Month: December 2009

Withings body scale

Our gift from Santa this year was the Withings internet-connected body scale.

It knows who you are when you step on it, it measures your weight and your body fat percentage and sends it to the site, via WiFi, where they provide nice graphs over time. And they have an iPhone app too. In fact, you can configure it with an iPhone… you turn it over and there’s a cradle for the iPhone, you launch their app, press a button on the scale and they start talking to each other and the iPhone asks you questions about how you want it configured. Very slick. They even have a web API.

Our old scale also measured fat percentage but to record the measurements we had to do it manually and I often forgot to do it. This one looks better and is automatic. I love automation. How long until I can get an internet-connected sphygmomanometer and elliptical machine?

Security Theater

Bruce Schneier on terrorism security:

Despite fearful rhetoric to the contrary, terrorism is not a transcendent threat. A terrorist attack cannot possibly destroy a country’s way of life; it’s only our reaction to that attack that can do that kind of damage. The more we undermine our own laws, the more we convert our buildings into fortresses, the more we reduce the freedoms and liberties at the foundation of our societies, the more we’re doing the terrorists’ job for them.

The Christmas Day attempted bomber got on the plane outside the US. Why is everyone questioning the TSA in the US and not the security in Nigeria or Amsterdam? But the TSA never disappoints the cynics: they banned using the bathroom or having blankets on your lap in the last hour of the flight and showing the plane’s location on screens. Are terrorists smart enough to build bombs and sneak them through security but too stupid to use a watch to know when the plane is about to land? Are we really not worried about planes exploding unless they’re near the destination?

Day after Christmas

Steve and Renuka, sans kids, and Eric came over for a Christmas dinner. Eric just returned from his trip around the world that he started in August 2008 and we last saw him, as a surprise, in London earlier this year. He came back the US a few days before Christmas and is staying at his parents in Bellingham. He came down for dinner with us and spent the night.

Dinner was great, as Gay’s dinner always are, and Steve and I drank too much and both had hangovers the next day.

Christmas Day

Havana has started to understand Santa Claus. She put out cookies and juice (although I suggested bourbon) on Christmas Eve and seemed to understand that Santa would come by during the night. She woke up Christmas morning at 6am, a little earlier than usual, and came into our room to wake us up. She wanted breakfast more than Christmas presents. Hudson soon woke up too and we took them down to the tree.

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US Healthcare costs under reform

An MIT economist used the CBO’s data to estimate healthcare costs for a family of four at various income levels with and without the Senate’s bill for healthcare reform. Today, a family of four with an income of $36,275 pays 68% of their income to healthcare! That will go down to 17% with healthcare reform. After reform, everyone will pay between 17% and 23% of their income for healthcare and the poorest will pay the lowest percentage rather than the highest percentage as they do today. People who say that higher taxes are going to erase any gains from healthcare reform are going to have a tough time proving it, based on these numbers.

To compare, Europeans pay an average of 10% of their income to healthcare and their healthcare is the best in the world. The US will pay 80% more than Europeans and still have the worst healthcare of the developed world. Did you know that babies are most likely to die in the US than anywhere else in the developed world, i.e., our infant mortality rate is the highest? I’d bet most Americans would never have guessed that. Capitalism and the free market have done great things but they just can’t work in healthcare — healthcare is one of the few areas that has to be subsidized.

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Cabo to Seattle

We packed up and left our place around 11am and drove to San Jose del Cabo, the opposite direction from Cabo San Lucas and the town near the airport. San Jose is much less touristy than Cabo — far fewer places for gringos to drink all day and night. We walked around the town a little and then went for lunch. We ordered the kids quesadillas which were the best quesadillas I’ve ever had; the chicken was shredded and the tortillas were fresh. I got chicken fajitas and Gay got a chicken dish served in a hot clay pot. This was one of the best meals we had. After lunch, we walked around town some more before heading to the airport.

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Last day in Mexico

We got a baby-sitter in the morning to entertain the kids so we could relax by the pool on our last day. After their afternoon naps, we took the golf cart over to the resort to go to the beach and walk around.


Our place was next to the resort but we’re not supposed to be in the resort and we eventually were chased out by the security guard. I don’t know why, nobody was there so we weren’t bothering anyone. Security guards tend to take their jobs too seriously. After the kids went to bed, we had a dinner by ourselves for a change.

I’ve had enough of the heat and sun. I’m ready to get back to Seattle, which has been in the 30s all week and to get ready for Christmas.

Eric & Valerie in Cabo

Eric and Valerie, on their sailing trip from Seattle to France, are docked in La Paz, relaxing for a month after a stressful trip from San Diego. They took the bus down to Cabo today to meet us. We met at the marina and had dinner.

Eric & Valerie in Cabo

They stayed at our place Wednesday night. Eric had to fly back to Seattle for a week on Thursday afternoon, so Gay and Valerie drove him to the airport and went shopping while I watched the kids back at the house.


It’s hot in the morning in Cabo.

Morning in Cabo San Lucas

I discovered that I forgot to pack shorts so we went to a shopping mall in the town of Cabo to see if I could find some. The mall was big but very empty of both people and stores. We did find a Nautica store and got a couple shorts. I’m glad we found them because my other option was to get shorts at Costco or Wal-Mart.