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Archive for August, 2008

The weather finally cleared and we were able to do a 12 mile hike along the Garden Wall trail at Logan Pass in Glacier National Park. You get absolutely stunning views.

Lots more pictures after the jump.

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For a Glacier National Park ground squirrel with straw in its mouth.

Or for a cute ptarmigan.

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I’ve noticed many cattle crossing signs at Glacier National Park. The cattle around the perimeter of the park have no boundaries and they roam freely eating fresh grass along the way. They have no difficulty crossing the highway when they need to, and so far as I can tell there appear to be no accidents involving cattle — that is to say, I see no signs of carnage. I even spotted some wild horses who similarly were not contained by fences but were free to roam where they chose.

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The last two days it’s been raining and I’ve seen at least five rainbows. I guess that’s because the rain and clouds tend to stick to the mountain areas while there is sunshine in the flatter parts. The weather report is categorized by whether you are east or west of the continental divide. It’s exciting knowing the park is straddling two tectonic plates.

We hiked yesterday about 8 miles in the rain. By the time we finished we were both completely soaked, but the hike did allow me to visit the beautiful Grinnell Lake pictured below.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, we asked where in Glacier National Park was the best place to spot animals. The answer was the Many Glacier area. Bears are very popular at the park. You want to see a bear, but you don’t want to see a bear…if you know what I mean. Almost everyone I’ve met that has been to Glacier has a bear story to tell, so I was waiting to see if we would see a bear. We weren’t disappointed.

I show the animals in the order that we saw them. Perhaps you too will feel the escalating excitement with each animal spotting as we did. Some of the photographs are a bit blurry due to the amount of zooming I needed to do both with my telephoto lens and with the computer.

This squirrel seems pretty tame. I think he’s eaten people food before.

More photos (including a bear) after the jump.

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Our second day at Glacier National Park in Montana took us to the area known as Many Glaciers. Many Glaciers got its name from the fact that in 1850 there were 150 glaciers on the mountainside. There are now only 26. Judging by these pictures, the remaining 26 probably won’t last very long.

We were told that Many Glaciers was the best place to spot wild animals and many wild animals we did see, but that will have to go into another post.

Iceberg Lake at Many Glaciers

More photos after the jump.

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Our first hike at Glacier National Park was around Two Medicine Lake. Here are the photos.

More photos after the jump.

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Despite a great deal of apprehension, riding Amtrak to Glacier National Park has so far been a success. You can read about all of the planning of our Amtrak trip and pricing information from my previous post here.

Knowing that Amtrak is notoriously late, I didn’t quite know what to expect when we arrived at the station a half hour before it was scheduled to depart. I was prepared to wait a long time, but fortunately I didn’t have to as wee left bang on time. With the exception of one person, the Amtrak staff were wonderful people.

We first met our attendant, Ryan, who showed us to our roomette. I’ve got to tell you that the roomette is small though very roomy compared to a plane seat. At the edge of the seat is the sliding door, so it does get a little small in there. A friend reminded me before I left to take advantage of the lounge car and dining car in order to get some space.

Ryan brought us champagne for the journey. Very nice. We then explored the lounge car and the dining car which I’ve pictured here. You get an amazing view. Our dinner was great too and it was included in our fare because we got a roomette. We had a very large flat iron steak with two sides.  I’m going to the try the trout on the return journey.

There was an older couple from Eugene Oregon sharing our table who have gone to Glacier National Park by train three times. They like going to Glacier because they don’t have to drive. While I may not be willing to 14 hour train journeys all the time, the nice thing about this trip is that most of it is spent sleeping. You wake up in Montana. That’s a huge plus.

And how was sleeping? The vibration of the train as well as the champagne and the enormous dinner do a good job of getting you in the mood to sleep. The train creates some pretty good white noise also so you don’t have to listen to your neighbors conversations. I won’t pretend that it was the best sleep I’ve ever had, but I did sleep and I slept enough to be perfectly capable of an eight mile hike the next day.

All in all, I highly recommend it.

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Ouch. Talk about a lack of sportsmanship.

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So today is the day where we take the overnight train from Seattle to East Glacier Montana home of Glacier National Park. Looking down on my Amtrak ticket I am pleasantly surprised to see that we need only check in 30 minutes before departure which is a nice change from flying.

I’m bringing my computer and the hotel does have internet access, so I’m hoping to post once a day or so with pictures. This picture is from http://www.itsnature.org.

Wish me luck!

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Beware Coreflood

I’ve largely been offline today due to complications arising from the Coreflood virus. For info on that nasty thing, click here. It’s not pretty.

The system infects PCs with a program known as Coreflood that records keystrokes and steals other information. The network of infected computers collected as much as 500 gigabytes of data in a little more than a year and sent it back to the Wisconsin computer center, Mr. Stewart said.

