March 31, 2008

MacBook Air

Over the weekend I got a chance to go into an Apple Retail Store and check out the Macbook Air for the first time. Overall it was pretty much what I expected. The screen size was the same as my MacBook and it was really thin. It wasn't quite as thin as I was expecting, but I think I was expecting 10 mm thin or something. :-) I could see getting a Macbook Air when it is time replace my Macbook because it is a great size for traveling. Overall I think it is a little bit overpriced, but not too bad.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:34 PM

March 27, 2008

24 Hours @ SVL

Over the weekend I did a little photography experiment. I set my camera up in my office to have it take a picture of the courtyard (the view from my office) at work over a 24 hour period. It took a picture every 30 minutes over that 24 hour period to get a total of 48 shots. Here is a link to the results. Jan suggested that I create a movie out of the shots, so I'll try to do that over the weekend and post it next week. But if you want to get a decent slide show out of these shots right now, I suggest clicking on the Slideshow button at the top right of the screen once you get onto the photos page and then set the slideshow speed to fast. Enjoy!

Posted by troutm8 at 01:41 PM

March 25, 2008

Amost Time For The Playoff Beard

The sharks have 7 games left in the regular season. That means it is almost time for me to grow my playoff beard. Woohoo! The Sharks are currently leading the Pacific Division and have 99 points. I've looked at their closest competition (Ducks & Stars) and have calculated that they need to get 105 points to win the division outright, which means they need 6 points. So here are the various scenarios that could get them there:
1. 3 wins @ 2 pts each = 6 pts.
2. 2 wins + 2 ties (1 pt each) = 6 pts.
3. 1 win + 4 ties = 6 pts.
If they win the Pacific Division they will probably the #2 seed in the west (after Detriot). It is a far cry from their 107 pts last year getting them the #5 seed.

Posted by troutm8 at 03:16 PM

March 24, 2008

83 Cent Backpacking Plates

On Saturday I donated blood, researched a potential business idea, and picked up some 83 cent backpacking plates from REI. The plates, which regularly sell for $6 are made by Flatworld Orikaso. They are flat pieces of plastic which are about 1 mm think, which have creases which allow you to fold them up into a plate. Other products made by the same company include mugs and bowls. The obvious advantages for backpackers is that they are easy to pack and really light. I was amazed to see the $6 plates put on sale for $0.83, which is roughly 86 % off. I guess they are not big sellers at full price. At any rate I picked a few up for camping/backpacking. Also, you won't see them advertised on the REI website, so if you want to get some you can go into the Saratoga REI store before the end of this month and find them in the camping mugs/bowls/plates section.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:41 PM

March 19, 2008

Yosemite Snowshoeing Expanded

View Larger Map
OK, here is the long promised extended coverage blog posting of the Yosemite snowshoeing. First, here are the photos from the trip. Now the trip can be broken into parts:

The Trip to Yosemite
On our way to Yosemite we stopped at Chukchansi Gold for the awesome $10 lunch buffet. They have just about everything from traditional American comfort food (fried chicken, mashed potatoes, etc...) to mongolian bbq to Mexican to Italian and Chinese. We tried not to eat too much. :-) Overall I would say that it is still one of the best buffets for the money anywhere.

First Wintertime Trip Inside Yosemite
This was my first time wintertime trip inside Yosemite. We came in via the southern entrance (highway 41), and right after the gate we saw that the road to Mariposa Grove was closed and had snow on it. There were people snowshoeing to the grove. As we got deeper into the park it was easy to tell which hillsides were facing north for the ones that were facing south because the south facing slopes had very little or no snow while the north facing slopes had lots of snow. Once we got to the Wawona hotel we checked to see if we could check in, but our room wasn't ready yet, so we departed for Badger Pass.

Badger Pass
Badger Pass is located along the Glacier Point road, and it is coincidentally closing for the season at the end of this month, so hurry if you want to get there before they close. There was a ton of snow at Badger Pass. We checked out the lodge and the slopes and also talked to a guy at the cross country ski rental center to find out what routes he recommended. He recommended the Dewey Point trail because in his words, it is the quintisential Yosemite snowshoe hike. The lodge itself was a little old and cramped, but it had the same feel that some of the smaller Tahoe resorts still have, and I used to get the small resort vibe when I went to NorthStar, but that is no longer the case.

Swinging Bridge
On our way back to the hotel from Badger Pass, we stopped at the swinging bridge which spans the Merced River close to the Wawona Hotel. After parking it was a short walk to get to the bridge, and it is very short in length, maybe 20 feet or so. It also had tons of reinforcement and cabling to keep it from collapsing. Personally I didn't find it all that interesting, but Timber wanted to check it out, so I humored her. :-)

The Wawona Hotel
Before booking our stay at the Wawona Hotel I read lots of reviews about it. They ranged in criticism from it being a marvelous old time hotel to it being a decrepid, dissapointing place to stay. Most of the negative comments ranged around the fact that some of the rooms had shared bathrooms and that it was old (no central heating, television, phones, etc...). My experience was a very good one. First, the staff were very friendly and knowledgable. They also had a good sense of humor. I had some difficulties booking our stay via, and I was a little worried that our reservation would not show up in the system, but sure enough it was there. We got a room with a private bathroom, and when we got our keys and went to put our stuff in the room I found it to be very comfortable. The bed was large and comfortable, there is a good sized closet, there was a chair next to the bed, and the bathroom had everything that we needed. And just outside our room, on the patio, we had two chairs and a table in case we want to sit outside and read. It was too cold for that, but it was a nice touch and would really come in handy in the summer. We ate two meals in the hotel dining room, dinner and breakfast. The dinner was reasonably priced (for Yosemite) and had pretty good quality. I would eat dinner there agin. Breakfast was included in the room fee, and it was better than I expected. It included eggs benedict, scrambled eggs, waffles, hash browns, sausage, corned beef & hash, bagels, muffins, yogurt, granola, orange juice, coffee, etc... Overall I would say that the Wawona Hotel exceeded my expectations and I would definitely stay there again and recommend it.

