Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2007 New Years Resolutions in review

One nice thing about a blog is that it's a good way to keep track of random things and events, so I went back to visit those 2007 resolutions that I posted a while ago and see how I did.

1) Graduate within the next year: Well, I made a lot more progress on research this year, but it'll look like I'll have to be a student a bit longer. The good news is that it's looking like I'll graduate around this time next year.

2) Stay positive: Although this one sounds pretty generic, it had been pretty hard to keep my head up with the stress of research and other things in years past, but I believe I did an ok job of looking on the bright side of life.

3) Do a bit more to take care of myself: Over the spring and summer, I was doing pretty good in keeping this up by playing basketball, tennis, and scaling mountains, but once fall and winter rolled around, I took a step back.

4) Blog more: Post count is up, so mission successful!

5) Find that special someone: No g/f, so a big FAIL on this one. Although a recent fortune cookie said that love was around the corner........nah, that's not happening :P

Overall, I'd say I accomplished 2.5/5 resolutions, and batting .500 ain't too bad.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Midnight Massacre in Hell(gate)

This was the scene last night in Death's City, which lived up to its name with the numerous deaths of me, Grapes, Dragon, and Dragon's minions as we fought valiantly for over an hour to take down Lord Enorat.


Update: Some more action shots from Dragon's point of view

Friday, November 23, 2007

Right there for the taking....

I was at Best Buy this morning (at 9:30 am, not 5 am) at the Rock Band demo station, and what I saw was amazing. There were 5 boxes of Rock Band sitting right there, taunting me to buy one of them. I looked at them for a couple of seconds, but then turned my attention back to the Rock Band kiosk as someone was banging away on the drums. I watched the person play the drums for a bit, and then looked back at the pile of Rock Band boxes, and three boxes were gone. I resisted again and walked away for a bit to look at some other things. A few minutes later, I came back again to see if the boxes were still there, and all the boxes were gone. Five boxes of Rock Band gone in 10 minutes.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The New Generation of Political Commercials....

It's sort of awesome to think how a comic skit/internet phenomenon has made its way into politics.

I'll be waiting for Obama to bring up Mr. T for his next commercial...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Next time you have a fever....

Play some Cowbell Hero!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


There hasn't been too many DS games lately that have caught my eye, but Contra 4 looks like a must-get :)  I remember back in the day when little B and I had mastered Contra on our NES to the point where we didn't even have to use the world's most popular code to beat the game.  With little B manning the spread gun and me manning the laser, those aliens had no chance. 

Some of the weapon descriptions on the website are sort of amusing too...

Soldiers, especially Contra soldiers, have a lot on their mind.  For those days when you can't be bothered by concepts like "aiming," the hunter will seek out hostiles on its own so you can enjoy the finer things in life - like jumping over bottomless pits and avoiding certain death.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Now you're playing with power

While I was reading through my usual list of tech blogs and sites, I saw a headline talking about the new rankings for the top 500 supercomputers in the world.  I remembered a conversation with a friend who works at OSC saying that the new Opteron supercomputer they had just got up and running was suppose to be somewhere in that list, so I took a look around and found it to be at number 76 (and I can say I've used 0.77% of those processors in my simulation :P).  It has a ways to go to catch up to the DOE as the peak performance on OSC's supercomputer is only 3% of the peak performance of the DOE's supercomputer.  Although the DOE computer probably has its own manmade blizzard to keep all those processors cool.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Guitar Hero on South Park

For those of you who didn't hear about it or missed it, you can watch the recent episode of South Park here where they sort of poked fun at Guitar Hero.  It wasn't as epic as the World of Warcraft episode, but it was still pretty funny nonetheless.  At least Stan and Kyle were playing the good GH songs :P

Monday, October 29, 2007

The hunter became the hunted...

