5 places I absolutely have to go hiking one day!

I’ve always loved the adventure that a simple hike always turns into.  Whether it’s a simple hike through our city park, or an epic week long foray into the depths of a national forest, there’s always a story waiting to be told when you come back.  There’s something about being out in the wilds, away from commonly trod paths that leads you to discoveries and happenings that just can’t happen in more civilized terrain.  There are still quite a few places in the world that I haven’t had the chance to hike, that are on my bucket list, and I’m going to share these with you.

 

Lunana Snowman Trek in Bhutan

This hike isn’t for the faint of heart, taking 27 days to complete, but it travels through some of the most beautiful highland country that Bhutan has to offer.  It does require some special gear to complete, which they break down in the preparation packet they send you.  You’ll be covering over 4,500 miles of terrain before it’s all done, and crossing through 11 passes.   This is a part of the world I’ve always wanted to see, including monasteries, fortresses, and other far flung places.

Hiker and yak train entering Lunana district on the Snowman trek, Bhutan.

Japan’s Nakesando Trail

I’ve got a bit of a love affair with places that have a lot of history, and this trail was connecting Kyoto to Tokyo since the feudal period in Japan.  It’s a much shorter route than the Lunana trail, but most things are.  The Nakasendo trail is a four day walk through beautiful villages, and old world country inns that still serve the best of Japanese traditional cuisine.  Even better, at various points along the trail you’ll encounter hot springs to soak away the days aches.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

Some of the most beautiful untouched country in the world can be found out on the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.  This one promises to be a particular challenge, as there are millions of acres of untouched land out in the reserve, presenting the stark beauty that Alaska is known for.  With 185 species of birds migrating here each year, and furry mammals from Dall Sheep to Polar Bears, this hike presents an opportunity to see species only able to be seen in Zoo’s elsewhere.

Dolomites, Italy

Deep within Italy is a beautiful tapestry of interwoven landscapes, beautiful wild alpine meadows, soaring peaks, rich evergreen woods, and desolate lunar landscapes, all encompassed within the expansive Dolomite mountains.  There are so many places here that I want to see before I die, and it’s definitely on my list of 5 places I absolutely have to go hiking one day!  Feasting on traditional Italian food is just the icing on the cake!

dolomites Kauai, Hawaii

Hawaii is one of the most beautiful pieces of country in the world, with it’s rich tropical jungle and the calls of tropical birds in the air, and there’s nowhere you can be that you aren’t just a short hike down to the beach.  With places to visit like the magnificent Wailua river and the ageless Waimea Canyon, I know I’ll find places that will touch my soul with their beauty and wildness.  There is an appreciation of the great passage of time that comes with locations like the native fishponds that are 1,000 years old that has lessons to teach to the modern traveler.

Kalalau trail in Kauai, Hawaii

These are just a few of the places that I want to go hiking before I pass from this earth, and there’s nothing like hiking to help reconnect you with the wildness left behind in our  technology driven age.  I hope to catch you hiking out on the trails one day, a fellow traveler into the natural wonders still hidden for those willing to go looking.

Taking my kid camping…first family camping trip, the ups and downs

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Summer was coming up and, now that Dylan’s out of diapers, I decided it was time for us to engage in a tradition my parents had always held sacred as part of the summer, the family camping trip. I was so excited as I reminisced about the days of smores around the campfire, the stars sparkling in the dark of the night sky, and the ever present smell of woodsmoke.  How exciting to finally be introducing my child to this family tradition.

But…

The first thing I realized about taking my kid camping is just how much stuff that had to be taken along that was strictly for the little one.  The tents and sleeping bags, changes of clothes and snacks, the electronic devices that I vehemently protested against, a good half of what was in the car at the end belonged to them.  That was just the start of our trials, as setting up camp for the first time with a rambunctious toddler full of energy and an utter lack of focus was a challenge in and of itself.  We were exhausted, hungry, and a little short on temper by the camp was set.  Thinking back, I began to feel bad for my parents during all those camping trips they took me and my siblings on…they must have been going crazy.

