Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ski!!!

  Posted by Picasa   I've booked a week of skiing in France this winter! My usual winter exercise program - a combination of weight lifting and rowing - doesn't seem to give me the conditioning that I need to be prepared for hours of skiing.

So I went out and got a step platform and a couple of 5-lb ankle weights. I'd thought about getting one of those platforms to do dumbbell step-ups properly, but the idea of spending $50 on what is more or less a glorified piece of plastic really burns.

Well, I'm glad I finally broke down and bought one. The thing is solid, with a bigger stepping area than the makeshift platform I've been using (a fire-safe security chest, if you must know). And it's adjustable, so I can increase the height to hit my legs in different ways. I did a 30 minute workout today with the ankle weights on, and my legs really feel it.

I have to think about setting a goal so I get a decent amount of conditioning before my trip, which is less than two months away. With this new routine, I should go into it better prepared than I usually do.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Saving for College in Connecticut

I've got two nieces, my brother's kids. When they were first born, I gave them toys for their birthdays and Christmas. I quickly realized that these kids were getting so many toys that they had no idea what to do with it all. What do I mean by "so many toys"? Well, ten times more than I ever got as a kid!

I didn't like the idea of wasting money on toys that are quickly discarded; I never even knew whether the kids would play with the toys I sent because I don't visit them very often. At the same time, I remember that when I was a kid, especially as I grew older, I envied the kids whose relatives had given them gifts of savings bonds.

So I quickly switched over to giving my nieces savings bonds year after year, for birthdays and Christmas. Kind of a stodgy gift, but I think they'll like it when the bonds reach maturity.

A couple of years ago, I decided contributing to a college fund for the kids made sense. I could "afford" it, and it bothered me that my brother had not set up a college savings fund of some sort. I opened a Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) account for each of my nieces. It's a 529 college savings plan. I intend to contribute to the accounts every year, as long as I can, until my nieces go to college (assuming they go; the beauty of CHET is that if the current beneficiary never goes to college, you can reset the beneficiary to someone else).

Up until this year, the only tax advantage to a CHET account is that the gains grow tax-deferred, and earnings that go to pay for higher education are tax-free. Nice.

This year, Connecticut gives people a bigger incentive to save - they made contributions to CHET accounts tax deductible. So you may be able to deduct contributions to CHET accounts (I'm assuming this only applies if you itemize your deductions, which only makes sense if your itemized deductions add up to more than the standard deduction).

Now the really great thing is that my brother opened a CHET account for each of my nieces this year - yesterday, in fact! I like to think it was due to my good example, but I suspect it was the tax deduction that got him there!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

200K!

I finished the 2006 Concept 2 Holiday Challenge, today! Yes!! Now I'm going to go see about ordering the t-shirt...

tags: , , ,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

You vs the billionaire - NY Times article by Peter Singer

Via Piaw: Peter Singer is back in the NY Times, discussing charitable giving. This article is better than his previous one, The Singer Solution to World Poverty, because it is a little less theoretical and a little more practical in nature. I hope Singer continues to pursue these topics and that people pay attention to what he says.

On a side note, this article introduced me to Zell Kravinsky, apparently a remarkable philanthropist and extraordinary human being. Strangely, I'd never heard of the man before.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

110K

I hit a bump in the road on the way to the 200K Honor Board. Last week I came down with a terrible stomach virus that put me out of action for almost the entire week. I couldn't eat for a few days, and still feel pretty weak from it.

But I'm back in the saddle, and I should still meet the Challenge. I started rowing again yesterday, a slow 3K, and did another 7K today. Fourteen days to do another 90K. Piece of cake. I should still be able to hit the full 200K by Christmas, provided there are no further hiccups.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Wisdom of the Crowds

I'm in a mad dash to finish "Wisdom of the Crowds", by James Surowiecki, in my ongoing attempt to read one book a month (at least one!). Sixty pages to go.

Overall the book is informative and worth reading. But as usual with pop-sci books, I'm left unsatisfied because of the lack of depth. The book is in some sense a string of anecdotes tied together under one topic: how decisions and actions made by a group can be more informed than those of any of the individuals that make up the group.

Quotes of interest:

Chapter 9, p 183: One of the consistent findings from decades of small-group research is that group deliberations are more successful when they have a clear agenda and when leaders take an active role in making sure that everyone gets a chance to speak.

