Thursday, December 31, 2009

Milestone day

We had to drive to Granby yesterday afternoon to collect my wife's mother and sister from the train (the same train my Mum arrived on a couple of months ago).

On the way back the snow was so heavy on Rabbit Ears Pass that I was down to 25 mph which made me happy because I knew it would also be dumping on the mountain!

I was out of bed at 6 am to see that the report was 11 inches of new snow and at the gondola at 7:55 am by which time the line was already quite long, so instead I was first in line for the Christie Express. From there it was a quick traverse over to the Thunderhead Express where I was on the fourth chair and then down skier's right of Vagabond to Surprise which was untracked and knee deep (so I'm already thinking "way more than 11 inches").

Then I hit the Storm Peak Express in time to be on the third chair. I don't know where the occupants of the first two chairs went, but I got first tracks down Storm Peak face right under the chair and then knee deep all the way down skiers' right of Cyclone.

After that it was over to the Pony Express where I did two circuits and found some glades where it was thigh deep (so now I'm thinking "11 inches? Bah! More like 18"). And this was full on Champagne Powder; so light and dry that you literally choke on it as you breath the face shots in.

Then across to the other side of the mountain for Shadows and Lights Out followed by Twilight. I wanted to keep going, and there were still freshies to be found in the trees, but by that time my legs were shot, so I hit Oops and Vagabond (all to myself!) on the way home.

In terms of milestones, this was the last day of 2009 and what a way to end the year, the first true powder day of the 2009-10 ski season, and day 36 of my season, which is significant because that's the total number of days I managed for the entire 2008-09 season.

Here's today's track. 13,038 vertical ft (season total 347,878 ft) in 2:36 (of which 20 minutes was waiting for Christie Express to open and another 10 was waiting for Storm Peak Express to open, but that's what you've got to do to get first tracks!)

Final bonus; it's still snowing, so the start to 2010 could be as good as the end to 2009.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Early start

I was on the 7:40 am bus and in the gondola line at 8 am for the early holiday week opening at 8:15. The report at 5 am said 3 inches of new snow but I wanted to be out early to beat the crowds anyway. As it turned out three inches was more like five and it made all the difference. A great morning of skiing. Fresh tracks down Rainbow was excellent. The bumps on Surprise were also particularly good as was 2 O'Clock and skiers' left of the Daze. It's still snowing and forecast to continue all night, so tomorrow could be the real deal.

Here's today's track. 15,026 vertical ft (season total 334,840 ft) in 2:14.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The book is dead...

...long live the book. From an press release today:
"On Christmas Day, for the first time ever, customers purchased more Kindle books than physical books."
I'm a big reader and I haven't bought a physical book since I obtained a Kindle in February. Then my Mum borrowed my Kindle while she was visiting in November and wouldn't give it back so what was I to do? - upgrade to the Kindle DX which I love even more.


The biggest lines of the season today including 15 minutes at the gondola at 10:30 am (I don't mind a wait at 8 am to get fresh tracks) and long lines at Sundown Express and Storm Peak Express (well by Steamboat standards; the longest wait was probably only 5 minutes).

Here's today's track. 11,296 vertical ft (season total 319,814 ft) in 2:15. It looks like it's about to snow. Fingers (and toes) crossed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pony Express

Pioneer Ridge opened today so I rode the Pony Express for the first time this season. I didn't ski much over there since this area needs more snow than the rest of the mountain to be skiable (this area opened in the late 90's by which time the environmental restrictions on removing trees and rocks were much stricter). But it all helps to spread the people out during the busy holiday week, so I'm not complaining.

Here's today's track. 10,970 vertical ft (season total 308,518 ft) in 2:06. It was another perfect bluebird day today but I'm looking forward to the snow that's in the forecast for the rest of the week; hopefully we'll get our first dose of Champagne Powder.

Knee jerk reaction

That's the only way to describe the TSA's response to the latest attempt to blow up an aircraft, with the emphasis on the jerk part of knee-jerk. Banning blankets on laps during the last hour of the flight because that's when this nut decided to set himself alight is as dumb a response as one can imagine. If this guy had tried to blow up a baseball stadium whilst buying a hot dog during the first innings, would it make sense to ban the purchase of hot dogs during the first innings at future baseball games? It makes as much sense as this.

