the plan

The plan, if it can really be called that. When I actually type it out it does sound kinda crazy…
 
  • Ride Uber or Lyft from my house to the Sac Airport.
  • Rent car at the airport and drive 250 miles to Florence Lake.
  • Take ferry and hike (or just hike if ferry is closed due to low water) 11 miles to Muir Trail Ranch.
  • Hand keys to my rental car to two guys (who I still actually haven’t met in person) who will drive it back to Sac Airport.
  • Hike on the John Muir Trail approximately 110 miles from Muir Trail ranch to Whitney Portal.
 
That’s the part I had signed on for, because I thought I had a ride from Whitney Portal back to my house. But that ride seems to not be a possibility anymore. So now in addition to the above I’ll need to:
 
  • Hitchhike or hike 11 miles from Whitney Portal to Lone Pine.
  • Ride the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority bus from Lone Pine to Reno.
  • Take Amtrak or Greyhound bus from Reno to Sacramento.

For some reason it’s the second portion of this that’s giving me second thoughts. That’s crazy huh…

 

one hundred thousand

13 - 1

As I sat at a red light this morning on my way to work, I glanced down at my odometer and saw that it read 99,999. Before the light turned green I quickly pulled my phone out of my pocket to snap a picture. And so during my drive to work my car passed 100k miles.

One hundred thousand miles. Has it been that many already?

I’ve already done a post about how much I love my car, complete with a bunch of gratuitous pictures, so I won’t bore you with another one. So all I have left to say is that I’m thankful for all the fun times that this car has made possible.

Here’s to (hopefully) another hundred thousand miles of adventures and good times.

jury duty

IMG_20130408_124144

The last week and a half has been a bit of a change of pace for me. Instead of spending my weekdays sitting in front of a computer I’ve been spending my weekdays sitting in a courtroom.

IMG_20130410_115715In a lot of Asian cultures the number 8 is a number associated with good luck. In my case it wasn’t all that lucky. I was seated in seat number 8. Towards the end of the first day of jury duty, there’s a peremptory challenge stage, where the lawyers can choose to reject jurors based on their answers to questions that the judge asked earlier. I thought I would be rejected by the defense lawyer, since I had replied earlier that my uncle had owned a liquor store that had been robbed a number of times, and the case was an armed robbery of a liquor store. But nope, I didn’t get rejected. Apparently seats 7 and 9 were the lucky seats, for some reason the jurors in those seats were rejected multiple times.

In truth, I guess I couldn’t really consider it unlucky though. It actually was kind of interesting, and it was kind of nice to have a change of pace from work. I learned a lot about our judicial system and about police investigations. Here’s some random stuff I learned:

  • Our judicial system is slow. The robberies had occurred more than five years ago, and apparently a lot has changed since then. Two of the witnesses who were employees of the liquor stores at the time of the robberies no longer worked at those liquor stores. It seemed they were shaken up enough that they moved out of state. Another main witness, the one who had been shot during one of the robbery attempts, had passed away several years earlier.
  • Racial stereotypes tend to be true. (Well at least for this case.) The defendant in this case was a young African american male. Many of the liquor store owners and employees were Middle Eastern or Indian, several of them actually used a Punjabi translator.
  • Cops really do like doughnuts. According to the police testimony, after they had caught the suspect, all the cops that were involved in the case convened at a doughnut shop. (The jury all laughed when they heard this, me included.)
  • Law enforcement has access to some cool technology. Apparently there’s this thing called an ETS tracker, which can be hidden in a wad of dollar bills. When the tracker is removed from the cash register, it activates a sort of homing signal that the police can use to track a suspect.
  • Video surveillance is pretty low tech, but is still somewhat useful. It’s not at all like you see on t.v. There’s no crazy image enhancement or facial recognition software. That being said, ultimately it was the surveillance footage that led to the conviction. Most of our time in the jury deliberation room was spent watching the surveillance videos over and over to determine that the same suspect committed four different robberies.
  • The law is incredibly vague, to the detriment of jury deliberation. Most of the robberies occurred in Sacramento county and only one happened in Yolo county (in West Sacramento), so at first it didn’t make sense to me that we were hearing this case in Yolo county. I didn’t realize until later that the robbery in Yolo county was more severe because a gun was discharged and the store owner was shot. So the district attorney was seeking more severe charges (she called it an enhancement) for causing “great bodily injury.” The problem for us jurors was that “great bodily injury” is not very well defined. The definition of it that was provided to us was: “a significant or substantial injury, greater than a moderate injury.” Not a very helpful definition. During the robbery the store owner was shot in the arm. From the surveillance footage you can see him clutching his bloody arm. Yet some of the jurors wouldn’t call it “great bodily injury” because it didn’t appear that his life was in danger. So in the end our deliberation ended without being able to deliver a verdict on the “great bodily injury” enhancement.