A cookie to those who can spot why I took this screenshot :P


Sunday, October 28, 2007

The A"MAiZE"ing Race

Since Dragon and I've been stuck in our offices doing work for most of last week, we decided to take a day to go out and get some fresh air down in Lebanon, Ohio to see a corn maize.  I personally had never been to one before, but now I can say I've been to the 2nd largest maize in the United States :P  The setup of the maize is in the form of an eagle as you can see here, and if you can see it on the picture, it starts and ends near the top right where you can see a blue roof.  I asked one of the guys working there how long it took to set up the entire maize, and he said it only took a day (from 6 am till midnight), which was pretty impressive I thought given the shear magnitude of the maize.  To help visitors through, each visitor can choose a "passport" that contains 10 questions corresponding to 10 waypoints in the maize, and depending on the answer you choose, you could either go on the path to the left or to the right of the waypoint.  There were a bunch of different passport themes, and Dragon chose the Halloween theme passport while I chose the sports one.

As for getting through the maize, Dragon and I employed the strategy of going left whenever the path would split into two or more paths.  This strategy proved to work well as we somehow managed to skip waypoints 8 and 9 on our way to the exit in 1.5 hours!

The Amaizeing sign Field view

Headless Bunny Mini-Maize Map

Mini-Maize Maize Entrance

Hai!  I can haz directions?! Stalky

Long Path So...which way?

Lonely cob Corn on the cob on the stalk

Almost to the exit! Hay worm

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Madness @ the Apple Store

Today was the release of Apple's new operating system, OS X.5, aka Leopard.  Since Dragon has a Macbook and is uber enthusiastic about his mac, we took a trip over to Easton where the Apple Store would open at 6 pm to start selling the new operating system.  We got there at around 5:55 pm, parked at the Macy's parking lot, and started walking over when we saw the line...

Apple Store - Leopard Release Day 001 Apple Store - Leopard Release Day 005

The Apple store is down and to the right...

Apple Store - Leopard Release Day 009 Apple Store - Leopard Release Day 011

Almost there!  At around 6:30 pm, we got to the last turn.

Apple Store - Leopard Release Day 013 Apple Store - Leopard Release Day 014

Apple Store - Leopard Release Day 018



There was an Apple store employee handing out version 10.5 water.



Apple Store - Leopard Release Day 025



Madness in the Apple Store!





Apple Store - Leopard T-shirt 2


Though I didn't buy any Mac products, I did get this free T-shirt :)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Image Capture: Update 1

David and I were eating at Penn Station at lunch today, and David was browsing though a newsletter called U Weekly that was sitting on the rack near the entrance. Inside, there was an article talking about the OSU Marching Band, and I did a double take on the picture that was included in the article because it looked suspiciously like the picture that I had taken of the band doing Script Ohio.

So I made a mental note that there was a guy standing by himself near the lower left of the "O" in Script Ohio, and after lunch I took a look at the picture that I had taken.

Sure enough, there was a guy was standing there alone on the lower left of the "O". So I went back to Penn Station and got the paper to take another look. The newsletter has a website, so I went to see if they had the same article posted on the website, and sure enough they did here. Although the photo was touched up a bit, I think I wouldn't be crazy to say that this is my picture that the newsletter is using. It's not that hard to find since if you look up "ohio state marching band" in Google Images search bar, my picture will be the first one to come up.

I'm gonna write an email to them and see where they got this image from...

Update 1: The editor sent an apology.

Yikes, thanks for bringing this to my attention Kungfucius. I'm not sure what happened here because the photo that is supposed to have run with the article was also of Script Ohio (provided by the band), but at a head-on angle. I'm not sure how your photo ran instead and I'm very sorry about that. I'll make a note on the website immediately that it's your photo and run a correction in the next issue.

Thanks so much!

The things people do for $$$$ (or charity for that matter)

Joe Buck was on Conan where Conan brought up a story where Joe would get text messages from his friends while Joe was calling a game, and his friends would wager whether he could incorporate a word or phrase of their choice into the broadcast. So Conan puts up some charity money to see whether Joe could put in a phrase that took him a while to get into the Simpsons.

And here's Joe using the game in last night's World Series game 1.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

They don't make them like they use to...

