Udon

I ended 2016 with a promise to increase usage of this blog and to provide updates on my many hobbies. With a mix of trying to create some meaningful changes to my life and lots of lethargy I have failed to update this blog since.

Falling into the publisher’s dilemma: going too long without an update means that the next thing to be posted must be of sufficient quality to compensate for the gap. The gap grows to the point where no post would be enough to fill weeks of neglect.

Breaking this tread I give everyone dinner I be made and my first attempt at making one of my favorite noodles; Udon at home.

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Podcasts

One of the podcasts I have enjoyed this year encouraged all their listeners to review the podcast on iTunes before the New Year promising prizes for a few of us if they reach more than 1000 reviews. As this is a comedy podcast with a lot of inside jokes this is the review I wrote.

Adam and Ben are so short sighted, some of us viewers have some manner of intelligence and respect (though not much as we still listen to this swill) and are not in the pocket of big Apple. I fell into Adam and Ben’s fatal trap and installed iTunes onto my PC just to write this review, but I am savvy, I will pull all the isolinear chips from this computer so Apple can’t Jake all my Data.

However the podcast (when downloaded from respectable sources) is great. Every week I look forward to finding out what’s next in store for the star ship Entrepreneur; will Diana find that there is more to life than chocolate, will Geordi crack under pressure and be relieved by Argyle, will Data take over the enterprise again and appoint Spot his number one, will Riker confess his true love to the leaning wall, and will Picard admit that his favorite crusher is the boy Wesley?

All this and more may (probably won’t) be answered on the Greatest Generation.

As a listener of podcasts I am often asked what podcasts I listen to and which I would recommend. After finishing up the silly iTunes review its probably more helpful to do a full overview of all the podcast to which I subscribe.

The Greatest Generation

The podcast for which the above review applies is The Greatest Generation, a Star Trek podcast by two guys who are somewhat ashamed to have a Star Trek podcast. The host Adam and Ben seem to have started the podcast almost on a dare, unsure if they would even release the first set of recordings, and even more unsure if anyone would listen if the did. I am very glad they released their bashful first recordings and continue to release podcasts twice a week as it is often the highlight of my Mondays and Wednesdays.

The podcast follows Star Trek the Next Generation, the hosts watch episodes of the iconic television show before the podcast then talk the listeners through the story points and highlights of the episode. What makes the podcast amusing is their bizarre sense of humor.

The show has lots of jokes that build on previous episodes so I would very much recommend going back and listening from the beginning. While I often skip the first season of the Next Generation when re-watching it, some of those terrible episodes make the best podcasts.

Hello Internet

Another favorite podcast is Hello Internet, the podcast by YouTubers CGPGrey and Brady Haron. This podcast is the pinnacle of the ‘two dudes talking’ genre and has no specific topics or subjects. Popular conversation points usually focus around Grey’s peculiarities, plane crashes, Audrey the chihuahua, follow-up from previous episodes, paper-cuts, vexillology, emoji, and occasionally YouTube. The subject of conversation really has little effect on the quality of the podcast as most of my enjoyment comes from the excellent chemistry shared between the hosts. Grey and Brady often see the world in completely opposite ways, vet they are still extremely good friends.

For a little taste of the podcast, some of the best bits have been put together and animated by listener Dovsky.

Hello Internet is not uploaded on a regular schedule, which makes it a pleasant surprise when there is a new episode sitting in my queue.

Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project

Still Untitled is the podcast of Adam Savage the former Mythbuster, though when the podcast was started he was still busting myths. The show was started as part of a collaboration between the Discovery channel stars and Tested.com a technology review site. The podcast is usually half hour period for hosts Adam, Will, and Norm to catch up and talk about Adam’s adventures, current events or to go in depth on a movie or book.

The podcast is released every Tuesday and is conveniently the length of my morning commute. There is a large backlog of episodes, but the discussions are very topical and there is no need to go back and listen to the back episodes to follow the current conversations.

Cortex

Cortex is another podcast with YouTuber CGPGrey, this time with Mike Hurley as his co-host. Similar to Hello Internet this falls neatly into the two dudes talking genre, though this podcast is focused a little more on matters of work, productivity and how to run a podcasting empire. Grey goes much more in depth about workflows he uses to force his lazy side to be productive, and Mike shares his learnings on what its like to run Relay.fm podcast network.