I travel a lot. I'm willing to live with the minuscule risks associated with not adding any more inconveniences to the process and more importantly, I refuse to let terrorists win by being terrorised. Too bad our Homeland Security overlords don't understand that basic principle.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunny Sunday

A beautiful sunny day today and much warmer than the past few days. Despite that and good snow, I felt I skied very blah today (when that's happened in the past I've always skied well the following day, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow!)

Here's today's track. 8,838 vertical ft (season total 297,548 ft) in 1:31.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Back in the trees

It was snowing when I went to bed last night, so I set the alarm to check the snow report first thing this morning. When I read that there had been six inches of new snow and that they were finally opening Steamboat's classic tree runs on the Priest Creek face I made sure I was at the gondola early enough to be in the fourth car to load.

A quick run down Rudi's and Blizzard to the Four Points chair and then Sunset to the Sundown Express ready for it to open at 9 am. And then it was on. A quick run down the Priest Creek liftline cutting across to lower 3 O'Clock was followed by Twilight and then upper Shadows (I bailed out at Dawn in order to avoid a long traverse since the trees below Duster are still closed).

The snow was deep and untracked if a little heavy in places with some quite deep drifts, a couple of which brought me unstuck. But it was still awesome to be back skiing these runs.

Here's the track. 11:39 vertical ft (season total 288,710 ft) in 2:15.

Friday, December 25, 2009

White Christmas

It's still snowing here in the 'Boat today and very, very cold. One of those days where you ski a run or two then and head inside for a hot chocolate before skiing a couple more runs. Worth it though for beautiful soft, dry snow.

Here's today's track. 10,590 vertical ft (season total 274,961 ft) in 3:11.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve powder

The report at 5 am said 10 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours and there were plenty of powderhounds at the gondola early looking to satisfy their craving. It wasn't quite an epic Steamboat powder day - there's still not enough of a base to ski the best tree runs - but it was clearly the best day of the season so far.

Here's the track. 14,977 vertical ft (season total 264,371 ft) in 3:02 including 25 minutes in the gondola line and 15 minutes warming my toes in the Four Points Hut (it was -4F at the top without any wind chill - brrr).

Best run of the day was probably The Ridge where I got a really good fresh line, followed by upper Twister and skiers' right on Two O'Clock. And I managed to take my favourite lower mountain run - Vertigo - on the way home!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Four weeks

The season has been going for four weeks now and the snow is still not great, but it is finally snowing right now.

I skied with Rob and Elizabeth again today. It was really tough going; very foggy making it hard to see all the hazards under the very thin cover. We still managed 17,359 vertical ft (season total 249,394 ft) in 4:18. Here's the track for today.

Here's the track for the past four weeks. As you can see, I've been skiing the same intermediate runs over and over and over again, because that's all there is until there's more snow. I've skied every day; 28 consecutive days which is the most I've ever skied in a row by a long way.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Aussie and the rabbi

Today I skied with an interesting couple I met in the gondola. They live in St Louis but the husband Rob is an Aussie. He and his wife are both Jewish and his wife Elizabeth is a rabbi (I was totally unaware that there are female rabbis but then I don't know that many Jewish people...) Now I've skied with a rabbi and my parish priest; if there are any representatives of other religions who want to ski with me I have no prejudices.

The snow still hasn't come yet, but I had so much fun with these guys I still managed my biggest day so far; 18,545 vertical ft (season total 232,035 ft) in 4:24. Here's the track.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Two words

Aw-ful. Actually that's one word. How about "really awful." Lower Rainbow was the only run that was even half way decent.

In the six ski seasons I've lived in Steamboat, I don't think we've ever been as desperate for snow as we are right now. Fortunately a storm is in the forecast; let's hope it drops two feet rather than two inches.

Here's today's track. 10,448 vertical ft (season total 213,487 ft) in 1:35.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weekend report

Yesterday was the third of five sessions in my Locals' Clinic and it was a beautiful day so despite the lack of snow it was a great day followed by drinks with my instructor and then a Christmas party, which is my I'm posting on it today rather than yesterday. The only downside was dodging the crowds on the intermediate runs.

Here's the track. 16,439 vertical ft in 5:11.

Today I was out early to avoid the crowds and ski the fresh groomers. Here's the track. 10,671 vertical ft (season total 203,039 ft) in 1:24.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pray for snow

I was out early today skiing virgin corduroy again, and whilst it was lots of fun, especially the wide fast turns I was able to make on largely deserted intermediate runs like Vagabond, Buddy's and Rainbow, it is going to be a big mess if some snow doesn't get here before the tourists start arriving in large numbers this weekend.

