August 21, 2015

hiking to the Hollywood sign

Filed under: cali — SiKing @ 9:29 pm

While on vacation, we decided to hike to the Hollywood sign.

There are plenty of blogs out there telling you all about the hike, distance, bring water, etc. They all lie!!!

Here is what the hike could be like:

This is the “easy” route. Notice it says that it could be 3.2 miles. I found some blog that even claimed 3 miles round trip. Yea, maybe the second time, and only if you took notes along the way.

The problem is that while there, it’s like a giant ant maze, and none of the paths are marked in any way. The best you can hope for is to talk to the other tourists (they are the ones not crazy enough to be jogging here) and compare notes. “Is the sign that way?” “No, we came from there, it’s definitely not there! Where did you come from?” So you keep getting lost, going the wrong way, backtracking, all up and down hills. We were out there for good 5 hours. We actually got lucky in that more than half the day it was cloudy. We brought 3 litre bottles of water, several bottles of energy water, and some fruit. It was not enough! I have no idea how the tourists that were hiking there with one tiny bottle of water in their hand lived through it.

When you finally make it to the end, the sign is completely fenced off. This is the best shot you can get, up close:


Hollywood Hills

I’m not trying to look funny, I am breathing that hard!

Bring water, lots of water. Don’t bother with a map, they don’t help. Shorts, decent hiking boots not open ones, lather up sunscreen first, hat. This is place where you could die!


June 9, 2013

Privacy: it doesn’t matter anymore!

Filed under: meatspace — SiKing @ 9:30 am

Eric Schmidt‘s now famous quote: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place” is sometimes used as justification for invading people’s right to privacy.

Personally I have nothing to hide, and overall I think I lead a rather dull spartan life, which suits me very well. So I have nothing to worry about, right?

It is becoming common practice when you apply for a job to have to go through a background check. And in this brave new world we do everything instantly and online. I have recently applied for a volunteer position, and so was asked to submit to a background heck. Love the word “submit” in that request, BTW! After I paid them $35 – yes, not only am I about to get anally raped by some Internet leach, but I have to pay them money for the privilege – the results came back: irrelevant.

There are more and more of these so called services springing up. And they are for profit companies. For a for profit company it makes perfect business sense to differentiate yourself from your competition – to come up with something new. My report came back with something like two-dozen variations of my name. I am pretty sure there is only one of me, however there are now over 20 other people attached to my SSN. Now I am one of the lucky ones, and my name is not very common, however for people with common names this has to be a friggin’ nightmare. But at least the company that did the search did cover themselves in the EULA by stating that if any of the information they produce is wrong, it’s not their fault!?!? If one of my so-called aliases has a brush with the law, that could potentially mean the end of my career. There is no recourse for me to have my information removed from their system, because that would be contradictory to their business model. And even if there ever comes a day that I could legally demand my information be removed, there is no delete button on the Internet!

This isn’t a problem with privacy, this is a problem that someone who only cares about the bottom line is holding my future in their hands.

May 29, 2013

It’s a sad world

Filed under: meatspace — SiKing @ 8:52 am

When I was a kid I was obsessed with Start Trek. There was one episode where two planets fought a war all through a computer simulation. One computer launched a simulated attack, the other side simulated a response, and then the computers calculated casualties. Actual people had to report to “extermination booths” where they were swiftly and painlessly exterminated.
We are getting pretty close to accomplishing this.
It’s all great that in the course of fighting terrorism no American lives will be lost. However, the thing that we seem to have missed from the 1967 TV show, is that by making war clean and pretty, and removing all the pain and suffering, we have removed the very reason to STOP!

March 4, 2012

Zeroth law of Life

Filed under: meatspace — SiKing @ 10:06 am

Scientists discover laws of Universe – how the universe works. Engineers are paid to break them. There is however the Zeroth law of Engineering – law that no other can supersede and nobody can break. The concept is named after Asimov’s Zeroth law of Robotics. The Zeroth law of Engineering states that any project can be good (quality), fast (on time), or cheap (on budget), pick two!

