Moosilauke: 1, George: about 1.6

if you recall the last time that I tried to climb Moosilauke, you'll note that I failed. Yesterday, however, I set out for attempt two and succeeded.

I drove up to Concord on Saturday and then, bright and 6:30am early Sunday, I drove to Cambridge, grabbed Max and drove up to Lincoln, NH. In Lincoln, we grabbed breakfast and some snacks before driving out the the trailhead. Our hike finally set off at 11am.

Moosilauke starts our reasonably flat, with a slight rise over easy ground for a small fraction of a mile. After the very brief illusion of ease, comes the Hell that is going up approximately 2000 feet in about a mile, which for the mathematically inclined is about 22° average inclination. This rise is flanked, most of the way, by a series of very beautiful waterfalls and consists primarily of rocks. It should be noted that the steep part of the path begins and ends with signs warning that it is very treacherous and should be avoided when wet or icy. After using most of our initial energy on the steep portion, we were happy to find that it became gradual and had a bit of soft dirt for a while, providing a very welcome respite. After the gradual portion, we hit a number of up and down portions, nowhere near as severe as the initial portion of the trail, before beginning the final ascent to the summit. We reached the summit at about 2pm.

The summit of Moosilauke is essentially a very large grass hill, with a great many blueberry bushes and some rock shelters, reaching a maximum elevation of 4802 feet (trailhead is at 1800 feet). The summit provides fantastic views in all directions, unobscured by trees or any of the smaller surrounding mountains. The summit provided a nice cooling breeze, a good place to have lunch and a whole bunch of gnats. So far as I can tell, I probably ate about a dozen of those gnats as they landed on my fingers and food. All in all, Moosilauke has a beautiful summit that is rather pleasant to hang out on. We left the summit at about 2:30p for home.

The upper portions of the trail were just about as easy to go down as they were to come up. The steep portion, however, was not so pleasant or easy. Initially, the only problem getting down the steep portion was that we were quite exhausted by that point and steep rocks are not easy to descend. Shortly after the steep portion began, our real troubles began, rain. At first it rained lightly, just enough to make all the rocks slippery and treacherous, which makes for a wonderful addition to a trail listed as to be avoided when wet or icy. The light rain was rather annoying but then when it was followed by a rain heavy enough to drench us to the bone, it felt as though the mountain were spiting us and trying to make me fail once more. Eventually, we made it through all the slippery rocks and mud to the bottom, reaching trailhead at 5:30pm. From the bottom, we drove to the Ashland Burger King, The Burger King of New Hampshire mountain climbing, had some dinner and proceeded home. By the time I arrived back in Woods Hole, at 10pm, I felt as though I was going to collapse. Shortly thereafter, I did collapse, thankfully in my bed. Today, I still feel as though I am going to collapse, but I can probably hold myself together until the afternoon.

A Discontinuous Fear

As I have progressed through my life I have become aware of various phobias that exist in my psyche. Most of my phobias are perfectly reasonable and I've managed to trace some of them back to childhood traumas that likely seeded them. However, some of my phobias are unreasonable and totally insane; for example, I have come to notice that I have a fairly strong fear of temporal discontinuities. What I mean by temporal discontinuities is unnoticed jumps far forward in time, kind of like in the movie Flight of the Navigator. I don't know where the fear derives from and it's so thoroughly implausible an occurrence that giving it even a hint of credence is silly but it's still something that I fear.

Seriously though, I really hope that I never come back from a walk, drive or sail to find my friends and family had long since given me up for lost and that I must adjust to a world that has changed greatly during my lost time.

The not so Wild West

Bison Skull Pile I'm moving out to the not-so-wild-anymore American West. In a plan that's gone from non-existent to fairly well developed in the past couple months, I'll be leaving Massachusetts in early September to drive west. I'll be sharing the road trip with my good friend Max and we're planning to head across the northern part of the US. We'll be passing through Minneapolis, Yellowstone, Glacier, Seattle, and some other spots, hopefully visiting folks along the way. Ultimately, I'll be ending up in the Bay Area sometime in mid to late September where I plan to stay for the indefinite future.

To all of you already out there, I'll see you soon and look forward to hanging out again. to those of you still here in the East, I'm sorry to be leaving again and I'll miss you. To those of you along the way, get ready for George to come through town.

