Archive for the ‘Geocaching’

SAS Global Forum 2010: Seattle, WA

This week the site has been running basically on autopilot as I was away on business in Seattle Washington to present a paper and attend the SAS Global Forum 2010. Aside from a layover at the Seattle/Tacoma Airport I had never visited the Pacific Northwest before and I was looking forward to doing some outdoorsy stuff, eating some great seafood, and being a total nerd at a conference with 3000+ other nerds.

I arrived on Sunday and found the weather in Seattle be much better than the forecast claimed it would be. Sunny and mid to high 60s greeted me as I had lunch at Pike Place Chowder (I had the seared scallop chowder and it was awesome) and then proceeded to go geocaching around the area seeing some amazing sights and doing some great hiking. Dinner was Ethiopian at Pan Africa and was a ton of food for very little cost. Loved the food, the staff, and the entire restaurant. We came back later in the week to sit at the bar (the bartender used to be a SAS geek) and my coworker had one of his famous Bloody Mary’s which include a homemade berbere recipe (basically a spicy paste) which they offer up to you on their website. Sunday night I attended the SAS Seattle Tweetup at the Tap House which prides itself in having 160 beers on tap (the tweetup had two free beers on tap both were pretty decent).

Monday I presented my paper and then attended a bunch of the other presentations scattered throughout the day. My coworker and I had a pretty below average Thai lunch at Mae Phim on Pike which can be summed up quickly in this one sentence from my review on Urbanspoon: “The only good things to say are the beer was almost cold and the food, as awful as it was, came out quickly.” We had dinner at Umi Sake House which consisted of rolls and sashimi. I wasn’t a huge fan of either but they some parts were decent. After that we headed back to the conference to tour the Demo Area and drink free local Pike Pale Ale (which I had tons of during my visit).

Tuesday found more presentations, including one by Stephen Few, and lunch at the completely boring and basically awful Blue Water Taco Grill. I nabbed a messy and unofficial torta and my coworker got a shrimp and a steak taco that were runny and gross. Boo. Dinner was at Long Provincial Vietnamese Restaurant which was quite good. Large portions, appropriately priced, with some absolutely incredible spring rolls and unbelievable prawn satay. Afterward we headed back to Pan Africa for drinks (as mentioned above) and then on to the SAS party at the Washington State Convention Center. More Pike Pale Ale and a live 80s cover band played until 1:30 AM before we headed back to the hotel for a night cap.

Wednesday was my travel day back home. I got to ride Seattle mass transit (light rail) which runs underground downtown, through many tunnels, and on a lot of elevated track into ostentatious stations to the airport. I believe the total cost was about $2.9 billion and it showed. Overall I had a blast at SAS Global Forum 2010 and I’m already scrambling around to find something worthwhile to present at next year’s event in Las Vegas.

Have you ever been to Seattle? If so where did you eat, what did you drink and what did you do? Aside from my raving recommendations that you try both Long Provincial and Pan Africa, what places do you recommend for others who may plan on traveling there in the future? Whatever you have to say about my completely nerdy trip to a SAS conference in Seattle go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say!

County Sheriff’s Newsletter: Obstructed Front Row

A cute little fluff piece appeared in the Star Tribune recently about the newsletter the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office produces and publishes weekly (you can see them here). An interesting glimpse into the sometimes macabre world of law enforcement but one that I think skims a little too much and offers the public a warped view of the county’s crime problem.

From the article:

Sheriff Don Gudmundson has long liked to say, “Law enforcement is a front-row seat to the greatest show on Earth” and so he dubbed the newsletter “The Front Row.” The 2005 inaugural edition explains why:

“Working in law enforcement and corrections puts all of us in the front-row seat of life. Many times, it is the tragic events that we witness in our jobs and having to deal with the aftermath for families and loved ones, but we are also fortunate to see firsthand some of the funniest and most unbelievable things in people.”

Hey, I’m all for people reading about crime but I really think that it would be much better for the county to provide something a little more up-to-date and without the editorial commentary and ridiculousness. You know, like a near live feed of the dangerous inmates who are gracing the jail which we, the taxpayers, fund. I believe that would be a whole lot more beneficial and act as a bigger deterrent than showing the lack of knowledge the county has about an activity which attracts nearly 4 million people worldwide.

Now, the Dakota County Sheriff’s office admits that they take the work they do on this newsletter very lightly and they try to keep it fun without being mean-spirited. Honestly, while that’s great and all, they’re still talking about felons, inmates, and criminals. Do we really need to be nice to the people who rob our homes, kill our friends and family, or persuade our children to do drugs?

Overall, I’m glad that the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office has the time and energy to spend on a newsletter like this. It’s always a wonderful thing to see my hard earned tax dollars going to such side projects while I watch the data pulled from their facility reflect the seriousness of the crimes they deal with daily. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside…

How about you? What do you think of The Front Row? Do you think that the Star Tribune should have wasted their time writing an article about this publication or do you think that they should have continued to concentrate on the harsh realities of crime in Dakota County? Whatever you think about The Front Row go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say!

Open Thread for May 1st, 2009

Here’s another open thread for your Friday afternoon.

I’m off to Nashwauk tonight to cache with Chuck and Craig in Grand Rapids tomorrow on our yearly caching trip “Up North” and I’m looking forward to sunny 55 degree weather and lots and lots of ticks. Mmm, blood suckers. For Sunday I picked up a museum pass at the library to check out the Twin City Model Railroad Museum in St. Paul. I’m a geek, I know, but I’m really pumped about that one.

One of the readers submitted the following suggestion and I thought it would be a great open thread question which could be a lot of fun (especially with MSPD hanging around), so here it is:

What are your top three slogans for the juggernaut that is Lazy Lightning?

So go ahead and comment on, maybe we’ll make a t-shirt or bumper sticker out of your slogan ;)

Boston Trip

For the last few days I was in Boston for work for SAS training. Due to many flight delays because of American Airlines sucking and weather, I didn’t get to spend much time doing anything fun. I did wake up Monday and Tuesday early to wander around via mass transit to take some photos and look for geocaches (I only ended up finding one).

The Boston Sheraton hotel I stayed at was fantastic and I enjoyed excellent views from my comfy room. I went out to dinner at Sel De La Terre which I will write up later, I saw Ben Franklin’s tomb as well as where Paul Revere is buried. I wandered on the Harvard campus, explored the Christian Science Plaza (it was across from my hotel, see above) and also ate at Chili Duck for some Thai lunch.

Overall, a shitty trip with some bright points. Anyone else do any traveling (for business or pleasure lately)? Have any good stories to tell?

Make sure you check out (currently unedited) photos on Flickr here.