Friday, October 31, 2008

Ongoing Reading List

An incomplete tick list of some different books I wanna read. This is in no particular order, just some books I've heard about and would like to read.

1. Ruby Payn- Understanding Poverty.
This one was recommended to me by former colleague and friend Jeff Wallick. Should satisfy my interest in sociology and economics.

2. Iris Chang- The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II.
By all accounts, a sensational and graphic report of what happened in China. This is one of those books on the unofficial JET Programme reading list.

3. Khaled Hosseini- The Kite Runner.
This book and his other work, A Thousand Splendid Suns have come highly recommended by everyone I know who read it. Probably the only work of fiction on here.

4. Noam Chomsky- Hegemony or Survival.
Always nice to curl up by the fire with some hot apple cider for a little Chomsky, as he skewers the worst of American foreign policy.

5. Barack Obama- The Audacity of Hope.
Our new president's second book about changing American Politics. Hopefully he'll have some more concrete specifics than his stylish, yet sometimes empty rhetoric. Nevertheless, Obama is an interesting character, whatever your political persuasions.

This list is of course incomplete, and I may edit it from time to time. Still, if you're looking to buy me a birthday present, this wouldn't be a bad page to bookmark.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Favorite Television Series: Another List

I've hardly watched TV at all since my junior year of college and that's probably a good thing. TV rots your brains! I dunno about that, but the consumerism it fosters is probably no small factor in the credit bubble responsible for current economic ills. If I have watched TV since then it was on DVD's or through the internet.

I'm compiling this list of several of my favorite TV series, along with a few of my comments on them. They are in no particular order or ranking. Don't try arguing with me about them either. If your favorite show isn't on this list, it doesn't deserve to be on any list. You know it and I know it.

1. Star Trek: The Next Generation
Perhaps I was never devoted to any television series as much as I was with The Next Generation. And I would argue that this was the best of all the Star Trek Series out there. All the actors and performances were top notch. Some of sci-fi TV's greatest writing also took place for this show.

2. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
While not as good as TNG, I do feel that DS9 got treated unfairly. Looking back at the series today, I can say with certainty that it was way ahead of its time and very innovative in many ways. It was also the victim of several things wrong with Trek in general, mainly its limits on characters without flaws. Trek characters always try to do the right thing which leads to limitations for writers and the themes they can explore. As much as the writers tried to break free from this restriction on this show, they never quite did. Nevertheless, the cast was comprised of many talented actors who threw themselves into many strong characters. While not very recognized, I felt the writing was good as well.

3. Star Trek: Voyager
This series had much potential as far as Trek goes, but unfortunately writers continued returning to the same old things from TNG. It also drowned under the sheer overpowering weight of its "techno-babble," a problem that crept up in DS9 but got completely out of control on Starship Voyager.

4. Dexter
America's favorite serial killer. Some wonderful performances and a lot of black humor make this series about a forensic blood splatter expert at Miami-Dade Police all the more hilarious as he is the most wanted serial killer in town. I watched the first season in Kuwait during one week while I was sick in bed.

5. Charlie Jade
Certainly the Darkest TV series I've ever seen. Charlie Jade is a sort of detective sci-fi noir about a P.I. who gets stuck in a parallel universe. While the series has many flaws, it is a very original premise. Its supreme darkness, originality, boldness, and ill mannered humor also get points in my book.

6. Nip/Tuck
Watch shallow, narcissistic plastic surgeons deal with suprisingly insightful themes about beauty, sincerity and ideals, and flawed value systems.

7. Lost
Watch a bunch of castaways crash land on a Pacific Island and their improbable, preposterous connections to one another. Despite the good performances I couldn't manage to watch more than the first season of this on DVDs

8. Millenium
A critically celebrated spin Off of the X-Files and also one of the darkest TV series ever created about a man who profiles serial killers. Unfortunately it wasn't as commercially successful but remains one of my all time favorites. There are rumors Chris Carter may produce a film based on actor Lance Henriksen's Frank Black character.

9. X-Files
Another program I was faithfully devoted to in middle school. I can actually claim I watched this series long before it became the popular phenomenon and spun off into two movies.

10. Sci Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica
Originally a shortlived hack TV series that shamelessly ripped off Star Wars in the late 1970's. The newer Sci Fi Channel version is far superior in every respect. Heck it even made science fiction cool again.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Video from The Onion

Another fine piece from "The Onion." Maybe I should find work as a journalist.

Precocious Youngster Sells Cookies To Buy Attack Ad

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ode to SOAD

I hadn't heard that my favorite band was now on a "permanent hiatus." Its too bad too, because I think they're really talented and I like their messages. So here's my tribute to System of a Down.



Prison Song


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Problem with Cable News

I always suspected most cable news channels couldn't be trusted, and I take pride in my cynicism and dissilusion with humanity, but even I give news sources the benefit of the doubt too often. This guy gives us all proof. Imagine: WWE Wrestling is actually more accurate and more reliable than the CNN News source millions of people trust. Of course in this context, its only natural that WWE would want to be more accurate and reliable as it clearly serves their interests to do so. Still, shame on CNN. They don't even deserve a link on this post.
I like this guy Jay Smooth and his video blog, Ill Doctrine as well. He's pretty cool and tells it like it is.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Just For Fun

Just for Fun.