Here's today's track. 13,088 vertical ft (season total 175,929 ft) in 1:41.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sundown Express opens

I decided to head out early today even though there was no new snow overnight. I was motivated by the news that the Sundown Express would open at 9 am for the first time this season opening up a whole lot of new terrain.

I arrived at the Gondola just as it started loading at 8.30 am and was only about fifth in the singles line. I was first skier down Vagabond which I took whilst waiting for the Sundown Express to open; it was beautiful virgin corduroy.

Riding the Sundown Express I could see that we are probably two decent storms (or one really big one) away from having enough snow to ski my favourite tree runs (Shadows and Closet) but I was still happy to have something new to try. After a quick shot down High Noon (peak speed 46.7 mph according to my GPS) I decided to try the ungroomed Rolex. Big mistake. Two feet of cement - the heaviest snow I think I've ever skied in Steamboat.

A little later I decided to head over the other side to the Storm Peak Express, which turned out to be a great idea. Buddy's was beautifully groomed and was deserted - everyone had headed over to High Noon!

Here's today's track. Without really trying I put in the biggest day so far this season; 14,590 vertical ft (season total 162,841 ft) in 1:59.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Three weeks

The ski season has now been going for three weeks. We're still waiting for that really big dump of snow that will bring on the epic Steamboat powder tree skiing, but it should be here soon.

In the meantime, it's more of the same; cruising around on intermediate runs dodging all the tourists who love it there. Here's today's track. 6,201 vertical ft (season total 148,251 ft) in 1:05.

Here's the track for the first three weeks. I've circled in yellow the parts of the mountain that aren't open yet; more than 50% of the total terrain including most of the really good stuff.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A perfect day

Today was such a beautiful day it's hard to describe just how blue the sky was. I'd still trade it for a day like yesterday with fresh snow, but it certainly made cruising around the mountain a very pleasurable way to pass a couple of hours.

Here's today's track. 10,149 vertical ft (season total 142,041 ft) in 1:35.

A couple of new trails skied today, namely Triangle 3 and Ted's Ridge. Neither are close to their peak yet, but the variety was still nice.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Not epic but...

Today wasn't one of those epic Steamboat powder days but 7 inches on top of yesterday's 4 inches made it the best day of the season so far.

I was in the gondola lift line around 8:15 and was surprised to only be about 20th in line. So I managed first tracks on BC liftline and freshies in a couple of other places.

I also ventured into my favourite place - the trees - for the first time this season; not deep in the trees because there's not enough snow to properly cover all the hazards, but just into the open glades above and to skier's left of Cyclone. Knowing where to avoid the bad stuff is as much a benefit of local knowledge as knowing where to find the good stuff!

Here's today's track. 11,164 vertical ft (season total 131,892 ft) in 2:05 (including 15 minutes pressing glass at the gondola!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009


It's snowing today but with the temperature hovering just above freezing, well it's wet. It almost reminds me of skiing in Australia where you'd finish the day feeling like you had taken a shower in your ski suit!

The good news is that wet snow sticks much better to the hard layer underneath setting up a much better base for when the real powder comes (soon, please!)

I have no track today due to a GPS technical error (nothing more complex than the stop button being accidentally pushed) so I'm back to working out vertical based on the lifts I rode. 8,264 vertical ft (season total 120,728 ft) in approximately 1:15.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's all in the hands

I had the second of five sessions in my Locals' Clinic today and what I've concluded is that the improvements I need to make in my skiing are all in my hand position. It seems counter-intuitive because you think of skiing being about using your legs, but the principle is that where the hands go the body goes, and where the body goes the feet go, and where the feet go the skis go.

It was considerably warmer today which made five hour on the mountain much more bearable than it would have been a couple of days ago.

Here's today's track. 11,619 vertical ft (season total 116,530 ft) in 5:08.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 16

It was a beautiful bluebird day today, still a little colder than normal but much warmer than the past two days.

Here's today's track. 11,589 vertical ft (season total 104,724 ft) in 1:52.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Warmer, or at least not as cold

The temperatures today were very similar to yesterday (about 5F/-15C) but today the sun was out and the wind was gone which made it much more pleasant. Buddy's Run was OK today vs horrible yesterday, and lower Rainbow was perfect packed powder. I also skied upper Vagabond for the first time this season, as well as the middle section of BC lift line.

