chronicling our adventures.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The new campus

I do not post much about what I am doing at work, but since there was a press release about my campus, I figured I should share it.

When I arrived at ASU, Distance Learning Technology was part of the Applied Learning Technologies Institute or alt^I. Not long after starting, there was talk of a reorganization. The reorg took effect on July 1, but today a press release was issued about the new campus my group works for, ASU Online and Extended Campus.

Read the press release to see what I get to be part of. For the record, the other four campuses are:
  • Tempe (formerly known as “main”)
  • West (in the western part of Phoenix)
  • Polytechnic (in east Mesa)
  • Downtown (in downtown Phoenix)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Courtside for the WNBA

Dawn had registered at a WNBA table during an event in Mesa. She got a call and we had to keep postponing it until tonight. All we knew was that we had free tickets and that the Phoenix Mercury were playing the Sacramento Monarchs. We were very happy about the opponent because we would get to see ODU legend Ticha Penicheiro.

Before the game, we are walked around the arena and show different areas. We are shown the nice comfortable leather seats that are courtside and then club that courtside ticket holders can visit and get free food. Then we are told that we can go to the club since we have courtside tickets. We were stunned. During halftime they hand people in this area free stat sheets from the first half.

The game was pretty good. The Mercury are fighting to get into the playoffs and at times it looked like they were running a clinic. The Mercury won 81-69, but we got to see Ticha become the first WNBA player to reach 2,000 career assists.

Friday, August 29, 2008


We had promised the girls that they could have their rooms painted any color they like. Well, they picked some wild colors but I think that it is turning out nicely.


I thought you would like to see this picture of the U-Haul. Unfortunately, we could not get the truck for two consecutive days and will have to finish moving everything out of storage on Sunday. However, we did take a timeout to make an IKEA run. Everything you see is from the first of several runs we will end up making.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's a home!

Finally, after a lot of drama we have a new home in AZ. Everything finally came through this afternoon and we are now in the house. We only moved a couple of things over this evening. As we were heading over, we saw a rainbow over the neighborhood.

Tomorrow a cleaning crew is coming to clean the house and then we will move a couple more things over. I am taking Friday off so that I can try to get everything out of storage and make the all important Home Depot and IKEA runs so that we can stay busy setting up the house over the weekend.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Sold and sold!

The house in Virginia is sold and out of my hair, that made the weekend so much easier to deal with, except we were supposed to also sign for the Arizona house on Friday. We were unable to sign due to paperwork problems.

As previously mentioned, I was at the Downtown Campus and Dawn with in class at the Tempe Campus today. As I was heading out of my meetings to catch the shuttle back to Tempe, I get a call...

Great news!! Everything fixed with the paperwork. The way things work in AZ, you do all of the paperwork and then after the Deed of Trust is filed, you are given the keys. Whereas in Virginia, you sign the paperwork and get the keys and the deed is filed a day or two later. So in order to hopefully get the keys on Wednesday, we had to sign today.

I managed to let Dawn know before she left campus so that I could meet her when I back there so that we could go sign. It meant getting up to the northern part of Scottsdale, but we made it and we signed. On Wednesday, we will get a call from our super wonderful real estate agent and she will give us a secret code to the lock box at the house to get our keys. Then the real fun can begin - painting and getting our stuff out of storage.

I think the above picture symbolizes what it has felt like at times. This is a new sculpture that has been put up at Central Park in Phoenix across from the ASU Downtown Campus.

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First day of the new semester

Today’s bike ride into campus was a bit busier than it had been - lots of bikes, cars, and people walking. I guess that is what happens when a campus with more than 50,000 students starts a new academic year. ASU know how to move students into campus and I was impressed by the operation they had setup last week for the move-in. I thought ODU had a nice setup - it does not compare to the scale of what happens here or how well organized and staffed.

Dawn got a chance to see today in action on campus since she is also taking one of her last prep classes for SCNM.

I was at the Downtown Phoenix Campus again for part of the day and snapped a picture of the new Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication building that opened today.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hanging with Shaq

That really is Lexi standing next to Shaquille O'Neal. We had gone to Stratum Laser Tag this evening for a birthday party and right as we came out of a game, there was Shaq playing air hockey. I had left my camera at home so I had to use my cell phone to take the picture when Lexi got his autograph.

The VA house was finally sold yesterday and the new owners have already started moving in. Unfortunately, the mortgage companies are being very slow approving loans due to the current economic crisis, the one that they caused, and we were unable to sign our paperwork to purchase the house here in AZ. There is a chance that we still might close on Tuesday and be able to move in, but it is looking like it might be later in the week. Our long homeless journey might be near an end.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Frustrated with things in Virginia

More brick walls were encountered today. Today was supposed to be the closing of our house in VA; however it did not happen (and will not happen tomorrow either). This time the hold up is the carpet that the buyers wanted was originally on backorder and the company that was supposed to be putting it in decided that “rush job” meant take your time and use as few people as possible.

Another wall is the listing agent of the house we are buying in AZ and supposed to be closing on Tuesday. He has decided not to be responsive to my agent, loan company, or title company - thus putting the closing date in jeopardy. Of course, the VA problems can delay this too.

For the record, both my agent here in AZ and the one I am now using in VA are great and I would recommend them in a heartbeat.

So we dealt with all of this while trying to celebrate Dawn’s birthday.

There are good things going on, but I am too drained to post about them tonight. I will do it soon and include some new pictures I have taken.

Monday, August 11, 2008

First day of school

Today was a joyous day, it was the first day of school for the girls.

Friday was “meet the teachers” day, so we were able to get a look at the schools and meet the girls’ teachers. This was followed by a run for school supplies.

On Friday night, we went to Mesa’s Second Friday for the “Dog Days of Summer”. The main attraction was the service dog demonstrations demos and all the various dog groups with tables along Main Street. However, we spent most of our time going through the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa.

Saturday featured a trip to Desert Oasis. Most of the junior high schools here have a pool and “stuff”. Desert Oasis is down the street in Chandler and this city operated pool features a nice splash area, a water slide, and a cork-screw water slide. The pool at Lindsey’s school is being rebuilt and will supposedly feature a wave pool for surfing lessons and fun.

Finally, Sunday was exercise “Dad’s Wallet Day” as the girls made withdrawals from the First Bank of Dad for back-to-school clothes.

The girls seem to really like their new schools and are already making friends.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Web Site Comments Fixed

No one has been able to make comments on the web site lately. This has been due to Apple’s disastrous update of .Mac to MobileMe. The good news is that everything is fixed, but there were a couple of things they did not make clear.

My new web address is

If you are using the old address, the site is visible; however, you will not be able to post comments.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More ASU pictures added

I finally added some more pictures from our walk around ASU last Saturday. I will add some more pictures in general soon.

The house in VA is still on track to sell and we are still on track to buy the house here shortly thereafter. In the meantime, the girls are now registered in school and we have “meet the teacher” sessions Friday morning.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hail, Hail, The gang’s all here!

Yesterday Dawn & I celebrated 14 years of marriage and we did what any couple would do, we hung out at the airport. The girls have finally made it out here to AZ.

For their first day here, we started by letting them look around the house that we are buying. BTW, we received word that the contract on it will be ratified on Monday morning.

We then took them to ASU to see the campus and my office (pictures will be posted in a couple of days). After hanging out at campus for three hours and the temperature reaching 107, we decided to head indoors.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at IKEA making lists of what furniture we are going to buy for the new house. The girls are making plans on what color their rooms will be painted and what kind of furniture they want.

