Monday, December 8, 2008

Thanksgiving Adventure!

With Utah ranking as my favorite US state for the outdoors, I couldn't very well turn down an offer to backpack Zion over Thanksgiving! After a tortilla-roll filled day on Thursday, we woke up Friday morning in one of the most aptly named National Parks this great land offers: ZION!

My friend Rip is an excellent photographer and has posted some pictures from the trip, and I'm stealing some here. You'll find more stunning photos on his website: or click the photos.

Highlight photos on this post, email or call me for stories.

Sunrise alarm clock. Can't be beaten! Here's my pad on the edge of the west rim, facing east (South and North Guardian Angels just off the photo to the right). Favorite moment of the trip, thanks Rip. (And yes, wine bottles backpack well. And I'm not kidding.)
Gotta love those natural curves! I haven't found the link between me and rocks, but I feel its probably stronger in some of us. They make me melt.

Just gettin' some good use out of Rip's smoked glasses:
The crew on the hike down from the rim (and I do mean down). Clockwise from top left: Rip, Katie, Nick, Lauren, Conor, Caroline, Holden.

Footsoak in the frigid water on the canyon floor was sublime!

And I know it's been a while so here are TWO places not to fall down!

This one's a bit of a vertigo display. (But probably won't look like it on such a tiny computer screen!)

(Yep, the end of the video is Angel's Landing, from the back.)

Monday morning was time for some jumping pictures! Style points for synchronization & also for symmetry:

Excellent picture of a burned AND frozen log. Oh, and that whole lighting thing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The month of Movember

Did you know:
  • Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in the US! (1 in 6 men get it every year!)
  • African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease and should have regular annual testing starting at 45. All other men should commence testing at 50.
  • Prostate cancer is 90% curable if detected and treated early.

During Movember (the month formerly known as November) I'm growing a Moustache. That's right I'm bringing the Mo back because I'm passionate about tackling men's health issues and being proactive in the fight against prostate cancer.

This being my first year taking part in Movember, I'm starting out slow. A fresh shave on Nov. 1st, and staying inside the lines when I shave. Those of you who remember my haircut senior year in school know that I'm liable to it up a notch next year.

Eastern and Western Moustache Champions:

Separate but equal? You decide.

Also, guys, we still have 2 weeks left in Movember, so if you haven't started, no worries. Just keep a clean face, but leave the stach-region of your choosing!

Join the International movement for Movember!

Movember - Sponsor Me

To donate to my Mo you can click this link and donate using your credit card or PayPal account

All donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

The money raised by Movember is donated directly to the Prostate Cancer Foundation which will use the funds for high-impact research to find better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer.

From the organizers: For those that have supported Movember in previous years you can be very proud of the impact it has had and can check out the details at:
[ Fundraising Outcomes ]

Monday, October 20, 2008

Plug In America Fundraiser

Recently I had the chance to show my support for Plug In America, an electric vehicle advocacy group, by attending their first fundraiser event! Along with the company of some friends, I enjoyed an evening with green food (and drinks!), typically perfect SoCal weather, a DJ spinning some of my favorite tunes, encouraging words from other electric vehicle enthusiasts, as well as the vehicles themselves!

An all electric Porsche Speedster by Rev. Gadget & his Left Coast Electric. Wins points for being electric, obvious bonus points for having style. The only way you would know it's electric by looking is the lack of tailpipes!

Posing with the preproduction prototype of the Chevrolet Volt. While I'm glad that the big boys in Detroit are lifting an eyebrow at the potentially huge market of electric vehicles, I'm not holding out for any stellar designs from them. At the party I was able to get a look at the Volt up close and after a few minutes realized a showstopper: GM's designers don't understand the freedom that they have when it comes to an electric vehicle. As you can tell from the photo above, the Volt looks like any other car on the road. It's clear they aren't taking a clean sheet of paper to approach this opportunity. Rather, they're just looking at it as a second chance to appear green (environmentally) -- and not looking to make any green (money). It's not particularly aerodynamic, it has a completely ornamental milled aluminum 'radiator' in front, and the interior wasn't inspiring.

Honestly, if Detroit is going to actually produce it, I'm all for it. Help saturate the market with EVs, drive the cost of batteries down, and change how people think in the good-ole' gas-guzzlin' USA. But don't count on my order, I'm already happily commited to the Aptera. :-)

See more of my night in Stefano's video:
Holden acts as an Electric Vehicle Chauffeur at 1 minute, 50 seconds.
And I give AC Propulsion's eBox vehicle a bit of a test drive at 34 minutes:


Thanks for all media on this page go to Stef, find more pictures and a great write-up paragraph at his site.