Here's today's track. 9,109 vertical ft (season total 93,387 ft) in 1:30. Despite the cold the skiing was good enough to stay out a little longer today.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

All the way to the top

The Storm Peak Express opened today so finally we can ski all they way from the top of the mountain (well almost, if you don't count the top of Morningside or hiking to the weather station). Unfortunately it was bitterly cold and windy with zero visibility at the top of Storm Peak so it was strictly a once only deal today.

It was a bit warmer mid-mountain where some new terrain also opened today including Whiteout which was OK for the first part but then turned very scrubby, so I bailed on that and hit lower Rainbow which was very nice.

It was too cold to stay out long, so today's track is 6,436 vertical ft in 1:10. The season total is 84,288 vertical ft in 18 hours and 20 minutes.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Lucky 13

Day 13 of the season and it is continuing to snow. Only a couple of inches of new snow overnight, but enough that some new terrain was opened this morning (Surprise and upper Norther) so I hit those multiple times where the powder was a good 6-9 inches deep (but quickly tracked out).

Here's today's complete track. 6,234 vertical ft (season total 77,843 ft) in 1:16.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Skiing with Jim

I skied today with my friend Jim Sitlington who was kind enough to wait for me even though I was 15 minutes late (sorry mate). Jim is a part time ski instructor. It's fun skiing with instructor friends, but you do feel conscious of your technique.

Yesterday's snow had packed down nicely providing a lovely packed powder surface instead of the ice of earlier in the week. But it's getting a whole lot busier, which is normally not a problem with more terrain open but means crowded runs right now.

Here's today's track. 5,234 vertical ft (season total 71,609 ft) in 1:15.

We had an inversion going today so it would have been 10F/6C warmer at the top of the gondola than at the base, so a quite pleasant temperature despite the overcast conditions (which hopefully mean more snow very soon).

Sunday, December 06, 2009

At last!

Not only was their new terrain open today (lower Vagabond) but there was six inches of fresh powder when I got to the top of the gondola. It was a little too dust on crust to fit a strict definition of a powder day, but the contrast with previous days was so great I'm going to count it.

Here's today's track. 7,218 vertical ft (season total 66,336 ft) in one hour and five minutes.

The forecast is for snow all week, so it is going to get really good very soon!

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Today I did an all day clinic as part of a series of five clinics on successive Saturdays. It's a great deal - five all day lessons for $225 - but you really need to be a local for it to work, which is why they call it a Locals' Clinic. Although we did have a couple of ring ins - travel agents on a "familiarization" tour - including one guy from Christchurch, New Zealand (you know who I'm talking about Milson).

Here's today's track.

Not much different from previous days since no new terrain is open, except that I did every run multiple times for a total vertical of 14,512 ft (season total is 58,833 ft).

Friday, December 04, 2009


Today was even colder than yesterday (-6F/-21C at 6.30am) and only 10F/-12C when I went out around 1 pm (and no sun). I should have stayed in, but I had some adjustments done on my boots overnight which I really wanted to test today; that they made a big improvement sort of made freezing my butt off worth it.

I did enjoy a hot chocolate when I got home, but the funny thing is I still feel like having a cold beer now.

Here's today's track. 4053 vertical ft (season total 44,603) in 45 minutes. Just enough to test the boots and no more!

Thursday, December 03, 2009


It was cold today, around -1F/-18C when I got out of bed this morning and still only 10F/-12C when I went out around 11:30 am.

On a day like today when the snow is less than good and it's that cold the only thing to do is ride the gondola. Which is what I did today (twice) and that was it. It was actually very nice inside the gondola with the sun out - a bit like sitting in a greenhouse.

Here's the track. 4,379 vertical ft (40,336 season total) in 46 minutes.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

First week

Once more, today was much like yesterday except colder, especially at mid-mountain (and it's forecast to be even colder tomorrow).

Here's today's track: 4,168 vertical ft (35,956 for the season to date) in 46 minutes.

To see how repetitive this week has been, look at the track for the week.

Fortunately it's forecast to snow for the next two days so hopefully there'll be some new terrain open by the weekend.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The same, but not

By all objective measures today was almost exactly the same as yesterday, but for some reason I skied much, much better and not surprisingly enjoyed it a whole lot more!

Here's today's track. Same runs but a few more repetitions for 8,254 vertical ft in one hour and 40 minutes and a season total of 31,789 vertical ft.