I was moving some data around today from my external hard drive and my desktop hard drive when Windows flags me that one of the files was corrupted.  I didn't think much of it so I told Windows to skip the file, which was an old episode from the ROD TV series.  It started flagging the next 10 episode files, but even then, I didn't think much about it since I figured there must have been something random that's causing it.  Long story short, I turn off the external drive and connect it to test on my laptop, and when I turned it on for Windows to detect the drive, it didn't come up with the usual auto-detect selection window.  So I try to open the drive up with Explorer, and Windows comes back saying the data on the drive is corrupt >.< -_- T_T  Bye bye anime library :(

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Inspirational Video of the Day

Check out how Ben lives his daily life :)

Best Video Of The Year - Amazing videos are here

Sunday, October 14, 2007

College Football Chaos still has 2 and a half more months to go...

So with this latest shakeup in college football (former #1 LSU and #2 Cal losing), the new polls just came out with my Ohio State Buckeyes as the new #1.  Though I'm pretty happy to see them up there, I hope the team uses this as a motivating tool for the rest of the season because most of the nation (including me) are not quite ready to anoint them as the best team.  The Buck have pretty much taken care of business against the opposition so far this season, but given all the upsets so far, every single team the Bucks play from now on will believe that this will be their day to pull the upset.

I think coach Jim Tressel knew that he would have a totally new team at the start of this year given all the players from the 2006 team that went to the NFL draft, so he scheduled 2007 accordingly so that the team could ramp itself up to take on the tougher schedule later, and so far, it's been working.  Like most analysts I think the most troublesome games will be at Penn State and at Michigan, but as this college season has shown, you have to take each game one at a time and not look ahead.  Let the college football chaos continue!

Friday, October 12, 2007

=VGI= Accessories

I was looking around on Amazon for some ski googles when I stumbled upon these Bolle Shark Ski Goggles. Pretty appropriate don't you think? :P

Too bad they don't come in any other =VGI= flavors.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Asian parents are watching you....

It's sometimes scary how much M and her friends gossip about each other's kids. Like this conversation I had with M on Friday.

M: (M's friend) said that little B has a girlfriend again.
Me: Oh?
M: Yeah, she saw it on little B's Facebook page.
Me: ....
M: Can you log on to Facebook and see?
Me: Uhhhh...sure...

Sure enough, under the relationship status, it says that he "is in a relationship."

M: Why wouldn't he say anything to me about it?
Me: *Shrugs*
M: I'll have to ask him about it when we go to NJ.

Guess I'll have to be careful of what I put on Facebook next time...

Friday, October 5, 2007

Home Sweet Home...

Since the expiration date for my driver's license was coming up soon, I decided to take the opportunity to head back home to Mechanicsburg, PA visit M,D, and eventually little B in NJ. Since I'm a lot further away and as a result come home a lot less often, both M and D are always excited to see me back at the house, and I get to enjoy M's cooking :)

Since I wasn't overly familiar of where the PennDOT/licensing office was, D drove me over there to get my license renewed. I was expecting this to maybe take an hour or so, but D told me that there was a separate part of the building dedicated to picture taking and renewals, so I figured ok, maybe I can get this over in half an hour. After D dropped me off, I walked into the PennDOT building, found the renewal room, and took a number expecting something outrageously high. Out popped the number 013, so I figured hmm...I can't be this lucky getting the number 13, so maybe they're rotating back their numbers because their counters only go up to 999. I looked up at the current number on the electronic counter, and it read 009. Woot! 10 minutes later, I walked out with a new license.

Coming home also means I get to play the resident IT troubleshooter. M just got a new Toshiba laptop, and she called me from work while I was driving home and wanted me to take a look at it to make sure everything was ok. When I finally got around to looking at it and turned it on, I was greeted with literally 20 things appearing in the taskbar next to the clock. Even though the laptop had a dual-core cpu, it was bogging down pretty badly having so many things loaded up (80+ processes in the task manager chewing up 90% of the gig of memory!), and it didn't help that the laptop had 2 virus scanning software running too. So I rolled up my sleeves and started nuking some programs and eventually got the laptop back to running more responsively.

