Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hot summer afternoon

It was rather hot today but my cat Neko still wanted go out to our southwest facing porch. Worry that she might be over heated, I set up an umbrella together with a box for her. Oh, not to mention a fan blasting from inside out toward her. She looked pretty cozy to me.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Ocean State

Ever wonder why the state is called Rhode Island, after all it isn't an island state like Hawaii. You see, back in 17th century, Rhode Island was referred to the island where Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth are located today. When it became a state, Rhode Island joined its mainland neighbor which is called Providence Plantations and form the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, which until today is still its official name. making it the smallest state with the longest official name.

I went to Providence the capital city of Rhode Island Saturday to attend a convention. Nothing exciting about Providence that I can write about. Not that I don't think Providence can be fun, just that I didn't spend enough time there to encounter anything special. Well, one thing worth mentioning is that the parking meters near the convention center allow up to 10 hours of parking, at the cost of 25 cent/15 min. Too bad I have only 2 quarters with me, so like a sucker, I parked in the parking garage.

There are 2 places I visited before that I think has better system to pay for parking fee that do not require an attendance, Seattle and Montreal. Both places have machines along the streets or in the middle of the parking lots where you can use your credit card to pay for the parking, and then put the receipt on your dashboard of paste it on your window. I only carry about $10 cash with me, and usaully with no coin in my purse at all, not even a penny. I'm all plastics, and the whole point for me to use credit card is so that I don't need to carry any loose change with me. I really don't mind paying for the parking, just wish that they will make it easier for me. Is that too much to ask?

Anyway, I left the convention center around 1 PM with plenty of time and sunshine left for the day, so I decided to take a drive down to Newport to see the famous mansions, the summer "cottages" of the wealthy. I stopped at the Elm and the Breakers. Unfortunately both places do not allow visitors taking picturs of the interior of the mansion. Both are extremely elegance, and historically tasteful. somehow I like the interior of the Elm but the exterior architecture style of the Breakers. The walls in the Breakers was designed with panels, but the Elm with fewer panels and larger surface painted with deeper colors. The Breakers on the other hand has a lighter summer tone with flora wall paper or fabric on the walls. It was Mrs Vanderbilt desired for such effect. There are many facts and stories about the mansions can be found on the Elm and the Breakers. We're allowed to take picture of the view from the 2nd floor of the Breakers, here is a video clip of the view.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Washington State - Summer 07

I went to Washington state for my climbing vacation during the last week of June (6/23 - 7/1). As usual, we estimated more time than we needed, this time we have 2 extra days to kill. I was hoping we would go to Oregon to check out My Hood. But since we all had a bit too much to drink on Thursday night celebrating our failure :-) we opted to have a shorter ride to Mt St Helens instead. I wasn't too happy about that, but the majority rules.

It was raining on and off the whole drive to Mt St Helens. Once we arrived at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, the rain was dying down but the thick clouds were lingering around covered the view of Mt St Helens.

We drove back to Tacoma area that night and spent most of the next day at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, a wildlife refuge kinda place. We saw many animals there. All the carnivors were confined in a fenced area. Herbivores live freely in the 723-acre park. It was very cool. I am never a brave person, the only way for me the enjoy seeing these beautiful animals without freaking out was to see them in a controlled environment, so the wildlife park sounded like a good place to visit. The guide did mention that some animals in the park were rescued and adopted by the park, but I'm not sure about the others. Hopefully none of them were captured from the wild and shipped here for the enjoyment of wimps like me. Sorry. Here are the rest of the pictures.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

It's a Tomato

After 2 long months, my tomotoes plant finally produces a baby tomato :-).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Beckhams have arrived

This is a cover picture for a fashion magazine?

Beach Day

I live 20 miles north of Boston, the area is collectively called the North Shore. I have easy access to at least 2 beaches, Dane Beach in Beverly and the ass kicking Crane Beach in Ipswich. Dane beach is a public beach, free parking and all, but the price you pay is huge crowd and coarse sand. The supreme Crane Beach on the other hand is a very well maintain beach , with sparkling white fine sand and nicer facility. But it cost $15 to park, $22 in the weekend.

