July 31, 2006

Cash Cab

I stumbled upon a Discovery Channel podcast for the show Cash Cab over the weekend and I have to say that it is a pretty entertaining show. The premise of the game show is that people hail a cab in NYC and while the cab driver is driving them to their destination he asks them questions. As the questions get harder the right answers are worth more and more money. If the contestant answers three questions incorrectly they get thrown out of the cab wherever they are. As I listened along I blurted out answers and cursed if I was wrong. I recommend listening to it at work and doing the same.

Posted by troutm8 at 09:17 PM | Comments (99)

July 30, 2006

The Day That Went To The Dogs

On Saturday Timber and I took Wookie to the Niles Dog Show where we met up with some of Timber's coworkers. We got there a little late and missed the dog costume contest. But we did see some of the other contests and Wookie had fun. We got to take him through the agility course, and after the dog show we took him to the Drigon Dog Park in Union City. That dog park has to be nicest dog park I've ever been to. If you find it on Google Earth you'll see it is in the shape of a giant bone as you look down on it from the sky. Wookie got to play in the agility part of the dog park and had fun running around.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:53 PM | Comments (51)

July 25, 2006

Crazy Ass People

I met up with Devin for a beer last night at the Mission Ale Hose (Note: They no longer have Alaskan Amber on tap, grrr...) and couldn't help but notice the crazy ass people in downtown San Jose (within throwing distance of city hall). While we were in the bar an older gentlement butted in and started talking nonsense for the most part. At some point the music came on so I could only hear snippets about what he was saying. At some point I realized that he was starting to say some racist stuff (why? I have no idea) and conveniently it was time for me to go. Once we were outside the bar we talked for a few more minutes. In that time a woman, who seemed fairly crazy, came up asking for change. I gave her a dollar and sent her on her way. About five minutes later we were still talking when she came back topless asking for money. This time she asked Devin, and she wasn't polite like before. Before she said to me "Pardon me sir, do you have any spare change that I can have?", this time she said "Give me some money.". Of course we were both in shock, as were the people walking along the sidewalk. Devin told her that I had given her money 5 minutes ago, to which she responded "No he didn't.". At that point I responded and said that I had given her a dollar 5 minutes ago. Then she lowered her head and walked away. At that point we decided it was time to leave.

Posted by troutm8 at 08:56 PM | Comments (45)

King of Settlers of Catan

On Sunday Timber, Jan, and I played Settlers of Catan at our place. It is a fun game and I highly recommend it. I think Jan was being nice to us and let me win, but I'll take it. :-) He doesn't have to be nice next time.

Posted by troutm8 at 07:14 PM | Comments (81)

ASR T-Shirt Contest

We had a t-shirt idea contest at ASR (Almaden Services Research) this past week, and the submissions were due today. My two ideas are included as images in this post. They probably won't win but it was fun making them. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 05:34 PM | Comments (70)

Fried Egg Experiment

It was pretty hot yesterday when I went home to walk Wookie so I decided to do a fried egg experiment. It was about 96 degrees F outside when I put a frying pan with an egg on it out on the patio. When I checked on it 6 hours later the egg wasn't fried, but pretty dried out.

Posted by troutm8 at 08:24 AM | Comments (77)

July 24, 2006

Fort Funston Photos Posted

I've uploaded the Fort Funston photos here. Cheers!

Posted by troutm8 at 03:22 PM | Comments (69)

July 23, 2006

Fort Funston

On Saturday we decided to do a photography trip to Fort Funston (#50 in our book City Walks: San Francisco: 50 Adventures on Foot) in San Francisco. The heat wave has continued, and while it was 100 degrees F in San Jose it was 80 degrees F at Fort Funston. The cool thing about Fort Funston is that people take their dogs there and let them run buck wild on the beach. While Wookie was a little nervous around the ocean and around some objects on the beach he generally had a good time and played with the other dogs. We did end up taking lots of photos (which I'll post later this week). After the sun went down we ate at Tower Burger (pretty good food) and had gelato at Tango Gelato (Timber swears by it now).

