Monthly Archives: April 2010


This past weekend, Tara and I ventured down to Moab with friends.  We left Saturday morning and arrived at Arches National Park around 12:30 and spent the day seeing, you guessed it, arches.  First on the agenda was the Delicate Arch, a must see, especially if you live in Utah.  After all, it’s on the friggin’ license plate.

So we took the moderately easy, but more challenging than I’d expected for a “National Park Hike”, 3 mile round trip hike to see the famous geographic feature.  And it was indeed spectacular.  Far larger than I’d expected from the pictures.  It was sooo crowded though.  We had to wait in line to take pictures under it.

Here’s the group on the way there:



My attempted artistic angle:



Here’s what Google Earth says it looks like:

Delicate Arch


The rest of the group headed back to Salt Lake that evening, but Tara and I stayed at  KOA  that night and returned to the park to do more hiking on Sunday.  We did the Devil’s Garden hike, and I highly recommend it.  It is a 7.6 mile loop that takes you to 8 arches or so while undulating through a maze of the sandstone fins that arches are made from.  Best of all, it’s away from the crowds.


Awesomeness (waiting for the pod racers to go by):



We stopped for a snack of Cliff/Luna bars just on the other side of this arch.  Couldn’t have found a better place, despite the fact that my lens cap almost rolled off the edge.  Another hiker was prepared to lay out for it though, had it not come to rest in a small shrub first.  What a dude.  Look at that framing!



A shot of the “fins” I mentioned earlier:



Struggling to hold on for dear life…kidding, there’s no cliff there.  Don’t diss my hat, Rachel—it works wonders on a sunny desert hike.


Goodbye Snowboard, Hello Mountain Bike!


Although I had a slight twinge of sadness as I unstrapped and walked off the resort after the last run of the season a few weeks ago, such emotions did not last long as I packed the board in the back of the closet and pulled out the mountain bike.  After a quick tune-up, I was itching to ride, and the asphalt around town just wasn’t cutting it.  As luck would have it, several of my colleagues had the same cravings, and we’ve since gotten our wives’ stamp of approval and made mountain biking after work once a week part of our schedules.

This past Tuesday was our second time out, and we ventured out to Squaw Peak, which is not far from work.  It was supposed to be an all downhill, shuttle ride, but the stupid road was closed due to non-existent snow, so we ended up having to climb 1300 feet before enjoying the blissful descent.  It just made it all the more awesome though, even if the trail was a bit rocky…

Here we are at the top:

squaw pk 2



The Procerus Technologies MTB Team:  Brad, Steve, Me

squaw pk 1



And here’s the epic air that I got off a jump (or perhaps not):

A Hike to the Hot Pots

This past Saturday, Tara and I ventured down to Spanish Fork Canyon to take advantage of the perfect weather with a hike to the 5th Water Hot Springs known as the “Hot Pots” by the locals.  It took us longer than we’d have liked to get to the trailhead.  This was partially do to me not getting the directions before we departed and only having a general idea of where we were going (I’m used to Tara doing this step by now), but man instincts kicked in, and I got us there (even if we did have to double back a few miles).

Swimsuits under our clothes, (“It’s lucky my boobs are small enough that I can get away with this,” Tara said.), we set out on the 2.5 mile hike up the canyon to the hot pots.  The terrain is particularly striking, with red rock on the more sunny side and lush evergreens on the shadier side.  The warm water of the stream (from the hot springs) allows for an abundance of growth along its banks.  Thick green moss blankets boulders that protrude from the stream while hairs of algae sway two and fro in the current as though they’re at a Journey concert sans the lighters. 

That’s enough National Geographic talk—I just wanted to see if I could do it.  So we made good time and made it to the Hot Pots in under an hour.  We had heard that nude bathers frequent the pools, so we were slightly apprehensive about what we might find.  In the first pool, we observed a couple that we can only hope had been dry humping, and were eternally grateful that the other pools were upstream.

Despite the shaky first impression, the rest of the people we saw enjoying the hot pots that day were not exhibiting disgusting amounts of affection and were all fully covered (as much as a bathing suit covers, that is).

We decided to venture a little further up the trail beyond the hot pots before getting in, and were almost immediately glad we had, because not even a quarter mile further up the trail was a spectacular waterfall.