So as soon as I moved here about 6 years ago (wow), I drove around and found myself a nice free beach. It is nicely tucks behind some beautiful but not flashy beach houses, and a destinated but very limited parking for non-residence. So I'm not going to tell you where it is. Good Harbor and Long Beach in Glouceter are another great beaches, it also cost about $20 for parking. As outrages as it sounds, the parking is always full in a warm summer day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mt Rainier June 24-28

Since my last failed attempt to climb Rainier, I have been constantly thinking about my next attempt. In February when few friends from the Summit Sensations plan a trip to Rainier this June, I immediately took interest and discussed the plan and people with Tom, and with Tom blessing and encouragement, I signed up for the trip. The plan was a 5-day quest via Emmons/Winthrop Glacier: Day 1 to Glacier Basin, Day 2 to Camp Shurman, Day 3 a rest day, Day 4 summit day, Day 5 another summit shot or hike out. 4 months later... With great anxiety and anticipation, I packed my bags headed to Seattle last Saturday. I met up with 6 other climbers at Renton to spend a short night and headed up to White River Camp the next morning.

Day 1. We arrived at the White River Ranger Station at around 10 AM under steady drizzle. Tom who has moved to Seattle last year was already there waiting for us at the parking lot. He would join us on our hike into Glacier Basin. The hike in to the Glacier Basin was uneventful. We hike through the area where the trail was washed out by last November storm. The trail crew made excellent progress rerouting the trail marking them with yellow caution tapes. The reroute wasn't hard to hike on and was very easy to follow, I guess we the Northeast hikers are very used to rock hoping and mud stumping, no big deal for us.

The rain drifted in and out during the hike, by the time we arrived at Glacier Basin, it died down a bit. With Tom supervision, I quickly set up my tent, which I borrowed from him. The supposedly awesome view from the meadow was hidden behind the thickening cloud, as quickly as the rain stopped, it picked right up and abruptly turn into snow shower. Tom left me with well wishes and headed back to Seattle where he told me he will be thinking of me while having his sirloin steak in his soft warm couch. Nice guy huh.

I was feeling good and truely enjoyed the serene snow scene. We walked through the snow drifting meadow to the river where we pumped our drinking water. On our way back, we saw a deer walked slowly cross our path and into the field. Who care about the snow and coldness when you're at a place like this. For a minute there, I forget about my fear and anxiety of the challenge in the days to come.

Day 2. We woke up to a clear blue day. We took our time to pack up our wet gears and enjoy the awesome view. We started up our trek up to Inter Glacier around 10 AM, we're joined by a father and son team who would be following us all the way to Camp Shurman. We passed the meadow to a yellow mud ridge where we'll cross over to the foot of Inter Glacier. Looking up the headwall of Inter Glacier, all I can think of was that will be so cool to glissade down. Which also mean, wicked steep to climb up. After a break to regroup and fuel-up , we began heading up the headwall, taking turns kicking steps (Yaro, our strongest climber actually did most of the work).

The long and tiring slog up the headwall never seems to end, as we thought, that's gonna be the top of it, only to see another hump raise above it. Another short break later, I took the lead up the second part of the slope, there we began to see 2 small opening of crevasses. As I approached the top of the headwall, I notice the boot-path diverged, one straight up to the top, the other busier boot-path bear to the left. My instinct told me to go with the busy boot-path so we beared left. As it turns out, if we go straight up we would reached the top of Inter Glacier, where on the another side of it was a shear rock wall, that drop more than 100' directly and insanely steep down to Camp Shurman, a shortcut for the rangers. The left turn brought us toward the ridge of Mt Ruth where we had a great view of Little Tahoma on our left, and behind us the Glacier Peak and the hazy Mt Baker. That was quite rewarding. From the ridge, we drop steeply onto Emmons Glacier. The drop itself wasn't all that bad, but what made it scary was a mouth of a crevasse was at the bottom of the slope, waiting for a good meal to drop in. Slowly and steadily, we made it down safely. Less than an hour or so later, we finally crawled our way into Camp Shurman.

