Monday, August 31, 2015

A Golf Course, Castle and 7 Angels - A day full of plane related photography

Between our flight home from Florida and a Blue Angels fly over, yesterday was filled with aviation related photography.

First, I grabbed these on our flight back from Florida. I'm no golfer, but that golf course looks like it would be fun to play, no? And recognize the castle? It's from the Georgetown Reservoir.

As we were unpacking Shira caught an article on WTOP promising a fly over by the Blue Angels later in the evening. We couldn't resist going, so at 6:00pm or we made our way down to the Air Force Memorial. Sure enough, there was a healthy crowd there who had the same idea as us. And what do you know, the Blue Angels did make an appearance:

And finally, a few non plane related snapshots. Waiting around for the Blue Angels, I couldn't help but snap a few photos of my lovely wife (insert schmaltzy comment here about how she's My Angel). And the birds-on-the-tower were caught as we made our way back home.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Here we are celebrating at the Bar Mitzvah! What a pleasure it was getting to celebrate with family and eat myself silly!

Seeking Swamps in Florida

We're in Florida for a family Bar Mitzvah (Mazel Tov Ethan!) and while I had hoped to get in a serious hike, the weather had other plans for us. We watched a massive downpour from our table at a delicious Indian restaurant. When the storm finally let up, we had to do the responsible thing and skip the hike and head to the hotel.

All, however, was not lost. After running some errands we did have some free time. A quick look at Google Maps told me that the Loxahatchee Slough was close enough for us to hit. Here's a tip: Google's directions to the Slough take you to the perimeter without a parking lot or trail in sight. The only thing worse than missing a hike due to weather, is missing a hike because you've got bad directions.

A little further research told us that we wanted to hit Sandhill Crane Access Park to the Slough.

Sure enough, there's a parking lot and other facilities at the advertised address. So that was a good thing.

As for actually getting into the Loxahatchee Slough, that never actually happened. The best we were able to do was follow a trail that wraps around the perimeter of the preserve. We could peek in and see enticing swamp, but the trail to follow seemed to run around the perimeter. Didn't really matter, because we didn't have time to follow them anyway.

Still, Florida wildlife didn't disappoint. Along with interesting swamp scenes, we saw various lizards, a couple of Lubber Grasshoppers, some kind of heron, and other interesting birds. Not bad for wandering along a canal for 15 minutes.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Because It Was Invented Here, and Other Excuses to Drink Bourbon

I'm not much of a bourbon guy. Heck, I'm not much of an alcohol guy. But last night, I had to make an exception. We did dinner at Plan B in DC, and while I couldn't try their burger selection, I could try a bourbon sampler. Honestly, I could detect some differences between the samples, though how I'd qualify those tastes are beyond me. But it was a positive experiment, none the less.

If that weren't enough bourbon for the night, Keith and I had a little man time while Becky's parents took care of the kids. We retreated to the hotel bar, where Keith noticed a sign that the Rickey was invented in this very same location. How could I pass up an opportunity to drink a little history? Keith and I ordered a round of Rickeys, which you guessed it, were initially made with bourbon. A decade after it was created, folks started making them with gin, but we had to go authentic.

I can't say that I'm going to be making the Rickey my go-to drink, but I can say it was quite drinkable and between it, and the fancy leather chairs, made me feel awfully important.

And here's the answer to your next DC trivia night: the Rickey is named after Col. Joseph K. Rickey, who, if you believe Wikipedia has this said about him:

Some people are born to fame; others achieve it, while celebrity is thrust upon a few. Among the latter is Col. Joe Rickey, of Missouri. But instead of feeling proud of the fact that he has given his name to a popular tipple Col. Rickey feels very much aggrieved. "Only a few years ago," he said recently, "I was Col. Rickey, of Missouri, the friend of senators, judges and statesmen and something of an authority on political matters and political movements.... But am I ever spoken of for those reasons? I fear not. No, I am known to fame as the author of the 'rickey,' and I have to be satisfied with that. There is one consolation in the fact that there are fashions in drinks. The present popularity of the Scotch high ball may possibly lose me my reputation and restore me my former fame. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished for.'"[8]

Alas, his drink never truly went out of style, and that's all we remember him for. Before you dismiss this fact, note that according to his 1903 obituary, he was "one of a quartet of Colonels who were known in nearly every city in the country."

