Tahoe Skiing

Here’s a handful of pictures and a video montage from a couple of Tahoe ski trips in March with Darlene and the Outdoor Adventure Club.  Unfortunately, I didn’t catch everyone on camera on these trips.  One weekend was with Greg and Erin but we never caught up with Bruce and Jane on the slopes and the other was with Stéphane, Evan, Richard and Jennifer but you can’t tell that from the photos.  We also met up with Resi and Troy (and baby Aiden!) one day and foolishly I didn’t get a single shot of Aiden ripping up the slopes!  At least I did get a shot of our massive Carcassonne game where we played with four of the major expansions at once.

Click on through for the gallery and video:

  

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Ski Utah!

Here are my pictures and video from another great skiing (and gaming) week in Utah with Jon, Jim, Stan, Lewis, Bill, Brin, Rick and Darlene:

  

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Another Bobcat in the Yard

I should know better than to just walk by Pan when he’s staring out the window.  The second time I walked by I stopped to look and… oh, hey!  There’s another bobcat – and it’s in the front yard this time!  Or maybe it’s the same one I keep seeing in the open space behind my house.  Anyway, by the time I ran upstairs to get the camera, he was following the driveway out of the front yard, but not before stopping to mark his territory.  It was dusk and getting dark, but I boosted the video a bit:

 

I went outside to say hi but he wasn’t interested in chatting.  Presumably he’s looking for the rabbits I sometimes see – or maybe the field mice that escape Pan’s fenced off domain.  I followed him down the driveway a bit, scaring off the deer, before he disappeared into the brush.

 

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Costa Rica – Coast to Coast

I just returned from a fun and challenging little adventure (arranged through BikeHike.com) where a group of eight of us made our way across Costa Rica from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean entirely under our own human power… and a fair amount of gravity assist!

We started in Quepos, on the western coast, and we proceeded to bike, hike, raft and kayak our way entirely across the country until we reached the eastern coast and the Caribbean.  We mostly camped at sites along the way and a support vehicle carried our gear but we otherwise made our way from one coast to the other.  Along the way, we encountered (or sometimes befriended) caiman, monkeys, sloths, toucans, turkey vultures, frogs, bats, snakes and some biting fish, as well as numerous insects including various spiders, ants, butterflies and a particularly aggrieved, giant grasshopper.

Click on through for my gallery of photos and videos from the trip:

   

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Pan’s New Modeling Career

Pan has apparently started his career in modeling and now appears in this promotional YouTube video for Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping.  My yard is featured starting at the 1:12 mark but Pan makes two appearances starting at the 1:36 mark:

 

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Edwardian Ball 2014

Darlene and I went up to San Francisco this past weekend to attend both nights of the Edwardian Ball and World’s Faire, January 17th and 18th.  On Saturday, we also visited the Exploratorium in its new location at Pier 15.

Click through for pictures:

 

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Walking the Bobcat

Just some pictures from taking our bobcat out for a walk from Waddell Beach into Big Basin State Park’s Rancho Del Oso last Sunday.  We hiked up to the overlook at the top of the Clark Connector trail.  Nice views!

Click through for the gallery:

  

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Raining in the Kitchen

Water started coming through my kitchen ceiling on November 21st, after a rain storm.  This is less than ideal.  Apparently something has failed in the tiled deck upstairs that sits above the kitchen.  At least I’m lucky in that the ceiling has various openings for fire sprinklers and can lights otherwise the water might have pooled and collected in the ceiling unnoticed for a long time before eventually failing more dramatically.

Patio deck off the master bedroom, over my kitchen.

Bobby Hultzen is a tiling contractor who has been working with me to try to locate and fix the problem since late November.  He initially identified a bunch of possible trouble spots: how the roof goes right into the wall around the deck (how do you keep *that* from drawing in water?!), the construction of the deck wall, the bedroom door frame, the deck’s overflow drain and of course the deck bed itself.

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“Oh my god, it’s full of stars!”

I’ve looked into telescopes a bit now and again, spurred by some new cool astronomical event but never actually took the plunge until just recently, near the end of 2013, with the approach and subsequent demise of comet ISON.  This time I was committed to doing the research and actually ordering some gear… and, given my love of photography, astrophotographic gear too!  Oh my, what a deep hole I’ve found here… what have I got myself into?!?

Things started out a little rough as my mount arrived in November with a manufacturing defect that I didn’t know enough to figure out immediately and required some back and forth with Celestron’s tech support to narrow down.  Then I had to package it all back up and send it back and wait for a replacement.

But here it is, it’s an 8″ Celestron EdgeHD 800 on an Advanced VX mount – lovely!  (It’s a Schimdt-Cassegrain on a German equatorial mount.)

My Celestron EdgeHD 800 telescope set up on my upstairs deck

I’ve long wanted to get a telescope, as in a real telescope, not that silly cheap thing I got as a kid in the 70′s.  I’ve tinkered on and off with desktop and mobile apps for exploring the night sky, explored a bit with a nice pair of image-stabilized binoculars and attended the occasional star party here and there.  (The one held on the slopes of Mauna Kea was pretty cool!)

And I wanted to take advantage of the somewhat darker skies I now have here in the hills above Santa Cruz – at least darker compared to my old condo in San Jose – that swath of light from Silicon Valley and the Bay Area is at least somewhat shielded by the coastal mountains here.  I’ve got a nice, super-convenient, south-facing deck off of my upstairs master bedroom with an open view of most of the sky (except to the north, beneath the celestial pole).  And once I get a little more experienced, it’ll be fun to pack up the gear and take it to some remote dark locations.

DSC01262-v3 DSC01298

It’s pretty overwhelming how much there is to learn, particularly when you get into astronomical imaging, but I am certainly enjoying the endeavor.  As such, I’ve decided to put together a little newbie’s guide to backyard astronomy to summarize all the information I’ve been gathering and the choices I’ve been making as to gear and setup:  A Newbie’s Guide to Telescopic Adventures

So here’s a bit of first light through it – imaging a portion of the Orion nebula.  Mind you, I’m just starting to get into this and this is just a newbie’s single, 16-second exposure to catch a bit of color:

Orion Nebula (M42), Nikon D7000, 16 seconds @ ISO 6400, 8″ EdgeHD, .7x reducer lens

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Pan the Poser

A few more recent pics of Pan mostly posing for the camera:

 
 

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