Dog and Elk meet – dog lives!

For those how don’t know, Elk are big, much bigger than your standard Colorado Deer. They also have the added advantage of those pointy things sticking out of their head. Last winter my Siberian found one while out we were out on a run, it was standing up eating and pooch, making his usual ruff ruff noise, trotted up to it, for a closer look. Elk was not happy and put his head down and did a little “keep your distance” charge towards dog. Dog, backed off, Elk dropped head and continued grazing until dog made ruff sound and attempted to get closer again, then the whole dance happen again. This went on for quite a while. I kept my distance too as I’ve heard Elk can get a little pissy sometimes. Eventually Elk trots off down the hillside and dog follows but just for a bit so we all lived happily ever after.

But in below similar beasts can be seen but the outcome is a little more cozy and, it was shot just up the road in Loveland, Co. Enjoy and I’ll probably feature this on the next installment of the “Internet Video Show” (for the impatient among you forward to 1:39 to see some real animal on animal love)

Mixed up letters – Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy

I just came across this on the Interwebs, it actually turned out to be an urban ledgend buy it appears to work at least for shorter words, fascinating none the less!

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is Continue reading Mixed up letters – Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy

Mom’s new car – Hyundai Atos (AKA, The little pregnant roller skate)

Ladies and Germs, I give the the Hyundai Atos “a city car” my mom just bought. This is what R69000 ($10000) gets you in sunny South Africa. No Airbags, no ABS and stability control, forget it! I I inquired about the Euro Ncap saftey rating and my mom just laughed at me – South African’s don’t need none of those safety nannies!! My mom added that she’s been driving on some of the most dangerous roads in the world for the past 30 years in an old BMW320i sans airbags and ABS! Yeah, BooYah! BooooooYahhhh go South Africa!

It gets great gas milage and a car salesman at the dealership said that someone who bought the car was involved in a really bad wreck and supposedly lived to tell the tale so word on the street is that it’s a safe car. Compared to my Audi: it has a 1000cc engine (I have a 4200cc engine in my ride) her car has 63hp, I have 300hp. I get a shitty 15 mpg around town and 24 mpg on the highway if I’m lucky, she’ll get 50 mpg!! Different strokes I guess and it’s too bad Subaru’s are so dam expensive over there. I am still amazed that they can get away with selling any new car without airbags and antilock brakes, guess the lobbyists in the US are good for something.

Upgrading Drupal modules – Caveats and lessons learnt

I just breathed a sigh of relief and patted myself on the back for being so dumb and yet oh so smart!

I blindly installed a whole lot of updated Drupal modules, captcha-5.x-2.1 being one of them. I normally am logged into my website all the time but today I logged out and was unable to log back in. Going to www.mywebsite.com/user returned a blank page, as did www.mywebsite.com/user/1. So my lovely website appear to be hosed. A spark of genius struck and I went through all my new modules and one by one disabled each of the 7 or so modules I had upgraded and saw it I could log back in. In the past I wised up and put all add on modules in a directory under modules call contrib. I simply went to conrib directory and did a mv mouduleName to moduleName.bak – this disables the module without going through the admin section of the website. I did this for each updated module and went back and reloaded the blank page to see if it fixed the problem.

Ok, so I shouldn’t of done a mass update without testing, my bad, but for the novice user this would be a show stopper. So novice user and somewhat more advanced user (me) wise up and learn from my mistakes and lessons:

  • Always keep your add on modules in a separate directory, in my cast I call it contrib
  • Install new modules one at a time and test – this includes logging in and out
  • If you encounter problems and they surface after updating a module or two you can always temporarily rename a module’s directory to disable it

Now be careful out there!

Bush Limo breaks down in Rome

Poor George, on a recent scenic jaunt through Rome his limo broke down and he was forced to get out and jump into another one. Silliness aside, did you know that the Cadillac DTS he drives is not really a caddy but a vehicle based on a GM truck chassis with a specialized engine, built by a company now owned by the Brit defense contractor BAE. So have a chuckle and learn an interesting fact for use at your next cocktail party (George Bush’s Limo is a British assembled truck that is prone to breaking downs when in Rome).

The video is quite long so to jump to the good bit move the slider on the bottom of the video to the right so it read 5:00 on the little time display on the very right of the video. (that’s 5 minutes remaining).

