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June 17th, 2019

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News, Updates, & Rants...

     June 16th, 2019

Decided to take a vacation from our vacation: staying in this Ramada hotel for a day and ``doing nothing'' the entire day.

Nothing includes: going to the pool, visiting the few kid friendly parks in the city, napping during the day, watching TV, and generally just "doing nothing".

Day well spent in Gillette!

- Alex; 20190616
June 16th at wikipedia...

     June 15th, 2019

In the ``morning'' (early afternoon), visited Artist Point and Mud Volcano, and that's that for the Yellowstone attractions. We left the park via the East entrance. It's a very scenic drive.

Was very pleasantly surprised by Bighorn National Forest. The shortest-path (gps picked) road was apparently thorugh these scenic mountains. It was an awesome drive.

We headed for the next population center, which was Gillette, Wyoming, where we got a hotel/resort.

Arrived pretty late, so just passed out.

- Alex; 20190615

     June 14th, 2019

Set GPS to Indian Creek Campground. It's in the northern part of the park.

While on the way, Suneli had the bright idea of dialing up the reservation number again, and... suddenly they had a spot, in Bridge Bay Campround. Booked it over the phone.

With no need to rush to grab a campsite, decided to take it easy. First spot: Mammoth Hot Springs. The road crews closed the road, and had it closed for about 30 minutes, while the queue of cars were waiting to pass the 2-mile section. On way back, decided to not go through that again, and used the east road down the park. But that's a much longer path, and the day was getting late, so we decided to check into the campsite, then perhaps see other things on the way.

At Bridge Bay... the checkin process is... well... you park the car right on the road, go into the office, where there's a queue... you wait in that queue for 30 minutes (no kidding, that's how long it took), then you get a sticker for the car. That's it. And it literally took 30 minutes to get that sticker.

After getting the campsite, we decided to do the lower south west of the park (old faithful and prismatic geiser). So drove there. It was awesome. Kiddo was running around everywhere.

By the time we got to old faithful, it was 10-minutes until it was about to go off... so very good timing there.

Gathered a lot of wood on the way to the campsite. They sell a box of wood for $8, which is silly because in Yellowstone you're allowed to burn dead wood, and it's everywhere (just not in the campsite). We had nearly all of empty space in the car filled with dry twigs by the time we got to the site. Ended up using most of it during cooking :-)

- Alex; 20190614

     June 13th, 2019

Visiting Shoshone Falls. Water flow level: low :-/

Then onto Craters Of the Moon. The whole park has the most amazing smell of flowers. It's just surreal.

Then drove through nickel-sized hail storm.

Staying in a camp site right in the center of Idaho Falls.

Tried booking camp site for Yellowstone, but no luck. Everything is full. Current plan is to drive into the park in the afternoon, and immediately go for one of the four first-come-first-served camp-sites. Indian Creek or Mammoth Springs.

- Alex; 20190613

     June 12th, 2019

Tentative plan for the next few days is to visit Shoshone Falls, followed by Craters Of the Moon. Unfortunately that's quite a while away. So spent most of the day driving (and stopping, and driving, and stopping, and driving, etc.)

Eventually ended up in a hotel in Nampa, Idaho. Hopefully will get to the Shoshone Falls tomorrow afternoon.

- Alex; 20190612

     June 11th, 2019

Starting day with a drive to Mount Rainier National Park.

Apparently we're about a month (or few) too early, and there are no trails that go up the mountain from the visitor center---everything is full of snow. So we clicked some pictures, and onto the next hotel in Yakima, WA.

- Alex; 20190611

     June 10th, 2019

Drove to Hoh rain forest, had a picknick, a short walk.

Then to Rialto Beach, which was very windy and cold.

Then to La Push Beach, which was similary windy and cold.

Then out of Olympic, and to a hotel in Lacey, WA.

- Alex; 20190610

     June 9th, 2019

Drove from Eugene, OR to Olympic National Park. Long drive :-/

Staying in a South Beach Campround in Olympic NP. It's amazing. Very chilly and windy, but you're allowed to burn drift wood for fire, and there's a ton of it---and it burns amazingly well (it's very dry). It's awesome.

There's a dead seal on the beach.

- Alex; 20190609

     June 8th, 2019

Drove from Weed to Crater Lake. Very short drive. Then spent another 30-minutes waiting in queue to get into the Crater Lake park.

The road is closed at "discovery point", so drove there, clicked pix, then to the village, then clicked pix, then out of the park.

Awesome views. In the park, the snow is about 15-feet high in some places.

Staying in a hotel in Eugene, OR.

