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Month: May 2008

Monday back to school

Monday back to school

Our friends left for LA Saturday night, so Sunday morning Beverly took me on a tour of her Alma Mater – UCSB.

First we went to her old “dorms” off campus – which felt more like a resort community to me. We went into the old recreation facility and Beverly started playing piano – a talent I never knew she had.

After seeing the “dorms” we headed to campus. It was memorial day so campus was mostly deserted, which gave it an eerie quiet.


Flowers next to the parking lot in bloom.

Beverly used to be a tour guide so she was able to tell me a lot about the campus and even showed me a sample dorm room (hint: it looked the same as OSU/OU except UCSB students have to buy their own micro fridge). We went to the main library and from the 8th floor one could see past campus right down to the ocean. A little while later we made our way past the man made lake and walked along the cliffs next to the beach.


In one area we saw a multitude of fat squirrels.

We even saw a live skunk rooting around in the grass on campus. I was floored by the serenity of the campus (which is actually not in Santa Barbara the city, but Goleta, a few miles northwest). I can’t imagine what college would have been like if I could have walked out of class and been at the ocean. When I wanted time to myself in college I remember going to sit by mirror lake or the Wexner center – but these can’t compare to nature’s majesty. When we first got to the beach we came upon a fencing club practicing on the sand. That sort of thing surely would have taken place deep within Larkins or Jesse Owens at Ohio State.

Going into a campus again really pulled at the heartstrings and made me want to go back to that era. I think most of the time I was in college I was frustrated by the system, but a strong sense of nostalgia started to set in. If Skybus hadn’t gone belly-up I may have started planning a trip to Columbus to give Beverly a tour of my University.

Sunday Fog

Sunday Fog

On Sunday Beverly and I travelled up the coast to Santa Barbara. We met with friends for lunch at Brothy Brothers. After waiting nearly 90 minutes to get seated I ordered shark (first time) and was disappointed as it was a little dry and rough. Beverly’s swordfish was good though.

After eating we digested our food by visiting the war memorial by the pier and then walking along the boardwalk to see the art show. Beverly remarked that a lot of the paintings looked like the kind of thing that I could do. There were a few interested moments – like the home-made kaleidoscopes.

Since the party was made up of two couples – after the boardwalk us men were resigned to watching our women shop for dresses at the local fashion square. We steered them into a few music stores and antique stores before heading back to our hotel and changing for the night’s activities.


Not sure if I was trying to be Gandalf or Joseph (and his dreamcoat).

We ate a late dinner at a brewery before heading to Sandbar nightclub.

Saturday Sun

Saturday Sun

On Saturday Beverly and I visited the Norton Simon Museum. I hadn’t gone there since I took my parents in December of 2006. I remembered that it was my favorite museum – but I also remembered it being much bigger.

Unfortunately the garden was mostly closed, but we managed to see some ducks on the pond anyway.

After that we ducked into the nearest 24 hour fitness for a workout. Significant as it is only the third time I’ve used my 24 hour fitness membership in the four years I’ve had it.

Dinner was had at Micelli’s in Universal City. Micellis is famous for its use of aspiring actors and singers as waiters. Through the course of the night every waiter must sing multiple times while accompanied by live piano and drums.

oh – and the food is pretty good too – I highly recommend their pizza.

blink

blink

I finally started reading Blink yesterday. After Byron recommended it to me way back in April of 2006 I tucked it away in the back of my mind to check out some day. As I was describing the content of the book to a watermelon fan in conversation recently it hit me that since the book is all about the validity of split second judgements – to be true to Malcolm Gladwell‘s message I ought to just stop reading after the first 30 pages and make my judgement of the book.

So – without reading more than 15% of the book here is my review of Blink (and done in the style of Blink):

Gladwell is an entertaining author. Many examples of why we should trust our instincts lead one to think that over-thinking may be more disastrous than not thinking.

Bronson – Faces of Death

Bronson – Faces of Death

On Thursday after work I met up with Kent to hike as we usually do. We had chose Griffith Park as the source for our inspiration. We parked at the lot on Fern Dell Drive and proceeded up the road. When we came to the intersection that lead up to the Observatory we headed west up a closed road. We saw the road curve around the side of the mountain and then under the Hollywood sign. We decided to take one of the downhill trails before the Hollywood sign, thinking it would curve back around the bottom and lead us back to Fern Dell. As we descended and talked to other hikers we realized we were wrong – and the trail may not lead back to Fern Dell at all. We began running down the hill as Fern Dell closes at sunset – and we guessed we may have 45 minutes at the most to return.

As we descended (via running) into the lush ravine I spotted a trail turning to the left. We both assumed (hoped) that this trail bent around the mountain and back to our autos. After a few more minutes of running I made a sharp left as I saw another trail that had been drilled through the mountain. We assumed this was a shortcut and we were saved. It turns out what we had found was the infamous Griffith park bat caves or “Bronson caves.”

Heading left towards tunnel. In the background you can see the type of cliffs we were climbing later.

Walking into the “cave.”

After walking through the tunnel we discovered that we were trapped. We looked up and simply saw solid rock on all sides. We knew that we were heading in the direction of our cars though, so I took one look at the cliff face and determined climbing over it was the best route. As we cautiously climbed up the steep walls crows circled overhead and strange (coyote?) sounds echoed. The crows would occasionally set down in front of us and peck at the rocks to cause minor rock slides. Whether they knew this was to our detriment is up for debate.