My Zeroth law of Life states that you can be good (morally, ethically, legally, spiritually, whatever…), rich (at least comfortably), or happy, pick two! Personally I have struggled my whole life to get a firm grip on at least one of these.

February 26, 2012

Loop around Area51

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 10:00 pm

CeeJ and I have been mulling around riding the Extraterrestrial Highway for a while. This weekend we made it happen.

Day 1

The plan was to start early afternoon (after CutiePie’s swim practice). Unfortunately, CJ’s Shadow made it as far as the end of his street before it took a dump and would not start again. He had to push it back up to his house and change bikes, obviously moving everything he packed the nigh before from one bike to a backpack. We left Vegas probably around 3 in the afternoon.

The ride up the 95 went by pretty uneventful. CutiePie took some pictures from the back – of her gloves, her pants, the asphalt – and filled up the camera memory. Mental note: the camera memory is not a good backup storage. 😕 CJ reported that CutiePie was occasionally practising her synchro moves on the back of the bike – too bad we don’t have any video of that. Beatty was the first gas stop, next to The candy store of course. 🙂

Onwards through Goldfield up to Tonopah. Both of these are quickly becoming ghost towns, leftovers from the gold-rush days. I was actually very pleasantly surprised how well maintained the town centre of both towns was.

Day 2

I woke up the next day around 8 (we did say no rush, right!), with both CJ and CutiePie both staring at me like: can we go yet? After the continental breakfast (mmmmm bacon! :razz:) we took a short walk around Tonopah. One, we wanted to gauge the morning temperature, and two, we wanted to see the town in daylight. If you are going to stay, I recommend the Mizpah hotel – it still has the old charm to it. We did not get a room there (no vacancy), but did have our dinner there. Eventually opted for for the winter riding pants, since I brought them along, but not the extra sweat shirt.

We got on the road probably just before 11. By this time I was sweating like a pig! About 40 miles out of town, I decided to pull over on the side of the road to zip up all the vents on my jacket and pants. The temps were getting below freezing, before the wind chill factor! A state trooper just happen to drive by, and pulled over to ask us if we were OK. On a whim I asked him if we are heading the right way towards the 375. He told us that we are headed exactly the opposite direction! We need to go back through Tonopah, and take the 6 towards Ely. The freaky thing is that about 5 miles back we passed a rest stop, where I was originally thinking of stopping to zip up, and where the trooper would have never seen us. By the time we were back in Tonopah, I had to gas up again, especially considering the next gas after that was going to be in Alamo – about 160 miles away; my bike has a range of 150 miles, riding 1up, down hill, with a good strong back wind. And off we were again, this time in the right direction.

The first stop we made was at the turnoff to the Tonopah Test Range airport – apparently this is where all the testing for the Stealth fighter was done. Half-way to Ely is the turnoff to the 375 – the Extraterrestrial Highway. As soon as we turned onto the highway, I remember seeing very tall mountains on the horizon, completely covered in white, and thinking that sure I sure hope that is not where we are going. 😮 The mountains stayed to the horizon all the way. 🙂 CutiePie kept up with her synchro workout on the back of the bike, and was freaking out the local Air Force as well as the UFOs: “What’s with the crazy air traffic controller chick?!?!” 😀

About half-way down the 375, in Rachel, NV, you actually come to the a sign that declares this to be the Extraterrestrial Highway, right before the Little A’Le’Inn – most people pronounce it little alien inn. As CJ said: you cannot pass up the opportunity to have lunch at a dive in the middle of nowhere! 🙂 This is where you can also find maps and photographs of the super-secret-illegal-to-photograph Area 51! The Eastern end of the highway even has some neat twisties – overall a really fun ride!

Last stop was the Alamo, NV. Brings back memories of bygone days, when I got almost abandoned by Bonnie and almost ran out of gas in the middle of the desert in the middle of the summer! This time I heeded the “No gas for next 75 miles” sign, a filled up.

