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Most recent entry: 2014-12-13 00:00:00 -- Generated on 2014-12-13 20:02:47 by Rig3 0.4-440




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2014/12/13 Season Opening at Kirkwood
π 2014-12-13 00:00 in Snow
Since I was not going to see any snow for a while after Xmas, I was eager to go snowboarding, so when we heard about a storm coming, Arturo and I went to South Lake Tahoe to be on the correct side while the storm of doom arrived. Turns out that it weakened a bit by the time it hit tahoe, so many resorts didn't get that mucch but kirkwood still got 17 inches, which while short of 3ft was still good :)

This was just enough to make terrain usable in most places without too much fear of rocks poking out. Friday, cornice got open by 13:00 which was welcome since they only had one chair running 'till then, so we sure enjoyed the snow before crowds showed up. Saturday, Heavenly was still closed due to damage from the very windy storm, so many people came to kirkwood. Still, we were able to find enough snow to have fun for most of thd day :)

Friday was still a bit stormy and we got just a bit of extra snow:

got a nice belt wax before starting
got a nice belt wax before starting

OVidiu, who nicely hosted us in South Lake Tahoe
OVidiu, who nicely hosted us in South Lake Tahoe


Arturo, my partner in crime :)
Arturo, my partner in crime :)


Saturday was nice and sunny:



which animals were those? :)
which animals were those? :)


unfortunately someone had to be heli'd out
unfortunately someone had to be heli'd out

See more images for Season Opening at Kirkwood
2014/11/23 Late Season Day with CFRA at Sears Point/Infineon/Sonoma Raceway
π 2014-11-23 00:00 in Cars
I went to join a few (ex-)coworkers/buddies at Sears thanks to being accepted as a guest by CFRA and being able to grab their last spot for sunday.

I don't know Sears Point well, I tend to avoid it in my own cars since I think it's a somewhat dangerous track compared to the other options around here, but I went once in my miata, once in my F430 (apparently only got down to a 2:04 which is lame), ran 2 session in my 12C (1:56 which was better).

While I did drive formula 3 cars there, the experience is so different that it doesn't really transfer that much to regular cars (I was running 1:43 with that car and the instructor did 1:38).

Anyway, I was super rusty on driving Sears, so after a couple of sessions, Shane nicely agreed to ride with me and give me some tips. He quickly identified what I needed to fix, and I got down to a best lap of 1:58 with him to 1:55 in sessions 4 and 5 (there were also fewer people on the track, so I got cleaner laps there).

For personal notes, here are my laps:
Session 3: 2:00, 2:01, 1:59, 1:57, 1:59, 1:58, 1:59, 1:58, 1:59, 2:00
Session 4: 2:00, 1:58, 1:58, 1:59, 2:01, 1:56, 1:58, 1:55, 2:02, 2:00, 2:02, 2:00
Session 5: 1:59, 2:00, 1:56, 1:57, 2:02, 2:03, 2:02, 1:57, 1:57, 1:55, 1:55, 1:56

CFRA is a great group, they have X on the back of cars that don't want to be passed without a pointby, that way you don't have to guess and no one gets mad :) but generally both in the A/B group and the Race group (I ran in both), drivers were courteous and aware of cars around them. I also got to point a few of them by with track cars and great drivers that were hauling ass :)

Good time was had, I definitely improved during that day, so it was perfect :)

My best 2 laps are below (1:55 back to back):

And here are some pictures:





less weight, more speed :)
less weight, more speed :)

for all your automotive needs, mancave autowerks :)
for all your automotive needs, mancave autowerks :)

thanks Shane!
thanks Shane!


my car's bigger brother :)
my car's bigger brother :)

I love the blue inside, very nice match
I love the blue inside, very nice match

Unfortunately even on a dry day, there was some carnage, including a GTR that lost a wheel on track :(



reflecting on a good day's work
reflecting on a good day's work

A big thanks to Oleg for inspiring me to come that day, it was well worth it.