Chapter 9, p 186: ... all the evidence suggests that the order in which people speak has a profound effect on the course of a discussion. Earlier comments are more influential ... there's no guarantee that the most-informed speaker will also be the most influential... In groups where the members know each other, status tends to shape speaking patterns, with higher-status people talking more and more often than lower-status people. Even when higher-status people don't really know what they're talking aout, they're more likely to speak.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

10K

I did my first 10K of the Holiday Challenge about an hour ago. I watched London while rowing. It's a good relationship movie, not great for a strong rowing performance, but interesting.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Upcoming Challenge

Time to start prepping for the Holiday Challenge 2006. It starts next Thursday, on Thanksgiving as always. My work schedule has gone completely berzerk, but I'll still make every effort to complete the Challenge this year. I've been doing this since 2003 and there's no way I'm stopping now!

I'll do some high intensity intervals on the erg tomorrow. I'd better put some chain oil on it; haven't used the thing all summer.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Skipped breakfast

I skipped breakfast for Oxfam this morning. I skipped breakfast last year, too, so I guess I've officially got a tradition going.

tags: ,

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Happy Halloween


Metal bats
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
Today, I went for a couple of hikes with my sister and her dog. The first hike was at the Mine Hill Preserve in Roxbury. There are some old mine entrances there that are fenced over. Apparently this mine houses some bats.

The weather was nice enough, except for the ridiculously high winds 50+ mph (so I heard).

Friday, October 27, 2006

A review of "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (Soundtrack)"

by Angelo Badalamenti

I am revisiting "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me" today; I bought it originally after I first saw the movie in 1992. An excellent movie with an excellent soundtrack, which I’ve played many, many times. Every track is brilliant. Right now, “The Black Dog Runs At Night” is playing, and, as usual, it makes the hairs on my neck stand up.

It’s all quite perfect for my mood this evening: dark, brooding, grim.

Long shadows on the trail


The trail
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Fall leaves


Fall leaves
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
Tomorrow's weather should take 'em all down.

Perspective


View from blue trail
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
That's what you get when hiking. Unfortunately, you have to come down sometime.

Friday, October 20, 2006

No jacket required

on my hike yesterday. All the rain is keeping the area warm. That would be nice, except that it's bringing down a lot of the colorful fall foliage prematurely (and making the footing precarious on the trail).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A story about "Inside Man (Widescreen Edition)"

by Spike Lee

I finished watching the movie The Inside Man this morning. It was filmed in NYC at 20 Exchange Pl, where I used to work. That makes it doubly entertaining for me!

I have only one quibble with this film – too many stars, I think it would have been better with unknowns in the various roles. In general, it’s an entertaining movie about a bank heist with a twist.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Prayer flags at TibetFest


prayer flags
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

sand mandala at TibetFest


sand mandala
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
Yup, it's completely made of sand.

TibetFest


TibetFest singer
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
I went for a hike today in Litchfield, at the White Memorial Conservation Center. While there, I stopped by TibetFest for music and culture.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Blade Wheel of Mind Transformation

Many moons ago I ordered tickets to hear the Dalai Lama's teaching "The Blade Wheel of Mind Transformation", sponsored by Tibet House. Tomorrow is the first day.

Now, lately I haven't been feeling particularly Buddhist or enlightened, so I suppose this could work out to be a very uninspiring event. I hope it's the opposite. I have to get up at a truly ungodly hour to make it to the theatre at the suggested time of 8 am; this is the most unappealing part, including all the travelling I'll have to do to get back and forth from it each day.

I have no idea what to expect, but my mind could stand to get sliced and diced by a blade wheel these days. So it could be good.

Buddhist Temple


Buddhist Temple
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
After our hike, we went for a perfectly wonderful ice cream cone at Popey's in Morris, CT. I got a scoop of Moose Tracks (tiny peanut butter cups embedded in chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup. Drool).

We also picked up some fresh corn from a farm stand, and stopped at a fish truck where I got a small slab of tuna - these items made up my delicious dinner tonight.

On the way out of Morris, we passed this Buddist temple. Their sign reads "Lao Buddha Ariyamettaram Temple". It's quite a strange site in the middle of rural Connecticut.

And it's a fitting segue into my next post...

