Thursday, November 29, 2007

Solar Power in the news

As I've seen solar energy and solar panels becoming more advanced, flexible, and popular it's been exciting to watch the corporate world respond. Earlier this week Google announced that it will be exploring the industry as a competitor. Earlier this year they actually installed panels on their main building in Mountain View, where I used to work. That's not to say other industry giants were missing out. Solar panels on Microsoft at Silicon Valley have been in place since April 2006 and Hewlett Packard just announced plans to add them to cut ~$600K in costs from their San Diego campus.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Beer Pong Site

I have a friend who is starting a new beer pong website. While I'm not a big fan of drinking games or beer pong, I admire his ambition and excitement! I'm helping him set up featuring some pictures of people enjoying the custom tables he designs. The name of the company is interesting, on fire beer pong, it's got the key description and I guess if you're playing beer pong you want to be on fire or you just end up really drunk...

For anyone who doesn't know what beer pong is you can see the wikipedia entry that outlines the sport. You can see that the OnFire Beer Pong tables that Russel sells are way nicer than the ones shown in Wikipedia. My favorite part is the way they fold up so nicely...

Not that I'm endorsing the sport, but the tables are interesting and Russel is a good guy! I'm wishing him good luck for sure :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Second Life and PS3

I just learned all about Second Life, an online Video Game world that is supported by companies and academia!

Second Life is an online MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game Experience) sort of like Everquest except there is less of a "questing and killing" focus. You can buy property and produce goods to sell and basically build a "second life" for yourself online. It was created by it's users and since the "game world" honors property rights people can sell their stuff for real life money. It's like a virtual world... Very cool, I think you can sign up for free so check out the link below.

Sony is doing something very similar to Second Life with the new PlayStation 3 "Home" project. They have created a virtual world for anyone with a PS3 who is online where people can create their own house with rooms and upload files and share them with friends. It is a very similar concept but a lot more limited in scope. Also, there is another project you might like with the PS3 where you can download a program that will allow the processing power from the gaming unit to go to curing cancer when you are not playing! It is being done in conjunction with Stanford University.

PS3 "Home" Virtual World
PS3 Folding@home Cancer Cure
About Second Life
Video on Second Life

Monday, January 29, 2007

Have you ever played fish ball?

Growing up in Loveland Colorado, I was exposed to a lot of golfing... In fact, my high school even had a golf team. My Dad told me that Loveland High used to also have a water skiing team but then the lake was sold back to the residents living on it (which was a sweat deal for them) and it became private. So these days golfing is the outdoor activity of choice for the young and old of L-town (aside from skiing the Rockies, Hiking Devil's Backbone, and ice skating on the ditches).

My good friend Max lived right off of Cattail Creek Golf Course and we spent a lot of time either exploring the course, practicing our golf swing, or sledding and snowboarding on it's hills. Sometimes we would trudge through the swampy "cattail" areas of the course and collect golf balls. My favorite times were spent at the driving range or the time we dragged a rail to the it would snow we would go sledding and snowboarding there. You can catch a bit of video from Cattail in the first part of Hidden where Dave falls on the rail, that is at Cattail Creek...

So anyways, one day it was raining extremely hard outside. The weather in Colorado is all over the map and this was truly a torrential downpour. It was raining so hard that the pond on the East end of the course began to overflow a bit. The course was set up to handle these sorts of things, in fact, Lake Loveland is just across the street so most of the water is sent over there via flood grates.

On this day in particular the flood gates were functioning at full capacity and something unfortunate was happening. The lakes on Loveland golf courses are stocked with fish to keep them clean and healthy and those fish were beginning to spill out of the pond and get stuck to the flood grate near the seventh hole! Max and I spotted this and decided to don our rain ponchos and save the fish.

We probably spent a good pulling fish off of the grate and hucking them back into the pond. Even as hard as we were trying, many of the fish were just too tired or beat up from being piled on by other fish to make it. When we first got there the fish were probably two and a half layers thick... We decided to make a pile of the dead fish so they wouldn't keep floating back to the grate.

Well, the sun finally came back out and we were left with a pile of rotting dead fish. We felt great for saving so many and it had been quite the adventure, but there was still time for one more activity. We ran back to Max's house and grabbed a bat (he used to pitch on the LHS baseball team but I think this happened before that time). We took the bat and practiced our swing on the fish.