Dinner was a very entertaining one at Organ Stop Pizza. It is a nice pizza place with an organ that has 6,000 pipes. We listened to great music that included a Star Wars melody, Phantom of the Opera, the Sound of Music, Mamma Mia!, and many more.

We are very glad to have the girls here. They are exhausted, but only have one week to rest up and get ready for school.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Here we go again

Today started off normal enough. Then Dawn’s quest to take some classes at ASU (prep work for SCNM) finally brought her to the last hoop, her MMR immunization. So we took care of that, picked up her ASU student ID card, and registered for classes. So she is now officially a Sun Devil.

Before I talk about this evening, let me provide a little backstory. Our former listing agent in Virginia made a major mistake and we ended up not selling the house in VA. Because of this we ended up having to cancel the contract to purchase a house here. The good news is that we have a new listing agent in VA and the house is under contract with a new buyer and looks like it will close this time. There is a lot more drama to this story, but we need to take care of a couple of items before we can tell the story in full detail.

This evening we put in an offer to buy a house in Mesa. The house is older than the last one, but it is in good shape and meets our original criteria 1) four bedrooms, 2) close to ASU & SCNM, and 3) has a pool. So wish us luck and we will keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Brick Walls

"Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." -- Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture

I have not posted for a while because of some brick walls that Dawn and I have been dealing with. We can not go into details about it right now, but I do promise to give full details when I can.

In the meantime, Dawn and I have had a great time being together here. Not long after Dawn arrived, she had the opportunity to see the full fury of a monsoon storm. These storms can move in quickly and then stop right on top of you. Some of the recent ones have generated 60+ MPH winds and two to three inches of rain. In fact, the Superstition Highway was shut down by one that dropped two inches of rain in a few hours. So far, the monsoon storms that hid during the week have been kind enough to wait until I have finished biking home in the evenings.

Work is going well and the projects I am working on are moving along. On July 1, my group was moved from the University Technology Office to ASU Online and Extended Campus. We are now part of a group with a clear priority that matches what we do - build and deliver online degree programs. The move is a good one and we do not have to move our offices either.

Dawn and I are bringing the girls out here on August 1 and we are looking forward to having them here.

Today’s pictures is of the sound wall that separates College Avenue from US 60 (a.k.a. the Superstition Highway). I get to see this piece of art everyday as I bike to and from work.

BTW, if you have not yet seen Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, I recommend you take the 76 minutes and watch it and get the book by the same title.

And another thing, if you have had problems with my web site lately, it might have had something to do with Apple’s transition from .Mac to MobileMe. Hopefully everything works now.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Contract accepted

Great news!!! It looks like we have a house! We put an offer in on a house on Wednesday evening and this afternoon we heard back that the offer has been accepted.

The house is in Gilbert, AZ and is about just under 12 miles from ASU. That means that I can continue biking to work. We are very excited about the location and schools.

So now we are going through the home inspection phase and will hopefully have a closing date soon.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fireworks over Phoenix

Last night we went with friends to the 23rd floor of an office building in central Phoenix to watch fireworks. Despite the monsoons sweeping through the area that caused some fireworks to be canceled, we were able to see a dozen different firework shows, and that was only because we were looking north and west.

Between the firework shows, we enjoyed a great lightning show from the storms along the rim.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Heat versus gas prices

I have noticed that despite the heat there are more and more people commuting to work and school by bike. At 6 in the morning, it tends to be 90 degrees and at 5pm it is around 110. But yet I still see more cyclists every day.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dawn is here

Dawn made it to Mesa this afternoon! I am very glad to have her here as we continue to look for a house. I am hoping that having her here will help the house hunting process go faster.

This evening we unloaded the truck and discovered that I did not get a big enough storage unit. So tomorrow we will be getting a smaller one to finish unloading the truck. With a bit a luck, we will have a house by the end of the month to move stuff into.

The girls are still in Atlanta and we miss them and look forward to having them here soon.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Feel the heat

This morning was the first morning that after arriving to work I thought “It is already hot out.” It was already over 90 degrees at 8am. Today was the 26th day of the daytime highs being above 100. Today was the third day in a row of temps going above 110 and we have a couple more days of these 110+ temps in store, but we will stay above 100 for the highs for quite a while. Also the humidity has been pretty high as well, it is currently 17%.

In other news, Dawn is currently in El Paso, TX and should arrive tomorrow. I am very excited.

Friday, June 27, 2008

She is driving the truck west

Yesterday Dawn closed on our house in Virginia and today started driving west. Since my mother-in-law took the girls to her house outside of Atlanta yesterday, it was just Dawn and the dog as they drove to Atlanta today.

I really wish I could have been there to have loaded the truck and to do my part of the driving. I can not thank my parents and Cindy enough for all they have done to make the move possible on the Virginia end.

Meanwhile, I am packing up my room and will put most of my stuff in storage tomorrow. I am going to have only the essentials I need for the next two or three weeks on hand as I stay with friends and await Dawn’s arrival.

I am hopeful that we will find a house that we both like very soon. It has been hard to find a house for many different reasons; however, when Dawn and I can do the search together I am willing to bet it will go faster and better.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The journey back to Arizona

Warning: you will find a reference to OJ Simpson and derogatory remarks about Delta Airlines in this post.

On Sunday I was supposed to fly back to AZ. I had setup to get updates on my flights via TXT messages from and I get one saying that my flight is on time and good to go. I leave the neighborhood that I have lived in for the last nine years and also grew up in for the last time, or so I thought.

So we get to the airport and in broken and incomplete sentences, I am told that my flight 6:35pm has been canceled. When I ask what will be done, I am told that the 6:35pm flight is full. Now I am confused and trying to avoid getting angry. After much arguing, after all how can my flight be both canceled and full and if it is full - I have an assigned seat so why can I not get on it, I finally figure out what is going on. The Atlanta flight is full, my flight to New York is canceled, and both were supposed to leave at the same time. I have no idea why she was telling me about the Atlanta flight. But what was even funnier was that I kept asking “do I at least get a ‘sorry’?” and she would shake her head and tell me either the flight is full or canceled, depending on whatever was on her mind. Finally, she gives me a seat on a flight to Atlanta and then to Phoenix for Monday morning, and I never got my “sorry.”

I monitored my flights from home and discovered that it was such a mess at JFK that my flight from there to PHX was 2.5 hours late. I would have arrived at Sky Harbor after 2am.

So we try again Monday morning and the ticket agent was a much friendlier and happier person. Despited the fact that as I walked up she was informed that the flight to Atlanta after mine was canceled and that my flight’s plane was being downgraded. I find out later that my plane was supposed to be a 70-passenger jet, it is now a 50-passenger jet, so a bunch of “volunteers” were sought to skip the flight. I should have taken the $400 Delta Dollars and changed flights.

We land in Atlanta at least 30 minutes late and I had only a one-hour layover to start with. The stewardess asked who had less than 30 minutes to make a connecting flight and almost half of us raise our hands. She asked everyone to let us off the plane first. Eventually the plane pulls up to the concourse after what seemed and eternity and I make my dash off the plane. We are so far out that they have to shuttle us to the end of Concourse E and the shuttle would not leave until the everyone was off the plane. So much for the dash off the plane.