Posted by troutm8 at 11:38 PM | Comments (118)

July 21, 2006

Zidane Headbutt

As seen in the Stadium:
As seen by the French:
As seen by the Italians:
As seen by the Americans:
As reported by the Press:

Posted by troutm8 at 10:24 AM | Comments (79)

July 20, 2006

The Unthinkable

Well the unthinkable happened earlier this week. That's right, Timber got tired of not having her own camera so she went out and got a black Canon Rebel XT (body only). That didn't exactly fit in with my overall family photo strategy (one SLR, one point and shoot, one video camera, all using the same batteries and memory). But that's OK. The good news is that her SLR can use the same lenses and memory as mine. But now we need to get a bag for photography trips which will need to be able to carry our stuff (2 SLRs, 3 lenses, 2 tripods, memory cards, camera and lens cleaning stuff, iPod with media reader, etc...). We may actually do a photography trip this weekend since it seems like we'll be staying in town.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:29 PM | Comments (62)

Forrest In Indonesia

Forrest is going to Indonesia soon for his structural engineering project with the Build Change NGO. You can check here for updates. I also highly recommend donating money (even small donations help) to his effort since he is taking unpaid time from work and doing this out of his own pocket.

Posted by troutm8 at 03:08 PM | Comments (92)

Happy Birthday Rong!

Yesterday was Rong's birthday, so we went to Sino @ Santana Row for dinner. Sino is supposed to be upscale dim sum and chinese cuisine. The ambiance was nice, but the food was only average. For the dim sum they didn't even have 鳳爪 (chicken feet)! All in all I probably wouldn't go there again. After dinner we went back to J&R's house and had some cake that Jenny picked up at Flour Flour. It was delicious.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:32 PM | Comments (67)

July 19, 2006

Escape The Heat

It has been pretty warm here lately, and yesterday Timber had the crazy idea to escape the heat by heading over to Santa Cruz. I'm always down for crazy ideas so we grabbed Wookie and headed over there. We wanted to watch the sunset from one of the beaches but traffic conspired against us, and we got into SC just as the sun was going down. But it was significantly cooler, so that mission was accomplished. We headed down to and parked on the Wharf and found a bite to eat at Stagnaro Brothers. Our meal consisted of calamari, a small bowl of clam chowder, lobster linguini, and a Stagnaro Bros. Pale Ale (prett good). After dinner we walked Wookie around the pier and then the fog came in. The fog was so thick that we couldn't see the boardwalk from the pier but we could hear the screams of the kids on the roller coasters. On our way out of town we stopped off at Marianne's for some ice cream. It was good and you should check them out if you go to Santa Cruz. And as it turns out Santa Cruz is only 32 miles away from our house. That's closer than San Francisco.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:21 PM | Comments (72)

July 18, 2006

Photo Resources

I came across a few photo resources not too long ago and had been meaning to document them. Here they are:
Outdoor Photography -> A magazine (with a pretty decent site) focusing on outdoor photography. I'll probably go to a seminar they are doing in Portland later this year.
How To Cut A Mat -> If you're like me and you have access to a high quality photo printer via a friend but don't have any friends that have mat making skills I highly recommend this tutorial. If you can get the frames you like when they are on sale, can cut your own mat, and print out images on demand you'll be set. If you don't have the mat and frame skills you can easily spend hundreds of dollars (as I did with a Golden Gate Bridge Panorama) getting your work custom framed at Michael's or Aaron Brothers.
Documounts -> From the last posting you may have asked "Where do I get the matting materials?". Documounts is the answer.

Posted by troutm8 at 07:23 PM | Comments (78)

July 17, 2006

10 Ways to Motivate Geeks

Here is an interesting article on 10 ways to motivate geeks. I have to say that for point #6. The free T-shirts are cool, but the shirts have to be decent. I've gotten some of the most god-awful shirts in the past that I couldn't even wear out in public. In those cases I've saved them as pajama shirts and tried my hardest not to be recognized with a free t-shirt.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:50 AM | Comments (82)

July 16, 2006

Photography Weekend

We didn't take any photos this weekend, but we did do a little bit of research. We checked out the Canon EF 17 - 40 mm f/4L USM lens and some camera bags at San Jose Camera. It was a very nice lens and it gets pretty good ratings. Maybe we'll get it someday. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 10:49 PM | Comments (91)

iPod Media Reader

Thanks Scott for the Belkin Media Reader for iPod. I tried it out last weekend when we went to the Eastern Sierras. In case you didn't click on the link for it, it is a handy little device that allows you to take your digital photos that are on your media and move them straight onto a 3rd Generation iPod. It supports Compact Flash (types I and II), SD, Memory Stick, and MMC. I tested it by transfering about 1 Gb worth of photos from the Gem Lakes hike over to my 20 Gb 3rd Generation iPod. It worked, but it took roughly 40 minutes to do the transfer. So the moral of the story here is that you'd better have a fully charged iPod and new batteries in the Media Reader. But it works and it is easier to save your photos this method than bringing a laptop with you into the backcountry. Now does anyone have a sat phone they don't need anymore?