Since one of her co-workers had recently gotten a digital camera, M also began asking me about digital cameras as well, and we eventually settled at first on the Canon SD1000 since it was small and relatively simple to use. I took her to Circuit City so she could play around with the display models of all the digital cameras they had, and M then decided to switch to the Canon A560 since the feature set was approximately the same and the price was about $50 cheaper. So we walked out of Circuit City with a shiny new A560. She was also quite impressed at how automated Vista was at being able to pull the pictures off her camera simply by plugging it in without having to install any software.

All in all, it felt good to go home :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Grad student life...

This past month or so has been relatively uneventful in the research front for me. I've been trying to get this paper written, and my advisor wanted one more example to demonstrate that the method I've developed is working correctly. The example we decided on was to simulate a magnetic photonic crystal (MPC) that has a peculiar property in being able to "freeze" waves that run into it. The difficult is that the computational resources needed to simulate this is rather high since the MPC structure is electrically large, so I've been using the supercomputers here at OSC to run my sims. OSC had just brought online a new Opteron supercomputer, which is rough 3 times faster than their P4 system before with my code. However, there's a lot of contention to use these resources, so any large jobs that you need done need to be sent through their job request software, and depending on the number of processors you allocate and the estimated time you think it'll take to run your job, their scheduler software optimizes it such that the jobs get done within a reasonable amount of time. At first when the system got online, I almost had all my jobs done quickly, but I guess the word's been getting out, and unfortunately right now for me, the wait can be up to 3 or more days, so it's been sort of frustrating watching my job request sit idly in the queue. It's even worse when you discover AFTER the simulation is done that you made a mistake -_- The good news is that once I get this all done and finish my paper, I can do my candidacy exam, which is second of three big step you need to hurdle before graduating (the Ph.D. Thesis defense being the last).

In other EM news, some US physicist have created an invisibility cloak, but unfortunately, you have to be pretty small to use it. What's sort of cool is that in the field I'm in, I could sort of see something like this coming since there're other computational groups here OSU that have simulated such materials to do these cloaking devices. Most of these effects can be achieved by using metamaterials, which can have goofy properties such as a negative index of refraction. But I guess we still have a ways to go before someone creates an invisibility cloak of useful size.

Friday, September 28, 2007

You know you're getting old....

..when you open the door to get out of your car, take the first step down, and when you stand up, you feel this sudden pain shooting up your back -_- This happened to me today right after lunch, and it basically immobilized me to my desk and bed for the entire day. This felt similar to the time I was down in Houston, and Velius, Ender, Tochi, and I were playing some touch football. Right after I threw a pass to Ender, the same sharp pain hit my back, and I was moving around pretty tenderly afterwards. Thankfully, I had saved some of those Icy Hot patches that I bought for my knee while in Seattle, and they did a decent job of relaxing my back. Hopefully some good sleep tonight'll make it go away (or I'll be confined to bed because I can't sit up -_-).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bug in Excel 2007

I figure I pass this along. Apparently there's a bug in Excel for certain multiplications. For example, when you do =850*77.1 you get 100000 instead of 65535. However, if you do reference that cell with that calculation, it works with it as 65535. Weird eh?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Guess you can't win them all....

Even though they're a still more football games yet to be played, one of my fantasy football teams is hopelessly behind at the point. It's almost funny how rediculous the score difference is, and usually if you score 100 points, that's a good week for most fantasy teams.

Needs more power!!!

I got up this morning with the intent of trying to take my S3 out to get some pictures taken, but unfortunately, right after I put in my batteries and turned on the camera, the LCD gave me the "Change Batteries" message -_- Right now I'm using these Energizer Recharable NiMH AA batteries, which I had charged about a week ago, but lately, they seem to be draining pretty quickly just from sitting on my desk. Does anyone else have any better rechargeable battery recommendations, or do I need to send these to Velius for some Powermax®?