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To find Groom Dry Lake on the map, where the actual Area 51 is located, is left as an exercise for the reader.

May 1, 2011

Rt89A in Arizona

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 8:00 pm

I had been neglecting my blog for a while – it is not for lack of riding, I blame entropy. 😛

This past weekend some friends and I hit up route 89A in Arizona.

I hooked up with my friends in Phoenix, and Saturday morning we took off towards Wickenburg. If you get a chance – we didn’t – I highly recommend stopping by the Hog Trough Smokehouse BBQ for some great food. Just outside of Wickenburg you pick up highway 89 towards Congress. There is nothing much of interest en route until you get into the mountains climbing up to Prescott. This is a beautiful ride: twisty, very well-built, and wide roads, which allow you to often check the eye-catching scenery.

Prescott is a pretty town worth stopping at and stretching your legs in the picturesque downtown. But don’t waste too much time there.

After our break, we continued climbing the twisties. Jerome is a place worth stopping and spending some serious time in. The town reminded me of some seaside European village, with small brick buildings propped up on the steep hillside, and people and cars navigating the precariously narrow streets – minus the sea of course. Make sure you have reservations well in advance! We had a Haunted Burger, and walked through the town long enough to find out that there are no rooms available for that night.

Onward through the twisties, this time downhill, towards Sedona. That’s where we met the pirate!


There be pirates in them thar' hills, arrrgggg!

Sedonais another place that I would have like to spend a little more time than just one night. It has all the typical red-rock desert mountains, right in the middle of the town, licensed ATV running down the streets, plenty of tourists, and the whole place shuts down by 10pm to get some decent sleep to start another great day the next morning.


A little piece of home?

March 13, 2011

Stop at Nothing

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 8:00 pm

Nothing, AZ

I got a purdy new bike, in Arizona, and on the way back we stopped at Nothing. 😀 It’s in the middle of the desert, and there is actually nothing for miles around.

With my luck, the next day the bike died. 😦 It was only the primary wire from the battery that rubbed through and shorted against the body, so no biggie, but still a bummer.

The guy who sold me the bike really loved it; he almost cried when I was taking her away. He forwarded me some sites that I do not want to lose:

January 26, 2011

a lawn mower

Filed under: meatspace — SiKing @ 8:50 pm
Tags: ,

I got me a new lawn mower. I went all out, and got one of the fancy self-powered, fully automated models. Have a look:

Unfortunately, the “lawn mower” is constantly trying to get onto the back deck and into the house, and not taking care of the weeds in the back yard.

So I went down to the local hardware store to price out a chain around his neck (a dog collar is too short), and a 50ft. of steel cable (yes, the coated kind), and some connectors to hook everything up. Bottom line: that setup costs more than the goat, and a low-end BBQ is cheaper.

So I still have some decisions to be made… 😛

January 15, 2011

Death Valley trip

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 8:00 pm

What an absolutely fantastic weekend for riding! I did not have my GPS, but Google thinks the whole route was 370 miles.

We started with 9 riders and 8 bikes, and headed to Shoshone for breakfast – good food, lousy gas prices. We were joined by 3 more riders and two more bikes there. After breakfast half of our initial group headed back via Pahrump … stressing out about long rides, wind, light, dark, heat, cold, noise, coffee, sugar, and soon to be missing license plates.

First stop for the adventurers was Badwater.


everyone finally relaxes


some dork at Badwater with a very cool looking scarf

sea level

that sign stuck up on the mountain says: "Sea Level"

Next was Dante’s View. The ice patches on the ride up freaked out those of us who were on hiatus for the past four months, but we all made it in one piece and the view from the top was awesome.

looking down

this is looking down towards Badwater - essentially the spot where the above picture was taken

Next was Furnace Creek. Those who are not storing as much reserves 😛 had to do lunch here. Last stop was Beatty for candy, and back home by 8 or so.

Additional report and pictures.

November 15, 2010

Where to next?