Let me tell you, this is not as easy done as is said! Fish are super slippery and there were only a few good hits. It was a lot of fun and really stands out in my mind of crazy adventures from childhood. I don't condone fish torture or anything, these were dead fish, and we had just saved dozens of other fish that would have died. It was just good old fashioned fun :)

Hidden Valley Estes Park - Backcountry

This quiet corner of Estes Park Colorado was once home to a fully functioning ski area! What I know about its history comes mostly from family members who grew up skiing in Colorado. Apparently there used to be two main lifts and four or five good runs (very small compared to the current resorts in Colorado like Vail or Breckenridge). After years of operation the contract between the forest service and the resort was ended. This due in part to declines in profitability and lack of snow the resort was receiving. The lifts were taken out (these were the type of lifts that were ground based where you held on to a rod and got pulled up on your skis) and the downhill skiing stopped. Here is some more background and history for Hidden Valley.

Eventually the trees began growing back and the lodge was partially torn down. Today it is harder to tell that a ski area once existed there but the large white tracks from runs are still evident on the inner parts of the valley and telemark skiers and snowshoers do still visit during the winter months.

For me and my snowboarding crew “The Ruff Riders” (named after the rap group) Hidden Valley was the perfect spot to learn new tricks, build interesting jumps or “hits” as we called them, and just take a break and get away from it all. We could do whatever we wanted in those mountains and since the trees were partially cleared from the old days of when it was a true ski area, it was the perfect place to go!

I remember pestering my Mom and Dad (or one of my friends parents) to take us up nearly every weekend (sometimes twice!). Once we finally started turning 16 and getting cars we would ditch school, and all pile in to do some backcountry boarding when the snow was good. Driving up the narrow canyon road singing along to DMX with Jeff Niccum… It was a blast! We all had snow shoes, and I had a couple of extras for different friends to come along if they wanted, we would put on special board holding backpacks full of power bars, fruit, and water in camel back pouches and then make the painful hike at high altitude up to the top of Hidden Valley which would usually take 2+ hours! Once we got to a good spot above tree line where it thinned out a bit, we would start digging and building hits. The whole process took over two hours before we would even put our boards on. We really wanted to get a snow mobile or something but since it was a national park that just wasn’t allowed.

As seen in the video, we had hips, rails, and even a road gap! The rail wasn’t a feature that came with Hidden Valley, we had to stash it there and the idea came when we first saw it being used as a crowd control barrier at a concert in Fort Collins. A few of the Ruff Riders commandeered the rail one night after the concert and put it in the back of Mike N’s truck. It was then given to me and I took it up to a spot just off of Trail Ridge Road with a good friend named Zach. We pulled over on Rainbow Curve and quickly carried it off into the trees where it remained all summer until we uncovered it during the winter when it began to snow again. The rail is pretty weak by today’s standards but back then in 2000, it was pretty awesome.

The road gap came about when we decided to hike on Trail Ridge Road road to get above tree line in Hidden Valley instead of walking up with our snowshoes. It just so happened that there was a plow on the road that day and he saw us and we convinced him to give us a ride to the Rainbow Curve section of road. Just as we came around the corner the first thing I thought was… road gap… and I said it out loud without even thinking. I had never before seen the road plowed like this during the winter and suddenly, what used to be a patch of flat snow was the potential for the coolest trick any of us had ever done – gapping the road on our snowboard. The plow let us off and we started tossing the idea around. Eventually we started building and once it was done we were all so afraid of the possibility of actually doing it that nobody wanted to try. Ultimately I stepped up and was the first one to hit the gap. I remember sailing over the road and looking down, thinking “oh my god I’m going to make it” even though I was going to land on my face on the other side. I sailed over the road four or five times that day and soon after Dave Bosch and Nick Marker had done it too and we were all extatic. Unfortunately for us, the police and forest rangers had spotted us and we got in a bit of trouble. They made us tear down the jump, but we knew we would go up again, and next time we would bring our video camera! It turns out that without the footage, nobody back home would believe us about the gap. Even Brandon Bosch (Dave’s older brother) called us liars and then proceeded to go to the same spot (with his camera) and gap the road himself trying to beat us to the glory. Ironically Brandon almost died trying to make the gap, he shot over the road off balance and was flailing his arms “rolling up the windows style” and landed right on his head. You can see this footage near the end of the movie in the credits.

The second time we went up I brought our camera and I took it one step further by hucking a backflip over the road. It took me six tries to get the back flip over Rainbow Curve on video (one of our friends named Shane S. had gotten upset on our way up that day and threw the camera in the snow, so it was having trouble working consistently). Ultimately, we got the shot and it went into Hidden, which is the video you see posted here.

