December 28, 2005

Winter Vacation

Last night, Ashley and I returned from our trip back to Oregon. I was back from the 18th to the 27th, which provided an ideal amount of time to see most of my family and friends. I spent three days in Corvallis with Ashley's family, one and a half days with Jake that involved some bowling and snowshoeing in the rain near Trillium Lake on Mount Hood, and the rest of the time with various members of my own family in the Portland vicinity.

Of all the generous gifts I received, two are worth mentioning here. My grandpa made me a custom ordered spice rack. What makes this spice rack unique is that it is made to fit White Labs Yeast bottles that I use to brew beer. I've been saving these bottles up for a while, so now I have a very unique and personalized spice rack. My grandma spent an eternity sewing a queen size quilt for me. The quilt is made solely of various black and white patterns - nearly 20 different patterns it seems. The immense amount of time and skill required to complete this quilt makes it the most special gift I've ever received.

I brought some work back to Oregon with me so I could continue progressing on my thesis project. I spent a total of 45 minutes writing one of the chapters. I've set a thesis defense date for January 10th, which means my thesis committee members need a copy of a draft a week before that. That means I have seven more days to finish my writing. In light of that, I better stop writing this blog post and resume my project.

December 15, 2005

Geotech Ski Day

I took the liberty of organizing a ski trip for the geotech department, which took place today, Dec. 15th. The head count by nationality was as follows, I think:

Koreans - 3
Iranians - 1
Chileans - 1 (Chilean born anyway)
Russians - 1
Americans - 4

The sky was clear, the temperature low, and the wind high. A chilly day, but nobody froze and we made it back down the hill with everyone we took up.

The most improved award goes to Davoud. His last run down the hill was nearly two orders of magnitude faster than his first.

The best outfit award goes to JaeHong for his sporty, green and purple one-piece. Yes, we were all jealous.

Enough awards, the most important thing is that everyone stopped studying and had some fun.

The follwing pictures are of (1) Davoud doing his impression of a new-born colt, (2) Tailgate BBQ with a subzero windchill, (3) Joon-Yong blazing across the hill, (4) Party on the bunny hill.

December 03, 2005

Interview and Some PowPow

This Friday I had an interview with Deere and Ault Consultants in Longmont. The company is a medium-small geotechnical engineering consulting firm. One of my friends who graduated from CU last year has been working for them for several years, and he called me out of the blue one day and asked me to come in for an interview. Anyway, Longmont is about 12 miles NE of Boulder, much closer than commuting to Denver. I liked the firm, and I'm considering working for them after I graduate until I'm finished with Colorado. I'm expecting an offer in the next couple of weeks. I'll be sure to keep my blog site posted with the most recent updates.

This morning, Ashley, Antonio, and I went up to Eldora. They've received 2 feet of snow in the last two days, so I had to take a half day off and check it out. Antonio is my New Yorker friend in the Geotech program. Yes, that's New York, USA, not New York, Korea. He'd never really skied on anything except ice before, so he thoroughly appreciated the deep powder. Eldora's getting a decent base built up pretty early in the season, which doesn't always happen. I still flail quite a bit in the powder on tele skies, but I'm getting better. Ashley is showing great improvement over last year as well. She still refers to the powder on the side of the runs as "that place where you get stuck", but I'm sure she'll learn to love it.

November 28, 2005

Thanksgiving Pics

Kitty in the Family Room

Wes and Taylor by the Snake River during Frisbee Golf

More frisbee

Wes and Michelle in front of their house

Thanksgiving Break

Phase I - Idaho Falls
Ashley and I left Wednesday morning for Idaho Falls to visit Wes and Michelle for Thanksgiving. We made the drive of 575 miles in just under 9 hours. We cut across Wyoming on highway 191, which I'd never been on before. 191 runs north-south and holds the Wind River Range to the east for about a 100 mile stretch. The long chain of uninterrupted peaks was an unusual and spectacular site. The weather was ideal all the way there.

