Saturday, August 19, 2006

Totalled by Muir

One of my friends was really enthusiastic about the two of us trying to summit Mt. Rainier this year. I was a little hesitant and committed only to doing some regular hiking with him in preparation for a summit next year.

Last week we decided to do a hike this weekend to Camp Muir, the basecamp for Rainier.

I picked him up early this morning and we were on the road by about 5:40am. We got there a little after 8am and hit the trail at 8:40am. Within an hour we had completed the first 2.2 miles and about 2000ft of elevation gain. This was on a very well-maintained trail that is actually mostly paved. The next 2 miles and 2000+ ft of elevation gain through snow took us 3 hours (3.5 for me).

The sun was painfully bright. In my mind snow is always associated with extreme cold. So I was dressed totally inappropriately. It was HOT. The high altitude (in combination with the heat/sun) caused my temples to throb and I got a slight feeling of nausea that intensified as we went up. The last hour of the ascent was quite gruelling for me because every time I got out of breath, I would also feel nausea. Coming down was somewhat fun because we would do controlled slide/steps down the snow (also known as Glissading). However, my nausea still persisted so I'd have to stop every few minutes - even though I wanted badly to get out of the sun.

It was a full 8 hour day for me; I got back to the parking lot around 5pm. In order to summit Rainier, RMI recommends that you be able to hike to Camp Muir in between 3-5 hours, with a full load on your back.

4.5 hours with a day pack is pretty pathetic but it's a checkpoint at least. At least now I know where I am vs. where I need to be in terms of my fitness level.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Amazon apparently launched Omakase recently. It's an adsense-like program that shows the user products based not only on the page-content (ala adsense) but also based on the user's preferences.

While this doesn't help sell services, it's an amazing way to sell products. Amazon knows products and it knows consumers. I know often-times on the amazon page, the products shown to you are in fact items from your own wishlist - that's probably because people are more likely to buy products for which they've already expressed interest.

Now, if I'm browsing around the web, amazon already knows what I've got in my wishlist, what I've been looking at on amazon, what "similar" people have been looking at, what they've bought, and how the site I'm looking at now might influence what I want to buy.

That's an aweful lot of information to put together. Although the current algorithms may not exploit all of this information my guess is that, as they iterate on Omakase, the recommendations will only get better.

Now if only you could ASIN-ize services...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

never work again...

Last weekend we were at Mother's Bistro (great place!) in Portland, OR and had a very cheerful server. The table next to us must've made some comment to him about how cheerful he was... his response:
"Find a job you love, and you'll never work again"

Though I'd read that before, it was great to hear someone say that about their own job.

Monday, August 14, 2006


This weekend, Nate, Sindya, and I to drove down to Hood River, OR to take windsurfing lessons. By the time we got in, it was about 2-ish. After signing waivers and swiping credit cards, we roamed around the city to looks for sunglasses for Sindya, and sunglass retainers for Nate.

The city is awesome. It reminded us of a ski town, except for water sports. There were windsurfing, kite surfing, and kayaking shops everywhere.

The windsurfing class was a lot of fun; I was able to get the hang of the basics after about 90 minutes - which left 30 minutes of confident surfing at the end :) We were in a lagoon, shielded from the strong winds. We later checked out the windsurfers on the Columbia river and man - they were flying by at absurd speeds.

Afterwards, we drove to Husum, WA to take a look at a white water kayak that I'd been eyeing on craigslist. After trying out a roll in the pool, I decided to buy it.

That evening we camped at viento state park. Since there weren't too many bugs in the air, we were able to sleep with just the rain-fly and no tent (it was cool enough at night that sleeping outside would've been a little too cold) - which was great because I could see the stars as I fell asleep and everytime I woke up.

We had planned on windsurfing some more on Sunday morning (exploiting the 1 hour free rentals that we got with the class) but there was absolutely no wind. Instead we drove into Portland and had a humungous brunch at Mother's. The line there has been too long the past few times so I was glad to make it in.

Luckily Sindya agreed to drive for the first hour after we left Portland; I was still digesting my food. The drive back was terrible. We left at 2:45 and didn't get back home until almost 8pm.

But now I have a white water kayak.