As we are on the shuttle, one of the guys makes an OJ Simpson reference. There was a Hertz Rent-A-Car commercial where he did his football moves running through an airport and jumping over bench seats. I was ready to replicate that run. So I dash off the shuttle and run up the stairs and discover that I am at gate E-36 and I need to get to B-34. I run down to the center of Concourse E and then run right by the tram since it is not there yet and I thought I could out run it. I get to Concourse D and I did beat the tram, but not enough to keep running so I wait for it and get on board. When the doors open when it gets to Concourse B, I dash out and up the escalator. I plow through the concourse and get to Gate B-34, no one is there. I can’t breathe. I see a gate attendant at B-36 and ask her to get me on that plane and oxygen. I tell her where I just ran from and she sends me to the main ticket counter back at the middle of the concourse. I decided to take a detour, I fall to the floor.

Yes, I did blackout for a few seconds. I had my water bottle in my hand and I barely got it open and started drinking it and trying to breathe. The idiot gate attendant does NOTHING. I hear someone behind me yell for medical help and an older gentleman with a cane and eye patch checks on me. I never see or hear the IDIOT DELTA GATE ATTENDANT. I get up and stumble to the ticket counter. I do remember on the way back apologizing to the cleaning lady who was mopping the floor in my running path for almost knocking her down.

I get to the ticket counter and I am still light headed and my legs are really not happy with me. The agents tell me that I am on standby for a flight later that night and have an assigned seat for a Tuesday morning flight. I tell them that is not good enough. They send me to the wall of phones saying that they might be able to get me on another airline. I sit on the floor while on hold letting them work their magic. I finally end up on a US Airways flight that leaves in an hour. So they do the paperwork I need and send me on to gate D-21. When I leave the counter, all of the folks who were on my flight had caught up to me and were trying to get their flights fixed - so at least my run got me ahead of them.

After standing in line for a while at the gate, I finally see the ticket agent only to find out that no one has communicated to him what is going on and he was afraid he just gave my seat away. Good news is that I still had a seat, bad news is that Delta did not give me the correct paperwork. At least there is a ticket counter a few gates down, so I stand in that line for a while and I am still a bit light headed. I get to the Delta counter and the supervisor tells the agent what to do, despite the fact the agent said she did something different last night. I go back to the US Airways counter and wait in line and guess what, I still do not have what I need. BTW, they are now boarding my flight. So I run back to ticket counter jumping a row of bench seats like OJ did in that commercial and I cut the entire line, before there was an attempt to kill me I turned around and said “they told me to come to the front of the line if there was a problem, and they messed up so here I am.” This time the Delta ticket agent did what her gut told her to do in the first place and walked it over to the US Airways counter. He checks everything off and I asked if I had time to go the restroom - I did.

So I get on the flight and I had a pleasant flight home. Except that US Airways no long gives out free pretzels and peanuts and I was not in the mood to buy a meal on the plane.

Here is the biggest surprise of all, my luggage made it with me. Even better, my roommate was down the road waiting for my call so he could pick me up.

I was very glad to be back in AZ.

As for the rest of the gang, it looks like Dawn will start driving this way on Friday. The girls will fly from their grandmother’s in Atlanta a few weeks later.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Back in Arizona

I am finally back in Arizona and I have many nasty things to say about Delta Airlines.

But I need to go to bed first.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

You are NOT cleared for takeoff

I should be writing this somewhere over the country, but New York’s JFK Airport was apparently backed up by severe weather. They pretty much cancelled all in-bound flights that had not taken off starting at 6:30pm, my flight was scheduled for 6:35pm. At least we were not sitting at the airport waiting for something to happen since they made this decision by 4pm. So I will try to fly west again Monday afternoon, this time via Atlanta.

On Thursday we took a trip to Sandbridge in the southern part of Virginia Beach. It was cold (high 70s) and windy for this time of year. The little trip to the oceanfront was a well deserved break after all of the packing and boxing we have been doing.

On Friday, we celebrated my birthday at the place where everyone can be a kid - Chuck E. Cheese. We finished cleaning out the attic and my work bench on Saturday and afterwards I took Dawn to a seafood restaurant called Catch 31 on the Virginia Beach resort strip (great restaurant).

My sinuses have been driving me crazy and I am sure all of the smoke from the fires in the Great Dismal Swamp that is still smoldering has not helped. I was looking forward to some sinus relief and had pretty much said my goodbyes to everyone and everything (at least all that were possible). So being turned away at the airport was a bit of an emotional strain, but at least I get one more night with my family here before everyone finally is together again in Arizona.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Touring Tidewater

Dawn and I spent the day visiting folks at ODU on Monday. We did not get around campus as much as planned, we were only able to stop by to see folks in Special Education and Distance Learning. I had a great time surprising folks with the thinner me. When we got back we found a nice little sticker on our “for sale” sign.

We spent a good part of Tuesday packing and then today I went to Jamestown with my mother and the girls. Dawn needed the time off to study for a final for her summer class, so I figured it was good day to let her have the house to herself. I had never been to the “settlement” side of Jamestown, I had always been to the US Park Service version that also contains a museum and archeological digs. It was a very nice experience and we were able to tour replicas of the fort, ships, riverfront and Powhatan’s village. They also have a real nice museum that has been updated to include all that they have learned over the last several years, including the not so good things as well. I have put a couple of pictures up the site.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lindsey’s Dance Recital

One of the reasons I picked this week to go back to VA was because it was also the weekend of Lindsey’s dance recital.

Lindsey has been dancing for nine years now and this was her last dance recital here. In addition, she had earned enough credits and passed the exam to be a Junior Graduate of the dance school. Before I moved out to AZ, we had been planning and hoping that I would be able to lose the weight to wear my kilt for her when I escorted her on stage to get her award. As you can tell from the picture, I achieved that goal.

I feel bad that I missed Alexia’s graduation from Barbizon School of Modeling back in May. However, I am looking forward to helping them pack and move to AZ so I will not have to miss things like I have the past four months.

Recovering from the fiesta

Despite the fact the temperature was 20 degrees cool than in AZ (upper 80s versus 106 in AZ), the weather was nasty. The humidity was about 68% and I could feel it. We ended up having the festivities indoors mainly because of the smoke that had inundated that area from the two wildfires south of us in North Carolina and the Great Dismal Swamp.

There were a lot of folks there that we have know from so many places over the years. We had a great time seeing everyone yesterday and wish we could have spent more time talking to everyone.

One of the highlights for me was seeing everyone’s shock at seeing my new look. For the record, I have lost just over 45 pounds since leaving for Arizona and I have taken six inches off my waist. I did this through eating better through portion control, eating right for my blood type, and a lot of exercise.

Another highlight for me was to finally be able to hold my niece. She is just over three months old and I have no idea when I will see her again.

I need to thank a lot of folks for making the fiesta happen. Dawn and the girls, Cindy and Sandi, Randy, and my parents.

Since my camera stayed in my pocket the entire time, I was unable to take pictures. I am hoping that folks can upload photos from the party to my Fiesta Photo Gallery.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cleared for takeoff

The suitcase is packed and I am heading to the Sky Harbor. Next stop Virginia. Well, actually it is JFK in New York and then Norfolk. But you get the point.

I am really looking forward to seeing Dawn and the girls, the rest of the family, and friends. If for some reason the spam filter and/or internet ate your invite to the party on Saturday, please email me and I will let you know the details. Things start at 3pm and I can give you directions.

We would like to see everyone, but there is a lot to do as well. I have to make up for lost time with Dawn and the girls and that comes first. I do plan on swinging through ODU on Monday. There are some things that I need to do around the house to get it ready for closing (yep, we have accepted an offer to sell it) and of course packing so that Dawn can drive west. So if you want to stop by and see us, the best time is Saturday, June 14 at 3pm.