But that was the end of the worst of the trials of our trip, and I remembered why I was so eager to share this with my boy.  The night sky was filled with beautiful stars as we sat around the fire roasting hot dogs, and the Dylan was chatting away excitedly about everything he’d seen during the day.  My family spent the night connecting in a way that’s usually prevented by all the electronics and distractions in our lives at home…a precious, unusual moment.  In spite of everything, this camping thing was a great experience, and I’ll definitely be doing it again.

The US Army Project Salvo Paintball Gun MEGA Set! Finally!

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Ordering this mega-set was done to take a step up from one of my previous pieces.  I was drawn in by all the pieces that were available on this package, and the savings it gave me over trying to buy each one a la carte.  I had an opportunity to handle one at my local paintball range and was blown away by the amazing look and feel of it in my hands.  It was durable and well balanced, and had a look that was plain intimidating to anyone being faced down by it.

            What adds to its visual ferocity is the way it handles, being almost completely made of metal, and the way you hold it while using it, as its weight palpable.  It’s not overly heavy either, just enough to feel great sitting in your hands.  The folding stock provides an additional level of adaptability, providing for short strafing runs across fields and around corners, and stabilizing for longer range shots and sniping.

            This is an excellent investment, with solid construction that shows the attention to detail and quality exhibited by it’s designers and manufacturers.  There are plenty of additional options you can buy to add to it as well.  After a few rounds with it, I decided that I wanted to expand the stability and accuracy of the gun over long distances, and picked myself up an after-market 16” barrel that was perfect for my needs.

            All in all, I would recommend this gun to any serious paintball enthusiast who wants to add a great gun to their arsenal.  When you take this baby out on the field, you’re going to get looks, and thinks to a little trick of good hardware, everyone is going to want to be on your team.  Everybody loves a good gun after all!

Fantasy Franchise Showdown!

I guess anybody and everybody reading this right now has long since guessed I’m probably a big fantasy buff–and they were right!

I’ll start with saying that I just recently discovered a little thing call Screen Junkies on Youtube–why didn’t I find this earlier?! Their Honest Trailers are hilarious–the super-solemn voice deadpanning every loose end and lame line gets me every time! I watched all of them in one day! Addicted? Definitely.

I decided to see what else the guys over there at Screen Junkies do.

And then…I came across this: (Can I get a hallelujah? :))

This episode is centered around picking the best fantasy franchise of all time. So, what’ll it be: Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Narnia or the Lord of the Rings? I won’t tell you what my verdict is, but I will say that the board’s reached the same one. Time to check it out guys!

Yesterday’s Big Bang Theory Episode

Seeing as how yesterday was the premiere of the 18th episode of the Big Bang Theory’s 7th season, I decided to write a few words about it.

I know a lot of geeks hate on the show a lot, and they see it as shallow and even offensive towards us. There are even quite a few blogs DEVOTED to how much somebody hates it.

I couldn’t disagree more. I think people these days are too touchy, and they tend to be offended by everything–come on people, let’s learn to laugh at ourselves a bit! Sure, all the miffed geeks out there are a little bit right that TBBT doesn’t delve too deep into the world of, say, comic books, and uses mainly general references to the superheroes to get laughs…but so what? It IS a sitcom, it’s SUPPOSED to get laughs. And do you really think 98% of the potential audience would „get” references to complicated comic book spinoff subplots most non-geeks have never even heard of? OF COURSE NOT. The remaining 2% of viewers might ‚get it”, but I’m pretty sure that’s not a big enough audience to even pay for the production costs of a single episode, much less seven seasons… And if us geeks can just look past all the butthurt about the show poking fun at us, we’d all see that it really is funny. The eccentric, nerdy scientists clashing with real-world issues gets me every time.

That said, I feel the writers are slowly running out of steam. Seven seasons is a long time, and to keep things interesting, the writers should think about some character development, especially on the Amy/Sheldon front, because that plotline is getting a little stale, as are Amy’s constant sad references about how badly she wants to get laid. Last night’s show was pretty good, but with every episode the need for something, ANYTHING to progress with these two is getting more and more pressing…their kiss was a great surprise, but it won’t change anything if the writers just go right back to the same old thing again.

Howard’s grown up and, despite his juvenile comments, he’s become a great husband—him and Bernie are perfect together. Even Leonard and Penny’s relationship has become more stable of late, and despite their many differences, they really do seem perfect for each other. Another character who could use some work is Raj, who’s gone from being adorably helpless to pretty pathetic.

