Archive for October, 2007

Life Goes On

I spent this afternoon washing down the front yard and driveway and collected a bucket of ashes and muck that has fallen out of the sky.

The kids have been limited to indoor activities because of the poor air quality. So no running, no cross country and no practices. They have been continuing their karate. Nikhil had his Red Belt test and passed it with flying colors.

Here is Nikhil breaking a board!


This is his instructor Ray (the big guy with the 4th degree black belt!)


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I came across this satellite image from Nasa that shows the extent of the fires and smoke we have been dealing with. I’m not positive, but I think ours is the single dot above the two large clumps of fires just north of the border.

It has now been 6 days since the fires started. The air quality today has been especially poor. As you can see from the image below, there is actually an offshore flow which is reverse of normal.


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Yesterday the Irvine fire in Santiago Canyon came dangerously close to our house. The Fire Department was doing mandatory evacuations and we had to leave at about 10pm.

The fire jumped over the 261 Freeway and came down the hill to Jamboree Road. This is less than 100 yards from our house.

This first picture is in the late afternoon before it jumped the 261 Freeway. You can see the reddish flames in the background.


This next picture is from our back yard at about 9:30pm. The wind was blowing left to right (in the picture) and there were very large embers blowing across our yard.



We went to Binny’s house and the kids and Anjali spent the night there. I returned back at about 1AM as the raging fire was over. By morning, the fire had died down and we were able to return to our house. The kids were a little scared but everyone is doing well.

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Sony 52XBR4 Update

I thought I’d provide an update on our Sony 52 XBR4 TV after having it now for a couple of months.

First, on the CNBC ticker problem I mentioned: I believe this to be a problem with CNBC and not the TV. Last week, DirecTV added CNBC-HD to their lineup and the ticker now scrolls just fine. In fact, the picture quality is amazing. However, CNBC is still broadcasting their motion video in SD over the HD channel (kind of like cheating). Their video covers a smaller area on the screen so it appears better.

Also, in the last month, DirecTV has added several other HD channels including Sci-Fi, HGTV, Food, USA and others to where their selection now tops both Cable and Dish network. The quality difference between the 1080i output of DirecTV and their usual “SD” format is like night and day. The choices being broadcast in HD are sufficient enough and the SD quality poor enough to where I do not want to watch SD broadcasts and tend to flip over to something (or anything) on HD.

We have watched several DVD’s and the pictures are very nice. I have yet to purchase either the Blu-Ray or HD-DVD player as I am hoping that the market will sort out a winner soon. I did note that Costco is carrying a $250 HD-DVD from Toshiba while the Sony is at $450. This is a significant price differential with the only difference that I can see being that the Toshiba is 1080i while the Sony is 1080p. Can anyone tell the difference?? I am hoping that by Christmas time, the market will provide a better indication. Right now it is wait and see for me.

We have also hooked the Nintendo Wii to the TV and the picture is pretty good but not stunning. I believe that the best the Wii is capable of is 480P and it shows!

Anyway, if you are in the market for the 52XBR from Sony it is a very good TV that I expect will last for many years to come.

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We just got back from a 1 night camping trip with me and the boys and pack 541. We camped out in Tonner Canyon about 30 miles from here. The campsite is owned by the BSA (Firestone Camp).

There were about 20 kids in the pack and several hundred that were part of the Camperall.

Here are the boys at 6:15 when the bugler woke up the boy scouts.


Here is Vikram entertaining himself riding on a dirtboard.


Here are the boys with their pack.


They participated in group sessions that included rope tying, first aid safety, fire building, knife and axe safety, compass training, backpacking and a bunch of other stuff.


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I got back from Moab and wanted to post some pictures. There were 13 of us that met from Seattle, Texas and So. Cal as part of our annual trip.

The first day was a new trail called the Sovereign trail. It was an 11 mile ride with just 1000 feet of climbing in the back country. It was a good warm up day for the tougher rides to follow.



The second day of riding was at the wold famous Slickrock. This is the second time I have ridden it. The first time was 3 years ago and I was just starting riding. This time was a lot more fun as I was able to make it up all of the challenging hills.

We started on the practice loop and then went clockwise around the slickrock trail for a total of 11.1 miles and 2300 feet of climbing although it was all in short bursts of steep (and very steep) hills.

Here is me and Terry at the top overlooking the Colorado river.


Here is our entire group.  Guys from Seattle, Texas, Colorado and So Cal.


The last day was the best. We planned on a shuttle leaving Poison Spider Cycles at 8:30 and went to Hazard County at 9000 feet of elevation. It was snowing up there so we dropped down to 7250 feet where there was some rain but the single track was still ridable. The first part was wet, muddy and cold but we dropped altitude quickly enough that by the end of it we were at 4000 feet after covering 14.2 miles of downhill singletrack (and some doubletrack).

Here we are at 7000 feet on the LPS trail.


The LPS turns into the Porcupine Rim Trail where there are some sheer drop offs and amazing views.



I would highly recommend this shuttle trail. Next time I hope we are able to start in Hazard.

Quite a successful trip as there were no major injuries (unlike the last two trips where we had a broken arm and a broken finger) not counting the bloody knees and arms!

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Mt. Sac 2K

Nikhil ran in the Mt. Sac 2K billed as the world’s largest Cross Country Meet. More about Mt. Sac.

There were 24 races ranging from 0.8 mile for the 3rd graders to about 4 miles for the high schoolers. There were over 20,000 kids for the set of races from all over Southern California. He ran in a group of 5th graders and got a time of 11:40 (1 mile pace of 9:43) and place 64th out of 126. The course was pretty short but made challenging by a long climb up a hill that must have been 200 feet high.


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Vikram Got his Black Belt

This weekend, Vikram tested for his karate black belt.

It was about a 2 hour test where they tested all of the moves he has learned. Vikram has been practicing for weeks. In addition, he had to write an essay about what it means to be a black belt. There was board breaking section and a strength section. In the strength section, he had to do 150 push ups and 500 situps.


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First 5K

Nikhil ran his first 5K this weekend.  He has been training with the Equalizers for about 5-6 weeks now and he participated in the Chapman University Toyota of Orange 5K Run.

He had a time of 27:09 and got 231st place out of 525 finishers –  pretty good for a 10 year old.  He beat two of our adult neighbors in the race!


There is  another race this weekend that is a 2K at Mt. Sac.

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Walk to School Day

Today was International Walk to School Day (IWALK)! I have the day off as I’m driving to Moab this afternoon so I walked the kids to school.  It is about a mile each way.


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Last Ride till Moab

Yesterday was my last ride before my Moab trip on Wednesday so I did an extra long ride of 23.5 miles climbing 3400 feet of elevation in about 4 hours. This will be typical of the 3 days of Moab riding although the pace will be a lot slower and the terrain a lot more technical. Nonetheless, this was my first time doing this entire loop and I felt pretty good at the end of it.

Here are some pretty cool pictures from the trail, starting at Whiting Ranch continuing up the Santiago grade, to Old Camp, down the Luge, along the Cactus Trail and back to the trail head.

This is the start of the trail at Mustard Road. Mustard Hill is a 9% grade for about 1 mile. Much of the rest of the trail averages about 4%-5% though there are some very steep sections as well.


This is my bike at Four Corners at the top of Mustard Road.


This is the cool Cactus Trail. One wrong turn will leave you with an arm full of stickers or a flat tire!


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