Friday, March 8, 2013

Boy Meets Snow

Friday, March 1, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Night and Day

Based on our early experience with APL, we were bracing for the storm that follows birth: constant crying and no sleep. Well, apparently that was just a test. TML's cry to sleep ration is reversed. He is a decent sleeper and he barely cries. He doesn't even cry when I change him. And he is all of 9 days old and newly circumcised. I don't remember ever changing APL without him screaming.

He is even smiling on occasion. It's really quite unbelievable.

At this moment, he is lying in his recliner next to me looking around and periodically gooing. 

Then again, I cannot speak for Karin. Her experience may be different. But from what I am seeing, this infant is of a completely different genus. It's really unbelievable. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012


We had a lot of contractions last night. Kept Karin from sleeping. She is still having some but they have subsided somewhat. Getting close!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

APL's Baby Bro, *, Expected in 10 days

Yes, it's not fair that APL had an entire blog written about him from conception and * has had almost nothing written about him. But I have been working on other projects. Sorry, *.

Here is the 39 week update: * continues to build a layer of fat to help control his body temperature after birth. He likely measures about 20 inches and weighs a bit over 7 pounds.

* does not yet have a name. APL is adamant that we should call him Thomas - after one of his role models, Thomas the Train. 

Karin is now home getting things ready for *. On Sunday we set up the Pack N' Play. Karin has been washing all of our infant clothing and bedding. And we are anticipating the arrival of family members starting later this week.

So, tomorrow is Halloween... and after that the next big event for APL will be a baby! What fun!

We are all very excited to meet our newest family member. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012


As of today, APL

1. Knows our phone number,
2. Turns on his computer and goes to or,
3. Is hilarious,
4. Dresses himself without assistance,
5. Loves swimming (the head-in-water variant),
6. Still does not sleep enough.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Anyone up for a fall marathon?

I am contemplating putting my body through  42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards) of pain this fall. There are many options in terms of venue - at least 225 in October alone. Here are some possibilities:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Superb Experience at IdeaCity 2012

I have just returned to San Diego from  Moses Znaimer's IdeaCity conference in Toronto. It is not to be missed.

I have attended a number of TEDx, BarCamp and technology-oriented conferences in Southern California. Nothing I have seen compares remotely to IdeaCity. The caliber of speakers, the polish with which the event is produced, and the incredibly engaging environment that is created among attendees, presenters, and sponsors is unmatched.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

APL's 4th Bday Party

1300 photographs + 1 video editor in Brazil + a bunch of friends and family celebrating APL's 4th birthday =

Friday, May 4, 2012

Six Senses Yao Noi Part 3: Beauty, Indulgence, Privacy, and a ~Zero Carbon Footprint

One big decision for many guests at Six Senses Yao Noi is whether to ever leave their villa. When you are staying in a completely secluded villa with your own infinity pool and lounge area, overlooking one of the most beautiful ocean vistas in the world, why leave? The couples we met who were on romantic getaways seemed almost never to appear. Occasionally they would show up at a restaurant and explain that there seemed to be little reason for them to leave their secluded Garden of Eden overlooking the ocean.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Stunning Clouds of Yao Noi, Thailand

I was asked to share more of my cloud pictures. This is a collection of just cloud pictures. I recommend setting the resolution as high as your computer will tolerate:

Monday, April 30, 2012

Six Senses Yao Noi Part 2: Arrival in Beautiful Yao Noi and an Incoming Tsunami

Following one of the most beautiful speedboat rides I can remember, we arrived at Six Senses Yao Noi. We were greeted by a number of staff members, including the General Manager of the resort, Manish Puri. If you are old enough to remember the show, "Fantasy Island", this arrival had that kind of feel to it. It is in one of the most beautiful places I have seen.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Six Senses Yao Noi Part 1: Spectacular Speedboat Ride from Phuket

We were very excited to be heading to Yao Noi from Khao Lak. Yao Noi promised to be, based on my research, everything we had been looking for in a southern Thailand experience; stunning scenery, minimal development, and a beyond-amazing Six Senses resort.

