Christmas in WashMo, STL, and So IL 
Tuesday, January 6, 2015, 10:09 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I spent a week in the midwest with the family at Christmas time. I bought dad a road bike in ABQ for xmas, so it was a little bit of a give away when he came to pick me up, but Mom and I jokingly played it off like I had brought a bunch of dirty laundry back home to be washed. The other challenge was getting the bike box in the Prius, which required my mom to cram in the back seat half on top of the bike.

We sent to Washington, MO first and re convened the family for a nice lunch and dinner. The following day we went back to St. Louis for Christmas on my Mom's side. I managed to fix my uncle's beloved bubbles game by replacing some fuses (first time it's worked in 6 years). I think that was the best gift he's ever received for christmas in two decades :) In the morning, we did gifts with Jack, Rachel, and Jeremy Skyping on my iPad from New Orleans. Worked remarkably well.

After that we headed back to Washington to do Christmas on my Dad's side. Party of the festivities were to build Grandma (and Jolie the dog) a fenced in yard. The following day Rebecca drove down from STL to visit with me. WE reminisced about the good old days in Boulder with the NREL crew. After that came the photo day - Anne Elise and I managed to win the scavenger hunt by hitting the local thrift shop. The theme for this year was 'selfie', which I proudly won with the shot of me with ice frozen to my beard and hair. Anne Elise won 'best of year' with a shot of a lake in Guatemala.




For the last couple days of the trip, I went to my childhood home in southern Illinois. The family made the 26th annual hike (bushwhack) to Bald Knob Cross. I've done the hike every winter since I was 5 years old - so it was good to keep the tradition alive. Dad and Mom's HS friend and family from Manhattan stayed the next night and it was fun to see them catching up on the last 25 years. On my way out of town, the Johnsons, Pepples, and other Johnsons gathered in STL for a final brunch. It was nice to see Cara again - she seems to be happy and busy with work in Oakland. I'm sure I'll be out that way to see her again soon.






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A-basin Thanksgiving 
Sunday, November 23, 2014, 09:16 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
Briana, Josiah, and Dave drove up to Taos in Briana's new 1996 Aerostar van. We stopped off for a day of skiing in Taos (opening day!), but only the frontside groomers were open *yawn*. We drove to Frisco that Thanksgiving night, and after a slight 1 hour detour finally arrived at Frisco. We had to beg the cook at the only last open restaurant in town to serve us past 9pm. But it worked out and we had a very nice Italian dinner without a single scrap of Turkey to be found.

The next couple days, we skied Arapahoe Basin with Jen, Kirk, Chris and Harmony. (Bonnie did show up for the last day as well.) The steeps and back bowls weren't open, but they allowed a few mid-day hikes to powder stashes. Briana, Josiah, and I were blown away by a nice tree run that hadn't seen anyone else yet. The skiing was good to get the feeling back in my legs for the season and the Frisco food was exquisite: we had wonderful Tibetan and Bavarian dinners the following evenings. Plus the local bar had air hockey and I like air hockey.





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Japan  
Saturday, November 15, 2014, 10:01 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
Spent a couple days in Koriyama and a week in Kyoto as part of the IRED conference.

Photos are here.





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Amsterdam 
Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 10:21 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I attended the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition in Amsterdam to present some of my PV research. Overall it was good to meet up with my European counterparts and discuss the latest progress. I had been to Amsterdam back in 2006, but this time I was even more taken by the beauty of the city and all the bike use. The highlight for me was taking a boat ride with Henk, AIT, and Sandia people. We had about 1" clearance under the bridges so we had to walk the boat under many of them. We cruised the canals out past the main train station, and as night descended on the city, we stopped off at a local pub for food and a beer.








I stayed on an extra day to visit the laboratories of DNV GL in Arnhem. On the Saturday, Jack and I headed out to Naarden, an incredible fortified city. We got breakfast at the market where everyone was getting flowers, vegetables, cheese, etc. for the week. The small market was very peaceful and the country was looking spectacular because the rains had finally stopped. Jack and I rode our bikes the ~20 miles back into the city along a well-maintained set of trails. I'd love to go back at some point and explore them more thoroughly.








My research being presented in the Keynote Speech.


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Lake Powell Houseboat 
Saturday, September 6, 2014, 10:00 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
A large crew headed up to Lake Powell for 3 days on a houseboat. I wasn't a big part of the planning, but the trip went off without a hitch (aside from the time that I crashed the 53' boat into the refueling dock...)

On night one we got gear and people organized on the boat at Wahweap Marina. In the morning, we got our chart briefing and then headed for open water. The water level is clearly down about 80' from the high point and we had to use a dredged channel to get past Antelope "Island". We camped that night at a great spot around 37°6'42.11"N 111°12'22.85"W. Kaela, Laurel, and It was Jeff's Bday weekend, so we threw him a party and the ladies smeared him with cake.

On Saturday, we cruised out to Rainbow Bridge National Monument and did the short hike up to the arch. It was monstrous and the crew was in high spirits. That night we headed back toward home and found a great hidden beach at 37°6'29.98"N 111°14'11.71"W, where we built a fire on the hill and threw another party.