Memorial


Memorial
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
Just after crossing Rt 109, you come to this little stone memorial. It reads:

IN MEMORY OF KEVIN ELLIOTT
1959 - 1992
"PRAY FOR WIND"
GIVEN BY HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS

There's a white seashell on the top of the rock, and a bouquet of plastic roses to one side.

Baby snapping turtle


baby snapping turtle
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
Shortly after starting out, we discovered a very small turtle right smack in the middle of the trail. It was about the size of the palm of my hand.

I think it was a baby snapping turtle; its tail was quite long and its snout looked somewhat hooked, and its shell looks right as well (that sort of prehistoric look). It was hardly perturbed by us; it didn't bother to pull its head and limbs into its shell. I wonder whether it was sick, given how little it reacted to us.

We moved it a short way up the trail to the side of a stream where it had less chance of getting crushed by feet. I hope it's not ill; it was a cute little guy.

Survey mark


Survey mark
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
At the foot of the "witness post" was this survey mark. It reads:

U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
DO NOT DISTURB
SURVEY MARK
BR 74
EL 529.877
1979

I love these things!

Boundary Line Witness Post


Boundary Line Witness Post
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
Today's hike: 2 h 30 min | 5 mi | 2 mph.

I did the "Waterbury Reservoirs" section of the Mattatuck with my sister and her dog today. We parked one car at each end of the trail so we wouldn't have to retrace our steps; nice to be able to do that when hiking with someone else.

This is a post planted by the US Army Corps of Engineers. I found the idea of a "Witness Post" especially intriguing, so I had to photograph it...

Monday, September 18, 2006

N.A.S.A. Orbital Tracking Disk - U.S.A.

This is a new feature on the Quinnipiac Trail. There used to be a USGS marker up along the trail here, but I didn't notice it today. Instead, I found this new artifact. The disk is about the size of my hand, and seems to be embedded in concrete. It reads "N.A.S.A. Orbital Tracking Disk U.S.A.". I searched the web for "orbital tracking disk" and got no results. So it's a bit of a mystery.

View from Elephant Rock


View from Elephant Rock
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
I took a day off from work and hiked up to Elephant Rock today (Mt Sanford region of the Quinnipiac Trail). I did a loop by taking the blue-red-dot trail on the way out and coming back by the blue trail.

It was a bit too humid... like a real summer day. Nice, anyway.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

View


View
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
I've been busy, busy, busy. But I've had time for a few excellent hikes. I did two hours today on the Mattabesett along the Trimountain section. The weather was most cooperative.

This view is taken in the vicinity of "Three Notches"; I lay along the white-blazed rock that overhangs the cliff in order to shoot the photo. From this rock, looking south, you see Ulbrich Reservoir and the firing range. This view is sort of northwest. I think that's the Metacomet ridge off in the distance.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A story about "Red Harvest (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)"

by Dashiell Hammett

Recently, I’ve needed some escapist literature to get my mind off life before going to sleep at night. A friend of mine has loaned me a few potboilers for this purpose. I’m starting with Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammett. Right off the bat, there’s mention of the Wobblies and the I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World). Thus, it is a very fitting segue from The Twentieth Century: A People’s History.

I read the first chapter last night, and fell asleep soon after.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Twentieth Century: A People's History

I finished "The Twentieth Century: A People's History", by Howard Zinn, just today.

It has taken me forever to get through this book. I am handicapped in having taken a dislike to history from an early age (probably because of the way it was taught). In addition, though, the book is brutal: Zinn relentlessly pounds out a laundry list of horrifying American atrocities, from the beginning of the twentieth century until George W. took the White House. There is no way I could call this book enjoyable. I felt like the guy in Edvard Munch's The Scream every time I finished another chapter.

Despite that, I consider this book extremely important. Everyone should read this, if only to get some balance to the history that was written by the victors. At that, it's only a brief intro to the subject, but it's a good start.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

View from York Mtn


View from York Mtn
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
Today's hike: 2 h | 3.8 mi | 1.9 mph

I parked at Gaylord Mountain Rd/Westwoods Rd again, and went up the trail to York Mountain, hiking all the way over to Paradise Av. I didn't want to go out too far because there was a potential for thunderstorms, which never materialized. Anyway, it was quite humid, so I wasn't eager to do a long hike.