Posted by troutm8 at 10:26 PM | Comments (76)

July 12, 2006

My Places

I you are interested in checking out some of my places click on the icon. I'll update the file every month or so, so feel free to grab it from the side of the blog anytime.

My Google Earth Places

Posted by troutm8 at 08:28 PM | Comments (20)

Photos Posted

I've finally posted the photos from this past weekend's trip, although I do need to clean up and refine them. One thing I really like about Smugmug is the ability to give your photos location information and see them on Google Maps. Check it out.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:34 PM | Comments (59)

July 10, 2006

Half Dome Lunch Stop

We stopped for lunch in Yostemite while driving home on Sunday, but we didn't stop at half dome. We stopped at Olmstead Point to get a view of Half Dome. This photo was taken with the 70 - 200 mm lens.

Posted by troutm8 at 05:09 PM | Comments (88)

Saddlebag Lake

On our way back home on Sunday we stopped off at Schat's Bakery in Mammoth Lakes for some goodies, then we hit Convict Lake for a little fishing (no luck), hit the Hot Creek Hatchery (where Wookie discovered a love for cows), and then started to head home. Near the eastern edge of Yosemite NP we took the turn off toward Saddlebag Lake. We had read that it was just as nice as anything within Yosemite, but it didn't have the restrictions (no dogs) for the hikes that Yosemite has. It was a bumpy dirt road to get out there, but Saddlebag Lake itself and the surrounding area are quite beautiful. There was still plenty of snow there and we decided not to hike due to time constraints, but I am definitely going to head back for a backpacking trip of day hike sometime.

Posted by troutm8 at 04:58 PM | Comments (76)

Fishing Cut Short

After our Lake Mary Peddleboat expedition (Saturday) we decided to do some fishing. We fished for roughly 20 minutes when we realized that the dark clouds on the horizon mean rain, and they were in the direction of our camp. We high tailed it back to our camp to find a thunderstorm walloping our area. Luckily most of our stuff wasn't too wet, so we gathered everything together and covered it with a tarp. But it killed our dinner plans. So for dinner we headed back to Mammoth Lakes to have dinner at Roberto's Cafe. It is a pretty decent Mexican Food place near the Von's. We split a carnitas burrito which was pretty good.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:41 PM | Comments (88)

Lake Mary Peddleboating

After we finished our hike we headed to the marina at Mary Lake. Once we got there we decided to rent a peddleboat for an hour ($19) and check out the lake. Wookie seemed to handle the whole thing pretty well and we got a little more exercise while checking out this beautiful lake.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:28 PM | Comments (189)

Crystal Lake

After we decided where we were going to hike we headed for Mammoth Lakes to do a hike to Crystal Lake. Crystal Lake is a high alpine lake above Mary Lake and George Lake. The trailhead is at George Lake and the trail is 4 miles round trip and it goes into the Ansel Adams Wilderness. It was a pleasant hike until we lost the trail due to the large amount of snow. Armed with a topo map and a rough idea on where we needed to go we kept on track. Wookie was going crazy playing in the snow and running further ahead than he did the day before. He kept coming back however and running loops around us which easily added a mile to his hike. Once we found the lake we took a break to admire the scenery and have a snack. On our way back down Wookie jumped in the lake and then took off running in circles at full speed. I think he really enjoyed the hike.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:13 PM | Comments (104)

More McGee Creek Fishing

The next morning (Saturday) we had not decided where we wanted to hike yet, so while Timber was reading through our book I decided to try my luck at the creek. Sure enough, with a little persistence and pin point accuracy I was able to catch two rainbows. One (in this picture) was about 13 inches while the other was closer to 11 or 12.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:41 PM | Comments (180)

