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…

 

healing progress

It’s been about five weeks now since my crash.

weekone

For the first week after my crash I was in a hard splint that covered my arm all the way to my elbow. The timing of the crash was pretty terrible because I had agreed to be a groomsman for Jason’s wedding, which was the following week. I had a lot of road rash on my face, but by the time of the wedding the scabs had mostly fallen off, and the morning of the wedding I ended up picking off the rest of the scabs. And thankfully my suit (just barely) fit over the splint.

weektwo

The splint came off a few days after the wedding, about ten days after the crash. I was really glad to have it off, because my hand and arm was really itchy. It turns out my hand was itchy partially because the wound in my hand was still oozing. For the next week or so I had to change out the gauze and bandages over my hand daily. At about two and a half weeks after the crash the wound had healed enough for the doctors to take the stitches out of my hand. I wore a bit of gauze for a little while longer until they were confident that the wound was fully closed.

now

Fast forward to today– the wound is fully closed and the fracture in my hand is almost fully healed. I can wiggle my fingers and can touch my thumb to almost all my fingers, where even I week ago I couldn’t even touch my pointer to my thumb. But I can’t yet make a fist or completely straighten out my middle finger independently of my other fingers. Thankfully I haven’t gotten into a fist fight or felt the need to curse someone off this past month, and hopefully I’ll be able to do those things again soon (not that I ever really do those things…)

For the first time since the crash I’m really starting to be able to use my right hand again. I’ve been able to hold a pen and make my signature with my right hand. I’ve been able to hold a fork in my hand, although a bit awkwardly still (and I’m still not able to use chopsticks.) I missed my car dearly, so thankfully there’s enough strength in my hand to hold the stick shift and start driving a manual transmission again. And thankfully for my work I’ve been able to type with both hands again, nearly doubling my productivity.

personal

I’ve been visiting the orthopedic department of the hospital and have been visiting with a physical therapist that specializes in the hand. Seeing x-rays of my hand and seeing the posters on the walls of the orthopedics department showing the complexity of the hand made me realize how amazing our hands are, and amazing our bodies as a whole are. And seeing the daily progress in my healing has made me realize the amazing ability of our body to heal itself.

Seeing all this has made me remember the passage from Psalms about how we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Its something I guess I’ve taken for granted. I mean I’ve always known that our bodies were pretty complex, but seeing my hand go from completely nonfunctional to almost completely functioning again made me really realize how wonderful we are put together, and how wonderful it is that our body is able to put itself back together.

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

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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.

the centurian wedding

I have a lot of respect for wedding photographers. In my opinion, they have one of the toughest jobs in the world of photography. During a wedding there are moments that must be captured, and most are over within the blink of an eye. Wedding photographers have to be vigilant to capture those moments. They have to move quickly to get the shot, but at the same time not interfere with the ceremony. In my opinion wedding photographers are the ninjas of the photography world.

I don’t think I’ll ever be a wedding photographer. Or at least not a paid one. I am not very ninja like in general, so I’d probably be getting in the way. But I have fun playing around with my camera at weddings, and they give me a chance to use lenses that I don’t use very much. But unlike a ninja I don’t move, I just use a long lens to take pot shots from far away.

IMGP2142This weekend I went to Johann and Judy’s wedding. The theme for the wedding centered around trees.

I used my 50-135mm f/2.8 lens for most of the day. I bought it on a roadtrip to Portland last year, but haven’t used it a whole lot since then. The lens is a bit too big and heavy to carry when traveling, but at the same time it’s a bit too short for wildlife photography. So for the kind of photography I do most of the time, it’s not very useful. It’s a great wedding and sports lens, it’s just I don’t really go to a whole lot of weddings or sporting events. So it was nice using it today.

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The lens was long enough to capture the ceremony from my seat which was a good 10 rows back from the stage.

IMGP2101During the cocktail hour I took some shots of the kids playing in the field. It’s crazy how fast kids grow up. Sammy, my friend Chris’s son, seems to grow half a foot every time I see him.