I-35W sadness

The I-35W bridge across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, MN collapsed this morning. I find myself more than a bit perturbed and irked by this tragedy; I've driven across that bridge dozens of times and walked the Cedar Ave Bridge (fifty feet to the East) hundreds of times. With all the friends and family that I have in the Minneapolis area, I find myself hoping that nobody I know was hurt. I am also terribly sorry for those that have suffered losses as a result of this tragedy, either personally or through friends and family.

Go see Transformers

I don't generally ask too much of you, Internet, but this I ask of you for your own good: go see the new Transformers movie and go see it now. I saw the new Transformers movie at the earliest possible showing, last night at 8pm, and was completely blown away.

The new Transformers movie is everything that the first generation cartoons and movie were and so much more. With this new movie, the transformers have finally become everything that they should have been before. Now, understand, as I say these things, that I have loved and worshiped the first generation cartoons since I was a child.

The new Transformers movie improves on the old cartoons in a number of ways and adds depth in ways I could not have imagined. The biggest improvements come as a result of the freedoms found in PG-13 movies targeted at teenagers and twenty-somethings, specifically the shear brutality of the Decepticons and interpersonal interactions that haven't been dumbed down or overly cleaned up. Where Megatron was once a greedy and self-serving megalomaniac, he is now a cruel and brutally violent sadist; it feels as though Megatron has come into his own as never before. There is a depth and amusing fish-out-of-water awkwardness to the Autobots that makes them both endearing and surprisingly human. Michael Bey has done a fantastic job of direction and, combined with fantastic cinematography, every scene appears to come across as total perfection; there are times when the tension is palpable, others when the comic relief smooths things over, slow-motion at just the right moments and then the action sequences are amazing.

From about five minutes into the film, clear through the end, I was stuck in a deer-in-headlights state of paralysis, unable to escape the onslaught of awesomeness that was bombarding my senses. The culmination of all my expectations and the majesty of the films orchestration left me, quite literally, in tears as the credits began to roll. If you've already seen the new Transformers movie, I'm sure that you already know that I'm right, but if you haven't seen it yet, I can't understand why you're still reading this instead of going to see it right now. Seriously, go now; it's more important than anything else you could possibly be doing.

On Ice Blocks

Mid-afternoon yesterday, I noticed that it was an absolutely gorgeous day—as many have been recently—and, having not made evening plans yet, I decided that it was to be a night for ice block sledding. Wondrously, the weather held out pretty well, with a clear night sky and warm air. Furthermore, it was a near full moon last night so we had plenty of light to see by.

Ice block sledding, for those that don't know, is a fantastic sport that involves no more than some blocks of ice, some towels and a hill with well mown grass. In some parts of the world, ice blocks aren't the easiest thing to come by but, in Woods Hole, the local liquor store sells them in order to accomodate people with house boats and old fashioned ice boxes. I've got plenty of towels, so that's no problem. The well mown grass hill is where Woods Hole really shines; we have a fancy golf course with a very steep hill in the middle of Hole 13's fairway. Once you have all three components, they must be put together correctly; the correct organization is to put the ice block on the top of the hill, put a folded towel on top of the ice block, sit on the folded towel, set off down the hill and try not to fall off. I should have mentioned, the ice blocks are about 12"x6"x6", which is to say not very big or easy to stay on.

Having acquired all the requisite components, plus a few beers for good measure, the troops (friends that I had called earlier in the day) were gathered and the fun commenced. We had a little trouble with the golf course sprinkler system initially but, once that passed, we had a hill that was slightly moistened, which serves to make the ice blocks go even faster. Having been ice block sledding many times over the course of quite a few years, there's only so much appeal to going down by myself, whether it's on my butt, stomach or whatever. The next level of thrill is formation ice block sledding; there are quite a few ways to arrange two people with two ice blocks and even more with three. In our case, we had five ice blocks, so we didn't come anywhere near exhausting our possible formation arrangement. It was a fantastic night and a fantastice endeavor.

If you can find some way to get your hands on blocks of ice, you will be doing yourself a severe disservice not to go ice block sledding sometime. Of course, if you ever visit me on the Cape and the weather is decent, you probably won't have a very hard time convincing me to take you out ice block sledding.

