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12-7-11 Vantage in the winter

12-7-11 Vantage in the winter

Drove over to Vantage with my friend Crystal. I met Crystal 3 years ago in Joshua Tree. She was with Brett and Ondi and we spent  half a day climbing together. Later she became friends with Paul and Craig and we all climbed together at various points and places, including Yosemite. She was in town to interview hospitals for her general practice residency which will start in March.

After 7 years of college, including 4 in medical school she has a lot of integrity. We had some great conversations around the campfire, sitting on big rocks in the dirt around our underperforming campfire. Her friend Will showed up at 9 PM saturday and joined us for the second day down at sunshine wall. The weather was perfect with temps around 50 which allowed us to climb in sweats and shirts.

Will is an interesting character. He was raised on a cattle ranch, but sells Comcast door to door in Seattle. At only 21, he has a lot of life behind him, a great job, and a ton of talent on the cliff. I’ve never seen anyone stem those Vantage columns as wide as Will. I hope to be able to hook up with him for some climbing trips.

Good partners are hard to find. Crystal has already left town for medical school in Florida. I’ve got partners scattered all over the country, but finding one right here can be challenging. I miss the easy communication of facebook. I don’t miss facebook, but I miss the ability it has to get you in touch with climbing partners.

I led the spl. beaver route 5.9 and George-Martha 5.10a, both cleanly. G&M was quite easy at the bottom. The off hands jams seemed very solid. A couple were awkward sidepulls, but I never felt I was going to come off. The pro is perfect in there if you have purple, green and red camalots, doubles at least, and triples in the green.

At the wide top section of G&M I went up and down a couple times. It turned out to be a layback with high toe jams and double fist jams protected by a 4 and 5 camalot. I didn’t even grab the flake in the back this time. I just grabbed the ledge above and pulled up into a knee jam. Not graceful, but it got the job done.

I am watching some lynda.com videos on how to develop Android apps. It’s very slow going as I keep getting distracted by work and climbing. The videos require you to download a lot of strange files, and nothing works quite as well for me as it does for him on the videos. Still, this could be something very big, and possibly even something we could add to our curriculum as part of the web programming classes.

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11-27-2011 Sheet metal worker

Droid RAZR case
Droid RAZR case

I made a couple Droid cases over thanksgiving weekend. I also taught myself how to make a customizable jquery slideshow. I fought for several hours to get a cross platform software solution to the password issue. To be able to login on Mac’s and PC’s to websites is manageable, but when you throw in an Android phone…things get complicated. I’m still not sure about the RAZR, but so far I am liking it a lot. It’s a huge step up from my 3 year old original Droid. I’ve been able to get the battery to last three 10 hour days  by turning off data most of the time, except when I am surfing the net, or downloading apps. I don’t have 4G out here, so I can’t comment on how that works. It works great as a phone, and the new Gingerbread OS is a pleasure to use. It’s super fast, and lighter than my old Droid. But mostly I’ve been enjoying making cases for it. I will do a review later, but so far I have no regrets about upgrading. As Phil said, I made a valiant effort to avoid the whole smartphone addiction issue. How many other people went as far as trying ham radio to avoid a data plan? Probably just me. In the end smartphones are just cool toys.

But I swear I will not become the person who stands on a street corner, or in a busy hallway staring and pecking at a smartphone, oblivious of, or intentionally ignoring,  the life going on around them.  The whole data thing is just for fun, or when I have to access data and don’t have a computer nearby…which is almost never. I’ve uninstalled all the games on the phone. Call me old fashioned, and you’d be right.

We had a great turkey day dinner with 19 relatives. Family is awesome. They all know I paint. After dinner, and a two hour card game called Buzz Words, they asked to see my paintings. It was weird having everyone line up like I was a performer or something, showing my paintings one at a time. But I guess we artists have to show our stuff. I’m just not used to it. We’d planned to skin up the hill at Paradise, but the snow changed to rain. I used the extra days to study Jquery programming and build things from leather and sheetmetal.

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11-20-11 home with a cold

I caught a bad cold last weekend. My friends Ed and Mindy were coughing so much I started calling them the tuberculosis twins. Friday night I didn’t sleep so good and by Saturday morning I was in the midst of a heavy cold. I have zero energy and was coughing.