Friday, September 21, 2007

World in Conflict Demo: XP vs Vista Performance

Yeah, I know you all are probably tired of reading all this stuff about WiC and benchmarks, but I promise, this will be the last post on this issue! Ever since hearing about Ender and Tochi having benchmark numbers at about 2x of what I had reported, I began thinking what could be causing it. Given that the game was CPU bound based on the benchmark, I could understand how Ender's numbers could be faster since he was running a dual-core cpu, but Tochi's laptop cpu is much closer to mine, yet he reported that his numbers were roughly 50% faster. So what could the difference be attributed to? The OS...

I still had my XP install available since I was dual-booting, so I gave WiC a run in XP to see if that had any difference on the performance. And the numbers were pretty interesting to say the least.

This chart pretty much tells the story. At "Very Low" and "Low" details, XP is pushing about 50-60% more frames compared to Vista, but there's a crossover at "Medium", and strangely enough once we get to the "High" details, Vista begins to take over as XP becomes OTL slow averaging 0 frames per second. Although I would never play at that setting, it was still interesting to note. As for the reason why XP struggles at higher details, I have no idea :P

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

World In Conflict Demo Benchmarks: Update 2

Since Ender had expressed some interest in World in Conflict, I went to take a look at the demo to get a sense of how the game would run (or not run) on my system. Fortunately, I was able to install and get to the startup screen without any issues (unlike with Bioshock), and I was sort of surprised to see in the graphics settings that there was a benchmark built in. So I figured since for the benefit (Catnipped, Tochi, and Ender currently) and amusement (Velius, Kabitzin, and Ender later) of everyone, I would compile some benchmark numbers to give everyone a sense of where their system stands.

"Minimum" System Requirements
• OS: Windows® XP, Windows Vista™
• CPU: Single-core 2.0 GHz or faster (2.2 GHz for Windows Vista™)
• CPU: Dual-core Any Intel® or AMD®
• RAM: 512 MB (1 GB for Windows Vista™)
• Graphics: 128 MB video RAM, DirectX® 9.0c-compatible
(NVIDIA® GeForce® 4 MX, ATI® Radeon® 8500, 9200 not supported)
• Sound: DirectX® 9.0c compatible
• Hard Drive: 2.5 GB or more available hard drive space

"Recommended" System Reqiurements
• OS: Windows® XP, Windows Vista™
• CPU: 2.5 GHz or faster
• RAM: 1024 MB (1.5 GB for Windows Vista™)
• Graphics: 256 MB video RAM, DirectX® 9.0c-compatible
• Sound: DirectX® 9.0c compatible

Kungfucius' System
• OS: Windows Vista™
• CPU: Athlon-64: 2800+ (1.8 GHz clock speed)
• RAM: 1.5 GB
• Graphics: ATI Radeon 9800 Pro w/128 MB of video RAM, DirectX® 9.0c-compatible

So with my system being a mix of the minimum and recommended requirements and some people having success running the game with lower than minimum settings, I figured I'd be able to run WiC reasonably with maybe mediumish detail at a medium (1024x768) resolution. In the graphics settings, there aren't that many things that you can adjust besides the resolution and amount of detail (ranging from "Very Low" to "Very High"), so there're only two variables in the benchmark results. The benchmark itself reminded me of the city map that a lot of us played with at PAX, with the focus mainly on some flying scenes, a tank scene, and lots and lots of explosions.

Here're the numbers that I crunched out. I ran the benchmark 3 times and took the result from the last run.

What's sort of interesting to note from these benchmarks (besides the fact that they're not very impressive) is that the frame rate in general seems independent of the resolution that I run in, which came as sort of a surprise to me since I had expected my graphics card to be the bottleneck, but the benchmark seems to show that my CPU is the likely culprit. One of the things you immediate notice about World in Conflict is the copious use of smoke everywhere after explosions, which looks very nice, but during those scenes, my system slows to a crawl -_-

As you can see from the in game graph, there are two parts in the benchmark where my system really slows. The first is near the beginning when a mini-nuke hits a part of the city, which illuminates everything in view and sends smoke and debris everywhere. The second is near the end of the benchmark where a few bombers basically artillery another section of the city for about 5 seconds, resulting in more smoke and mayhem.

