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!


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.

September 26, 2010


Filed under: cali — SiKing @ 9:01 am
WB tower

Famous tower at WB studio.

In case you’re not sure of the significance of this water tower, here is a hint.

August 23, 2010

Shoshone “breakfast” run

Filed under: places,rides — SiKing @ 10:49 pm

Went for breakfast to Shoshone on Saturday.

On the way, right after the turnoff to route 160, we saw a turtle in the middle of the road:
turtle on the road

Bonnie stopped, I flew right past her; not only does she have a faster bike, but she can stop faster that I can too. I turned around, came back, and I knew exactly what it was about: let’s go save the turtle Bonnie. 🙂

Had breakfast in Shoshone, bought a lottery ticket – you have to leave Nevada to get that (did not win anything) – and rode back through Pahrump.

Nice little ride.

August 15, 2010

Caliente run

Filed under: places,rides — SiKing @ 11:25 am

I am backporting this post, as I wanna keep track of all the rides I did.

Went up to Utah this weekend to a friend’s family reunion. Met some nice people saw some wonderful country! There was a property for sale: something like 320 acres, comes with a herd of cows and wild horses, for $65k! 😯

The part from Enterprise to Caliente (points D to E) is an awesome ride – I had to consciously remind myself to keep my eyes on the road, and off all the beautiful scenery. I’ll take some pictures next time; I’m just not a camera-kinda guy. 🙄

Had one scary moment: just before getting off 93 back onto 15, I did like 20 miles on just gas fumes, through the desert. Kept looking around me the whole time at the endless desert thinking: I could die here! Also found out that my bike tops out just a little over 90 mph – which agrees with some of the reviews that I found on the Internet.

July 18, 2010

3 states in a weekend

Filed under: places,rides — SiKing @ 7:16 pm

Managed about 300 miles (480km) in 100°F (38°C) temperatures this weekend, and loved every minute of it!

Day 1


From Las Vegas, over to the Hoover Dam, to the Willow Beach and back. Yea, that second state does not really count. 😛 Rode 130 miles this day, half of it on the highway.

Day 2


Went to Sandy Valley (could this be my next cave?), to the Red Rock, and back home. Rode 160 miles this day, even did a stretch at 90mph.

July 15, 2010

It’s finally here!

Filed under: rides,vegas — SiKing @ 6:36 pm

The new bike finally arrived!

bike in Vegas

Actually, it has been here for a little over a week, but I only now got around to getting the obligatory picture. 😎

July 10, 2010

Vánoce ve Vegáči?

Filed under: vegas — SiKing @ 6:07 pm
Tags: ,

Před pár dni jsem se konečně dostal z domu, a mohl se porozhlédnout po okolí. Vydal jsem se na jezero Medovinu. Tohle jezero je teď asi 30m pod normální hladinou a tedy plné bahna; což pro typického Američana je fuj-špína, ale pro typického Čecha to znamená jenom jedno:

Tohle bylo jen jedno místo, všude kde lidé krmili tak tam byli hejna kaprů. Bylo jich tam tolik, že na jednom místě do toho spadlo dítě, táta ho ihned vytáhl, a dítě bylo skoro úplně suché! Do vody se ani nedostalo.

March 5, 2010

On the road again

Filed under: canuckia,places,vegas — SiKing @ 12:04 pm

On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been.
Seein’ things that I may never see again

– Willie Nelson

I’m off to Las Vegas.

People are asking me (some variant of) if this is a happy move. It’s like this. I grew up in Calgary, and I like Calgary, a lot, even with the Canadian winters. Unfortunately, since the day that I got out of school I could not find work, actually not even an interview, and people elsewhere were flaunting me with handfuls money. So I set out to conquer the world. But I always wished to return back “home“. 2001 was a particularly bad year, and I was forced to go even further out. But I still kept trying to get back. Well in 2009 it finally happened! I was back in Calgary and I got offered a job here. So I started looking around at settling down here. But after a while it became apparent to me, that even after the recent house crash I will not be able to afford a house here in this lifetime. I don’t get it. Calgary has over a million people, all (most?) of whom can afford to live here. What am I doing wrong?

So, 30% pay raise and real estate prices 30% of Calgary. Happy? Heck yea! 😛

October 8, 2009

The next destination?

Filed under: places — SiKing @ 8:54 am

It’s October, which means I have been in one place for like 10 months now – woohoo! At the beginning of the year, the kids have been asking that we stay put for a while. Now two have been hinting that they are getting restless. “What was your favourite place, daddy?” “I liked Ireland.”