More important trivia: the Rickey is DC's official cocktail, and July is Rickey Month.

Good times, and enough bourbon to last me the rest of 2015.

As a bonus, I even had some time to take some night shots of DC. This one of the Washington Monument didn't turn out half bad, considering all I had was my phone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lumia 640 Windows Phone Experience - The Bad and Reality

While I found quite a few nuances of the Lumia 640 running Windows Phone OS enjoyable, my little experiment has wound down. I'm back to using my Galaxy S5 and Android. I feel like I owe the hard working developers at Windows an explanation.

1. I heavily rely on the Google Platform, so having a Google Phone just makes sense. I'm all about Gmail, Google Docs, Google Keep, heck even YouTube. While the Windows Phone makes an attempt to fill some of these needs (adding a Google Gmail account, even one with 2 factor authentication, was easily enough), the tools just aren't as polished as they are on Android. The mail app has no quick way of archiving messages, or the ability to leverage the Priority inbox. I found a Google Docs app, but it doesn't allow editing of docs, which is essential for me. And the YouTube app is little more than a thin web wrapper around the mobile site. Sure, it's functional, but not polished.

2. The system lacks the geek factor that I require. My first impression was that the apps I needed were just not there on Windows, but after a few days of use, I realized that's an unfair generalization. Apps like Overdrive and Tapatalk were quite functional in the Windows Phone world, and ones like Run the Map and AudioCloud were quite good. No, it's the esoteric stuff that's not up to par yet.

For example, the phone pairs with my Bluetooth keyboard, but without a program like EHK, there's no way to remap keys or make shortcuts work. Sure, there's an ssh program, but not one that I could get bash style keybindings working with. And while the phone had things like quiet hours that were intuitive to use, there's no sign of a Tasker type app that let's customize the phone in unusual ways. Or better yet, allow me to prototype apps with ease. I was excited to find a Scheme implementation on Windows, but it's toy when compared to the one on Android.

Of course, for most Windows Phone users, these features are esoteric and unnecessary. And further more, over time, Windows will probably get there. But for now, I can turn my Android phone into a little dev laptop and I can't say that about my Windows phone. Also, if I was a Microsoft Office guy, I wonder if using the Windows Phone would have felt like coming home? But having an aversion to Word and Excel, I couldn't even bring myself to experiment with these on the phone.

Oh, and the camera quality was blah on the phone. Though, being a relatively low cost phone, that's no big surprise.

So back to the Android universe I go.

But if I'm a core Android developer, I'm not patting myself on the back quite yet. Microsoft has a habit of getting things right on their Nth try, and the Windows Phone I played with was actually quite usable. Ignore it at your own risk.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ahoy Matey! The Trickiest Frozen Yogurt You'll Order All Week

Shira and Keith got 10% off because they could name 3 countries that started with one vowel and ended with another. I got 10% off because my middle name is Alan (and therefor connected to the name of the day: Allen Davis). The girls got 10% off for ordering like a pirate.

After a delicious meal at Pizza Paradiso, we made our way to the nearest frozen yogurt location, which happened to be Mr. Yagoto. What Mr. Yagoto lacks in yogurt choices (I think there were three), it makes up for in entertainment. As you walk in, you quickly notice a series of challenges, that if completed, will get you anywhere from +5% added to your bill, to a free frozen yogurt (alas, standing on one tippy-toe for 30 seconds with my eyes closed was beyond me). It must have taken us 45 minutes to order, but everyone had a good time.