This photo shows one of the few good views looking out from York Mountain.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Lake Watrous, New Haven, LI Sound views


Lake Watrous
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
From the cottage, I continued on past the radio tower and giant satellite dishes, skirted a couple of large houses, and finally hit Downs Rd, which is completely overrun with McMansions these days.

Instead of reversing course there, I walked out to Gaylord Mountain Rd, and then followed that south back to my car. I thought that I could use the road as part of a quick loop back to my car, and from there I could then head east on the Q Trail. But hiking Gaylord Mountain Rd back to my car took about 45 minutes, longer than expected.

The road is lightly trafficked and you can see some interesting things along the way - a couple of horse stables, and some lovely houses. I passed a woman in heels crossing the road to bring a bucket of grain and a block of hay to a couple of horses in a corral, which was a little amusing.

I did hike on up the east side of the Quinnipiac Trail to catch the view of Lake Watrous and Long Island Sound. I sat there enjoying the view for a little while, and then headed back to my car. It was a very enjoyable hike.

View of New Haven and LI Sound
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Quinnipiac trail cottage


Abandoned cottage
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.


Old walls at the abandoned cottage.

Abandoned cottage


Abandoned cottage
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
Today's hike: 2 h 25 min at a leisurely pace

I did part of the Mad Mare's Hill section of the Quinnipiac Trail today, starting in Bethany Gap. There's basically one parking spot there on Gaylord Mountain Rd/Westwoods Rd, and I grabbed it. From there, I hiked northwest to the summit of Mad Mare's Hill (not much of a view).

I stopped at the abandoned cottage off the trail, and took a look around. It's pretty neat. There's an old pipeline (for water?) that runs up here from down the hillside somewhere, and some picturesque old walls that are studded with round stones. The cottage sits on a ridge and might have had a nice view back in the day. I startled a small snake which slithered off into a crack in a wall.

Hot cacao


Hot cacao
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
This is the final product. I found that this cacao powder made a smoother paste than Rapunzel cocoa does when mixed with a little milk and sugar.

The flavor is interesting. There's that distinct acidity, but it's not nearly as strong as eating raw cacao beans. Also, there's a bit of a fine powdery texture (not gritty, though) to the drink, as if the grain of the powder is larger than for regular cocoa. It's interesting. I think I'll enjoy finishing off the package, but I don't think I'll be buying this on a regular basis. It's nice for a somewhat exotic change of pace.

Cacao


Cacao
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
The Navitas Cacao Powder was a new product that I hadn't seen before. It was undoubtedly the attractive packaging that provoked me to buy, I have to admit it. I've eaten raw cacao beans previously, and they're an acquired taste. To me, they're very acidic - a bit too close to stomach acid to enjoy. Plus this stuff is so much more expensive than the stuff I usually buy to make hot cocoa - Rapunzel Kokoa, which is also a pricey item at $6.50 per 7.1 oz.

Anyway, I decided to give it a go. Here's what the cacao powder looks like upon opening the bag: it's a lighter color than the Rapunzel cocoa powder. It has that strong acidic cacao smell along with a nice cocoa scent.

Luxury food purchases


Luxury food purchases
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
I had a bout of consumeritis at the health food store today. These are a few of my purchases: a pack of Navitas Cacao Powder (8 oz. for $15.35!!!), The Bridge Tofu ($2.19), and a box of Naturally India Simmer Sauce - which was a free sample! The simmer sauce motivated me to buy the tofu, so it was an evil free sample.

Adventures in car repair

A couple of weeks ago, one of my car headlights, a Wagner H6545, went out. I've been putting off taking care of it because I hate wasting time on things like this.

Last weekend I finally made it to Pep Boys. They had a replacement headlight (a Sylvania H4666 IIRC) for $21. When I went to the aisle to get one, I found that the two lights in stock had had their boxes opened. On one, the connectors in back were bent. Irritated, I decided not to buy.

Later in the week, I went to a nearby independent auto parts dealer, the type of place where you tell them the part you need, they look it up, and bring it to you from aisles and aisles of stuff in the back. Here, it was a GE H4666. Unit price: $9.29. List price: $17.94. Presumably the latter is what I'd be charged for the part if I had the repair done at my mechanic's. The first time I bought this light, years ago, I got it from a dealer for $35! I rubbed my hands in glee over the savings, even compared to Pep Boys.