PS. Californians: Vote "NO" on Prop 10. Despite it's name ('California Renewable Energy and Clean Alternative Fuel Act'), don't be tricked! Read more here. I can't find any credible group that is supporting this ruse.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

I'm a bit late to the game, but slipping in under the buzzer -- my post on Blog Action Day is posted on October 15th. The idea of this special "day" is to raise awareness on one issue each year -- last year was the environment. The result is a concerted dialogue all over the web with different viewpoints and suggestions.

I'm contributing by listing two ways that I believe can help curtail the effects of poverty. Though I believe helping people necessarily means giving (our time, money, belongings, or emotions), I see two distinct options:
Conditional and Unconditional giving.

Conditional Giving
This a term that I'm using to describe a gift that can be repaid. Some people in this world know how to help themselves, but lack the means to carry out their ambitions and plans. Microlending is a form of microfinance that helps these 'pre-bankable' people (meaning they lack collateral, steady employment, and credit history) by extending loans. In a ranking and report on the subject, Forbes magazine wrote: "Billionaires, global leaders and Nobel Prize recipients are hailing these direct loans to uncollateralised would-be entrepreneurs as a way to lift them out of poverty while creating self-sustaining businesses."

My microlender of choice is - Loans that Change Lives: Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.

By the numbers, Kiva shows ~1,000 defaulted loans, ~25,000 paid in full, and ~38,000 active loans.

Unconditional Giving
There are people who simply don't currently have the means to lift themselves out of poverty - because of a lack of education, health, nutrition, the list goes on. For these people, the best we can do is give unconditionally.
The organization I'd like to highlight is GuluWalk. To paraphrase Wikipedia: GuluWalk is an initiative which highlights the plight of Acholi children in northern Uganda who used to trek up to 20 kilometers each night to town centers for fear of being maimed, raped, abducted or even killed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel paramilitary group that has been operating in northern Uganda since 1987. An estimated 20,000 children have been abducted by the LRA for use as soldiers and sex slaves.


Due to the long history with this crisis, it's easy to forget the gravity of the situation. Peace talks have broken down, and the LRA is active as ever: two weeks ago they kidnapped two classrooms of 5th and 6th graders.

To financially assist Kiva, click here.
To financially assist GuluWalk, click here.

There's no time like the present.

Here's a 5 minute segment on Kiva by PBS:

Straight Talk on my future cars.

Thanks to a friend, I found out that the normally quite harmless folks over at AutoBlogGreen have been carefully predicting my every move! The latest offence coming just a few days ago regarding my future automobile ownership (link). The screenshot below proclaims "Holden to get Chevy Volt"!

I can only counter with "No, I'm not." And proceed to tell you that as I've noted before on this blog, the Aptera is the next car for me! My deposit is down, and my waiting list number issued! (You can reserve an all electric version, or the plug-in hybrid version for a fully refundable $500 over here.)

The winds of change are blowing a new car into town. And I plan on driving one! :-)

Okay, honestly, I do realize that the Chevy Volt article is about the manufacturer's intentions to try to sell the Volt down under. But what I am saying is that even with my name slapped on the side of this particular electric vehicle, I will not be buying one. From what I saw at the Plug In America fundraiser recently (more on that to come), Chevy is missing the boat on this whole electric vehicle opportunity. More to come.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Good is where it's at.

Just thought I'd do a quick Friday post to keep folks excited about the world.

If you haven't heard of Good Magazine, I advise you to get over to their website and sign up for a subscription. Right now they have a (Radiohead-esque) promotion where you can pay whatever you like. All of the money that you decide to give goes to the charity of your choice (magazines are paid for by advertising, not subscription fees didn't you know?)

Good is a magazine for people who give a damn. I've described it to friends as a combination of art, politics, emerging technologies and general things that are "good" about this world of ours. Oh, and each issue has a central theme including a wicked quantitative graphical section.

Graphic with how much power is output by the sun vs. humans' power consumption.

So get on over, donate a few bucks ($20?) and support a great publication that will enrich your life!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Yep, back in LA

Honestly, I think that everyone who might read this knows that I'm back in Los Angeles. And it's pretty friggin' nice. Let's see what I've been up to:

Supporting weddings on the beach.

Cruisin' around town in the drop top. The old haunts.
Cruising through the mountains and beaches in the ole' roadster.
Driving up the coast to see the family in the Bay Area:
Hangin' at the pool all-american style: PB&J sandwiches, pretzels, cola, lifeguards, etc..

