Monday, July 6, 2009

Back to Western Talkeetnas

Headed up to Hatcher with Kristin and Dawson, her yellow lab. Drove up Craigie Creek toward the Lucky Shot mine, which brought out the redneck in me as I navigated through way too many nasty rocks and boulders, bashing my skid plates and running boards. I even got to pull a full size Dodge pickup out of a nearly hopeless mess with 6 partying Valley the middle of the night way past bedtime.....grrrrrrrrrrr. Took 3 great day hikes from the car camp covering a bunch of the country and stitching together the whole area from a different perspective.

Monday, June 1, 2009

After the foundation was sealed and insulated with 2" of rigid insulation, we dug up the sewer line, which has a history of freezing up most winters to see if we could find anything wrong with it...

We found that it's only buried about 2 ft deep at the street, with no insulation!! Given that Anchorage's frost depth can go to 10 ft, this is a complete joke.

So we put 6" of insulation above the pipe at the street, tapering to 4" the remainder of the way to the house.

Then I e-mailed the city with a couple photos attached...hopefully they'll put it on their list of improvements to be made!

We've already backfilled the sewer line trench, done the final grading in the east and north yards, and now we're establishing grade on the south and west of the house, taking into account a myriad of details including maintaining clear drainage paths from my house to the street, lowering the upper driveway elevation about 18" to create a longer flat spot near the house, enclosing the carport to create a garage, possibly terracing the front yard....the work is just getting started actually. This project is going to take most of the summer to complete. But so far, I don't have one tiny regret, none of those nagging feelings "we should have....." so things are flowing nicely.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Foundation work

Hmmm, looks like Dan has a gopher problem?

Yeah, Keith is the gopher! Time to dig up my foundation so I can seal it. It leaks a bit of water during every runoff or other heavy water event.
Scraping the old sealant off was dirty, grueling work

All scraped and wire-brushed clean, ready for primer:

After priming, applying the PolyGuard, and mastic:
The back-side of the house pretty much done:
My "stairs" for the past few days:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Humble Pie

The time had come: after thinking of it all winter, Eric and I were headed off to attempt to climb Flute, Organ, and Polar Bear Peaks in one traverse, with rock & ice climbing gear, ski gear, and food for 4 1/2 days. The pile of gear looked ominous in my basement:

We had a good forecast, so despite the heavy loads we were pretty upbeat when we started out the South Fork Eagle River valley via the high trail on Thursday evening after work:

We went up past Eagle Lake to the foot of the falls below the Flute Glacier when it started getting pretty dark, so we camped on a gravel bar. After the ptarmigan quieted down, we got some sleep but I awoke to the tell-tale sound of light rain hitting the megamid. NOT GOOD I thought, then went back to sleep, awaking a bit later to no rain. Then waking up again to rain, then realizing I'm too cold I awoke to put on another layer and realized it was sounding like thick rain. Oh well, I went back to sleep nice and warm and slept for awhile. Then Eric and I both got up and realized it was SNOWING. Ugghhhhhh, back to sleep for awhile, maybe it will burn off. Nope...after a little walk to stretch out I figured our trip was busted:

So a little quality tent time....NOT what we were expecting:

After debating, we decided to bail and humped back to the trailhead. My pack was killing me, and it was really hard to get it on with all the skis and boots and heavy load. When I got home I found out I had the pack adjusted WAY too long, so it's no wonder the pack felt horrible. Oh well, I needed a nice weekend in town (where it was bluebird) to start a big project at the house anyway....

Sailing, surfing, fishing

Pat invited me to join him on the Koni Loa's first voyage of 2009 and I jumped on it. This is the boat I sailed across the Gulf of Alaska on and have become fond of. The chance to go surfing for the first time ever, and try out my new made-for-surfing-in-cold-water drysuit, and be out of town for 3 days was all I needed. The only problem was the concept of being on a boat for 3 days while I'm halfway fit and still trying to keep in shape for near-future mountain trips....oh well, no worries.....