One of the unique aspects of the malicious software is that it captures screen information in addition to passwords, according to Mark Seiden, a veteran computer security engineer. That makes it possible for gang members to see information like bank balances without having to log in to stolen accounts.

What to do? I have McAffee Virus Scan 8.5.0.i but hopefully your virus software can help you also.

1. Update your virus definitions.

2. Run an On Demand Scan.

3. I can confirm in three cases that McAfee found the virus after running an On Demand Scan, so it appears to be working. What to do if you find it? The only 100% solution is to re-image the machine and start from scratch. Reset any online banking information on a clean machine. One that is not infected. Or just call your bank and stop your online banking. Good luck.

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The GOP is so much better at capitalizing on gaffes like this. I’ll admit; I don’t like it. On the other hand, does it take a gaffe like this for people to realize that this is not the guy you would be having beers with in the bar?

Photo via DailyKos.

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This reverses the trend a bit:

Switching nationality in order to compete at the Olympics has become more noticeable in Beijing than in previous Games and it is beginning to cause concern among international sports bodies. The BBC’s Alex Capstick reports.

Becky Hammon failed to make the US women’s basketball squad for the Olympics, so she chose another option – to represent Russia.

Still you can’t argue with her logic:

“Well, I think you’ll find that if you do your research hundreds of athletes have done this. I guess I am the first one to just draw attention to it.

“America has done it. America has won many medals with athletes that are foreign born.”

And the US could win more medals from their foreign legion here in Beijing.

All three of their athletes in the men’s 1,500m have switched passports.

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Back in Seattle

I think it’s fairly appropriate that I return to 60 degree weather and rain. Seattle, I hardly missed you.

A lot of people who come to Seattle say that people here are not as friendly as other places. I’m from California and I’ve never really noticed this observation, but I must say that people in Chicago were incredibly friendly. For someone who was new to town and only stayed there a week, I had some exceptional kindness directed at me by strangers. I didn’t really feel like I was in the city alone.

I guess I’m back to the hum drum of daily news which by the way is starting to depress me. If the Republicans win this year then America is just as depraved as everyone believes.

Here’s one last photo from Chicago.

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Last Day in Chicago

Here are some shots from the week. I might be able to sneak in a few more later on today and then it’s back to Seattle. Thank you Chicago!

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Who knew? Via yahoo:

Spain’s synchronised swimmers have been banned from wearing a swimsuit with embedded waterproof lights which they had hoped would give an extra sparkle to their Olympic routine.

“It got very sophisticated because obviously the battery doesn’t last long and then we had to look at circuits and interrupters, so we have been working on it around two months with a crack team,” swimmer Andrea Fuentes said.

“It looks a bit like Christmas lights,” added the Spaniard, one half of the team that won silver at the last world championships and are favourites for a medal in Beijing.

Swimming’s world governing body, which sets swimsuit rules for a sport where sequins are almost obligatory, said the lights were an accessory but Fuentes still hoped they might back down.

“This is a very conservative sport … their excuse that is you cannot have accessories on your swimsuit, but they are sewn in. If you use those standards, sequins are a type of accessory.”

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Judith – Jan Sanders van Hemessen – 1540

More after the jump.

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I discovered Bushman at the Field Museum.

In August 1930, in the depths of the Great Depression, the Lincoln Park Zoo welcomed a two-year old orphaned gorilla named Bushman. Weighing just thirty-eight pounds, he would grow to six feet two inches tall, and over 550 pounds. For twenty-one years Bushman captivated the hearts of Chicagoans and visitors from around the world.

Bushman’s fame was due partly to his novelty: he was the first lowland gorilla kept in a zoo west of the Potomac River. He was also known for his pranks, such as throwing dung at those who came to gawk.

That Bushman; he’s such a card.

Oh my lord, that poor gorilla. No it’s not a prank; he hates you. He hates you. He despises you. He is not trying to throw his shit on you because he’s being funny. I can just hear his inner monologue: what is wrong with this species? Can’t they take a hint? Are they retarded? What do I have to do to get them to leave me alone? Leave me alone.

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Boystown Chicago

At heart I must be a bit of a fag hag, because when I came to Chicago I looked up the nearest gay bar to hang out in. I like the sense of community that you find in gay bars and how usually everyone knows everyone else. It’s definitely a nice atmosphere if you don’t know anyone. So I went to the Second Story Bar right around the corner from my hotel and there I was told about Boystown, the gay district in Chicago.

Boystown has these great spires all along the road. I snagged this photo from http://www.purpleroofs.com. Purple roofs has a lot more photos of Boystown which you should definitely check out here.