I spent the day vegging out with Netflix videos. I think I watched about 6 of them. Truly a     couch potato day. This morning Sunday, I woke up feeling a little bit better but still had zero energy. I spent a couple hours wasting time surfing the net reading about the new Google Nexus prime cell phone. My droid is 2 years old and is pretty boring. Droid razor is already out and the Nexus prime is coming out in a month or  two. I’ve been obsessing about both of them which is an indicator that I’m bored and completely brainwashed by the advertising blitz. I got my Martin guitar out for the 1st time in a year and  played a couple songs. My obsession with cell phones disappeared completely. There is nothing like the pure ringing tones of a real musical instrument to make you realize that this obsession we have with cellphones is just that: an obsession.

Feeling better,  I went out and prepared some pastel paper. It comes in white, so I have to paint it gray, the gray paper gives me a neutral ground to which I can add white and black pastel, using the gray paper as the medium tones (neutral ground). I’m also doing a little lesson planning learning the Jquery programming language. After that I think I may try to start another painting, and maybe I’ll even go to the gym if I feel strong.

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11-2011 finished Self Portait

I finished my three quarter view self portrait. It’s not perfect, but it’s as good as I can make it. I’m looking forward to starting another one, but I’d like to draw someone else. Getting someone to spend 12 hours over 4 or 5 sittings is going to be almost impossible. Perhaps I will draw my hand instead. I’ve always wanted to do a good hand…maybe combine it with a series of closeups of difficult features like lips, eyes, nose, ear, hands. I love having a drawing going out at the easel. I come home from work, eat dinner, read a book for a while, and then head over to my easel. Painting is so much fun. 

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11-6-11 Three quarter view self portrait

11-6-11 Three quarter view self portrait

Put the color on my drawing today. I had some moments of magic, but most of the time I was frustrated by my inability to paint accurately. I see too much green in the

self portrait, unfinished 11-2011

skin. And shadows are a mystery. And something is wrong with the lips…but they say that is the definition of a portrait: a drawing with bad lips.

Changed the oil in the truck today at 155,000 miles. Sue and I walked and pedaled the hills of Old Town Tacoma today for exercise. Then I bought the Kindle 3 at Best Buy. The Kindle works surprisingly well. It reads books using the new E-ink technology, and downloads them over 3G at lighting speeds. I loaded 10 books from the library for free to my laptop, and transferred to the Kindle via USB cable. I was able to surf the net, and check www.weather.com…all for free. The Kindle comes with a browser and free 3G using the ATT network. It’s black and white, but who cares?

I should have gone climbing with Phil. He is back at Vantage, probably climbed Sinsemilla today. But I needed to spend some time with family, do some things around here, and paint. Painting is very important. In the long run it is much more important than climbing. By continuing my education, even when my paintings go badly, I am learning the craft…or should I call it art? In my hands, it feels more like a craft.

I read somewhere that art in any form, be it painting, writing, dance or music, requires not just talent, but work. You have to WORK at it. Or, in the words of Jack London: you can’t wait for inspiration to strike, you have to go after it with a club.

11-3-2011

self portrait 11-2011 unfinished

I’ve been working on another self portrait in my studio. I have a mirror by the easel and I’ve been painting the man reflected there. He is a strange looking old fellow. In my heart I’m still a young man, full of wonder at this great mystery they call life. But the man in the mirror is middle aged, old even. And yet I see something of myself in his wizened stare. He has a slight grin, and a twinkle in his eye.

I should be painting someone young and beautiful…but here we are, together again…I guess we find each other convenient. Strangely though, each hour I spend on the painting, I feel more of myself in the image, as if I’m transferring energy from the living man to the painting.

I’m transitioning from a finished black and white drawing to a color painting tonight, and the excitement is growing,. The pastels feel almost electric under my fingers as I stroke them ever so carefully across the sandy surface of the Rives BFK.

I feel very fortunate to have this rare gift for painting. Granted I’m not very good, but the pleasure it brings me is something money can’t buy. Here it is in black and white.

