Monday, July 22, 2019

Water World

We got together with 2 other families for a perfect day at Water World.  We went first class all the way with a cabana rental and tube valet.  Everybody brought fixings for lunch.  The weather was perfect in the morning and even by afternoon it was tolerable.

We set up shop in Cabana #6, by the Thunder Bay Wave Pool.  In addition to 2 tables, 8 chairs and 4 lounge chairs, the cabanas also have a ceiling fan, refrigerator and access to fountain drinks.

From there we started doing rides in The West Coast Adventure Section with Glacier Run, The Storm and Lost River of the Pharaohs.

Then we took a short break and took the Express Gondola over to the Big Top section of the park.  First stop was the Mile High Flyer, then Double Dare.  The more adventurous among us took on Tiger Tail (the long straight shot white water slides).  The Flatliner was the most exposed, I did the easiest center run.  Walking back we stopped at The Revolution in Wild Isle which had the longest line and where the tube valet pass really came in handy.  We also took a lap on one of the more gentle rides in that section.

After that we took a break for lunch.  It was all picnic food with sandwich fixings, fried chicken, vegetables and fruit.  Feeling sated we headed back out for more rides.

We headed over to River Country for Eagle River, Rio Grande River and Ragin' Colorado River.  After that we went to The Wave, where we each took turns wiping out in short order.  I was actually a little impressed by the guys who were just getting in line all day to work on their skills (bringing their own boogie board and some were wearing wet suits).  We also went over to The Voyage to the Center of the Earth.

Any downtime was quickly utilized by the kids splashing in the Thunder Bay Wave Pool.

That was the end of the day for me, the kids repeated a few rides, but I was pretty much done.  We did not see any of Calypso Cove or the North Shore.  We also missed doing The Lazy River, so there are a few attractions waiting for us next time.  We did buy ice cream and dipping dots for the kids.  It was nice to have 2 other families with us so the kids could have companions and there were buffer people around as the heat sometimes gets tempers going.

Ice cream was reasonably priced, they had plenty of lockers for valuables, folks are allowed to bring in coolers and the staff was all very friendly.  Hyland Hills residents are $19 for adults and $16 for kids.  Non-residents are $46 for adults and $40 for children, but there are numerous discounts available such as $10 off from Subway or buying tickets in advance.  The Thunder Bay Standard Cabana Rental is $269 plus a municipal fee (There are other cabanas at various price points around the park starting at $129).  Finally Tube Valet bands are $70 and allows the band wearer 4 guests to take the tube valet shorter lines (and not carry tubes).  We did not rent tubes, but that would be $5 per guest.

I was glad that I had cheap sunglasses and flip flops with me.  In the future, I would also bring a small drawstring bag to keep a towel, shirt, hat and cash on me.

The crowds and lines were much smaller than I expected.  We waited on average 10 minutes for the attractions and the wave pool was not chaotic.  I think the tube valet would be more valuable on a busy day, but a worthwhile purchase at any rate.  I was surprised we lasted all day at the park from 10 AM to 6 PM.

Golf Lesson

My wife was thoughtful enough to get me golf lessons for Father's Day and we finally made it over to Indian Tree in Arvada for our lesson with Willard.  We started out with some introductions, how long have we been playing golf and quickly moved onto how to hold a golf club.  The grip having been established, we swung a few times and received corrections individually.

  • The ball will go where your belly button is pointing, bring your hips all the way around
  • Force is generated as the tension developed between the hips and the shoulders is released, turning the shoulders winds up the spring

Willard was very personable and kept the lesson very entertaining.  An hour is a long time, and it fun to think about a golf swing, how to keep that swing repeatable, how force is generated and that head still is different from eye on the ball.

I was also relieved that he grabbed a ladies club for my wife who has been using my clubs which are too heavy, too long and have larger grips on them.

I look forward to putting some of Willard's instruction into my practice at the range this week.  Ideally, I would schedule one lesson a month with a golf pro while I am learning the game.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Sleepless in Seattle

Arrive Late Wednesday night, check into Sheraton Grand

Thursday - Walk down to Pike Market, have breakfast at Sisters European Cafe at Pike Place Market.  Have a Dole Whip and Black Cherry float at Rachel's Ginger Beer.  Grab an Uber to T-mobile park for the game.  Mariners lost 5-4 to the Cardinals.  Ate sno-cone, dipping dots and chicken strips.  Took train and then monorail to Seattle Center.  Played at park and International Fountain.  Ratna had a falafel.  Visited Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit.  Dinner at MOD Pizza.  Watched fireworks from Lake Union Park.