I didn't take many photos - I was pretty burned out from lack of sleep for one reason or the other and the slower pace than normal for me put me in a bit of a sleepy trance. After troubleshooting and solving a problem with the water system (my experience starting up water treatment plants came in very handy!), we motored (no wind whatsoever) to Bear Glacier, scouted around, and found the surf break we've been talking about all winter. What a beauty! There were 3 other guys there. We anchored and Pat flew into his wetsuit stoked to get some rides in. I took my time dealing with the new drysuit and was soon off on my first surfing mission, stoked and nervous! Short story: the waves were in the 8-10' face range, way too big for me, so Pat staked me on the outside and I played around, getting used to the dynamics of the waves, and Boom! I came in too far and got caught inside one of the biggest sets, watching a dark wall of water looming overhead and then start to break. Pat yelled "look out Dan" and I instinctively dove into the wave and came out pretty OK, but then the second one came and I dove again but got bonked on the head by the board and barely made it through. The waves intimidated me thoroughly so I stayed well outside for the rest of the 45 minutes. Pat caught a couple waves but the tide was coming up and the waves were no longer ride-able so we paddled back to the boat and called it a day.

But the day refused to quit. We motored over to a favorite fishing hole of ours, dropped line, and Pat came up with a ling cod and a sea bass within 10 minutes! We then motored into Bulldog Cove, dropped anchor, cooked a FINE fresh fish dinner, and went to bad very happy and quite pleased with ourselves :-)

The next day dawned just as bluebird as the others. Lounging around after breakfast:

Pat felt a bit sick, I was still a bit intimidated by yesterday's waves, so be decided not to return to Bear Glacier but check out a break near Fox Island. On the way out, I took a picture of a little skiing project for next season:

What a fine weekend, and a very unseasonably warm start to summer, in stark contrast to last year's rainy summer!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A bit of Anchorage skiing nostalgia hit me yesterday. I went to ski the north couloir of Ptarmigan Peak, a local alpine climbing/skiing icon that stares at you all year, visible from many places in town. In the 1995 or so era, I skied it the same year in August and September, just because I wanted to ski every month of the year for once in my life. During that time frame, the couloir is a solid sheet of rivuleted ice and generally a pretty sketchy place to be. Consider that I booted it in leather tele boots with no crampons and no ice axe and you start to see why I vowed never to ski it again after the second time!!

So yesterday I was lured up there by Billy's report that the snow was good, and I wanted to come to grips with my fear and general distaste for this place in good snow. You can see pix of yesterday's outing here, scroll down the page a bit:

So here's what it looked like ca ~ August 1995 in skinny Tua 205cm tele skis, canvas pants, and summer everywhere else but the couloir!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Skiing was out of this world today in the Mint Valley. It was -3F at the car in the morning, but things warmed up when we got into the sun. The snow was light, fluffy, and deep. On the last run the snow blew up into and over my face so many times my face got completely covered and I couldn't see a thing for the last 400 ft. I just did the turn, breathe, turn, breathe routine until the slope ran out. This produces an ice cream headache - my face hurt from the cold! It was so insanely good that me and my two buddies laughed all the way down the hill.

Cold Smoke, blue sky, sunshine

A little closer and you can see the giddy grin

Face shots on every turn!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Audio editing

There's a bit of discussion on a tango dj forum I'm on about quality of source material - I'm putting this blog entry up real quick to illustrate some points, so if you don't really know what I'm talking about, no worries! It's just part of my tango life, editing old music to make it sound better....

All the screenshots are from Euro Records "Coleccion 78" series.
Here's an example of a clean, pristine file that has not been overly compressed and does not exhibit any clipping - it retains its dynamics and sounds very natural and alive:

Here's an example of a file that exhibits too much compression...the dynamics are lost, and you can hear it when you listen - individual instruments are not distinct and the whole sound seems "choked" - you can tell because the wave file is "fat" throughout with a lot of "green". It's not the worst example by far, but does illustrate the point.

Here's an example of a file that exhibits excessive clipping - again, not the worst example but nonetheless Rufino's high end is chopped off, as well as the violin highlights - the sound is very unnatural where the waves are "chopped off", especially around 2:05.
The bottom 2 examples illustrate why many of us are still hungry for more releases out of the vaults of the record companies - we want files that look like the first example!