Day 3. Another great day. We would kick back and relax today to hydrate and prepare ourselves for the summit climb. Throughout the morning into the afternoon, we saw many happy climbers descended back to the camp. Some skiers skied down the mountain, artfully avoided the crevasses and made it into the camp smoothly. Remember the steep rock wall? apparently in was also a "safe" way for skiers to get back to Inter Glacier. We sat and watched them climbed up the rock face in their ski boots and skis on their back. Just like that, almost effortlessly, they made it to the top and disappeared behind the wall. Amazing!

I called Tom for a latest weather forecast, according to the NOAA, our summit day would be a windy one with wind speed predicted at 40 MPH, and snow later in the evening. Thursday forecast was worse with snow and shower all day. So based the latest forecast, we decided our only chance for summit was tonight. We plan to start before midnight hoping to got down early and packed out to Glacier Basin to avoid the snow shower at Camp Shurman. So that was the plan.

Late into the afternoon, I climbed into my tent to try to catch some sleep, but the wind began to pick up significantly and wobbled my tent in all direction. I began to worry if my tent could with stand the occasional gust of wind. After all this was the first time I pitched a tent at a 9000+' camp, Tom has warned me about the wind at Camp Shurman can be fierce. I regretted not buried the stakes deeper than I did, second guessed my choice of tent location, should have pull the guylines farther away and etc. Then came a hugh gust which I could feel my tent lifted up briefly. That's it, I wasn't gonna just lay there and bit my finger nails anymore. I got out of my tent and inspected each stacks and guylines, reburied the iffy ones and covered all of them with more snow. Finally quite satisfy with my craft, I looked over my shoulder and saw MikeO was up, damn, it's time to get ready. I had about 2+ hours sleep in total.

Day 3-4. The night wasn't even completely dark yet when we're all up and getting ready. As planned ahead, the father and son team would be joining us on our quest to the summit. While waiting for other climbers, I pulled out my camera hoping to take a picture of the night-line of Seattle, but found out that the batteries were too low for pictures. So I recorded a panoramic view and tucked the camera inside my chest pocket hoping to warm up the batteries. Finally by the time we're all set to go, the sky was completely dark, it was about 10:30 PM.

The snow at the lower section was still very soft and sluggish, we made our way up very slowly. The wind at this point was still bearable, only an occasional gust now and then. Although it was dark and I couldn't see much around me, but I did recognize few places from pictures I've seen before, like the traverse along the side of the mountain, with the night-line of Seattle on our right. Wondering why it's sleepless in Seattle? Try turn off the lights. Among the many disadvantages for a woman climber, top the list I think has to be trying to take a piss while roped up, with pack on and on a slope. I couldn't unrope from the team, I couldnt remove my pack (if I want to see it again) and I really needed to go. Astronaut diapers jumped right to my mind, but it's too late now. Anyway, after some tricky maneuvering later I finally did it. I thought I was well prepared for the trip, but this is one important maneuvering that I failed to practice at home.

Off we went. The higher we climbed, the stronger the wind get. I could feel the wind was pushing us from the top down, bringing snow and ice palettes with it and knocking on our helmet. We reached a pretty steep but short section where we needed to kick the front points to climb. The training in Huntington Ravine this past winter did prepared me for this kind of terrain, I kicked my way up, a little tire but with confidence. As I looked back I saw layers of orange stripes cut across the sky, it's dawn! I absolutely not aware that we had been climbing for almost 6 hours, it felt like 2. The crack of the dawn really help boosted our spirit. The sky rapidly lite up after that, and we're braced in the morning sun. At around the same place, we noticed the boot-prints has became scarce and we're facing a short snow wall, the first thought was we wandered off the beaten path. But on the other hand the area was steeper and with thinner snow, the boot prints could have been wiped out by the wind. We belayed both rope teams in, together with the father and son team, took a break and surveyed the surrounding. The son took the lead headed up the snow wall, but only to turn back. He thought we're off the path and that behind the snow wall were many crevasses, he didn't feel that's the right path. Somehow Dave the leader of our other rope team decided to see for himself, he led the team up to the top of the wall, and managed to spot some boot prints and most importantly a wand marking the lip of a big crevasse. So we followed him up the wall and walked over a small crack of crevasse right at the top of the wall into a vast field of many many crevasses. I later learned from Yaro that MikeL sank into a crevasse up to his thigh and swarm his way back up.