So anyways, I learned a lot during my week and a half of jury duty. It was actually interesting. And it was nice that there was free coffee, which made it easier to stay awake during all the testimony. And I learned a lot. And I guess what I learned most of all is that jury duty is not all that bad.

a first

There’s a first time for everything.

Today I wrote a poem for the first time ever. In my defense, though, it was to try and win a cool piece of outdoor gear.

It’s a Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus ultralight backpack, worth over $200. It doesn’t look all that cool, but it’s a case of function over form. This backpack has much larger capacity than any of my backpacks, but it’s much lighter at the same time.

So anyways, I figured it’s worth a couple of minutes of my time to write a haiku. The contest required a haiku with the word butterfly or butterflies in it. I learned today that a haiku is a poem with 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the syllables in the second line, and 5 syllables in the third line.

So without further ado, here’s my haiku:

Butterflies fly ’round
As I wait for the sunset
Such wonderful times

You can see my entry, along with all the others here.

dahhh double century

According to my WordPress (the blog platform I use) dashboard, this is my 200th post. It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been that many already. I never really expected this blog to last this long, and I didn’t actually expect anyone would actually read this crappy blog of mine– To be honest, I’m actually surprised how many people actually read this blog on a regular basis, and I still get a kick out of getting random emails or gchats about something I’ve written.

I originally started this blog for myself, so that I could go back and reminisce about the past. That way when I’m an old man (hopefully this blog will still exist) I could look back and think, “Man I used to be a cool guy…” and if I have grandkids I can tell them about the crazy adventures I had when I was younger.

Everyone has bad times and sad times along with the glad times– but I think it’s best when thinking about the past to try and focus on the glad times. So to that end I make a concerted effort to try and write things in a positive light, and tend to not write about downer topics. And for most posts nowadays I try to write a few things that I’m thankful for, which I guess is another concerted effort to try and think about how blessed I am. It’s very easy to forget how blessed we really are, so I like to remind myself of that fact whenever possible.

So anyways, since this is my 200th post, I took some time today to look back and read over some old posts. Here are some of my favorites in no particular order.

  • This isn’t my first blog. I used to have a blog on Xanga. (Xanga used to be cool– everyone in college had one… I don’t think anyone uses it nowadays???) One day I was looking over old Xanga posts and found one I wrote that made me laugh, so I brought it over to this blog. It’s actually kind of more relevant now, since my parents are really getting on my case about getting married…
    http://outdoortravelgeek.com/2010/07/something-old/


  • It’s no secret that I like to bike. A little over a year ago I embarked on my craziest bike adventure so far– I biked the 2011 Seattle to Portland Classic (200 miles), then decided to bike the rest of the 800 miles back home to Davis. Here’s my recollection of the first day of that ride home. It was a crazy introduction to the world of unsupported long distance bike touring.
    http://outdoortravelgeek.com/2011/07/inauspicious-start/


