Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lonely trip to Boston

I went to the city today thinking that I would do a bit of shopping and then head for the Blue Hills to hike. My first problem was that instead of parking in a garage and taking the T I decided to search for a spot myself. It took about an hour and I was at least a 10 minute walk from Downtown Crossing. Street parking in Boston is such a gamble. I've had several trips where we found a spot in minutes, but all too many like this, where it becomes a long and frustrating exercise.

I went to Strawberries on Washington St. and cleaned house. I bought a couple of those discs I said that I wanted back a couple of blog entries ago, as well as a few others. Their used CDs were buy three, get one free.

After scouring all of the used discs at Strawberries I went down the street to H&M. H&M is my favorite clothing store because their size small clothing actually fits me and some of their clothes are so cheap I'll buy them before they're on clearance.

On my way back to the car it was very hot and I was starving so I got some soft serve.

Here's everything I bought:

just because I always have pics in my posts lately

Unfortunately, it was around 1PM when I was done shopping, not to mention 90+ degrees. I could have hit the trail in the Blue Hills, but by the time I was done I would be sweaty, exhausted, and most discouraging, caught in outbound rush hour traffic. I decided it was best to head back to Lowell.

I'd love to go out for a run, but it's still very hot out. I might have to settle for the exercise bike at home. In the mean time, Putin is getting crazier and crazier.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Morning trek to Mt. Wachusett

This morning I made some coffee for Kimberly, saw her off to work, and then prepared for a hike on Mt. Wachusett in Princeton, MA. It was a nice drive on Rt. 2 through Fitchburg, not too far out of the way.

The temperature was in the high 80s at the trailhead, but a bit cooler in the shade of the wilderness. I took a fairly long loop suggested on this site: Conditioning Hikes Near Boston

Here is what I did (starting at the ski lodge in the upper right):

click to enlarge

The trip involved summiting the mountain twice, which was interesting and fine, since the total elevation gain was still under 2k. Here are my stats:

Distance: 6.2 mi
Time: 2h 10min
Elevation gain: ~1900 ft
Pace: 2.86 mph

And here are some interesting pics:

Balancing Rock, not far from the trailhead. A glacial feature.

examples of the hard to capture beauty of the ascent up Old Indian trail. It seemed to me that there were far more flat, flaky sedimentary rocks mixed in with the glacial igneous and metamorphics that are so prevalent throughout New England.

a closed up fire tower at the top. Had it not been so hazy I might have bothered to jump the fence and take a peak.

the Boston skyline should be in this shot, but the ozone levels were higher than I've ever seen.

Buying some previously stolen goods...

Early last month I decided that it was best to re-import our entire CD collection into iTunes. I did this because we had some mp3s encoded at 128kbs, some at 160kbs, as well as some unprotected AAC at 128kbs. To standardize everything, upgrade the older lower bitrate stuff, and make everything compatible with my mp3CD player in the car, it all had to go.

The biggest issue with this was that though we no longer pirate music from anyone, we had a sizable collection of friend's files and even stuff I downloaded seven years ago in the Napster heyday. We came to the conclusion that even retaining these files was pretty immoral.

I deleted everything (save some non-stolen files and protected iTunes store AACs) and started from scratch.

Yesterday, I took a bunch of old CDs that we no longer wanted to Newbury Comics to cash them in. They took a few of them and gave me $39. I put every last bit of it toward repurchasing some of the music that we had been missing:

Jack Johnson - Brushfire Fairytales

Barenaked Ladies - Maroon

Ben Folds Five - The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner

Beck - Midnight Vultures

I still very much miss:

The Shins - Oh, Inverted World

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

Death Cab for Cutie - Something about Airplanes

and all five Dismemberment Plan discs

It feels really good to listen to this stuff knowing that the artist was finally compensated (not that I don't have serious issues with the state of the industry and the extremely questionable practices of the RIAA).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mt. Monadnock made difficult.

On Monday I took a trip to Mt. Monadnock. I've gone hiking here many many times (this is the second time this year), but I've never started from any trailhead other than the state park HQ.

I began at the Dublin Lake trailhead, north of Monadnock. It is 4.4 miles on the Pumpelly trail from the trailhead to the summit. After I reached the top, I went down the entire White Cross trail and across (mostly back up) the east face of the mountain on the Cascade Link, which then rejoined Pumpelly 3 miles from the trailhead.

My goal, since I was hiking solo, was to see how fast I could complete the loop. These are my results:

Distance: 10.28 mi
Time: 3h 50min
Elevation gain ~2500 ft
Pace: 2.67 mph

Some pictures:

a typical shot of the Pumpelly trail

a view of the summit with some hikers

a summit view of the Pumpelly trail extending from Dublin Lake on the left, all the way up the northern ridge of Monadnock

someone's home beside the Cascade Link trail

Friday, June 22, 2007

Cannon Mtn.

Yesterday I got up bright and early and went hiking with Ben on Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch State Park. It was a beautiful clear day and the trail was in great condition (it was the first time I've been mountain climbing this year when I haven't encountered any snow). We reached the summit in no time, even while taking a moderate pace.

Here are some photos from the trip:

Ben looking manly on the trail.

A view of I-93 from an amazing overlook near the summit.

A handy compass at the observation tower on the peak that indicates what mountain you're looking at.

Enjoying our time at the peak.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My time off so far.