What a joy it was catching up with our friends Becky, Keith and their angel-like children. The kids, I should add, demonstrated lightning quick reflexes while playing 2 Play Reactor as waited out a massive downpour.

Fun times!

Lincoln and Walter - Fort McNair's Remarkable History

Here we are outside the National War College, located on Fort McNair in DC. Apparently it's the 3rd oldest base currently in use and has history stretching back to 1791.

(For the record, we were on our way to a Nationals game; hence the red shirts. We tend to dress alike, but that's a bit much even for me.)

On the same grounds we were posing for photos, Lincoln saw the first test of a machine gun, the conspirators involved with the Lincoln assassination where hung and Walter Reed did battle with DC's malaria challenges. You can take the walking tour without getting up from your desk; it's definitely worth it!

As usual, the amount of history DC has tucked away is just amazing.

Thanks Grant for getting us on base!.

Getting back to booting: Adventures in Fedora 22 Grub Hell

Yesterday, I picked up my Linux laptop from a local repair shop. They were helping me debug a touchpad issue that keeps coming up. They were kind enough to pop out the Linux drive and drop in a Windows one to do some testing; thereby seeing if the issue is hardware or software related. The results are still inconclusive. However, when they returned the laptop to me, the system would no longer boot into Linux.

A quick Google search turned up results like like this one, that implied recovery was going to be a no-brainer. If that wasn't easy enough, there was always SuperGrubDisk, which promised an even easier fix.

Alas, it was not meant to be. After hours of mucking around, I finally gave up. The links I kept finding were either too dated, or just didn't apply to my system. So I did what any smart programmer does when they hit a wall: I went to bed.

This morning, I figured out a recipe for getting back to booting. Here goes:

  1. Download the Fedora Server ISO (yes, it's 2.1GB, get over it)
  2. Install the ISO on a thumbdrive using LiveUSB Creator
  3. Select the Troubleshooting option, and rescue option, thereby booting into rescue mode
  4. Congratulate yourself that you go to a command prompt!
  5. Follow most of the instructions here:
    1. mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/sysimage/boot
    2. mount --bind /dev /mnt/sysimage/dev
    3. mount --bind /proc /mnt/sysimage/proc
    4. mount --bind /sys /mnt/sysimage/sys
    5. chroot /mnt/sysimage
  6. Try running the grub2-install command: grub2-install /dev/sda, but don't panic when it fails with the message missing /usr/lib/grub/x86_64-efi
  7. Turn on system networking: /etc/rc.d/init.d/network start
  8. Troubleshoot system networking. For me, this included adding my nameserver to /etc/resolv.conf
  9. Run: yum install grub2-efi-modules
  10. Try running the grub2-install command: grub2-install /dev/sda, but don't panic when it fails with the message about a missing /boot/efi directory
  11. Run: grub2-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/boot/EFI /dev/sda
  12. Rejoice that the install appeared to work!
  13. Yank the thumb drive; reboot; blog about it

I'm sure there's a number of very cool things Grub2 will let me do, and I'm sure I don't care about any of them. I'm just glad to have my system back to booting.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Never, ever say anything negative about an elephant or a gorilla, and other important writing advice

Digital Nomad makes reference to How to Write about Africa, a satirical essay, when he quips: “In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country.”

Turns out, the essay, is packed full of hilarious anti-wisdom. Here's a few recommendations about food:

Make sure you show how Africans have music and rhythm deep in their souls, and eat things no other humans eat. Do not mention rice and beef and wheat; monkey-brain is an African’s cuisine of choice, along with goat, snake, worms and grubs and all manner of game meat. Make sure you show that you are able to eat such food without flinching, and describe how you learn to enjoy it—because you care.

Definitely worth a read, and a powerful reminder that satirical content isn't limited to politics.

Read the essay

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Bug's Eye View

And what the heck, here's a piece of a rainbow. Who doesn't need a piece of a rainbow?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

And My Top 3 Personal Values Are ...

