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.