Oct 30, 2010

Off to the Catskills

In about 20 minutes my friend Chris will show up in a rental car and we'll be getting the hell out of Dodge for a couple of days. Dodge really gets on my nerves sometimes with its constant lacking in the Lakes & Mountains Department. So, we're headed up into the Catskills to hike the Borroughs Range Trail. The entire trail is 9.7 miles one way. Not only is the hike long, but it is pretty demanding. It takes you over 3 peaks, all of which are over 3500 feet: Slide Mountain, Cornell Mountain and Wittenberg Mountain. Slide's summit sits at 4,180 ft above sea level and is the tallest peak in the Catskills. We will be hiking from the west side of Slide tackling the tallest peak first, although from what I've read the climb is gradual and not too demanding with only a few ladders and scrambles. After Slide we will continue on to Cornell which is a tougher climb involving more use of the arms (this sounds great to me). I think at Cornell's summit, we will most likely turn back as we will be racing against day light. To continue on to Wittenberg could mean hiking out in the middle of the night. One for adventure; I've packed a flashlight, though it would be freezing (literally) if this ends up happening. We'll just have to see. Chris and I are in pretty good shape and we do a lot of climbing together...

I'll be sure to report back on Monday with a trip report full of pictures. Till then I'll leave you with an excerpt from a favorite Robert Frost poem of mine: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Oct 27, 2010

Chris & Alexandra

My friends Chris and Alexandra are getting married next summer. Chris is a good friend of mine, we were once co-workers and we often boulder and climb together, pushing each other to clean tough sections of wall. He asked if I would take a few photos of them to use for a save-the-date magnet and I was happy to oblige. I always want to take portraits of people, even though its a bit outside of my comfort zone. Most of my street photography consists, quite literally, of "stolen moments", where the subject has no idea that I took their picture. While this approach is fine, I often wish that I could stop the person and ask them to stare into my lens for a moment. As a photographer, making portraits is truly gratifying. It's a chance to capture a hyper-accurate likeness of a person without error. Time is taken to compose, frame, light and expose the person in a most precise way. Working with Chris and Alexandra last night was a lot of fun, for exactly this reason. We strolled around the southern end of Central Park and I managed to take a few pleasing images like the one above, though overcast skies and fading evening light rushed us a bit. I think we'll be meeting again to play around in the park when there is more light.

Oct 26, 2010

The Carolinas and ATC

I have been pretty busy lately. Work has me traveling quite a bit for the new WMATA Project. Thursday and Friday of last week were spent in Charlotte, NC and Columbia, SC visiting suppliers for the coupler and Automatic Train Control (ATC) systems. I must say, I love visiting innovative companies; I often find myself in awe of the technologies used in these plants. I got to watch as printed circuit boards were made in electrostatic discharge (ESD) sensitive environments. The workers, tables, chairs et cetera, were grounded as microchips, resistors and other tiny components were placed on the boards for soldering. I witnessed, the fully automated assembly of circuit boards where soldering paste was screen printed onto the boards, chips were placed quickly and accurately by machine and then wave soldered as the boards traveled down the line. The circuitry this company provides will be used to facilitate cab signaling information (track status displayed inside the cab for the operator to see vs traditional track-side signaling). The benefit of ATC technology is that it automatically assigns maximum speeds for trains based on the track status. If an operator exceeds the maximum speed calculated by the ATC, an alarm will sound in the cab. If the operator does not react to the alarm (perhaps the operator is texting) the ATC will automatically reduce the train speed.

Oct 17, 2010

Philly: brain slices and jarred you-name-its.

Instead of mountainbiking today, Natasha, her folks, and I drove down to the City of Brotherly Love this morning to visit Natasha's sister, Becky. She's in her first semester of grad school at Widener University in Philadelphia. It was good to see her and she looks like she's settled into the stress of grad school well. We met her boyfriend, Brian, who seems like a cool guy; I'm sure we'll be seeing more of him. She took us to an awesome place for lunch: The Famous 4th Street Delicatessen. After thoroughly gorging ourselves on extremely over sized servings we walked over to the Mutter Museum. I have been to this museum once before and it's eerily entertaining. Visit the website to see what I mean... creepy shit. Fascinating at the same time. I'm talking about jarred brains and organs, numerous skulls, skeletons and other body parts best kept covered in epidermis if you ask me.

Oct 16, 2010

Another lapse of time

In preparation for tomorrow's ride, I replaced the leaking tube in the front wheel of my Cannondale. It was a slow leaker that took about 3 days to completely leak. Being the slacker that I am, I kept filling it up and it would hold long enough to get a great ride in; knowing that I'd have to repair it sooner or later (today being later). Thought I'd make a simple time lapse video just for kicks. The video is only 11 seconds long, made of 70 stills played at 6 frames per second.

It's an inside day

I took a spin on the fixed gear early this morning. I rode down to the South Street Seaport and back. Riding up and down this island sure tired me out; I'm beat! The new wheels are fast rollers, smooth as butter, but heavy as sin. Other than the weight, they're great. It's pretty cold and windy today. I had ambitions of mountainbiking at Sprain Ridge Park today but I think I'm going to just sit inside and catch up on a Ken Burns documentary I started a while ago and have been meaning to finish. Maybe I'll hit some dirt tomorrow...

Oct 10, 2010

Pittsburgh

I haven't had time to blog lately as I've been pretty damn busy. I spent last week in Pittsburgh on business and tomorrow I fly to Dallas for the week. I hope to have some time in the lone star state to get out and about with the camera. I don't really know what to expect in Texas. I've never been there before so I'm going on my only preconceived notion that everything is big. We shall see. Being in Pittsburgh was a lot of fun for me. I hadn't been there since I went to school there in 1998. I was happy to see the old familiar spots in Oakland (Primanti Brother's and The O) but this time I wasn't in the least bit interested in eating anything that they serve! I would love to go back again for pleasure and take in the museums, visit Mount Washington and photograph the numerous bridges.

Flying in to LaGuardia Airport I snapped this picture of lower Manhattan, from the window of the plane. I love NY.