Good news was the terrain after the short snow wall was slightly less steep, bad news was it was very very windy after that. We pushed our way against the wind slowly making progress. Somewhere around here 2 RMI groups caught up and passed us one after another. Every big gust of wind, we need to quickly plunged in our axe and curled over it. I was pretty tire at this point and suspected that our people were too as we're almost crawling our way up. We took a quick bundle-up break and all of us were wrapped in our down jacket on top of our wind breaker, it was cold and windy. At this point, my mind was repeating the same phrase over and over again, "one step at a time, you can do it." Every bump we climbed over, we hoped to see the rim, but it just wasn't there yet. Here the first time during the climb we made an assessment, Yaro and MikeO expressed thought of heading down, BillD volunteered to lead them down. But somehow, all changed their mind last minute and we continued to push on. We managed to caught a sight of the RMI groups that passed us awhile back, that kinda energized us a bit. So with all our mights, we forged into the gust and pushed ourselves all the way to... yet another snow wall, this one with a big tall crack of crevasse wall next to it. We've arrived at the bergschrund. We tried to hunker down near to the crevasse wall but there provided zero shelter to protect us from the gust. BillD pulled out his glacier glasses and the case was swiped right off his hand into the crevasse. No one was pulling anything out of their pack after that. We waited for our other rope team but as soon as the father and son team arrived, BillS our rope team leader and the son led the teams up the bergschrund to survey the situation. According to them, it was near whiteout condition out there with crevasses to negotiate and the rim was still far away... That's the news and turn back were the word. I was staring at the top of the bergschrund just few steps away, looking at the snow danced ferociously at its mouth and swooshed toward us. Nobody said a word. I could feel my heart shredded into pieces and blew away by the wicked wind. But all heart aches aside, I knew we're making the right decision, today's not the day and it didn't matter how close we're.

Between the 3 altimeters we have, the reading showed we've reached between 13,980' and 14,010' when we turned around. So 14,010' it is! it was a personal record for most of us, not too bad. We got back to the camp at around 2PM, I was very glad to see my tent was still there. No one have any energy left to pack and leave, so we stayed one more night at Camp Shurman and hiked all the way out the next day.

Of course there were some should have, could have going on afterward, it's all part of the learning process. In the end, it was a great experience for me. We climbed into the wind and gust and made it to 14,000-ish; I looked into a crevasse and hopped over it (well, most of them just walked over it); I not only survived 4 nights in a tent but actually enjoyed it, even in a cold damp night I made 2 trips to the out house; I had no altitude problem and hey, we made it to the top of the Glacier.

And so it is... Mt Rainier has become my mecca, my most faithful yearly pilgrimage.

Here are the pictures. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summer's Here!

Neko posing with my "garden", well, actually she was caught trying to eat my plant :-). Check out more cute pictures of Neko with the flower here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lazy Day

Hmm, for those of you who listen to Enya, you will see a trend here :-) I spotted a squirrel outside of my balcony taking a nap, at the same time Neko is napping on the balcony. Very cute.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Day Without Rain

We have been having 4-5 days of rain straight, yesterday was the first day without rain, not only that, it was a warm sunny day. I took a drive to Dane beach in Beverly, 10ish minutes from where I live to take some pictures.

