The Call Of The Slots.

No.  Not slot machines.  I’m not in Vegas this trip.  Read on…

Many years ago I somehow got involved in caving.  I’m not sure how it started but it was a very exciting time.  My friends and my older brother got involved as well.  We became members of the local caving club (often called a Grotto).  I explored many caves and even re-discovered a cave that had been lost for 40 years.  That cave had virgin passage (never seen nor touched by humans).  Exploring those passages are as close as I will get to having a “first man on the moon” feeling.  It was dark, dirty, and dangerous fun.  Many fond memories were had exploring these dark places.  After caving we discovered slot canyoneering.  It’s similar to caving except with open sky above you (most of the time).   We were all living in UT at the time and UT is a mecca for slot canyons.  They are deep, foreboding, and dangerous as hell if you don’t know what you’re doing.  We’ve seen some amazing places that canyons hide and made memories that can only be described as priceless.  The places are not easy to get to.  If it was easy, then everyone would be doing it.

It’s been many years since I’ve done any canyoneering.  Most of the time you find me on a bike.  I live in Arizona now and it’s an amazing place.  It’s a shame to not take advantage of the variety and beauty that abounds here.  In fact, Arizona has one of the granddaddy of all slot canyons in the known world.  I’m not referring to the Grand Canyon either.  It is however northeast of there.  Well, the call of the slots sounded again.  It beaconed me and I did answer.  There is a slot near the Phoenix metro that in some books is unnamed.  Rather, the author makes up a name, but on maps there is no name listed.  It is near Tortilla Flats.  It looked interesting enough.  So a buddy and I put on our explorin’ hats and set out one Saturday to do just that.  Needless to say, I was impressed.  It was even cave like in some spots.  Browse through the gallery and take a look.  Enjoy.

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Coastal energy currents.

As I write this post a dust storm is moving into the neighborhood.  I imagine there is enormous energy contained in this phenomena.  About two years ago, around this time, one of those storms reared it’s head and moved through PHX.  I do not say reared it’s “ugly” head because the footage of it was amazing.  It was beautiful.  I was not here at the time.  Perhaps I might think otherwise if I was in PHX. Some statistics would suggest it was ugly.  Over a 4 year period storms like this caused 15 deaths and 614 accidents in AZ (the same article I got that from suggested 2,323 accidents in NM.  Strange considering the population density in AZ is higher…I think.) That storm was called a 100 year storm.  Some called it a curse from God (from comments in some articles).  I do not claim to know God’s will but calling it a curse from God is just ridiculous and demonstrates a lack of critical thinking.  Alas, that’s another post for another time.

Just as there is energy in a dust storm (or any storm. Imagine being able to harness that amount. WOW!) there is energy in places.  There are many of these places.  This energy is hard, if not impossible to measure.  The energy I refer to is the restorative energy one might receive from being in a favorite place.  For me one of those places is the coast.  I’ve spent time on both east and west coasts and while I love both my favorite is the Pacific side.  I am a bit biased through.  I grew up in the West and spent many family vacations in Southern California.  I currently live in a desert and the call of the ocean was strong recently so I made a trip out there to scratch that itch.  I can’t quite explain it but the ocean has a very regenerative energy and incites much needed inspiration.  The gallery included in this post contain photos from that trip.  I’ve been experimenting with filters (some are filtered out the wazoo).  Enjoy.

Bouncin’ and rollin’ round the Arizona High-Country

It’s been a while since I posted as I have been doing just as the title of this post describes.  Out of band as they say in tech circles…and perhaps other circles for all I know.  When one is “out of band” or “off the grid” and travelling as I have been, it provides much time to think and ponder. (My brother is a truck driver.  He knows too well what this is like).  I have reflected on much the past two weeks and I have much work ahead to get to where I want to be.  I will admit that I am guilty sometimes of thinking about the past.  It’s sometimes hard to let it go.  It’s getting easier as time progresses but that’s true of many things.  Time heals most if not all things.

So, we move forward.  It’s what we must do.  What I must do.  I’ve reflected on the choices I’ve made and I am reminded of a wise rule: “Fret not where the world will take you.  Instead concentrate on the first step.  That’s the hardest part and that’s what you are responsible for.  Once you take that step let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will follow.  Do not go with the flow.  Be the flow.” – one of the rules (If you know where this is from you win a prize!).

The flow of my travels have taken me to a few new places and I was able to capture some of that here.  Many of these pictures were captured in the high country above Show Low, AZ.  After that trip, AZ is becoming one of my favorite places to ride.

Enjoy.

On location with amateurs and a high end camera

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I like photography. I always have. I’ve even dreamed of becoming a professional photographer and publishing my insanely gorgeous photos in a book that would find a place on coffee tables worldwide. You know the ones I’m talking about. Big oversized books that don’t even fit in a typical bookshelf. The kind that only fit by laying them down on their sides…or left peacefully on a coffee table.

Recently I assisted on a photo shoot. I would not call it a professional shoot but since it felt like one, I shall call it that.   A friend of mine was commissioned (possibly for the fee of dinner) to take photos of a daughter of another friend. Our model that day was the photogenic Sasha (not her real name). Our backdrop, a train museum and a ranch with…old stuff.

Our pseudo professional gear consisted of the camera and reflective heat shields from my car. They worked quite well but made Sasha tear up it was so bright sometimes.

Keep in mind these photos were totally random of the shoot in progress and I did nothing to set them up.

Enjoy!