Friday - Walk to breakfast at Starbucks.  Got an Amazon Spheres tour from Maddie.  Went to the Amazon Go store and got a banana, chocolate bar and a coffee mug.  Checked out the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Exhibit.  Took the monorail back towards hotel.  Stopped at Pressed Juicery at Westlake Center.  Stopped by Pike Place Chowder in Pacific Place mall and got a Dungeness Crab Roll and Seafood Bisque Combo Meal.  Walked to Starbucks Reserve Roastery and tried the Malawi blend coffee and had some snacks.  Went back to hotel, picked up our bags and walked to Springhill Suites and got checked in.  Got an Uber to the airport and picked up rental car and drove to Maddie's house for game night.  Had Papa Murphy's and bagged salad for dinner.

Saturday - Breakfast at the hotel.  Then drove north to Deception Pass State Park and hiked around.  Drove south to Coupeville (stopped for ice cream along the way)  Took Ferry to Port Townsend.  Played on the beach at Fort Worden Historical State Park (we should have brought swim suits).  Had a late lunch at Silverwater Cafe in Port Townsend (Ratna had Risotto, I had Fish and Chips, kids had pasta).  Drove home via Tacoma as Bainbridge Island ferry was running behind.

Sunday - Breakfast at the hotel.  24 Hour Fitness.  Bought souvenirs and saw the gum wall.  Met Chris, Conner, Maddie and Chris at The Museum of Flight.  Saw the Apollo 11 exhibit.  Had a snack and left for the airport.  Checked out the Centurion Lounge and Delta Lounge.  Flight was 30 minutes delayed.  Got home late Sunday night.

All and all it was a fun trip and not too hectic.  We had downtime here and there, but ended up getting home late nearly every night.  Staying near downtown was very convenient and public transportation is very good, especially with Uber and Lyft to fill in the gaps.  It helped that it was a holiday weekend without work traffic.

During the trip I finished Learning to Breathe Fire:  The Rise of Crossfit and the Primal Future of Fitness by J.C. Herz and Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron.  The first book was a great history and very entertaining.  The second was a little light on content, but a good checkout from the library.  I also started Fall; or, Dodge in Hell:  A Novel by Neal Stephenson.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Home Improvement

I am not a handyman and do not enjoy home improvement projects.  As a result, we end up doing home improvement every several years when something is in disrepair or we have some money squirreled away to take an item off of the list.

This year it was simple bath improvements.  It is amazing how nice a bathroom can look with new counter tops, fixtures and lighting.  We were able to upgrade a half bath and full bath.  We kept the existing flooring, mirror, cabinet, bath and toilet.  That limitation of scope contained the cost tremendously.  

I really do like the under mount sink and the basin sink.  I think they are attractive and will be easy to keep clean.

While the handyman was there, we also had the deck sanded and stained (no pictures of that).

Another project we will tackle this year once temperatures cool down will be leveling the driveway and repairing the concrete stairs leading to the front door.

We will not likely get around to extending the hardwood floors on the main level, new carpeting upstairs, lighting in the family room or resin coating the garage floor this year.

Saturday, June 29, 2019


This afternoon, I finally got around to upgrading my putter.  I was definitely set on a blade putter and wanted to try a bunch out.  I tried models from Odyssey, Bettinardi, Ping, and Scotty Cameron.  I did not like the Bettinardi much.  I did like the Odyssey White Hot, but would have switched out the grip for a Super Stroke as it felt too narrow.  I wanted to like the Scotty Cameron Newport, but the ball did not come off it well for my stroke.

The associate also helped me with length (35") and balance (toe hang).

I drifted towards the Ping based on feel, look of the club and I believe in no small part the grip.  Then I was debating endlessly between the Sigma G, Sigma 2 and Vault 2.0.  At first they all seemed very similar.  Then the Vault 2.0 felt heavy, which is a weird thing to say as it is 350g (same as the Sigma G and only 10 grams heavier than the Sigma 2; I did not know that at the time).  Then it was down to the Sigma G or Sigma 2.  In the end, I let fate decide and hit 4 putts each and went with the percentages.  I was 4 for 4 with the Sigma G and 3 for 4 with the Sigma 2.

The Sigma G felt just as good at Lake Arbor as it did at Golf Galaxy.  I am very pleased with the purchase.

I also went ahead and had Golf Pride mid size grips put on my Callaway Rogue 3H and my Excalibur Convex Ti 6-4 Titanium Driver (9 degree loft).  It is a night and day difference on the driving range.

I neglected to have my Spalding Pro Series Utility Wedge 58 degree loft re-gripped.  I will rectify that oversight, while I shop around for a new wedge.  I feel like I need a lot more experience to decide what I want to look for in a wedge.  I do feel like there is something missing after my approach wedge (49 degree loft).  The sand wedge is 54 degrees and the lob wedge is 59 degrees.

I will probably hold off another year before getting a new driver.  This is an opportunity where I may consider "last years" model as the technology is changing very quickly and I am not consistent enough with my swing to take advantage of driver technology.

I did not hesitate when buying irons as the technology leap forward was so substantial.  Any irons would have been great, but the It was nice to get fitted at Golf Galaxy.  I was brand agnostic and the sales associate tried me in a couple of different Callaway irons and one from Taylor Made.  The Callaway Rogue felt good and were endorsed by a golf neighbor.  They also look amazing.

