- Bought tickets for the NPL Convention in Providence. Will be flying into Boston on the 4th (5 p.m. EDT), looking to bum around before heading to the hotel on Wednesday afternoon, then flying out of Logan early on the 11th (7 a.m.). Who'll be around?
- I also said, "Screw it!" and asked for the rest of that week off from work, so it's going to be a real vacation for me all through to the 15th. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself. But it will not be working.
- I'm coming out of a funk (well, came out of a funk a week or so ago). It's always hard to identify it when I'm in it, till my body rebels and says, "No, Tablesaw, you need to do things again. You're going to do those situps, and then you're going to go out and see people." I'm looking ahead to when the pushback happens, the time when I feel a little sick or a little tired, and I let my momentum slip, and I can't pick it up again. On the horizon, this is most likely to happen because . . .
- I'm probably going into the dentist this week to get my other wisdom tooth looked at. I have a feeling it's going to need removal too. The last time that happened it took a lot out of me. If it happens again, I'm going to need to plan ahead so that I can remomentatize myself.
- I planned to go geocaching with trinker, and then found out it was to happen on her birthday, so I went all out to be the birthday fairy. It turned out kind of okay.
- All the TV shows ended, and everyone is pregnant, I guess.
- My phone, my crappy-ass phone—that is only one step removed from a crappy assphone—has started losing its charge, so I'm actually getting a smartphone. Virgin Mobile, which I've been using to keep my cell-phone bill under $10/month, has an unlimited data plan for $25/month. It should arrive this week. So that'll be interesting.
- The Portal 2 print is framed and gorgeous-looking. I'm also wrestling with framing these prints on the cheap, which would be easier if the United States and Canada hadn't decided that they wanted their own special paper sizes.
- Oh, I got a haircut too. For me, it's super short. But then, my hair was getting kind of long. For a while, it looked way too young for my big, bearded, thirty-three-year-old face, but it's looking better with a beard trim.
- I watched a friend run Dungeon World at Strategicon over the weekend, which got me rereading Apocalypse World. After playing through a campaign, the directives made a lot more sense. It's a fascinating game, which is probably why I keep talking about it to everyone I meet. Also, much like with Smallville, I'm seeing it in the shows I watch. Sons of Anarchy and Dexter are totally running on Apocalypse World.
- Finished Dragon Age:Origins. Pablum is too exciting a word.
- Visited the Museum of Death, knocking another item off of my bucket list (defined as things that are close enough for me to throw a bucket at). It was disappointing. I was hoping for a curatorial perspective beyond, "WOW ISN'T THIS COOOOOOOOL!? SERIAL KILLERS, MAN! FUCK SOCIETY!" There were some nice touches: a set of crime-scene photographs near (what I assume was) the brief mention of the murder-suicide. On the other hand, relics of Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein were counterposed with "ads containing humorous depictions of cannibals." Yeah, that wasn't too pleasant.
Anyway, I finished up another hiking map. This one was mostly done, since I gave up on it back in '08 when I realized that some of the conversions from Google Earth to Google Maps weren't happening right. Now things seem to be running more smoothly.
This is for a trip to Calabasas Peak, the week after the trip to Saddle Peak.
Google Earth file / Online Google Map
It was one of a few hikes that Ojou indulged me in, since she never really enjoyed just walking through the mountains like I did. When we reached the peak, she was rather miffed that there was a road that led straight to the peak. Still, the trail led through a cool rocky narrow on the way up. She took a lot of pictures there. I did too, but most of mine didn't turn out so well.
Google Earth file / Online Google Map
I went to my dentist about what I assumed was a small cavity. We were both shocked to discover that it was, instead, a massive cavity that had grown faster than normal humans can manage, and that I now need a root canal. And also, after the root canal, I'll probably need another wisdom tooth pulled. And also my dental coverage had disappeared (though that got cleared up the next day).
I got into more of a routine with stretching and using the exercise bike. Current games for playing on the exercise bike: Castle Crashers, because it is simple and repetitive, and Super Meat Boy, because it causes you to feed the frustration back into your legs.
I made it to Laz's boardgaming night for the first time in 2011, and played Power Grid, which was balanced and fun.
I went to cramerica house-reheating party, and spent some time catching up with folks like Artistry and Bartok whom I haven't seen in a while.
I had a two-day workweek.
Oh, and also, I bought a new car a new car, and returned the Jeep to my parents.
- Hitched a ride out to Mission Viejo (inorite?) to go to Farrell's for wjukknibs's birthday party. W's on a quest to have birthday parties at locations when Angelenos our age would have had birthdays as children. We've done Chuck E Cheese's, and he's contemplating a McDonald's party.
