Saturday, February 23, 2013

Big Sidecountry Cliff Drops and Painful Injury

Today Emily, Chris and I had a great day of powder at Skibowl on Mt. Hood.  The outback was open by about 11am and we got to hit up some first tracks back there.  I found that my favorite 30-35 foot cliff wasn’t touched yet and was amped to point my fat boards off the end of it.  Visibility was a little low so I hollered down to Holm to see what the landing was like.  He gave me a thumbs up and I pointed it.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten that my boots were still in walk mode and I ended up rotating onto my back in mid-air.  It was more air than I expected too as I popped off the top of the cliff.  Thankfully, it was fluffy powder and my DSLR in my backpack wasn’t damaged from the impact.  

We headed back up again for a second drop which I landed a bit better.  Holm went for it too but caught a rock on the edge and fell off the click to Emily’s dismay filming below.  After the 2nd drop I decided to not push my luck any further.  But... 20 minutes later while following Holm out of the outback down a steep face I jumped over some bushes into a small area of powder and the slope slid out from under me, flipping me onto my back and upside down.... headed straight for a stand of Doug Fir trees.  This is pretty much the worst position a skier can find themselves in as I had no way to slow myself and just braced myself for what I thought would be a life changing neck or spinal injury.  

Thankfully, I bounced off the first tree, crushing my shoulder in and not my neck.  It knocked the wind out of me and caused me to drop one of my poles.  When I came to a stop I just lay there moaning trying to catch my breath before joining a concerned looking Holm and Emily below.  We skied down to the base and took a chair up again to the warming hut but by then I was ringing in pain and barely able to move my arm.  I asked them to keep skiing and look for my pole while I had a beer in the hut and rested.  They never found my pole but while in the hut in misery I happened to sit next to an orthopedic doctor’s assistant who rotated my arm and tested out my shoulder.  While doing so I felt as if my spine slid back into place from where my shoulder had wrenched it free, thus feeling enormously better.  

For the next couple weeks it was very painful to cough, especially to sneeze and I believe I tore some cartilage in my rib cage and possibly also bruised/cracked a rib on my left side from the impact that could have been far.. far worse.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Harlem Shake Cocktail Party

This Sunday after skiing with at Timberline and taking Leo down his first descent of Alpine Trail to Government Camp Emily and I got dressed up a bit and headed into Portland to attend Anna’s cocktail party.  We didn’t know what to expect so I picked up stuff to make mojitos and a bottle of Jack Daniels Honey.  Ryan was there and of course made some amazing food (pulled-pork sandwiches) and there was plenty of other snacks to go around.  I contributed some pound cakes and set to work on the mojitos as soon as we go there.  

After just a couple hours there the booze was being consumed very quickly and people got a dance party together.  Anna then decided that we all had to film a (Harlem Shake - youtube it) so I set up my iPhone 5 on the fireplace and we put a helmet on Arley to start it off.  After several drunken takes I figured we had enough film and the party continued.  I’m a bit blurry after the Harlem shake but I know that at some point Em decided to be the DD and I began taking Eric, Katie and some other friends out to the Prius to get refills from the Jack Daniels.  Then someone showed up with liters of coke for the Captain Morgans and that is about the last thing I remember.  Emily says I was really funny and good natured despite my giggling sleep walking all night but Monday at work was dreadful.... I’m definitely on a cleanz now.  If you want to see the Harlem Shake we created check it out in the videos I have posted to Facebook.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Winterhawks Game with Adam & Sarah

Tonight Emily and I joined Sarah and Adam for a Winterhawks game at the Rose Garden Arena.  We had never been to the Garden before and haven’t seen them in a few weeks so it worked out great.  They came into the city early and I was able to get a beer with them around 4pm at Lardo before heading over to the Spirit of 77 bar to wait for Emily to drive in to the city.  We were a little late to the game but I was thoroughly entertained by their unbelievable story of their friend Bill who apparently is a super-genius and the news of Sarah leaving her job for bigger pursuits.  Unfortunately, the Winterhawks lost big to the Tri-City Americans but we had a good time and good beer with good friends.