2014/11/15 USS Hornet Flashlight Tour
π 2014-11-15 00:00 in Flying
Daniel came with us to the USS Hornet for a flashlight tour (parts of the aircraft carrier not open to the general public). It was quite nice to be able to see the underbelly of the ship, the steam engines, and special rooms like the dentist room, or hairdresser:



plane arresting cables
plane arresting cables


catapult
catapult



we got down in the bowels of the ship
we got down in the bowels of the ship










burners were diesel is injected via nozzles and burnt to create steam pressure
burners were diesel is injected via nozzles and burnt to create steam pressure


Random other parts of the underground city:

dentist office
dentist office


bakery
bakery

hairdresser
hairdresser

laundry
laundry

huge washers and dryers
huge washers and dryers



CIC (command and control center):






crypto room
crypto room





Deck:









I'll also have to learn more about knots :)


Thanks a bunch to Daniel for driving us there and back when neither Jennifer or I were much up to it that day (lack of sleep, and cold).

See more images for USS Hornet Flashlight Tour
2014/11/10 Taiwan Day 17: Finish Taiwan with Wulai and Sanxia
π 2014-11-10 00:00 in Taiwan2014, Trips

We didn't head out very early on our last day since Jennifer took some time to spend with her uncle to share stories, memories, and pictures:


Eventually we arrived at Wulai which isn't exactly a top attraction but a nearby-ish nature area with some attractions that Jennifer had heard about. It must have been a really nice place when it was first built, but it looked a bit sad and badly maintained when we arrived (out of season). Still, we managed to have a little fun there with what was left :)











We found some amusement like archery which Jennifer never had done, and me only once some 30 years ago:

she didn't quite know how bows worked :)
she didn't quite know how bows worked :)

better
better

I did reasonably well with my wild pig
I did reasonably well with my wild pig

Jennifer's pig survived happily, but the nearby deer had a scare :)
Jennifer's pig survived happily, but the nearby deer had a scare :)

OMG, that's a lot of koi fish, they looked hungy :)
OMG, that's a lot of koi fish, they looked hungy :)



We then did part of their badly maintained, slippery obstacle course (due to moss):





We then stopped by a place Jennifer used to go to play during her childhoold:



Last, we went to Sanxia, another interesting town with a nice old shopping street and temples, but lots of things were closed by the time we arrived (18:00):













And this was the end of our trip, time to go back to the airport for our night flight to SFO.

2014/11/09 Taiwan Day 16: Jiufen and Jinguashi
π 2014-11-09 00:00 in Taiwan2014, Trips

After our night in Keelung, we went to check a fort that used to be there to defend the city from invadors like the French (that didn't really work out, the French did get in there):


getting our car back from the elevator to head out
getting our car back from the elevator to head out


map from the french
map from the french

there isn't much left of the fort, a few stones and cannons
there isn't much left of the fort, a few stones and cannons


From there, we had a few nice views:


nice temple
nice temple


We then drove to Juifen, an old mining town with a well known shopping street:



by the time we got there, the weather had turned to fantastic :)
by the time we got there, the weather had turned to fantastic :)

thankfully the shopping street was covered
thankfully the shopping street was covered

After doing the shopping street in Jiufen, we went to check out a small gold mining museum where a nice lady gave us a private tour in English explaining how mining was done there (different from the US due to different kinds of rock and Aure):


Jennifer, training to be a miner :)
Jennifer, training to be a miner :)

You need a bigger nail :)
You need a bigger nail :)

The guide showed us carbide lamps they used as lights in the tunnels. You put calcium carbide in them (a solid), mixed it with water. The reaction gave off acetylene gas which in turn comes out the lamp and you set on fire to create light.