  • When  I was growing up my family used to go on a lot of road trips. I still enjoy them as an adult. When you’re an adult you can do cool things like rent an RV for a road trip… I’ve been on a good number of epic road trips, but this one is still my favorite, not just because it was an in RV.
    http://outdoortravelgeek.com/2010/09/stone-soup/


  • Speaking of road trips, I got to drive across the United States twice with my friend Sam. On our first cross country trip Sam thought it would be cool to do a time lapse video of the journey. So we hooked up a camera between the seats and rigged it to fire off every ten seconds. It wasn’t until a year later that I finally processed the videos and uploaded them to Youtube.
    http://outdoortravelgeek.com/2011/09/cross-country/


  • I try to ride a few century rides per year, and in general I’ll at least write something about them. Honestly though, I think this post about the 2010 Tour of Napa is the only really good writing I’ve done about a century ride.
    http://outdoortravelgeek.com/2010/08/le-tour-de-napa/


  • A few days ago I was in a somewhat heated discussion about community and ministry. It reminded me that I used to be more idealistic about church community, but nowadays I’m kind of a cynical realist. The discussion reminded me about this old post– which despite being a stupidly long semi-rant is one of the most commented posts on here…
    http://outdoortravelgeek.com/2011/12/the-confluence/


  • Sometimes you see something that makes you think. And then you quickly forget. So it’s good to get it down on paper (or in WordPress in this case) so that if you randomly look back on old posts you can remember the lesson you learned. I totally forgot about this post until today– it’s a good reminder of how blessed I am with the job I have…
    http://outdoortravelgeek.com/2010/07/a-genuine-smile/

 

subaru love

The last few months have been quite expensive for me and my Subaru. I’ve had all sorts of different car related expenses– a parking ticket (missed the meter maid by less than a minute), a moving violation (my first in four years), traffic school (what a load of crap), and an expensive repair (somehow my AC compressor blew out during the middle of summer right before a long drive to Yosemite). My car is due for some more major expenses soon, the biggest one that’s on the horizon is its 90,000 mile scheduled maintenance (gosh I can’t believe I’m getting close to 90k already). I began to think that maybe it was time to trade in my car and get something new.

Today I received my second set of Subaru badge of ownership stickers. I actually forgot that I ordered them. I stupidly put my first set on my computer monitor, so a few weeks ago I decided to order a second set for my car.

This new set of stickers reminded me of all the crazy adventures that my car made possible. I looked through some old pictures and found some of them…

Five guys, five backpacks full of winter gear, five sets of snowshoes, and a rifle. Good times.

First open water dives in Monterey.

Lots of good times mountain biking.

And also skiing and snowboarding.

Sometimes it’s just chilling on a beach.

Crossing streams– this first one was kinda scary.

Buried in a foot of snow during a snow camping trip.

Sometimes the car gets filled to the brim for car camping. Five people, a cargo rack, and a trunk full of gear on crazy steep mountain road– no problem for the beastly blue Subaru.

And sometimes it’s just me and the Subaru on a patch of muddy road, a perfect spot to watch the sun go down.

This is beginning to sound like a Subaru commercial, so I guess I’ll finish with an actual Subaru commercial.

Thank you. I love my Subaru.

So uhh, I guess I’ll be keeping it.

home sweet home

In general I try to spend as little money as possible on home furnishings. I tend to spend a good amount of time away from home anyways, and nowadays I don’t entertain much, so I never really cared what my furniture looked like. My house was filled with mostly non matching stuff that I inherited when people left Davis, along with random stuff I either dumpster dived for or found for cheap on Craigslist or at garage sales.

This month I inherited some stuff from Sam and Stanley, who moved out of their apartment in West Davis. Sam finally graduated and moved back to socal, and Stanley ended up moving into a smaller place close to campus that was mostly furnished. The stuff that they gave me was pretty decent, so I decided that I would finally be able to turn my house from the hobo hut that it was into a somewhat presentable bachelor pad.