- Alex; 20190608

     June 7th, 2019

Skipping places we've already been at. Next stop is Crater Lake.

Drove all the way to Weed, California. Staying in a Motel6 here. Terrible terrible motel :-/

- Alex; 20190607

     June 6th, 2019

Drove to Yosemite Glacier Point, and then into the Yosemite canyon... walked to the lower Yosemite waterfall.

Had a picknick/lunch in Yosemite.

Got a hotel in Merced, California.

- Alex; 20190606

     June 5th, 2019

Drove to Kings Canyon national park, and got a tent camp site. Then drove to Sequoia national park to see General Sherman Tree.

Did the scenic walk from parking lot with kiddo, and a shuttle-bus back.

Kings Canyon camping sure has a lot of bugs :-/

- Alex; 20190605

     June 4th, 2019

From Las Vegas, drove to Titus Canyon at Death Valley. Apparently it's a one-way road from outside Death Valley---so good thing we didn't drive to Death Valley to enter it.

That drive was amazing. One of those single-lane road on-the-side-of-a-cliff kind of drives. Very exciting. Glad I was in our 4Runner :-)

Stopped for a picknick in a place called Lone Pine.

Got a hotel in a place named Bakersfield, California.

- Alex; 20190604

     June 3rd, 2019

Drove to Grand Canyon, North Rim. Did a short hike down Kaibab trail (to first viewing area, about 15 minutes down), and a walk to Bright Angel point.

Kiddo was behaving ok until the Bright Angel, and then the entire grand canyon heard his crying... (maybe scared of heights?). We quickly got to the car and drove to Las Vegas.

Staying in Stratosphere hotel, that was ridiculously cheap when booked through hotwire.

- Alex; 20190603

     June 2nd, 2019

Drove to Capitol Reef national park. Did a tiny hike (the sunset point walk).

On drive to Grand Canyon (north rim), were planning to camp at Jacob lake, but the weather there was predicted to be low-40s overnight, so stopped over in a hotel in Kanab. Did laundry in coin-operated laundry (now have a hand-full of quarters :-)

- Alex; 20190602

     June 1st, 2019

Drove to the Black Canyon visitor's center. There was an astronomer there with a solar-telescope, looking at the solar CMEs. It was pretty amazing to see the sun having those arches, etc.

Drove to Capitol Reef National Park, and the campsite was full. Ended up at a campsite about 10 miles west of the park---with running water, showers, and wifi :-)

- Alex; 20190601

     May 31st, 2019

Starting day with Great Sand Dunes National Park. Got a "warning" when a park ranger pulled me over in the visitor center parking lot for driving the "wrong way" (the parking lot had arrows showing which way the traffic should go---and I kinda went the "wrong way" when I noticed a parkig spot and drove to it direct). Had me worried there for a bit.

After sand dunes, we drove to Black Canyon National Park, and got one of those walk-in-campsites (without a reservation). It was awesome. Except at night it was very very cold (apparently that campsite is about 8500 feet or so elevation). Kiddo kept waking up at night (he doesn't like sleeping with a blanket, and it was a bit too chilly to sleep outside the sleeping bag).

By complete luck, we got there on a friday night, and they had astronomy might---a few astronomers brought their gear to the summit to observe the stars. Saw the M4 galaxy, as well as multiple images of Jupier.

- Alex; 20190531

     May 30th, 2019

And suddenly we're in Colorado (drove most of the night to get here).

Suneli drove up Pike's Peak, and later in the day we ended up in Garden of the Gods.

Got a Motel6 in Pueblo, CO, and it was by far the worst-hotel-ever. The room was an OK basic type of room, but it had no microwave and no fridge (and they didn't have a central one for guests to use---like to reheat things). This may not seem like a big deal, but when traveling with an 18-month-old-kid, a microwave is often needed. The hotel had a pool, but it was freezing (outdoor). Anyways, probably will avoid Motel6s from now on.

- Alex; 20190530

     May 29th, 2019

Visiting the Gateway Arch in St.Lewis. They changed the entrance a bit from what it was a few years back.

- Alex; 20190529

     May 28th, 2019

The camp at Abrams Creek was pretty good. They got running water, and the tent site is right next to a small creek. It's pretty awesome. Can hear animals at night... even the growling of bears.

Spent the day getting out of Smoky Mountains NP and closer to Colorado. Drove though Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois. Ended up in Metropolis (yes, the superman city) a hundred miles south east of St.Lewis. Staying in hotel.

- Alex; 20190528

     May 27th, 2019

Getting from Wytheville (Virginia) to Smoky Mountain NP.

