Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Great cinematic Mario:

Part 1:
(click "watch this movie" button)

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Sunday, June 27, 2004

I just remembered I won a Gold Circle award at the Collegiate level for humor. I went to find proof, and I found it using this search:

Google Search for "Mc Allister's Law"

The awards listing site is here:
*do a "find" for "Mc Allister" with a space. Or just search for "Allister" and you'll find me.

The story is "Mc Allister's Law" and it was published in the Technograph, an engineering journal published by the school newspaper company at UIUC. I will soon republish this article to either this site or to my main site somewhere.

"Fairly warned ye be says I......."

-- Pirates of the Caribbean

Last day in Vegas, no one else is awake yet, so I'll post. I sat at the Blackjack table 3 times this weekend, losing the first two and winning small on the lsat one. I came out net down around $60, but that's not bad. RW took me and ES up to the Strat and we rode all the rides up there. I couldn't even imagine what it's like to be a ride operator up there in the heat of the sun all day. That's 1000 feet up, sunny all the time, over 100 degrees. Yesterday the high was 106 deg F, which is really a strange feeling to me. I'm used to nice weather now! The Big Shot was really the best ride up top by far.

Then we went to Downtown Vegas, which is not very great. I'm glad we went, but I really like the Strip because it's cleaner and more targeted to me. Maybe the odds are worse on the strip, but that's not everything. We found on a card at Walgreens that shows the probability tables for BJ that if you follow the tables over the long term, you will only lose 1%. That's interesting. I sat down at Lady Luck and lost a ton. For some reason, I let my winnings ride, and as RW pointed out, that's just not a winning strategy. Plus they weren't giving me the cards there.

Later, we went to meet with the B group with whom I was supposed to be hanging out with the whole time. They all stayed in the Paris Hotel and did their own thing though, so I didn't get to catch up with them until Sat. evening. We got a group picture at the Bellagio and I got to meet at least a few of the people in the group. Some seemed frustrated by having to stick with the big group, so I'm sure I had a better time just doing whatever our little group wanted to do.

Today we're going to the Hilton to see the Star Trek ride with GG, RS's roommate. Then I'll pick up the other guys and we'll head back to SoCal.

I've gotta get on the IVC to sign up for that Spanish class on Monday! That will be a crazy 6 weeks.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Going to Vegas this weekend - I've been practicing my probability tables using Hitorstand.net's training Flash software.

Monday, June 21, 2004

I'm going to Disneyland today and tomorrow - Tower of Terror! Indiana Jones!

30 mile bike ride this weekend was pretty good. Got new pedals for the bike afterwards...

Thursday, June 17, 2004

I listen to two great eclectic rock radio stations, one is Radio Paradise, and the other is KCRW's Music stream. Both of these are primarily Shoutcast streams, and can be listened-to via iTunes or Winamp.

I'm RSS now. I also got the PLUCK RSS Reader today, which is pretty great.

Reading about the Google API, and it's various uses.

Thanks to Hua for getting me interested in RSS, and then just after seeing it all over the damn place, I had to finally get into it. I don't want to get left behind!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

OK Life update time:

Working for an aerospace company now is great. ES just moved out here from school - I hope she likes it out here! It was a big leap which I've taken before, and I know how it can be both frustrating and rewarding. Big risks, big returns. Or as DW says, Go big or go home.

I climbed Mt. Whitney on Saturday, Jun 12, 2004. It took me 15.5 hours, and 9 hours was the time it took me to get to the top. Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain in the USA outside of Alaska at 14,500 ft. For photos, see: http://photos.yahoo.com/whitney_jun04. The hike was definitely an endurance challenge for me. The hike has four very distinct legs. You begin hiking at 8000 feet from the Whitney Portal through some forest area on very modest switchbacks. You arrive at outpost camp, and this is when things start looking more barron - foliage is less dense. The hike continues up the valley until you soon see no trees, and rock, snow, lichen, and lakes are all that's around. This is Trail Camp. The largest challenge is the third leg, comprised of 99 switchbacks. 10 of these switchbacks were covered with snow - the ski poles I borrowed from QT were very useful for these spots. Somewhere on this leg, I broke 12,500 feet, and suddenly begain feeling queezy and light headed. On the 3rd leg, I began to consider turning back realizing that I was hiking too slowly to complete the whole hike in daylight. Others from our party turned back on the switchbacks.