I rode the BC lift today with the president of the ski area who I know from other activities I've been involved in - it's a small town so even an anti-social geek like me knows a lot of people after five and a half years living here - who says the snow will come on December 12. I don't know if that's a promise or a prediction.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Just the numbers

Today was so much like the last few days that I can't think of anything original to say, so I'll just give you the track and the stats: 59 minutes for 5,371 vertical ft and a season total of 23,535 vertical ft.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Deja vu all over again

With a couple of slight variations, today was a repeat of yesterday. Now I'm really hanging out for it to snow so some new terrain can be opened!

Here's the track. One hour and fourteen minutes and 6,139 vertical ft for a season total of 18,164 ft.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

More of the same

No new terrain was open today, so today's skiing was very much like yesterday except not as good since it was overcast rather than sunny and being Saturday more crowded.

And if I was bored repeatedly skiing the same intermediate runs yesterday, I was even more bored today, so much so that I even skied a couple of beginner runs. Actually I have goal of skiing every named run on the mountain at least once this season. For the beginner runs, once will be enough. But hey, it's still skiing and before you know it the powder will be here and I'll be ready for it!

Here's today's track. One hour and three minutes and 4,453 vertical ft bringing the season total to an unimpressive 12,024 vertical ft.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A little more

Today the Gondola and Burgess Creek chair were opened adding a little more terrain to yesterday's very limited skiing.

Today's track consisted of three times on Rudi's/Lightning/Ego followed by a home run on Heavenly Daze and Vogue for 5,332 vertical ft in one hour and four minutes. Total vertical for 2009-10 is now 7,571 ft.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's back!

Today is opening day of the 2009-10 ski season in Steamboat.

It was cold early (9F/-13C) so I waited until mid morning when the sun had time to do its thing and it was a toasty 25F/-4C before heading out.

Only the Christie Express is running today and the only decent runs open were Vogue and See Me, so I did each once and then called it quits after a mere 38 minutes and 2,239 vertical ft, which was fine since I always intended to ease into the season. Even though I worked harder on my fitness this summer than in previous years, it's hard to fully cross-train for skiing; there are just some muscles you don't use for anything else.

The great thing about a season pass and living in a ski resort is you don't have to go flat out on day 1. There's always tomorrow (at least until the end of the season).

Word is the Gondola will open tomorrow.

Here's today's track.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Mum Visiting

My Mum arrived from Australia today.

She arrived via the Amtrak train from San Francisco, with Qantas taking care of the Sydney-San Francisco leg thanks to the miles I used to get her a business class ticket (I think she liked that a little better than flying at the back of the plane).

These long distance Amtrak trains are a black hole for taxes; but if my taxes are going to be wasted, they may as well be wasted on my Mum!

Sunday, November 01, 2009


We were out for a walk this afternoon passing by Casey's Pond when some movement in the water caught our attention.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Anyone speak Swedish?

If you do, I'd like to ask the Nobel Committee the following question:

What the f... were you guys thinking?

That's my reaction to Obama winning the Nobel Peace Price.

I voted for the guy, and whilst I've been bitterly disappointed with his economic policies, I generally think that on foreign policy he's on the right track. But if this were a 400 metres race, he wouldn't even be through the first turn.

Things are better in Iraq but it's still only the sort of peaceful where people die every day in political violence.

Afghanistan is going the other way. It's one hell of a mess on the way to being a disaster of biblical proportions.

North Korea and Iran are still making nuclear weapons. Burma is still run by a repressive military regime. People are still being persecuted and dying in Darfur.

Obama's approach on all these issues is measured and considered and patient (unlike his predecessor who showed all the patience and consideration of a teenage boy), but it will be quite some time before he's achieved anything lasting and substantial.

Update 10:30 am Mountain Time: Ok, it seems need to translate "What the f... were you guys thinking?" into Norwegian. It seems that the Peace Prize is awarded in Norway, unlike the rest of the Nobel prizes which are awarded in Sweden.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thank you Comcast

Those are words I never thought I'd speak. Comcast have been my cable TV provider since 2002 and my high speed internet provider since 2004 and in that time have managed on many, many occasions to annoy the hell out of me.

But last night they redeemed themselves. I was able to watch the Australian Football League ("Aussie Rules") Grand Final live on which I only discovered earlier this week is available free to Comcast subscribers.

I have a computer connected to my big screen TV that I used to watch it, so apart from the occasional jitter it was as good as watching it on TV back in Australia (apart from being the middle of Friday night instead of Saturday afternoon, but hey you can't have everything).