You might think that successful leaders had a whole range of values that were important to them. Turns out, you're wrong. At least according to researchers Kouzes & Posner. There's exactly 4.

Of course I'm overstating the point here a bit. I recently came across this ranked list of personal values, and digging deeper I found both the source of the list as well as a worksheet that goes with it.

I was telling Shira about this, and the Sociology major in her kicked in, suggesting we both rank and compare our results. So that's what we did. First, here's the full list of values:

  • Achievement
  • Autonomy
  • Beauty
  • Caring
  • Caution
  • Challenge
  • Communication
  • Competence
  • Competition
  • Cooperation
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Customer focus
  • Decisiveness
  • Dependability
  • Determination
  • Discipline
  • Diversity
  • Effectiveness
  • Empathy
  • Equality
  • Fairness
  • Family
  • Family time
  • Flexibility
  • Freedom
  • Friendship
  • Fun
  • Growth
  • Happiness
  • Harmony
  • Health
  • Honesty and Integrity
  • Hope
  • Human relationships
  • Humor
  • Independence
  • Individualism
  • Innovation
  • Intelligence
  • Involvement
  • Learning
  • Love and affection
  • Loyalty
  • Open-mindedness
  • Organization
  • Patience
  • Power
  • Productivity
  • Profitability
  • Prosperity and Wealth
  • Quality
  • Quantity
  • Recognition
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Risk-taking
  • Security
  • Service to others
  • Simplicity
  • Speed
  • Spirituality and faith
  • Strength
  • Task focus
  • Teamwork
  • Trust
  • Truth
  • Uniqueness
  • Variety
  • Winning
  • Wisdom

First we picked our 10 top values, then narrowed these 10 to 5 and then narrowed these 5 to 3. My results were as follows:

Top 10: Competence, Courage, Curiosity, Discipline, Flexibility, Freedom, Happiness, Health, Innovation, Open-mindedness

Top 5: Curiosity, Discipline, Flexibility, Happiness, Health

Top 3: Curiosity, Discipline, Flexibility,

How'd I do? First off, other than competence, I share no ranked characteristics with the "admired leaders" found on the original list. Oh well, there's go my lifelong dream of being an admired leader.

Next, Shira's too smart to post her values here, but I can tell you we had exactly one in common: competence. There it is again; I wonder what that means? Being the optimist, I told her that not sharing values is a good thing: it means we have our bases covered. While I'm busy worrying about being flexible, she can worry about her values. Not sure she bought this line of thinking. It's also worth noting that while Shira and I didn't share values, both of us could guess what each other had selected. That's what 17 years of marriage gets you (not in agreement, but self aware enough to know it).

Finally, what kind of monster am I? How could I not have ranked Health and Happiness in my top 3? After mulling over this list for the last couple of days, I think it's because: (a) I was trying to be clever, and (b) Health and Happiness are things you create through more fundamental behaviors. Want health? Be disciplined in taking care of yourself. Want happiness? Be flexible enough to enjoy what life is throwing at you. That sort of thing.

All I know is, what started as a cheesy exercise has actually been thought provoking. Take a few minutes, print out the worksheet and try it for yourself. Oh, and do share the results in the comments.

One last point of clarification: I'm intentionally publishing my top 10/5/3 values for posterity because I'm curious what my take on this exercise will be 5, 10 and more years down the road.* Do my values change? The Internet never forgets. I fully intend to cringe / laugh at myself when I take this same test in 10 years. See you then.

*Only after proof reading this post a couple times did I realize that I finished it explicitly talking about curiosity, one of my top 3 values. Apparently, I really do care about this value.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lumia 640 Windows Phone Experience - The Good

I'm developing an Windows Phone app, so I've picked up a Lumia 640 to test with. For the heck of it, I dropped my SIM card into the phone and have been using it as my primary handset for about a week.

