April 20, 2008

Catalina

Just got back from a wedding on Catalina Island! My family left Wednesday morning for the wonderful, whacky world of SoCal, where at least 70% of what they show on "The Real Housewives of Orange County" is true. As a longtime NorCal guy, the SoCal thing is cool but weird. They're Californians, but they are so different. Fashion, politics, attitude, consumerism, etc. We stayed with our close friends the Regiers who live just south of Irvine. They migrated from Alameda so they've got the NorCal spirit in them, and we'd love them no matter where they live. It was great to see their family and get our kids all together for a brief night of catching up and driving all over Irvine looking for the pizza joint we called the order into! Thanks to the fabulous AT&T mobile network, I only dropped my critical teleconference with my boss and her engineering counterpart about ten times during a two hour call driving down I-5. We can put a man on the moon, cure cancer, and invent extreme sports by the bushel, but we can't get a mobile call to stay connected across 200 miles of flat nothingness? "The most bars" is a relative measure... Thursday morning we drove down to Dana Point and took the ferry to Catalina Island. We looked like gypsies carrying everything we owned in no less than 12 bags. Welcome to life with a 20 month old. Catalina is a small island about 40 miles off the SoCal coast, once owned by the Wrigley family. Yeah, must have been nice to been around when islands only cost ~ $2M ;-) Catalina rocks! Seems like the place SoCal folks go to relax. Plenty of good food, bars, and things to do. It's really amazing to be on a remote island that is part of LA County. Seems like you are far away but just down the street from where you live. Another funny thing is that everyone drives around in golf carts, as there is a 10 year wait to bring new cars onto the island. I'd love to see this practice brought to the mainland! I ended up mooching wireless off an open access point near my cottage, so I was actually quite productive work-wise while I was down there. Amazing what you can do with a Mac Book Pro and an iPhone these days! I lowered my email queue from 200 down to 30, so all you folks who sent stuff to me then got a response weeks later, you now know what happened! Fighting work fires also seems oddly easier when you are not in the office. Mental note, stay away from office on a regular basis! I think this validates another one of Tim Ferriss's axioms. We did get in plenty of sight seeing while there, and we watched the movie "21" at the historic Casino building on the island. Its the big one at the top right of the picture above. As perspective, the island cost ~$2M and the buildings, including the Casino, cost ~$3.5M back in the 20s. Wow, this was probably one of the three coolest theaters I've ever seen a movie in. Real organist playing before the movie! Scenic as heck; amazing art deco style that has been well maintained! We hiked to the Wrigley Memorial Saturday before the wedding, and I bought my buddy Mark Williamson a cool souvenir! The wedding was a blast. It was held at the Catalina Country Club, and I saw plenty of friends I hadn't caught up with in years. Can't wait to see everyone again at Ben's annual BBQ in the summer! Congrats to Ben and Nicole, BTW! You are going to have a great life together. Today we caught the early ferry back to Dana Point, then barreled north back to NorCal. Oh yes, and we stopped at In-N-Out going down and back. Double double goodness. Feels great to be back in NorCal! Went to the gym and worked out while watching the Sharks lose tonight. Now I don't feel so good :( Work/life balance. Sanity relies on work/life balance. Little trips like this balance out the 70+ hour work weeks that proceed JavaOne. Now I'm ready for the final push!
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