Our guide then showed us how the ore was processed and finally turned into gold by hand. It's quite an involved process from grinding with a wheel, and multiple levels of separation, using weight, than mercury, evaporating the mercury, then silver, removing the silver with nitric acid, and finally getting gold in the end.





traces of gold on top of the sand, due to gravity
traces of gold on top of the sand, due to gravity

the mercury/gold mix is heated up and the mercury condensed back in water to be reused
the mercury/gold mix is heated up and the mercury condensed back in water to be reused

copper
copper

silver
silver


From there, we went to nearby Jioufen which had a Gold Ecological Park showing more about mining. By the time we got there, it was pouring rain:





the tunnel was very wet and growing all kinds of fungus
the tunnel was very wet and growing all kinds of fungus






7 million dollars' worth of gold
7 million dollars' worth of gold



The town had a Japanese Shinto gate from the colonial period. There are few left over. We hiked up to check it out, or what was left of the temple:





at least the view from up there wasn't bad since the rain had subsided
at least the view from up there wasn't bad since the rain had subsided

From there, we went to check out big statue we could see from a distance:








With that over, I drove in 90mn of bad traffic (rain + sunday night) to get to Jennifer's uncle's house as early as possible so that we could go out for dinner:



2014/11/08 Taiwan Day 15: Yangmingshan and Yeliu
π 2014-11-08 00:00 in Taiwan2014, Trips

We started by enjoying breakfast in our room, our hotel was a bit like a Japanese ryokan, we headed out for a guided tour of Chiang Kai Shek's private residence in the mountains.












Map of the area in French for when the French wanted to take over
Map of the area in French for when the French wanted to take over


We then drove around the Yangmingshan area some more, but outside of some volcanic activity that was interesting, but the rest was unremarkable and crowded because of the weekend visitors from Taipei:






Next, we went to the east coast towards Yeliu to see the geopark filled with Hoodoos and other interesting rock formations due to erosion:










After seeing the rock formations, we quickly checked out a nearby temple, as well as some restaurants on the street and noticed one of them had big manta shrimps (bigger than we had ever seen), and since we had never eaten one, we stopped there for dinner:








I then finished the drive to Keelung where our hotel was. Traffic is interesting there, and parking non existent, but Jennifer found a hotel with parking which ended up being an elevator for cars in which I had to carefully manoeuvre because it was not automated. We then went out to see the local night market, which was a total madhouse:








2014/11/07 Taiwan Day 14: Tamsui and Yangmingshan
π 2014-11-07 00:00 in Taiwan2014, Trips

We started with Fort Santo Domingo in Tamsui to learn the history of all the countries that had been been to Taiwan through this area, built forts, and ran it until 1980 when it was finally given back to Taiwan:







a canadian imigrant who built schools and spread knowledge
a canadian imigrant who built schools and spread knowledge


Our last temple was hidden in the middle of a shopping street:







Once done with Tamsui, and almost 1H in a rental car branch to sign the paperwork to get our car (that was sad, and they had 2 people helping us), we drove towards Yangmingshan, a volcanic Mountain with fumerols, and hot springs (yellowstone like, but in the mountain):


I'm not sure I'd bring my bride at this rotten egg stinky place :)
I'm not sure I'd bring my bride at this rotten egg stinky place :)


We then reached the Chung-Shan building, featured on the $100 Taiwanese bill. We arrived too late for the last tour due to a timing screwup, but they were nice enough to let us in and gave us a private volunteer guide who gave us aa full tour.
The building was built as a assembly headquarters back when Chiang Kai-Shek and was used by the state for various official meetings and banquets until 2005. It is now open to the public for visits:









To finish the day, we hiked up a trail to get a view of Taipei in the distance and got a bonus sunset:








The hotel we stayed at private onsens in each room, so we enjoyed a hot bath in volcanic water before a very good dinner there:




More pages: December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 July 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 August 2006 July 2006 June 2006 May 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 October 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 May 2005 April 2005 March 2005 February 2005 January 2005 December 2004 November 2004 October 2004 September 2004 August 2004 July 2004 June 2004 May 2004 April 2004 March 2004 February 2004 January 2004 October 2003 August 2003 July 2003 May 2003 April 2003 March 2003 January 2003 November 2002 October 2002 July 2002 May 2002 April 2002 March 2002 February 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 July 2001 June 2001 May 2001 April 2001 March 2001 February 2001 December 2000 November 2000 October 2000 September 2000 August 2000 July 2000 June 2000 April 1999 March 1999 September 1997 July 1996 September 1993 July 1991 December 1988 December 1985 January 1980