After a few disorienting days, I think I'm finally getting a sense of how this bad boy operates. Seriously, standing in CVS trying to figuring out how to place a call was a remarkably humbling experience. So here are a few aspects of the phone I'm really digging:

  • The camera has more manual settings than my Android phone. I don't know if I'll ever use those settings, but it made me smile to see them. In fact, it was the first feature on the phone that got me psyched to use it.
  • Bluetooth tethering with Windows was trivial to setup. So I'm playing with my new Lumia and manage to pair it with my Windows laptop over Bluetooth. No biggie there. But then, under Devices and Printers I see this drop down box labeled "Connect using":

    Out of curiosity, I select Access Point, and just like that my laptop is tethered to my phone. It's not that tethering is that big a deal (I use it on Android all the time), it's that pairing a Windows Phone with a Windows laptop was just so surprisingly effortless.
  • The back button is truly a back button. Try this on your Android device: hit the home key, open up the gallery app, hit the home key, open up the calculator. Now hit the back button. You go home, right? Now hit the back button again, you stay home. Hitting the home key clears the back button's stack. Not so on my Windows Phone. In the above scenario, hitting the back button one more time takes you to the Gallery app. Hitting it again, takes you home again. I'm really liking this clear back button semantics and I think it's a better implementation than on Android.
  • Applications are installed on the SD card by default. I found this one out the hard way: I installed some apps, then put my SD card back in my S5. The apps I had installed stopped working. I'm dangerously close to running out of phone storage on my S5, and always try to make use of my SD card. If WP OS makes better use of the SD card, that would be huge. Of course, nowadays, many top Android phones don't even come with an SD card. Don't get me started on how much I dislike that decision.
  • IE's address bar is at the bottom, not the top of the screen. I'm no fan of IE (more on that to come), but whoever figured out that the address bar belongs at the bottom of the screen, not the top, needs to win some sort of UX Design Award. Seriously, that's where you're fingers are, so it's far easier to interact with the bar down there.
  • My first impression of the Windows Phone UI was that it was actually pretty clunky. I felt like I had stepped back in time to the early days of smartphones, when the G1 and MyTouch ruled. But wait, another way to look at this same UI is that it's the minimalist choice. Whoa, call it minimalist, and now I like it. So with this mindset change (that's not primitive, that's miniamlist!) I've actually very much warmed to the Windows Phone user experience. For example, consider the uninspired simple, flat tiles that make up the home screen. Basic, but totally functional. In fact, I'm happy with how quickly I was able to construct an efficient start screen.

Bonus cool feature: the Project My Screen App is pretty darn slick. Using it, you can, well, project your phone's screen to your laptop. And it's bidirectional, so you can control your screen from your laptop. It's marked as a 'bonus feature' because while impressive, I'm not sure why I need this.

OK, so there you have it, a little Windows Phone love.

But of course, that's only part of the story. Up next: Lumia 640, The Bad.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Long Winding Road

Photos from today's jog. These were shot with my new Lumia 640. I'm impressed with the camera app, though not so much with the photo quality. I'll have more to say on the Lumia over the next couple days. For now, enjoy the pics.

Monday, August 17, 2015

DCT Summer 2015 - Odds and Ends

OK, this is the last post, I promise. Here's one more set of photos of the kids from last week. They're so precious, I've already forgotten about how tired I was during their visit. Enjoy!

View Photos

The Lesson from Target's Toy Kerfuffle

Yesterday, as we started our final descent into Boston's Logan Airport, Dovid asked me about the loud sound we had just heard, and I explained it was our landing gear being deployed. He asked why they came down when they did and I further explained that the pilot controls the landing, so he gets to decide when the landing gear should be lowered. From next to me, I hear Chana remark, "or her." It took a moment for my brain to process what she had just said. Right On Sister! Indeed, the pilot could be a woman, so she may get to make this call.

