Monday, March 31, 2008

Aside from some rain and a couple wrong turns it was a great trip!

Here is the photo evidence:

(click on any picture in the slide show to open the full size image or go into gallery browse mode.)

Most of the rain during the trip fortunately occured late at night and I have to say I am impressed with the Eureka Tetragon tents... We stayed pretty dang dry and at times it was raining cats and dogs! Sunday morning for the last hour or so of the hike we did get a little bit drenched... what we get for skipping church :-P

It was a very scenic trip as I expected it would be but the trail system is not nearly as organized or well marked as most of the Missouri trails I've been on like the Ozark Trail; with views like the ones we got to enjoy though it is hard to complain.

We did 18.4 miles over the three days (but 3 of the guys volunteered to go an extra 2.4 in the rain to get to the second car... long story I may repeat later). Sunday was the most difficult vertical climb. We went up about 1200 feet over only a mile and a half or so... in the cold rain. While the rain made it mentally tougher it really wasn't any more dangerous, just a bit more stressful.

Also here is a cool little video of the Hemmed-in-Hollow falls. The falls measure 209 feet!! I apologize for the shirtless figures at the end of the video... just some crazies who decided to see how cold the falls were (they were very [cold]).

(High quality - large file size: 25 MB)

(You need Quicktime movie player to watch this... if it doesn't play, you can download the software here)

(Low quality but fast loading Youtube version)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Heading for the hills tomorrow

Actually tonight after work. Several friends and I will be driving to Erbie, Arkansas tonight for a 3 day backpacking trip along the Buffalo River. I've been down that way a couple times before (once about 10 years ago and then again almost 14 years ago if memory serves). It is a really beautiful area down there with lots of tall bluffs along the river and the water itself is typically very clear blue and in some places a bright turquoise. The highlight is a valley called Hemmed in Hollow that leads to a 200' waterfall. The falls themselves are only from a small feeder stream into the buffalo river, but 200' is impressive even if the water volume is small. It is sort of like a heavy rain fall when you stand at the bottom.

I am bringing the digital camera we got for Christmas from the in-laws so I will be sure to take lots of pictures (as many as built-in lithium battery allows... I just bought a 2 GB memory card so storage space should not be an issue).

This picture I recognize as being the bluff at the Steel Creek trail head. The last two trips began at this point. This weekend though we are starting at the Erbie trail head a ways down stream so we won't actually even get close to Steel Creek however this picture is a good representation of what much of the landscape looks like. These bluffs are probably around 200 feet tall or more but there is one called Big Bluff about 2 miles down stream from this point and it is a 500' cliff right up against the river!! As you can see this is a popular canoeing river during the warmer months.

Man it is only 10:30!! This is gonna be a long day... at least I have plenty to do to keep me busy after I finish this post which will hopefully speed the day right along. Well I will wrap it up here. Plan on seeing some photos next week.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

A poem I wrote just now...

Eight little carbon atoms float in inner space
Ten smaller friends called hydrogen come find their place
Soon a chilly nitrogen quartet would like to play
Then finally two oxygen show up to make my day

You see these tiny little friends connecting, form a bond
Covalent interactions of which I am very fond
This partnership allows me to awake and not be mean
These friends you see make up the molecule that's called caffeine

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Way of the Sword"


My son and I are now offically both Kendoka

Simply put, practicioners of Kendo: The way of the sword.

We started Saturday... and today my body curses at me through the chemical processes that produce pain while repairing and growing stressed muscle tissues. Bicepts, tricepts, forearms, shoulders, upperback, (abdominals a little bit), quads very much so, calves a bit; these are all the areas in which I hurt. There are a few little muscles here and there that I've probably never used. The principle evil which causes me this pain is known as the haya-suburi. Now there were other lesser evils which played a part but none so much or so greatly wicked as the haya-suburi. Four sets of 50 reps... a mere trifle according to Drakey Sensei... he does 1,000 reps when practicing. The bokken is raised over head so that the blade points upward behind the head at a 45 degree angle to the torso (the Jodan position I believe it is called)... then as you perform the correct ashisabaki (footwork)... a forward step with the right foot, the bokken is brought down and stopped at the opponent's forehead level (men uchi attack) and the left foot is brought forward as well... then in reverse the left foot goes back as the blade is returned to the Jodan and the right foot follows back to the original position... this all happens in a fast single smooth (well it will be smooth when I improve a bit) motion. It feels like you are sort of hopping forward and backwards but really you are supposed to move forward at the waist... meaning no up and down movement - only forward and backwards movement. The entire motion is one rep... and we count in Japanese: ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi, kyu, ju... and then repeat 1-9 but counting the 10's up through 100 (i.e. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10...1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,20... etc.) I still need to learn 20,30,40, etc in Japanese.