Twin Day work Shinanigans & A Special Delivery

A typical day of shinanigans at WSI with a lot of people dressing up as twins in the office.  I found out that half the office seems to have bought maroon sweaters that they all love to wear overtop a white collared shirt.  Anna dressed up just like Anderson although their mustaches were pointed in opposite directions.  There was also a unique delivery to the office next to my desk of Erin.  Not sure where she came from but she was definitely in a giant wooden box that had been screwed shut... pretty trusting.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines Sushi

Just a quick note that on this Valentines Day Emily surprised me with ingredients for sushi making - because I love sushi!  Although she had bought the wrong type of rice, thought that I had bought avocados when they were actually plums, and had bought Winco Salmon instead of the special sashimi salmon, we made it work and had a great meal with baked salmon on the side. :)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Visiting Family In Lafayette, CO

After the Ultramap User Meeting dinner on Friday I was picked up downtown by Uncle Roger, Aunt Catherine, and Cherie whom I hadn’t seen in over 15 years!  I had a choice between going skiing or spending time with family and decided it would be great to really spend time with them as I’ve always hit off well with my aunt and uncle.  We seem to think very similarly about things in life.  On Friday night we all stayed up pretty late catching up on our lives, my wedding, and their big move to Boulder to be closer to Cherie and their grand daughter Asia.  

On Saturday we all rented a van at Enterprise and headed to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, just over an hour south of Boulder.  I had no idea what to expect and was completely blown away by the zoo.  It was great to be there with all 5 of them and finally get to spend some time with Asia whom I’d never really met before (maybe as a baby?).  

The zoo is known for having the biggest captive giraffe population.  I counted at least 20+ before I lost track of them.  Visitors follow an elevated wooden pathway above their enclosure and they are completely free to come up to the railings and stick their faces right in yours.  With 14” tongues always sticking out looking for food they looked pretty hilarious to us.  We bought some lettuce and crackers from a stand and spent a long time enjoying feeding their constantly searching long black tongues.  We even got to see a little baby inside a building that was less than a few weeks old!  Asia got a kick out of me messing with Catherine by putting crackers on her head for the giraffe to smack off with its tongue.  

We then spent the rest of the early afternoon strolling up the hill the zoo is built on to see the many different animals which surprisingly seemed mostly to be fine out in the cold weather.  We visited the inside of an aviary and got to feed the little canaries with tongue depressors as they flew all around us.  We even got to get up close and personal with a male peacock that was constantly on display trying to scare off any competitors to the hens he was looking at.  

We spent some time checking out snow leopards, bengal tigers and a whole slew of mountain lions on our way up the hill which had a ski chairlift running to take people back and forth.  What amazed me about the zoo was that all of the animals seemed to be happy and out and about in their enclosures.  Almost every other zoo I’ve been to always had a few big animals that just didn’t want to come out of the safety of their homes or just didn’t seem very active but here they all were acting like they wanted to give us a real show.

My favorite moment at the zoo, even beyond the physical feeding of the many giraffes was how close a massive grizzly bear came to the window of its enclosure.  It slowly lumbered down from its cave to sit on a rock just a foot or so away from us on the other side of a plexiglass window.  I had never before been so close to bear that size and it even with the barrier between us it was truly humbling.  Asia and I both took turns taking a lot of photos!  

From there it was on past the lizards, snakes and other reptiles to the ape exhibit.  Once again, all of the animals seemed to be out and about swinging on ropes or eating snacks left around their enclosures.  There was a brand new baby gorilla at the zoo that remained hugging its mother as she walked all around the enclosure providing great photo opportunities for me.  The only thing I was sad about was that I didn’t have my long lens.  All animals except one sad looking little monkey looked like they were well treated and in good moods.  

After the zoo we headed to Garden of the Gods to see the towering red spires of rock in the golden hour light of sunset.   The towers of rock are actually sedimentary layers of red sandstones and light limestones that have been tilted skyward by the youthful (geologically-speaking) growth of the Rocky Mountain Range.  The area was littered with massive fins of bright red rock and reminded me a lot of Smith Rock in Bend.  Just like Smith this National Natural Landmark has amazing rock climbers and I could see a few bolted routes and hangers far up on the rock faces as we walked the well built footpaths below.  