So the moral of the story? If I'm gonna play World in Conflict, I'll probably be running it in "Very Low" details, which seems to turn off real-time shadows, reduces the texture details, and the models used look a bit less complicated. However, the smoke still looks pretty :P

Update: I played through the tutorial (since I pretty much had no idea what was going on or how to play when I was trying it out at PAX :P), and I'm thinking that the benchmark present more of a "worst case scenario" that you might run into while in WiC. At the medium detail setting, the game played pretty smoothly even during the artillery practice (which is awesome btw :) ).

Update 2: I just tried playing through the single player campaign on medium detail @ 1280x1024, and when the action starts to heat up and armies of tanks start exploding everywhere, my PC really begins to bog down, which hindered by soldier directing and camera movement. So it looks like I'm back to low (or very low) settings :P

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Best MMORPG ever!!!!

See it here!

Bioshock demo says NO YUO!!!

While I was waiting for my simulations to run yesterday, I decided to download the Bioshock demo and see what it was all about. From looking at the requirements that Catnipped posted, I figured my PC would be able to run it, albeit probably at a pretty low resolution. After installing and starting it up, I quickly noticed one important piece of the interface was missing: the mouse pointer. This proved to be pretty frustrating as I had to guess on where the mouse pointer was based on menu option words being highlighted as my invisible mouse pointer would go over them. So with that, I managed to change the resolution from 1024x768 down to 640x480, but even at that resolution, the main menu screen was crawling like a slow slideshow, probably at around 10 frames per second. After searching around Google, I found that Bioshock on the PC requires you to have a graphics card that has a version 3.0 pixel shader, which my aging Radeon 9800 pro doesn't have -_- Ah well...I'm probably not gonna bother upgrading my graphics card since AGP is pretty much on its way out.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Veggies are deadly...

Of course, we already knew that from BF2, but in Shoot 'Em Up, Clive Owen shows everyone that veggies can be deadly in the movies as well. When you go see this movie, put away any sense of common sense and just enjoy the ride as you'll watch Owen get out of almost every unimaginable situation without getting hurt at all with a lot of creative ingenuity. And yes, the guns fights get more and more ridiculous as the movie goes on, but you probably won't care because they're so awesome! The only thing you might roll your eyes over are the one-liners and the razor-thin plot, but hey, with a title like Shoot 'Em Up, who needs a plot when you have many many guns :P I wonder what the body count was by the end of the movie...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Out of shape :(

While Dragon and I were taking a water break during our tennis session today, Dragon suggested running suicides as an extra activity to exercise ourselves. For those who aren't familiar with how this works, here's a court diagram to help you visualize.

Starting at the sideline, you run and touch the alley line, the center line, the further alley line, and then the further sideline, but each time you touch these respective lines, you run back to the sideline you started at. I've done these back in tennis camp and during the tennis season in high school, so I figure hey, it should be a good workout. And to add to the level of difficulty, I told Dragon we should do this down all four courts that were next to each other.

So we line up at the sideline and start running. But by the time I get to the third line, my legs were already crying for me to slow down -_- I look over and David and his face had pretty much the same reaction as me. So after the third line, we both walk back up to the fence and were leaning over, huffing and puffing. During this time I'm thinking to myself wtf...I did these things so easily back in the day, and now I'm struggling just to get past one stupid court -_-

It's time to get off my butt and do some more cardio...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Steve Jobs wants my $$$