McGee Creek Fishing

Our camp site was right next to McGee Creek, and we were excited to get to fish there again. But after we set up our camp and checked it out we realized that the fishing would not be so good. Due to the higher than usual amount of snow in the sierras this year all the creeks on the east side were running higher than normal. Our beloved McGee Creek was not spared from this unfortunate fate. It looked like class IV rapids for most of the stretch that we looked at. But after our Gem Lakes hike we didn't feel like driving to Convict or Crowly lakes to do our fishing, so we braved McGee Creek, rapids and all. And the fishing was just as bad as we expected. But at the end Timber broke the stalemate with a 15 inch rainbow trout. We were using powerbait on size 8 hooks with weights about 12 inches up from the hook. As a fly fisherman I'm not too proud about using this method, but it was the only way to get to the fish since the water was high and running fast.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:35 PM | Comments (75)

Wookie Gone Wild

As I was saying in my previous post Wookie really enjoyed going on the hike and being off his leash. He especially enjoyed getting back into the snow. He would run full speed through the snow and then slide. He would also eat snow and bound between snow and rock in a parade of agility. What a silly dog.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:14 AM | Comments (189)

July 09, 2006

Gem Lakes

On Friday Timber, Wookie, and I did a 7 mile round trip hike to Gem Lakes. We left out of the Rock Creek trailhead just upstream from Rock Lake (exit Tom's Place on highway 395 just south of Mammoth Lakes). Over the 3.5 miles to the final lake we only had to battle through 700 feet of elevation gain, and the trailhead was at just a bit over 10k feet. The scenery all along the hike was fantastic. We passed several turquoise blue lakes and had to hike through snow just before getting to our final destination. We saw a few marmots along the trail and Wookie had a blast. He was off his leash most of the time and he would bound ahead of us sniffing and looking around and then bolt down the trail back to where we were to make sure that we were keeping up. At one point he jumped 8 to 10 feet across a stream. He truly is an agile dog and I can see how his breed is at home in Tibet. He especially enjoyed bounding through the snow. He would run in circles at full speed in the snow and then run back at us. Overall this was an excellent hike and I would highly recommend it. I would caution that this can be a pretty popular hike on the weekends, so if you can do it on a weekday you will have this area more to yourself.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:26 PM | Comments (88)

Eastern Sierras Bound

Timber, Wookie, and I took Thursday and Friday off to head over to the Eastern Sierras for some fishing and hiking. We left town on Thursday around noon and stopped a few times along the way, but our travel time was 5 hours and 45 minutes. That's not too bad overall. This photo was taken under a nearly full moon near our camp site at McGee Creek. It cost $19 a night plus tax, which isn't that bad for a nice camp site next to a creek full of rainbow trout and nice shower facilities.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:12 PM | Comments (74)

July 05, 2006

Oscar the Sea Otter

Timber found Oscar the Sea Otter while we were on the Pier in Monterey. I call him Oscar because he kind of reminds me of Oscar the Grouch. Timber found him just as we were finishing up a quick photo trip to the pier. When I saw him swimming right under her on the pier and that she was leaned over taking photos of him I was amazed. I was amazed because it is very rare that you have such a great scenario for taking photos of a wild sea otter in their environment. She was about 20 feet or so right above him, and he kept diving down to get more clams that were stuck on the pier and then would come back to the surface to crack them open and eat them right below us. I've only been closer to a wild sea otter one other time, and that was while sea kayaking around Hive Island in Ressurection Bay (near Seward, Alaska) and there is no way I could have taken decent photos of the otter then because the kayak was moving around in the swells. Not only did she have the perfect vantage point but she also had our Canon 20D with a 70 - 200 mm lens on it so she could zoom in as much as she wanted on Oscar. She spent some time taking shots of him before deciding to call it a day. But I think the photos she took were amazing. You can check them out yourself here.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:01 AM | Comments (82)