- My role-playing group has been having a lot fun playtesting a new game. Of the games we've played, this is probably the one most up my alley, and I've been smiling because of it for the past two weeks.
- Went out to eat at Little Dom's. I enjoyed it, but Ojou was a bit taken back by the too-much-porkness of the menu. My entree, linguine with New Orleans–style BBQ shrimp, sounded unlikely, but was very tasty.
- Short hiking through Griffith Park. I wanted to take the Ferndell-Observatory trail, but I was stopped midway by a lonely coyote. My policy is to just leave coyotes alone when I'm hiking by myself. I repositioned, and walked up from the Greek Theatre to the Observatory and back down again. It's always fun hiking after winter rains. I'm walking along the side of the mountain, and instead of gold, everything's black and green. It was like I was in not!SoCal.
- I've been playing Sam & Max: Season One. Adventure games in 3-D still feel a little clunky to me, but the dialogue is spot-on and a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the used copy I bought is skipping a little bit. I'm goign to see if I still have time to find the recent and try for a different disc.
- jedusor was in town for grad school interviews, and on Friday, I met up with her and cramerica and Artistry and Mr. Pizza on Fairfax. I got a really (really) big calzone, and two bottles of Dr. Brown's Black Cherry. 'Twas yummy.
What I didn't know last night, when I was making my plans, was that it was on fire. I'd known about the earlier Morris fire further east, but I hadn't paid close enough attention to realize that there was a second fire in Angeles National Forest (the Station fire) much closer. And there are two other fires in SoCal right now.
I fell back to Griffith Park where the air was a bit (not a great bit) better, but by then it was already starting to get hot, and I didn't have a clear picture where I was going. Mostly what I did was sweat. The only thing I did right this morning was bring a very large bottle of water with me, and it was definitely needed.
I did get some walking in, but mostly what I did was sweat. I think I still walked like 2.5 miles. That is because I am stupidly stubborn when it comes to hiking. And I also picked up four caches, though one was literally across the street from where I dropped Ojou off.
Now I am showered, and I feel much better. Naya and I are going to the UCB Theatre later tonight. Till then, I'm staying away from outside and sending prayers to the folks fighting the fires and evacuating their homes.
It was overcast, which was great for temperature but made most of the pictures come out pre-drabbed. It was a pretty varied trip. It started with wide fire trails and continued with wide paved roads. There were lots of people out too. Hiker, runners, dog-walkers, and horse-riders. The final leg of the loop went through some smaller paths to bring me back down to the caves. I'd intended to take a path that was marked on Google Maps, but ended up taking a longer route that circled the ridge of the quarry before I could find the path down. At the end, I ran back and forth through the Batcave a few times before heading to the car.
I came home and showered to cool down. Now I feel good, ready for a brand new week of sitting.
At that point, I felt like I'd wasted so much time driving that we should spend some time in Glendale. I mentioned I wanted to visit The Americana because I hadn't been there yet. Looking for a way out of the rather confusing parking structure, Ojou found an entrance to the Glendale Galleria, where she and Ingenue quickly went into Hot Topic, where they stayed for much longer than necessary because each one thought that the other one was still shopping when both were totally done with the store.
In the meantime, I tried to kill time looking at stuff at
After we got out of Hot Topic, I explained to Ojou that this wasn't, actually, the mall I'd wanted to go to. I tried to explain the existence of a new, giant mall right next door, but she seemed doubtful. So I quickly led the way, and there it was.
We homed in on Barnes & Noble, and we all scattered. I left the ladies early and found a comfy chair in which I could peruse 500 Essential Graphic Novels: The Ultimate Guide. It made me sad that I hadn't read more of them. When Ojou found me, she offered to get The Long Way Home using part of a gift from twilightsyren. She got a book of patterns for cute things.
The Barnes & Noble was also helpful because it had only recently moved from the strip mall witht he Michaels, so we asked the information desk where the store used to be. We hit Michaels where I found a small corner to read my Buffy comic while Ojou shopped. Eventually, we got home, and I passed out.
On Saturday, things were much lazier. I got up late, and stayed home while Ojou and Ingenue went to get their nails done. I played some Metroid, and watched last week's Venture Bros. Eventually, I made my way to Franklin Canyon Park. I got out of the house a bit later than I had intended, and I made the mistake of staying on the south side of the mountains when I drove there. So I only ended up taking a trip up and down the Hastain Trail.
For people-watching, it was a different experience. I usually stay on out-of-the-way trails on weekday mornings. The most people I ever see are in Griffith Park. But walking up a trail in a park abover Beverly Hills is very different. For example, there were two very beautiful women walking their dogs in full makep. It was a bit disconcerting. There were two guys discussing a tech venture. And at one point, I passed a guy who may, in retrospect, have been Ed Begley, Jr.