The last day we worked our way toward Wahweap, but managed to take a break on Antelope Island to setup a slip-n-slide and hold a flotilla party in the sun - I burned nicely from that.










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Korea - Aug 2014 
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 09:01 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I went back to Changwon to visit KERI as part of our 3 year collaborative research project on advanced inverters for the smart grid. Dr. Ahn was gracious as always to host me, and we continued our discussions about the similarities and differences between the US and Korea, desert and forests, rich and poor, etc.





After the visit, I headed to Seoul for the Energy Tech Insight meeting. The changing of the guard at Gyeongbokgung was great because they would beat this huge drum and it would echo around the entire palace. I could definitely imagine that happening a thousand years ago.







After my talk at COEX in Gangnam, I joined my other colleague for dinner in Myeong-dong and then we took the tram up to the Namsan tower. It was worth the trip since the views of Seoul were so incredible.





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Mt Rainier 2014 
Thursday, May 29, 2014, 09:13 PM - Trips
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Mike and I attempted to climb Mt. Rainier for the 2nd time in early May. Like the last time, we had a major snowstorm load the upper slopes just before arriving, which led to avalanches (or at least avalanche concerns).

After a 4 hour delay, we got into Seattle on Thursday night (Fri morning) at 2am. We got the rental car and crashed at Laura's place. The next day was 50+ mph winds on the mountain and blizzard conditions, so we opted to stay in rainy Seattle. I walked Pearcy in the morning and we got some good breakfast and Rainier Beer for a post-climb celebration. To get firsthand beta of conditions, we went to Queen Anne to talk with Carrie (a mountain guide friend with Alpine Ascents International) who reported "nuclear winter" conditions on Thurs when she got off the mountain.

Saturday, we headed out at dawn and made it to the mountain in heavy snows at about 8am. The rangers told us there were very few people (just us) getting climbing permits and no one had summitted in a week. With the wind loading and fresh snow, we knew it wasn't shaping up to be good for us. We got our 60-65 lbs packs and harnesses on and began up the mountain. After about 500-1000 ft, we had broken through the cloud layer and could see the peak. It was glorious and intimidating - 8000' separated us from the top. The skinning was slow going but we shed layers and worked our way up the Muir Snowfield slowly. We reached Camp Muir with the usual blister stops around 4pm. Set up the tent. Cooked. Watched sunset. Temp dropped. Brushed teeth. Slept.

Alarm went off at 3am. The winds had been howling since we went to bed. Sounded like sustained 20 mph winds with 40+ mph gusts. It didn't seem like it was going to be our day with the wind loading. Mike said he didn't want to go and I said I was 50/50. Mike got out to move the backpacks to a more secure location and noticed 4 headlights crossing the cowlitz glacier. I changed my mind and said we should go for it, but Mike vetoed the idea. So in the end, we took the NWAC guide's advice and sat things out for a day. After breakfast and a relaxing morning. Mike and I roped up and crossed the cowlitz to check on the Ingraham's conditions. We ditched our skis at the base of Cathedral Gap climb and went up. Up top, we post-holed to our waist for 1/3 mile, cursed some guides on skis, and took a look at the route. Disappointment Cleaver looked scary--even a small slide would take out a climbing team and send them off cliff and into crevasses. The Ingraham Direct, while chewed up, looked like the safer route. We thought about hitting it at midnight and trying to make our 2pm flight on Monday, while we went back to Camp Muir. We skied across the cowlitz roped up, and thought about options. I wanted to see Laura, who was getting back to town that night, and I didn't want to pay $500 to change flights so I was in favor of bailing given that the conditions were probably still dangerous. Only one team of 2 summitted that day and it took them 14+ hours to make the journey. We had skis so it would have been quicker, but there was still no real hope of making the flight. Mike was less convinced, but once he saw the Sunday crowds at Camp Muir (dozens of people!), he wanted to get out of there too. We tore down camp and popped our skis on and headed down. Aside from sticky, wet snow at the bottom, it went well. I make the trip with a 50+ lb pack without a single crash. Mike had more trouble with the splitboard but we still made good time. We went back to Seattle a little dejected and sad, but in good health and ready to give it another shot in a year or two.

MOVIE!









More photos are here.
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Southern India for a Week 
Saturday, March 1, 2014, 09:29 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I went to India for a week for a smart grid workshop and conference. Additional photos from the trip are here.

I arrived in Bangalore after 24 hours of travel and easily caught a cab to the hotel. It was 5am so there was not heckling or issues with crowds at the airport. I was expecting Kathmandu-like conditions, but found the roads better maintained and (surprise!) functioning traffic lights. I couldn't check in until noon, so I took a walk through the neighboring park. It was Sunday and there was a 5K/10K run/walk with thousands of people participating. Definitely a cool scene since they shut down the roads through the park for the run. I cruised by Vidhana Soudha, home to the Secretariat, but they were closed on Sundays so I only got to check it out from the outside.