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Sunny climbing on Halloween 2011

Phil and I had an awesome weekend at Vantage. Saturday we climbed the Seven V…. route. Phil wanted to warm up on something easy and Seven V… is a nice 5.7. After that we walked over to the Air Guitar area where we did a nice fist crack called Pony Keg. We had both Phils rack and my rack so I was able to bring up 4 blues and 4 yellows, plus a couple greens and reds for the bottom. With enough big gear, Pony Keg feels just like Classic Crack: a fun cruise up a lovely crack climb.

After that we both led Air Guitar, which felt harder, but still very do-able. I was expecting it to be a give-away, but had to fish around for the correct moves at the bottom. Pony Keg is very straight forward. You climb the crack and go, but Air Guitar starts out with a combination of thin finger jams on tiny cams combined with not so obvious face holds. I soon got myself sorted out and sent the rest of it fine.

We led a few sport routes that day as well, with Phil finishing out the day on Bushido 10C. That thing was very pumpy. I don’t think I will ever have the muscle power to lead something that long and pumpy. I also need to take some practice lead falls outdoors to get my head ready for falling on bolts.

Sunshine_wall_vantage
Sunshine_wall_vantage

Sunday we walked up to the Sinsemilla area. We did a two pitch sport route there as a warm up and noticed a nice looking crack climb off to the left. I inspected it on the rap down and realized it might be within my abilities. We pulled our gear off the sport route and I led Corner Pockets cleanly. It was rated 10B trad and had a one very difficult move where you had to move up on a ring lock. It was a one inch crack, green camalot sized: too small for a hand jam, too big for fingers. The only thing I got was a ring lock where you wrap your thumb around your index finger. I had to pull down on that and a bad hand jam, friction my feet in the tiny crack in the corner of the dihedral and throw for manky jam higher up. The move felt very insecure. I was almost certain I was going to fall, which seems to be normal on 10b. I had good gear at my waist, and as soon as I moved up, I stuffed in a perfect yellow #2 camalot. It’s so cool to onsight new hard climbs.

click for video
click for video

After that I led Throbbing Gristle. I shot this video while I was chimneying up Shady Corner, a very cool 5.7 like the 7V…. route, but much cleaner. You are in between three columns, over a lot of air. It’s a fun route, worth doing again with a better camera. My Lumix does not handle extremes of light and dark well.

On the rap down we inspected Split Beaver 5.9 and found it to be a lovely hand and finger crack. We both led it and loved it. It starts out with 60 feet of user friendly hand jams and good stems across to the Gristle column. Then it changes to very clean finger jams in excellent rock for another 35 feet to the top. Several of the moves in the finger section are committing, but there is always protection above you if you need it.

On the way out of the campground we saw a couple campsites where people were cooking dinner around their campfires, getting ready for another night under the stars, followed by more climbing under the sun. I’m thankfull to have a cool job that pays the bills, but it does always seem like the weekends are too short, especially when I am climbing as well as I did this last weekend.

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10-24-2011 A Promise

Sue and I had a relaxing weekend at home. She washed the car, I waxed it. Sunday I pulled the ham radio antenna wiring harness off the bottom of the truck. I’d had antenna wires traveling under the body of the car from the cab to the back bumper where the antenna was mounted.

Getting that ham radio installation finished took me 5 days of full time work, scattered over a few months last winter and spring. And then when it was finally finished, I got bored with it. It is a sad ending to an exciting childhood dream. Turns out there is a reason why there are very few hams: it’s boring. Or, I should amend that: it’s boring if you like your hobbies to combine exercise and adrenaline.

I do enjoy some hobbies that involve sitting still: painting could be considered very boring to some people. It doesn’t get any lazier than sitting at an easel. But there is something so full-filling about creating a painting from scratch that I feel it is worth the stillness.

My pencil drawing from Grandmas photo
My pencil drawing from Grandmas photo

To have a gift and not use it is simply wrong. I was driving my grandma home from a family dinner back in 1992. She was 99 and still in very good health, living alone with her dog, listening to talking books and sending letters out to her extended family. I had showed my paintings to the family that evening, and grandma was very happy to see me finally taking my art seriously. This pencil drawing from a photo of grandma is one I showed to the family. I had painted in my teens, but hadn’t picked it up again until I was 40.