Walking through the hills like that, on a summer afternoon, with the sun setting, made me feel like I was back in the '90s, in late high school or early college. Back then, I wouldn't so much hike as just go wandering along the streets by car and by foot. I'd listen to the quiet in the high places of Los Angeles and watch the sun slant westward. As I wound through the shadowed canyons, I listened to "Come Lady Death," the way I once listened to Joe Frank while driving back home from a sunset in Malbu.
Ojou and company were getting ready for a night of goth clubbing, so I did a bit of shopping. I wanted to have dinner somewhere that reminded me of ten years ago, but I couldn't think of anything. The Chinese restaurant by my high school has long since changed ownership, and I wanted something more substantial than the multitude of fast-food franchises we would occasionally drop by. I found that even in my nostalgia, what I really craved was a meal, any meal, cooked by my fianceé. In the end, I stopped by the Poquito Más on Cahuenga, where the casts of high school plays would reconvene after a long rehearsal.
The full moon rose early and large as I drove home.
SatNYTX: 42; 14D may be regional, and I can't get a good confirmation on it. SatLATX: 17:30. TueNYTX: 4:15.
Sadly, I didn't have a good record with the caching: 6/13. I'm pretty sure that two of them weren't there, one was being watched too closely, and another two I didn't go for because I coyote kept circling them. The other two were probably just me being dense. Still, I was hoping to hit one hundred fifty today, instead I'm one shy.
TueNYTX: 4. Solved without trying to guess the theme, because the tie-together clue was too long.
See, I'd tried to get to the top of Mount Bell before. And I thought I had. Except I didn't actually have very accurate information about where it was, so I pointed to the wrong place in Google Earth. On the day I came back from supposedly climbing it, I discovered, too late, that I had climbed what one hiker called "Mount Taco."
So this new trail was going right by Mount Bell; I figured I'd grab some caches and reach the top. Easy peasy.
Unfortunately, I let myself be sidetracked by some Mystery Hunt business, so I got out a lot later than I expected. I ended up in Griffith Park a bit after 11 a.m. But I figured I'd still have enough time to get up and back to the doctor's office at 2 p.m.
But once again, I forgot how long it takes me to look for caches. As it was approaching one, I was close to Mount Bell, but still not there. I knew I should go back, but I was so close; I couldn't let Mount Bell defeat me again. Last time, I'd come from the south, and there wasn't much elevation gain. This time I'd climbed up a thousand feet. And it was close, damnit, my GPSr said it was less than a quarter of a mile away. I mean, I knew it was longer by trails, but I could speed up and do it. And besides, I could go faster on my way down. I wouldn't be diverted by geocaching, and I'd be going down, which is always better than up.
So I hurried up, I hustled. I'd been in the area before; I knew the trails I was looking for; I knew I had to climb up, then do a long circling of the peak before I'd make my way to the south side, where the game trail to the top was. And from there, it would just be a quick jog to the top. The video would have to be short, but I could do it.
I started jogging, despite being in hiking boots. I sped up to a run when I could. And I pushed up that hill. I kept checking my watch, seeing if I was making it far enough. I had to make it to the smaller trail by one, I knew. I watched the minute hand crawl, while I pushed higher. It's those kinds of times when you're shocked to remember how much you can do in a minute, how far you can go. And so as I got closer and closer, I managed a pace that made me sure that I could make, and made me sure that I couldn't.
I rounded one switchback and made my way back. I was right by it. If there were a trail, I could go up right now. But instead I had to trace an achingly long circumference while my GPSr told me that the peak was 500 feet away—never more, never less, a vicious circle.
And then I was on the south side of the ridge. The wildflowers were right were the were supposed to be. I started running. In my massive hiking shoes, I was probably the most unlikely jogger in Griffith Park. I passed people with dogs. And I was there.
But the moment I saw the small trail again, I knew that I couldn't to do it. There'd been a lot more growth. And the rattlers had come out (I'd seen one earlier). I'd have to be more careful picking my way through the brush. My speed-demoning had been for naught. If I went higher, I'd be late for my appointment.
And as much as I love hiking, I hate being late even more.
Of course, now I was in a quandry. I should have turned back about fifteen minutes ago and enjoyed a leisurely stroll back to the car. Now, I had about a half hour to go back the two miles it had taken me 90 minutes to climb.
So I started running again.
