christmas tree


christmas ornaments

spent some time last week making christmas ornaments for the tree. pretty amazing what you can make out of some glitter and beads.


potato chips

we have been getting pretty crafty in the kitchen lately and made some really good food. this time however, we decided to try something a little more fun: homemade potato chips
the whole operation:

cooking away:

looking pretty tasty:

the final product:

we also made some baked sweet potato chips (no pictures) and i would say that all in all, they turned out really good.



just a nice shot of our thanksgiving spread


pumpkin carving

here are some pictures from this past weekend's pumpkin carving session: pre-carving set up (notice the dremel for those advanced pumpkin carvers)

eden's masterpiece

rachelle (eden's friend)



whole scary lot of them


kayak & rack

a few months ago, i got a new sea kayak but never put up a picture of it. i havent gotten to use it nearly as much i would have liked since i didnt have an easy way to transport it (at 17' long, i couldnt just throw it in the bed of my truck like i can with my swifty). but i finally got a good rack setup so i can haul the thing around.


vortex.offline licensed under BSD

just a quick note for everyone that asked about licensing - to be perfectly honest, i didnt even think about the licensing when i first put the code up. the code was always intended to be free anyone to use and modify. to make it official, i have added a BSD-style license disclaimer to the javascript files.

download the updated code

here is the license's full text:

/* *************************************************
vortex offline library v0.2
copyright 2007 - vortex software - all rights reserved

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
are met:
1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
3. Neither the name of the project nor the names of its contributors
may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software
without specific prior written permission.

************************************************* */


vortex.offline demo app

to coincide with the release of the vortex.offline library, i put together the obligatory sample feed reader application to demonstrate the usage. this is just a simplistic feed reader, but you can see some of the libraries important points, such as:

  • ability to automatically detect referenced resources such as images, scripts, and stylesheets (including nested @imported stylesheets)

  • automatic detection of network state with corresponding UI/feature changes (for example, when going offline, some features such as the 'add feed' link are removed since they dont apply offline)

  • auto syncing of events. this demo records the adding and removing of feeds and automatically plays them back when the network comes back online

  • use of the generic storage capabilities to store the feed data for offline viewing

  • graceful fallback if no offline support is available (google gears not installed or not allowed to run). try viewing the site in Safari to see the 'no offline support' version, or just deny Google Gears when prompted

[view demo]

the vortex_offline-debug.js file is fully commented and details the other configuration options and available features. you can download this entire sample application by grabbing the .zip file listed below:

[download vortex offline feed reader demo]


announcing the vortex.offline library (v0.1)

with the release of Adobe's AIR and Microsoft's Silverlight combined with the continued advances in javascript libraries like dojo and Prototype, the line between desktop app and web app continues to get blurrier. one of the major disadvantages that web apps have had against traditional desktop applications is that web apps only work, well, when you are on the web.

with the release of Google Gears came the promise of web applications that could work offline just as well as they could online. i have been interested in this topic for some time, so i immediately started playing with this new tool and realized it was pretty slick. after using some of the better javascript libraries out there now though, it felt like the Gears api was a little 'raw'. i started working on a wrapper library to make development of offline applications even easier to get started with. i saw a post on Ajaxian a while back that talked about how the dojo framework (and specifically Brad Neuberg) were working on porting their offline storage solution to use Gears, and it was eerily similar to what i had been working on as well.

looking over the dojo implementation, it seemed as though Brad had already done most of the work i was working on as well. the only downside i had at that time was that my current client's project was implemented using Ext, not dojo. instead of having to include the entire dojo framework along with the Ext framework, i decided that my offline library could be used as a nice, small, library-independent add-on. i polished it up and now it is what you see here.

the library is self-contained in a single javascript file, vortex_offline.js. like dojo, it supports an offline module as well as a generic storage module. to start using it, it can be as simple as a single line of javascript:

vortex.offline.init("My Application Name");

that's it! behind the scenes, the code will scan the page to find all of the resources required (including images, css, other .js file, etc) and cache them using the Gears LocalServer object. the library exposes several events that you can hook into, such as when the network status changes. there is also a syncing system that lets you record actions while offline and replay them back when the network is connected again.

the library also contains a generic storage module that can be used independently of the offline module (although it is still obviously dependent on Gears behind the scenes). objects can be easily saved and retrieved using commands like:, val);;

under the covers, the objects are serialzied to json and stored in the local Gears database.

the debug version of the vortex_offline.js file included in the .zip is fully commented and shows the additional methods available for both modules. the minified version weighs in at just under 10k, including the json parser that you can swap out if you are already using another one. a sample application will be posted up shortly...

[download .zip file]


camping @ cooper lake

a couple of weekends ago we went camping at cooper lake, north of cle elum. we had originally planned to go to wind river, but we didnt want to spend the whole weekend driving, so we found an alternate site that was a little closer to home. we tried to do some fishing, but didnt catch anything. the area was beautiful though, and we were able to kayak and read and just generally relax.


landcruiser and hiking

quite a bit of progress on the landcruiser (might maybe possibly potentially drive it before summer is over) and some pictures from our otter falls hike.


otter falls

this past weekend, michaleen, eden and i decided to do a hike up to otter falls (actually the snoqualmie lake trail #1002). it was only about an hour drive to the taylor river trailhead, and as predicted, it was raining. however, the rain was light so we decided it wasnt going to stop us.

the trail isnt very steep, but it involves a lot of stream crossings and, with all of the rain, some really muddy sections. eden quickly found a trusty (or so we thought) stick and some higher ground.

Trusty Stick?
Eden on higher ground

at about two miles in, we came to the marten creek bridge. the marten creek falls were amazingly pretty. the rocks, the trees, the sound of the rushing water - it was all very picturesque.