At a special event today dubbed "The Beat Goes On", Steve Jobs introduced a new set of iPods, but really, what he was doing is thinking of more ways to try and get Kungfucius' money. I admit I like playing around with the latest and greatest gadgets, and when the iPhone came out, I went to play with one at the local Apple store here at Easton, and it's a pretty awesome device with a well designed interface. However, the $499 and $599 prices were a bit much for my wallet, and most of the time, I'm pretty close to a PC if I need to access the net, and no one really calls me that much so my KRZR is way more than adequete. And just over the weekend when M was visiting, I took her to the Apple store to show her the iPhone, and she said she'd would think about getting it if it were priced lower, to which I responded that Apple almost never lowers their prices unless they had a new build of the product out. Steve must have been listening to me, and today during the special event which introduced a new line of iPods, he also mentions that the iPhone price will be cut by $200. So now, the 8 gig iPhone is priced at $399 while the 4 gig iPhone is being phased out (although, you can find it here for $299). Man...so tempting... -_-

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Road to Knee-covery

After giving myself about a week to rest up, I gave my left knee and ankle another whirl on the tennis courts today, and they felt pretty good as I wasn't even thinking about them as I moved around. Thanks again to MrMonk, Orca, and Tochi for taking the load off my back at McGregor and putting up with my grumpiness that day when I turned my ankle on the trip down. Hopefully I won't run into any more accidents in Veg Out III (T-118 days!!!).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

McGregor Recap Part 3

Since Tochi covered most of the details of what happened in the climb up and down McGregor, I'll sort of my take of what was happening. When we woke up on the 20th for the climb up, I felt pretty rested and ready for the climb. Up till this point, the weight of my pack hadn't really bothered me at all since we've been walking on mostly level ground. And before the trip, I had weighed my pack with about 70% of what I would be carrying, which included the 3 person tent, sleeping bag, and some spare clothes, and it came out to be at around 28 lbs. So I figured hey, it'll be a tough climb up, but with some time and effort, we'll make it up eventually.

The first 1000 ft or so up to Coon Lake didn't seem too bad. MrMonk sprinted up ahead followed closely by Tochi, and I was about 7 to 10 feet behind being followed by Orca. I felt a bit winded at first, but I figured my body would adjust along the way as the trail wasn't too steep.

The next 2000 feet or so however were a killer. With the inclines getting steeper and the number of switchbacks increasing, my quad muscles felt the burn of each step, and eventually I let Orca pass me as each step began to felt heavier and heavier. It reminded me of the time when I took the swim test at Cornell, which I slowly did, but I was so spent afterwards that I was almost crawling to the locker room because my legs were exhausted from kicking. Tochi took notice and dropped back to share his water and encourage me on.

Slowly but surely at around 3000 or 4000 feet, my quad pains eventually died down, but they were replaced by a sharp pain along a tendon that runs on the side of the knee, which felt like they were being stabbed by a knife >.< So now every step I took I had to grimace a bit >.< The pack weight combined with the extra incline had began to take its toll on my knees...

Somehow I managed to get myself to the top, and I probably should have stopped there. While MrMonk and Tochi set up some semblance of a camp, Orca wandered further up the summit to do some scouting, and I tried following for a bit since I was a bit worried of her going up alone, but the steep rocky steps were too much for me. Fortunately she came back without harm.

At this point, I was hoping that some rest would do me some good, but with the rain coming down during the night and the ground being so cold inside the tent, it was hard to get some good rest in and have my joints loosen up a bit.

When we started our trek down the next morning, it was pretty much pitch dark, and I was sort of on the edge of sleep and consciousness, which caused me to stumble about 3 times and resulted in miscellaneous cuts on my left leg. The 4th time I slipped on a branch and felt the sharp pain in my left ankle >.< OMFG, I was thinking come on...I've already slowed the climb up McGregor yesterday, and right now I'm up 6000 ft in the mountains, the early shuttle we want to catch is 4 hours away from leaving, and I have to deal with a golf ball-sized left ankle now -_-

After I got myself back on my feet, my compassionate friends (or maybe they were too tired to be mad at me) asking if there was anything they could help me carry. I was sort of stubborn at first and didn't want to give in because 1) I didn't want Mt. McGregor to get the best of me and 2) I really hate making things burdensome for others because I screwed up somewhere. But since I already violated rule #2, I gave in, and Tochi, Orca, and MrMonk divided up the stuff in my pack, with MrMonk taking the tent, Tochi taking some miscellaneous camping gear, and Orca taking some of my backup clothes and the infamous box of wet wipes. With the increased weight of his pack, MrMonk decided to speed up his descent since he felt he would be less tired that way. Tochi also lended me his hiking poles to help me down the hill.

