Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Destination Truth

Destination Truth is a new series on the Sci-Fi channel that comes on after Ghost Hunters on Wednesdays.

I recommend it for an entertaining hour. The host, Josh Gates, in real-life possessing the perfect combination of degrees in archaeology and drama, is this guy who travels around the world to investigate cryptozoological claims. Of course we believe the network is funding it all, but you can imagine this independently wealthy explorer character out of an 1800's Lost World - type story, with modern technology and with this colonialist confidence that he just might be able to show up and in a few days solve the great mysteries/problems of a region that no one there could solve. But no, he's not that arrogant or disrespectful - this is play.

The premise of the show would be absurd if it took itself too seriously. While he is really traveling and doing quasi-investigations, it all plays like one big parody (almost), and he seemingly is a gracious guest wherever he goes. Destination Truth is an adventure show in which Josh Gates plays himself carrying out the explorer and mystery-solving fantasies of the viewers in a documentary style. And while he's at it, he might as well do some sort of investigating and use a bit of both of his college degrees.

When he decides on a story to investigate, he travels to the locale and interviews witnesses before conducting his 'investigations'. You always get the impression you're only seeing an abbreviated form of the interview - or else he is just a rather poor interviewer. While some reports are credible, some of the reports people give him are totally ridiculous - yet he still listens to what they have to say and checks out their claims. If he gathers any potential evidence, he makes at least a mediocre attempt to have it analyzed by experts. The show typically ends with a summary of the results that leaves open that slightest chance for 'something' unknown to be out there.

His deadpan narrative commentary is at times hilarious. For example, he was investigating claims of a Loch Ness - type creature in a particular lake in South America, and someone (whom Josh notes decorates his house entirely in self-portraits) was telling him a theory that it was created from nuclear experiments that a German Nazi scientist had done on an island in the lake in the 1940's. Josh has these comments about going out to the Island of Dr. Moreau or being in a Stan Lee (think Marvel comics) story. His facial expressions occasionally give him away - a roll of the eyes or a laugh that confirm he isn't believing what he is hearing. But he nevertheless goes out to the island to investigate, and finds out the experiments were real however with no evidence for the creation of a lake monster.

His investigations are one-stop brief high-tech invitations for any monster that wants to be found to show itself, but certainly not likely to find anything. Even if you were looking for something known to exist, it wouldn't likely be found through these methods. For example, "Oh, I heard a noise after there, let's run after it!" just doesn't strike me as being the best technique for actually finding something. That's a good way to get hurt or killed or to alert any animal in the vicinity to get away.

There are further examples that theinvestigations seem rather ill-conceived. They find guides to take them places when the guides really have no idea where they are going, or they go out on a lake they are not supposed to be on in the middle of the night in a rickety boat low on fuel. Or they crawl into an unknown, unstable cave that they can't even see into because it might contain evidence of a giant bird even though its entrance could not conceivably admit such a creature. The results can be amusing to watch, but any hunter knows a real hunt is most often a game of patience, data collection, and quiet observation - it just doesn't play as well for television.

If you're not paying attention, you might take this show seriously for the first few minutes if you happened across it turning the dial. You know, maybe he'll really make the cryptozoological find of the century. Anything's possible!

Ghost Hunters is the same evening and recommended as part of the full night's entertainment. Better (more serious) in terms of more legitimate scientific methodology but a bit biased toward believer's interpretation of results and with light soap-opera drama of the team members' lives in the context of their work added for good measure, once again with the TAPS team on Ghost Hunters, anything's possible.

By the way do all these guys assume just because we can't see infrared neither can anything else? I know for a fact certain animals see different parts of the spectrum we can't - for example, bees seeing UV patterns in flowers. If somethings see IR, all those "zero lux" and "night vision" cameras would be making it bright as day for them.

Monday, June 25, 2007

No rain for 400 years

Atacama Desert - World's Driest Place

Evidence suggests this desert had no real rain for 400 years, and parts of it have not seen rain in hundreds of thousands to even possibly tens of million of years.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Byron Rose

Picture from The Gazette published June 14, 2007.

Picture taken at the lot.
(Pictures posted with permission from Laura.)

I see several people are coming to this site doing searches about Byron Rose. I will be sure to post any significant updates about his condition. Laura feels he his making a bit of progress or at least staying stable each day but it is slow and she hopes for your continued prayers.

My Asian lilies that I bought mail order last year are starting to bloom. They didn't come up last year, but I have literally like 50 coming up this year. The first color is pink - looks like orange will be next insha'allah!