July 04, 2006

Kind of a Day Hike

Yesterday we did kind of a day hike. We started out by leaving San Jose at an early hour and then making it to Greenfield, CA. Once we got there Timber saw some model homes that she wanted to check out, and I agreed to take the detour. They were pretty expensive for it being Greenfield and we didn't like any of the models. I think the only way we are going to find a house that we like will be to design it ourselves and have it built. But back to the main story. We took a small road out of Greenfield and later turned onto an even smaller road. By the time we got to the Pine Ridge Trailhead we were on single lane dirt road. Fortunately this is the kind of stuff I got my truck for. So we parked, got everything ready, got Wookie ready, and then headed out onto the trail. It was to be 6 miles to Pine Valley and 6 miles back with a small side trip to Pine Falls. But then Wookie happened. He started out well. We got away from the trailhead a little bit and then let him off his leash. He was energetic but he stayed within sight and didn't cause any problems. But as the hike wore on he would periodically stop and pant and lay down in the shade. When he did this we would get out his water bowl and give him water, then give him time to recover and then start hiking again. He kept doing this over and over again, so once we got to about a mile out from the trailhead I decided that it would be better and safer for Wookie if we turned around and headed back. I didn't want him to overheat. So we did that, and he stopped a few times on the way back. Once we got back to the truck I put him in the back and then we drove about 1/4 mile to China Camp where we gave him water and changed our clothes in the shade. I also brought a cooler full of ice and gave him plenty of ice. I think he liked that. Since our hike was over much earlier than expected we decided to get back on one of the more main side streets and head for Carmel Valley. Once we got there we decided to keep going toward Monterey, and once we got there we decided we would go to the beach at Pacific Grove and have our lunch there. After we ate the sandwiches that we had originally brought for the day hike we got out the camera with the hand canon on it and decided to make this a photography trip. Timber took the vast majority of the photos. We started out by taking shots of sea gulls and harbor seals with a few people mixed in. Then we went over to the Fisherman's Wharf and hit the jackpot. While we were taking photos from the pier a sea otter popped up right under us and started snacking on mollusks. We were essentially hovering 20 - 30 feet over this sea otter with a professional 70 - 200 mm lens. Timber took all the shots of it and when I checked them out later I was in awe. I'll make my next blog post about that. After that excitement we motored home and called it a day.

Posted by troutm8 at 08:10 PM | Comments (77)

July 02, 2006

Slept In

We were going to make the Pine Valley Loop a backpacking trip and start it today, but we woke up too late (too much partying on Saturday night) and decided to skip the backpacking trip and make it into a daytrip instead. So today we had breakfast with Timber's parents and then did a long drive that included motoring through the Santa Cruz Mountains, getting some really good strawberries in San Gregorio, and having dinner in Half Moon Bay.

Posted by troutm8 at 09:45 PM | Comments (90)

4th Of July Plans

Our plan for the rest of the weekend is to do a day hike with Wookie in Ventana Wilderness tomorrow. The hike is called the Pine Valley Loop. It will be roughly 12 miles and should take most of the day.

Posted by troutm8 at 09:19 PM | Comments (76)

July 01, 2006

100k Miles!

I hit 100,000 miles on my truck yesterday! Woohoo! It's a Ford, so hopefully you'll understand me being so happy that it has lasted this long. :-) I've had it for nearly 7 years now (I got it in August 99' with 11k miles on it). It has served me well thus far, and hopefully it will last another 20k miles before the transmission falls off.

Posted by troutm8 at 03:00 PM | Comments (59)

Milton Moment

I had a Milton moment on Wednesday. Timber wanted Round Table Pizza for dinner, so I called up the local Round Table Pizza joint to put in an order for takeout and that's when all the fun began.
Call #1
Employee: Round Table Pizza will you please hold?
Me: Sure
(I get put on hold for 10 minutes before I hang up)
Call #2
Employee: Round Table Pizza will you please hold?
Me: OK
(I get put on hold for 5 minutes before I hang up)
Call #3
Employee: Round Table Pizza will you please hold?
Me: No
Employee: Please? (and then puts me on hold)
(I hang up right after I'm put on hold)
Call #4
Employee: Round Table Pizza will you please hold?
Me: I have a quick question for you, are you guys really busy or something?
Employee: Yes
Me: I just want to put in a really simple order for pickup, can you help me out?
Employee: Sure, I can do that right now.
Me: OK, I'd like a medium peperoni pizza and I'll come pick it up.
Employee: It will be ready in 15 - 20 minutes.

So I then go over to the pizza joint to pick up my pizza, all the while hoping that they don't spit on it, and I find them to not be busy at all. When I came in and gave them my name the employee knew that I was the one that called four times. He proactively said that they had been really busy, and he said it in an apologetic way. I said ok, and waited for my pizza to finish up. Luckily I saw it come out of the oven, get cut, and go into the box, so they did not spit on it (at least after it was cooked). For the 5 to 10 minutes I was there the phone didn't ring at all and no one came up to put in any new orders. My best guess is that the employee (who didn't seem to be that sharp) put people on hold and then couldn't figure out how to take them off. At any rate it goes to illustrate that good help is hard to find.

Posted by troutm8 at 02:49 PM | Comments (188)