It was great to see Wes and Michelle and their first home. They've lived there almost a year. I'm compelled to mention their hyperactive and mentally challenged dog, Taylor, and their incessantly purring cat, which loved sleeping on Ashley's head. On Thanksgiving we all went to play frisbee golf at the local park while Michelle stayed home and tended the oven. Frisbee was fun and the dog never once tried to pick up a frisbee or otherwise alter someone's lie. I later found out that he wouldn't catch the frisbee if you threw it at his head. I tried this many times. Michelle's hard work in the kitchen was worth it. Her first attempt at cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner by herself went perfectly. All the food was great and we had 4 pies to wash it down with.

The next day we went hiking in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The highlight was seeing a moose at about 100 yards. Wes didn't have his gun to protect us, but we miraculously survived this encounter unscathed. That night it began snowing in town, just in time to cover the roads with snow and ice for out departure.

Phase II - Alta
We left Idaho Falls Saturday morning for Alta, Utah (kind of on the way home if you stick to the interstate). The roads were a little snowy, but we didn't run into any problems and only saw one minor accident. We arrived in Alta midafternoon and waited for Jane to get off work. Jane is our friend from college who is currently working at Alta. After several beers and some buffalo burgers, and some more beers, we called it a night. It snowed about a foot during the day we arrived and 8" that night. As a consequence, we had to ski the next day before driving back to Boulder.

I think this was the first time I've skied two feet of powder that fell at a temperature of near zero degrees, unusually cold even for the Wasatch Mountains. Long story short, there's a lot wrong with Utah, but the mountains and snow beat Colorado.

Phase III - The Tortuous Drive Home
Ashley and I began our drive home at 1:00 pm. Upon entering Wyoming on I-80, we started seeing signs regarding the road being closed. I told Ashley I thought they were kidding and we kept going. 150 miles later, there was a gate across the road with three cop cars guarding it. We stopped at the local truck stop with hundreds of other travelers to wait indefinitely until the road was reopened. The consensus seemed to be that it would reopen in the morning since it was already dark out. Some people we talked to had been there for 4 hours already. 20 minutes after arriving, the road opened and we got in the middle of a 20mph procession of a few thousand vehicles. It's faster to go 90 miles at 80 mph than to go that same distance at 20mph. A few hours later we made it to Laramie. From there it was windy but the roads were clear the rest of the way home. We got home at 11:00, 10 hours after leaving Alta, Utah.

November 21, 2005

Random Weedend

Nothing too exciting to report. Ashley and I went skate skiing on Sunday for about an hour and a half. I did pretty good for the first half hour and then Ashley started skiing circles around me because I apparently wasn't going fast enough. Most of the rest of the weekend was spent getting ready to visit Wes and Michelle in Idaho, as we leave on Wednesday morning.

Ashley won't stop bugging me about going to see the new Harry Potter movie. I told her I wouldn't go because I haven't seen the first three movies or read any of the books, so jumping in to the fourth part of the series would be pointless. Ashley, being as smart as she is, decided that this was a problem that could be fixed. After a short trip to the video store, I found myself learning all about wizards and muguls (moguls?) I looked hard, but couldn't find any hobbits. I'd wager that before too long I'll find myself in a movie theater watching some more wizardry.

November 18, 2005

Eldora Opens

Today was the first day of the season at Eldora, the local ski area. From 9 to 11 I made turns in about a foot of super light powder. Oh, yea, it was a totally bluebird day too. Now that I skied out all the best lines, I'm back in the office for a solid days work. It's nice living so close to a chair lift. For those of you who aren't so lucky, I'll try to make some extra turns this season and dedicate them to you.

November 17, 2005

Crazy Climber Guy

Many of the people who look at my site have probably already seen this, but for those of you who haven't, it's worth a look. Click the link to see an insane speed solo climb of Lover's Leap in California.

