Reaching the summit after 13 years

One of the many joys of being a parent has been spending time in a wide variety of activities with my three daughters, either individually or together. Way back in 2004, when my second daughter was 7 years old, we spent much of that summer and fall hiking around trails in the greater Phoenix area. As she got more confident in her hiking ability, we focused on summit trails. She had no problem doing the fairly mild, but stunningly beautiful Pinnacle Peak trail, and got a lot of praise from other hikers when she reached the top of Piestewa Peak, a much harder vertical climb. However, the tallest summit and most iconic in the Valley of the Sun, Camelback Mountain eluded our grasp that summe

A gift for a swimming data geek

My oldest daughter combined four of the things I love in the world - swimming, maps, music and data-geekiness - into a most excellent Christmas gift - a musical, visual video of all the pools I've swum in: She took a data analysis class this past semester, learned how to use Tableau, bought a cool swimming-related song from Amazon and created this movie. Thanks for a great gift, Maia!

Vegas mileage & pool run

Probably the best airline frequent flyer benefit, at least for domestic travel, is Southwest Airlines' Companion Pass, which allows a companion to fly free with you for the following year. To earn this, you have to accumulate 110,000 points over a calendar year. After my last business trip of the year on November 28th, I thought I had just squeaked over the limit, but ... ... was 109 points short! I have never done a 'mileage run' before, but I was too close to pass up this opportunity. With a little planning, I managed to find a ~$62 round trip flight to Vegas this week that would earn me slightly less than 200 points, more than enough to put me over the limit. Earning the Companion Pas

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