After getting to Smoky, it turned out that all the nearby camp sites were sold-out, and the only one that had a spot was Abrams Creek, which is all the way on the west side of the park (about two hours drive from the Gatlinburg entrance). Called recreation.gov, and booked one of the tent sites there.

The site is awesome. Very remote. Has running water. Drinking water.

We booked spot A06, but the tent square was a bit slanted, and A05 was empty (folks left early), so we moved there.

- Alex; 20190527

     May 26th, 2019

Leaving on a road trip tour of US national parks. Rough outline of plan is to go to the west coast via southern states, then up the west coast, then go back to NY via northern states. Skipping north east (Maine) and Florida. Also skipping some very-out-of-the-way parks.

First stop is Smoky Mountain National Park.

Set out from NY at 4am, and drove-drove-drove far-far-far, and ended the day in Wytheville (Virginia). Not quite Smoky mountain NP, but close enough. Staying in hotel in Wytheville.

- Alex; 20190526

     May 24th, 2019

Done with grading and classes for Sprint 2019 semester. Yey!

- Alex; 20190524

     May 16th, 2019

Finished reading A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market by Edward O. Thorp. This is one awesome autobiography. Highly recommend.

- Alex; 20190516

     May 10th, 2019

Finished Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson. Entertaining. Not especially enlightening---just entertaining. This book tries really hard to be politically correct.

- Alex; 20190510

     May 4th, 2019

Virtually attending Berkshire Hathaway meeting... on Yahoo Finance (which stupidly enough doesn't allow Linux web-browsers to view the livestream; had to dig out my Surface Go to view the thing).

- Alex; 20190505

     April 30th, 2019

Uh, oh!

- Alex; 20190430

     April 29th, 2019

...and back in NYC :-)

- Alex; 20190429

     April 28th, 2019

Flying out at 2pm. Kona to LA. It seems we were the last ones to arrive to the flight.

Then LA to NYC flight.

- Alex; 20190428

     April 27th, 2019

Drove to south point.

Fed horses on the way.

- Alex; 20190427

     April 26th, 2019

Drove to Akaka falls, and didn't see anything due to fog. Broke some sugar-cane on the side of the road though. Kiddo seems to instinctively know how to chew it...

Drove to Rainbow Falls (near Hilo).

Stopped by Mauna Kea visitor's center on the way back to Kona. It was overcast, and drizzling rain. Good thing I went on the big hike earlier in the week---it seems it's snowing on the summit.

- Alex; 20190426

     April 25th, 2019

Visiting the Volcanoes National Park Kahuku Unit. It's right next to the south point road.

On the way there, got a tire puncture (yeah, the Jeep, big fat tires, eh). Spent the rest of the day driving back to Kona, and re-pumping the tire at every other gas-station.

Got a replacement rental: Chevy Equinox (not 4wd).

- Alex; 20190425

     April 24th, 2019

Drove down the Waipio Valley, and built sand castles with kiddo on the black-sand beach.

On the way back, we were searching for Umauma falls, which we thought might be down Mana Road. That's the road that circles the Mauna Kea on the East, and it goes through some amazing landscapes with zero people. The drive is above the clouds though lively green grass on a dirt-road. It was just amazing.

Unfortunately, the road came to a gate---and we didn't know if it was private property or not, so decided to turn back. The road does terminate at the Saddle Road (according to google maps), but somewere could pass though a ranch or few. Anyways, amazing drive.

- Alex; 20190424

     April 23rd, 2019

My big hike day.

Headed out at midnight from Kona, and drove to Mauna Loa observatory (at 10k feet). Got there by 2am. Slept in car until 6am (to get aclimated).

At 6am, headed to summit. 3.5-hours later, got to the summit. Very sunny and awesome day. Another 3.5 hours later was back in the car. Picked up a big (perhaps 20lb?) white-lava rock from the summit.

Decided to drive up the Muana Kea summit. After a short drive, and a quick run to the summit, desposited the big white-lava rock at the summit (I occasionally translplant rocks from mountains just to confuse future geologists: there's a piece of Mnt.Mansfield on Mnt.Washington :-)

- Alex; 20190423

     April 21st, 2019

Doing the chain of craters road at Volcano National Park.

At the end of the chain of craters... there's a... new road. So the road continues. My guess to Kalapana. It's closed to traffic, but open to hikers.

- Alex; 20190421

     April 20th, 2019

Visiting beaches near Kona.

There's one that requires a 4WD right next to the airport.

- Alex; 20190420

     April 19th, 2019

Went to see turtles by the... turtle beach (next to Kona airport).