I kept pushing though, increasingly through snow fields which covered some of the switchbacks. My muslces were not sore at this point, but I was dizzy and my stomach became more upset. I kept running into some people from the Chech Republic - either they were taking a break or I was - and we had a good time joking about the height and how much trail we had left. I reached trailcrest at 13,600 ft, and didn't take much of a break. There are certain moments while climbing where you crest a certain point and open up a whole new field of view after hours of seeing the same thing. At trail crest, you can for the first time see Sequoia Nat'l Park, which is on the West side of Mt. Whitney.

This is, as far as I'm concerned, the half way point. The final leg is only a 900 foot climb, but is so high that I could continue at no faster than a saunter. Slowly, I continued, meeting others on the way down who kept saying it was another 2 hours, then only another one hour. I ran into MD who was our groups fastest summiteer. She runs triathalons. I grew more concerned with the daylight and my lack of a flashlight for my trip back. I was much too close to give up; I could see the shelter at the very peak in the distance. I met with KS who had just beat me by 1 hour to the top roughly. He had a head lamp, and plus he is an experienced and accomplished mountaineer, so I talked him into waiting for me to accompany me down. I was really at a dangerous point where I needed the extra help - I really owe my summiting to KS and also QT, who we met up with on the way down. So with Ken waiting, I crossed one last large snow field and reached the top. The time was 2:30p.

I was able to get two bars of Analogue phone reception and called both my mom and ES. It was difficult to think, and I told both of them that on the phone. I was safe though, and I wanted to let them know that I had made it up. I could not dally for long though, so I snapped a few pictures and started down. This was an emotional moment for me as it hit me that I had completed my goal, or at least the hard part of it. The tallest peak in California, the tallest peak in the lower 48 states.

I ran into QT, who had stayed back with TT to guide him up before TT turned back. My head was pounding, I couldn't even go down quickly due to my altitude sickness. I rested frequently, though I think my problem was that I did not drink enough water. Water evaporates off your body faster at that altitude due to the pressure differential. We pushed forward, with craggy points on our left and a huge open expanse on our right with lakes, meadows, and other peaks of Sequoia Nat'l Park.

We got back to Trail Crest, and saw many people glissading to bypass the 99 switchbacks. I was still weighted down by the alitude sickness, and suggested we also glissade. The snow chute begins at 13,600 feet and levels out around 12,200 feet, leaving a very easy walk along flat ground to Trail Camp. The danger of glissading and also of going down the snow-covered switchbacks this late in the day was that the snow that had been soft, sure footing during the heat of the day would become icy. And an ice patch while sliding down the mountain on your back (glissading) causing you to lose control of your fall would be dangerous. Eventually, QT saw that others glissaded successfully and in control, and based on his experience he made the call that if we were all comfortable, we could take that route down. We all decided we could do it.

QT, then KS went sliding down on their backs, stopping occasionally to regain control. I followed their lead down, taking about 15 minutes to drop 1400 feet. This was much easier than the alternate route. As I went down, I wondered if this would cause my round trip time to not count because I did not hike the trail, but I didn't care. I had made the top, it was getting dark, and the glissade was fun. I used my feet to stop myself, and also tucked the ski poles under my armpit as a fulcrum to cause more drag through the snow. My coat, pants, and shirt all filled with loose snow. Even my backpack still on my back caught snow as I went down to slow my fall. I eventually tucked my coat into my pants, and that stopped the snow from getting all in my clothing. I was wet before from sweat, so that was not a big deal. It was cold though, and the snow would scrape my bare skin. I found out later that others wearing shorts and not wearing gloves left lots of skin on the slope - they were quite bloody. I finished at the bottom with only a couple of scrapes and a bruised arm. As I stood up at the bottom, my altitude sickness was completely gone.

From there, we filled water at the Trail Camp lake, and then started downhill to the Whitney Portal at around 3 mph. The ski poles were very helpful to spread the impact of each fall from just the knees to my upper body. QT set the pace, and we were cutting over rocks, and really screaming downhill. If I had not had KS and QT's guidance, it would have taken me a lot longer to get down. As we entered the timberline, I did not recognize any of the trails that I had been on 10 hours before.
The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful - it was dark as we decended the 1st leg once again. The switchbacks continued on and on, far longer than I remembered. It was 9pm that we finally reached the Portal parking lot, and the rental truck.

I finally got back to my apartment at 4am on Sunday to conclude the trip.

Next, I want to climb San Gorgonio. That should be very doable after this weekend. Eventually I also want to try Mt. Shasta, but I have to buy some crampons, an ice axe, some poles, and a water filter first.

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