But here is a picture of another plant - I forget what it is called - Santorini or something? - I bought it at the annual Horticultural Society plant sale at Monument Valley Park a few years ago. This is the best place to get plants as long as you go the first day before they're picked over a bit. I've never had anything bought there die on me, and that's pretty impressive if you know my gardening. (What gardening?) It is like this sagey color, but then it gets these green shoots with tiny yellow flowers. Strange, cool plant! Especially because it doesn't need much of anything from me in terms of maintenance.

And here is a "mystery" photo, in that I did not take it. :) Niece must've picked up the camera while they were playing computer games. Bonus points to you if you know the game they're playing!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hiking Club

Today we went hiking with a group of retired teaching ladies. Well, most of them are retired. I found out about the group through a lady who works in the math department with me named Nancy (so, obviously she's not retired, but most in the group are). This is a group of women that meet to hike every single Thursday no matter the weather, all year round. The numbers vary as different people show up as they wish. Most of the ladies are probably in their 60's, but one lady was in her 80's. However, this lady is a super woman - she is very very fit - well-muscled and could probably run a 5k without hardly breaking a sweat. I was impressed!

We hiked the Catamount trail and at times had a lovely view of of the north face of Pikes Peak to our left. Apparently there is another Catamount trail that has its head at Green Mountain falls, but this is a new one that opened last year and maybe connects the other one. Its head was up the Ute Pass beyond Woodland Park but before Florissant or Divide, off a side road. We hiked almost 7 miles we think. Actually, 5 of us did, including my niece, but the rest of the group headed back a bit earlier and so hiked closer to 5 miles. My niece and nephew were the only children on the hike and they did get tired but they loved playing with Nancy's dog Gus. Gus loves going on hikes and playing in creeks and especially carrying and fetching sticks. Although the temperatures were to get into the 90's today, we were fortunate that up at the elevation we were hiking at it didn't get quite that hot and in fact by the time we were coming back some storm clouds were blowing over and it was breezy and in the 70's - so that was very nice.

I do need to remember to bring my GPS on such hikes in the future as sometimes these ladies aren't quite sure where they're going and a GPS can show you your tracks so you can at least make sure you take the same path back as you came in on to get yourself "unlost" if needed. I hope to hike with them again - it was a good day.

This is after we finished hiking and just got back to the cars at the trailhead.

This is a lean-to shelter we passed on our way around the upper loop.

This is my nephew eating a cinnamon roll as big as his head when we stopped at The Donut Mill in Woodland Park on our way home. Apparently that is a tradition with the ladies to stop there or somewhere similar.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Update on Byron

Mom and I visited him this evening. I think lots of friends and family have been visiting, which is good. He is in a coma and basically the condition of his head injury has not changed. He had swelling and that is less. This time when I visited he did not move at all. My mom said, "He is far away right now." Doctors are still hopeful that eventually he may wake up. So please keep him and Laura in your prayers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Special Urgent Request

My friend Laura's husband Byron Rose was in a serious car accident Wednesday morning. He was hit while both cars were at high speed. He had his spleen removed because it ruptured, broken ribs, collapsed lung, and head injury. He is not waking up right now. Apparently there was a picture of the accident in today's Gazette but I haven't seen it yet. Just yesterday, he got a new job in Virginia and they were planning to move back where they are from. It is uncertain what the recovery of his head injury will be as he is not awake yet and those kind of things are wait and see.

Please pray for him and Laura.

Bent's Fort

Today we went to Bent's Fort. It is a neat place kind of in the middle of nowhere. We drove around on back country roads and found a few caches. Bent's Fort is a virtual cache itself. It rained hard most of the way there, but we were fortunate that pretty much every time we got out to do something it stopped or turned just into a sprinkle. We also placed a cache in La Junta because there did not seem to be any there, amazingly enough.

Walking to the fort.

On the roof of the fort.

While there, I learned of another place I would love to go to sometime in the future:

Picketwire Canyonlands - best dinosaur tracks in North America

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Caches 100,101 and 102 in Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Today we found the caches at the southern end of the park: Talon #1 (on Talon Trail, not very far from where we start out), Talon #2 (a two-stage multicache that took most of our hiking effort to find) and Wild Bunch (at the southern tip of the park, but much lower elevations than Talon #2). We hiked maybe 7 miles today. And it was pretty hot today - upper 80's for sure.

That leaves just one left in the park for us to find - maybe next weekend!

Here are a few pictures from our caching:

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I hope Cheyenne Mountain State Park does expand

Negotiations underway for state park to expand to include the mountain.

Shia salat tutorial

For anyone wanting to learn Salat according to the Shia school of thought (Ja'afari madhab), seems to do a good job. It also has prayer times, Qiblah directions, etc. I've mentioned it once before, but it is worth mentioning again.