The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

October 25, 2014

Random Thoughts: Una Discussione Molto Vivace, and Responsibility, What’s that?

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 11:10 am

I know I still need to finish up the trip report on our Alaska trip last month, but lately work has been keeping me busy so I haven’t had time to do that.  In the meantime, a couple of random thoughts from the past couple of weeks…

  • Currently stuck in my head:  This MxPx song.  It’s not the type of music I normally listen to (it’s actually one of my brothers that listens to the stuff) but I do have to admit I’ve been tempted to think along these lines every once in a while lately.  In theory, by the time I’ve reached the age I’ve reached, I’m supposed to be some sort of mature responsible adult.  For the most part I can at least impersonate one occasionally in a pinch, but I do have to say that sometimes the whole thing can seem to be more trouble than it’s worth.  Responsibility also has a way of creeping up on you at times, as I’ve seen at work recently as various organizational changes have left me and a co-worker in charge of much larger portions of the project I’ve spent nearly the last two years working on than we have been in the past.  In some ways it can be nice to have more day-to-day control over the project and to basically be handed the keys to the car (in this case literally, although the opportunities to actually drive it are rather limited) but at the same time it can also feel a little bit like getting tossed into the deep end of the pool.  The other day I made a comment to one of the co-workers who recently got reassigned off of our project (but who still sits in our area) that things were so much easier back when we had him going to all the meetings and dealing with a lot of the administrative stuff for us and we could mostly just stick to the technical side of things.  One thing that comes with this is responsibility for managing (sort of) a couple of testers we currently have on our project in China.  This isn’t the first time I’ve done this (it’s one of the things that I did for a while when I worked at Motricity a couple of years ago) but it does tend to result in a fair number of late-night Skype conversations to keep them on track and make sure they have what they need to do their jobs (fortunately the late night bit isn’t a problem for me…)   All of this can definitely be a challenge, but to be honest, I have little to complain about where I am right now.  There’s plenty to keep me busy, I’m getting good pay, there are a few nice perks, and it does feel like I’m making progress on my long-term career path.  That doesn’t mean I’m not occasionally tempted to just go off the rails and hoon golf carts around every once in a while, but I suppose that’s how we end up at Disneyland taking ridiculous ride photos on Splash Mountain.

  • Also currently stuck in my head:  Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Second Movement (Scherzo: Molto  Vivace – Presto).  Last weekend I had the opportunity to see a live performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony put on by the Ensign Symphony and Chorus at Benaroya Hall.  I do have to warn you that the Ninth Symphony can be a bit of a slog to get through (and that’s just being in the audience, I can’t imagine what it must be like being in the woodwind section) but it’s definitely worth hearing live at least once.  Obviously the Fourth Movement (by far the most famous part) gets all the attention and I’m sure virtually anyone would recognize it when they hear it, but interestingly enough I think I like the Second Movement better overall.  Having never heard all of Beethoven’s Ninth all at once before, I was a bit surprised to hear this particular piece and instantly recognize it as something that gets used often in various forms of media (in particular, the intro seems to be used as a bit of stock “creepy” music for some reason.)  Of course, when you’re listening to it live it all moves so fast you don’t have much time to process it (this particular movement is one of the fastest parts of the whole symphony) so it really takes repeated listening to really catch all the intricacies.  Not that I profess to know a blasted thing about the subject of music (in fact, I had to go to Wikipedia to figure out what a Scherzo is supposed to be, and even after reading the article I still don’t have a clue,) but I have to say that even if it’s less well known than other parts of the symphony it’s still quite the piece of music.  It;’s interesting to note that back in the day pieces like this were considered to be something of a joke (which is in fact what “Scherzo” translates to from the Italian) but these days even the less serious stuff would be considered high culture.  I don’t know if that speaks more to the decline of culture these days or if the stuff is just that good.  Probably a little bit of both really.


  • Ever have one of those days where you just can’t seem to focus on anything?  Well, I… Wait, I forgot what I was going to say here.  Oh well, I’ll probably think of it later.

October 8, 2014

We’re Quickly Running Out of Frontiers Here: A Week in Alaska by Sea, Part 1

Filed under: travel, Wanderings — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 12:00 am

As much as I suspect a lot of us would like to have it hang around a little while longer, it looks like Summer has just come to an end.  As always, this is roughly when you start looking over what you did over the Summer and trying to make sure you didn’t waste it.  In my case, I have to admit that it just didn’t feel like I’ve really done much.  Until a couple of weeks ago, I don’t think I had been more than about 50 miles from home at any given point this Summer, and in fact hadn’t really traveled anywhere since the last Disneyland trip me and my friend took back in April just before our Annual Passes expired.  A lot of this is due to the fact that our big vacation for the Summer got scheduled for just about the last possible time we could have scheduled it, set to end just two days before the Autumnal Equinox.  To put the situation into football terms (I hear football is kind of popular around Seattle these days,) it’s basically a matter of being down 28-3  with a minute and a half to go in the fourth quarter, and trying to get down the field for a garbage time touchdown just so it looks like you didn’t get completely blown out.

Then again, much of the reason that we didn’t do much this Summer was because we had this particular trip planned.  Admittedly, in spite of the fact that I’ve done quite a bit of cruising over the past few years, Alaska has never been all that high on my list of possible destinations.  As I believe I’ve said here before, to me it seems like Alaska has the type of weather than I go on vacation to get away from. Then again, it was my friends who were planning this particular trip, so in a lot of ways I was just along for the ride.  Not that there was much of a ride involved anyway (at least not until we boarded the ship.)  One of the nice things about cruising to Alaska is that a lot of ships use Seattle as their homeport during the Alaska season.  For two Summers I have worked in Downtown Seattle just off the waterfront, which means that if I look out the window in some of the conference rooms at the office I can see the ships docked at either Bell Street Pier about half a mile away, or Smith Cove several miles beyond that.  It certainly makes the prospect of just hopping aboard one sound a lot more tantalizing when you can actually see the ships in port.  If nothing else, it’s kind of nice to take a cruise and not have to fly across the country twice to get there in back (nothing against Fort Lauderdale, which is a perfectly nice place to get away from the weather, but a quick 12-mile taxi ride to the pier is, shockingly, a little easier to deal with than a flight of 2,800 miles in each direction (not to mention a fair bit cheaper.)

The itinerary for this particular cruise would be a 7-day roundtrip out of Seattle, making stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria, as well as a day spent aboard the ship as it cruises slowly through Glacier Bay National Park (other ships with a similar itinerary may omit Glacier Bay in favor of Tracy Arm Fjord.)  Since I had been to none of those places (except for Victoria on a previous cruise) before, I didn’t know a whole lot about what to expect.  The ship, on the other hand, was in large part a known quantity, as if you’ve been on one Grand-class Princess ship you should have little trouble finding your way around any of the other ones.  The Golden Princess is one of the older ships in the fleet (she first sailed in 2001,) and is a sister ship to the Grand Princess and Star Princess.  Although these three ships were originally virtually identical, over time a number of renovations have taken the three ships in significantly different directions.  Nonetheless, even with the various changes between the three ships you are going to find that the passenger experience is pretty consistent across the Princess fleet regardless of which ship you happen to be on.  All in all, it’s not a bad way to go.

After the jump, a look at some of the highlights from the trip.


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