I had not felt like lugging the SLR that day, and only had my little point-and-shoot, and as a result, could not get a sweet, silky waterfall shot.  Blast!  Oh well, it was too sunny anyway…

I did get a timer shot of the two of us, which turned out OK, even if we did completely dwarf the magnitude of the falls…



See that ledge between the upper and lower falls?  We climbed down to that!  It was completely Tara’s idea!  What?  You don’t believe me?  Fine.  Anyway, it’s not as bad as it may look, but it did involve some all-fours scrambling, and was totally worth it.

We then returned to the Hot Pots, and found a vacant one to dry hump in.  Kidding! It was pretty awesome.  The water was a perfect temperature, and although it smelled strongly of sulfur, neither of us minded because it meant we could both fart freely with out the other noticing.




I had a girl take this picture of us.  I think our smiles look pretty genuine despite the fact that her ill-behaved sopping wet dogs were clamoring all over our clothes.



A Support Group for Amanda Schultz Blogs

On March 31st of this year, Amanda Shultz announced the creation of yet another blog.  Based on my estimates, this brought the total number of Schultz blogs up to 6.  Two of Schultz’s closest friends and her mother each confirmed this for me, but also informed me that there is rumor of an up-and-coming 7th blog that is supposed to be book club themed.  I have listed below each blog in order of their creation.

ilovescrubs – Xanga – 3/8/2005
The first blog, started in the height of the Xanga  craze at Midland Lutheran College, freshman year.  Schultz held out for most of the year before starting ilovescrubs because she did not want to copy everyone else.  ilovescrubs serves as the posting place for generic thoughts and emotions that don’t fit in any of the other blogs.  It continues to be the most frequently updated.

buckdietforme – Xanga – 5/10/2005
Started shortly after Schultz had become heavily addicted to blogging, this blog chronicles her accomplishments in exercise, dieting, being healthy, and weight loss in general.  The name is derived from fellow student and friend of Schultz at Midland, Sally Buck, who successfully lost a fair amount of weight doing a diet that was eventually dubbed “The Buck Diet” by Shultz and friends.

Private Xanga(s) –Xanga – circa 2005 – present
Being an active journaler, Schultz was naturally attracted to the idea of transitioning the record of her most private thoughts from traditional notebooks to digital form in a private blog.  She has openly admitted to having at least one private Xanga, but the number could be much greater.

Jake and Amanda’s Pop Culture Blog – Tumblr – 10/2009
A joint venture between Schultz and friend, Jake Rundle, this blog discusses everything pop culture related, but tends to have an emphasis on TV.

PC Gamer Girl ("Raynor must survive!") – Tumblr – 1/10
Possibly the most random and out-out-of-nowhere Schultz blog, this one is devoted to her experiences in learning PC gaming, particularly StarCraft.

Single Plus Cat – Tumblr – 3/10
The newest Shultz blog comes shortly after she got a pet cat and documents the adventure of single living with a small feline friend as a self-proclaimed Crazy Cat Lady (CCL).

I generated a few plots to illustrate the severity of Schutz’s blogging addiction.  (The plots assume the existence of at least 3 private blogs)



With the ever increasing number of Shultz blogs, I became concerned that there might be a fair amount of animosity between the blogs spawning from some getting more attention than others, and a few being forgotten altogether.  Thus, I decided to invite them all over for dinner and a chance to clear the air a bit.

To my delight, all of the blogs were able to attend, save the private xangas for whom I did not have contact information.  And so on the night of the event, one by one, the blogs began to arrive.  Ilovescrubs showed up first, followed closely by Singlepluscat, then all the others, with PCgamergirl arriving last.  I set out some drinks and appetizers, and allowed the blogs to mingle.

I have to admit, it was awkward.  The atmosphere closely likened that of a high school dance.  Xanga blogs sort of congregated on one side of the room with Tumblrs on the other.  But even amongst their divisions, each blog seemed loathed to talk to the others.  In an effort to break the silence, Ilovescrubs voiced a complaint about the new homepage format of Xanga.  The other’s chuckled politely and agreed, but the conversation quickly ceased.

I decided to step in and try some icebreakers, which had moderate success in getting the guests warmed up to each other, but it wasn’t until I happened to crack a joke about not inviting Facebook that I managed to inadvertently bring the room together.  Everyone laughed and soon everyone was taking stabs at Facebook.  It quickly became evident that the entire room shared a general disdain for the website, and Schultz’s on-again, off-again relationship with it.  Ilovescrubs recalled when Facebook had first started up, and knowing Schultz’s addictive tendencies to anything web related, especially checking up on friends via status updates and photo postings, had feared that it would be the end of their relationship.  All of the blogs had been neglected at one time or another as Schultz chose to post new macro and candid photos to facebook rather than writing a blog post.  Everyone took a turn venting frustration about such.  They were each optimistic about Schultz’s recent decision to give up Facebook for Lent, and possibly forever, save a once-a-week check.