Time to take off, see ya!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Another reason why I bike to work

I noticed that gas prices in the neighborhood went above $4 a gallon yesterday. The price has been going up so often that they do not even put the ladder away anymore. I am so glad I decided to commute by bike.

So far I have driven my car just over 1,000 miles since mid-February

Updated: June 6, 2008
The price for unleaded gas jumped to $4.15 less than 24 hours after this picture. A lot of gas stations near here are at $4.15 now.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Another reason why I like living our here...

I just stayed up to watch the end of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The hockey game went into the third overtime, which means I would have been up to 1am if I was in VA. But out here, it is only 10pm.

Imagine that, sporting events that end at a reasonable time at night.

I am looking forward to Game 6 on Wednesday.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

New ASU Pictures

I have added some more pictures of the ASU campus.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Lexi

The worst part about being so far from the family is that you end up missing a lot of stuff. Today is Lexi’s birthday. At least I was able to Skype in an participate with her opening presents and having cake using the video conferencing tools. I even had bought a piece of cake to eat here while she was eating with the rest of the family.

Happy Birthday Lexi!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day 103 in the Valley of the Sun

As I was biking back from Camelback Mountain today, I realized that it must have been at least 100 days since I arrived here. Come to find out that it was 103 and a lot has changed in that relatively small amount of time.

For starters, I have drop some weight. Actually, a lot of weight. Today, I started by biking up and down the bike paths in Scottsdale, the ones along the golf courses and lakes. You could tell that it was an unusually cool day in the Valley by how packed the trails were with bikers, walkers, joggers, and rollerbladers. After all, it was only in the 80s today.

I have been wanting to go visit Camelback Mountain in Phoenix for a while. There are some real nice and real expensive homes around this mountain. These home owners tried to close the street to cyclist and hikers, which would have prevented them from hiking up the trail on the mountain. The good news is that the homeowners gave up the fight about two weeks ago.

I get there and decided to lock up the bike and head up the mountain trail, just a little bit. There trail is rated strenuous and difficult, and is only recommended for experienced hikers. Well, I ended up hoofing my way up not just the first hump of Camelback, but hiking along the ridge to the higher second hump. It was a very tough hike, but well worth it for the view. (More pictures in photo album, scroll to bottom). I had my camera out on both the way up and down the mountain and I was able to take some great pictures (I hope you think they are as great as I do).

So now I am at the bottom and I still had an hour long bike ride home remaining. So yes, I am sore.

Like I said, these 100 days out here has been great for me physically. I am feeling the best I have felt in years. I have lost a lot of weight in the process of getting into a shape other than round. However, I am really looking forward to visiting folks in Virginia in three weeks.

P.S. don’t forget the pictures in photo album, scroll to bottom.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It is cold and wet

Today I discovered that my waterproof pannier (or rear bag) for my bike really is waterproof.

Despite the fact that it has rain most of the afternoon and evening. We have only received officially 0.16” of rain and it is enough to trigger flood warnings. We might receive between 0.25” and 0.75” before it is over. I have discovered that there are some storm drains on the major roads, but not as many as in Hampton Roads.

What made my ride so miserable this evening was the fact that it was breezy and 60 degrees. In stead of biking in the flooded bike lanes, I stuck to the wider and raised sidewalks. This also meant that I did not have to worry about cars splashing me and I could take me time pedaling home. I could have taken the bus, but I had to find out how waterproof that bag was.

So how does this area handle such flooding? Most of the neighborhood parks are built in a manmade depression, this is where the storm water runs off to. Many apartment complexes and business parks have these manmade depressions as well that become a small lake for a couple of days after a good rain.

I know, I just referred to 0.16” of rain as flooding. But keep in mind that we have only had 2.34” of rain so far this year which is about 1.5” below normal.

Apparently, the storm dumped snow around the Grand Canyon and will continue through tomorrow and then the clouds will clear out Saturday morning. I will not be biking tomorrow, but that is because I have to meet a faculty member off-campus.

It will probably be a warm day when...

It will probably be a warm day when you wake up at 5:45am and it is 82 degrees out. Yesterday it got to 110 and today it only made it to 108. In fact, as I type this at 8:30pm, it is still 100 out. The funny thing is that they are calling for a high of 81 on Thursday and Friday it supposed to only get to 70.

Today I did ride my bike into work. It felt great. It is dry out and you really have to keep drinking water when biking home in 107 degree weather that is breezy. But I have plenty of water bottles on the bike.

The real problem is that they have just applied a micro seal to several of the roads I bike on. This stuff seems to grip my tires and makes pedaling harder. The good news is that it seems to stop gripping after a week or two. I did some looking around the internet and apparently the micro seal is a thin asphalt overlay and sealer made of emulsified asphalt, water, and stone dust. It gives the road a uniform color and texture, but more importantly it seals the street, thus preventing the infiltration of water. This means that the chances of the road cracking and forming potholes is greatly reduced and therefore lasts longer. The only problem is, I am told that it can cause the roads to be slick in the rain and cause cars to slide a bit. Since there are no storm drains here, I have seen a half inch of rain flood this place and turn traffic into a nightmare.

I did not bike to work yesterday because I had a presentation to give at the ASU Downtown campus in central Phoenix. It was great to see the new campus and it looks great. They even have dorms for this campus here and the campus is the home of the College of Nursing and the Walter Conkrite School of Journalism is located. When I was here for the Alpha Phi Omega National Convention in 1996, I stayed a few blocks over from this new campus. We had an overflow hotel for the conference, that is the hotel is the current dormitory for the campus.

BTW, the bus system had no problem getting me to and from the Downtown campus. Gotta love that free ride bus pass from ASU.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

But it is a dry heat

Today is the first day of triple digit temperatures. It took a while but they are finally here. This spring had been very average, the temperatures have not jumped up like they are prone to doing. Today’s temperature topped out at 105, but could go as high as 108 by Wednesday before the highs drop into the 80s.

Despite the heat, today I helped out a friend in setting up some poles for a awning to go over their pool so that it will be shaded from the desert sun. Of course time was spent in the pool so that we would not overheat.

I am going to try to continue biking through the heat. The mornings will be fine, but if the evenings are too hot, I can always load my bike onto the bus and stay cool. Regardless, I will be carrying plenty of water when I ride.

However, I will not be biking on Monday since I have to be at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix Campus first thing in the morning to help give a workshop presentation. The bus system here is so well put together that riding the bus there and back to the ASU Tempe Campus is a simple thing. Of course when the light rail is running in December, I can catch the train from a station at the ASU Tempe right to a station on the Downtown Campus.

In other news, only a couple more weeks until I go back to Virginia to be with my family, see old friends, and then bring my family west.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Teaching & Learning With Technology

Today I went to the Teaching & Learning With Technology Conference hosted by the Maricopa Community Colleges. It was great to see some folks that I have met at other conferences. However, the big thrill was the keynote speaker Dr. Michael Wesch. He is the guy who made the amazing YouTube video The Machine is Us/ing Us.

In his keynote, he started by highlighting his own culture shock as a anthropologist when travelled to the Papua New Guinea and then described the cultural revolution he observed that was brought on by a government census.

