One of our dogwood trees is really putting on a show these last couple of weeks:
Tip Jar – Bitcoin Style1Kbn6EZjkzG4uxXf3XjetTJ2gPCeFjzAvf
“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” ― Winston Churchill
“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.” ― Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
“Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” – Frederic Bastiat, 1848
Full text here, which should be required reading:
Text copied below so you have no excuse not to read it: For extra credit, read Bastiat’s extended essay “The Law”, a fast read well worth your time.
“Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.” – Marcus Aurelius
Yeah I know I just got back from skiing in Utah. Ski season is short here in NC, and you kinda have to take what you can get, and go as often as you can. 21″ of fresh snow at Winterplace + friends skipping work to go play = me spending all day Friday on the slopes:) Temps were really cold too, with a high somewhere in the teens. Bright sun and almost no wind meant I actually managed to stay warm and enjoy the best snow of the year.
We finally broke down and bought an infrared camera (its for work, I swear). The Seek thermal camera is (I think) the first to market for android devices. You just plug it into the usb port, and use the app and device/phone display to operate the camera.
Naturally, Kevin was playing with it 5 minutes after it arrived. The colors auto-scale to whatever the camera is looking at, so each color does not represent an absolute temperature, just the relative temperature within that shot. Here is Cody and his cold nose:
When I got home from my ski trip, we both though this photo of me with a cup of hot tea came out pretty neat:
Took a ski trip with some friends to the Park City and Canyons ski resorts in Utah last week. This is the first time I’ve skied out west, and I am now officially spoiled forever. All the talk is true, east coast skiing is pathetic in comparison. The resorts in Utah are huge and absolutely amazing, and we had an awesome time. I will definitely be back.
“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as “bad luck.” ” – Robert A.Heinlein, Time Enough for Love (1973)
Actually managed to take a group photo during a ski day a couple of Fridays ago. Its a sort of terrible cell phone shot, but in fairness, the weather was pretty terrible and it looked about like that in person anyway. Waterproof outer layers, friends, and surprisingly decent snow for most of the day meant it was fun regardless of the wet and foggy conditions.
This weekend, it turned out that Sunday was even warmer than Saturday, when we went on a hike (evidence below), with highs in the 50s and sunny. In the middle of January. This is part of why I love North Carolina. Sometimes we get real winter weather here, but mostly we don’t. NC also has the best motorcycle riding roads in the North America (ok, the southern Appalachian’s have the best roads if you want to be accurate).
This photo from our moto tag ride this Sunday turned out kinda neat. (You know, ’cause we need more photos of our motorycles).
It was a beautiful warm and sunny NC winter day today. Highs in the upper 40s are nearly moto riding temperatures (for me, Kevin is good to go), but Cody was really glad we decided to put cabin fever at bay and go for a five mile hike instead. Took just a few pics of what I think is our first hike of 2015, where we joined lots of other people enjoying being outside at the always lovely Hanging Rock State Park.
Let’s start the year off right with more pictures of the neighbor’s horses in our front field from yesterday and today: (We got a fancy new lens for our camera for Christmas, so Kevin has been playing around with it. This photography thing definitely has a learning curve:)
2014 was another great year for us, with the most obvious highlight being our epic moto trip to Alaska this summer. We don’t have any plans for trips on that scale for 2015, but we still have plenty to look forward to. Once again, we’re both excited about the coming year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday, and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Remember when we met Andrew Siess this summer at a rest stop in North Dakota, on our way to Alaska on an epic moto adventure? (Third picture down on this page.) Andrew is walking (and sometimes running, or sailing) around the world. He took a couple of months off from his journey earlier this year when he reached his home in MN (he started in Italy over two years ago).
About a month ago, I noticed his facebook page said he was on the move again, and in TN. So I emailed him. Fast forward a bit, and we got a call the Monday before Thanksgiving saying he would reach Winston-Salem that evening. Let’s see: Andrew the world traveler, a random guy we happened upon in ND this summer, is passing within about an hours’ moto ride of our house, and its an unusually warm and sunny 70°F day in NC. Clearly no more work was getting done that day: I baked some brownies for him to fuel his journey, and we rode off to find Andrew along the side of the road.
We managed to find him on the road not far from the end of his day. As expected, Andrew’s trip is as fun and interesting as ever. At least, I get a huge kick out of it. Our afternoon mission morphed into an evening hanging out with more fellow travelers and moto enthusiasts, listening to the stories of varied experience I love so much. For Andrew’s part, he’s on his way east right now, headed for somewhere on the east coast of the US, where he’ll leave for Portugal, to walk to his starting location in Italy. Safe Travels Andrew!
P.S. – Here is a great video about Andrew’s friends finding and meeting up with him in Mongolia: IDEA Finds Andrew
Humans are currently (as in literally right now, the morning of 11/12/2014) trying to land a robotic probe on a comet for the first time.
Aside from the incredible technical challenge, the Rosetta Orbiter and Philae Lander are just cool; the lander has harpoons (space harpoons!) and thrusters and drills. Plus, the graphic supplied by the ESA (yeah, official graphic from the European Space Agency) in this article has an Imperial Star Destroyer in it for scale. That might be my favorite part.
The linked article has nice graphics and information explaining the mission, timeline, and links to more info. Good Luck Rosetta team!
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” ― H.L. Mencken
The longer version:
“When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost… All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
― H.L. Mencken, Baltimore Sun (26 July 1920)
Peak fall leaves + perfect 70-some degrees and sunny Sunday afternoon + horseback riding through beautiful Pilot Mountain State park = Awesome
I haven’t blogged since returning from our trip, and even though we haven’t done much worth blogging about in the last two months (mostly just work and a few moto-tag day rides), I want to post that first post-trip entry, as sort of an official acknowledgement that life has returned to normal.
In the past, returning to the obligations of “normal” life after a long trip felt like a big let-down. Being at home paying the bills and getting the groceries and going to work is obviously not nearly as fun as riding to exciting new destinations for weeks on end. I couldn’t wait to leave on another adventure, and planning future trips provided some of my motivation to get up and go to work every day. Not as much this time. While I was briefly disappointed that our grand Alaska motorcycle adventure was coming to a close, we otherwise have a lot to look forward to. While work is called work for a reason, the drudgery is outweighed by several projects ahead of us that are really exciting. We’re also making real progress on our new house, which we may someday get to actually build. Plus, while I love traveling, I also really like being at home, and its nice to be able to spend time with family and friends after not seeing those people for two months. In short, I am grateful that awesome motorcycle adventures aren’t the only thing I have to look forward to.
That said, life right now is pretty quiet, and mostly involves work. So, here are a couple of books I’ve really enjoyed recently:
Far Pastures – by R.M. Patterson
About the author (copied from google books): “R.M. Patterson (1898-1984) moved to Canada when he realized that working in a London bank would never bring him happiness. He spent the remaining years of his life pursuing adventure in the Canadian West and was a delightfully evocative writer and an intrepid explorer. Authoring a total of five books about his excursions into the Canadian wilderness and his life on a southern Alberta ranch, Raymond Murray Patterson earned himself legions of fans and made Canada’s wilderness famous. “
It hadn’t occurred to me until we were traveling through the area how little history I really knew about the Canadian West. Virtually none probably covers it. Gold rush, harsh weather, and mosquitoes. While not a history book, Far Pastures is a collection of true stories of life in Canada’s west from the early 1900s through the 1950s, or from “horse to helicopter” as the author puts it. Both Kevin and I really enjoyed this book, which at times had us laughing out loud. I did not have any expectations of the north-country before traveling there; my views were a blank canvas, but we discovered that we both might like the Yukon and northern BC better than Alaska itself. Patterson’s descriptions of the landscape are full of beauty, wonder, and adventure, and allowed me to appreciate why he was so attracted to this part of the world.
Far Pastures was a gift to us from a friend we met on the trip who lives in Canada’s northwest, and who really nailed it by giving this book to us. We especially appreciated that so many of the places the author writes about were places we had actually been during this summer’s epic motorcycle adventure.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, and Other Lessons from the Crematory – by Caitlin Doughty
About the author (copied from Amazon): “Caitlin Doughty is a licensed mortician and the host and creator of the “Ask a Mortician” web series. She founded the death acceptance collective The Order of the Good Death and cofounded Death Salon. She lives in Los Angeles. “
Basically, I love the author’s “ask a mortician” web series; aside from just shedding light on the difficult topic of death and modern postmortem practices, she’s smart, funny, and entirely right about the problems of modern death denial. For sure, modern American society does not do a good job of dealing with death. Her book is mostly a memoir that’s both illuminating and definitely entertaining.
Also, I added a link to my Goodreads “read” shelf (*points to right of page–>*), the “What I’ve been reading” link (under the Random category of links). I’ve mostly been remembering to add any books I’ve read to that Goodreads list, so if you are interested in what I’ve been reading, look there. What I am currently reading still shows up in the widget on the right called “currently reading.” (As long as I remember to update it).
This gallery contains 126 photos.
There are too many photos to put the entire trip into one gallery (hundreds just seems too many to me), but I still like having a photo gallery as an easy way to scroll through the photos without combing through … Continue reading
As an aspiring map geek, you know I love to post maps of our trip routes. However, I’m annoyed, because GeoCommons, the usual service I use, is totally non-functional right now, and won’t let me upload any data. So here’s the trip route plotted using UMap, but I don’t know how to highlight the states and provinces we went through like I do on my GeoCommons map. It shouldn’t be that hard to make a simple map (like my usual Moto Tour Map), but I can’t find any other services that do what I want (even paid services). Maybe I need to look at desktop applications? But I don’t know where to start.
Anyway, this is our 2014 Moto Alaska Adventure: (click for larger image).
2014 Moto Alaska Adventure Totals:
5 Canadian Provinces/Territories
Average miles per riding day (excluding <5 mi days): 274
Most miles in a day: 596 (This was a really big day for me)
Tent Camping: 32 nights
Hotels: 17 nights
Hosted: 8 nights
Edit 02/2015: For all of the posts and pictures from our Epic 2014 Moto Alaska Adventure, go here.