And then Buckdietforme chimed in recalling Schultz’s brief relationship with “that skank, Myspace”, and the others erupted in such laughter that they had tears streaming down their faces.  Then, in the most touching of moments, worthy of being posted on another blog elsewhere in the interwebs, the blogs began to apologize to one another.  Ilovescrubs admitted that she admires what Buckdietforme had done in getting readers everywhere excited about living healthy, and conceded that she loves the format of SinglePlusCat.  JakeandAmandasPopCultureBlog told Ilovescrubs that she is very fortunate to have such a committed relationship with Schultz.  Buckdietforme offered to give PCGamergirl some of her deodorant.  SinglePlusCat said she probably has some spare gillette razors laying around.

And so we concluded the night happily, with hugs had all around.  Everyone agreed that we should do it again some time.  SinglePlusCat suggested inviting MarriagePlusFood and possibly LauraKPeters

A few days later I received a thank you note in the form of a comment:

Photography Meets Engineering

Even before I knew what an aperture is or how shutter speed works, I hated the harsh, washed-out look that a built-in-flash gives.  I would opt to turn it off entirely, even in darker settings.  This, of course, resulted in many a blurred photo.  I am currently reading The Digital Photography Book, Vol. I, by Scott Kelby, which an outstanding book packed full of useful tips and tricks including how to get a softer flash.  The key, is to either use a flash diffuser, or angle your external flash upward or to the side such that the flash bounces off a white wall or ceiling before falling all nice, soft, and diffused onto the subject .  I’m too cheap to buy an external flash, so I thought I’d do some experimenting on my own.

I figured I could get the desired effect by simply using a mirror to reflect the built-in flash up to the ceiling.  This worked unbelievably well.

Here’s a picture of Tara with the regular flash.


And here’s the result of holding her vanity mirror in front of the flash to bounce it up to the ceiling.


Crazy, huh?

Thus, I set out to construct a fixture that I could put on the camera that would achieve the same effect as above, but without me having to carry a vanity mirror around in my camera bag, and all-the-while accepting that I could just as easily go buy a flash diffuser for my built-in flash for $13 (but not nearly as fun).

P4010008  P4010006

Here’s what I came up with.  I basically just covered one side of a piece of card-stock with metallic tape, and rubber-banded it to the lens.  (And yes, I used a series of mirrors to capture these images of the camera)

It works OK.  I’m definitely not going to go shoot a wedding with the contraption (not that I would shoot any wedding with any amount of equipment).  The angle has to be just perfect, so it’s a lot of trial and error and positioning the contraption just right.

One of the better ones.  Tara was a good sport about me taking tons of pictures of her while she played flash games under the condition that I not post them all to facebook.


The angle was off on this one, but came out kind of neat anyway.


One of my favorites.  Partially because of that pose, but mostly because of how the light falls out of the upper right corner of the image.


So yeah, fun stuff.  Next time I’ll have to try and make some goofy lens filters. 


Like any man, I love boobs.  Thus when Tara and I were in the audiovisual section at the library the other night, and she came bouncing up to me excitedly holding up Breasts: A Documentary, I downshifted from little boy to sophisticated scholar as fast as I could, and in the most mature voice I could muster, said: “Oh, that looks interesting”.  Thanks to those quick actions and baggy pants, we checked out the film and watched it together.  It was 50 minutes of heaven.  More specifically, it was 50 minutes of topless women talking about their breasts.

I’m admittedly embellishing the story slightly.  No we didn’t check out an episode of “Girls with Low Self Esteem”—this was a tastefully done informative film about “all things mammarian” (EW’s words, not mine, although I wish I could take credit).  It was indeed very interesting.  Flat chested women discuss feeling slightly left out.  Saggy women adopt senses of humor and demonstrate the “Pencil Test”.  Fake-breasted women talk about implants.  And then there’s the breast cancer survivors, one of which who bravely shows the camera the flat spot where her left breast once was.  It was eye-opening.

And so little boy, “sophisticated scholar”, and Tara were all pleased with the film.  It is funny and thought provoking.  I could keep paraphrasing the reviews on the back of the DVD, but  you should just check it out.