Then he talked about the cultural revolution we are currently in the middle of and how it relates to higher education. “The most significant problem in higher education is significance itself” was one of his assertions. He continued that the “problem in higher education is a cultural gap.” this point is highlighted by his YouTube video A Vision of Students Today this is also referred to as “if these walls could talk”

The crisis of significance is that students are the ones limiting their own learning with the question “will this be on the test?” Learning must transform from the acquisition of information into: discussing, challenging, critiquing, and creating information. We can not depend on the students to know how to leverage the new environment (technologies, etc.), we have to learn WITH them. We have to look at the students as a network of multiple relationships (see Metcalf’s Law) and not a one to one relationship of instructor to a group of students.

That keynote left me excited and with a reading list to go find and look into. I attended a session on Quality Matters which is a toolset of evaluating the design of online courses and I also was able to sit in on Dr. Wesch’s session where he talked about and demonstrated a course project from his cultural anthropology class, a World Simulation and the tools that were used to facilitate this course project.

The lunch speaker did a great job of profiling today’s K-12 students and really challenged the fact that today’s so called “digital natives” are not really digital natives. She used statistics of computers in the classroom from when high school seniors were in first grade versus today’s fourth graders and what they had in the first grade classroom and how the fourth grades can run circles around these seniors.

It was a great conference and as you can tell, I picked up some great ideas (you should see my notes).

Friday, May 9, 2008

It Is Now Summer

Yesterday, there were people running all over campus in their cap and gowns. ASU apparently had their largest graduating class ever - 8,000 graduates. All 8,000 were housed in one ceremony at Wells Fargo Arena, but many of the colleges have smaller ceremonies afterwards from Thursday afternoon through Saturday.

This makes today the first day of summer for me. I have always considered the first day at work after Spring Commencement to be the first day of summer.

To me:
  • Spring starts in January with the spring semester.
  • Summer starts when the spring semester is over.
  • Fall starts when the fall semester begins in August.
I am not sure if I will ever consider winter as a season here, I guess we will find out later this year.

Summer is a time when campus suddenly gets very quiet and parking gets easier. That has happened here. Actually, I have only been told that parking is easier since I do not drive to campus.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Playing Host

Yesterday, I put Dawn on a plane to head back to Virginia. It was one of the toughest thing I have done in a real long time.

We really enjoyed the four days we had together.

Late Friday night, I met her at the airport with a dozen roses.

Saturday we visited 14 houses with the real estate agent. It was a whirlwind tour of the area and Dawn was still trying to adjust to the time change and the pace did not help. However, that evening I treated her to a night at Tempe’s Mill Avenue. We had drinks at Fat Tuesday’s, dinner at Dragonfly Vietnamese Kitchen, walked along Tempe Town Lake, went shopping, and finished off the evening with homemade ice cream sandwiches at Cookiez. Since the hotel we were staying in was on the other side of campus, I gave here a night tour of ASU on the way back to the hotel.

Sunday was a day of shopping and relaxing. Since I had now shrunk out of a lot of my clothes, we had to do some shopping for me and of course we picked some things up for her as well. Then we went to a friend’s house to hang at the pool and talk about the area.

Monday we were exhausted, but revisited our “top four” houses to decide which we liked best and why. Afterwards, we went to IKEA to see if we could visualize the furniture in the house. We could.

I went back to work on Tuesday while Dawn visited SCNM and took care of a couple of things. I took her to lunch at the MU and then after work we went out for dinner. Later that evening, she left on a redeye back to VA.

It was a great four days. I wish it could have been longer. I would also like to have the girls out here too. But soon I will be flying out there and then they will be heading out here to stay.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

77 Square Feet

I have been meaning talk about my living arrangements. I live in a 7 x 11 room in a nice little townhouse that was built in the 80s. I live with two other guys (well the second guy just moved in) and we all have a technology background.

The downstairs kitchen is small, but it works for us. We have a clothes washer inside and the dryer is in the shed. It is there because why would you want a heat generating device in such a small house? We have a small bricked patio where I park my bike. There are also a lot of potted plants on the patio and at times it can feel like a jungle.

So as you can tell, the room is pretty spartan. the only thing in the picture that I bought here is the air mattress and bedding (except for the tartan blanket, I brought that across country). What you do not see is the cabinet from IKEA that has all of my papers and stuff. The room has cable, but I have not bought a TV yet since all we have is basic cable (that means no ESPN and Sci Fi, but we have Discovery). At least the place has wireless internet.

The house hunting is going well. The best part is Dawn flies in tomorrow night to join me in the hunt. I can not wait to show her around here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Some random thoughts

There has not been much to talk about lately. I have been working and looking at more houses. I have found several houses that I like and hope that we can get one of them. The two factors I am dealing with is selling the house in VA and foreclosures. If the house I am looking at goes into foreclosure before I get a chance to put in an offer, then the bank takes it and might sit on it for months. In the meantime I am doing my homework on real estate and the schools around the houses that have “made the cut”

Here are some interesting facts and stuff that I have learned:
  • Pools here are coated with plaster and not vinyl. Letting the pool get low on water can be very expensive since the plaster will dry out and flake.
  • There are a lot of empty homes. Apparently, some people just walk out of the house to avoid the reality of them losing it. Of course the bank takes it over and such. But what I want to know where do these people go?
  • This area’s roads are laid out in a grid (for the most part). What I did not realize is that each major intersection is about a mile apart. I am going to have to memorize the major street names so I can pretend like I have lived here for years.
When looking for a house, the biggest factors I look at are: where will Dawn have her office/study room, where will the family hangout, what is the condition of the pool, and how far is it from ASU & SCNM. Of course, if the place needs a lot of work, it is not for us. We do not want to do a lot of work on the place in the first year.

I have really enjoyed not paying for gas. The last tank lasted me about six weeks and I only bought gas so I would not have bought it except that I was already at Costco. The clean air group has been doing a great job getting the word out about the smog problem here and how to reduce it. I am glad to be doing my part while saving a ton of money at the same time by biking to work. The smog has not been bad so far due to the fact that there has been a near constant breeze blowing it out of the valley.

Talking about biking, I participated in the National Bike to Work Day on Wednesday. The only thing extra I did was go to meet-up point (one of five in Tempe) next to ASU so I could sign in and be counted. Today, I found (by accident) the PHX Zoo and the spring training facility of the Oakland A’s. Today’s picture was made from a butte in Papago Park.

Commenting on Comments
PCraw, when we get things settled, come on out for a visit. BTW, I don’t have a house hunting licensed, but my real estate agent does.

Knitting Dalek, the joints are feeling great. Good luck with the hear monitor. I thought about getting one, but did not.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hunting houses

It is finally getting warm here. Today was the first day over 90 and tomorrow will be in the upper 90s.

There has not been much to post about lately. I have spent most of the last week looking at real estate listings and reading school reviews. I have also been mapping estimated bike routes from the prospective home to ASU to make sure that the house was close enough to continue commuting by bike. Yesterday when I went to run errands and go grocery shopping, I drove through some of the neighborhoods around some of the places I went to see what was there.

Today, my real estate agent took me to ten different houses. I have found some that I really like and I am looking forward to showing them to Dawn when she gets out here. There were a couple of houses that could have been nice had they not needed some work to be done to them, but I really do not want to do much work on the house during the first year or so - I just want to enjoy the house and area with the family.

Meanwhile, Dawn has been doing a great job getting the house in Virginia ready to sell. She has done a great job on the house and I hope it will sell fast.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Yesterday I went to the Tempe Bike-a-palooza, an event that kicks off Tempe’s Bike Month (April). As part of the event, there is a free 12.5 mile ride through Tempe, and the best part is that all of the major intersections had Tempe Police Officers controlling the traffic. It was a great chance for me to see and learn more about Tempe.

