Pop-Up Game of Thrones

Glenn and Michele sent me this Game of Thrones pop-up book for my birthday… pretty cool!  Thanks guys!!  Click through to see more of the pop-up book:

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And, as it happens, Darlene and I will be off to Croatia for my birthday in a few days, which also happens to be the filming locations for several Game of Thrones locales, like King’s Landing (aka Dubrovnik):

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Cycling Around Lake Tahoe

Darlene and I joined some of her cycling friends in a biking event around Lake Tahoe this past Sunday, June 1st: “23rd Annual America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride“.  The main route is 72 miles around the lake and a total of about 4000 ft of elevation gain.

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Click for the full gallery of pictures

Here’s a short (three minute, 50 MB) video montage I put together of the whole ride around the lake:

 

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Eastern Sierra Cycling Weekend

Here are some pictures and video from a few days of cycling and camping in the Eastern Sierra in and around the Mono Lake Basin, Mammoth and June lakes, Long Valley and Rock Creek Canyon over May 24th-27th.  It was Darlene’s first time seeing the area.  We came over by way of highway 108 and Sonora Pass and down through Bridgeport and Lee Vining to camp out on national forest land near highway 395 and June Lake on Saturday night.

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Mono Lake (click for full gallery)

Sunday we set out for a bike ride to the South Tufa area at Mono Lake via the June Lake loop.  That worked out to about 38 miles.  Afterward, we stopped in for groceries at Mammoth Lakes and then set out on Benton Crossing Road to find a nice spot in the rocky hills east of Crowley Lake to use as our base camp Sunday and Monday nights.  That night I was up late exploring the wonderfully dark (and moonless) skies with my telescope.

Long Valley towards Mammoth Mountain

Long Valley looking towards Mammoth (click for full gallery)

Monday morning we left our camp standing and drove into Tom’s Place at the base of Rock Creek Canyon to set off on our bikes to climb the 2600 ft. up to Rock Creek Lake (at 9682 ft).  Alas, there was to be no Pie in the Sky today at the Rock Creek Lodge so lunch was back down at Tom’s Place.

After breaking camp on Tuesday we stopped in at Mammoth Lakes again for breakfast and a bit of shopping before heading home, this time via Yosemite and Tioga Pass/Road.

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Dim Sum Time

Here’s some pictures from another dim sum lunch with friends and coworkers from FileMaker, this past Monday (5/19). Frank was actually overpowered this time by one of the servers and we ended up with a whole extra round of food we had to take with us.  Click through for the gallery:

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Overnight in Big Basin

Darlene and I hiked into Big Basin State Park on Monday and stayed overnight at the Sunset trail camp near Golden Falls, Silver Cascade and Berry Creek Falls, about five and half miles from the overnight parking near the park headquarters.  This trail camp (reservations required) has ten permitted sites that are nice and well-shaded but it is a bit of a walk to get to the creek for water.  Unfortunately the mosquitos were pretty bad in the evening and it made it difficult to enjoy dinner but we hid out in the tent on Tuesday morning until they eased up.

Click through for the full gallery:

 

Found this fuzzy yellow guy wandering through our camp in the morning:

 

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Pivothead Camera Test

I’ve been trying out a new pair of sunglasses with a built-in video/photo camera, the Pivothead Recon.  The Recon (actually now called the Kudu) is one of several styles of camera glasses from Pivothead.  The glasses can record video at 1080/30 or 720/60 fps as well as take still photos (up to 8 MB).  They can even capture stills while you’re recording video.  They have interchangeable shades, including the photo-chromatic kind (adjusts to brightness).

The camera functionality works pretty well except that they currently have some issues with their various focus modes.  The continuous focus mode hunts for focus a lot, the fixed focus mode is set to a focus point that’s too close so most of the time everything is very softly focused, but I’m getting the best results with the auto-focus mode which sets a focus when you start recording and holds that for the duration of the recording.

The exposure isn’t always ideal but then it’s pretty amazing that they can cram all this functionality in a sunglasses frame (rather than having a bulky camera mounted on your helmet).  Another issue though is that the little LED lights on the inside of the frame aren’t really visible while you’re wearing them so you have to pull them half off to verify that they’re on and/or recording.  Given that a) you can’t start recording until a couple of seconds after you hit the power button and b) they automatically shut off when idle after 30 seconds or so, it’s easy to think you’ve started recording, when you haven’t.  (This keeps happening to me.)  It would be better if the little rocker switch to start/stop a video or take a photo would actually power them up, rather than having a separate power toggle button.

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Trying out the Pivothead Recon Sunglasses/Camera

The glasses aren’t very adjustable for different faces.  Mine tend to sit high on my nose and the camera points up a little high but this ends up working out to a good angle for mountain biking.  Yes, that picture was taken using the glasses, but I titled my head down (and still heavily cropped it to frame it well).  Without doing that, the center of the shot would actually be well above my head.  But as I say, that has to do with individual fit and it works out fine for me while on a bike.

The Pivothead charges via USB and you can get a combination external battery pack and WiFi hub (Pivothead Air Sync) that allows you to charge it up and download your shots when you’re out in the field.  It’s also useful as extra power for any USB-chargeable device.

Here’s some sample video showing some of its strengths and weaknesses.  (Also, this video was shot with these glasses as well.)  Both videos have of course been downsized and compressed for web presentation:

 

Note the challenges in dark, high contrast lighting in the trees and how quickly (or slowly) it can adjust to changing lighting.  Obviously it does much better in brightly lit scenes.  Also, it would be awesome to have some optical stabilization but that would be asking a lot at this point, particularly in the frame of a pair of sunglasses.  Really I just hope they can fix the other focus modes and improve the start/stop method.

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Playsets and Prom Dresses

Just some pictures from a week of visiting with Darlene’s family and friends in Winona, Minnesota and Fountain City, Wisconsin.  Click through for the full gallery:

 

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Darlene is a Pinball Wizard

Darlene is a pinball wizard!  We discovered this while out for a mountain bike ride at Ford Ord National Monument, near Monterey, CA on Friday:

 

And here’s a little more video of our ride:

 

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Mud and Poppies in Wilder Ranch

Here’s some pictures from another Saturday ride with MBoSC (Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz) in Wilder Ranch.  It was just a couple of us since most everyone else was at the Santa Cruz Bike Festival this weekend.  Lots of poppies in bloom above the Zane Grey Cutoff trail.  Even with the recent and welcome rain, most of Wilder Ranch tends to dry up pretty quickly but I was still able to find a few leftover mud puddles here and there! ;-)

Click through for the full gallery:

 

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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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