Hello from Palm Springs

It’s Esri Developer Summit time again! I am in Palm Springs, taking in the sights and sounds and learning all that I can.

The weather is nice, but not hot. It’s been raining here lately and much cooler than usual. Still, considering it was -22 when I left Calgary yesterday and +21 when I landed here, I am not complaining at all. I was out at the fire pit at the hotel last night with Dave Hamilton, Matt English and others who came and went. I introduced Dave to the Godfather (the drink, not the movie). My roommate this year is Chris Dupont.

Today is the first official day, with the plenary session in the morning and technical sessions starting in the afternoon. Here we are ready to go at the plenary this morning.

The one pain in the butt so far is that the J key on my Bridge keyboard for my iPad has come off. A tiny little plastic bit has broken. I should be able to fix it with some Crazy Glue, but I am glad that I brought my MacBook as well: it is not my main note-taking device.

Updated Friday Morning

It’s almost time to come home. This morning I’m up a little early to meet some co-workers at Sherman’s for breakfast. Then I will probably get one session in before checking out and heading for the airport.

The conference has been great. Long days and constantly having to choose between or among different sessions that all sounded worthwhile. There were only two in three days where I wanted or chose to leave to see something else. The weather has been behaving. While the forecast from last week threatened rain, there have only been two precipitation events: Tuesday night when I was asleep, and Wednesday at lunch when it was barely spitting in the sunshine. It was quite refreshing, actually.

Last night was the party and the weather was a little cool, but it was warm inside where the annual dodgeball tournament was on.

Dodgeball semi-finals

I didn’t participate in the tournament: I am a large target. Instead, I chose to try SAFE Archery Hoverball, which was challenging. Oh, and I blew up the Death Star.

I discovered that Michelle is very competitive when it comes to air hockey, but she and Konstantin met their match against a couple of other guys.

I have been able to FaceTime with the kids and Tammy most nights this week. It’s been a challenge with Tammy working in the evenings, but not too bad. It will be good to be home.

Updated after arriving home

Friday’s travel back to Canada was problematic for a lot of people I work with. I was pretty lucky, only getting delayed about an hour and then another half hour waiting for my bag to show up. My delay was caused by a plane having a mechanical issue and being parked at a gate in Palm Springs. When the Calgary plane arrived, it had nowhere to park, and was sitting on the tarmac for an hour. We felt like we were chasing it around the airport as first it was supposed to park at Gate 8 (where the borked plane was), then it taxied to Gate 17, and then back to Gate 8. Since I had a non-stop flight home, I was only inconvenienced, and so were Tammy and the kids picking me up.

Others were not so lucky. My roommate Chris ended up having to stay an extra day in Palm Springs because his flight was cancelled. Many of the Esri Canada staff from Toronto were going to be delayed into San Francisco and so would miss their connection. There were three people from Ottawa on my flight to Calgary, and they missed their connection.

It was the wind. The wind is always a problem at PSP. It has a lot to do with the mountains to the west and the fact that it only has one runway.

Today, the wind was blowing from the north-east, which put gale force gusts right across the runway. There’s no option to change runways to point the nose into the wind for landing and takeoff. When I arrived at the airport, the wind was strong enough that you had to hold onto the car door to prevent it from slamming shut. Planes that were trying to land were getting redirected to other airports, and since those planes hadn’t landed, the flights out of PSP on those planes were either delayed or cancelled. This happened to me in 2016 and I was lucky to make it home.

Some people fly to Los Angeles or Phoenix and then rent a car to drive to Palm Springs, but that’s adding considerable time and expense to the trip. I don’t imagine that I will do that in the future, and will continue to roll the dice with Palm Springs International Airport.

Happy Birthday… to me.

Today I’m 47 ( and so is my “twin”, Simon’s cousin Chris – happy birthday to him).

The day has been pretty much like any other day. We woke up at 5.50 to CBC Radio 1. Everyone got ready for work or school (Simon is working from home). I had some presents and cards waiting for me: 

a keychain made by Miranda and a red origami crane,
a homemade card from Ian and a box of Purdy’s truffles (the booze kind),
a card, the What Do You Meme game, and a pair of BCC 2019 bib shorts (on order),
a meowing kitten card from Steph and the gang,
a humorous card (where do you find these?) and gift from Dave

Thank you everyone for the lovely gifts. Maybe we’ll bring the Meme game with us to Vic this summer. Later in the morning I Skyped with Dad and Carol and I will FaceTime with Dave when I get home from work at 10. I did a quick workout on the bike and then Simon and I walked down to our local pub for a lightning lunch. On the way home I cashed in my Starbucks birthday bonus drink card (and somehow got a free one for Simon).