Seein' some tall ships and cruising around San Pedro Harbor:
Office antics as they always were:
Pylon races in the office. (Before things degenerate into these dogfights. (Where I'm always victorious!)

A better video of the planes is here.

And the road races that continue to bring us together at lunchtime:

And beach parties with friends -- more photos to come:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Singapore - covered in 1 minute

After my trip to India drew to a close, I found myself in Singpore for a 1 day layover (by choice). Being quite tired of feeling like a tourist everywhere I went, I elected to skip the Changi Museum (about the Japanese occupation / POW history), and the Tiger Beer brewery. The one touristy thing I wanted to do was visit the Sinapore Zoo, for their famous Night Safari, but the rainy weather had other ideas.

I really liked wandering around the city and getting a feel for it. The cleanliness, after 4 months in India was a breath of fresh air (pun intended). I loved seeing all the signs and books in all 4 official languages as well as all the construction going on.
Of special note in the construction scene was all the effort going into something that I really wish I could stay for: the first ever in the world, night time Formula 1 grand prix race! This will occur on 28 September, and all sorts of new technology are in play, most notably the lighting system. I've read it as being many times brighter than football stadium lighting, and a lot of thought went into the design. Throughout the city you can see railings, 20 feet above the street level, only ever on one side of the street (to avoid glare if it's rainy). Here you can see the railing on the far side of the road, a bridge downtown that the cars will cross each direction on one lap. The Singapore merlion (shown above) is directly behind me when taking this picture:

Overall, Singapore was awesome. With it's proximity to the rest of Asia, and accessible outdoors of Malaysia right there, I'd definitely consider living there for a bit. I loved how it had a fantastic public transportation system. The people were very helpful and polite; they seemed to care about others as well as their environment.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mumbai & trekking

Sometimes you just know that you're in the big city again because there are beautiful buildings:

And then other times you just know that you're in the big city again because there's ridiculous stuff like McDelivery.
If you didn't watch this commercial that I posted, I recommend you do now.

Sometimes you just want to tell people they're taking work too seriously, like this rail worker as the train comes down the line:

After a few days banging around Mumbai with excellent sights, shopping, and eating, we took off for a suburb to meet some Indian friends who would take us on a trek for a few days! It was wonderful to hike through the lush Maharashtra hills and valleys during the monsoon! Because it was warm out, we just enjoyed getting wet, knowing we'd dry later.

We made it to a small village where we'd end up staying two nights, sleeping on a dirt floor house, eating great home cooked meals (Thank you so much, Amarutha!), and generally enjoying life!

Such a simple setup, yet such complex flavors! Breakfast, lunch, dinner, multiple teatimes, Amaruta rules on the fire oven/stove setup!

Red onion storage behind me. Good thing I love onions. :-)

I was really surprised to see solar panels in this mountain village.

We went for a hike to a big valley edge and watched some gushing, huge waterfalls:

Then took a hike to a temple carved into the side of some caves. These aren't the famous Ajanta caves, but are only a few hours away. Similar origins; these are buried a day's hike from a road, so are less traveled (and thus less maintained, unfortunately).

All in all, Ashish and Amaruta, our friends who hosted us and took us on the trek made our stay perfect. We had a blast laughing and relaxing with you!

Of course no coverage of Mumbai would be complete without mention of their commuter trains. Here's what one looks like 1.5 hours from the city center, at 11pm at night. Joy oh joy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Goa, India

Another blast-from-the-past post, I'm getting around to writing about the trip through Goa -- we came up on a train from Alleppey (you remember the serene backwaters post?), through Kochin to the south end of the Goan beach paradise, Palolem. The train ride up the coast was wonderfully lush and I could hardly count 10 seconds without seeing either 1) a young boys' cricket game, 2) men standing around talking in their kotis, or 3) women walking with something on their heads. Very lush with acres and acres of palm and banana trees.

Arriving in Palolem, we quickly realized that the Goa we were to experience was not that of most tourists. The beach cove of Palolem can accommodate a thousand or two tourists during high season, but while we were there we only saw about 6 other tourists! We had a bit of rain, but it was still another, great, quiet nook of India.

We had the beaches to ourselves, as long as we shared with a few stray cows and dogs. It was blissful.
After relaxing in Palolem for a bit we headed up to Panaji, the old port city of Goa. This was settled by the Portuguese, and it's still quite evident in the style of the city, from the crumbling architecture to the street signs.