These days of snowboarding took place between 99’ and 2001 while we were 14 to 17 years old. We shopped the Hidden video around and were offered a sponsorship deal by Zumiez in the Fort Collins Foothills Fashion mall. It was one of the greatest accomplishments any of us had. The Ruff Ryder crew, Dave Bosch, Max Pettijohn, and me Court, was such an honor and just so cool it still brings us together. I love you guys and the time we spent is one of my fondest memories. Props to Jeff, Si, Chris, Brad, Peter Shockley, Max, Dave, and both Shanes.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Skateboarding in L-Town

Back in L-Town where I grew up (that's Loveland Colorado for anyone who doesn't know), skateboarding was one of the top sports for non team sport enthusiasts such as myself. I had played soccer and was a part of Club United but as I got older sports like rollerblading, skateboarding, and snowboarding really caught my interest. I like to push myself and really feel free.. fast, like I'm flying. To this day I enjoy free-running or "parkour" which is the french name for bouncing and flipping and sailing around urban structures. It's almost like freestyle gynmastics and it's a blast. Back at CU, I would run around the grass hills and brick walls practicing flips and cartwheels. At the height of my free running I could run up a wall and do a back flip! One time I landed on my face doing this and got a big grass stain across my cheek, but I was lucky to never suffer too much injury. I made friend with some other parkour afficianados and we would boost eachother and spot when trying new things. With the help of these great friends I learned how to do a ground based gainer, which is basically akin to running forward and jumping up into the air and then doing a backflip while still going forward, landing, and then speeding away. It was super sick to say the least.

So anyways, this post is really about skateboarding and my friends Silas Siegrist, Chris Garcin, and Brad Galloway. Back at Loveland High we used to skate all around together, mostly in the parking lot and occasionally off stairs and at the Amphitheatre or "Amp" as we called it. One of the craziest places we would go was TVHS (Thompson Valley High) where there was a gigantic stair gap (which Si makes in the video... after falling a few times. The police would sometimes catch us grinding parking heads or waxing curbs and we would get in trouble (this is the retirement community of Loveland after all, not the ski area!) but for the most part we could do what we wanted. So eventually Loveland passed a bill to create a skate park and finally we had somewhere real to go! It wasn't great, nothing compared to Boulder (which had a great wooden park called Scott Carpenter - since replaced with a cement park) or the two Fort Collins skate parks, but it was better than nothing and for most of these years we were too young to drive so L-Town was all we had. Just after I created my snowboarding movie called Hidden, Chris Brad and Si made a video of their own which featured Si's top notch skating ability (he was definitely the best skater among us).

Chris was getting into broadcasting at LHS and had access to Loveland High's recording equipment and editing software that was used in the morning show (which of course was on all on a Mac, these were the years just before the ipod released) and the effects he employed for this movie were way beyond what we had done on Hidden or what we could have done on a PC setup. Enjoy the movie while you're here. I miss these guys but we had such a blast skating around and being friends, I'm really thankful for the great times skating with Si, the fun parties that Chris would throw on the lake and all of the trampoline time we got in.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Surfing in Hawaii

While I've never actually been to Hawaii, it's always been a dream for me. The warm waters, huge waves, beatiful coral! Hawaii is awesome and it hosts the Pipe Masters competition at Pipeline for the best surfers in the world. This is a legendary spot where the likes of Bruce and Andy Irons grew up. I love "The Bruce Show" by the way, if you get a chance, snag that DVD.

I've actually heard that people can climb the volcanoes in Hawaii and that sometimes you can even ski down! When I was younger I considered going to college in Hawaii because I think they have a special exchange program with Colorado (where I grew up) that allows people to get in state tuition! How awesome would that be? I'm not sure how good the schools are or what programs they offer, CU Boulder was great for business and engineering so all you Hawaiians might want to check out the program. Some of my best friends and residents were from Hawaii, including Allison - who loved to mountain bike and hike. She had a head injury from crashing her bike in Hawaii and the injury worsened at CU when she fell again on her bike. She was a great girl and a gifted artist. She painted a mural on her dorm wall (which isn't allowed) but was totally cool and really beautiful... until we had to paint over it.

Well, someday I will get to visit Hawaii and when I do I plan on renting a nice condo, maybe heding over to Maui and getting a Maui Vacation Rental so I can surf it up and enjoy the beautiful ocean, rainforest and waterfalls.