Now at this point, you might be thinking well, you're making a downhill descent, so even though you have a turned ankle and maybe some overworked knee tendons, that has to be easier right? I figured that might be the case too, but the downhill descent I think proved to be more painful than the trek up because you have to bend and extend your legs to catch yourself as you "fall", and since there was more knee bending involved, there was more pain involved -_- And I think Tochi's poles were hindering me a bit because for some reason, I felt like I was using way too much energy utilizing them to balance myself as if I were using crutches. Tochi and Orca were able to stop and take pictures at miscellaneous times during the trek down while I continued ahead, and even though there were points where I thought I had gone ahead too far (I would look back and not be able to see them), about 30 seconds later, they would be right behind me again, so I was pretty much moving at a snail's pace.

At some point on the way down Orca proclaimed "we're halfway down McGregor!", and I think we had about 4 or so hours to make it to the second shuttle to go back to the pier, so I figured hey, we might be in ok shape. An hour later, I asked on our progress, and Orca says that we hadn't moved that much elevation-wise (maybe 300 or 400 feet, and we had a total of 3000 or so to go) since the paths had started to level off in terms of steepness -_- So things weren't looking too good...

At this point, I finally decided "screw it, I'm gonna start walking/crawling/rolling/whatever down this hill as fast as I can" as held the poles in one hand, locked my knees so that they wouldn't bend to cause any pain, and keened in my vision on where to step so I wouldn't fall down. I had entered Super Saiyan mode, and I probably looked like a dual peg-legged pirate walking down the trails, and I probably aggravated my ankle a couple of times stepping on some lose rocks, and I might have even stepped on some small frogs along the way, but I didn't care, because I was gonna make sure that Tochi and Orca got to the shuttle in time. Fortunately, Tochi and Orca noticed my speed increase and followed down as well, and to make a long story short, we made it down with about an hour or so to spare :) After zoning out of Super Saiyan mode, I was dead tired and basically slept most of the ferry trip back. Fortunately my left leg was still in one piece.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

McGreggor Recap 2: August 19th

August 19th: We woke up at 7:00 am (I think) and started packing for the ferry trip by the Lady of the Lake, which has a fast and a slow ferry, but we opted for the fast one. On the ride over, there were several jet-skiers following along, so I tried to take some action pictures with my S3, and some of them actually came out pretty well (thank goodness for image stability!)

Two hours later we arrived at Stehekin, and after getting the camping pass at the visitor's center, we were off to the world renowned Stehekin bakery for some lunch (chicken pockets and roast beef sandwiches for teh win)! They only take cash here, so remember to bring your greenbacks if you decide to drop in and eat.

After lunch, we set off on our trek again and ran into what was the Stehekin School, which you could enter and see what classes were like back in the day. It was complete with desks, old books, and even a film strip projector!

The next major visual attraction was Rainbow Falls. You had to take a rocky path off the main road to reach it, but the fall itself was quite spectacular, and it's pretty amazing how clear the water was. MrMonk and Orca were all over the place trying to get good pictures of the falls.

And since I was along with 3 geocachers, we had to go find a geocache, which was on a path next to a grassy airfield. I didn't take any good pictures from the hunt, but I bet Tochi'll have some good pictures of the find.

After finding the cache, we headed back the main road to wait for a shuttle which took us to the nearby campsite. After we set up our tents and got a campfire going, we cooked up some camping food for the first time, which basically involved boiling water and pouring it into the package and sit for about 10 minutes, kinda like instant raman noodles. We cooked up some teriyaki Beef, mac and cheese, and some beef stew, and I was quite surprised how tasty the camping food was.

Note that to this point, I really haven't been bothered by the weight of my pack since we've been walking on virtually level ground for most of the trip. However, this'll change the next day...