Drove to Volcano National Park, and saw the ``road closed'' sign to Jagger museum.

Stopped by Mauna Kea on the way back to see stars. Apparently the nightly star-gazing thing at Mauna Kea visitor's center is no more (at least until they finish construction).

- Alex; 20190419

     April 18th, 2019

Flying out to Hawaii. Just the big island this time.

Checked into a hotel in Kona. Will spend the rest of the trip here (note to self, get a room with a better view next time; partial ocean front isn't as good as "ocean front").

- Alex; 20190418

     April 15th, 2019

Urgh. Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.

- Alex; 20190415

     April 12th, 2019

Finished reading Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr. I've heard about OKRs from other books (mostly about google ones). So if you're into that sort of thing (management driven goal setting devices), then by all means read this book---it's filled with all sorts of anecdotal evidense that many will find convincing.

- Alex; 20190412

     April 5th, 2019

Finished reading Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street by William Poundstone.

An awesome book on history of the Kelly criterion, as it's applied to gambling, stock market, etc., highly recommmend.

- Alex; 20190405

     March 27th, 2019

Regarding the broken Intel NUC7I7BNH: ordered a replacement fan on amazon, got it today, and replaced it. The NUC appears to be functioning perfectly again.

- Alex; 20190327

     March 24th, 2019

The CPU fan in my Intel NUC7I7BNH died (24/7 since May 2017; barely 2 years of operation :-/

Strangely enough, the much older NUC D54250WYK is still functioning flawlessly (24/7 since April 2014).

- Alex; 20190324

     March 22nd, 2019

Ok... so the yield curve has inverted. Why should we care? Bond prices are a good proxy for future sentiment---high prices (low yields) indicates folks don't think there's economic growth ahead. So inverted yield curve means short term bonds are priced more than long term bonds... that pretty much says: everyone's expecting volatility short term, and lower growth long term.

- Alex; 20190322

     March 15th, 2019

Finished Energy: A Human History by Richard Rhodes. It's an awesome history book---focused quite a bit on energy derived from wood, coal, and oil, with a very tiny bit focused on nuclear, solar, wind, etc.

For a history on nuclear stuffs, a much better book is: The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. I must say I've enjoyed the atomic bomb book much more than the energy book.

- Alex; 20190315

     March 14th, 2019

Happy Pi-Day!

- Alex; 20190314

     March 11th, 2019

Yey, Anniversary! 3-years!

- Alex; 20190311

     March 9th, 2019

Finished The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli. Pretty good book with some new ideas. We think entropy (disorder) increases with time, but perhaps it's due to our perspective. For example, if we take an ordered deck of cards, and shuffle it, it's unlikely that we'll get the original ordered deck (yey, shuffling increases disorder!). But what if we shuffle the deck, then treat that shuffled deck as being particular in some way---shuffling will similarly not return it to that particular initial order. The difference is that shuffling rearranges things, but in the second instance we don't assume that there's any particular order to things in the beginning. (yes, it's true that shuffling moves us further way from the initial configuration---but it doesn't mean that the original configuration was more or less disordered than later).

There are other neat thought experiments, such as what would the world look like without time? Would things stop happening? Perhaps there would be notion of local time (if there's no global time?). Relativity pretty much says there's no such thing as global time---all time is relative, etc.

Other neat things: Entropy could be related to correlated coincidences. For example, tea cup falls on the floor and breaks. Time moves forward. We don't see pieces come together and form a tea-cup. Why? There's nothing in physical laws that is preventing all those pieces (and sound, and heat, etc.) to come together and form a tea-cup, and yet it just doesn't happen. If we reversed everything (literally everything) then the cup would un-break, but that would be a very improbable coincidense. So whenever we notice correlations (stuff that appears to be related in some way) we assume that there's a single [perhaps not first order] cause that's behind the correlation.

- Alex; 20190309

     February 28th, 2019

Finally got around to microwaving a grape... and it pretty much looked just like this.

- Alex; 20190228

     February 27th, 2019

Finished reading Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Very similar to Antifragile. Both pretty good books. I've yet to find things that I'd strongly disagree with in most of his writing (he's a bit full of himself though, but all in all, whatever he writes about is interesting to read and makes sense), though I liked the style of Fooled by Randomness more than this `new' bloggy-rant-kinda writing style.