To obtain this level of performance ESPN must mirror the feed from Australia to the US and then serve it to end users from here, because I've tried streaming football video from Australia before and it's been unwatchable (bandwidth across the Pacific is lousy).

So once again for the record, just in case there is any confusion; Thank you Comcast.

Monday, September 21, 2009

First snow for '09

It's 66 days until opening day for the 2009-10 ski season and we had our first snow last night. Only a light dusting but it still counts (there was still snow on the rooftops when I got up at 6.30 am). There's probably more at the top of the mountain but right now you can't see that for the clouds.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Terrible jet lag

We arrived back in Steamboat on Wednesday after four weeks in Australia. For some reason we're suffering from jet lag far worse than we ever had before; awake until 3 or 4 am and then sleeping until 10 or 11 am.

It normally takes at least a week to adjust to a time change this big (eight hours in the northern summer), but by now we should at least be sleeping a bit better, yet last night was still a shocker. Hope it improves soon - I've got a trip to San Diego on Tuesday, with a 9.30 am meeting on Wednesday morning!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The best hot chocolate. Ever.

Last year I wrote about discovering the perfect cappuccino.

Today I had the best hot chocolate I've ever tasted. Not best by a little bit, but the best by a long way. If this was a ten, the best I'd had before was a five.

Where was this? In Canberra, Australia at a place called Koko Black.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


It's still summer in Steamboat with highs around 30C / 86F, and it's supposed to be winter here in Brisbane, but yesterday it was 36C / 96F!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lions great escape

I went to a Brisbane Lions game last night for the first time in two years.

At quarter time when we were 47 points down I wondered why I bothered.

But the only thing better than watching a game that you know from the start your team is going to win, is watching a game that looks lost but ultimately isn't. The Lions looked a different team after quarter time and whilst they didn't hit the lead until well into the last quarter, by half time I was confident that they would get up.

Final score: Brisbane 16.11.107 d Port Adelaide 14.8.92

Go Lions!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yale is a joke

If the fact that George W. Bush is a graduate wasn't sufficient evidence that Yale's claim to be a world class institute of higher education is a joke (motto "if your daddy is an alumni or has enough money, or better still both, we'll graduate you"), this act of moral and academic cowardice seals it.

Why would anyone spend money, let alone serious money like thirty or forty grand a year, on attending such a place? Sure some employers will continue for a few years to be sucked in by the brand, but if you're actually worthy of an Ivy League education you'll spend the rest of your life knowing that you're associated with a sham.

By the way, here's those notorious images. Like WTF is all the fuss about? And screw you Islamic fundamentalists. And Yale. Seems like I've got more courage than you.

HT: Coyote Blog

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Balloon Rodeo

This weekend was Steamboat's 28th annual balloon festival.

I've blogged on this before. But I never get tired of walking out on a beautiful cool and clear summer morning to see the colour and drama of a mass balloon launch.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Last snow

I've been watching the last of the snow on the mountain melt over the past couple of weeks. The last tiny little patch located near the bottom of the Chutes appears to have melted since yesterday. That's OK, since it's only 145 days to next season!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My nephew the photographer

I've previously posted excellent photos taken by my nephew Julian, but now he seems to be getting very serious about the art. Check out this fantastic shot of the Gold Coast.

Here's his technical commentary for those who understand such stuff - it's completely meaningless to me; I've not mastered anything more complex than an auto-focus point and shoot digital camera.
  • "Taken using a 1976 Pentax SLR... looks like the 30 year old shutter mechanism and light meter are working perfectly... :)"
  • "It's exactly what I wanted, dark contrasts, bright borderline over exposure that brings out the highlights and reflections.. I ran every shot at just above neutral values..."

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

United still sucks

I've blogged before on how hopeless United Airlines are.

I've just returned from a one night/one day trip to Washington DC. I managed to use some miles to upgrade to what US carriers insist on calling "First Class", but the experience still managed to remind me how bad these guys are.

In United's defence let me begin by at least admitting that the attitude of their staff has generally improved over the past couple of years. I think they've finally woken up to the fact that their jobs are on the line. I should also add that this is the first trip I've taken in ages when every flight was on time, no connections were missed and no bags were lost (the latter helped by only having carry-ons)!