“Mark,” grandma said, “Will you promise me something?”
“Sure grandma, what is it?” I said.
“Don’t ever stop painting! Life is too short and you have a gift, promise me you won’t stop painting again.”
“Ummm, ok grandma.”

Grandma had a favorite aunt named Florence Carpenter (1842-1920). Florence took my 16 year old grandma to Europe where grandma studied to be a concert pianist. You can find Florence on the internet. She acheived some minor fame as a watercolor landscape painter. She is listed in a book in the library named “100 American Women Painters of the 19th Century”.

Florence_Carpenter
Blue Girl, painting by Florence Carpenter (1842 - 1920)

I inherited one of great Aunt Florences watercolor paintings. We call it “the blue girl”, though rumor has it that grandma posed for it.  I doubt it’s ever been seen in public before. It sits above my mantel as I write these words. She was the last painter in our family. Of all the people in our huge extended family, I am the first descendent since Florence to paint. It’s strange to think of that slender thread of talent weaving down through the generations, like a recessive gene. Why did her talent finally surface, and why did it pick me?

I have a painting underway at my easel. It’s another self portrait: three quarter view this time. I’m tired after work, and not really in the mood, but sometimes the act of painting puts me in the mood, and if I don’t at least try, I’ll be breaking my promise to grandma.

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10-19-2011 New climbs, Pinnacles

New routes, Peshastin Pinnacles

Sue, Lisa and I drove to the Peshastin Pinnacles last weekend and climbed Yoder’s new routes on Sunset Slab with our old friend Jim. J.Y has done a really nice job on these 3 new routes. The bolting is just right, not too close, and not too run out. A fall from anywhere would be reasonably safe as long as you were able to start the fall by sliding, rather than tumbling.

Sunday we hiked up to Bathtub dome. Sue and Lisa weren’t happy with my routefinding skills. I’d forgotten the guidebook and they thought we were going to climb into a  dead end, or get lost on something really hard. At the ledge below the top tier, everything looked run out and dangerous. Without the guidebook we could have had an epic, so we hiked back to Skid Row and did a promising bolted route. I thought it was a nine, but when we got home I was surprised to find it was an 8.

We spend Friday night with my Aunt and Uncle. They have an amazing hand built earth home filled with grandma’s old furniture. Visiting them is like a little slice of home, and they are poster children for how to grow old graciously.

I could write more, but work is calling. I came across an awesome climbing photography website yesterday.

Quote of the day:

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
– Jack London

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10-14-2011 Leader fall

Washboards, Peshastin Pinnacles Leader Fall

Last weekend I tried to lead Washboards in the Peshastin Pinnacles and fell off. The first bolt is 50 feet up, so you have to free solo up some rotten sandstone. You can place some imaginary pro in the rotten flakes for comfort, but they are of iffy value. When I got to the traverse left, I realized I didn’t bring the three eighths inch pro needed in the only good placement.

Phil_Bale_Kramer
Phil_Bale_Kramer

I was too high to have Phil toss me the cam, and, running out of options, I went for it. The move is only 5.4…but 40 feet up is not the time to be hesitating. I climbed up and clipped the bolt, then changed it to locking biniers for a little more safety.

I tried to make the move but just couldn’t stick it. You have to pull a hard 10-ish friction mantel 5 feet above the single bolt, 50 feet up. I was not happy to be making the move that high with only one old bolt…but I’d done it many times before, though usually with stickier shoes.

My shoes peeled off and I tried to run down the cliff, as I was falling, which sometimes works. I should have done some shorter practice falls, sort of like ice ax arrest practice to get used to sliding/falling in control. I can climb, but I’m not good at falling. I ended up doing a half cartwheel onto stiff legs and slamming into my left hip and elbow. It was  about a 12 foot fall, and wouldn’t have been bad except for my bad technique.

I lowered off and Phil tried it, same result, though when he fell I ran backwards and shortened his drop. We top roped the climb to get our gear off the route. On the drive home my hip hurt so bad I got the chills every time I stood up.

Five days later I’m still sore, but I think it is just bruising. The day before, Saturday we climbed Bale/Kramer, pictures here.