Filed under: places — SiKing @ 3:58 pm

YES:!!! Where do I sign up? 😈

On an (almost) related note: the Mars Trilogy by KSR is one of my all-time favourite reads.

November 6, 2010

Oatman the long way

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 9:14 pm

Another awesome ride! :mrgreen:

Google’s approximation:

My GPS says we did 336.5mi, in 6:23 hours, at 53mph. I loved the meandering route 66 around Oatman – points D to F on the map.

As I mentioned at some point in the past, I am not much of a photographer, but here are some snaps that I took:

Downtown Oatman – route 66.

I like the sign with the background.

The end of the windy road out of Oatman.

I think this is the only time that we all parked as a proper biker gang! 🙂

We took a little detour north on the way home.

Some more pics (and discussion) can be found here.

October 24, 2010

Frank Thomas gear mini-review

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 3:57 pm

Even before my bike arrived I wanted some rain/winter gear. One of the local shops carries Frank Thomas – I like being different from everyone else. :mrgreen: Since I was buying all this stuff in the summer, I got a very good deal on the winter stuff. Recently we got some good rains in Vegas, and so only now did I get a chance to try all the gear out.

Professional review:

My review:

The jacket is the FT XTi nylon waterproof. It does exactly what it says on the box: cozy warm (I had it at 70mph in 60°F without the inner lining), completely dry even in a serious downpour. Elbow, shoulder, and back guards. The inner lining has full sleeves, not just a vest. It does have vents in front (right above the nipples 😮 ), back, and on the sleeves, but if you take it out even in mild summer you will cook in it! About the only complaint that I have, is if you close the sleeve vents and do not tighten up the sleeves against your wrist enough, the air rushing in will balloon up the jacket – very minor complaint, and an easy workaround (gloves – more below). If you’re a pockets freak and like to carry a lot of crap on you, you will be disappointed by this jacket: two regular jacket pockets, one breast pocket inside, and one pocket also inside for a phone.

Ft jacket

the jacket

The pants are the Aqua Ride trousers. They are surprisingly comfy! Guards only on the knees. If you have a nylon seat, your ass will slide all over the place – I got rubber and no problems; I would suspect that leather would also have no problems. Breathing vents only on the front, so your lower body is completely sealed once you zip and velcro everything up. The inner lining is just shorts, however, most of the time I wear them with jeans underneath, so that I can take the pants off when the temperature picks up. Couple more complaints with these, but all very minor. When I was trying these on in the store, I actually first tried the 2010 model and first thing I noticed that they have a snap at the waist, which was already broken off. The older model does not have the snap, only a velcro “belt”, which I thought is a much better solution. There is a little rubber grabber, but after only three uses, that ripper off. The bottom of the legs does not shut tight, so if you are riding through the rain, you will get water up the pants! That is, unless you install some after market parts – couple of rubber bands will do. Only two front pockets.

FT pants

the pants

FT snap

broken belt strap

The pants and jacket also zip together. There are actually two zippers, and you have to be at least half-way dexterous to be able to zip up both of them. You must do the outside smaller zipper first, and then pass the inside longer zipper around your back. I did try to zip them together before putting them on, but getting into it that way I suspect would eventually rip the zippers out.

FT zippers


FT mismatched zippers

mismatched zippers

I continued with the FT theme when looking for gloves – actually I continued with the deep discounts theme, but whatever.

The summer gloves have only guards across the top knuckles. Lots of breathing space. You cannot close them tight, but they will not come off easily. The velcro strap comes apart after some use (they got some fancy wire mesh built into it), which I corrected with some crazy glue.


FT summer gloves

summer gloves

The winter gloves have the same protection – guards only across the top of the hands. Very warm. The gauntlets also nicely solve the problem of air rushing inside your jacket sleeves. Weird thing: the summer gloves size large fit perfectly, the winter I had to get X-large to allow circulation to flow into my hands.


FT winter gloves

winter gloves

Bottom line: I am quite happy with FT line of gear, especially at 50%+ discounts. 😀

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