It should be noted at this point that in the last two weeks there have been two separate (successful) rescues of lost hikers in Griffith Park – one from exactly this spot! Thoughts of this and also tumbling down the cliffs ran through my head as we ascended the cliffs. Once at the top we hesitated. Kent had taken a slightly different route and ended up a few paces ahead of me. From his new view of the last 15 feet he was unsure about the foot/handholds in the wall. The previously rock lined walls turned to earth for the last 15 feet – and the angle was sometimes greater than 90 degrees. After a few minutes of calculations we decided to turn around and climb back down the hill – after all – we still couldn’t even tell what was on the other side of the cliff – perhaps terrain even more dangerous. At first I thought going back down would be even tougher – but I decided to get low to the ground and slide on my ass out of danger – this provided maximum friction (five points on the ground feet, hands and butt – and another two – my back and head if I had to stop myself from sliding out of control). Sliding was a problem going up and down as the rocks in Bronson Caves are constantly falling apart due to their partial sandstone make. At one point on the descent I hit a particularly sandy section and ended up with my feet and hands covered up by the gravel before I could stop sliding. The vertical angles of the cliff face I would estimate range from 50 to 80 degrees on various parts of the hill. Even on the lower “safer” parts of the hill we had done a few double-takes on the way up because of the angle, amount of loose rock and lack of solid objects (tree stumps, weeds, rock) to grab onto.

Eventually though we slid our way out of danger and were no worse for ware except for that our clothing was dirtied up and the sun had already sunk below the crest of yonder hills. We went back from the caves to the original trail and carried on running. After a few minutes we saw another trail curving to the left (east). We took this one as well and found it to be much less perilous than climbing up cliffs – but very overgrown. At many points the weeds rose well above our heads and almost completely obscured the trail. Then, after going maybe 200 yards into the hillside the trail vanished completely. Our spirits broken again we ran back through the brush to the original trail. At the “original” trail we decided to head backwards yet again and go back to the point in the road where we’d originally made the fateful left turn. As we walked along what turned out to be Bronson Street I began calling friends to get park ranger phone numbers. We knew we’d not get lost (Bronson trial is well covered by hikers, runners, dog owners, etc. so we knew we’d eventually come out to a city street), but we didn’t want our cars towed back at Fern Dell where there had been an enormous multitude of warning signs about that very predicament. The one number we managed to get though turned out to be a non-working number.

Along the way we asked a couple how far we were from Fern Dell, the bespectacled chubby man (picture the Simpson’s comic book store guy with Ponce DE-Leon facial hair and glasses) simply chuckled at us and suggested we run out to Franklin and take a cab or a bus to Fern Dell because we were that far away at this point.

We ran.

I think Kent may have wanted to run the entire way – but I had other ideas. I scanned and scanned looking for a good target. Finally – when we’d actually ran outside of the park and were continuing down the residential part of Bronson I saw a Volvo station wagon leaving the park gates behind us. I started to wave the car down – at first the driver thought I was saying “go Lakers” as she had a Lakers flag on the car. She at first kept driving – but looked back and stopped when I my waving was a little more frantic. I recognized the woman as she drove by; we had passed her going up the trail as we were running down about an hour earlier. I quickly explained our situation and thankfully (mercifully) she agreed to drive us to our automobiles. As we drove over we realized just how far we were and how hopeless our situation would have been if we’d just tried running back. It took a good twenty minutes to get to our parking lot.

After being dropped off safe and sound we reflected on the events that had just transpired and decided to go eat. Kent tasked me with finding a place to eat even though I’m not familiar with the Hollywood area. I followed Franklin to Gower and turned south. Eventually we came to a strange little shopping center called Gower Gulch with a large “Japanese and Thai Restaurant” called Amagi Sushi. Turns out half the restaurant is a run-down Karaoke bar as well. Kent had the Pad Thai (ordered without peanuts after a few worried looks from me) and I had the Teriyaki Vegetable Bowl which turned out to be quite delicious. We also split two Asahi beers. As we left the Karaoke action had just been started – with one woman up on stage and only the bartender looking on.

I’ve tried to create a rough approximation of our route with Google Maps – but it can’t be exact because much of where we were was through roads and trails that do not allow driving. The basic bits are the same though – point A is the parking lot and point B is where we were picked up just outside of the park. All in all we probably covered about six miles on foot – and it would have been another four or five if we’d tried to hoof it back to our cars.

this will not work

this will not work

I stumbled upon this last night.

Why does PETA not realize that if we no longer need to keep real animals to slaughter – we won’t keep the real animals at all? Farmers aren’t going to keep hundreds of cows around…for fun… Lab grown meat will decrease the animal population even more… so PETA, would you rather have animals born and raised for our consumption – or just not born?

Actually, this works perfectly since the new demand for ethanol is leading to a corn crop scarcity… we can just use the empty animal fields to grow more corn! Thank you PETA, now I can eat a steak AND drive an SUV without feeling guilty!

6.0

6.0

I think these scores are pretty good for an art major that hadn’t taken a standardized test in over four years. I would have liked to see a better result on the quantitative – but they only gave me two geometry questions – and that was my best “subject.” I probably could have scored higher on verbal as well if I’d been able to spend more time on that – but I knew math was my weakest point so I spent maybe 85% of my study time on it. I only did one practice essay and ended up getting a perfect score on the writing assessment – so no problems with the written word. …of course…when one has a blog that usually goes without saying…or…WITH saying… a lot of saying! Someone who likes watermelons wants me to take the test again because I’d get a higher score if I had more time to study … but 620 is good enough to get into a good school if UCLA isn’t interested (which is likely as most of their applicants already have other graduate degrees and GMAT scores in the 700s). A large part of me would rather just get started at a good school than wait and apply again at the best school (UCLA is ranked #1 in MBA programs at the moment).