Over Boulder: Climbing the Third Flatiron

Early Saturday morning, I climbed the Third Flatiron with my father. While its only 800 feet high or so, it feels much higher because the first pitch is a lateral traverse at a 40 degree angle out over a face that's already 2-300 feet up. So you just take the first step out and you already feel like you're 300 feet off the deck! Climbing doesn't get much better than that!
Leaving at 5:30 AM, we were sure we'd beat all the lazy CU college students to the face of the climb, but one group was there before us. Fortunately they were moving slowly and we were able to pass them up after 150 feet or so. After that, several parties started to arrive, and we saw 2 or three groups and their neon ropes snaking up the granite slab.
We reached the top first, but it wasn't long before 2 other parties arrived shortly thereafter. Despite the clouds and diffused sunlight, we had some excellent views of Boulder, Denver, and the other Flatiron slabs lining the Front Range above Boulder. See pictures below.

Here you can see my father coming down the first of three rappels. The rappels proved to be a bit awkward, but is tons of fun because the entire upper portion of the Third Flatiron slab is overhanging towards the west. So you can spin around floating through space. You can also read my father's account here.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Politics of Pork

Why am I not surprised? Sad that this has to happen for our fearless leaders to get anything done in Washington DC.

Read the CNN article here:

Spoonful of Pork May Help Bitter Economic Pill Go Down

The Colorado Trail Story

Here is the complete collection of all my posts on the Colorado Trail. While some might think this obsessive, I consider this one of the most important episodes in my life, despite my own negative outcome. Since leaving the country four years ago, I missed the natural landscape of the Western United States, and particularly Colorado's spectacular Rocky Mountains. This journey proved to be a fantastic opportunity to see some of the best Colorado offers.

Inspiration & Beginnings:
The Colorado Trail An account of my first thoughts on the subject of thru-hiking. From April, 2007.
Daily Belly Button Lint In Colorado
Ixnay On the Kathmandu Curry
From Laurel & Hardy to the Three Stooges
Reunion With Paul Brodar
Logistical Nightmare
Running Around With Dave

The Complete Account:
CT DAY 1: Roxborough Park to Mile 8
CT DAY 2: A Gameplan for the Heat
CT DAY 3: Rapidly Diminishing Toilet Paper Supply
CT DAY 4: Return to Lost Creek
CT DAY 5: Through Lost Creek
CT DAY 6: 1st Resupply at Kenosha Pass
CT DAY 7: Kenosha Pass to Jefferson Creek
CT DAY 8: Jefferson Creek to Georgia Pass
CT DAY 9: Rainstorm & Getting Split Up

CT DAY 10: Resting in Breckenridge
CT DAY 10: Arrival At Breckenridge
CT DAY 11: Over the Divide to Copper Mountain
CT DAY 12: Parting at Copper Mountain
CT DAY 13: 17 Miles to Tennessee Pass
CT DAY 14: Holy Cross Wilderness & Bear Lake
CT DAY 15: 3 Miles to Leadville
CT DAY 16: Chillin' in Leadville at 10,200 Feet
CT DAY 17: Positioning Ourselves For Mt. Massive
CT DAY 18: Mount Massive
CT DAY 19: Mending My Ankle
CT DAY 20: Lance Armstrong at Twin Lakes
CT DAY 21: Campfire with Thatch and April
CT DAY 22: Fishing at Harvard Lake

CT DAY 23: Rolled into Buena Vista
CT DAY 24: Leaving Buena Vista
CT DAY 25: Princeton Hot Springs
CT DAY 26: Reaching Monarch Pass
CT DAY 27: Approaching Marshall Pass
CT DAY 28: A Parting of Ways
CT DAY 28: Hitching Back to Denver

CT: Analyzing What Went Wrong
CT: Chillin' in Pagosa Springs Again
CT: The Last Segment & Durango

CT: David Hanson's Recollections

My Dad's Observations in Andy's Fragments
1. Tyler's Back
2. Once Again to the Summit
3. Colorado Trail
4. Walk 500 Miles
5. Only 408 Miles to Go
6. The Hikers Walk On, and On, and On....
7. More on the Colorado Trail
8. Update on CT Hikers
9. Report on CT Hikers
10. Tyler Returns
11. CT Hiking Photos
12. Kennebec to Durango

Thursday, October 02, 2008

South Platte Climbing with Leon Henkleman

Went climbing today with an old family friend, Leon Henkleman. We went to the South West end of Buffalo Creek and messed around on some crags over there. After ascending one easy 5th class pitch to the top of a bowl shaped enclave, we found 4 or 5 bolted routes going up another granite face. So instead of finishing to the top, we climbed our way up several of these pitches. The area also wasn't far from where the Colorado Trail goes through Buffalo Creek. The whole area near the South Platte river is literally teeming with big rocks to climb. There are literally dozens of areas around here, most of which are composed of the distinctive Pikes Peak Granite poking out of most of the central front range in jagged, rugged cliffs.

It was nice for me to get back to climbing. I hadn't really done any since my first year in Japan. There I had gone out to some cliffs with a very old-school mountaineering/ski buddy named Tokuichiro Sato. Being almost three years ago, I surprised myself by leading a route I thought I'd never get up. One of the routes there was at least 5.9, I thought. A better judge of things, Leon declared it a hard 5.9 or about even a 5.10a-b. I don't appear to have forgotten any of the vast knowledge I of the sport I learned in college either. I still seem to have decent technique and haven't forgotten how to belay. Not bad for a guy who hasn't picked up a rope in 3 years except to put it in a storage box.

Picture Note: Because I forgot to bring my camera, you'll have to be content with a shot of my foot and rope dangling off something else in Eldorado Canyon!