Also like Hello Internet this show does not have a regular schedule, but it is released with more consistency with Mike trying to get podcasts out a normal intervals.

This is Only a Test

This is Only a Test is Tested.com’s weekly technology podcast. Norm from this Still Untitled is often present along with other rotating hosts (usually Jeremy and Kishore). This podcast is very topical as the popular culture, technology and virtual reality news from the past week are the main topics of discussion.

The podcast publishes every thursday and I find it entertaining as well as a good way to stay informed about what is going on in the tech world.

Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics is the show produced by Stephen Dubner for public radio in podcast form. Its a well produced show that  looks at different topics each episode in depth and usually from the perspective of economics, even if its a topic not normally associated with economics. The shows are always interesting and often insightful.

Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me is another show produced for public radio released as a podcast. Wait Wait is a game show hosted by Peter Sagal focusing on the more ridiculous pieces of the last week’s news. Wait Wait is an entertaining way to take in the highlights of a week’s news.

 

I have many other podcasts that are sitting in my queue that I have not yet had the chance to  listen to, as keeping up with 7 podcast is a lot of audio to listen to every week. Next I get the time RadioLab, Lore, Planet Money, and Welcome to Night Vale are waiting for me.

A C note

As 2016 draws to a close, I’ve taking a bit of time to look through the two and a half years of memories that this blog has chronicled. Though I’ve only averaged a few posts a month its is nice to have an easy means of going back to see what I was doing months and years ago. Seeing the starting points of new hobbies and obsessions. Getting my first VR headset, building my 3D printer, and taking up amateur photography.

According to the WordPress stats this is the 100th post to this blog. That surpasses my previous best by 87 posts. I’ve got several attempts archived, old blogs from middle and high school, filled with embarrassing posts and even some really bad poetry. For posterity sake I’m rather glad that all those blogs failed and it’s this one that has kept my interest, as its the highest quality blog I’ve written to date.

While 2016 was a pretty crappy year, one can hope that 2017 will be better. While I cannot fix the problems of the world I can try to increase and improve the content of this blog, and possible make my life more interesting at the same time.

shit

2016 is like this bench: covered in shit

 

Mountain Goats

Our last day in Zion we booked an adventure to go into the wilderness for some rock climbing and canyoneering.  Climbing in the morning until our arms were to sore to go up the rock walls, we then headed into the canyons, learn how to rapel and squeeze through tight places. After the adventure there was just enough sunlight left to back into Zion proper and do the easy Emerald Pools trail getting one last look at the beautiful landscape before we leave the next morning.

Through the Narrows

Second day in Zion we got up early to rent some dry pants and wet shoes, to keep up warm and grippy for Zion’s most unique hike. The Narrows is a ‘trail’ which is really just hiking up the Virgin river with 1000 ft rock walls on either side. At any time of the year this is a difficult and dangerous hike, as its mostly wading through freezing cold water hopping to avoid a flash flood. In October the waters are low and the chance of a flood is near zero, the journey through the river was still fantastic.

We wrapped our feet in insulating neoprene socks, to insulate our feet even tough the will be submerged in cold water for a few hours. We put on our dry pants to keep our legs dry and warm. We wrapped up phones and cameras, hopping to keep them dry and unharmed. Grabbed our walking sticks and headed out.

The Narrows is unlike any hike, there was no mountain to climb and no overlook points to reach. The trail was almost completely flat and there was less to see the deeper you go. The ‘trail’ goes for 20 miles, but the farther bits need a permit. I recommend going as far as you can as its spectacular. We were sharing the river with many other people at the beginning, but miles upstream people turn around or stop and when we reached Wall Street we almost were alone.