I came across a story today about a place called Florianopolis. Coincidence? I think not… 😀

March 27, 2009

Assorted randomness

Filed under: canuckia,eire,meatspace — SiKing @ 6:08 am

It’s been a while since I dropped something non-techie in here. Stuff was happening, I was just not sure if I wanted to air everything out. Then I figured: what’s the point of having a blog if you can’t bitch about stuff? 😈

I have roughly an hour bus ride to and from work every day, so plenty of time to ponder stuff’n’things. It occurred to me the other day that I seem to, completely unintentionally, pick my women and my jobs about the same way. Actually, pick is not the right word, more like they pick me. Anyway, usually if I have a very positive first impression of the target(?), then it never works out! My first impression of the ones that do work out is usually firmly neutral. Over time, as I familiarize myself with the situation, my impression and whole outlook turn out positive. But in the end, so far 100% of the time, something happens and I have to move on. Wonder what does that say about my sense of first impression? Well, at the moment I am trying to break this trend, in both areas.

I have been gone from Canada for over five years, returned just this past December – just before the middle of winter hits: the worst time of the year for most people. There is snow, like lost of snow, it’s cold, like really cold, and a lot of people are bitter about it. Over the past four months I realized that I really love Canada, specifically Calgary. Sure it’s got issues, who doesn’t, but overall I feel really good here even at the worst of times.

On my daily bus ride I also do a lot of reading. Currently it’s Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn; she has an amazing talent for storytelling. Ireland, out of all the places that I have been so far, has the greatest people; still have several good friends there, whom I very much hope I will see again. As much as I love living in Canada, I loved visiting Ireland. Here is a passage from the book that I particularly liked:

The green land, the passionate, intensely alive people, the great weight of their history together that stretched back through memory to myth, to some prehistoric dawn he could not even imagine.
A need to love which could not be fearlessly bestowed on any mortal being could be satisfied by the country herself. She could not die. If a man could weave himself into her very fabric she would be his forever, capable of absorbing all his passion, his to safeguard and cherish.

I got this story I tell my children to try and convince them to study hard. When I tell them, I dress it up a little, but the gist of it goes something like this. At the end of school, everyone will get divided into five groups, based on their grades. Then they are going to take the first group aside and show them all the jobs that are out there, and ask them to pick any job they like. The second group will get a choice of the leftovers from the first group. The third group will essentially be left with a pick of jobs that nobody wanted. The fourth group end up on welfare, and the last group become street urchins. I also leave out the fact that popularity and who your daddy is plays a big role in the initial selection. I personally seem to fluctuate between the third and fourth group. The story continues that about once per year your employer evaluates how well you are doing, this includes performance as well as how/if you are liked by your coworkers. Depending on the outcome you may move up or down, or out. I think when I was last in California, I really let things slip. I got overconfident, cocky, and just a plain pain-in-the-ass. So regardless of how good my skillz might have been, I got the boot. Yes, this last part I also tell my children.

I am pretending to be a writer, again. I have always wanted to write a book. It’s a bit of a vanity thing for me, I think – just to have a physical stack of paper bound together with my name on the cover. Unfortunately, I am not quite committed to what it is going to be about, not even fiction versus non-fiction. This is not the first time I tried to write. I wrote the character Cali in Child of the Moon. It was a collaborative fantasy piece, which did not go anywhere because each of the writers had their own selfish idea of where they wanted their character to go, and none of us had any idea (or even care) how we will contribute to the overall story. I played Catlyn (Katlyn) in Radiantsphere, a Traveller campaign; I did not write those mission logs, but man that was a lot of fun! Currently, I am writing my autobiography (in Czech). Two good friends, on separate occasions, previously suggested that I do this. Actually my first autobiographical attempt was this blog, but that seems to be now leaning more toward technobabble. I have some ideas for two other books that I would like to try: one a fantasy trilogy (leftovers from my D&D days) and one a technical howto. But so far those are just ideas …

December 13, 2008

No good deed shall go unpunished

Filed under: canuckia,meatspace — SiKing @ 12:00 pm
Tags: ,

Good guys, honest people, always get screwed, and not in a good way. My life is usually SNAFU, so I am pretty used to life’s ups and especially it’s downs. But these past few months have had a rather high density of incidents, even for me.

Back in mid-August things started out pretty good. I got a transfer to California. I was thinking that I would cash in on the housing crash there. Some of the reports are way overrated BTW – it is not possible to buy a home at 10 cents on the dollar, but it is quite possible to buy a home at 40 cents on the dollar. The day after I put an offer on a house I got fired. Don’t want to get into the particulars right now; might air out the dirty laundry later. Basically, I spoke my mind, and my boss and I did not see eye-to-eye. If only I would have kept my mouth shut, and just kept on keeping on like the rest of the sheep, I still would have been gainfully employed.

