Liz is making films

The last few months, Liz has invested her time into learning more about the skills of filmmaking. Here are a couple of short documentaries that she has created recently.

This first film, about Ignite Portland, is her solo work.

Ignite Portland, A Documentary Short from Liz Grover on Vimeo.

This second film, about sustainability, was done in collaboration with a few others.

Building Sustainability from Liz Grover on Vimeo.

You can read more about these on their Vimeo pages via the links under them or on Liz’s blog.

Oh, and Happy New Year!


Stranger in a Strange Land [Book]

This book is a treatise on human culture, with an emphasis on faith and spirituality. It is sci-fi as set in contemporary 21st century. The book can feel a bit dated, and it helps to imagine the US in the 60s to get some perspective. I particularly enjoyed the early experiences of Mike Smith (the “Man from Mars”) as he encounters human civilization for the first time and tries his best to “grok” it. His discoveries present interesting quirks of humanity that make one chuckle and laugh. Laughter itself makes a revealing impression on Mike.

Thanks to the Multnomah County Library!

Book page on
Book page on Wikipedia


A few seconds ago I turned thirty-three.

Here are some personally memorable events since my last birthday post:

  • December – Liz and I traveled to Asia. In India, we had our New Delhi wedding. In Nepal we visited Liz’s home and friends in the Himalayas and in Bali we had our honeymoon. Pictures are here.
  • January – Returned from trip to Asia. Bought a HDTV and a PS3. Been enjoying glorious Blu-Ray and some cool games since then.
  • February – Started working on Avatari. My first Mac application in Cocoa. Had my first car accident. It was minor.
  • April – Demoed and released Avatari at Demolicious. Liz and I went road-tripping thru the southwest. Visited Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon. Some of the most amazing landscapes I’ve ever seen. Pictures are here.
  • May – Liz and I went to Bend for a long weekend and had a great time exploring this cute little town and its surrounding volcanic geology.
  • June – I became a US permanent resident. No more visa hassles!
  • August – Liz and I traveled to Kaua’i where we had a great time celebrating our first anniversary. Pictures are here.
  • September – Completed ten years of living in the US. Brought Yoshi (our cat) home. My first pet ever. Bought an Olympus E-P1 to use as my primary camera succeeding the Bessa in that role.

It was an amazing year and I’m looking forward to the next one.

And lastly, here’s more about the number 33.



I’ve had my suspicions that I would enjoy having a cat as a pet. A month ago those suspicions were confirmed, and now I have my first pet ever.

Liz and I had the pleasure of hanging out in Kaua’i for about a week (See pictures here!). We stayed at some friends’ place while they were on vacation. There were two house cats around, Woodrow and Wilson. At the end of that week I realized that I really enjoyed having a pet around. Liz had been keen on the idea for a while, so we decided to look for a kitty to adopt as soon as we got back.

She tweeted about it and got a response within twenty-four hours. Twenty days later, Yoshi arrived at our place. He is about ten eight weeks old and in the last week has learned to use the litter and become comfy in our apartment. He’s very entertaining and we’re having a great time having him around.

Of Flying Boats and Wineries

Sometime last week, Liz and I saw Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, a biographical film about Howard Hughes. At the end of the movie I remarked that the Hercules flying boat, designed by Hughes, and shown in the film is on permanent display in our Oregon neighborhood. A few minutes of online searching later we decided to go check it out at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville on the weekend.

Sunday morning, after a brief breakfast stop at a local bagel joint, we drove out towards the museum. We passed beautiful hills draped with vineyards and wineries. Later in the day we learned that these were the Chehalem Mountains and Dundee Hills regions of the Willamette Valley Wineries. We hadn’t been there before and were delighted to see it. Eyeing all the wine tasting signs we decided to stop at some of the wineries on our way back.

We got to the museum about an hour before noon. It is located across the road from the airport in McMinnville. There are two museum buildings which house the aviation and space museums and a third building has an IMAX theater. Some aircraft are displayed in spaces along the buildings too. We only visited the aviation museum, choosing to return to the space museum on another day, perhaps after they install one of the retiring space shuttles, which they plan to do.

Planes and Hercules

It is clear upon looking at the aviation museum and the time spent inside it that the Hercules is their star attraction. It takes up most of the space and even though there are about a hundred other aircrafts spanning the hundred year history of powered flight, they all appear negligible next to it. The critics of this magnificent aircraft, the largest of its time, called it the “Spruce Goose”. Liz and I were disappointed that this name, which was despised by Hughes, was the one used prominently by the museum. Their website address uses it; they sport it on gift store items; and they even have a winery that makes wine branded the same.

Retro flying

Even in their relative smallness, the other aircrafts on display offer a great collection of beautiful airplanes, helicopters, balloon-basket, a Wright 1903 Flyer replica and even a model skeleton of the wing-like device sketched by Leonardo DaVinci. There were some charming touches to the museum. Sitting next to a WW2 bomber was an old man who had flown one of those for thirty missions over France and Germany when he was eighteen. Alongside some planes were accurate models. One depicted intricately the machine gun wing assembly on a WW2 fighter. Next to the Hercules was a model of it used in the Scorsese film and donated to the museum.

Hughes and the professor

On our way back, we checked out a few wineries, tasted the wines at a couple of them and bought some at one in Dundee. I haven’t been a fan of wine most of my life, having sided with beer whenever presented a choice, but in recent times I have started to experiment. Now, having had some really delicious ones, I’m starting to become a fan to the extent that I know a bit about what I like and what I don’t like. My wine vocabulary remains minimal and will probably stay that way unless my interest in it skyrockets.

Tasting some wine

We drove back to Portland through a different, but similarly scenic route. To top off the lovely Sunday, which was filled with expected and unexpected pleasures, that night we saw Terry Jones’ Erik the Viking. It featured a different kind of flying boat and was quite hilarious.