I spent most of the day walking around getting oriented to the new country and appreciating the abject poverty that most people were living in here. Between my business obligations, I would take strolls around town or catch autorickshaws to different tourist spots around town.

The first time I caught a tuk-tuk, it was a wild experience: firstly the driver told me to not worry about starting the meter and he would make the drive for INR50. Then, despite my protest, he stops the tuk-tuk, says he's going to buy me a beer, and rushes into a store. He gives me a beer and explains its not a problem in India to drink when you're in the back of a tuk-tuk. I'm suspicious of the drink and the scam that I'm about to be subjected to, but I indulge on the way to the Bangalore Palace. The Palace was nothing particularly spectacular, but I could appreciate the Maharaja-era, all the photos of elephants and slain tigers, and the british influence throughout their occupation from 1858-1947. After touring the Palace, I noticed there was some loud music next door and ask my suspicious tuk-tuk driver to head over that way. He didn't do a very good job but I eventually got him in the general direction (thank goodness for the iPhone GPS), but the music had stopped. He then brought me to his buddy's shop with "very cheap prices and no tax." Ok, so that's the scam - fairly benign. I breathed easier and headed into to shop. It was very nice with all the usual tourist stuff: scarves, clothes, carvings, etc. I had read on the flight that it's highly appropriate to wear a tie at business meetings in India. I didn't bring one (unusual for me) because it seems to be going out of style in the US and I didn't feel it was necessary until reading that in my India Culture book. So I bartered for a tie, getting it for about half of their asking price. Who knows if I got completely ripped off, but it was only about $10, so I figured I couldn't go too wrong. Next the driver took me to his other friend's shop. They had cheaper prices so I picked up a few small carved elephants. Then the driver took me to another shop, and I told him that I was done shopping. He refused to leave until I went inside. So I walked in, told the owner I didn't have any money, and walked back out. I informed the driver I wanted to go to ISKCON, the Radha Krishna Temple (a Hare Krishna thing that I still know very little about). He refused to drive all the way out there, so I got out of the tuk-tuk and didn't give him a rupee for the effort. I'm sure he'll get his kickbacks from his shop friends.

ISKCON was an interesting experience. I had to take off my shoes, wash my feet, refrain for photographing anything, and then hike up through three levels of what seemed to be hindu shrines to a main room where people threw themselves to the ground in the presence of colorful deity carvings. I was clueless, but one thing did know was I shouldn't eat the food they gave out to all the visitors. I headed back to to the hotel with a legitimate tuk-tuk that ran the meter. I paid him the INR250 gladly for the hassle-free ride.

The smart grid meetings went well and we got a wonderful tour of the Central Power Research Institute. At the end of the formal meetings, all the members of the workshop went outside an planted a tree. It was a very sweet ceremony - and completely unexpected by everyone.

On one of my longer walks I ended up finding a washing area from the polluted runoff of Ulsoor Lake. There was at least an acre of laundry drying on clotheslines. I couldn't believe all the manual labor in India: streets are swept clean by women during the day while traffic whizzed past and lawns were trimmed by hand with snippers. And the smells were so potent! Some of those smells were terrible (open sewage running down the streets) and some of the smells were wonderful (all the yummy curries). The food was to die for. Naan, curries, tikka masalas, tandoori, and so much more were fed to us and I ate way too much on this trip.

The roads were a constant flow of cars, busses, autorickshaws, bikes and other interesting modes of wheeled transport. The horns would plast 24/7.

Some street-level action:




View from my hotel room:


Laundry drying in Bangalore:


CPRI high voltage lab:


The highlight of the trip was a train trip to Mysore on my free Saturday before returning to the US. It was a disaster to get the tickets and the train was about an hour late, but once I was on the train, it was so much fun! I got to hang out the door for 3 hours, snapping photos of the countryside. With the wind in my hair and the tingle of danger, I was completely stoked. When I got to Mysore, I found a driver to take me around for the day for INR500 ($8). First, we went up Chamundi Hill to Sri Chamundeswari Temple. I awkwardly gave a a few hundred rupees to a hindu monk who dotted my forehead with a Tilak third eye. Next we visited Nandi (Shiva’s bull), and headed back to town where I met my friend from the conference, Robby, who was another Georgia Tech alum. We took the long tour of the spectacular Mysore Palace. It had ornate carvings, monstrous rooms with stained glass ceilings, armory, and gallery looking out on the palace grounds. After that tour Robby and I got a few dosas, at a place where they were served on wet banana leaves. I was certain I would be getting on a plane in the morning sick, but I didn't end up with Delhi belly. Robby and I had a quick beer by the train station and I jumped on the train back to Bangalore while the sunset lit up the sky.

Train ride to Mysore:






Mysore:



Train ride back to Bangalore:

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San Diego Sail and Taos Ski 
Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 08:35 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
Weds, I headed out to San Diego for SunSpec meetings but was able to talk Jason into a quick sail before the meet-n-greet. We headed out to see for a little ways and cleared Pt. Loma. We could easily see Mexico and thought about making a run for it, but turned around after 1.5 hours. Wind was good and the swell was decent ~4 trough to crest.