- Alex; 20190227

     February 19th, 2019

...and back in NYC :-)

- Alex; 20190219/small>

     February 18th, 2019

Orlando day. Started out of the hotel a bit late (enjoyed the pool, etc.), and then decided to go sight seeing. One of the places we tried to visit was Disneyland. Not knowing anything (and this being our first trip here), we just drove there---thinking there's some places to visit. Apparently not. You can't get in without a ticket, and that's $130 per person. There's no place to "walk around for two hours". Urgh.

So we went to Wekiwa Springs State Park. It was awesome. We didn't know what kind of park it was, so weren't prepared. This park is best visited in swimming wear, and go on a kayaking trip. But eh, it was fun to walk around for an hour or so before the flight.

- Alex; 20190218

     February 17th, 2019

So apparently the best beaches in Florida are near Tampa. The ``sand'' there is powdery white (very weird compared to conventional sand elsewhere). We went to the beach that's right next to Clearwater, thinking it would be less-crowded than Clearwater. It was very very very crowded. Took us a long while to find parking, by sheer luck (a car was pulling out right where we were).

Kiddo played in the water, in the sand, etc. It was awesome. All of us got sun-burns.

- Alex; 20190217

     February 16th, 2019

Visiting Everglades National Park. Saw aligators and crocodiles. Aligator: fresh-water, crocodile: salt-water. In Florida that is.

On the way out of Everlades, stopped by Everglades Gator Grill and had aligator burger, and frog legs with rice. Always wanted to try those. Frog legs taste awesome (much better than I was expecting). They're a bit of a pain to eat due to tiny bones. Aligator meat... eh, not as good as chicken.

Next stop: Tampa.

- Alex; 20190216

     February 15th, 2019

Landed in Oralndo, rented a Jeep Renegade, and long drive to the tip of Florida.

First thing, the Advantage car rental sucks. I reserved a mid-size SUV for the trip. Prepaid. When I get to the counter, all they have are minivans. ``sorry''. Nothing but minivans. Nothing else. That's that. So... if I reserved a cheap-box-on-wheels sedan (half the cost), I'd still get a minivan... so assume my reservation is for a cheap sedan and give me the price difference? (if I'm gonna end up with a car I didn't want, be nice about it). No, they don't operate that way. Then I get to the garage to pickup the minivan, and... they got other cars there. They got a Toyota Sequoia! But that's a $40/day upgrade, and they won't honor my "I want an SUV that I prepaid for!" claim. Then I notice other SUVs, Toyota Rav4, etc. But ah, those "aven't available". Why not---I did reserve exactly this kind of car and I even prepaid!!! "there's some mechanical problem with all of them, so we can't rent them out". Yeah, right! In the end, they gave me a Jeep Renegade (which was also initially on the "mechanical problem" list, but then turned out to be perfectly fine). This is the crappiest rental car behavior I've ever seen: if you have the damn car, just give it... especially since the customer pre-paid for it!

Anyway, drove all the way to Fort Zachary Taylor. Kiddo went for a walk in the ocean. Awesome drive. Got a hotel in Homestead.

- Alex; 20190215

     February 14th, 2019

Flying out to Orlando, FL. Planning to do a road-trip all over florida.

- Alex; 20190214

     February 12th, 2019

Finished reading Death's End: Remembrance of Earth's Past by Cixin Liu and Ken Liu (Translator). This concludes the 3-body problem trilogy... there really is no way to continue the story beyond this point (the universe ends, the end).

All in all, an awesome trilogy. Starts out very slow, but then speeds up quite a bit. Very imaginative, and has some concepts I haven't encountered in other places. Imagine startrek universe with nothing borrowed from startrek.

- Alex; 20190212

     February 4th, 2019

Caught something on the weekend---passed out the whole day Monday.

- Alex; 20190204

     February 3rd, 2019

Visited some of the Catskills trailheads---such as Peekamoose mountain. Can't realy hike with a 1-year-old... just click some neat snowy pix.

- Alex; 20190203

     February 2nd, 2019

Spontaneously decided to spend the weekend upstate---in the Catskills. Booked a hotel (with a pool), and within a few minutes, we were on the way there.

- Alex; 20190202

     January 31st, 2019

Wow: Stock Exchanges to Fire Company Building Stock-Market Supercomputer: Finra to take over the Consolidated Audit Trail from Thesys Technologies. Wow! All those years of trying to get this thing, and now... wow, just like that.

- Alex; 20190131

     January 28th, 2019

...and back in NY.

Also, classes start tonight, and I'm a jetlagged zombie running on caffeine :-)

- Alex; 20190128

     January 27th, 2019

Drive drive drive to Delhi...

- Alex; 20190127

     January 26th, 2019

Kiddo's belated b-day party.

- Alex; 20190126

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