It was with this gender comment still fresh on my mind that I read the weekly newsletter from Silver Beacon Marketing. Apparently while I was playing Uncle last week, the Internet was imploding over an incident involving Target and an Internet Troll. To recap: Target removed the gender labels on some toys; people complained; someone signed up a fake account that looked like a real Target account and provided witty responses to these complaints. For example:

Let's take a moment to talk about these angry shoppers. They're up in arms that Target has given into the Progressive / LGBT Agenda, and they aren't going to take it. I have no idea why Target made the decision they did. But for the sake of argument, let's assume their analysis is right. Let's continue to follow their argument.

By protesting this move from Target, are they not implying that the gender labels are helpful to them. That is, how would they know to buy the pink crossbow for their daughter, and the flaming one for their son? As a parent, they need Target to hold their hand and help them choose which toys are appropriate for their child.

Or, let's take this from another angle: imagine that the government *mandated* that manufacturers label their toys for specific genders. My guess is that the same population that is now boycotting Target would be even more infuriated by this move. I can hear their cries now: how dare the government tell me how to parent my child?! If my daughter wants to buy the bad ass looking crossbow instead of that stupid girly one, then she should have nothing standing in her way!

My guess, is that this anger is really directed at that parent who's walking through the store with their little boy when he asks to buy a Frozen Dress. And rather than the parent saying no, he/she makes that life altering mistake of buying their precious little boy his first gown. But don't they see, this is exactly the parental control that they keep in such high esteem. And do they really think that this parent made this decision because Target didn't label the toy properly?

Ultimately, what fires me up about this issue isn't the issue itself. When we have kids in the house, we're absolutely sensitive about the toys that we buy them. If you want to tell your son he can't buy a Barbie, and your daughter she can't have power tools, then be my guest. I may not agree with that choice, but I'll gladly defend it. In the end, I want the same control.

No, what irks me is when people choose labels over analysis. We all do it. This time, the group in question may be conservatives, but next time, it may be a Tea Party idea and a bunch of liberals going nuts. In short: think, people. Do it for the children.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

DCT Summer 2015 - Back to Boston

They look like little travel angels, don't they?

In truth, our drop off trip to Boston was actually pretty painless. Dovid was sad that we couldn't deploy the slides and rafts, and Chana *needed* more of the M&M's I brought to help pressurize her ears. Shira and Tzipora were across the aisle and looked happy to me.

All I know is, the handoff is complete, and we finished out another fabulous week of Nieces and Nephew adventures. What a treat!

Now, pardon me while I collapse...

Oh, and here's the obligatory handoff shot:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

DCT Summer 2015 - Camping Adventure

For first time that I can recall, Shira and I went camping and it didn't rain! In fact, the weather was ideal: no rain, warm enough that summer clothes were perfect, yet cool enough that you could zip into your sleeping bag and enjoy the cocoon. Seriously, it was the kind of weather that makes camping effortless. On any given trip this would have been great, but this trip it was especially appreciated. For this trip was the first time we took Dovid, Chana and Tzipora (DCT) camping. We did car camping at Cunningham Falls State Park and the whole experience was pretty much glorious.

We arrived Tuesday night after slogging through some brutal traffic, to find our site (#149 in the Houck Area Elderberry Loop) exceeded expectations. It was a short walk from the bathroom, but directly across from a water spigot. Behind the site was a wooded area filled with interesting rock formations for the kids (and, uh, me) to play on. It's a shame we only had one night in the site, as I could easily have seen letting the kids run wild back there.

This is our second car camping trip this summer, and we're getting spoiled. This whole idea of chucking heaps of stuff in the car does have some appeal to it. Though I definitely miss the precision required for a backpacking trip. Each kid had their own bedroll, consisting of a foam pad, a sheet and a random fleece blanket. That, plus a flashlight each, was pretty much their gear for the trip. To the kids credit, they never kvetched about the setup; I was waiting for one to demand a purple blanket like the other had or such nonsense, but it never came.