I bought my first set of clubs used in 1993 for $100.  They are Tru Form Pro Player Cavity back irons 3-PW and Triumph 1, 3 and 5 woods.

I played quite a bit of golf from 1998-2000 and picked up my current driver and utility wedge over those years.

After a significant hiatus, I started playing again in 2018 and did not hesitate picking up a set of irons.  The hybrid 3 basically completed the irons when they came on sale.  I am not sure about putter technology, but I became obsessed with the Scotty Cameron and just had to swing them.  They are beautiful, but do not fit my game.

Friday, June 21, 2019


“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
— Anne Lamott

This quote is poignant for me today for a few reasons.  It reminds me that my rest is as vital a part of my well being as is running, reading and working.  A reset is important.

On another note, I have been thinking through how much of my life is habit driven.  Habits are valuable and make life easier to navigate, but at the same time, they reduce resilience.  My resilience is tested when my habits (i.e. routines) are challenged.  For example, I may sleep well in my bed, but not so well when traveling or camping.  I might eat healthy at home, but not in restaurants.  I may exercise with intensity during a group class, but without intensity on my own.  Unplugging from my routines, could help me build resilience.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Flap Surgery

After at least 5 years of pressure to see a periodontist, I finally did and got the bad news I was expecting.  Yes, your gums are in bad shape and your teeth are loose.  Without surgery and aggressive care, it will get worse.

To that end, I did the first of four quadrants of flap surgery, where an incision is made in the gums, the area is cleaned and packed with cadaver bone and sewn up.

I started with the worst area, which happened to be the upper right and not only was the flap surgery required, but two teeth  (2 and 3) were extracted as well.  The image below is the next day when I was back at work and the swelling had gone down significantly.  The stitches will stay in for 2 weeks and I am only supposed to eat soft foods on the left side of my mouth

I built it up in my mind to be much more painful than it ended up being.  It sucked, but not as bad as I expected.  

The next procedure will go lower right and I am tentatively considering September.

The third procedure will be upper left and finally lower left.

Finally, I will get implants on the upper right and hopefully not have any other teeth extracted over the next year.

An unfortunate consideration is gaming the dental insurance.

Regular dental only pays $1500/year per individual.  High dental pays $4500/year per individual.

Each flap surgery is about $1200 and insurance covers $700, leaving me on the hook for $500.  The other concern is that medical flex spending is capped at $2700/year so  2 procedures/year sounds about right.  Finally the implant is only covered at 50% so the $1600 implant will be charged $800 to insurance and $800 to me.

Upper Right - 2018-2019 - $500 out of pocket
Lower Right - 2019-2020 - $1000 out of pocket
Upper Left - 2019-2020 - $1300 out of pocket
Lower Left and Implant - 2020-2021 (this year will be Diya's orthodontia as well)

Monday, June 03, 2019

Nashville 50th Anniversary

My parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year and we decided to converge on a VRBO home in Nashville, Tennessee.  We found a nice place that could accommodate the 13 of us and also had a pool.  As a pleasant surprise, the home also had a tennis court.

My family arrived in Nashville on a Friday night and we enjoyed a day at the Gaylord Opryland.  The Gaylord has everything from shopping, entertainment, dining and activities.  The highlight for the kids was the Smurf Fest scavenger hunt.  My wife enjoyed the boat ride on the quarter mile long man made river.  I enjoyed the pool side lunch.  We also ate dinner and breakfast at the resort as well.  The kids really enjoyed the breakfast sandwiches.

Finding the house was pretty easy and their was a lot of parking.

Saturday night my Mom cooked Indian food.

Sunday morning we had eggs.

Sunday lunch we ate at the Nashville Farmer's Market.  We ordered a pizza and chicken and waffles.

Sunday night we had a chef catered dinner. 
Course 1:  Puff pastry with broccoli puree
Course 2:  Shrimp or Green Bean tempura
Course 3:  Beet and Quinoa salad
Course 4:  Roast squash
Course 5:  Roast chicken and greens
Course 6:  Panna Cotta with berries and mint

Monday morning we had eggs and hash browns

Monday afternoon we had Hattie B's Hot Chicken

Monday night we had Turkey Sliders

Tuesday morning we flew out.

Aside from the food we enjoyed a few activities around town as well.  We visited the Parthenon and enjoyed Lyft scooters on Saturday afternoon.  Saturday night after dinner we went out for live music at The Station Inn where Fireball Mail was playing.

The main purpose of the trip was just to hang out and we did plenty of that.  Games at the pool.  Several round robin games of tennis.  We even went to a basketball court up the street to play a little ball.  They had a net at the tennis court at the house, but the rim was in rough shape.

All in all it was a really fun trip.  Props to the Nashville airport for having a very friendly USO lounge that is staffed from 0600 to 2200.