Marten Falls
Downstream from Marten Falls
Eden at Marten Creek
Michaleen and Eden at Marten Creek

the rain was sort of off and on on the hike up. it hinted at raining harder a few times, but for the most part, it was just a constant drizzle. but the trail was so beautiful that the wet weather wasnt dampening anyone's fun.

Beautiful Trail
Having Fun

along with the numerous stream crossings, we also passed several smaller waterfalls and lots of other cool things, like moss-covered trees that looked like gnarled green monsters. here were some mushrooms that eden found, as well as a tall tree that looked neat.

Mushrooms on a log
Tall Tree

we forged on, crossing a few more streams before arriving at the cairns that marked the trail up to otter falls.

Michaleen crossing a stream

the falls were awesome and well worth the hike. i had been here once before (15 years ago), and it was just as pretty as i remembered. we had packed a picnic lunch, so we spread out our blanket and sat down to enjoy the food and the view.

Otter Falls

the rain was picking up, as was the wind, so we ended up moving our picnic to a more sheltered spot. by this point, everyone was very wet and getting cold, so we cut our picnic short and headed back. the first two miles or so of the hike back were pretty good, but the rain was definitely starting to come down harder. by the time we got back to the marten creek bridge, it was a downpour. the trail turned into a constant stream of mud. i have to give everyone credit though - there was no complaining or sour moods. we put our heads down and made good time, all the while focusing on getting back to the dryness and warmth of the truck. we finally arrived back at the truck, soaked and cold, but in the end, everyone had a good time.


lunchtime visitor

michaleen and eden were in the kitchen and i had just came in from the garage (working on the landcruiser), and look who came walking up our trail... Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


shady seals surround me


double bluff

while looking for some good hikes on the island, i came across double bluff. it was supposed to have a few miles of forested trails, but it turned out to be a cool place to hike along the beach instead. my first visit was kind of rushed since i was trying to hurry back, but michaleen and eden and i have made a couple of return trips to collect shells and play in the (very cold) water. it is fun to watch the clams squirting water up into the air like some kind of big erratic fountain and to see the (literally) millions of shells from clams, mussels, oysters, snails, crabs, barnacles, and all kinds of other interesting sea life. on the last trip, we also saw three big cruise ships go by, possibly on their way to alaska. those things are gigantic! maybe next time i will get a picture.


morning kayak

just a little sample from my morning kayak today. see more here


morning kayak

today was my second time out for a morning kayak on puget sound (in the saratoga passage, to be exact). last weekend was the langley 'welcome the whales' festival, so i have been really hoping to see a whale during my kayaking. today i didnt see a whale, but i did see a huge sea lion who was about 25 feet from my kayak in the middle of the sound. i thought it was just a big piece of driftwood at first, until i got closer and heard him breathing and blowing water out of its nose. he didnt seem to mind my presence too much, and after a little while, he dove his head under, flipped up his tail, and was gone. i wasnt able to grab a picture of him, but here are some pictures of the sound in the morning - very peaceful.

boats moored near langley

puget sound

seaside village of langley


goss lake woods

having moved up here to whidbey island, it had been several months since i had ridden my bike and i had yet to get out and explore what the area had to offer. for christmas, i had received Kissing the Trail, a mountain biking book containing 'Greater Seattle Mountain Bike Adventures'. i was anxious to get out for a local ride, so i turned to the section on whidbey island to see what i could find. although there were only two local rides listed, the trails at Goss Lake Woods (map) were described as narrow and twisty, with minimal elevation gain - how could i pass that up? (by the way, that was their emphasis, not mine) =). after a short drive to the trailhead, i pedaled out into the slightly damp forest along a picturesque trail.

the ride started out on the easy-sounding frog lane, two kitties, and jane erye trails. the trails were wide and smooth, but there were enough fun rollercoasters to put a smile on my face and get my heart pumping. i turned north and looped along the west side of the trust lands, already feeling the effects of not riding in so long. the trails were still pretty tame, but the damp air and lush forest created a quiet stillness that was fun just to enjoy. plus, the guide book had promised that i was close to Blazing Saddles a 'very technical trail' with 'lots of ups and downs and tight turns in and out of the wrinkles of the forest floor'. so i pedalled onward, enjoying the fresh air and serene surroundings.

after a couple of deadends and one or two steep hills (hey! i thought there were no hills out here!), i ended up over on the east side of the preserve, up on top of a hill that opened into a grassy meadow surrounded by tall pine trees. it was a little windy in the open meadow, and it felt as if i could have just as easily been on a windswept hillside in a remote part of new zealand. i hadnt found the technical trails that i was looking for, but the ride was turning out to be really good just the same. i did one more short loop and then started to head back to the trailhead. on the ride back, i noticed a tiny trail heading off to the right into a thick stand of trees. i turned onto the trail and almost immediately found myself surrounded by the dark forest and moss-covered trees. the trail looked like it wasnt used nearly as much as the others, and the fallen trees and roots made for a fun ride and challenging ride.

the trail linked me up with another network of trails that turned out to be exactly what i was after. the trails of flying squirrel, sleepy hollow, and stryx varia were incredible - twisty and narrow, zigzagging over roots and squeezing between the towering trees with just enough ups and downs to keep the momentum up and my tires rolling quickly. i felt like i was in my own personal mountain biking heaven (not to mention that i didnt see another person or track on the entire ride).

i ended up on some truly single track (about 6" wide, with forest vegetation obscuring the trail in most places) before finally cruising back on the lazily named lulu lane. i arrived back at my truck with mud in my teeth and a grin on my face - exactly what i had been looking forward to.