Another part of this event is the bike swap. There were a lot of people who were selling bikes, bike parts, clothes, tools, and vintage bikes (I saw one from 1933 for sale). It was a chance for me to meet people and one group I met I am thinking about getting involved with. The Tempe Bicycle Action Group has a lot of members who are doctorate students at ASU and they do a lot of cool things, such as bike polo. However, I am thinking of waiting until the fall when I can pick up a spare bike to start playing bike polo.

Today I finally biked the canal that is parallel to the Salt River. This ride took me east out of Mesa and into the Salt River Indian Community. A real nice ride with some great views and have added three pictures to my album.

This week it is about getting serious on finding a place for the family to move into. I have done enough research and it is time to start visiting some of the houses and neighborhoods I have been investigating. I need to have some places for Dawn to visit when she is here in a couple of weeks.

Today’s picture was taken while I was pedaling at the start of the ride yesterday. Notice the nice wide bike lane in the middle of this divided road. The right side is for parked cars.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It is not about the bike

From The Crawfords in AZ Blog Photos

A couple of years ago, I weighed myself and stared at the scale. It read 277 pounds. For a bunch of different reasons I had become inactive and gained a bunch of weight. I mention this because today I looked at the scale and it read 202. I have lost 75 pounds since that “high water mark”.

I am in the best shape I have been in since 2000. About three years ago I started some great habits where I started eating less at meals. The portions we eat are way to big. When I got out to AZ, I start calorie counting. I found a web site that you plug in your sex, height, and weight and it calculates how many calories you need to maintain, gain, or lose weight (your choice). Something that has made things easier is the fact that I do not have a bunch of snacks laying around to distract me from my goal.

Recently I combined eating better with exercising when I start biking to work. It seemed like the thing to do considering how well the weather cooperates out here (at least so far) and that parking is way too expensive at ASU. Now I have started an exercise program at ASU’s Student Recreation Complex where you can hire a personal trainer (often an upperclass Exercise and Physiology student). Thanks to that, I am starting to use the facility on my own before work so that I can improve my progress.

One problem I am having is that I am going to have to give away some real nice pants since I have shrunk out of them. I am also down to the last hole on my belt. So it looks like I will be going shopping for new clothes soon.

My goal is to get near 170 pounds, a weight that Dawn has never seen me at (she has never seen me under 195). I am hoping that the habits of eating right and exercise that I have started will continue for a long time. Who knows, maybe I will participate in the Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon or the Arizona Ironman one day.

In the meantime, I am just enjoying the fact that I feel great.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thank you President Crow

From The Crawfords in AZ Blog Photos

First off, I would have rather been at ODU tonight with my family watching the girls be Ball Kids for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. From what I hear, they had a lot of fun. On top of that #5 seed ODU beat #4 seed UVA in overtime - Dawn called me at the end and it was CRAZY!!!! GO LADY MONARCHS!!!!

Instead, I had invited my roommate to go to the NIT game with me tonight. As I was getting ready to buy tickets yesterday, the ticket office gets a memo that President Crow had bought 3,500 tickets to be given to faculty and staff on a first come, first serve basis. Well, I was first in line putting away my money and pulling out my ASU Sun Card to prove I was a staff member. Thanks for the tickets President Crow.

So I walked over to the game from work for the 6pm tip and my roommate met me in our seat before the game. The Florida Gators were the fourth seed in our bracket (we were the first seed) and opened up with a barrage of offense against the Sun Devils and put us in a hole quickly. The Devils crawled back and made a great game of it until they had two real close calls in a row go against them at a pivotal point in the game where they had just taken the lead. The mentally broke down and it was over quickly. So the two-time National Champion Florida Gators get to go to Madison Square Gardens for the NIT Semi-finals. So the Sun Devils end a good year with a loss, but have a lot to look forward to next year. Should be fun

Like the picture my new mobile phone can make. I will save the story as to why I have a new cell phone for later. Yes, those are fans with court-side seating across the court.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Biking the canals

From The Crawfords in AZ Blog Photos

Today I turned south and took a nice long bike ride along some of the canals in Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, and Gilbert. One of the nice things about this area is that they cities here have built multi-use trails along the canal system that distributes water to the various cities. Mesa has done a good job of installing lights and rest areas along their multi-use path. However Gilbert is trying to catch up, they are currently installing more paved paths and they are also adding cross-walk signals to make crossing major road easier. Tempe is about to start a new project to improve their section.

These rides are always fun due to all of the sights you see. It is really night to see the back side of various neighborhoods, schools, parks, golf courses, horse corrals, junk yards, power plants, and industrial complexes. If we end up moving to Chandler or Gilbert, I think my daily biking commute will take me along the Western Canal so I can avoid having to deal with traffic. Once you get into Tempe, you have 165 miles of bike paths to choose from, so I am finding getting around to be easy.

I missed going to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at ODU. My girls were ball kids for the first two games and then got to watch ODU beat Liberty.

Forgot to mention yesterday that as I was heading to the Ren Fest yesterday, one of the buttes was yellow. A couple of weeks ago a lot of the buttes were green because of how wet is has been this winter. Now all of the wildflowers are blooming, and this one was covered in yellow flowers.

Today’s picture is from the Octoillo Power Station and Star Power Research Center. It is along my daily commute to ASU. These panels rotate to always face the sun during the day.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Arizona Renaissance Festival

From The Crawfords in AZ Blog Photos

Out here, there is a really big renaissance festival that lasts several weeks and today I went to it with my roommate and his fiance. We started the day off right by seeing a jousting competition. They had three nights and a pirate competing in several feats of skill culminating in a joust. We also took in several performances including The Lost Boys, a rock and roll band from 1599, and Tartantic, a celtic rock band. I was amazed to see how pirates, fairies, and vikings have made their way in as a staple at the renaissance festival. There was a lot more to do, but that will have to wait till next year when everyone is out here. Did I mention that it was in the upper 80s today.

On the way home, we had dinner at Organ Stop Pizza. This is not just a pizza joint, but an experience. They have a Mighty Wurlitzer organ with 6000 pipes. The guy who plays it plays a ton of music and we heard a Star Wars medley, a Sound of Music medley, and a Phantom of the Opera medley among a lot of other music. This is another place that I will be bringing the family to when they get here.

I have also put a couple more pictures in the AZ Fun album.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

ASU beats ASU, 64 to 53

From The Crawfords in AZ Blog Photos

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day and I figured I was just going to have a nice quiet evening at home. Then I get a text message from my roommate that he and his fiance were going out and invited me to tag along. We ended up at Churchill’s which is a british pub and we had a great time - some corn beef and cabbage, some Guinness, and some Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake. One of the nice things about Arizona is that restaurants and malls are smoke free. So this pub was just like the ones in the UK (they are smoke free too). It was great to go out and not come back reeking of smoke.

I decided to go see the opening round of the NIT where #1 ASU was playing #8 Alabama State University (the other ASU). I get to the stadium and I had a great seat, fourth row from the court. Then I realize that it is right next to the Alabama State band - not good. So I avoided going to my seat to early. When I do, I discover that there are only 7 seats in the row - I have seat 8. I got moved to the third row very near center court (much better). The first 16 minutes was an old fashion clinic and beat down. Then the Alabama State coach came out of shell shock, he really looked lost in the first half, and came alive and got his team going. The Sun Devils never trailed and now we get to play Southern Illinois on Thursday at ASU.