The Economic Argument for Taking a Gap Year: Controlling the Educational Debt for Students and Parents 

It is no surprise that the cost of attending college in the US has become an absurdly expensive proposition for students and parents, across the socioeconomic spectrum. This fact alone, is forcing millions of American families to re-evaluate how this investment is made.
The question which is in the back of most parent’s minds as right of passage to college approaches is: ‘Is my student really ready to start college. Does he or she have the confidence, emotional maturity, and clarification of interests, necessary to succeed in college?’ Unfortuneately, statistics from the US Department of Education indicate parents continue to send their sons and daughters lockstep from highschool to college in record numbers, and an alarming percentage of them drop out before sophmore year. (Statistics from the US Department of Education indicate that about 30% of high school seniors entering four year colleges will not return for sophmore year. That is about 1.5 million students) Many other students who stay in college, struggle to complete their chosen major graduating in five or more years instead of four. You may be asking, as I do whenever I read these statistics, ‘why don’t parents give more consideration to whether, or not, there child is ready to succeed in college, and to consider delaying entrance, and considering alternative options?’

Part of the reason is cultural – many parents send their students off to college each fall, because there are great expectations in the US culture that after graduating from highschool, the next step is getting accepted to college, getting a degree, and starting a career. Stepping off the fast track, to pursue alternative options, are confusing and frightening to many parents today. In other words, parents and students are under tremendous societal pressure to ‘keep up up with the Jones’. The result is that many parents are  making investments in higher education for their their kids before they are ready for college, incurring debts that will burden both for years to come.
It is arguable, that their are severe financial consequences for parents and their students, if they go to college, but are not ready, and leave before sophmore year. A year at a state university or college can run $10,000 to $20,000 in tuition and fees alone, not to mention living expenses, which could be an additional $15,000, or more. Private schools, well I will leave the math to you, if you fall in this category. , who may, in hindsight, wished they had planned a productive gap year, instead of spending their freshman year, possibly adrift, without acasdemic or career focus.
An investment made in a well structured gap year, prior to entering college, could have saved thousands of dollars for these students and their families. By spending time gaining maturity and perspective through a combination of challenging experiences outside the traditional classroom, students become far better prepared for the rigors of college, living away from family and friends for the first time, and managing to succeed rather than survive freshman year. 
Read “The Projected Cost of a College Education” under Links to Articles. Also, consider the fact that according to the American College Testing Service (ATS) less than half the students entering traditional four-year colleges today will have graduated after 5 years. Often the extra year is the result of changing majors. Changing majors is frequently the result of not having clearly defined interests and career goals. In today’s dollars an extra two semesters at a public college could cost you $20,000, or even $40,000 for a private college or university. The cost of a well structured gap year is far less money.

Canyoneering Trip Report, Spring 2007 in Escalante, Utah

Below are my perosnal notes on a Canyoneering trip I took to the Escalante region in southern Utah during the Memorial day weekend 2007. Feel free to add comment at the end and contact me personally if you want to know more about the outdoor group I belong Chaos Boulder. We normally takes a jaunt down to the slot canyons in southern Utah in the Spring and Fall each year. On this trip I was sans my biatch Dan so I rode with AJ. We left Boulder at about 4pm getting there at around 1.30am. I slept like a babe, no tent and had a strange dream about bugs eating me. When I woke in the morning I noticed that I’d slept on top of a fire ant’s nest – luckily they’d been sleeping too.

Thursday

The first day Rom, AJ, myself, Brian and Ben decided to warm up with an X canyon, Egypt 4. X canyons are the most physically demanding of all canyons, even Chop Slot is only rated an R. We all started off in good spirits, after all it was only about 2km long or so – how bad could it really be. Most of us who’ve done canyons before have stemmed – you basically climb over an obstacle or two for short distances using your arms and legs to get you up and over. You’re blazing down a canyon and you hit a log jam, or water, up you go on the side of the canyon walls like bloody Spiderman using your prefered method of motion wether it be bum on one wall and both legs on the other or in my case, a leg on hand on each wall. But as it turned out, E4 what only ONE BIG STEM – FROM START TO FINISH! I swear we touch ground twice and that was for 20 or 30 feet then back up on the walls like a friggin tree monkey! The bloody stems were 40ft off the ground in some cases, so no falling or even thinking about falling. Now I’ve got nothing against stemming but 1.5km of it is a little much to say the least. I don’t really do any upper body workout so after about an hour of stemming I was nearly at my wits end. My climbing technique is also shite, I’ve been bouldering a couple of time and my arms are ready to fall off after about half an hour or so. So when you add one LONG stem to bad technique, no arm or knee pads and, I had a heavyish pack too, you can see where we’re heading with this story. After about 3 hours I was ready to abort this goddam mission impossible, I wanted out, bad! We luckily came upon a climb-out spot before the end and I manged to start a small mutiny too as Rom and Brian joined me with the AJ and Ben soldiering on for what turned out to be only another 500 or so meters. I was well and truly whipped and small note to self and trip planners: let’s not do an X canyon on the first day again!

After the Egypt 4 incident we hiked back to the cars and drove to the start of the hike down to what would be our home until Monday morning. Another suggestions: Let’s not have to hike 3 miles down a sandy rocky slop after doing an X canyon! When I finally got to camp, a spot where fence creek joins the Escalante river I was well and truly knackerd out!