All in all though, the show has made me laugh every week for the last couple of years, and I see no reason for all the geek hate.

What do you guys think?

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Jack the Giant Slayer – a very late review

            Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard the ‚suspension of disbelief’ express, please make sure you seats are in the full upright and locked position, and drink deeply from the dispenser dangling from the ceiling.  In order to truly enjoy this ride, you’re going to have to leave all that silly concern about ‚logic and reason’ on the ground with the rest of your baggage.

 

jack

Our movie opens with Jack and his female assistant working eagerly on some form of power armor.  That’s our first sign this isn’t going to be the movie you’re expecting, as it seems to have some steampunk references tucked in, though it’s actual date is a bit trickier to pin down.  We even have the old ‚legacy of your father’ bit as we meet ol’ Joss, who stays good on his promise to deliver something to the lad on his 18th birthday.

The beanstalk is certainly an interesting anomaly when it arrives, a seemingly sentient and aware method of transport that apparently will only let the person who planted the seed climb it.  Though perhaps climbing is the wrong word, as we see Jack snatched up by an errant strand of stalk and hauled into the distant sky.

From that point on the movie is an epically campy ride through a reimagined Jack and the Beanstalk, with angry giants, draconic beasts, and a modern St. George’s tale told with our hero in hydraulic power armor.  If you don’t think about it too hard, it’s well worth the time invested.  So buy your ticket on the disbelief express, and come along for a great ride!

My Favorite Gadgets That Make Life Better (or just more fun)

I’m pretty sure most parents would prefer to spend the little time they have at home with their kids, instead of doing crappy household jobs. I’m busy enough! So whenever it’s my turn to stay at home with Dylan, we watch cartoons, we pig out on all the junk food my wife doesn’t let us have when she’s at home, we goof around outside… Luckily, I’m a bit of a technology freak, so I can get what needs to be done, done–without putting a whole lot of work into it. Below are a few of my favorite gadgets–I hope they’ll be as useful to you as they are to me!

1. My Roomba

I freaking love this thing. How much time have people wasted over the centuries picking crumbs off their floors?

At first, I was a little skeptical–I mean, come on, it looks like something out of one of those cheesy sci-fi movies I used to watch as a kid. But eventually one day after my toddler somehow managed to push the cookie jar onto the floor AGAIN, I decided that was it. Now I can’t imagine life without it. Not only does it keep my floors crumb-free, it’s also hilarious to watch my dog chase it around. If you’re a busy parent, this is a great way to make your life w whole lot easier.

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2. The Washable Keyboard

Programming is not only my job, it’s also my passion. I do it not only for the money, but also for fun (yes, I do know how weird that sounds). When I get really into something, I can sit in front of the screen for hours, typing away. My poor wife. And my poor, poor keyboard. Programming for hours on end means I eat right there, directly above my keyboard–to say I used to have a lot of crumbs in my keyboard would be the understatement of the year. Crumbs, dried up drips of coffee and yogurt–you name, it was there. That’s when my wife, who was disgusted to no end, decided to give me the best present ever (besides our son, that is :P)–a washable keyboard. No matter whether my keyboard needs a light dusting or a full-on soak (usually the latter, but whatever), I can do it without worrying that that will destroy it. The key characters are laser printed and UV coated so the letters don’t fade in the wash. Vicky, I love you!

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3. Xbox One

This one I’m going to blame on my son–that’s much easier than admitting flat out that I was just as psyched as any kid or teenager when the Xbox One came out. Anyway, me and Dylan enjoy it together, so what difference does it make, really? Seriously, though, this thing is loads of fun for both me and my little boy–who thought Lego could get any more awesome? The Lego Marvel Super Heroes game proved that was possible! I can’t wait till he’s old enough to play FIFA with his Dad too, but one step at a time…

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A bit about me.

Like most guys would say–there’s not much to tell.

I’m a computer programmer living in Atlanta.

I have a beautiful wife, whose patience towards me never ceases to amaze, and an adorable 3-year old son.

I’ve finally found a minute to create my own blog so I can stop talking my wife’s ear off, and I hope you find my notes interesting.

Yup, that’s about it.

Glad you could drop by!

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