After the meeting I stayed over at Jason's. We grabbed a pizza at the local Best Pizza restaurant and I met his SD friends.




Jason strapping his cane to his commuter bike.


Saturday, I headed up to Taos with Mike and Allison. We crashed at Tim's pad and threw a little party with the ski crew. In the morning, we were surprised by a huge AMRC contingent (Justin, Leigh, Lance, Andy, Zack, BobbyJo) in the parking lot and the usual suspects were up too (Chris, Briana, Josiah, Marc, Megan, etc.) Overall a great day: I skied What Chute 3-5 with J&L&A and found a few powder stashes; gave Allison a little lesson; got a beer at the Bav; and ended the day on Fabian with Briana and Dave. Fun times in the mountains.




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Sailing St. Vincent and the Grenadines 
Thursday, January 23, 2014, 08:54 PM - Trips
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Photos of the trip are here. The video is here.




Photos of the trip are here. The video is here.

Saturday - I GS raced in Red River, drove back to ABQ, packed up the last equipment, and jumped on the 11:59pm flight to JFK. I had a couple hour layover in Bridgetown, Barbados on the way to St. Vincent, so I took a walk around the airport. Originally, I was trying to make it to the beach, but I abandoned those plans when it became a bushwhack. Instead, I walked around the ghetto streets, bought a coconut, found a bar, and make a few friends. After a couple drinks, a nice local woman gave me her number - and I walked back to the airport chuckling. Not a bad 2-hour layover!

I arrived in Kingstown around 8pm. A taxi took me over to barefoot charters, but they didn't know anything about our charter plans, so I settled up at the bar to wait for the rest of the crew. After the first sip of my carib, they figured out I was on La Dolce Vita and they brought a dinghy around to bring me out to the mooring. In the darkness I could see the outline of a beautiful 43 foot Jeanneau 43DS. I stepped aboard to be greeted by Joe, Stefan, Nate, and Alexis. Joe looks at me and says, “Did you just jump onboard with a beer in your hand?” I give him a smile and cheers him. Later that evening, Nicole, Billy, and Captain Dro showed up and we begin the party.

Sunday – After the lengthy provisioning process, giving Barefoot our passport information and cash deposit, and collecting snorkeling equipment, we finally made way. The seas were rough between St. Vincent and Bequia. A few people were starting to feel a little sick, but I managed to do OK. In fact, I would go the length of the trip without any Dramamine, whereas everyone else would pop a few each day. We were sailing with the swell, so we caught a few nice surfs on the way around the point and into the bay. After mooring, we dinghy’ed into town and eventually settled on a pizza place.

Sunday
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Christmas in Washington, MO 
Thursday, December 26, 2013, 11:02 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I spent a week in WashMO with the family for Christmas. We had festivities planned for every day: white elephant gift exchanges, pictionary, other board games, movies, volleyball, walks, and lots of food. Some of the highlights were:

Misty dressed up.


Bartering during the white elephant.


Giving my brother my old mountain bike.


Having a beer with dad.


Grandpa admiring the pies at the local coffee shop.

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Thanksgiving in Alto Pass 
Thursday, December 5, 2013, 09:21 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I spent a week back at my parents' place for Thanksgiving. Everyone from my father's side was there except for Anne Elise who was still in Chile with her study abroad program. I took a 30 degree bike ride with my mom and the family hiked to bald knob cross. It was me and my Dad's 25th year to make the journey (ever since I was 5 years old!) I also got to watch the pottery process in full: clay to store.


Cold bike ride


Grandpa hiking the trail


Thanksgiving dinner


Hike to the cross


Artsy hiking picture


Pottery making and shop


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Arcs, Sparks, and Alcohol: Chicago Trip 
Thursday, September 12, 2013, 07:59 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I headed to Chicago for the UL standards development meeting on PV arc-faults this week. But before that excitement, I spent the weekend with my brother in Chicagoland:

Friday night we went out for a beer at Chicago’s American Outlaws bar to watch the US get killed 3-1 to the Ticos. Not the USMNT’s best moment.

Saturday was much more cheerful. We took the train in from Joliet to Chicago, rented bikes to cruise around Millennium Park, and then rented kayaks. We got a couple stable-feeling singles and had warm, sunny weather to take a lap around Goose Island and then down to the locks on Lake Michigan. There were a LOT of other kayakers out on the water, but I was proud of my bro and I for easily sailing past them with some Southern Illinois power strokes. There were also a lot of other tour boats and motorboats out for the good weather so Josh and I dodged the behemoths and surfed the wake after they passed. Overall, it was a cool experience on the water in a big city—slipping under the bridges and through the towering skyscrapers. Afterward we got a late lunch at Goose Island Brewery. Yum. And then we grilled up some brots for dinner. Double yum.