There really wasn't anything too exciting to take, so I ask a local walker is there a nice garden. As it turns out, there is a nice park right around the corner from Dane beach. Here are the pictures.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Presidency Highlight

I heard this from "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me", an NPR radio show a while ago, a question to a panelist about Bush's answer to the highlight of his presidency. The following are the Q and A:

Peter Segal (the host):
"Adam, when asked to name the highlight of their presidency, Jimmy Carter said it was the Camp David Accords; Bill Clinton said it was ending the war in the Balkin. Well in an interview with a German magazine, President Bush was asked to name the highlight of his presidency, he thought about it and then answered what?"

Adam Felber (the panelist): "... He said that it was catching a 7.5 lb perch in his own lake."

Peter Segal: "That's what it was!"

A round of laughter broke out from the audience and the panelists.

And then Roy Blount Jr. (another panelist) suddenly cut in to defend the president: " I would like to... I would like to defend the president on this," he said, " I think he was right!"

That was pretty funny. You can hear that portion of the show from here,
scroll to the bottom and click on the link "When Panelists Work Together"

Under the influence of alcohol

You know how you can always count on your friends to prevent you from calling that old flame of yours when you're drunk. But they don't seems to put too much effort to stop you from driving home after that.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Nora, the piano-playing cat

Found this on

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Another episode of "In the Waiting Room" starring, you know who.

I just got back from my car dealer for 2 diagnostics, one is brake light came on and off at will, the other is strange noise while driving on 5th gear.

2.5 hours waiting in the fume-saturated waiting room later, here are what I've learned:
Britney Spears marched into a salon and asked to shave her head. The owner of the salon tried to talk her out of it. Instead, Britney Spears took the shaver and shaved her own head, the owner only performed the final touchup. According to the owner, Britney Spears seemed to enjoy shaving her own head.

Anna Nicole Smith, I felt like I've known her for ages now. Her son Daniel died last September. She had been feeling depress since. She had planned her own funeral, and was initially wanted to be burried next to her idol Marilyn Monroe in California, but was too expensive. According to Howard K Stern , her "boy friend" and alleged father of her daughter, Anna Nicole Smith then decided to be burried next to her son in Bahamas. But her mother wanted her to be burried in her home state Texas.

Yes, I did bring a book to read, but the TV was so loud that I couldn't read a word into my brain, and the fume was really giving me a headache. But I was able to read a short article from a magazine, Family Circle?? Anyway, the article titled "How to choose a microwave". What? Just pick the one that is on sale, that's how. Apparantly according to the wisdom of the writer, there are the followings to consider: Shortcut Keys (preset buttons for Popcorn, Defrost etc...) Removable Turntable (so that you can clean it?). Sensor Technology (ability to sense the meat temperature.) and a Child -Proof Door. What? If you read the popcorn package, it will say do not use the preset button on your microwave. My microwave has 8 preset buttons on it: Auto-reheat, Popcorn, Potato, Coffee, Chicken pcs, Fish, Vegetables, Frozen Food. I have only used 3 of them (Auto-Reheat, Popcorn and Frozen Food) a few times and they're never reliable. Don't they all come with removable turntable? Do people cook with microwave really care about meat temperature? Just peek in and if you don't see blood flowing out from the meat, then it's cooked! "Ding! Enjoy Your Meal"

Mind numbing is the best way to describe my afternoon.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy New Year!

I went hiking at the Adirondacks last weekend, and had a minor accident. I slid off an icy slope and broke my trekking pole into 2 while trying to stop the fall. I was just glad that it wasn't my arm or leg that was broken. Anyhow... At first I was kinda glad that the pole broke and that after all these years I finally have an excuse to buy a new set of poles, but the designer in me just not ready to let it go. I woke up the next morning suddenly realized a super easy way to fix the pole, click on the thumbnail below to see how I fixed it.
The victim - before shot

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Last day of the year of Dog

I have been thinking about switching my MSN space blog to Blogspot for a long time, finally, today's the day. Here is a link to my old blog:

The reason I chose currynoodle as my blog url was simple, because all my other choices were taken, including currynoodles. Besides, I love spicy food and noodle and I was pretty hungry when I was creating this blog, curry noodle jumped right to my mind.