I inherited a pretty decent couch. I ended up buying some shelves from Ikea to fill out an entire wall of my living room.

It was 109 degrees that day… and it wasn’t that much cooler inside my house since I pretty much never run the air conditioner. I felt like I was assembling my Ikea furniture inside of a sauna.

They also gave me a pretty nice dining table and matching chairs, which hopefully will be put to good use, because I plan to cook and eat more at home…

I came back from the road trip feeling really tubby. I think I gained a good ten or fifteen pounds during the trip. So since coming back I’ve been trying to cook healthier stuff– more whole grains (doesn’t look like it, but that’s brown rice), more veggies (kimchee counts as a veggie right?), and more fish and poultry instead of red meat. At this point I could stand to lose a good thirty or forty pounds– so hopefully eating like this would help.

Since it’s my bachelor pad, I decided to dedicate parts of my house to stuff I enjoy. One wall is for cycling. My goal is to fill out this wall with bike jerseys. Since I decided I’ll only buy jerseys if I’ve done a ride three times, it’s going to take a while… This year I’ll be buying Napa and Davis century jerseys, in addition to the ugly yellow one from the Santa Cruz Strawberry Fields century.

I decided to dedicate another wall to travel and photography. These pictures were in my room, I decided to move them out to the living room. It’s going to take a few more years of traveling and shooting pictures to fill out this wall too…

Putting the pictures up was an excuse to use some of the cool tools that I have…

The laser level came with these cool glasses that shield me from red lasers… Pew Pew– can’t touch this… Haha it was all pointless though, because the batteries were out on my laser level and I was too lazy to go out and buy some. I ended up just using a normal level and a pencil to draw a line on the wall. The old fashioned way of doing things still works pretty well.

I have this big empty space that I don’t know what to do with. Originally I was planning to tear out the carpet in this area and put in laminate flooring. After pricing out the materials (the flooring would’ve cost about $1,500) I decided to save the money for a trip to Europe or Asia instead.

So uhh…. if anyone’s getting rid of some nice chairs and a table, let me know… Or better yet, if you know anyone who’s getting rid of a pool table, let me know…

Things I’m thankful for:

  • Friends who give me their old furniture
  • After looking through the picture on my wall, I realize I’m thankful for all the friends that I’ve traveled with and who’ve gone on all the crazy (and sometimes stupid) adventures with me…

cardiac case closed

Today I met with my doctor to go over the results of all the tests I’ve had over the past few weeks. Basically the conclusion is that everything’s healthy. The chest x-ray, the blood work, and all the cardiac tests show that everything’s normal. That was a huge load off of my chest.

My doctor conference called a cardiologist who basically confirmed what I figured out over the weekend. The faint feeling was caused by the rapid change in blood pressure from stopping a workout too quickly. Hot weather makes me more susceptible to this, because hot weather causes the blood vessels to dilate, causing blood pressure to lower. The solution is basically to warm down slowly, rather than rapidly stopping a tough workout. How I’m supposed to do this while biking on a steep hill– well, I haven’t figured that out yet… I guess what I’ll do is walk around when I get off the bike.

After my doctor’s appointment I went to play golf with my dad. It was kind of a belated Father’s Day celebration since he had to work on Sunday.

I think if I took golf more seriously I’d be okay at it, but half the time I don’t even wear shoes. I just like the feeling of the fairway grass on my feet…

Golf is kind of low on the totem pole for me when it comes to hobbies. If it were up to me, I’d choose biking or hiking over golf, but my dad is a super golf fanatic, so it’s a good way for me to spend time with him.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that I take after my dad a lot. Which is a good thing. My dad is one of the most patient people I know– I mean, he had to put up with two lazy sons his entire adult life. My introverted personality comes from my dad too. Over the years I’ve learned that it’s not a bad thing to be introverted. My dad’s quiet, but he commands respect from a lot of people, and he lets his work speak for him. That’s something I’ve come to respect. I wonder why his work ethic didn’t translate to his two lazy sons…

Things I’m thankful for:

  • Fathers, both earthly and heavenly
  • Clean bill of health

cardiac quandry

Today I had an appointment to get checked out with my doctor. Originally my appointment was scheduled for Monday, but it conflicted with the delivery time for my washing machine. And for some reason the delivery company was unable to reschedule, whereas it’s fairly easy to reschedule a doctor’s appointment with my HMO.