Sunday, I forced Josh to do a little work on his decrepit car. We found a U-Pull-And-Pay style parts place and we got a hubcap, two door handles, a gas door, and a passenger seatbelt (all for less than $50!) It wasn’t too bad to get everything installed and still get a nice 5 mile hike around Swallow Cliff Woods. As an older brother, I felt it was my responsibility to introduce Josh to some tasty Belgian beers, so we tasted a Chimay and Duvel while watching the new Star Trek. Then to cap off the night we had a Tim Tam slam and some traditional Korean candy. Triple yum.




Overall the meeting went well, and on Tuesday night the US qualified for the World Cup in Brazil with a 2-0 victory over Mexico!!


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Korea! 
Thursday, September 12, 2013, 07:58 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
One benefit of running international renewable energy programs is you get to travel internationally. I was invited to give at talk at the 2013 Energy Tech Insight meeting in Seoul, Korea by the Korean Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP) group to highlight my collaborative research project with the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI).

Korea photos are here.

Amanda, a new business development person, and—for a couple days—Bob, joined me on this trip. Amanda and I got into Seoul a day early to explore the city and walk off any jetlag. Our first adventure was getting dinner on Monday night. We headed off from the hotel at around 7:00 and eventually found a place that offered Korean BBQ. Normally, you cook your own dinner on a fine metal mesh over the hot coals that they bring out, but since we didn’t know a single word of Korean, they took pity on us and helped cook our meal of Ox and Pork. The food was delicious with side dishes of Gimchi, small sardine-like fish, lettuce and sauces! You dip the cooked meat in the sauce and roll it up in the lettuce after remastering chopsticks.

Afterward I headed out alone to the Banpo-daero bridge over the Hangang River. The park along the river had a nice bike path and I was surprise to find at 10pm many young people biking and picnicking down by the water. The bikes were nice and fast, and the meals were heavy on the beer/soju. I instantly liked this place.



Tuesday, Amanda suffered jetlag much worse than I did and was up at 3am. With all the free time she did some research on places to visit, so we compared notes and then headed north into the city. We had mastered the subway at this point (absurdly easy) and went to get some food at the open-air market, Namdaemun. After that we went to Sungnyemun Gate, which was first built in 1398 to keep Seoul safe from foreign attacks. I got a little mixed up with directions at this point but eventually we located north and headed up to Deoksugung (one of the five palaces in Seoul). It was a nice grounds with great structures. The curved ceramic roofs of Korea are truly spectacular. We tried to go to Gyeongbokgung but it was closed on Tuesdays, so we wondered through Bukchon Hanok Village for a while and got some big dumplings and a bottle of sojo for lunch. Recharged, we walked to Changdeokgung and took the Secret Garden tour. It was beautiful! Small ponds and dwellings hidden in the forest. You could imagine this area looking nearly the same back in the 15th century when royalty was strolling the grounds. Jongmyo was closed (tues) so we went south to the Cheonggyecheon creek and then back north into Insadong for some shopping and ice cream treats. There was a place with amazing snorkle-shaped cones that they would inject with soft serve. They were so good!







Wednesday, we listened to Steve Chu’s keynote, were wined and dined for lunch, and I gave my smart grid presentation. We meet my Korean partners for an amazing 14 course dinner! It’s Korean culture to leave food on the table at the end of the meal to indicate that one is satisfied; and we certainly left a lot of food on the table but I would describe my condition as closer to immobilization/food coma. It was culinary madness! More food just keep coming and coming! Afterward, our hosts treated the US contingent to a boat cruise on the river. We quietly sailed through the city’s lights and pointed out the Olympic Park, Gangnam (“River South,” a rich neighborhood), and the Namsan tower.



Thursday, we spent some time at the conference, but flew down to Busan and then drove to Changwon. I was suffering from a cold that hit me on Tuesday morning, so I didn’t do much this evening.

Friday, we toured KERI’s labs and explored some of the city: the Seongjusa temple, Seongsan Shell Mound (archaeological site where seafood scraps were found), and House of Changwon (창원의집). After dinner, Amanda and I took a walk around the hotel and got some ice cream. From what I could tell, Korea’s a smoothly operating industrial engine: well-organized, clean, very safe, and I felt completely comfortable walking around at night. I liked this place.




Saturday, my colleague from KERI, Ahn, drove Amanda and I to Gyeongju for some sightseeing. We got to town, and after a little confusion over where to park, rented bikes and struck out to learn about the Silla Kingdom that controlled this region. There actually were 3 kingdoms in what’s now modern Korea: Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje. Gyeongju was the center of this region from 57 BC to 935 AD with the 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries holding the most growth and historical artifacts. We first visted the tombs of the Silla (e.g., General Kim Yu-sin) in King Tomb Park and then biked to Anapji Pond to take in King Minmu's reconstructed dreams. We walked through the Gyeongju National Museum but then turned our attention to food. I guided the team on a slightly extended return route along the river and then we found a nice, completely empty restaurant for lunch. Ironically, the restaurant owners were eating McDonald’s and watching MLB.