When you weigh over two hundred pounds, momentum is more enemy than friend when going downhill. Oh, it was fun sometimes—careening down the fire road with the power of science propelling me, letting my the magic in my legs do as it would, flying—but at a certain point, I couldn't ignore the fact that I wasn't in a high school cross-country race anymore, and if I did twist an ankle, I'd miss my appointment (but have a date with an emergency room). I cooled down a bit, but I kept checking my watch, and the "instant speed" display on my GPS. Oh, the math! "If I average four miles per hour, I'll make it back to the car in half an hour. Hopefully sooner because I won't have detours. But if I let the average slip down to three m.p.h., it'll take fourty minutes!"
I ran, I jogged, I racewalked, and strolled purposefully, and ultimately, I made it down that hill.
With no problem.
In Google Maps, and in Google Earth.
In the meanwhile, here's the media from that hike. First, there's the pictures from the hike:
TueNYTX: 4; TueNYSX: 5:30.
April first is already starting to bug me. I'd wanted to catch up on the Story Games forum, but they've apparently archived nearly all of their old threads in service to today's "prank."
I've been doing a lot of hiking, but haven't posted much about it. Ojou joined me for my last two Santa Monica Summits, San Vicente Mountain and Saddle Peak. Both involved short hikes which, perversely, could have been avoided by driving. But that's not the point, of course. In retrospect, the unusual number of bugs meant that we should ahve driven up San Vicente, but the hike up to Saddle Peak took us along a beautiful stretch of the Backbone Trail that were wonderful.
On Saturday, I headed east to Game Empire to play some RPGs at Nerd SoCal's March Game Day. It was a lot of fun. I played Shock in the morning, and In a Wicked Age in the evening. I'd heard a lot about both, and both were excellent. I have to say that IAWA was significantly more excellent, though. I'd like to go into details, but that would be a whole other post.
I enjoy these convention and miniconvention outings. It seems like I always have enough interested friends around to do some gaming, but it very rarely coalesces into playing games. But at these gatherings, the people I've played with have been pretty uniformly awesome, and it's great to try out a new game every four hours.
One of the reasons I can't really hang with fandoms is that I can't keep a text alive within my heart very long. Fans of a show or book—I mean Capital-F-Fandom fans—just seem to be able to keep that show alive regardless of what's happening. Writer's strike, delayed book, early cancelation, none of these can dim the spirits of fandom because they keep things alive through fanfic, speculation, spoilers, art, reruns, rereads, and any manner of thing. But for me, that fire only really exists while the show is going; when it stops, everything cools.
Battlestar Galactica restarts this week, and I'm having trouble remembering everything about it. I feel like this any time something I was a fan of goes away and comes back. I'll be into it soon enough, I know, but when I look at those giant ads plastered around my home, I feel disconnected.
I develop fandom muscles quickly, but I let them atrophy too easily.
radiotelescope wrote a fun little puzzle called Praser 12 a little while ago (last week?). It didn't take too long to solve (though it did take a while to find the time to actually do the solving); I think I was just on Zarf's brainwavelength when it came to laying to whole thing out.
I've definitely let my crossword muscles atrophy. I agree with thedan that Nikoli puzzles work out a different part of the brain, and it's hard to keep both of them going. I need to shape up both for Hunt construction this year.
Of course, I'm getting better at solving the Nikoli puzzles. I absolutely breezed through the mega-sized puzzles released today.
Someone else has used this same trail, and he reckons it's about 7.5 miles. With the detour up to Temescal, I'm guessing about 8.
I'm hoping to leave at about 9 a.m. Let's hope it stays cool again today.
I'm working on not a whole lot of sleep. I've been shaving a few hours off for most of this week, and today I got up early for an online Hunt meetup. I'm looking forward to my nap tomorrow before meeting up with cramerica.
Yesterday, I duplicated my work in Google Earth and put together some pictures from my last trip to Griffith Park. Today, I was listening to Podcacher talk about geocoding photos, and I thought I'd detail the steps I take to put together the KMZ files for my hikes. I think a few readers might be interested, but mostly, I intend to post it on the Podcacher forums. As a result, cut tag!( How to Create a Fancy Google Map of Your Hike with Photos and Other Neat Stuff. )
And that's it. There's still a bit more for me to learn. Sometimes I think I should enforce the ordering of waypoints by numbering them (Google Maps always defaults to alphabetical order, it seems), but I think I'd rather work to make suer that I can tell my story geographically instead of chronologically. I'm still learning how to properly break up the tale of my journey into the various textual locations (Google Earth descriptions, Picasa captions, and Geocaching logs). Soon I'll play around with embedding links to YouTube videos, so that I can include my video from Ladyface (and future others like it). But that's pretty much the method I use right now. Hopefully this information was of some interest to you. Let me know if anything is unclear.
Anyway, I don't have a full report yet, but here's a video I made at the top of Ladyface on Saturday morning. I wasn't really thinking about it, I just started recording, so hopefully it looks okay.