Dewey Point Snowshoe Hike
The Dewey Point snowshoe hike was 7 miles round trip. The conditions were clear skies and hard packed snow, and the trail was well marked. We brought a map with us just in case. Along the way we had to do quite a bit of uphill and downhill hiking, so it definitely didn't go as quickly as we expected. There were also lots of other people on the trail, so you won't have to worry about getting lost. I even gave directions to a couple of guys that were trying to find their way to Dewey Point. Once we made it to Dewey Point we stayed there for literally 5 minutes to take some photos and look around because it was very windy and cold there. After we retreated back to the forest for a quick lunch we were back on the trail heading back toward Badger Pass. Along the trail we saw several people that had taken off their skis and snowshoes and elected to simply hike in their ski boots or hiking boots. They seemed to go much faster than the rest of us. And a dirty little secret of snowshoeing that not many people will tell you is that even if you have really comfortable boots, the walking action in snowshoes will cause your heels to continually rub which could eventually cause blisters. My heels and Timber's heels were developing blisters, and we eventually got the point were we decided to take off our snowshoes and hike the rest of the way back. So the last mile to mile and a half was hiking on hard packed snow. It was much faster and much more comfortable. Snowshoes are extremely valuable in powder, but they are a slow way to get around in hard packed snow. Eventually we made it back to where I parked at Badger Pass, and were on our way back home. I would definitely recommend Dewey Point in the winter. The view of El Capitan, Half Dome, the valley, and the rest of the mountains is just simply amazing. I think the next time we go back to Badger Pass we'll try a different trail and I will teach Timber both styles of cross country skiiing (classic and skating) so we can cover larger distances in a shorter amount of time.

Posted by troutm8 at 04:02 PM

March 17, 2008

Yosemite Snowshoeing Weekend

Over the weekend Timber and I went to Yosemite to do some snowshoeing. We made it back in one piece, and I'll post more about it and post some photos and maybe even a map later this week.

Posted by troutm8 at 08:38 AM

March 14, 2008


Last week, before we left town to go to Tahoe for a snowboarding weekend we went to watch a private showing of Cirque du Soleil Kooza. Apple rented out the showing and Timber got two tickets, so of course she brought me with her. :-) One cool thing about going to an all Apple showing was that everyone was very nice and cordial, it was kind of like going to a Sharks hockey game. Overall the show was better than I thought it would be. It was entertaining and the acrobatics were very well done. I wonder what their health insurance costs are? At any rate, if you get a chance to check it out for free I highly recommend it. :-) After the showing we got out of town and headed for the slopes.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:03 PM

Tahoe Snowboarding

Last weekend we rented a cabin and did some snowboarding in north Lake Tahoe. Our cabin was located about a 5 minute drive from Squaw Valley. We drove up really early on Thursday night and got situated. Then on Friday we went snowboarding at NorthStar with Jackie & Rocky. On Friday night the rest of the gang showed up and we cooked dinner. On Saturday we went to Squaw Valley and Timber and I spent most of the day teaching Elijah how to snowboard. On Saturday night we cooked a huge dinner and played a marathon game of Risk. On Sunday we got out of the cabin and all went home. Overall it was a fun weekend with the gang. There is still a lot of snow in Tahoe but it definitely fits into the spring conditions category. Oh, and I posted the photos here.

Posted by troutm8 at 09:47 PM

March 11, 2008

Upgrade To Vista?

Thanks to Jake for these links (link1 & link2). If you are thinking about upgrading to Microsoft Windows Vista you might want to read these articles first. Apparently, MSFT is being sued for misleading customers and generally putting out crap. Even their high level executives were having lots of problems after upgrading. Hopefully things are better for their customers now that there are more drivers and the service pack was released, but it makes me glad I switched to a Mac. Leopard isn't perfect, but I've had very few problems with it.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:39 PM

March 03, 2008

Is Hillary Done?

I sure hope so. If she loses both Ohio and Texas tomorrow then her political career will probably go no further. That would be like watching the 18-0 New England Patriots lose in the Super Bowl. In other words, it will be totally awesome. So let's wait and see...

Posted by troutm8 at 11:00 PM

March 02, 2008

Mission Peak

On Saturday Devin organized a hike to the top of Mission Peak. Overall the hike took about 3.5 hours with a 30 minute break at the top. It was roughly 6 miles round trip with a pretty sizable elevation gain. Overall it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, but I can see how it would be a good training hike for backpacking trips. If you live in the bay area and you haven't done Mission Peak yet, I recommend you do it before the summer comes.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:33 PM