For this site, I will get back to more regular chronicling of hiking, biking and boating - or maybe in the short term some chronicling of physical therapy to deal with a partially torn rotator cuff..
For this site, I will get back to more regular chronicling of hiking, biking and boating - or maybe in the short term some chronicling of physical therapy to deal with a partially torn rotator cuff..
After 13 years of working at Gartner, I will be joining the SANS organization on 21 January, with the fancy title of Director of Emerging Security Trends. I'll be helping SANS continue their growth in a number of different areas, and I'm looking forward continuing to "Fight the Good Fight" in security at SANS - working to break through the fog of hype and barriers to better security practices. I will be back to blogging about various security issues but haven't yet figured out whether that will be here or somewhere else.
In the meantime:
The Washington DC area was literally fogged in most of this weekend and Carl and I chose to do some familiar loops at Gambrills State Park, home of the famous Ripped Abs Shovel Man statue. There are usually many great view spots on the Yellow and Black trails but visibility was about 100 yards, so this was basically an exercise hike. A few remnants of snow on the shadier spots, lots of evidence of trees that came down from the various big winds that have blown through in recent months.
We ran into some hams maintaining the 147.06 repeater up on the ridge, saw a few other hardy hikers fighting the fog and discussed all the important issues of the day - like why poor Brent Musburger was being pilloried by the press for some pretty great family-oriented advice ("Kids, go out in the yard and throw footballs with your Dad and maybe you'll grow up to have a girlfriend like that") when they showed shots of the Alabama quarterback's hot Miss Alabama girlfriend in the stands.
Headed home and then Carole, Lauren, Drew and I spent a nice afternoon down in DC at the relatively new Union Market- a really eclectic place to slurp oysters, knibble knishes and eat empanadas on a continuing dreary Sunday afternoon.
Carole was driving up to see her mom, so I tagged along for the drive up to PA and we met Carl in Fairview, PA. Carl and I then did a loop hike in the Michaux State Forest near Waynesboro, PA. We started at the Old Forge picnic grounds and hiked the Appalachian Trail up to Chimney Rocks. An awesome view of the valley and Waynesboro Reservoir - would have been awesomer before Hurricane Sandy stripped what was left of the fall foliage. This is a very nice, very uphill hike to about 1940 feet, through pines and around streams for much of the way.
From Chimney Rocks you can head north on the AT and go by the fire tower Carl and I had hiked to, and operated from, previously. However, we made a loop back to the start by taking a blue blazed trail to a fire road that parallels the AT back down hill with some quite steep switchbacks. A few miles downhill and you come to this bridge that crosses the stream to get to the Hermitage cabin, which apparently is used as a staging area for rock climbing folks.
It is a very purty section, but it tricked us into thinking we should cross the bridge to follow the blue trail. However, that led us (after some bushwhacking) into a dead end, so we retraced our steps and went back over the bridge and found the faded blue trail blazes for the rocky trail through more pines and along the burbling creek back to the AT and back to Carl's Jeep at the start.
One souvenier from the hike, probably from the bushwhacking part: the next day I discovered a very large tick happily burrowing into my very large belly. I had to call Carole in for some emergency tick pulling, which always gives her joy.
One of the most useful works training days I've ever spent was attending a one day seminar by Professor Ed Tufte on "Envisioning Information." Tufte's "Visual Display of Quantitative Information" is a must read if you can't attend the course.
Time Magazine had a great graphic showing how Obama and Romney built their electoral college totals. Prof. Tufte would be proud.
September showed promise for finally transitioning us away from GlobalWarming Meltdown to cool, crisp fall weather - albeit by first making us suffer through many hysterical and shrill weather prognosticator alerts about severe storms and dangerous winds - but never actually using the dreaded "Derecho" word again.
The Moody's held their annual Drum Point Seafood Boil and Radio Nerd get together with the Pescatores, Darmodys, Makowskis, Perkos, Tresslers and even Olson attending, representing visitors from four different states, if you count Mike's usual state of befuddlement.
I decided to bicycle down again this year, about an 81 mile ride south. The weather forecast was for early clouds, increasing heat and gusty winds out of the south and southwest - pretty much in my face. The ride started out great, and I noticed that in honor of September all the roadkill began with the letter 'S': squirrels, snakes, sparrows, stupid deer, Sasquatch, etc. Twenty seven miles in I stopped at my usual 7-11 snack/coffee recycle stop and the sun burned through the clouds and the winds started up. My longest previous ride this year was a 60 miler, so at my next stop at the 54 mile mark my body said "Oh, good - he is done for the day" and was not very supportive when I hopped on the bike for the final 26 miles.
I was ordering all the various body parts to quit their bitching as we cycled down Rt 2/4, and I noticed up ahead yet another vehicle blocking the shoulder. This is annoying because they have carved those whoompa whoompa strips into the shoulder markings, meaning every time I had to leave the shoulder I got some serious rumble massage activity. As I neared the vehicle I noticed it was the same color as Carl's Jeep, it was a Jeep, it even had a PA license plate like Carl's Jeep - and oddly enough Carl was sitting in the driver's seat. He tried to tempt me into throwing my bike in the back, but I manned up and soldiered on to sludge through the remaining 18 miles at continually decreasing speeds in the 90 degree humid heat and increasing wind.
Six hours and 81 miles after leaving home I got to Chris and June's where Felicia immediately said "We passed you 10-12 miles ago, I'm suprised it took you so long" but I maturely resisted the urge to strangle her with my spare inner tube or comment on people in cars sitting on their keisters making the terrorists happy by burning refined petroleum products rather than propel themselves with their own muscles generally do tend to have a skewed view of how long it takes to get from point A to point B - NOT TO MENTION AT THE END OF AN 81 MILE RIDE IN THE GODAWFUL HEAT WITH A DERECHO-LIKE WIND SMACKING YOU IN THE FACE HOUR AFTER HOUR...
Instead, I asked "Where's June?" and it turned out June had cut the dickens out of herfinger while slicing an onion and was at the hospital. That lead me to avoid any of the food that had onion in it, so I passed on the seafood boil and had a great meal from all the other stuff the Radio Nerd wives had made. June finally made it back from the hospital with her pinkie semi-permanently in the Kate Middleton tea drinking position.
A few hours later the manly men went down to Chris's dock and watched as the storm front moved through, a very impressive sight. That put the ixnay on any boating so back inside for a fine dessert and more comparisons of smart phones and tablets and other middle aged people's toys.
At the Moody-fest Carl mentioned that the persimmon tree in his yard was dropping fruit, and Carl being Carl, he decided to make cookies out of them. When we met for hiking, he gave me a few. Knowing Carl had Scandavian roots, I immediately recognized them for what they really were - Norwegian Troll Turds.
Carl and I did get some hiking in, doing the Appalachian Trail/Loudon Heights loop at Harper's Ferry but discovered they have closed the Loudon Height's trail right in the middle, supposedly to keep people from following it down to Rt. 340 and walking on the shoulder. That did not stop us and we completed the 7.2 mile loop and strolled through Harper's Ferry park gawking at all the reenactors, as it was the anniversary of one of the many times Harper's Ferry was shelled and taken over by the opposite side from whomever had shelled it last.
This past weekend, I managed to do the "Back of Sugarloaf" 51 mile loop, a very hilly ride that is always a good gauge of my level of cycling fitness. I think this year the answer was "Outlook Hazy, Try Again." I usually park on the side of road near Lilypons but there was a police car with its lights flashing there. So I detoured a few miles to the picturesque town of Adamstown where I sometimes park at a small community events field. They were setting up for a "Zumbathon" but said I could still park there.
I got started and passed more police cars and many signs for the "Rangar Relay" which turned out to be not a typo for some kind of Park Service employee shuttle, but instead a 200 mile run from Cumberland MD to Washington DC, run by teams of 12 people in shifts. As I was out early, I never saw any of the runners but a neat concept. I stopped at the 27 mile mark at Lewis Orchard's farm store, which had many varieties of apples but none of which had been made into any pie-like substance, let alone any troll turd-like cookies. So, I had to have a healthy snack and get back on my way.
At the 50.5 mile park I got back to where I had parked and the Adamstonian female population was Zumbaing away, raising money for the Susan G. Koman foundation. The stage was set up so they were all wiggling around facing the area where the portapotties were, so my bladder, which had been very outgoing in reminding me for many miles it wanted badly to interface with the outside world, suddenly got shy and I hopped in my car for the ride home humming songs like "Horse in the Desert, "How Dry I Am" and "I'm a LumberJack and I'm OK, I Work All Night and I Sleep All Day" which gets stuck in my head everytime I start humming.
Of all the holidays we have in the US, Labor Day weekend is the one that pretty much only exists to give us a 3 day weekend, much needed during the long dry spell between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. It doesn't even really represent the unofficial end of summer anymore: the kids go back to school before Labor Day most years, and traffic to the beaches is higher on the weekends after Labor Day, with all kinds of Sunfests and the like - thanks, global warming!
We started off the weekend by going to Annapolis with the Darmodys and Makowkis, and Mike's friend Rod Stiffington, to have dinner at the Luna Blu restaurant on West Street. Good Italian food, not knock your socks off - but they were very nice and let us save our desserts for when we came back later in the evening.
After dinner we walked across the street to see yet another ukulele/cello duet play at the 49 West coffeehouse. Victoria Vox and Katie Chambers played acoustic music, which I'm a big fan of, in the back room of the coffeehouse. Vox is doing some unique things, like writing one song per week sponsored by folks like Kathy and Mike, to deal with the post-mp3 reality of how musicians can't rely on people actually paying for their albums CDs for revenue.
Great music, though I thought their version of In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida (especially the 7 minute long mouth trumpet riff) ran on a bit long. Carole got a nice nap out of it, though. Afterwards, we went back to Luna Blu for our desserts and some wine, closing the restaurant at the ungodly (for us) hour of 11:30! The twenty somethings at Stan and Joe's across the street were just getting going and and at midnight:30 Carole proudly texted Lauren so there would be evidence how late she stayed up.
Despite the wild partying Friday night, Saturday morning I did my variation of the Howard Hills bike loop, a hilly 45 mile ride starting from our house and looping northwest through Howard County to Larilland Farms. I usually stop every 15 miles or so but this time decided to just take a break at the halfway mark in Etchison where there is a grocery store. That meant not stopping in Dayton near the large wooden rabiit statue. The weather was overcast but pretty much 100% humidity as Tropical Storm Isaac-driven irriguous air displaced the normal muggy Maryland mess. I hit the grocery store stop at mile 27 - and they were closed for the "holiday" weekend. I emptied my water bottles and slogged the remaining 18 miles home in the increasing heat.
That night we and the Darmody's tried out the new Mike's Crabhouse North in Pasadena on Rock Creek. Same good food as at the old Mike's on the South River, but great views across towards Sparrow's Point at the entrance to the Inner Harbor at the mouth of the Patapsco where it hits the Chesapeake Bay. Jacquie and I split a dozen crabs - they were already out of larges, so we had mediums which were mostly decent sized. Afterwards we went out for drinks at the tiki bar on the deck and watched enormous strikes of lightning hit all around and many of the boats scurrying to get to sheltered water. There was a Jimmy Buffet wanna-be playing, and some attractive local flora and fauna drunkenly swaying to his tunes.
Carl let a few green blobs on the weather radar scare him away from hiking the next morning, so I went out to the boat and spent two hours fixing the convertible passenger seat - leaving many layers of knuckle skin behind to act as Loctite on the screws I replaced.
Monday am Carole and I did not let those green blobs scare us away from biking on the Baltimore Annapolis Rail trail to downtown Annapolis - and of course, we got soaked in a downpour just as we went past the Naval Academy into the city. We turned down one of the cobblestone streets (great idea to ride on cobblestones in a deluge...) and huddled under the awning in front of a closed shoppe. Carole contemplated why when it rains, it pours and other mystical truths. After a 15 minute rain delay, we turned around and headed back on the now rain slicked rains and paths for a 21 mile roundtrip ride. A stop at Einstein's Bagels for a poppy seed bagel and double salmon schmear revived Carole's outlook on life.
After that I felt the need to do some sort of labor on Labor Day, so I mowed the lawn and took a laborious nap - and another Labor Day weekend was in the books.
Even though global warming has thrown a number of weather events our way, Carl and I have gotten in a lot of hiking recently. One rain-threatened Sunday we did the venerable 5 mile loop that visits the 3 peaks of Sugarloaf Mountain. Carl brought along his shiny new Samsung Android 7' tablet with GPS, but we were unable to get a WiFi connection to have it download the topo map for Sugarloaf. But if we got bored and wanted to play Fruit Ninjas we were all set.
Lot's of people out on the mountain trying to beat the rain. On the final stretch back to the car we passed the oddly decorated tree shown above. The ornaments were used gift tags, old luggage tags, dry cleaning receipts, etc. Interesting but puzzling - were they trying to point out man's inhumanity to trees? Apparently this is new tradition at Sugarloaf - another hiker here has pictures of more elaborate decorations.
Carole and I managed to sneak in a 25 mile bike ride on the North Central Rail Trail, which is apparently now called the TCB trail - either because of sponsorship by some national frozen yogurt chain or in honor of former Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources secretary Torey C. Brown, who knows. A very nice middle of the week ride - until we hit bumper to bumper day camper teens on balloon tire cruiser bikes clogging up the trail. A few hundred "On your Left! No, your other Left!"s and we made it past them and went up to the rattlesnake infested waterfall, turned around and went back to the start in Ashland. Which is where we noticed the statue of a bunny humping a bench - I guess symbolizing rabbits inhumanity to concrete structures.
We closed out the morning with a great lunch at one of our favorite places in Timonium, the Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company.
Carl and I followed that up with something I haven't done in over 15 years - we drove down to Shenandoah National Park and hiked on the Appalachian Trail and some side trails. First we went up Compton Peak, at about 2900 feet in elevation with right purty views.
Being radio nerds, there is only so much scenery viewing you can do before you get out the slingshot, put wire antennas in the trees, connect Carl's Elecraft K1 to the antennas and Carl's drill battery and start sending Morse Code cries for attention out into the ether. Our antenna was only 15 feet up and we were not loud - and we had no cellphone connectivity to announce our operation at the Summits on the Air Watch site. But we perservered and eventually made contacts with hams in Oregon, Califormia, Saskatchewan, Minnesota and other places.
From there we drove further south on Skyline Drive and did a short hike up to the top (3300 feet) of Mount Marshall, locally known as Mount Moron for some reasons. More great views, then we turned around and drove 120 miles back to Frederick, Maryland. Shenendoah National Park is a phenomenal place to hike but it is harder these days to justify 8 gallons of gas for the roundtrip...
Carole and I did get out on the boat and explored Whitehall Bay and Whitehall Creek, looking for Cantler's seafood restaurant. But it turned out Cantler's outfoxed us by hiding on Mill Creek until we left. That was supposed to be followed up by the first annual Radio Nerd Raft-up where 11 of us spread across our boat and the Makowski's boat would head out for a three hour tour and then anchor and consume mass quantities of radio nerd wife produced vittles. However, the weather didn't cooperate so it turned into doing the exact same thing but replacing the boats with Mike and Kathy's house.
Which turns out might have been a good thing - apparently at our marina a boat owner left candles burning in the boat, which overnight caused a conflagration damaging several boats and some dock spaces. Luckily our boats were safe in their little boatel shelves. Details here.
I did the Cumberland Valley Cycling club ride out near Hagerstown on Sunday. I've done this ride a dozen times over the past 25 years but they have changed the course and this one kicked my butt. Set out to do the metric century, 64 miles. First, at the start they had no bagels/bananas/powerbars, etc - just coffee and water/Gatorade. I said OK, I had already made a traditional 7-11 coffee and muffin stop on the 60 mile drive out the the ride, and I had a granola bar in my bag and ate that. The first rest stop would be at the 20 mile mark, I would grab something there. Bad move.
The course marking was pretty good and the first 20 mile stretch was rolling hills in fantastic weaither - temps in the 70s, partly cloudy after a rain storm and front had moved through giving us a temporary break from global warming. At the 20 mile mark, the markings said turn left at a stoplight intersection at a Sheetz near Williamsport. I was following a few other cyclists, including two women with long ponytails and that Olympic Volleyball player style of multiple hair thingies. I was contemplating why that was so attractive when we all turned left and continued on. I stopped seeing any markings but kept following those ponytails straight down the road - until we hit the dead end, oops.
There is probably some Jason/Argonauts/Sirens lesson to be learned there, but I just turned around, retraced the road - and at a cross road saw cyclists going east, and markings on that cross road. Turned left onto that crossroad, and found I had bypassed the rest stop in the confusion. Turns out the rest stop was right *before* the turn, which is sort of like saying "cut the red wire *after* you cut the blue wire" in bomb defusing instructions...