While all that was going on, being in California, I had to get a car. As with the house market, the car industry was hit just as hard if not harder. So I was shopping round for a bargain. Found a nice 2002 Volvo V70XC, with little over 50k miles, for little over $12k including all taxes and registration. All the fixin’s too, you could still see the imprints of the child-seats in the leather back seats of the car – obviously a pampered mommy mobile. Everyone we spoke to told us that Volvos are very reliable cars, so we went for it. Being a nice guy, I even tried to make it before the end of the month so the dealership makes their quota. Two weeks later, the transmission fell apart! Almost two weeks and $4000 after that, we had a new transmission in it. The mechanic told us, that we had better drive it as much as possible, and bring it back after about 1000 miles for him to give it a quick look over. Only 325 miles later, that transmission started going! At least this time it was under warranty. However, by this time, we decided that the economy is not going to improve any time soon, and so we are going back to Canada. The landlord called from Hawaii to tell me she will not be able to refund me the $1500 deposit because I am breaking the lease, and so we were just holding out until the car got fixed, this time by Volvo personally, or until we get forcefully evicted, whichever comes first. The car won.

When crossing the border with the car, I got another shocker. I had once previously brought a car from the US to Canada. It was a while back, and I remember very little: I showed up, paid the GST, they filled out a bunch of paperwork, and I went along on my way. This time however they wanted me to prove that I am paying the GST for my car. I actually had to prove that I do not have some odd fetish about paying taxes for someone else’s property. The only way to prove that is with an original title. I had paid off the car only like a week earlier, and asked to have the title mailed to my Canadian address (the mailing, normally takes several weeks or months). So now I am screwed! I had to call my dad, luckily only 3 hours away, to come and pick up us and my crummy stuff, drive my car back over to the American side, get ridiculed by more customs guards, and park it in a field behind the nearest bar for $21/week. From the number of cars parked out there, I am not the only unfortunate. If I had instead told the customs officials that I am only visiting my parents for Xmas, everything would have been fine. I still had what definitely appeared to be a valid work permit for the US, along with all the necessary documentation to get it. I could have driven the car on American (cheaper) registration for another 8 months, thereby completely avoiding something like $1300 in import duties because I have owned the car for less than 1 year. A year later I could have saved some more of the $1200 GST (aka: Gouge and Screw Tax) as the car would have been another year older. I could have avoided all the hassle and more than half the costs, if only I had told a little white lie. The best thing is, that if I do honestly get a job down in the States again and take the car back there, I will probably not be able to get any of the taxes back!

Update 12-01-09: Got the paperwork for the car last Thursday. It came in an envelope that had a return address to the bank and not the DMV. ❓ It has to be faxed to the Americans 72 hours in advance; did that. Went to pick up the car today. No problems on the American side. They made me go get the car first; didn’t even have to dig it out of a snow bank, and it started on the first try!!! 😮 The Canadians were A-holes as usual. 👿 At the drive-through window they asked me how much the car was. I could not remember, pulled out the bill of sale, and scanned through the half-meter long (I am not exaggerating here) sheet, written in size 9 font. I picked one of the numerous “total price” values and rattled that off to the cute chick. I was then told to come in, to fill out the paperwork and pay the import taxes. Inside it’s all guns, bullet-proof vests and too much testosterone – sheesh. The best thing: the chick running the cash register – no gun, no vest! 😕 The guy is scanning through my paperwork, and asks: “How come it says here that the car cost [names some number that is about $400 higher]?” Note that this is a $400 difference on a 12-thousand-dollar car. I told him, that I was not sure. “Well, you need to tell us exactly.” I looked at the paper, and told him that I am sorry and I must have made a mistake, “there are, after all, a lot of numbers on this paper,” I pleaded. The 25-year old kid looks me straight in the eye, and says: “You need to know exactly what the car cost. When you gave us the price the first time, that is the only chance you get. You basically lied to us. I could now reposes the car, you could be fined $10,000, and you could be jailed for 10 years!” 😯 I wanted to smack him upside the head for being rude to the elderly, but I realized that that would have been more of an insult to me than to him.

As far as I can tell, the world’s longest undefended border works only for terrorists. Every time I cross it, I feel nervous, and all the people wearing bullet-proof vests and guns at their hip are far from friendly. On our recent “visit”, my daughter noticed a bunch of them standing around a computer laughing. She asked me what they are doing. I told her that they are probably watching some funny movie on the computer. She said that maybe she could do a job like that when she grows up. I did not want to tell her in front of the dozen or so armed officers bored out of their minds, that she can already do a job like that at 9 years old! The North America Free Trade Agreement is some lunatic’s work of fiction, as there is nothing free about it that I can see. The only benefit, is that Canadians are allowed to go work there at a cost of $50/year, as opposed to something like $450/3 years for other nationalities. As for moving goods back and forth for free, or some layman going down there (or coming up here for that matter) to just get any job – forget it!

I often ask myself: Am I actually doing my children any justice by teaching them to be good, law-abiding citizens? Would I not be preparing them better for that cruel world if I were to teach them to lie, cheat, and steal at every opportunity?

Update 16-01-09: I have been corrected. It’s not “lie, cheat, and steal”, it’s apparently called “being diplomatic” and in that case it’s OK.

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