IMGP2312This was taken at ISO 6400 at f/2.8 on the long end of a pretty long zoom in low light. I was actually surprised to get a usable shot. Though there’s a ton of noise in it from the high ISO the picture’s actually somewhat usable. On my old camera this would have been an impossible shot– the ISO didn’t go that high (and even 3200 was pretty ugly), and the camera struggled to focus under low light.

The obvious solution would be to get closer and use a flash– but that would interfere with the wedding photographers. And while I don’t know much about ninjas, I do know that you don’t really wanna mess with them.

IMGP1941My friend who got married is Johann. Johann is a guy that I’ve done century rides with before. A century ride is a hundred mile bicycle ride. What gets you through those rides is camaraderie (it’s always easier to bike with a group of friends) and lots and lots of energy supplements, like gu or shot bloks and electrolyte pills. At the end of a century ride I always feel completely and utterly exhausted and everything below the waist hurts. But at the same time there’s also a feeling of joy and accomplishment that makes it all worthwhile.

The day before his wedding, Johann emailed me. The subject line of his email was, “need some refueling.” He asked me if I could bring some shot bloks and electrolyte pills to keep him energized during the long day ahead. So now, thanks to Johann, I will always equate weddings with century rides, which means utter exhaustion and pain below the waist. But I’m sure there’s that feeling of joy and accomplishment that make it all worthwhile.

high ISO

Around the holidays I bought a Nikon D600, a pretty nice full frame camera. I ended up returning it and buying a Pentax K-5 instead. The Nikon would’ve been too expensive to buy lenses for, and I was more or less happy with the lenses I had on Pentax.

So I’ve been playing around with my K-5 for the past few months, and overall I’ve been very happy with it. The dynamic range is incredible (according to DXOMark it’s pretty much on par with the D600), which really comes in handy for me. The one thing that I gave up when returning the D600 was high ISO performance. Full frame cameras beat crop sensor bodies by a large margin. But is high ISO really that unusable on my camera? Before this weekend I never really put my camera to the test.

This weekend I ended up hiking at Pinnacles National Monument with some friends. During the hike we passed through a cave, which ended up being a really good test of my camera’s high ISO abilities.

IMGP1401My previous camera maxed out at ISO 3200, but I never really used it that high, since everything shot at above 800 had a ton of ugly sensor noise. Here’s one of the first shots I took at ISO 3200, while entering the caves at Pinnacles National Monument. I had my camera set at aperture priority, set at f/4, since I typically stop down a little bit to get my shots sharper. With those settings I could get a shutter speed of 1/8 of a second, which is a bit blurry with my shaky hands, and slow enough that even just hiking slowly causes motion blur.

IMGP1425From there I upped the ISO to 4000 and opened the aperture a bit to f/3.2. We were still sunlit in this area of the cave. From there I could get a shutter speed of 1/20th of a second, fast enough to get rid of the blur from my shaky hands, although you can still see some motion blur on my friends as they hiked through the cave.

IMGP1434There’s still a little bit of sunlight filtering through in this part of the cave. At this point I was up to ISO 5000.

IMGP1450As we traveled deeper into the cave, we entered areas with no sunlight. It was pitch black, and it was impossible to follow the trail without a flashlight. Here I cranked up the ISO to 6400 and opened the aperture on my lens all the way to f/2.8.

The rest of the pictures on these posts are at those settings. I didn’t use a flash on any of these pictures, since I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s vision, so everything was lit with just my flashlight. I’m pretty impressed with the detail that can still be captured under these tough lighting conditions.

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It’s pretty easy to see where the light from the flashlight falls off. Everything outside of the view of the flashlight is dark.

IMGP1452With a few flashlights and headlamps in the room there’s actually enough light bouncing off the rocks to see almost everything.

IMGP1463Dynamic range and ISO are more or less inversely proportional. That is, as you increase the ISO you decrease the effective dynamic range of the camera. So I was actually surprised that this picture actually came out. This is almost a worst case scenario, with the ISO cranked up to ISO 6400 and a bright headlamp shined directly at my lens, I wouldn’t think that the face underneath the headlamp would show up.