This quarter started out hard. I’d forgotten how challenging it is to teach programming to a room full of new students. But gradually everyone figured it out and we are now moving along nicely. It’s always fun when the whole class gets that first website online and they realize the power of what I am teaching them.

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Lumix DMC-TS3 Review

Lumix DMC-TS3 Review

Lumix DMC-TS3 Review
Lumix DMC-TS3

I broke my little point and shoot camera while climbing an overhang in Leavenworth last weekend. I bought the Lumix DMC-TS3 to replace it. I needed a camera that did not have any moving parts outside the body. Moving parts get banged up when the camera is hanging from your wrist on a cliff. The internal lens structure on the TS3 looked very attractive. I didn’t really need  it to be waterproof since I have a couple Pelican cases already, but the fact that the TS3 was waterproof down to 40 feet, and shockproof to 6 feet sounded great though, as that would mean two less things to worry about.

I’ve tested it underwater now, though just in the kitchen sink. You can view the video here: underwater_test_lumix_DMC_TS3

I was very careful to inspect the seals before I put this beautiful new camera underwater. There are detailed instructions in the manual on how to clean the gaskets. They even ship a gasket cleaning brush with the camera, which I used rigorously. I also wore magnifying spectacles and a bright light. I was not looking forward to sending it back to Amazon if it leaked due to my negligence.

Lumix DMC-TS3 twilight from the Narrows Bridge
Lumix DMC-TS3 twilight from the Narrows Bridge

I’ve also had it on a couple bike rides. I’ve shot at night, indoors, and even below decks on a ship. I’ve been using it in iA mode (Intelligent Auto Mode). The camera picks the shutter speed and aperture for you. There are many scene modes, and I’ve used them a little with good results. With this type of point and shoot, they assume you will be shooting in difficult environments, like, underwater, or skiing with gloves on. The assumption is that you don’t want to mess with settings.

I would prefer to have some choices for manual settings, but for that I can always carry my SLR: a Canon 50D. This Lumix DMC-TS3 is meant to be used when I don’t want to pack my heavy SLR up the cliff, or out on the top of a sea kayak.

The Adventuress Schooner
The Adventuress Schooner

Sue and I pedaled around Olympia on the weekend and found this really cool one hundred foot, one hundred year old sail boat giving free tours. This boat, The Adventuress, was built in 1913 for the millionaire who started the Yellow Cab business in New York. I took my TS3 down on the pier to shoot some images of the beautiful old boat as climbed on board and explored.

The Adventuress Schooner
The Adventuress Schooner

The camera did a stand up job. I couldn’t have done much better with my SLR. I would have needed two lenses to shoot the images the TS3 was able to capture, and I would have been worried about getting my SLR wet…no worries here. Plus, my SLR is so big I don’t bring it for a casual bike ride…but the TS3 is a pocket camera. The camera you use is the one you carry 🙂

The Adventuress Schooner
The Adventuress Schooner

They let me walk down belowdecks where I found 24 sleeping births, a full galley with a cook preparing meals. The engine room was open, as was the front of the ship, and the above deck “house” though that was too crowded to see. If I’d had more time, I could have paid $50 for a sail that afternoon.

All of the following images were shot with the Lumix DMC-TS3. I can’t comment yet on the battery life, but most reviews say it is good, especially if you leave the GPS off. I think this camera is quite comparable with my Cannon sd1100. Both are point and shoots aimed at the “keep it simple and light” camera market. I have noticed that the TS3 over sharpens a bit when you view the pixels at 100%. So if this is your only camera, and you are shooting a once in a lifetime wedding, you may want to keep looking, and get one that shoots in raw…but for the market this camera is aimed at, I’d say they hit the mark. I will update this post if things change as I get deeper into the functions.

The Adventuress, shot with Lumix DMC-TS3
The Adventuress, shot with Lumix DMC-TS3
photographed with Lumix DMC-TS3
photographed with Lumix DMC-TS3

 

photographed with Lumix DMC-TS3
Macro mode Lumix DMC-TS3

 

Macro mode Lumix DMC-TS3
Macro mode Lumix DMC-TS3