Friday

We got up at a somewhat godly hour and left at 8am to do Neon. I’ve done Neon before so I knew what to expect but we decided to drop in further up the canyon to add as little spice to our sorte. I was glad they did, it made Neon a little more challenging but it was still a pleasant experience non the less. The upper part even had some deep water to swim in the , something missing from the normal Neon route. Some of us decided to trap ourselves in a huge keeper pothole to see if we could get out. AJ filled the little rope bag thingy with rocks and tossed it over the lip of the pothole and together with a few packs that also had ropes attached to them we were all able to climb out. Getting out of the keeper pothole rang reinforced what I’d read on a canyoneering website: you can’t just be a seasoned outdoorsman or climber you have to be an experienced canyoneer. When you face a huge log jam or get stuck in a keeper pothole it’s all about technique and I’m happy to say these lads knew their stuff or I’d still be in that bloody keeper pothole today! We also ran into some huge black crows that were somehow not able to fly out of the canyon. The poor little things were so sad, ruffled feathers, wings all cockeyed and they were so exhausted they even let us pick them up and carry them for a distance. We surmised that they’d flow down from about to eat a tasy morsel of a poor creature that had met it’s maker down there and on trying to fly out had injured their wings due to the narrowness of the canyon bottom. Even if we could of carried them for a while I’m sure there would not of been any way to rap with them so I presume they didn’t make it but let’s hope one got out and lived to tell the tale!

Sat

I went with the less aggressive group as I didn’t fance bivying on some sand bank for the night and getting bitten by 1000 deer flies and bugs just so we’d be close to a slot. The sane non aggressive group took a little walk down to a canyon called Ringtail. It was lovely and cool in the mouth and we hung out there for a while. We didn’t end up getting very far down it due to slippery narrow walls that we didn’t feel like climbing up. In the afternoon I lay out on the rive bank with my Ipod and rocked to Queen, boy can that Freddie Mercury rock the house.

Sunday

The nutjob more aggressive group took on Chop slot, getting up an ungodly hour while I had a nice “lie in” till 8 am. This slot claimed two lives back in 2002 so it’s notoriety added to the excitement and the loss is a lesson to us all – respect, respect them canyons! I was tempted to do Chop but I really don’t like the cold and when I’m good and ready I’ll do it, really I will! (Good and ready means: 7mm full wetsuit, knee and elbow pads and a willingness to get up early)

I spend the day tooling around with my GPS and a map AJ had given me, retracing the other more aggressive groups steps for the fist 2km or so then broke off the trail and attempted to get as close to the last rap as I could. My plan was to look down into the grim section as it is called and hurl insults at the aggressive group. It turned out that Chop Slot was so deep 200-400ft I couldn’t see jack shite, never mind get near to the last rap but I could hear them quite clearly from my birds eye view above but as loud as as I could shout they didn’t hear me at all. It was fun to spend some quality alone time and I had fun with the GPS. I made little marks in the sand on my way there, marking them with the GPS and then trying to locate them on the way back. The group actually finished Chop in record time, about 1.30 pm. Most of the group headed back to camp when done but some ass clowns more brave members of the sortie (Ben and Tim) decided to go back through the GRIM section and do it all over again, yeah boys, BOOYAH! – bloody well done!!! They certainly kicked Chops ass but in the future the canyon will get more log jammed and it’ll be a much more difficult I suspect so revel in your time chaps, revel!

Monday

Up early, we embarked on the standard “grit your teeth and carry your heavy heavy pack back to the cars” hike that we did last year. I donned my headphones and with Freddie raging on the ipod I forgot about the pain and the heat and I was up on top in no time without much drama. We had planned to rap off some waterfalls (these guys are relentless), but we ended up at Karva Coffee house. The food was not really up to par compared to times before (my potatoes were undercooked) and I discovered a nice little rock in my dish that I almost bit down on but thank god I was chewing lightly or I ‘d of sued them for a new toof. I felt it my duty to tell our waitress about my find but on taking the little rock from me she merely looked at it with a slightly puzzled expression on her face and walked off without saying a word. I wasn’t in a fighting mood but looking back at it now I should of said more. The ride back was uneventful and we got back into Gunbarrel at about 10.30pm

Conclusion

Overall a very enjoyable trip, AJ’s trips seem to be more intense than Rom’s so don’t know if I’d go on another, they always seem to go, go, go but one can always choose to skip a day or two. The mosquitos and deer flies were relentless, probably the least enjoyable part of the trip but next time I may be forced to don some Deet. I’m going to post a related article on beginner canyoneering and will link to it here when it’s done. Add your comment below: