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Swallow Cliff trail run - Palos, IL

We ran at the Swallow Cliff forest preserve today. There is a nice
crushed gravel path that winds through the whole preserve area. Near
the end, the path went up the stairs where the toboggan slides used to
be. The trail was dry for the most part but the humidity was killing


Road Trip Day 4 & 5 - Montana to Wisconsin

We headed out from Kalispell this morning and drove to Bigfork, MT to meet Anne's cousin Carl and his wife at their business, Chris' Tea Cottage. The building is a 1920's log cabin that has been renovated into a tea house. It is in a neat area of downtown Bigfork right near the river. After having some tea and lunch, Carl took us to see his log cabin home overlooking Swan Lake.

We left Bigfork and started our 1,400 mile drive to Merrillan, WI. The drive is nice through western Montana, crossing the Continental Divide but starts to flatten out by the eastern boarder and startes to get pretty boring. We made it to Glendive, MT (just near the Montana/North Dakota boarder) where we stopped for a few hours sleep before continuing the rest of the way. We finally made it to Wisconsin late in the afternoon.


Road Trip Day 3 - Missoula, MT to Kalispell, MT

We started off today with a run up the "M" trail just east of the University of Montana campus. It was windy and cold, but it was still a great but steep run. The picture is of Anne and me just below the M. Interestingly, the University of Montana is the home to the
Skaggs School of Pharmacy UM - I graduated from the
Skaggs School of Pharmacy UCSD at the University of California San Diego. Missoula seems like a really cool town, I think if things don't work out for us building a home in Wisconsin, this might be a place we would consider moving to.
From Missoula, we headed North towards Glacier National Park. Along the way, we drove along Flathead Lake which appeared bright emerald green due to the rain clouds overhead.
Although we didn't plan on it, we side tracked to the Hungry Horse Dam. This dam was built in 1953 to create a reservoir on the south fork of the Flathead River. It really is a beautiful dam with the way it is situated in the steep valley and the reservoir behind it. This was the best part of our trip so far.
Finally, we headed up to Glacier National Park which was just a few miles away. The road through the park was closed just 16 miles past the entrance, so we were here just a short time and then headed to Kalispell, MT where we are staying the night. Tomorrow we'll be going to see Anne's cousin in Big Fork, MT and then making the longest leg of our trip so far - from Big Fork, MT to Merrillan, WI.


Road Trip Day 2 - Jackson Hole, WY to Missoula, MT

We left the hotel this morning and took a drive through Teton National Park and then over to Jackson just a few miles away. We drove around the town for a while and actually came across a pair of modern loft style home that we saw on the television show "What You Get For The Money" last year.
After Jackson, we headed to Rexburg, Idaho to see the
Teton Dam museum. I'm sure nobody would be surprised to hear that I got a speeding ticket along the way. I was going 65 in a 55mph zone - the court date is set for July 1st in Jackson which I'd love to go to, but the $90 fine is just a little cheaper than returning to Jackson.
The Teton dam (an earthern dam) was completed in 1975, but started to develop leaks on June 6, 1976 just 8 months after its completion. The leaks lead to the dams failure later that day completely releasing the 240ft deep reservoir behind it and flooding several small towns down river. The remnants of the dam are still in the river valley and you can drive up to an overlook just above it (picture).
From Rexburg, we drove 300 miles to Missoula, Montana. The drive was really nice and the views in Montana were the best we have had yet - Giant green rolling hills giving way to dark snow and cloud capped mountains behind them. It rained on and off pretty heavily along the way but the traffic was light and we made it quickly around dark.


Road Trip Day 1 - Riverside, CA to Jackson Hole, WY

Left from Riverside at 9a this morning. The drive was good so far. Lots of rain from the Utah boarder until Salt Lake City. We're in Bountiful, UT now ,eating at a Chipotle. Should get to Jackson, WY around 11pm.
Update: we made it to the Jackson Hole area and we are staying at the Hotel Terra in Teton Village. Its a really new hotel with an organic/sustainable theme. The rooms are very nice inside and modern in decorations. I'll put some pictures up tomorow when it is light out. We'll be driving to near Glacier National Park in Montana tomorrow after going to a flood museum in Rexburg, ID.


First Light - Obsession 18" Ultra Compact Telescope

Two weeks ago we received our new telescope - an Obesession Telescope 18" Ultra Compact. We placed the order for it two months ago from Obsession telescopes with an estimated delivery date of June 1st - it arrived two weeks ahead of schedule. We spent half of a day unpacking the 4 boxes, reading the instructions, and getting the telescope set-up inside our house. The 18" UC is really well built and the attention to detail is readily apparent. When fully assembled, the UC slightly shorter than a Classic 18" Obsession, but much lighter and more transportable. When pointing at the zenith (straight up), the eyepiece is just too high for our eye level so we have a small folding stool to reach that level.