Karin and I had stayed at the Six Senses Ninh Van Bay a few years ago and loved it. I had never experienced anything like it. When we discovered that there are three Six Senses resorts in Thailand, I immediately began researching options. All of the properties looked breathtaking but Yao Noi stood out; it offered an ideal combination of seclusion, beauty, and eco-luxury - and it reminded us the most of that unforgettable experience we had in Vietnam.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

JW Marriott, Khao Lak, Thailand

Following our stay at Trisara in Phuket, we had to decide where to travel with APL. We had toyed with the idea of flying to Hong Kong, but our departing flight for our return to Los Angeles was from Bangkok and could not be changed. It did not make much sense to travel 1000+ miles when we had barely seen anything in Thailand. The question became where to go in Thailand. Choosing between vacation areas in Thailand is like trying to nail down the root cause of the financial crisis - it is overwhelming.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Park Hyatt Sydney Grand Opening Menu

As promised, here is a complete list of the the paired wines, ales, and other drinks, at the Sydney Park Hyatt Grand Opening. The term "spare no expense" comes to mind when I revisit this. It was truly an unforgettable gastronomic experience:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Park Hyatt Sydney Grand Opening

On Tuesday March 20, 2012, the Park Hyatt Sydney hosted its Grand Opening. We had received an invitation to the event but were unsure how we would swing "Black Tie". Sydney was a stop on our way to Bhutan - and I was not about to lug a tuxedo through a month of travel in Bhutan and Thailand. On the other hand, I was interested in what was sure to be a lavish affair. In the end, I RSVP'd "yes" and packed a dark blazer, black pants, a white shirt, and a black bow tie.

Hyatt had brought in chefs from all over the world, including Executive Pastry Chef Gottfried Schuetzenberger of the Grand Hyatt Singapore, Hartmut Kehm of the Hyatt Hotel Canberra, Gerhard Passrugger of the Park Hyatt Shanghai, Jean-Francois Rouquette of the Park Hyatt Paris, and Kenichiro Ooe of the Park Hyatt Tokyo.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Escape from Sydney

APL loved Sydney, but it was time to fly to Bangkok to meet up with Karin's family. We would be traveling with them through Bhutan, and then staying together in Phuket.  The Hyatt arranged a taxi for us, to leave at 8:30 AM. During our drive to the airport for our 11:00 AM departure (cue foreboding music), I asked Alexander what he liked most about Australia. His response was, "The train, the bus, the cars, the taxi, the ferry, and the zoo." 

Unfortunately, there was a stalled car in the tunnel on the way to the airport and traffic was severely backed up. We had left with plenty of time for our 11:00 AM flight (mooohahaha), but being at a standstill in a tunnel when you have a SYD-BKK flight is a tad stressful. Plus, while stuck in that unfortunate traffic, the following thought popped into my mind: "Had Karin not said, at one point, that our flight was at 10:00 AM (cue terror music)?" I did not share this disturbing thought with my wife and son, but I did begin to think hard about a Plan B.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

British Airways Avios Points Happyish Ending

Back in November, British Airways implemented a huge devaluation of their frequent flyer points. There had been rumors of it coming and since we had amassed quite a few of those points (the 100,000 point bonus is back), I set to work to redeem those BA points for an incredible South American dream itinerary for us. For 40,000 BA miles, you could book a trip from the USA, through South America, with unlimited stopovers, in business class. That is an incredible value. Given what we had paid for the points, we were looking at paying about $50 per ticket for biz class travel all over South America, including Easter Island and the Galapagos. A well-constructed itinerary could easily price out at $10,000 to $20,000. So I learned that system. I spent hours researching destinations, learning the booking system, finding inventory, and then finally called to book it all on the last day before the change. I will skip the painful details of how it all fell apart, but in the end it was not booked. And we ended up with seemingly worthless BA miles (now called Avios).

The Happyish Ending

While BA miles were great for international travel redemption, Avios turns out to be quite valuable for short-haul domestic redemption. When I was booking our return to San Diego from Bangkok, I could only get 1 seat all the way back to San Diego. The other 2 were left off in Los Angeles. The flight from LA to San Diego, always prices out at over $200 in one direction - even though it is a 2 hour drive. And using points for that route is usually not worth it - it can easily end up costing 15,000 points plus fees. But when I checked Avios, it priced out at 4,500 points and a $5 fee. By my valuation that means under $100 for 2 tickets. And by what we paid for those points, it comes to about $15 for 2 tickets.