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Fording the river

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Not very narrow yet

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Jonny, surrounded by virgins (river)

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Knee deep in fresh mountain spring water

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No more banks to stand on

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Looks like its getting deeper

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Emerging from the waters

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Action shot with our dry pants and wet shoes

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Continuing up the river

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I can’t count the number of time we crossed this river

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Jonny is getting a little far ahead

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We were not the only ones in the water

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Jonny, be careful the water is deep

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Ohh no, they are drowning

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Feeling like hobbits with our walking sticks

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Still some dry land to walk on

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This canyon has been in the making for millions of years

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The walls are getting so tall its hard to find sunlight

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A little grotto off to the side

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Climbing over rocks

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Trying out a long exposure

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Stay very still guys

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Its get difficult to capture how deep this canyon is

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Jonathan waiting for us slow pokes

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Justin seem to be avoiding the easier route

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Stop for lunch and more long exposures

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Its like painting with water colors

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A big rock, and a decent place to turn around

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A small bank for a little rest

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Hanging gardens with a little water fall

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The neon shoes that kept us from slipping on the wet rocks

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A sign of civilization

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The river is widening up again

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We can now go from bank to bank again

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Group photo

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My favorite of the long exposures

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The waters are very low, but some places still have a bit of current

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Justin’s in the deep end

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Angle’s Landing

Our first full day in Zion we get an early start on one of the parks most iconic hikes. Angel’s landing, climbing up dozens of switchbacks to walk over a narrow ridge with cliffs on both side hanging on to an anchored chain for dear life. A challenging hike, but the view of the valley as the sun came up was completely worth it.

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Up so early the moon is still out

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Angle’s … Angel’s landing, our goal

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Morning starts seeping into Zion valley

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Zion valley

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The trail taken so far, only a third of the way up

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The elusive Justin, camouflaged in its native environment

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Little tiny arches

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Up the wiggles

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Most of Zion still hasn’t seen the dawn

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To Scout Lookout

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Cliffs on both sides

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Time for the Chain

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Follow the Chain

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The trail is getting a little bit more difficult

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Still a lot farther to go

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Jonathan and Angel’s Landing

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Zion still waking up

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Cliffs to the left, cliffs to the right

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Geocache? Three digit lock shouldn’t take more than an hour to crack

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Keep going up and don’t look down

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Seriously, don’t look down

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The Chain is life

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Almost above the valley

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Keep climbing

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As we reach the end of the trail, the beginning starts getting sun

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The top and Angel’s landing

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A beautiful view on both sides

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Following the Cairns

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Hello Zion

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Looks like a new friend

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More people making their way up

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Justin with the valley

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An oasis in the desert

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A quick pic

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Last look before heading down

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Ready to descend

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The trail down

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Where is the elevator?

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The chain is slowly cutting through the mountain

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Without the chain the trail just blends in

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Heading back through Refrigerator Valley

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The bus stop is still miles away

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Walters Wiggle

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A local lizard

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Angel’s Landing seen the the banks of the Virgin River

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Spending the rest of the day at the pool with a view

A day with Bryce

The fifth day of the trip consisted mostly of driving in the car, going from Moab in the east of Utah to Zion in the west. We broke up the long drive by stopping in Bryce Canyon National  Park for a bit of hiking.

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Departing early from Moab 

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Those mountains contain retired Uranium mines

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Ohh look, some cows

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This fellow is very close to the road

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Oh my there is a heard of them

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These are clearly British cows

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This is actually average rush hour traffic in Utah (bonus: real cowboys!)

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A little rural village

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We arrive at Bryce Canyon

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Unlike most hikes we will be starting at the top and going down

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These columns of rock are called “hoodoos”

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Our destination is down there somewhere

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Glamour shot

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Getting in among  the hoodoos

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A little tiny arch

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Sunscreen is important

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A part in the rock reveals the canyon below

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This tree is holding on for dear life

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We’re hitting the switchbacks

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Getting further into the canyon

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Lazy people, I mean horse riders

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The TUNNEL!

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This hoodoo is called Queen Victoria

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Rangers will remind you not feed the animals, no matter how cute

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Five planes flying overhead

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Some rock bridges

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The texture created by water running down the rocks is fascinating 

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The only way out is up

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That is a lot of switchbacks

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Justin for scale

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Back at the top

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Looking down at the Queens Garden

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The last look out over the canyon

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Made it to Zion as the sun is setting

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Its amazing how much greener the terrain is here

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Looking out into Zion as the sun sets

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Google’s attempt at a wide angle shot (with several stitching errors)

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To get to our motel we have to go under the mountains

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One last picture of the valley

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Driving through Zion

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Wow