This weekend Kimberly and I went to the park to play some catch and I found the first four-leaf clover of my life.


Later on Sunday Kimberly's parents and grandparents came down to visit (mostly because Kimberly's little cousin was having surgery in Boston, but they stayed the night with us).

Kimberly's grandmother meeting Mr. Pink.

We all shared some cake (with homemade peanut butter frosting courtesy of Kimberly) and ice cream for my birthday.


Since then I've been playing music,

Bach cello suites

learning lots of chords on the uke

playing Starcraft,

performing iPod surgery,

and continually punishing Guacamole with cage time for scratching at the door to the closet, which he spends most of his waking time doing. The punishment seems to have no behavior-modifying affects, but I'll keep trying.


Yesterday I met Kimberly at her office for lunch. We drove down the street to Kimball's and observed some of the animals after we ate.

This was the alpha rooster. Twice the size of the others, he easily made it known that he was the boss.

After Kimberly went back to work I drove down to Boxborough and played some music with Ben. Later in the evening we went to dinner with the Jordans and then to our first Lowell Spinners game, courtesy of our old boss from PPM who got us the tickets.


My time off conclusion so far: I really enjoy working. Time off is great when Kimberly has it too and we can go explore the world, but I couldn't easily make the transition to a stay-at-home dad or anything. Music and games go a long way, but I feel pretty empty after a full day without much accomplished. I'll probably have a different perspective at the end of the two weeks when I've fully adjusted to this, so I'm trying to be cognizant of the unique blessing this time of recovery is, so that I won't take it for granted.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Highlights from my spring trips.

In March Kimberly and I went to Pittsburgh so that she could present a paper. We stayed in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh

where we had a lot of great food (such as sushi)

at great prices (much cheaper than east coast cities) and we took in a bit of culture

including these sculptures, but also a play and walks through historic places.

Pittsburgh was a fun place to visit, but I wouldn't recommend it for a week without a car. It's not a walking city like San Francisco or even Boston or New York.


In April I went to Las Vegas for a week on business. It was my second National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention and my first one being in charge of the setup and operation. Due to a semi-scam from the agency we booked our hotel block with, we ended up at the Tropicana instead of the brand new Westin. It was mostly a painless downgrade, though the decor was exceptionally tacky.

Vegas was still Vegas, which I'm thoroughly sick of after about 30 minutes, but the show setup was a big success. Here's the finished booth:

Some other photo highlights:

Me with the international sales manager, Lars-olof Janflod.

Myspace-style picture from the hotel room.

The lobby of the Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil show at the Mirage.


The very day I returned via red-eye flight from Las Vegas we went picnicking

and hiking

with the Kelihers at a state park called Purgatory Chasm outside of Worcester. It is a beautiful natural feature that was quite accessible for a short hike.

I fell asleep in their car on the way back, but I was so glad to get some fresh air after being stuck in the mire of Las Vegas life for an entire week.


On the following week (near the end of April at this point) I got my daily job responsibilities back in order and then took a Wednesday off to go do some more serious hiking. I chose Mt. Moosilauke in the White Mountains since it was the only 4000 footer that Nathan had bagged without me last year.

I chose to attempt the steepest approach, only to find several feet of snow still on the ground.

The snowy hike was certainly grueling, but provided many beautiful sights.

I thought this natural ice sculpture was particularly inspiring.

As I approached the summit, the snow suddenly gave way.

The last several hundred feet were totally clear.

Ominous Mt. Washington in the distance.

I had a friend that I met on the trail snap a picture of me at the summit.


My next adventure was a Mt. Monadnock hike with the Kelihers, including Nathan's brother Josh who sold me my Corolla but who I hadn't had the chance to really hang out with.


We made it up to Maine once this spring. Here are some pics of us with my siblings.


Our last big adventure of the spring was a trip to the Adirondacks.

Kimberly picked me up at work on Friday, we ate some good dinner at the Melting Pot in Framingham, and then we headed west on the Mass Pike. We ended up in Lee, MA Friday night, where we parked at the end of a trail near the AT and camped by our car.

Saturday we had breakfast at a local diner and then continued into New York. We checked out Lake Placid and then went on our first overnight backpacking trip.

Here we are loaded up with our gear.

We camped on the side of Mt. Marcy, the highest peak in New York state.

Our tiny campsite we scouted out.

Due to Kimberly forgetting her brand new hiking boots and there being much more snow than we had anticipated, we didn't go for the summit. On the way back down it rained, so we broke out the ponchos.

After we got back to the car we drove to the ferry that goes from Port Kent, NY to Burlington, VT where we checked into a hotel to shower and relax for the evening.

On Monday we took a trip through Stowe, VT to eat at our favorite pizza place there, Pie in the Sky, and then went to the Cabot Creamery. Since it was Memorial Day the cheddar guys had the day off, so we didn't get to take the tour.

On our way back through New Hampshire we stopped in Tilton and met up with the Havens and Nathan K. who were on their way back from Montreal. We did a Nathan swap and he had dinner with us in Tilton and then joined us for the rest of the trip.


I'll try to keep up with my happenings a bit better from now on to keep the entry length down. The best thing I have to post this week is an amazing comic by Kimberly and Shannon, courtesy of the built in camera and software in Kimberly's new MacBook.

(click to enlarge and admire)