At the exact same time the game let out, the baseball game across the street let out too. It was #1 ranked ASU hosting #2 University of Arizona, so it was obviously a big game. So big that they had the Fox Sports Net Arizona feed playing in the Wells Fargo Arena before the NIT game started. BTW, ASU won that one 6-5.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lazy weekend

From The Crawfords in AZ Blog Photos

I started off the weekend by heading out to Mill Avenue. Think of Virginia Beach’s Town Center except that it is fully developed, larger, and has one of the biggest party schools next door. This being the last weekend of spring break there were not as many people here as normal, so that made for a “quieter” evening. Since it was I on my own for the evening, I had a chance to explore some of the shops and restaurants. I plan on visiting again soon. I was at Z’Tejas having dinner and watching the basketball games when I saw the stunning events in Atlanta with the tornado. The places damaged (The mall that CNN is in & Olympic Park) were places we visited this past summer.

I started Saturday by watching more basketball. I was able to see the ODU Lady Monarchs win over the CAA’s streaming video site. I then headed over to Tempe Marketplace, a new outdoor mall that opened back in the fall and later to Mesa Riverview, which is still building and adding tenets.

Sunday was another lazy day of watching basketball, reading, and doing laundry. I did not go for a ride to day since it is too cold and windy. Well the high was only 62 or so and that is cold - and it was windy. Since Comcast was broadcasting the ODU game, there was not a video stream this time, so I had to rely on ESPN’s web site and Dawn’s IMs to keep up with the game. I am glad they won their 17th straight conference championship. Too bad ASU did not make the Men’s Tourney, I am hoping that they will host a NIT game - I might try to go. While channel flipping, I got to see Tiger tear up the links and make a great final putt to win.

BTW, the blue heron is from last week’s bike ride.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Random stuff

From The Crawfords in AZ Blog Photos

When I was describing the instructor stations in the classrooms at ASU, I forgot to mention that the desk can also be raised or lowered depending on the height of the instructor. This can be done by pushing a button.

I started my car for the first time in ten days this evening. I have not driven since I filled up the car with gas. The price has jumped up over ten cents since then. BTW, I did not drive the car, I just ran it for a few minutes to keep the battery happy.

Today I biked to work for the first time. Takes about the same amount of time as it would to drive it. Having a locker in the Student Recreation Complex makes things easier. Hopefully I can get thing organized enough to workout before work. It appears that I have managed to drop almost 15 pounds since heading out here. I have not been this close to 210 pounds this millennium. BTW, my goal is to get to between 185 and 190. Having a Fresh & Easy market next door also means that I am eating healthier.

Hey Ravingbagpiper, here is your chance to tear a hole in the universe since I am responding to your comment first in the commencement of my comment-commenting. Dude, Lost has spun my head around again. But the Executive Producers have promised that it will not have a Snow Globe ending, but a real one (look up the St. Elsewhere Finale - I was perplexed when I saw the end of that one). Second, I think I manage to never say out loud “butt” when referring to a “butte”, but I sure did think it. BTW, “butte” rhymes with “puke”.

Hey Michael, Fresh & Easy is committed to helping the environment and they want to reward people for having a clean fuel vehicle. The spaces are right up front next to the handicapped spaces. They do not charge for bags, but they encourage you to bring your own. BTW, IKEA charges you a nickel for every bag, but they also encourage you to purchase and use their heavy duty reusable bag.

Hey Chris, I would be the uncle that would be causing trouble and having my niece involved too. Just ask the Dawn & the girls about me being a mischievous.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What a fine MEC this is

From The Crawfords in AZ Blog Photos

As you may have noticed, I do not post many details about what I do at ASU. I tend to err on the side of caution because I often am not sure what is “public information” and what is “internal”. Last thing I want to hear about is someone saying that they heard ASU is doing X and that my blog is the source of the information. Universities like ASU pay big bucks to public affairs professionals to announce stuff.

However, I will say that this week I have been having fun supporting the Microcomputers in Education Conference (MEC). This is a conference that alt^I has been part of and is aimed at the K-12 crowd from all over AZ. Since this event has been going on for well over 20 years and there is a public web site, I have no problem talking about it. My role has been simple, provide technical support for the presenters. I am a member of a team made up of other alt^I folks and excellent student workers who did not leave campus for spring break. I have to tell you that the technology in these classrooms surpasses anything I saw at ODU. The rooms have a fantastic instructor station with everything you could think of: computer, document camera, DVD player, wireless microphones, plug-in for your laptop, Smart Symposium board (think your computer screen and John Madden - draw a little here and BOOM!), and the ability to control the lights and to project onto two screens with two different devices. All of this was touch screen controlled, easy to use on the first attempt, and had plenty of desk space for the instructor to put “stuff”. Then there are the student desks - in some cases, the desks have a panel the can be opened and out pops a Dell or Macbook for the student to use. Geeks can check out the classroom configuration page for all of the details. The rooms we are using are on the lower level of the building, and it is hard to describe how open things still are (I will take some pictures around campus one day soon).

I hope you enjoyed seeing the palm tree above. I have noticed that we have “standard” cell towers when they are near places that already have a bunch of stuff sticking up such as light and power poles. However, when the cell towers are off by themselves, they are disguised to match the palm trees. I wonder what camouflaged cell towers in Virginia Beach would look like?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A weekend of exploring

From The Crawfords in AZ Blog Photos

Friday night I went out with the guy I renting the room from. It was me, him, his fiancee, and two of his friends from work. We went out for dinner and then went to Gameworks at Arizona Mills Mall. Gameworks is basically an adult Chuck E. Cheese - one with a bar and better games. In one of the games you are flying a hot air balloon where you try to rise above your opponents and then drop down on them to pop their balloon with a spike on the bottom of the basket. Did I mention that your chair rises and falls about 30 feet to match the altitude of your balloon on the screen.

Saturday was a day of riding the bus. I checked out Fiesta Mall in Mesa and then Superstition Springs Mall way out on the eastern edge of Mesa. There were a lot of people at Superstition Springs since NBC was there to do a casting call for “The Biggest Loser”. It was nice to ride the bus so I could look around and see the area. When you do that while driving, you risk getting lost and/or having an accident.

Today was another bike ride up Indian Bend Wash in Scottsdale. I have added some pictures of some blue herons I saw while there. Then I returned via the Arizona Canal. The canal goes by Scottsdale’s Fashion Square Mall and they have integrated the canal nicely into the area. Finally, the canal goes along the edge of Papago Park where I saw this butte that had people climbing all over it. I went up there and there is a hole through it that you can walk through, notice all of the palm trees on the other side of the butte, this is the rest of the park.

This week I managed to survive car free. It is easy to do when you have a bus pass that let’s you ride for free and you are close to work. Of course, the fact that it has been so comfortable helps as well.

One last thing, Arizona does not observe daylight saving time. That means that we are now three hours behind the east coast.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Visit to SkySong

Today I had the opportunity to visit SkySong in Scottsdale. SkySong is ASU’s new international business and innovation center that is a couple miles north of the Tempe Campus.

It was a last minute trip this afternoon, but it was a chance to see this new center that they are developing. One building is done and the second building is coming along. The plan is to develop this area into a dense and thriving area that will eventually consist of 1.2 million square feet of office, research and retail space, and a hotel/conference center.