I've been doing 35 mile rides without a stop, so figured, OK, will just keep going, cloudy skies/rolling hills meant I wasn't sweating that much, and could live on one water bottle. The cycling gods don’t like that kind of attitude, any more than the car driving gods like it when you scoff at them after the picture of a gas tank lights up on your dashboard and you say "Feh - I can get to where I'm going and back with what is left in the tank."
Unfortunately, the sun came out and the route turned into sharp, steep, momentum robbing up and downs. I remember this stretch from many years ago and it included what I call "antigravity sections" - stretches of road that look level or even slightly downhill, but are actually going uphill. Psychologically, this is very damaging - you think you are bonking - but I think it just where the road grade and the terrain grade cause an optical illusion. Each state has these hautnted downhill sections where tennis balls roll uphill...
This included going through the Antietam battlefield, very scenic with many random historical markers: "Tom McFee sheltered his horse here"; "General Farnesworth Vanderlay beat Colonel Angus McCrangus at checkers here" etc. Interesting reading but two problems: (1) over steep hill and dale is the norm; and (2) they couldn't spray paint course markers on the road in the Battlefield, so they put up cardboard signs on stakes that weren't very visible - much route retracing here.
I ran out of water at 40 miles and kept thinking I would be coming back to the start soon, as the start would serve as the second rest stop. Hit Keedysville and thought about hitting a grocery store for water but figured nah. A few miles went by and hit Boonesboro and said nah - then with 47 miles on the clock the route started to head straight uphill and I regretted both of those "nahs." Saw some woman in her carport with her dog, and stopped and asked if I could fill my water bottle from her hose. She said "even my dog won't drink that water" and she went in and filled my bottle with some ice cold filtered water - ahh...
I said thanks and started up again and emptied that bottle in a few miles. By now I was at 48 miles, but remembered this stretch as being the climb before a nice downhill to the San Mar facility that was the start and rest stop. This was a steep stretch - I had to talk to granny (shift to my eensy beensy front sprocket known as a granny gear) here for the first time in the ride. Coming the other way was a cyclist who had passed me earlier - he missed the first rest stop, had also ran out of water, had lost hope that one was near and was heading back to Boonesboro. I convinced him we were almost there, and two miles later we reached San Mar.
It was set up for a very nice lunch (barbecue pork/chicken, chips, pasta salad, ice cream) but this was actually supposed to be the 2nd rest stop before the final 17 mile loop for the metric century - I was expecting bagels, fig neutrons, bananas, etc. I've never been big on a big meal and then hopping back on the bike. Had a sandwich and some pasta salad and lost my enthusiasm for getting back on the bike - closed out the day at 50 miles.
Still a great ride with lots of scenic views, low traffic roads, many historical buildings but next year I will make sure to carry more water and food as offerings to the bike gods.
I've been biking on the Rock Creek Bike Path since I first moved to Maryland in 1978. The addition of the Capital Crescent Trail makes for a nice 25 mile or so loop that I extend to about 35 by starting further north in Kensington. Even in the worst of DC-area summer weather yuckiness, an early morning start on this mostly shady route is a great ride with a variety of scenery.
Now, I've blogged in the past that the sports bra has taken away one of the more enjoyable types of scenery, as oncoming female cyclists and runners now deploy SSS (Secure Sheaths of Spandex) to disrupt the VVV (Valleys of Vicarious Viewing) that once lead to CCC (Cavorting Cornucopias of Cleavage). This past weekend, most of the female runners were wearing Teams In Training t-shirts, as they are training for their first marathon. I had to continually navigate around clumps of these women on the CCT, and rather than use the crude acronym that Teams In Training suggest, I began to think of them as Beginner Runners Enthusiastically Attempting Serious Training, Seriously.
Once I reached Bethesda there were no more BREASTS around, so I was able to increase my speed and finish with a 17mph average, pretty good for me. I always keep score: I lose a point every time an older, fatter biker on a cheaper bike passes me and I gain a point every time I pass a younger, skinnier biker on a more expensive bike. I ended up +2 on this loop, as I blew a way a group of 4 "all hat, no cattle" riders all decked out in Tour de France outfits on lighter than air bikes.
It turns out there was another connection between Bethesda and BREASTS, however:
Carole and I went to see "The Queen of Versailles" at the Bethesda Row movie theater over the weekend. If you are ever feeling bad about yourself, go see this documentary about these mega-rich idiots and you will start feeling much, much better.