On a Sunday night the Sidetrack was absolutely packed. I was told that it was actually not so busy at all compared to usual. They show show tune videos until 9:30 and the whole bar joins in and sings and shouts out lines. During some videos people throw their cocktail napkins in the air. My favorite was Mommie Dearest even though it’s hardly a musical. Then I went across the road to Roscoe’s which was equally packed and again not as busy as usual according to the locals. Thanks to Steven from Nebraska for showing me around. Steven, where ever you are, I just want you to know I had a blast.

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The Chicago Hotdog

Had to try one of these while I was here. I found this one near the museums. While the dog itself was okay, I have to say I’m quite partial to the toppings. Onions, pickled peppers, tomatoes and mustard. Ketchup being noticeably absent. I still have time to try the best Chicago hotdog if anyone has any recommendations.

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There are a lot of stuffed animals in the Field Museum. I wanted especially to show this picture of the turkeys. One reason is because they are beautiful animals. The second is give some information on my camera.

I am as amateur as you can get for a photographer, so my opinion probably means little; however, I love my Pentax K100. The shake reduction on this camera allows me to take pictures in extremely low light at a very slow speed without a tripod. You do get this yellow like glow to the picture, but personally I like that. Better that then not getting the shot at all. Also, you don’t need special lenses for the shake reduction to work.

The yellowness almost makes the following photo look like drawing.

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Since I don’t have my personal computer with Photoshop on it, I tried the online photo editors Photo Flexer and Picnic. Neither site really accomplished what I wanted which was to resize my photos for the web. On this computer is Microsoft Picture Editor for Office. It did the trick rather easily so here’s to a little known tool.

Here are some buildings on Michigan Avenue. I really like how the architectural style at the top of the building doesn’t always match the bottom. It’s like having a building on top of another building.

Here is the Fine Arts Building also on Michigan Avenue.

I can’t get enough of Chicago Public Library. What a great building.

The Chicago Hilton is currently using this building. I’ll have to look it up to see what it was originally. The hotel is unbelievably big. Much bigger than you could imagine by looking at this photo. Also, it has that building on top of a building which I like.

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In Chicago

I’m on business in Chicago this week. Well, actually I came up a couple of days early so today and tomorrow I’m just a tourist. I’ve got my camera, so hopefully I will be able to try one of those online photo editors. If anyone has anything to recommend, let me know. I’ll do my best to find time to post some photos every day.

Photo via Spudart’s Flick Photostream.

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Want to read a depressing blog about the future of suburbia? I have to say I think these guys are overstating it by quite a bit. But it’s an interesting read nonetheless.

In 40 years I could see living in the world’s largest city, a megalopolis, extending from New York City to Philadelphia and engulfing all of New Jersey. New Jersey could change the state motto to “The Overdevelopment State.” As we already have more cars per square mile than any other state, we could change the shape of the license plates from a rectangle to the outline of a car.

Government services such as police, fire, health, and public works will increase exponentially. To pay for the expanded services, taxes will also increase exponentially to the point where individual paychecks are made payable to the government and deposited directly in the general treasury. All individuals will have to use credit cards for all living expenses, going into massive debt and having to work until they are 90 years old, thus saving our Social Security system.

With a massive increase in the population density there will be a traffic light on every single corner. Smart individuals will have seen this coming and invested heavily in the firms that manufacture and install traffic lights, creating a new class of wealthy Americans (the “stop light rich”).

Developers won’t be impacted by the megalopolis as they rival Bill Gates in wealth and purchase the entire state of Wyoming. The first act of the new Wyoming legislature will be to abolish development so the developers can live in peace and quiet.

Photo via Don Nunn’s Flickr Photostream.

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Roger Federer’s disappointing season continued as his hopes of Olympic gold in the men’s singles was ended by an inspired James Blake.

The American had not beaten the top seed in eight previous attempts, but comfortably outplayed the world number one for a 6-4 7-6 quarter-final win.

The crowd was shocked to silence when Blake deservedly broke in the 10th game to take the first set.

I’ll bet.

At the beginning of the year I was looking forward to other players toppling the tennis giant. The sport was getting boring with just one guy winning everything. Now, I kind of feel sorry for the guy. He wants so desperately to be back on top, and perhaps that’s the exact problem. When you’re on the way up, ambition is a very useful emotion. When you’re on the way down, desperation to get back to where you were is hardly as effective.

I really put it out there that this guy may not be able to topple Sampras’ record after all. If I were Federer I would buckle down, maybe take a break, and just realize that that record is going to take a few years of investment.

At the beginning of the year, Federer believed this was going to be the year he’d make 14 Grand Slams. That hasn’t exactly worked for him. Take a step back, man. Relax. So says the armchair enthusiast.

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