The highlight of our day was traveling up into the mountains to a couple UNESCO world heritage sites. The first was Bulguksa, the stunning Buddhist Temple. The 2nd was the 8th century Seokguram Grotto, home to one of the best preserved Buddhist statues in Asia.




Ahn drove us down to the ocean to dip our feet into the freezing sea as the sun was setting. We cruised up the coast a short way along the fishing villages and then we decided it was time to find the hotel and dinner. We had stirfried Gimchi and a few bombs (sojo and beer).



The final day of the trip we popped into the Gyeongju Tower and toured the Millinium Park grounds. Ahn, Amanda, and I had a nice brunch in the sun and took the car, to a bullet train, to a train, to a plane, to a subway, to Dolores Park, to another subway, to another plane, to a shuttle, to a car, to my house. Actually, the San Francisco layover (7 hours!) was enough to spend the Sunday afternoon lounging in Mission Dolores Park in the sun and that was wonderful. Way better than sitting in the terminal.


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Grenoble, Chamonix, Paris! 
Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 08:16 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I attended IEEE PES Powertech and my first SIRFN meeting in Grenoble last week. I visited Grenoble a couple years before in conjunction with the EU PVSEC conference, so it was good to see the city again. My old roommate from GT, Sebastien, still lives in the area so we spent a couple evenings enjoying the local beers and cheese (it's a French thing). He and his wife, Estelle, are prod parents to 20 month old Camille, who was kind enough to play rugby with me when I went over to their place for dinner.


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Cultural exchange: Marble Red from ABQ and Leffe from Belgium.

One morning before the conference, I took a nice 6-mile job up to the Bastille, through the caves, and back down a rough 30% grade hill into town. Of course my calves would hurt for a couple days because of the effort, but it was worth it for the sunrise views from the empty fortress!


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I toured the Chartreuse distillery and museum. This green liquor is created from 140 local herbs collected by Monks in the mountains. Supposedly only 2 of the monks know the complete recipe.

The Friday after the SIRFN meeting was La Fête de la Musique to celebrate the summer solstice. I remember my first encounter with the Fete in Paris in 2007 very well, because the streets were packed with rock, indie, techno, classical, and every other musical genre in between. Grenoble didn't quite have the same auditory density, but a few of the guys from the workshop joined me on a grand exploration of the different venues. We eventually picked up a couple beers and stopped off at the "Rock" zone. Seb eventually put Estelle and Camille to bed and joined us at around 10pm. We then headed off to the techno area to bring the night to a close. Our line-up was pretty good with DJ one Finger, Jeebey, and Itchy et Scratchy. At 2am, I gave up on there being a tram and jogged the couple miles back to the hotel, only to get up at 6am to catch my train to Geneva.



Estelle and Martin, both ex-UNM ski racers and ex-French/Austrian national ski team members, greeted me in Genève. We got supplies for a wonderful breakfast at their place in Annemasse, and then piled into the car to head toward Chamonix.

I didn't realize it before, but Estelle's parents had a spetacular house in the valley where we could stay, and her parents were out of town for the week too! From there we launched a couple day hikes. The first was a 6.5 mile hike/climb to Lac de Pormenaz. It was a very steep climb up but we somehow picked the only spot in the whole region where the sun was shining, so it great. We reached the ice-covered with a little snow hiking and had yummy baguette sandwiches.

We hiked back via the ski hill to Plaine Joux and then jumped into Lac de Passy for some refreshment. The clouds covered Mont Blanc for the most part, but every now and again they would seperate so I could make out the summit and it's impressive glaciers.





For dinner, I treated Estelle and Martin to dinner in Chamonix. Syrah and Fondue in front of Europe's biggest peak is certainly a great way to bring the evening to a close.





Sunday, we climbing in poor weather to Aiguillette des Houches. We could only spot the lower portions of the glaciers, but it was still a nice 3 hour hike with some respectable elevation gain (2,800 ft). We chomped down some sandwiches and then trucked it back into Chamonix for ice cream cones!




We grabbed a beer and I headed back to Paris. I navigated from Gare de Lyon to my hotel in a drizzle late on Sunday night, but managed to get a nice 2 hour walk around the city; I wanded up to the Pantheon, through the Luxembourg gardens, and down past Notre Dame before heading back stateside.

Photos are here.
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Bay Area Visit 4-28-13 
Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 07:34 PM - Trips
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I headed out a couple days early for the SNL O&M and Inverter Reliability Workshops to catch up with friends. Dro picked me up at SJC and just about the first words out of his mouth were, "There's a small craft warning on the bay, we're going sailing!"

Nicole, Dro, myself, and couple instructors headed out on a 27 footer from Berkeley Marina into a Beaufort Fresh Breeze-and what a breeze it was! It was freezing and the waves and wind teamed up to blast surf across the cockpit. With the headwind and tides in the bay, we weren't able to make it to Alcatraz, which is where I was suggesting we go, but instead we cruised along Angel Island and then turned it around. It was a fun day out on the bay, but I gotta say it's got nothing on BVI.