November 06, 2005

New Knee - Operational

Ashley and I went hiking in the Indian Peaks Wilderness today(Brainard Lake area for those who are familiar). I brought my skis, but figured there wouldn't be enough snow to ever put them on. After ramming a couple snow drifts on the road on the way to the parking area, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of snow covering the ground. Ashley snowshoed and I skinned up a few miles before turning around. The mountains were beautiful (see pictures), the snow was thin, and the wind was howling. Being from the Pacific Northwest, these three things are how I describe Colorado skiing throughout the year, and today was no exception. I attached a video of my first couple of turns since my knee surgery last March. It's nothing to brag about, but I was skiing again! First Turns on the New Knee And yes, mom, I got my new knee brace earlier this week and was sporting it for the first time during this outing.

November 01, 2005

Gummy Bear and Saucer Boy

This last weekend was almost completely wasted away working on my thesis project. I did manage to escape on Friday night to go to a halloween party with Ashley and some of her friends. I've attached a couple pictures below with relevant explanations.

A modified Saucer Boy scoping out the scene. For those who don't know, Saucer Boy is a wild and crazy character played by Shane McConkey in my favorite ski movies.

Ashley the Gummy Bear playing the paper bag game. Paper bag game rules: stand on one foot, bend down, pick up paper bag in teeth. After everyone has gone, an inch or two is cut off and the whole process starts anew. This becomes exceedingly difficult when a) wearing tele boots, and b) noticing that half the boxed wine is gone before you even begin. I suppose the gummy bear might need some clarification. To avoid a repeat of the "purple bear" costume a few years ago, a dozen gum wrappers were attached to the front of the costume, instantly turning the purple bear into a "gummy" bear.

(See box wine note from caption above)

October 25, 2005

Dancing Jake

Some of you have seen this, some of you want to see this, and yet some of you may see it and wish you never had. Keith - this one's for you. A short clip of Jake and Emily "dancing" at Jason and Kelly's wedding. Enjoy!

October 24, 2005

The Eye and the Wolf

Ashley and I had a pretty lazy weekend. We are both very busy with grad program stuff, so we spent a bit of time trying to be productive. We did make a trip to the local pumpkin patch (the only one we have found in Colorado). Unlike last year, we had good luck finding quality pumpkins that were still attached to the vine. Some of us, not to mention any names, found this detaching aspect quite exhilerating as well as a bit challanging. I've attached a couple pictures of the final product of Saturday's artistic expressions. Ashley is the proud owner and creator of "Wolfie", so I guess I have to claim responsibility for the eyeball. The eyeball was inspired by Keith's halloween costume two years ago. Keep in mind that the eye is an artistic expression, not meant to be a completely realistic interpretation of the eyeball of any particular creature.

October 18, 2005

Fall Break

Apparently too many students were getting stressed out and committing suicide a few years back, so the powers that be invented "Fall Break" in order to relieve stress and reduce the suicide rate. As sad as this may be, I did my best to take advantage of not having classes on Thursday and Friday last week.

As ususal, I had big plans that had to be altered into a much less impressive feat. The plan was to backpack a loop in the Indian Peaks Wilderness which involved two crossings of the continental divide. After about 3 miles of postholing through 1-3 feet of snow between bobcat, cougar, and elk tracks, I set up camp near a lake. The scenery was beautiful and the snow was much missed since last winter. The next day I made a second attempt at finding the trail to continue my loop, but that sneaky basterd eluded me again!

On Saturday I attended the Colorado School of Mines homecoming football game. Apparently the engineering program there is the only impressive aspect of the school. The stadium was smaller than the one at Oregon City High School and less spectators were in attendance. The scoreboard didn't work, and neither did the sound system. Worst of all, they didn't even have a Jumbotron!

Enough fun for a while, and back to the thesis project. Progress had been slow up until about two weeks ago. Now I'm in the thick of the testing process, soon to be heavily involved with the analysis of the test results. One of the students I TA'd last year generously offered to assist me with my project in any way I could think of. This should help things go faster so I can meet my target date for my thesis defense - January 10th.