Now I’m just waiting until I have to prepare chicken fajitas for supper before I’m off to work to give my students a reading test.  There is no cake as per my request, but I did make some treats to share with my class and there were enough for the fam as well (but I may have to make more).


It’s Cold, But We’re Going Sledding, Dammit

The temperature got up to +1 yesterday afternoon, letting us think that this long cold snap was over, but then it was -16 when I got up this morning and it’s been hovering around -17 all day.

But it’s a testament to how stir crazy the kids are getting that they raised no objections when I suggested going sledding after lunch today. It was cold, and we only were out for 30 minutes of sledding, but it was worth it.

Miranda heading down (left) and Ian crashed (right)
Tammy posing for a selfie with the Abominable Snowman

Finally Not Housebound

It has been a long cold stretch, filled with quiet times at home. That’s not a bad thing, but I think we were getting a bit stir crazy. I had pencilled in today as a possible ski day. The long-term forecast had predicted it was the day the weather would break, and the kids had Thursday and Friday off. I took the days off work as well.

The weather report in the morning was not looking good. -21 with a windchill down into the -30 range. But by midday the temperature was supposed to shoot up and snow by evening. We decided to delay our departure for Nakiska until 10, hoping to hit the hill just as the temperature rose.

It worked. We were dressed well, and it was -15 when we got out of the car, but the temperature rose to -9 while we were there. The day was beautiful and sunny.

Ian and I on the Silver chair
Miranda on the Bronze chair
Tammy following after

It was a great day on the slopes. Well worth the wait.

Rubik’s cube solving

So, ever since a week ago, I was going back to Rubik’s cube solving. I actually started in 2016 but now, I’ve returned to solving. In the first part of the week, I rote down on a sticky note, algorithms to solve the cube. I was practicing and so on. The second part of the week was trying to memorize the algorithms in my head. It took some time memorizing, and the third and final part of the week was speed solving. It took a few days to practice turning the cube quickly, but now, I think i’m on my way, yesterday, I ordered a 2018 speed cube so that my rubik’s cube would not lock up so easily when i turned it. I’ve been practicing speed solving ever since Friday and today, i think i’m getting really good. I recorded a video of me speed solving my rubik’s cube with a rubik’s cube stopwatch app. It took me 01:06.93 seconds to solve the cube.

I’m pretty fast, am I?

The End of the Eye of the World

Tonight, we celebrated a little milestone: Ian and I finished reading Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World together, and I finished reading the French-language version of the same today, too. We started reading them back in the summer last year, and it has taken time, but it has been a good experience together. And my French reading skill continues to improve.

We even celebrated with a cake:

The ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai

We didn’t really make a cake to celebrate it, but it was my job to decorate it, and if I chose a topical theme, that was my choice. 😄

We also ordered Ian a new Rubik’s Cube today, but more on that later.

First Step on the way to IB

On Wednesday, Miranda got her letter from Hogwarts from Sir Winston Churchill indicating that she had been accepted as a candidate for the International Baccalaureate program.

On behalf of Sir Winston Churchill High School’s Area 1 Selection Committee for the International Baccalaureate Program (IB), we are pleased to inform you that you have been selected as a Grade 10 student at Sir Winston Churchill High School for the school year commencing September 2019.

You will begin in September as an IB candidate. Grade 10 students at Sir Winston Churchill High School apply for admittance into the IB Program in November/December of their Grade 10 year. Acceptance is based on grades and SWC teacher recommendations.

As you can see, this does not mean that she will be accepted into IB for Grades 11 and 12, but we have confidence in her. This is the first step.

On Thursday night, Miranda and I went over her Grade 10 course selections and planning Grades 11 and 12 with the material we got at the orientation night in November. There are two sessions coming up where incoming IB candidates need to go to SWC to speak to counsellors and set their Grade 10 courses.

We’re very proud of her, and so is her teacher, Ms. McRae, who gave Miranda a card on Friday:

Congratulations on your acceptance to the IB program at Churchill — We know your future holds amazing things!

Damn straight. 😁

Brr! It’s Cold Out

We’re getting our blast of winter weather. It’s minus 23 out there and going to get colder tomorrow. Not a lot of incentive to be outside. So we stayed inside and put a puzzle together.

Tammy, Ian and Miranda almost done

We’ve had this puzzle for years, still in the think wrap. I was trying to remember exactly how long we’ve had it and failed. One Christmas in Sooke anyways.

The finished product – Dragon Hunters

And, of course it’s Groundhog Day, so we watched the movie this evening.