So we did not get to travel all over South America for next to nothing. But for this kind of redemption, it turns out to be a great option. And given that San Diego is kind of a backwater in terms of flight availability (almost no international flights), having a stash of Avios is a great asset.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sydney: Bondi to Bronte

I have never been a fan of hotel in-room coffee makers; the coffee is generally awful and cleanliness of the machine is always an issue. This is not the case at the Park Hyatt in Sydney. I present to you an in-room espresso maker that makes perfect, crema-topped, espresso - every time. It is miraculous.

Perfect cup of coffee

While I enjoyed my espresso, APL enjoyed his bath.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sydney: Ferry to the Taronga Zoo

Day 2 in Sydney began at… 4:00 AM! That would be when APL woke up and announced that it was time for us to begin our day. Unfortunately, Mama and Papa had not fallen asleep in their strollers at 7:30 PM the prior evening.. so they were much less enthusiastic about getting up 2 hours before sunrise. But Mama and Papa are here to ensure that Boy Sees, and enjoys, World. So we accommodated.

Du lait chaud at the Hyatt

APL got his “du lait chaud” and took his place at the table for his morning rituals. Once he was done with his du lait chaud, he grabbed his “vinoculars” and began his morning reconnaissance work.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Boy Sees Sydney: The Opera House, the Botanic Gardens, the Sydney Bridge, and Mrs. Macquarie's Chair

The flight to Sydney was a blast for APL. Not only did he get to climb upstairs to his seat on a 747, but the captain invited him into the cockpit and demanded that APL sit in the captain’s seat. The captain's seat on a 747! Is there anything more fun for a boy turning four?


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Countdown to Australia, Bhutan, Thailand...

APL had a fantastic time with his Montreal cousins. But now that they have gone back to the Great Safe North, it's time for Boy to See World.

We will soon be taking off for Australia, Bhutan, and Thailand. APL is particularly knowledgeable about Sydney, given that a couple of his books take place there - as well as the notoriety it has since Nemo was saved.

We will be spending some time in Phuket but still have about 8 as-yet-unplanned days in Thailand. I'm hoping to get us to Phang Nga Bay. There are a couple of resorts in Thailand that really interest me. One is Six Senses Yao Noi. We stayed at a Six Senses resort in Vietnam a few years ago... which was unbelievable. Six Senses in Thailand is out of our price range... but there is a small possibility that we will work out the kind of arrangement that we had with Amanbagh in Jaipur, India. If not, there are a couple of other resorts in that area.

When I traveled in Thailand in the 90's, I remember paying $10/night for a bungalow on the beach in Ko Samui. I doubt that still exists. For the most part, it still is quite reasonable. For example, it's easy to find 5-star hotels in Bangkok that are in the $150 range. Even the Four Seasons can be had for $207 per night. That could be the least expensive Four Seasons on earth (I just looked it up - it is the least expensive Four Seasons on earth).

We will be staying at the Hyatt in Sydney - facing the Opera House - on points. That should help defray the cost somewhat. The Australian dollar is at a 30-year-high right now. There is a pretty involved story behind our Hyatt nights... but perhaps I'll save that for another post.

APL's Description of the the Game of Squash

APL: Let's play squash.

Papa: OK, I'm going to squash you.

APL: NOOOO. Squash is a game.

Papa: How do you play?

APL: You get a little ball. And you throw it. And it gets water all over you.

Papa: How do you know who wins?

APL: Me!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Coming up: Sydney, Bangkok, Bhutan, Shanghai...

So....... that episode of itinerary purgatory lasted a couple of weeks. I never did end up getting it ticketed. All told, I had at least a dozen itineraries on hold. In the end, we decided to throw in the towel. We were already over a week past our scheduled departure date. And since we wanted to be back when APL's cousins were to be visiting (they're here now!), we decided it wasn't worth it... plus the great seats we had were gone.

Instead, APL went to South Beach. The weather was FREEZING for the first couple of days (yes, I know... "Who leaves San Diego to go to Miami?") but it eventually warmed up and was pleasant.

Barbados and Mammoth

What we thought we would do is hang out in Miami, head over to Barbados to visit cousins, and then fly directly from Barbados to Mammoth, where we were to meet for a family ski vacay. In the end, we skipped Barbados, flew back to San Diego, and spent 7 looong hours driving to Mammoth. APL didn't sleep. This year he did not enjoy it at all... and he let us know. This marks the end of road tripping for us for a while.