On Friday, we planned to take the UC out to Joshua Tree National Park but we wanted to practice setting it up fully and collimating (aligning) the optics using Catseye collimation tools. We got a late start out to Joshua Tree and arrived there around 10pm. There were a few other campers and only one other astronomer there. We unloaded the car and had the UC set up within 15 minutes and left the fan running to cool the mirror down. Set-up was actually quicker and easier than our previous Celestron 11" Nexstar telescope.

The Clear Sky Clock Clear Sky Clock showed that the seeing conditions were going be decent but not great and it was pretty accurate. Our first target was M13 using a TeleVue 13mm Ethos eyepiece. The view was amazing! The UC was extremely easy to push to the target (our previous scope was automated) and to keep it on target. Next we headed on over to Jupiter. We knew our telescope wasn't fully collimated but this was the best view of Jupiter we have ever seen. The details were so easy to see, I can't wait until we get better seeing conditions and get our optics better aligned to look at it again! We also looked at M51, M57, and M101 until a little after 2am when we packed everything back up and headed back to Riverside.

Overall, we have been very impressed with the quality, ease of assembly and use, and the visual quality of the optics. I know we are going to have some great nights to come!


Crazy weather

It's been raining on and off today which doesn't happen that much at
the end of May. Then, in the afternoon, it got really dark and the
clouds starred turning green. It started to hail which got bigger and
bigger and actually started to pile up. It was about 2" deep by the
time it stopped! This is the craziest weather I have seen out here-
just a few days ago, it was over 100F! The cars were slipping around
all over the parking lot, it was like walking on a pile of ball
bearings. There was even a tornado that touched down not too far from
here. Check out the small mountain in the background that looks like
it was covered in snow.


Nice run at Sycamore Canyon

Got out for a run today and what a nice break from the hot 105F
weather we've had lately. Really cool clouds down by the mountains.


sometimes I feel like I need this sign posted at my pharmacy.


Hello Juror Number 8 - are you really a pharmacist?

Well, it finally caught up with me and I got called for Jury Duty and had to go. Actually, I have never had to go so far - either I got out of it for school or got a postponement and I moved before the rescheduled date. So I showed up down at the Riverside County Hall of Justice and ended up in a courtroom pretty early and put on a jury pretty soon after that.
There was a jury questionnaire that had to be answered verbally in the courtroom. When I got to the part about occupation, and I answered "pharmacist", I think a few people were surprised since I was wearing a short sleeve (collared) shirt leaving my right lower tattoo sleeved arm exposed. Guess I looked more like an illegal drug user rather than a legal drug dealer. Anyway, I ended up on the jury and looks like it is going to last the rest of the week. I'll post an update after the case is over.


Got out for a nice short but fast run today after work. I had the flu
last week (2nd time for the season) and was feeling really good today
and I was really happy to be out running. I have jury duty this week
so we'll see if I actually have to go.


Mt. San Jacinto hiking

Anne and I took the Palm Springs Aerial tram up to try to hike to the top of San Jacinto. It is only it about a 10 mile hike from the top of the tram to the peak (round trip) and from our views down in Riverside, it seemed that most of the snow had melted. We found out we were wrong about a mile into the hike when the trail became covered in snow and the only trail that was left was the footprints of those who went before us. We've hiked through snow before (in the Sierras) and it wasn't icy so we kept going. To make a long story short, found that we had gone way off the trail - like I said, following the other maniacs before us. After the fottprints dwindled to nothing, we kept heading up the ridge to the top. We eventually made it to the top of the mountain, just not the right one! We were at the top of Jean Peak just to the South of San Jacinto. We eventually made it back down to the tram (fun but tired) and I was kicking myself the whole way down for not buying those Kahtoolas when I saw them a few months ago.


So long Windows

I've been thinking about switching over to a Mac for a while but getting a desktop was not an option and the Macbook Pro was just too big (I haven't had the need for an optical drive on a laptop for years). Going to Windows Vista was something I was unwilling to do since it seemed that many of the programs I had were not compatible. Other than the security issues, there didn't seem to be anything Vista really improved over Windows XP. So, when I saw the Macbook Air it was enough to get me to switch from my OQO Model 02.

After a month of using it, I can't see myself ever going back to Windows. OS X just works and is so much fun to use. I did miss the ability to maximize a window with just a click, but with Expose and Spaces it works out just fine.
The MBA is built so well! Small, light, the screen is bright and the full size keyboard is really nice to use. The MagSafe power adapter is great! For those who haven't seen it, the end of the power cable that attaches to the laptop does so magnetically. Just bring the adapter near the power port and it is drawn into position. Additionally, the power brick is so small I can wind the cord up and stick it into my pocket!