But the cabin environment and especially the food continue to put United at the bottom of the heap (right at the bottom now that Northwest have been absorbed by Delta). On the way out dinner consisted of a salmon salad which was basically some very sad looking lettuce leaves and what looked like the lowest possible quality tinned salmon. On the way back "dinner" consisted of a ham sandwich on the driest most unappetising bread roll I've ever seen.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Watering the cat

Two things to conclude from this photo: my sister-in-law's cat is weird and very spoilt!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


We visited Oxford today; lunch with some friends and then a bicycle ride around town which is the best way to see the town, especially the areas around the university colleges. Fortunately we had good weather, not something you take for granted here in England!

Monday, May 04, 2009

What global economic crisis?

If there's a global economic crisis going on right now (not to mention a flu pandemic scare as well) then nobody told the hordes of tourists who overran London this past weekend. Sure it was a three day weekend, but there were plenty of Chinese and Indians amongst the crowds and I'm pretty sure they didn't just pop over here after work on Friday.

We were part of the horde as well (here for a little longer than a three day weekend, on my way back from South Africa). On Sunday we visited the War Cabinet Rooms where Churchill and the British War Cabinet ran the British war effort during the worst of the German bombing. It's one of those fantastic sites where you really have the feeling of walking in the footsteps of history. The fact that much of it was simply closed up on the last day of the war and left that way until the mid-1970's, unseen and untouched, is amazing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where's the cloaking device when you need it

Only our homeland security overlords in Washington DC could be stupid enough to think that flying a 747 over New York was a mission that could be kept secret. Or perhaps the cloaking device they borrowed from the Star Trek set didn't work...oh wait, that's science fiction and we live in the real world, but clearly someone in Washington doesn't.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More Pretoria rugby

I attended another Super 14 Rugby match in Pretoria last night. This time it was the Bulls vs the Waikato Chiefs, again from New Zealand. The score was close right to the end, which is always good for maintaining interest. The home team won, which is also good for keeping the crowd in a good mood!

The weather was ideal, until one minute from the end when there was an unseasonably late thunderstorm. Not quite like the awesome summer thunderstorms here, but we still got soaked walking back to the car. It was still a fun evening though.

Thanks to Pieter for the ticket and the company.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Paying an eToll in a rental car

I noticed this sticker on the window of the car I rented today to drive from Steamboat to Denver to get my flight via London to Johannesburg.

(apologies for the quality of the image; due to the slope of the window it was difficult to get a shot without the sunlight behind the subject)

I wish Avis in Australia did this. Sydney in particular is a pain with a rental car because there are toll roads everywhere and all of them are electronic payment only. If you don't have an eTag unit (as you wouldn't as a tourist) there is a process to register online to pay the tolls, but the user interface is lousy and in my personal experience it doesn't actually work; the one time I used it, I received an unpaid toll notice even though I'd registered.

Monday, April 13, 2009

New countdown

The counter at the bottom of this blog page has been updated.

Only 226 days to the 2009-2010 ski season (but who's counting!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

And so it ends

Today was closing day for the 2008-09 ski season here in Steamboat.

I went out on principle, expecting it to be mediocre at best, but I must say despite being a bit damp (being warm enough to rain at lower elevations) it was OK. It's wasn't great, but it was good enough to ski Closet, which is not bad for April 12.

Here's today's track for 10,374 vertical ft.

And here's the consolidated track for the season, a total of 450,000 vertical ft in 35 days of skiing.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Five years

Today we've been living in Steamboat full time for five years (notwithstanding the amount of time we spend on the road, it's our permanent and only home).

We owned a condo here since July 2002, but we were living in Singapore at the time which is even further from Steamboat than Australia.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Birthday skiing

I only went out today because I like the idea of skiing on my birthday. I didn't expect it to be great, but it was probably the worst day of the season. We had a warm day yesterday and then the spring slush froze hard overnight, and now it's not warm enough today to soften it again.

So only 5,102 in vertical ft in 45 minutes. That's my least vertical of any day this season. But you know what they say; the worst day of skiing is still better than the best day of whatever...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Abysmal user interface design (but that's not the surprise)

Here's an example of abysmal user interface design. That's not surprising; I see this crap every day. But this is from Apple! (it's part of setting up the "Genius" service in iTunes)

Is the second box for your password or does it have something to do with AOL? And what on earth does the red arrow mean?

This could easily have been fixed by putting the two radio buttons to select whether to use your Apple iTunes Store ID or your AOL ID across the top horizontally, keeping this selection visually separate from the entry of your user ID and password.