The office space I saw was very nice. There are a lot of glass walled conference rooms in the middle of the floor that are stuffed with technology. In the outer part of the floor they have cube farms. They did a good job of painting the wall with eye popping color and have cubes that match. There is also a SkySong Cafe and a lounge for collaboration near the cubes.

If you want to learn more about SkySong, take a look at the web site.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Living in two time zones

For me, the hardest part about being separated from my family for an extend period is having to deal with time zones. It is hard to do things here and try to communicate back east in real time because of the two hour difference. If I do anything in the evening, it usually means that I will not be talking to anyone back east that night. Another problem is that when you plan to watch something on TV, a show that is on at 8pm in the east actually comes on at 7pm here. Which means if someone from back east calls when the show goes off at 9pm, it is really just starting here. When you do not have a DVR to pause and record the rest of the show, then you tend to miss it. So I guess it is a good thing that I do not have cable on only watch one or two TV series on a regular basis.

Things should get even more interesting after Saturday night. Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time, we already have enough daylight. That means there will now be a three hour difference. So when the girls are going to bed, I am just getting home from work.

Good thing Dawn and I use instant messaging a lot. This way we can both get stuff done while we communicate.

Monday, March 3, 2008

I am an uncle

My little sister finally gave birth late this evening. I am an uncle to a 7 pound 11 ounce little girl. My sister was due on February 29th and I was hoping the kid would be a Leapling.

It was funny this morning (before I went to work) to get an email from her that she had started to have contractions and that they were getting ready to go to the hospital.

My sister lives in North Carolina, so it is not like I would have been down there for the birth or heading there tomorrow. However, I wish I could see her and the kid this coming weekend. I know that my girls want to go down and see her as soon as possible. The good news is that her husband has built a web site and will be posting pictures soon.

Gotta love the internet. It keeps people connected.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Another beautiful day

From The Crawfords in AZ Blog Photos

This weekend has been mainly about exploration.

Saturday I drove to Scottsdale to get my car’s oil changed at the Saturn dealership. While in that part of town, I picked up some panniers, or bags for the back of my bike, so that I can start biking to work soon. However, they did not have the rack for the bags to attach to. So I drove down to the Performance Bike shop in Chandler and picked up the rack there. This got me into a part of town that I had not been to before. BTW, the high yesterday was 82.

Today I biked over to “A” Mountain again and this time I had the bright idea of walking up the paved trail that goes halfway up it. I discovered that this road was much more steep than the longer tail that starts at Sun Devil Stadium. I will be avoiding the paved trail for a while when hiking up the butte again. Afterwards, I wandered over to Papago Park where I found an urban fishing stream. I will check out this park later as I hoping to bike through Indian Bend Wash. I eventually found the place and I was glad I did. This multi-use path runs through parks, skate parks, splash parks, baseball and football fields, golf courses, and a frisbee golf course -- and I only got half way up it. One of the neat things here is that Scottsdale had plenty of water fountains along the path, including some designed for pets. I stopped to turn around at Camelback Road where I found the San Francisco Giants working out at their spring training complex. BTW, it was only 72 today.

I am enjoying the desert spring and being in the outdoors and I am already beginning to develop a bit of a farmer’s tan.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Confirmation of being in the system

From The Crawfords in AZ Blog Photos

Today is the day that I received my final confirmation that I am an ASU employee -- I got paid. You always hold your breath for that first paycheck, because getting it means that all of your paperwork has been processed and entered into the system.

I have been asked on the blog and via email about what I am working on. Unfortunately I am not working on anything interesting, yet. I have spent most of the time getting to know folks and getting access to the various systems I will be using. Then I have spent a lot of time reading the procedure documents, becoming familiar with the project templates related to how ASU designs online courses, and then checking out some of the online courses and their materials. I have also been attending some workshops on the different systems that they use. One of the workshops was an introduction to Blackboard (Bb), the course management system. Despited the fact that I was a Bb admin at ODU, it was good to sit in on the workshop to hear what they tell ASU instructors and to understand how they do things.

I expect to have more interesting things to say about work in the near future. I will be helping with the Microcomputers in Education Conference that starts on March 10th. I understand it is a big deal for alt^I.

Happy Leap Day all!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

So far so good

It seems like everyday I find a new reason to like this place. I really like ASU and the people I am working with. I have spent most of my time learning about ASU and how alt^I does things. So far, I have liked everything I have seen.

I had a chance to go out to the developing area of south Phoenix last night. I had dinner with an old friend that I was in Scouts with growing up. It was a great evening of catching up on old times and talking about the PHX area with him and his wife. I am looking forward to doing stuff with them and having them over and meeting the family this summer.

Before planning to move here, Dawn and I had always talked about what we would like a place to have if we were to move. One of the things I wanted was to live in a place where I could be more considerate of the environment. Well, one of my ASU benefits is that I get a free bus pass for the Valley Metro. I have been riding the bus to ASU this week and it takes just as long to drive to work as it does to ride the bus, and the bus times are convenient. Another thing I wanted is to live somewhere that had a good network of bike paths, well this is one of those places. I plan to start biking to work soon and will hopefully get into better shape in the process.

The main grocery store I go to is Fresh & Easy. They stock a lot of freshly made foods and organic products. Another neat thing is that in addition to handicap parking they have designated parking for adults with small children and also spaces for hybrid vehicles.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Comment responses

I wanted to take some time to respond to some of the comments:

Knitting Dalek has asked several TV related questions. Yes, I have watched Flash Gordon on my MacBook Air. Because I have not bought a TV yet, I watch most of my television on the MBA using the networks streaming video. I have been able to keep up with Lost, Knight Rider, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and I have started watching Jericho. The reason that I have not bought a TV yet is because we only have basic cable. Without SciFi and ESPN, I just have not been motivated to spend the money yet (I do have a cable hookup in my room). BTW, I did like the Flash Gordon finale and the Knight Rider pilot was better than I expected.

Gene asked about me adopting the Diamondbacks as my baseball team. I have adopted them, but I am not a big Major League Baseball fan. I have also adopted the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League.

In response as to what to add to my desk. I plan on going to IKEA at some point and getting a bamboo plant. I have taken my diploma in, but I have not hung it yet. I also need a new picture of Dawn & I, unfortunately that will probably have to wait until the end of June.

I know I have not responded to every comment, but please continue making comments. I enjoy reading them. I will try to semi-regularly respond to general comments through a post like this.

The view from the top

From The Crawfords in AZ Blog Photos

Despite the fact that it was cloudy today, it was warm enough to go biking in shorts and short sleeves. I decided to confirm that it takes about 30 minutes to bike from my place to campus today and then hike up Hayden Butte (aka Tempe Butte and “A” Mountain) while on campus.

Once I got to the butte, I found a very nice trail that is a bit steep, but well maintained. A short hike later (30 minutes or so), I am at the top standing next to the antenna array at the top. According to one of the guys who had hiked up there with his ham radio, this is where the Tempe fire and police antennas are as well as several ham radio repeaters. The view looking out over Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, and Mesa is beautiful. The picture above includes ASU in the background.

After I hiked down I biked over to Mill Avenue, this is the hot spot in Tempe on a Friday or Saturday night. This place is also one of the reasons why ASU is a top party school. I am planning to hit Mill Avenue on a Friday night soon.

Then there is the park at Tempe Town Lake. They have a public “splash” park that I know the girls will love when they get out here. I biked the length of the lake and then headed back home.

I have added pictures that I took today to my ASU album and my AZ Fun album.