While our classic Timberline tent is big by most standards, there was no way it was going to hold all 5 of us. So we splurged and picked up a Kelty Discovery 6 Man Tent. I've got to say, I really liked it. The thing not only has a large footprint, but it's tall - at a peak height of 5'11', I can basically stand up in the tent. Shira doesn't like the door configuration, and as I mentioned above, the weather was perfect, so I've no idea how it does in the rain. But for my purposes it was awesome.

Dinner Tuesday night was our standard campfire fare: hot-dogs, beans and marshmallows. The kids enjoyed it, though Tzipora decided she didn't like hot dogs, which is pretty much unacceptable in this household. Still, dinner was a success.

Best of all, everyone slept on Tuesday night. Sure, Dovid managed to kick me in the face a couple of times (no mean trick, considering I was sleeping next to him at head level), but other than that, it was a perfect night.

Wednesday morning we had our standard oatmeal breakfast and then we tore down camp. It never ceases to amaze me how a neatly packed car (or van, in this case), can turn into a knot of chaos when packing up camp. Once we checked out of our campsite, we made our way to the trail head to the falls (hence, Cunningham Falls park). All started out well enough, until about 10 paces in, Tzipora decided she was done with hiking for the day. She wanted to skip it, and go right to swimming. As I negotiated with her to keep moving, Shira had her hands full convincing the Twins that it was not necessary to race to each blaze on the tree (and therefore, declare a winner and have a crying loser). Eventually, we got it all straightened out. Tzipora learned that to get to the swimming we had to first do the hike, and Shira worked out a strategy with the twins: one would walk point for two blazes, then they'd calmly switch, repeating the process the entire hike. Once we got those ground rules figured out, the hike went smoothly. We covered a mile and a half, and there was not one complaint about being tired. Little Tzipora marched up the cliff trail like there was nothing to it. Dovid bravely inspected a cave and reported back that only a single spider lived back there, and Chana hopped from rock to rock without a care in the world at the stream crossing. At one point we came across a small toad the kids eagerly inspected, Dovid going so far as to pick him up. Not bad for a city slicker.

The kids really do amazing on the trail, and when they are old enough, they're totally going to be my backpacking buddies.

After the trail, we hit the swimming area for some beach time. Cunningham Falls park is home to a relatively small lake, which was the perfect swimming area for the kids. The water wasn't especially warm, but that didn't slow the kids down one bit. The water was only a couple of feet deep, so they could play all they wanted without needing to worry about overdoing it. I brought along our inflatable boat, and the kids eventually warmed to sitting in it. Dovid didn't take kindly to me (gently) dumping him out of the boat, and wanted to know why the lifeguard didn't rescue him when his life was clearly in danger. I tried to explain to him that when he stood up, he towered over the water, but he didn't seem to care. Yeah, I'll probably be hearing from his lawyer.

After swimming time, we had lunch and then headed back home. As camping areas go, Cunningham Falls was just about perfect. The campground was clean and the bathrooms quite acceptable. The trails were perfect for the kids, and the swimming was a nice bonus to add on to it. In some respects, Point Lookout had better facilities and more interesting swimming, but not nearly the hiking opportunities. So they are both good options. Even on a Wednesday, Cunningham was pretty busy, I can't imagine what it's like during peak season on a weekend.

I'm already starting to plan next year's trip...

View Photos

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Small Running First

Over the years, I've run with a range of kids in our jogging stroller. But today was a first: as I was running with Tzipora, she asked if she could get out and run with me. My first answer was no, but then it occurred to me: why not? So she did. See:

Careful, before you put her in the long distance runner box, know that she's also showing quite a lot of promise with the 'ol boxing gloves. She saw Shira's gloves yesterday and immediately announced that she remembered using them last time she visited. On they went:

When I asked her what the gloves were for, she explained: "for defeating people." Defeating, indeed.

Forget arts and crafts camp for this little girl, we need to get her into a cross fit gym.