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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

 

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9-31-11 Facebook free, 6 days and counting

I quite facebook 6 days ago

Facebook is a great invention, but it’s very easy to get addicted. I only had about 40 friends, but they were mostly all climbers, so there were always interesting photos to enjoy. I only “friended” people I knew and climbed with in person. I saw cool pictures from all over the world on facebook. It was endlessly fascinating…but therein lies the problem.

If I was bored, or unmotivated, I would surf facebook. It’s a whole fascinating world in there that opens up to the world wide web. It was a black hole of wasted time. I saw the writing on the wall, and realized I needed to quit, I do have a website, after all.

In the six days I’ve been off facebook, I’ve added at least 2 hours of productive time to every day. I do enjoy writing. It clears my mind, and having the freedom to write in long form, as opposed the the “twitter/facebook” form of writing, is awesome. Most of the “communication” I was doing on facebook was in the form of a couple sentences, so it was practically meaningless.

By getting off facebook, I am removing another reason to get the new iPhone. Or, on the flip side, I may just get it to reward myself for not having facebook…still can’t decide. I love the idea of getting a slim dumb phone and gluing it to the back of an iTouch. It would be a “poor mans iPhone”, without the data contract. I like the idea of anything that simplifies my life, and saves me money at the same time.

I never, ever use data on my 2 year old droid. I don’t surf the web, I don’t check my emails, and I really don’t need to use the navigation function, though I sometimes do because it is convenient. They make paper maps that work almost as well.

Here is an interesting article about  smart phone addiction.