So the three hour session starts with stretching for about 30 minutes and some basic excercises without Bokken to get the blood flowing. Then the bokken calisthenics begin. The haya suburi is the last excercise we do and is the most difficult, then we break. Then we lay down the bokkens and use the shinai for the remainder of the session. We line up in two rows facing each other (1 on 1) and do practice attacks. Kendo is not free style sword fighting; there are certain spots you attack: head, temples, wrists, abdomen - these are all slashing attacks, and the only stabbing attack is to the throat). So we practice a few of each one where one partner attacks and the other acts as a target dummy... at this point since no one has on the bogu (armor) the target holds the shinai so as to act as the target. Then after that portion of the class we take another break and those who own Bogu put it on. The remainder of the class invloves more attack practice in the two lines, but this time those with Bogu allow the attack to hit the correct target, then after that the advanced students actually do sparring and the beginners watch.

The bogu itself looks like a cross between sport protective gear and samurai armor. We won't be buying our own sets for 5-6 months mainly because it is pretty expensive and I want to make sure my son is 100% positive he wants to continue Kendo for the long term. If he does well these first 6 months and says he wants to seriously study Kendo then I will buy us both a bogu set. At that point my goal will be to make sure he sticks with Kendo until he reaches black belt (Kendo doesn't actually use a visual belt system, but the equivalent to black belt is called 'Shodan' which I believe requires the practicioner to be at least 14 years old). So in Nathan's case this will be quite a long term commitment and one he probably doesn't even understand yet but I feel it is important that he (and I) stick with it if he does seem to really enjoy it by the 6 month mark.

So anyway... long blog, but it was all to say that Nathan and I thoroughly enjoyed our first Kendo class and look forward to improving (and for me getting my flabby self into shape.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

We can build him stronger... faster...

and give him the ability to see vague blurry shapes given enough ambient light. Like all new bio-technologies, this one had to start somewhere I guess. Behold... the bionic eyeball:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Back from the land of Ick.

Well I was out for two days with what I assume was/is bronchitis.

What Wiki had to say:
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the large bronchi (medium-size airways) in the lungs. It can lead to pneumonia. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses or bacteria and may last several days or weeks.[1] Acute bronchitis is characterized by cough and sputum (phlegm) production and symptoms related to the obstruction of the airways by the inflamed airways and the phlegm, such as shortness of breath and wheezing.

I've had sputum for breakfast, lunch and dinner... as well a few midnight snacks... mmmmmmmmm.... sputum... (personally I prefer the term lung cookies but since I am doing the atkins diet and any form of cookie is strictly prohibited, sputum will have to do.)

Anyway... I won't be doing much today other than playing catch-up, so this little blog entry will compose pretty much the entire amount of my non-work related activity other than lunch for the next 7.5 hours.

*COUGH*... ick.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Another first for me... sitting behind the desk during an interview.

Yes I get to do the technical portion of an interview today for our Tech Support Analyst opening at Layne... the first of many. My boss will talk with the candidate for a half hour or so asking all of the high level personality type questions and I get to ask him if he knows the difference between an IP and an IPA (IPs are MUCH less bitter). Actually here are the questions I came up with... this is a little bit above an entry level position so I tried to keep the questions intermediate on the PC/printer support side and on the easy end of the networking/domain side.

Interview questions

1) A client has lost connectivity from his/her workstation. What are the general steps you would take to determine the cause of failure? List at least 2 steps.

2) How would you map a shared network printer to LPT1 in DOS?

3) You suspect a virus has infected a PC you are troubleshooting. You want to see where it may have files that are auto-loading upon start-up. Name 2 places within Windows that you could check.

4) A new external Print server unit has arrived and you are required to configure it. You have a laptop available to you, a switch, and an extra network cable. The instructions provide you with it's default IP address. You will need to configure the unit via DOS, as no web based options are available. What command would you use to connect to the print server from the command line?

5) What steps would you take to change a windows 2003 domain user account password?

6) A user says they can download email (they are set up to get POP3 email from the mail server’s IP address) but they can't get to any websites through Internet Explorer. What is most likely the problem?

7) A print job is stuck in a queue on the company print server and cancelling all documents does not clear the queue. This is an executive printer and must be freed up ASAP. What would be the least disruptive solution?

8) You’ve shared a directory on the company’s file server and given a user ‘share permissions’ to modify the resource however they still cannot access the resource. What else needs to be done?