One of the guys that delivered my washer looked a lot like Sammy Sosa. It’s good to know that he found a career after baseball. I bet those steroids come in handy when moving heavy washers and refrigerators.

The new washer is pretty cool, it automatically senses how much clothes are in it, and adjusts the water level accordingly. Very cool. (Raving about a washer… Sigh, I am an old man…)

It turns out that my doctor has been out sick for the entire week. So I saw a different doctor today. Apparently most of her patients are women and children. For reading material I had my choice between InStyle magazine and Clifford’s Family. I chose Clifford. It was a good read, right at my 2nd grade reading level.

When I told the doctor I had fainted after a bike ride, she scheduled me for a whole bunch of tests. First there were the normal blood pressure and stethoscope tests. From there it went to chest x-rays and EKGs. Everything checked out okay, so she scheduled some more tests, which required me to drive out to a larger hospital in Sacramento. She reassured me that I was fine, she just wanted to run some tests just to make sure I was fine. That actually wasn’t all that reassuring.

What was even less reassuring was when I got to the cardiology department in Sacramento, I was the only person in the waiting room who wasn’t a senior citizen. The good thing about that though was there was at least better reading material for me, golf and fishing magazines. (I guess I have old man hobbies…)

They scheduled me for an echocardiogram. While I was undressing I snuck a picture of the machine. Apparently it’s like an ultrasound, except it’s for your heart. The tech had me lay on my left side, so my face was right in front of the monitor. She put some gooey substance on a probe and then stuck it at my chest. Suddenly in front of my face was a picture of my own heart beating in real time.

When I donate blood, I don’t like to look at the bags of blood that they collect. I get this queasy feeling. I even get that feeling when I read Wikipedia articles about health. So the fact that I was looking at my own heart beating in real time was just too much for me. I felt dizzy and had to close my eyes for the rest of the time the tech was probing me. I hope that doesn’t mess up the results of the test. It’s kind of ironic in a way. A test to determine why I fainted almost made me faint…

Then they sent me to another area where they glued and taped a set of EKG probes to my chest. They hooked them up to this thing that was sort of like a pager, except that it had wires connected to my chest, and it measured my heart’s electrical activity. So I guess actually it’s nothing like a pager, except for how it looks. I have to wear this device for an entire 24 hours– I don’t know how I’m supposed to sleep with all these wires coming out of my chest.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my heart. At least that’s what I’m hoping and praying for. I feel fine. I’m glad that they’re running all these tests though, I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry. This whole experience has made me appreciate the health care I receive a lot more. I have a friend who doesn’t have good health insurance. He gets the bare minimum of coverage through Medi-Cal. His experience is completely different. It took him a week to see a doctor in a clinic, and it took him a week to get an X-ray, and then it took another week for a follow up exam with the doctor to interpret the X-ray. I’ve always been able to get an X-ray the same day. When I went in for a knee X-ray last year, my doctor was even able to have it looked at by an orthopedic specialist within the hour.

The differences in our experiences with the healthcare system has made me realized how blessed I am with the coverage I have. The other thing I’ve realized is that I should be more conscious of my health. In general, I don’t think I eat particularly unhealthy, and I think I do get more exercise than the average American, but I realize now that good health is a blessing, and I should do more to maintain it.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • My health plan (seriously I’m blessed to have good health coverage)
  • Good health so far, and this new realization that I should do more to keep it