I've never really liked touch pad mouse controls but the Multitouch pad on the MBA changed all that. Using two fingers to scroll and the pinch zoom is awesome. However, adding the program Mac Scroll makes it even better - now the finger scrolling is like the iPhone kinetic scrolling - great for reading long web pages or navigating through pdfs or Word docs. It is completely worth the $19 for the program but really is something Apple should have designed the multitouch pad to do from the start.

Overall, I've never been happier with a computer purchase. I'm hoping that Apple will produce a Mac based tablet computer in the future because that would be ideal for me.


Death Valley 30k (18.6 mile) trail race - ouch! twisted ankle!

This weekend we ran the EnviroSports Death Valley 30k (18.6 mile) trail race through Titus Canyon in Death Valley. Anne's sister came out from Wisconsin to run it with us. There has been lots of snow the past few weeks here in California and it looked like the canyon was going to be closed (meaning the course would have to be moved to a course on the shoulder of one of the roads in Death Valley (this has happened 25% of the time in years past). The National Park rangers drove the course the day before the race and gave their approval for the race to take the intended course which was awesome!
We started out at the Furnace Creek Ranch and Inn where we got onto school buses which took us on an hour ride up and out of Death Valley (East into Nevada) to the 30K starting point, at which point our bus overheated and blew the radiator! Luckily it didn't happen earlier! The weather was great (50-60F) and sunny, you couldn't ask for a better day.

The race started out with a short downhill then up a steep 800ft climb over Red Pass then descends around 5000ft over the remaining course, the entire course along a 4wd gravel road. I was doing great (around a 7 min mile average) until just before mile 5, when I stepped on a loose rock and twisted my ankle really bad. I ran a little more thinking I would be able to run it off but it just got more painful and I could tell my ankle was starting to swell. My choices were to stop and wait to be picked up (probably a few hour wait) or to just finish. Being as stubborn as I am (and hating to wait for anything), I kept going the 13+ miles to the finish. My pace really slowed and every step was painful but I didn't want to quit. The views were worth it as the trail descended into Titus Canyon where the rocky walls come out of the ground and go more than 100 feet straight up around the narrow road, sometimes less than 20 feet wide road! The trail winds through the canyon for around 5 miles before quickly emerging out at the top of an alluvial fan where you can see the final 3 miles to the finish line. I really limped the last few miles and was relieved when I finally crossed the finish line to find my ankle swelled up to the size of a grapefruit! Anne and her sister finished about 45 minutes later and it was nice that they got to run together.
Overall, we had a great time and the event organizers did an amazing job at putting the whole thing together. I finished in 11th place with an 8:01/mile average pace. I'm already looking forward to running it again next year.


House6 concrete house - one day trip to SFO and back

We drove up to (and back from in 1 day) the San Francisco area today to see a concrete home ( House6 ) designed and built by Fu-Tung Cheng of Cheng Design. The house was only open for public viewing for a few hours today only. We first learned about Fu-Tung when we used his book and materials to make concrete counter tops for our kitchen and bathrooms (see kitchen picture below). All of the design pictures in his two books are beautiful so it was well worth the 400+ mile (each way) drive to see.

The house was built in an older neighborhood near Stanford University and entirely open (except for a couple of small rooms) and we were allowed to walk throughout the house (with shoes off) There are no pictures of the inside since we were asked to not take pictures. The whole house was amazing, with the exterior and some interior walls made of concrete. The entry walkway had a water feature that drained into a small koi pond that went both inside and outside the house (a glass divider prevented someone from breaking in through it). The floors were heated with a radiant heat system and were either left bare concrete or finished with carpet or wood. The kitchen and baths had concrete countertops - you'd think that maybe there could be a point where there was too much concrete, but with the colors and textures chosen along with the window layouts, it was actually really nice inside. Overall, it was great of the owners and Fu-Tung to allow the public to view the house and see what a wonderful house this really was. (picture below is of our kitchen and of the concrete countertops Anne and I made).


phoenix trip

we went to phoenix this weekend to visit anne's aunt and her mom who flew out from wisconsin. we drove the audi allroad (first long trip) - it doesn't get great gas mileage but it sure is nice to drive. friday we hiked the trail to the top of squaw peak opictures). it's only a little over 2 miles but a good workout since it is pretty steep going up. last time i was up there was 10 years ago when i lived in arizona so it was neat to do it again!