Players, Game and my Disappointment with Humanity

I have just finished reading The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neill Strauss and I can safely say that it was an enlightening read. I would like to highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, women especially. Although the book is, ostensibly, an autobiographic narrative about one man's journey into the society of male pickup artists, it says an awful lot about human nature, interactions and frailties.

I found the book enlightening because it has opened up my perception to a new way of looking at social interactions and manipulations. Sadly, since being so enlightened, I have seen quite a few examples of how pathetically weak-willed and easily manipulated people can be. The Game also has a fair amount of commentary on the robot nature of many people's social interactions. Having recently seen some strong examples of people giving in to their robotic reactions, I find myself very disappointed in some people specifically and humanity in general. It will likely take me a bit of time to re-equilibrate my perceptions and morality but until that happens, I'm going to stick with a general sense of disappointment for a while.

Like a block of sex

Rogue Smokey Blue cheese is like a block of sex. I recently found myself in the cheese section of one of our fancier local grocersand found myself buying cheese, as often happens to me in such situations. One of the cheeses that I bought was Rogue Smokey Blue, which I chose because I wanted a blue cheese and there was a sign claiming that this particular one had won some award. Upon returning to my place of residence and trying the various cheeses that I had obtained, I discovered that I had chosen a real gem. So, if you're looking for a good blue cheese, I highly recommend the Rogue Smokey Blue.

4 Soviet States that are still around

In spite of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, four Soviet states still exist today. Although none of the four states have obtained international recognition and have all been disavowed by Moscow, they are all de facto independent states.

Transnistria, a.k.a. Trans-Dniester or Pridnestrovie, exists within the international recognized borders of Moldova. Transnistria currently exists in a state of civil war with the rest of Moldova and is bordered by the Dniester River on the west and the Ukraine on the east.

Nagorno-Karabakh exists in the South Caucasus region of Azerbaijan. Unlike Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh has been participating in peace talks with both Azerbaijan and Armenia, never having escalated into open warfare.

The final two Soviet states, Abkhazia and South Ossetia exist within the borders of Georgia. There has been open warfare between Georgia and both South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Sailing Days

The past few days here in Woods Hole have been stunningly beautiful; if the past few days had been women, they would have easily been 10s. Of course, having boats in the water and beautiful days means that I had no choice but to go sailing. Sunday, I took out my dad's old sailfish, a wondrous little craft that's hardly more than an over glorified windsurfer. I ended up toodling around in Little Harbor for about an hour, having a wonderful time. Monday, it was a bit windier and I ended up taking the sailfish and venturing a little way out of Little Harbor. On my way back into Little Harbor, I was sailing on a broad reach and I started picking up an immense amount of speed. As I started to really get going, I was made aware of something that I had forgotten about sailfish, sailfish can plane. The front half of the sailfish was completely out of the water and I was going mighty fast. Sadly, I brought my GPS with me on Sunday but not on Monday so all I can say is that I was going substantially faster on Monday than the 6.3 knots that I measured on Sunday.

Yesterday (Tuesday), is when the big guns came out and the real fun began. Yesterday was Synchronicity, my catamaran's, first sail of the season. It was a nice, warmish day with moderate wind so Dave and I took Synchronicity out after work. We three quickly made our way out of Great Harbor and off into Vineyard Sound. As we passed Nobska Point and headed out into Vineyard Sound proper, the wind picked up a bit and we started tearing through the water. Having been cooped up all winter and having so much wind to play with, Synchronicity was more than a bit antsy so Dave and I, feeling bold, decided to let her have a bit of fun. Synchronicity was in the mood to take flight and, for the first time, we were kind enough to oblige her. The sensation of being on a catamaran as the hull beneath you lifts out of the water is very similar to the sensation you experience in an airplane the moment it lifts off the ground during take off. Investigating my GPS after the fact, we found that we had hit a maximum speed of 14.9 knots, which I find to be admirable for Synchronicity's first voyage of the summer.

From this point forward, I'm intending to go sailing after work every day that the weather is sufficient, excepting those days when there's an MBL softball game. Simply put, I just love sailing; it's one of my favorite things in the world and now I get to do a whole bunch of sailing again.