APL skied every day in Mammoth. He was a little tentative those first couple of days, but by day 3 he was really into it.

Cousins from Montreal

APL's cousins from Montreal have been here for the past few days. He is loving it. His cousin Madeleine is exactly the same age and they have a ball together. His cousin Jack, who is a bit older, is appreciating having a male cousin around. He's the only boy in a family of 4 children... so he's outnumbered.

Sydney, Bangkok, Bhutan...

Another few hours in itinerary purgatory has yielded actual tickets: SAN-LAX-SYD-BKK-PVG-LAX-SAN. We will have a few days in Sydney before we fly to Bangkok and meet Mamia et al (how APL sees it). We then fly to Bhutan for a week of trekking. After that we will have some time in Thailand.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Can We Leave Yet?

After weeks of studying availability of Star Alliance Awards, I had put a solid itinerary together: SAN-LAX-FRA-HKG-AKL-HKG-ICN-SFO-SAN. The plan was to fly to Hong Kong in style, stay free at the awesome Grand Hyatt using award nights, spend 5 or 6 days showing the family my old haunting ground, and then continue on to New Zealand. We had planned on purchasing a Star Alliance South Pacific Airpass to cruise around the Cook Islands, Papeete, Fiji, and possibly New Caledonia. When I finally got the whole itinerary on hold, the departure date was January 29.

Unfortunately, Alexander caught a cold the preceding week. By Friday he was coughing violently. By the weekend, he was having fevers.

This was very bad from a planning perspective. I had nights booked in Hong Kong. I had very scarce business class award seats on hold - 3 together on every flight, which is unheard of. So trying to push back the itinerary became a very time-consuming and annoying process.I basically had to use the rudimentary tools available to attempt to keep track of award availability on about 10 different airlines.

On the 28th, by a stroke of luck, United released a boatload of business class award seats between Sydney and the USA. I was able to cut out a pretty daunting return itinerary (AKL-HKG-ICN-SFO - over 3 days) and replace it with SYD-LAX. I immediately called USAir and had them make the change. Plus we were able to push back our departure day to January 30. We would all be healthy by then! And since I knew how fortunate I was to have that UA LAX-SYD inventory open up, I made a backup reservation for us, leaving on Jan 31... just in case!

Saturday was a glorious day. We walked by the Beach in Del Mar, had lunch, and APL played in a park by the beach. I was so relieved to have our flights settled, and to be able to finally relax.

Unfortunately, that relaxation did not last. The USAir rep had made a mistake. She had left my AKL-HKG leg in the itinerary and had just added SYD-LAX. We were scheduled to fly from  New Zealand to Hong Kong and then leave from Sydney to go back to Los Angeles. I did some research into how I would fix the reservation. I then checked my reservation again - the SYD-LAX leg had disappeared. This was not good. 

I checked availability of flights and called USAir (reservations cannot be done online). The representative looked at my itinerary and said, "I don't think you can do this." I did not get a good vibe from him at all. The unspoken booking rule with USAir is if you don't get a helpful rep, HUACA (hang up and call again). I told the rep I had to go do some research and would call back to get it fixed. He said, "No problem", and we left it at that.

I called back a minute later and found an awesome rep. Cathy immediately understood the issue and went to work to get it fixed. Unfortunately, as Cathy was working diligently to fix my itinerary, Rep #1 decided to cancel my itinerary. Cathy did everything she could. But in the end, the itinerary was canceled into oblivion. And a couple of the segments did not go back into inventory. Cathy was incredibly apologetic (as was her supervisor). But there was nothing they could do. The seats were gone.

Those HKG-AKL seats never reappeared. I will spare you the gory details but those itineraries come with limited hold periods. And APL has stayed sick. As each day passes, I have been making new reservations. I push the departure back some more. At one point, I had us booked us to go to Hawaii for a few days to recuperate and to use our Hyatt nights. But APL was even too sick for that.

It's getting very tough again - as that surprise UAL inventory is gobbled up. I'm not sure when we're leaving. I think we're going to New Zealand. I will know for sure once APL is healthy and I am able to ticket something. 

Here's what itinerary fatigue looks like:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Departure Delayed

APL got sick, then Mama caught it, and now Papa has it. Mama and Papa probably would have traveled with it. But it would be cruel to impose those flights on APL. So our trip has been pushed back. Hopefully we can leave soon.