Rain and running through the weekend

The weather here is finally starting to become more like winter. It started to get cold (60's daytime, 40's night) and actually rained 1.5" on Friday (that's alot for around here). We ran at Mt. Rubidoux on Friday (in the rain) and it sucked - wet, cold, and overall not very enjoyable (at least in my opinion).

We didn't run on Saturday (waiting for the trails to dry out) but Ran at Santa Rosa Plateau this morning. The weather was nice (calm breeze, 60 F) and the parking lot had quite a few cars in it. Did basically the same course as earlier in the week, but the first 1/3 was still muddy. Not so bad that it wasn't runnable, but enough to cake and carry on your shoes. The surrounding mountain tops in the distance were covered snow which made for some nice views since the air was cool and dry. Saw lots of coyote along the way and finished at 11.75 miles.


Santa Rosa Plateau trail running and WTF!

Drove out to Santa Rosa Plateau this morning and ran a nice 11.5 mile course. Started at the Visitors Center ($2 honor system day use fee) and headed down Vista Grande trail to Waterline road and up to Monument Rd and saw quite a few coyote along the way. From here I headed down Punta Mesa trail, past the Adobes and headed left up Vernal Pool trail towards the Vernal Pools.

About half way to the pools, I came around a corner and see 2 people just off the trail - a guy (fully clothed with his back to me) with his arms wrapped down and around a woman (clothed) who was on her knees and was facing away from him. I just thought WTF did I just stumble upon! The first thing I saw was him pulling up with his arms and back and it looked like he was choking her! I ran up and asked what's going on and he said she was choking on some food. A closer look around, I realized they were on a blanket and there was a half eaten sandwich on the ground. Strangely, he was trying to do the Heimlich on here but at the same time he was asking her if she was OK (and she was able to respond) - really, you shouldn't be doing the Heimlich on someone who can respond to questions. The guy seemed almost annoyed that I was there when I offered to help so I just headed down the trail.
I ran past the Vernal Pools and down Los Santos trail, past the Overlook area and down to the Hidden Valley trailhead, going back up Coyote trail. At the junction with Trans-Preserve trail, I took Oak Tree trail to Tenaja Truck trail and then back to the Visitors Center on Waterline Rd.


Getting more running in (finally) and a pharmacist (finally!)

Work has been pretty busy the past few months. Since becoming the Pharmacist in Charge of the new pharmacy, I have been working pretty much solo. The model of the chain I work for is set up so that it takes 2 pharmacists to staff all the hours the pharmacy is open per week. Normally each pharmacist works 40 hours in 4 days (2 12hr days and 2 8.5 hr days) - BUT I have not had another pharmacist working with me since I opened which has resulted in me working 4 12hr and 1 8.5hr days a week. This leaves 2 days a week that I have had floater pharmacists filling in.
Starting today, I finally have a pharmacist working full time at my pharmacy which is going to give me 1 more day off a week! The timing is great since I really need to start getting in shape for the Death Valley trail run (Feb) which I'd like to run the 26.2 mile (rather than the 18 mile)course. The schedule we will be working will be working from Wed to Wed, then you get 6 days off in a row! My first 6 day off period starts tomorrow.
I'm going to head out to run Santa Rosa Plateau tomorrow, then spend several days writing for a project I am involved in with UCSD School of Pharmacy. I'm writing a chapter for a textbook on Pharmacy Informatics that is to be published sometime next summer. My chapter is on the use of handheld mobile devices in pharmacy practice.


New computer - OQO UMPC

I've been trying to find a good mobile computer for a while now. My previous computer was a HP TC1100 but it was a little big for what I was looking for. I have a desktop computer with a 22" monitor for working on big files so I just need something small, with a tablet PC form factor that would allow me to quickly type out an e-mail, surf the net, and sync my other mobile devices ( iPhone, Garmin Forerunner 305 watch). I just got rid of a

HTC Advantage x7500 pocket PC phone (when I got the iPhone), which could get net access (a mobile version) but couldn't sync my other devices.
The solution I found was the OQO model 02 UMPC. It is a super small tablet PC that is small enough to carry in your pocket. It even has a slide away keyboard with integrated track stick which makes it an amazingly useful computer. Its not a terribly powerful computer, but it sure does work great for me. I can easily sync my devices, surf the internet from the couch, and it easily goes to work with me in my lab coat pocket. The pharmacy I work for does have computers with internet and Microsoft office, but no color printer and no Adobe Acrobat Pro so when I have the need, I just grab my OQO and plug it into a $25 HP printer, or can generate a pdf. The only things I feel it is lacking are an extra USB port (there is only 1 port) and a SD card slot; however, it does have a HDMI port(go figure). With WiFi and bluetooth, I can use a wireless keyboard and mouse, then just dock it to a larger monitor if I have the need for a bigger screen.