Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day: We Remember

Flag flying over the Arizona Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii
Fire up the BBQ and bring out the picnic gear—it's Memorial Day weekend. As you enjoy the hotdogs, hamburgers and potato salad, remember this great American pastimes is made possible because many died to bring us freedom. Plan to attend a parade or event that honors those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Last year we attended an event at the Veterans Memorial at Mount Vernon Cemetery in Fair Oaks. Amid rows and rows of American flags wafting in the wind, masses of people converged on the cemetery to see a military flyover, watch sky divers glide to earth and hear moving speeches from uniformed personnel. It moved us to see so many people there, honoring and offering words of thanks to those who served.

The most emotional moment of the day occurred when a woman sitting next to us began to weep as she remembered her brother who gave his life. My husband turned and gave her a hug. No words were needed.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The AMGEN Tour of California and the iPad

I'm going to expose myself here... Okay... yes, I am a techno geek. I love technology, but I am not so starstruck to believe it has made our lives easier. On the contrary, it makes life more complicated. BUT... it opens up a world of way cool stuff and things we can do that could not be done before.

My husband, Bob, got me the iPad 3G for Mother's Day. The idea is to develop some apps (short for applications) of children's books I'm writing. But Bob wants to play with it too. Right out of the box, he loaded his extensive music library from his iTunes. Ah-huh Mother's Day gift... yeah sure.

The iPad 3G is a new version that provides internet via the cellular system. Sooooo... we took a short vacation and followed the first four stages of the AMGEN Tour of California. For each stage we mapped out several locations where we could stake out a spot to watch the riders come by then jump in the car and get to the next spot. Twice we skipped a location because we couldn't make it in time. Those guys are fast!

Lance Armstrong (left) and Jani Brajkovic of RadioShack climbing
the grueling Oakville Grade in Napa County

Just pure luck... I got several shots of Lance Armstrong. I held out my Sony Cyper-shot and pressed the shutter several times as they whizzed by. It was difficult to pick out anybody as they flew by in a blur.

Lance Armstrong following three Team Garmin-Transitions
riders at the sprint in Livermore

The iPad proved invaluable in mapping our location and route, making it much easier to race from one spot to the next. I have a love of maps and this is the ultimate techno-map. It uses Google Earth and a moving pin to indicate our location along the route. Seeing the terrain and buildings of the area really helps. I am so ready to throw Jeri (the name for our Garmin GPS device) off a high cliff—she got us lost more than once.

We used our Slingbox to stream the Versus sports channel to the iPad so we could watch the AMGEN coverage live on the course each day. The Slingbox technology allows you to watch and control your home TV from virtually anywhere—now that is super way cool. We had a crowd around us watching wherever we could get a signal.

The experience exhausted us after four days of running around Northern California. It was a blast. We logged 520 miles on the road and 15 hours in the car.

Having technology along made our trip more doable. We knew where we were in relation to the riders virtually the whole time, feeling connected to them via technology. Otherwise we could have gotten lost and/or missed the riders at the next spot. Next year we'll do it again... technology in tow.

Any closet techno geeks out there who want to share how you've used technology to do cool things?


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