Actually, now that I think about it more, I must have been shining a flashlight in that direction, which would’ve reduced the range enough for the camera to capture the detail in the face. Haha, so disregard what I just said.

But still, I’m quite impressed with this camera. Having the ability to shoot at such high ISOs creates the possibility for a ton of shots that I never would’ve been able to get on my old camera. I’m looking forward to a future of pictures in deep caves and underneath dark skies with this camera.

through the arch

One of the cool things about Europe, in my opinion, is the architecture. There’s a lot of really old architecture, and arches are pretty prominent in a lot of that old architecture. So anyways, as sort of a photographic assignment I tried to frame random subjects in arches.

IMGP0852I think arches are cool, and apparently so does this random stranger.

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Some of the pictures kind of turned out crappier than I thought they would, like this one from Vysehrad castle. I thought it would work, with the arch framing the scene, and Prague Castle in the distance framed by the branches in the trees. But it’s not quite as cool as what I had in my mind.

IMGP1062This arch was located at the top of the Prague Astronomic clock. It seems like it was put there on purpose to frame this church.

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I thought this was some sort of archaic toilet. I was wrong. Apparently there used to be a statue here, that’s why there’s an arch and pedestal.

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Through this arch there’s a cafeteria with my name on it.

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The king’s final resting place, underneath an arched ceiling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe gardens at Schonbrunn castle had an arched trellis that looked pretty cool, though I imagine they’d be a lot nicer in the spring when all these plants are in bloom.

IMGP1343Brno had a lot of arches too, though unfortunately there was a lot more graffiti on them.

selected cellphone shots

P1030631Today I received my new phone, a Google Nexus 4. I ordered it in November and it finally arrived today, 5-6 weeks later, just as promised. My first impressions of it are that it’s a really nice phone, but I am a bit worried about the durability of the device. I shattered the glass on my previous phone, which was supposedly a ‘rugged’ phone, waterproof and supposedly drop proof, since the front screen was covered in Gorilla Glass. This new phone is covered with glass on both the front and the back, plus it’s huge, so I’m worried that it will shatter pretty easily. But hey this is Gorilla Glass 2, it’s new and improved, right?

Maybe. But I’m not going to risk it. I’m going to try to keep it out of harms way. Because my previous phone was supposedly pretty durable, I had no problems taking it with me everywhere, even snapping pictures in the middle of bike rides with it. But this new phone will be sitting safely in my car on any bike rides, skip trips, or backpacking trips (places where I’ve destroyed previous phones), and I’ll bring my truly rugged Stylus Tough camera instead.

So anyways, since my venerable old Motorola Defy is being retired, I copied over all the pictures from it onto my computer for safe keeping. I took a surprisingly decent amount of pictures with it, over 1600, which amounts to about 100 per month. So for this week’s 7shots I looked through those pictures and found some of my favorites. It’s actually quite fitting for an end of the year post, since it remind me of some of the random events of the last year and half.

IMG_20110923_203942As expected, there were a ton of food shots. This steak was quite the experience. It was a huge 3 pound rib eye, and it comes on this huge platter, which is wheeled in on this specially made cart and carved with a huge butchering knife by the waiter. It was quite tasty too, still by far the best steak I’ve ever had.

IMG_20111008_204153Another crazy food experience. The Pho King challenge at Hoa Viet.

IMG_20120713_140413My first experience with foie gras, from a gourmet food cart in Portland.

2011-09-03_11-53-48_381There were some travel photos too, although most of the time I bring my SLR when traveling. This was from the Reno Rib Cookoff. I think I look pretty decent in a cowboy hat. Maybe I should buy a cowboy hat, move to Portland, and open a cowboy Korean barbecue food cart…

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A lot of pictures from the camera were from various biking adventures. This one was kind of an interesting adventure.

IMG_20120430_110745The Motorola Defy was supposedly waterproof, so I’d sometimes take pictures when rafting or biking through creeks.

IMG_20120407_103608I used it to take pictures of my biking wounds too. There were way too many pictures of wounds, I’m not too sure what to make of that fact… I guess it means I’m a pretty crappy biker…

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/