Saturday night we got pizza with Chris, an old mutual friend from my NREL days. Good to see him and gossip about everyone from the Stallions of the Dawn. We headed out to get a few drinks with Dro's other friends at a Oakland dive bar. Fun times with good people.

On Sunday morning, Mohsin picked me up and we drove into the city. He had worked out a tour de SF that rivaled all my old tours of the city. Even with tennis shoes on clipless pedals in hilly San Francisco, we busted out 28 miles from the Mission to City Hall, Embarcadero, up and across the Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio, Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park, and ended up in Dolores Park for sandwiches and Lagunitas Beer. The best part was that they closed down the roads to cars around the Academy of Sciences and we could cruise down the middle of the road with all the other people walking, biking, and roller blading.






I met Cara at Southern Pacific Brewing for dinner and a drink with Mohsin. She seems pretty happy and still works hard in Oakland for the troubled teenage youth. Then in a typical furry, Mohsin and I rushed to get me to the Caltrain. We managed to burn rubber over to the 22nd Street Station, unload my gear and sprint down the stairs, get a ticket, and rest a whole two minutes before the final south-bound train showed up.

Tues night Cora, Owen, Mohsin, Nicole, Dro and I got a tasty dinner at Rangoon Ruby a few blocks from my old pad in Palo Alto. University Ave looks just the way I left it. I suppose some things don't change.
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Sydney 
Saturday, April 13, 2013, 08:38 PM - Trips
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I flew to Sydney for a week of business travel to work on codes and standards with Technical Committee 82 of the International Electrotechnical Commission.

The photos show stunning Sydney.

I arrived very jetlagged on Saturday and checked into the Marriott a couple blocks from the Opera House! What a killer spot for an IEC meeting! I did an exploratory journey around Sydney Harbour, the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Botanical Gardens, and then out into the city in search of a pub with the Aussie Rule Football game on. It was fun to be back in the antipodean world and even funner to relive a very defining moment in my life. It was the trip to Australia to study abroad that opened my life to bigger ideas of world travel, vagabonding, beer drinking, partying, and chasing women. To celebrate I recreated a self-captured photo bouldering along the harbour across from the opera house.


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Sunday I was up before 5am with severe jetlag, but at least it meant I could do an easy sunrise jog up the Harbour Bridge and around the Opera House. I stopped a couple times for photos, but it was the perfect temperature and no one was up at 6am downtown.




I decided to go out to North Head to take a hike and visit Manly Beach. It turned out to be about a 10 mile hike out to North Head, which was packed with WWII history and gorgeous view of the city centre.

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Eventually I did find my way to Manly beach where I did a little body surfing (water was a little chilly) and eventually kicked back with a big bottle of Coopers to take in the evening.


On Wednesday, the IEC group took a cruise around Darling and Sydney Harbours and had a find dinner of steaks and wine. I was pleased to be rubbing shoulders with all the big shots in the biz, like Howard (below) the retiring secretariat of TC82.




Friday after the meetings, I went out to the Sydney Swans game. I bought a Swans scarf and thought that was enough to support the home team, but the temperatures dropped a good 10ºC after dark so I had to get a fleece blanket at the stadium. Overall AFL is truly the funnest, dumbest sport ever and I love it.



Saturday I woke up to a rainstorm, so I visited the Aquarium before heading off to my hostel at Bondi Beach. The crew there was lively, a little too much so for me (am I getting old?); but seriously don't come storming in at 4am and tell me how great the King's Cross club you were at was. I checked out one of the longboards at the hostel and headed out for a surf on Sunday. As I was walking out the door someone looked at me and said, "It's 6 plus feet out there. No one's going out." It was 11am on Sunday, and even though there was a chilly breeze I couldn't believe there were only 3 surfers at Bondi. So I marched in and gave it a hearty go. I didn't do so well since I had only done a little foam board goofing around in New Zealand, the smaller board was much harder to get on and control. I took a couple big hits, but also managed to ride a couple waves either on my chest, knees, or-for about 0.5 seconds-on my feet. All the life guards who normally walk up and down the beach, watched me from the shore the entire time, so I must have looked like I was drowning. As I got out, badly beaten, I told the life guards, "Rough day to learn." One of the younger girls replied, "You've got a lot of heart." It probably didn't surprise her then, that I tossed the board down on the beach and then went back out for a couple rounds of body surfing.



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Vail Spring Break 
Sunday, March 31, 2013, 05:57 PM - Trips
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Although most of the group has graduated with PhDs or MSs, there's still a gathering of aerospace CU folks for the annual skiing and partying shenanigans. This year included a game of GNAR that was great, except that I got there a day late and about 40 GNAR points behind. I launched a comeback with on piste intensity and apres ski debauchery, but it wasn't enough to beak Jack. This year 18 people were in the house and it was great to see so many old friends: Scott, Casey, Laura, Nick, Jack, Maciej, Ben, Chad, Tiff, and Kate.





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British Virgin Islands 
Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 07:40 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
Dro, Nicole, Owen, Cora, Joe, and Naomi sailed the British Virgin Islands with me on a 39' foot. Photos, video, and shortened video.