In the distance, under growing snow clouds, we could see Pikes Peak and the setting sun on the rocks really lit them up incredibly.  We stopped at another location on the park road that wound it’s way between two towers of red sandstone for some more pictures of the family all together.   From there we headed to The Stagecoach Inn restaurant in Manitou Springs, CO for some dinner.  The town was celebrating Mardi Gras and there were a lot of people running around with beads on heading to bars in town.  

We noticed a big police presence.  I ordered local trout and a really good pheasant chowder.  Adam and I also split an order of real Rocky Mountain Oysters (look it up) which was certainly interesting and actually didn’t taste that bad when dipped in cocktail sauce (no pun intended).  After a pleasant ride back to Lafayette where I learned Cherie and I have the same music tastes, we ended the night watching a movie together.  

On Sunday I had a very relaxing day just chilling at the house with Roger and Catherine.  Later in the afternoon Adam came over and we watched All.I.Can, a ski film with incredible cinematography.  Cherie had homework and wasn’t able to make it over but I was pleased that Adam and Asia wanted to see me again before I left.  Adam is a world traveler and into the same outdoor sports Emily and I are into so we hit it off well over the weekend and I look forward to seeing them at the wedding.  

They dropped me off at a convenient bus stop for a quite ride to the airport and an uneventful, although delayed, flight back to Portland.  I can’t say enough how great of a weekend it was with them and it makes me feel bad I didn’t spend more time with them while I was living in Saratoga.... but I’d like to think I’m wiser and more mature now and I bet they totally understand.  

Ultramap User's Meeting - Boulder, CO

 This week my division lead Arley and I attended the Ultramap User’s Meeting at the Microsoft Bing Mapping headquarters in Boulder, CO.  Ultramap is the software WSI uses to process the 260 megapixel photos collected by our UltraCam Eagle Large Format sensor.  Basically, from 2,000 feet in the air each image captures about 130 acres of land with each pixel representing about 2 inches on the ground.  Yeah, you don’t want to tan topless in your backyard anymore when you hear a plane fly overhead.

This was my first work conference ever so I took the opportunity to network as much as I could.  We were surrounded by CEO’s of other photogrammetry specific companies, several of which Arley and I really hit it off with.  Others were our competition and we were trying to figure out the methods they used compared to us.  A takeaway for us was how respected WSI is in the remote sensing community for our innovative data processing and quality deliverables.  

Arley and I presented on the first day how we incorporate our LiDAR data with that of our new high resolution imagery into 3D and 4D proprietary products for clients and everyone seemed pretty impressed.  We also saw a presentation from a guy named Aaron who runs an entire business completely by himself from acquisition in his single plane all the way to delivery.

It was pretty cool being inside the heart of the Bing Mapping offices.  They really have a nice setup with pool tables, big tv’s, shuffle boards, and even an Xbox360 game room for the employees.  I felt a little awkward at times when I mistakenly blurted out “just google it” instead of “just look it up on a search engine”.  I also had to whip out my Macbook Pro to copy our presentation over which felt a little odd in the basement of Microsoft.

We stayed in an amazing 5-star hotel and spa called the St. Julien in downtown Boulder for both Wed and Thurs nights.  The Ultracam employees paid for delicious meals for us at two very fancy restaurants where we had wonderful conversations over delicious steak, seafood, and wine with others in our industry.  We never got to take advantage of our enormous rooms with amazing bathrooms or the spa facilities as we stayed busy with conference but we certainly ate well. 

The “social event” for the conference was a trip to Uncer Racing near Denver on the first night of the conference.  There was also an event Friday night after dinner but Arley had to fly back and I was getting picked up by relatives.  Uncer Rancing was amazing.  It was basically a go-cart race track in a giant warehouse building where you could reach speeds of 40-50mph in the modified carts and could drift around corners.   We were required to wear helmets and offered fire suits but declined.  We had two qualifying heats each and then a final championship.  I won both my qualifying heats but  placed last in the championship simply because I gave up and wanted to see how much drifting I could do before they got mad and turned the governor on remotely to slow down my cart.  They did it after about 3 laps.... ha!

I really had a great time at the conference and felt like we learned a lot about the new upcoming software and direction the industry is moving in.  This will keep us informed and help to continue our technological advancements at WSI.