The desert…listen…it speaks.

The desert is a beautiful place.  When in bloom, it’s spectacular.  Here are a few photos I took while out mountain biking at Usery Park, Mcdowell Mnt Park, and Tumbleweed park (I wasn’t mountain biking here.  I was assisting on a photo shoot).  While mountain biking out at Usery, my biking buddy suggested stopping, closing eyes, and just listening.  Without the sound of dirt and gravel crunching underneath tires and the wind in your ears, I heard a dull, yet surprisingly loud, rushing sound.  Much like you hear when you are near a busy road.  It wasn’t road.  It was the sound of thousands of arthropods (bees and all variety of insects).  It was a mass harvest while the flora are in bloom.  The only time I’ve heard such a “roar” was being in close proximity of a beehive.  Not so this time.  It was wide open desert and it had something to say.  Shhhh.   Listen.  It speaks.  It’s fascinating.

The Apptasitic Voyage.

I was born a poor salamander to a wolf and a used car salesman.  Living off the land in the swamps of the Okefenokee wildlife refuge, my family foraged for pineapple nuts, hub caps, old car parts, and  catfish.  We loved Noodling as much as we loved breathing.   …..Do I have your attention?  Are you still with me?  That might be a more interesting story than my chosen topic, but it has nothing to do with it.  So, let’s go ahead and jump right in to the Mac apps.(The author wishes to apologize for the above paragraph.  It was random.  I blame my tragic childhood tainted with unhealthy doses of Monty Python.  Besides, it gets me in the writing mood)

Disclaimer:  I am NOT an Apple/Microsoft/Linux/Android – Fanboy.  None of the above.  Nope.  However, this post is about those specific things.  Not all of them, just Apple, or rather Mac OS apps to be specific with a dash of Microsoft thrown in (Sorry Apple.  There are some things they still do better in my opinion.  More inside.  Keep reading young one.)

The Chosen ones

The Chosen ones

I have used a Mac for years.  I am trained in the classical style of MS but for the past 2.5 years my primary computing device has been a Mac.  I drive a MacBook Pro 2.4 Ghz Intel Core 2 duo running Mac OSX 10.8.2  It’s been very dependable.  I have grown quite attached to it.  I call it…George.  No, I do not!  It does not have a name, but it has some stickers from cool cycling companies plastered on the lid.  Macs are cool because they have style.  If you are the creative type, you know what I’m talking about and it’s all about style.  Right?  Even the apps are smooth, sleek, hot mamas.  Was that too much?  Perhaps.  There are a few apps which I find indispensable on my dear Mac so here I present to you my hot list.  The apps that I mostly cannot function without.  The winners are not necessarily in order of greatness.

Evernote: My favorite app of all time!  If this app was a person and I could only choose one person to be with on a deserted island with, Evernote would be that person.  Evernote is the ultimate note taking tool of everything.  The latest iteration is fantastic.  Superb organization of topics into virtual notebooks, superb searching, browser integration with Web Clipper, device synchronization (Have Evernote installed on all devices, sign in, make notes anywhere, sync to all devices. Your notes available anywhere you go).  Trust me.  Go get this.  Fall in love.

MS Office: Face it.  It’s everywhere.  It is The King of office and school tools. It’s foothold it solid.  I use it on the Mac and my current version is 2011.  It has made vast improvements however, the windows version is a bit more feature rich and easier to navigate.  Sometimes I find myself switching to a PC to use the Office suite of products.  I warned you I would talk about MS.  There, enough said.

Chrome: How can I not mention a browser?  It is my browser of choice.  It’s lightweight, has a great Find function, a great app store, and generally more dependable than the other mainstream browsers.  I’m not saying it doesn’t have problems.  It does.  However, while I still tend to gravitate there, it will be my browser of choice.  (Honorable mention goes to Firefox and namely a nifty research add-on called Zotero)

Jing: From the fine folks at TechSmith, comes a screen capture tool that has saved many a day where explaining something over the phone or text just would not do.

Browser Apps: A few favorites I enjoy but are not necessarily “must haves”.  Punchfork – Recently eaten up by Pinterest, it is without question my goto for recipe.  I gain weight just looking at it.  Go there now and hate me later.  A recent find for photography is PicMonkey.  It’s quite feature rich for online editing of photos.  However, to get the full set you must to subscribe.  It is such a tease.  An evil temptress it is.  The jury is still out whether I will take the plunge to fork out the case to do so.  It is worth checking out though.

TextWrangler:  You need to have a good text editor.  Sometimes…well, much of the time if you work in Tech, you need a text editor powerful enough to handle anything thrown at you without all the clutter a word processor might dump in your lap.  The clutter.  You know?  All that special hidden formatting stuff?

Komodo Edit: Free, open source code editor, syntax coloring.  Nothing more to say here.

There’s my short list.  I’d love to hear about your favorite apps.  I am always on the look-out for new, exciting, creative ways to make our lives easier, productive, and fun.  Bring it on.

No hands in Red Rock, Henderson, and Zion

Last weekend was Presidents Day weekend.  The long weekend demanded I get out and spin…and it had to be somewhere warm.  I clocked in 68 miles.  My first ride was Red Rock Canyon loop = 16 miles, then Henderson, NV loop=33 miles (super fun on path along those mountains with the big “B”), and finally the Zion NP road from the gate to the Temple of Sinawava.  Haven’t had a good weekend like this in a long time.  I may write a more detailed blog over in MTB50   Enjoy the pictures.