Day 0: I SCUBA dove Kelly's Cove on Norman Island and Angelfish Reef.

Day 1: Checked out & provisioned the boat. Sailed to Little Harbour on Peter Island with a snorkel stop at The Indians.

Day 2: Sailed to lunch snorkel mooring at Great Dog and then sailed to Trellis Bay. Had a great happy hour and dinner at Last Resort on the island. Dro hit the sand bar on the way back to the boat with the dinghy in the dark, but proudly proclaimed, "Don't worry the wind will sweep us into shallower waters!"

Day 3: Sailed to The Baths for morning swim/exploration. Sailed to Leverick Bay in North Virgin Gorda Sound.

Day 4: SCUBA day #2. Dove with Dive BVI at Wall to Wall (Named by Jacque Cousteau) on West Dog and Cow's Mouth off Virgin Gorda. Saw nurse shark, manta ray, morel eel, turtle, and the divemaster shot 2 lionfish with a speargun. Got back at noon to boat and dinghied over to The Bitter End. Happy hour and dinner at Saba Rock with spectacular sunset.

Day 5: Sailed to Jost Van Dyke. Snorkeled and played around at Sandy Cay and had dinner ashore at Foxy’s.

Day 6: Moto-sailed to Norman Island and moored in The Bight. Dinghied to sea caves for exploration. Trip ending celebration aboard the “Willy T” (converted 100 ft schooner) - complete with multiple jumps off the upper deck into the ocean.

Day 7: Sailed to Road Town

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Braun Hut Trip 
Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 08:33 PM - Trips
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I left ABQ on Thursday morning at 5am with Lance, Rusty, and Angela for a 5-day, 4-night hut-to-hut backcountry ski trip. Feeling honored to join a group of extremely strong, fun people for the weekend, our team consisted of the following:

Justin - Mountain Guide, AMRC rescue leader, summited Denali last summer
Leigh - President of AMRC, Quad champion, Denali attempt last summer
Lance - Mountaineer with summits of Rainier, Denali, and South American peaks, ultra-marathoner with 5+ Hard Rock 100s under his belt.
Rusty - AMRC winter technician, Denali medic last summer and maybe this coming summer too
Angela - Climbed Denali last summer and about to depart as the head medic on a climbing trip to Nepal
Bill - Rescue leader on AMRC, psuedo-epic'ed on Mt. Sanford in Alaska
Karen - Bill's wife, very strong teleskiers
Jay - General Goof-off

Day 1 - After a great pizza at Leadville's High Mountain Pies, we met Leigh and Justin in the parking lot. We did the easy 3 mi, 1000 ft ski into the spacious Lindley hut just as night descended. I could tell already I was in for some serious heal blistering at this point, but that didn't prevent slow the night's merriment. Leigh and Justin cooked up some veggielicious dinner and a 3 L batch of Glühwein as we circled up around the wood-burning stove and talked strategy for the next 4 days. I called off my plans for a run at Castle and Conundrum Peaks in order to keep the group together and get a full night's sleep.



Day 2 - The group departed at 9am and headed toward Pearl Pass to circle around into Taggart Hut. I thought I was going to get the award for biggest junk show as I wollowed in the thigh-deep snow, making sloppy kick turns, getting knocked over by trees, dropping water bottles, and losing my sunglasses, but Rusty proved he was the master junker. He bought light "racing" skins, but they didn't climb on the 6" of facets at the ground and he barely to climb the most modest of grades. In the end he had to take his skis off and climb some of the time. I was completely beat cutting trail in the fresh snow, but I can only imagine how bonked Rusty must have been. And it was clear when he finally made the pass. Lance I took off his skins while Justin adjusted his bindings (don't ask) for the decent. A quick few turns and we had arrived at Taggart Hut!







Taggart Timelapse

Day 3 - We awoke to a raging storm, so our original plans for skinning over to Friends Hut were delayed. The 1"/hour snowfall was a red flag for avalanche danger. We went out for some quick laps on the hill by Taggart and got some great tree runs in. Lance managed to break his toe piece, Leigh was struggling with blisters, and Rusty had to make a flight out of Grand Junction on Sunday; so a long debate later, we decided to head back to Aspen for some beers. We got dinner, and with a clutch call managed to bum couches and floor space at the Mountain Rescue Aspen Cache. It was luxurious and, after stocking the fridge, refreshing as well.





Day 4 - We had breakfast in Aspen and then skiied up to Markley Hut. We had a great Eurostyle lunch with bread, cheese, sausage, and wine in the sunny cabin. I was fairly mellowed, but we decided to go for a ski. After an extended, bushwhacky slog to the top of one of the more gradual peaks we got to ski (or sink like a rock in my case) down the mountain. We trekked over to the road and then zipped down to the lodge for dinner just as dusk closed in. Really tough day for about 5 turns, but it was fun to be in the mountains with my friends. We had a great scrimp stir-fry with Quinoa and then finished off the beer and whiskey while talking about who was going to be the next AMRC president.






All photos are here
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