Since it's forbidden to do car work in the parking lot of my apartment complex (raspberries to the management), I went to work this morning to do the job there. There are loads of tools at work, so I figured I'd grab something there if my screwdrivers didn't fit. When I arrived, I saw that one of my coworkers was at the office. In one sense that was good timing, it was one of the guys who does hardware work. In another way, it was bad timing because I deliberately wanted to do the work on Saturday with no one around.

When it turned out that the screws for the light were rusty and stuck, I asked said coworker if we had something to loosen the screws; he got me some WD-40 and instantly volunteered to help. I like doing little repairs like this, but I know from past experience that the headlights on my car can be a real pain, so I agreed. He got out his torque screwdrivers and did the whole job while I looked on. I appreciate his help, but it had the side effect of making me feel like a weak damsel-in-distress. Damn, I hate that!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How to raise a feminist

Over at Moderately Insane, sailorman wonders how he can raise his children to be feminists.

This is my reason number 336 not to have children: the fear that, despite my best efforts to program them to be what I want, they will turn into something horrifically (or maybe only slightly) disappointing, so much so that I wouldn't be able to love them. I mean, what if I raised an Ann Coulter or a Ted Bundy? I know I wouldn't be able to bear it.

Is it actually possible to program your kid to be a feminist? Or more nicely put, to cultivate feminism in him or her?

My sister-in-law recently sent out photos of my 7-year-old niece's birthday party. It was a party of about 15 girls; I didn't see a single boy in the photos. One of the major activities was to play at applying cosmetics to their faces.

So I'm flipping through the photos and my immediate, visceral reaction is "what is this sexist crap!!". I can't just look at the photos and see a bunch of happy kids playing. Instead my hair is standing on end, wondering just how my niece is being socially programmed. I can only hope that she'll rebel against it all in her teens.

But do experiences like that really have anything to do with how my niece feels about herself as a female person? Will she be less inclined towards feminism as a result? I have no idea. Something tells me it doesn't matter at all.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Donkey Skin

Last week I watched the movie Donkey Skin (Peau d’├óne). A ring – une bague – plays a prominent role in the story. So here’s a question: why does “bague” mean “ring” in French but “baguette” means “stick of bread”? Are the two words related at all? Very strange. Much like the movie, which is a bit trippy.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lamentation view

Another nice view of the Metacomet range, from the top of Lamentation Mountain.

Lamentation view


Silver Lake


Silver Lake
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
This is the view from Lamentation looking out to the west of where the USGS survey marker is located. That's Silver Lake down below. There's a nice panoramic ridge view when you reach the top of Lamentation.

USGS marker


USGS marker
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
The marker reads "U.S. COAST & GEODETIC SURVEY ... AND STATE ... ELEV... LAMENTATION ... FEET". Someone(s) has been chiseling at it - which is, ya know, illegal! - it's illegible in places. This would appear to mark the peak, but if you walk on a short bit, I think you come to the highest point on Lamentation.

Quarry


Quarry
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
This is a closer view of the quarry that I saw in the distance during yesterday's hike. It's the York Hill Trap Rock Quarry, run by L. Suzio (not Tilcon as I guessed yesterday).

Cosmopolitan Club


Cosmopolitan Club
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
There are numerous engravings in the flat trap rock at the top of Chauncey Peak along the blue trail. I guess it makes a very tempting surface for carving.

This one says something like "Cosmopolitan Club June 20 1875". I wonder if this was really carved in 1875. There are other engravings (somewhat illegible so I'm guessing here) - "Frank Studinst 1935", "Reuben Roo 1800", "Joseph Hill 1812". I wish I knew the history of these engravings.

View of Mt Higby from Chauncey Peak

This is another view from Chauncey Peak, looking out to the southeast. That's where I hiked yesterday, Mt Higby. The power lines that were in some of my photos yesterday are clearly visible.

View of Giuffrida parking lot from Chauncey Peak

Today's hike: 2 h 50 min | 4.2 mi | 1.5 mph

I did the section of the Mattabesett from Giuffrida Park to Lamentation Mountain. I've done this section once before, in September of 2004. I think the hike up to Chauncey Peak from the dam at Giuffrida is the toughest that I've experienced in Connecticut to date. Today, it took me about 20 minutes. It's very steep and covered in small, loose rocks that make the footing treacherous.

This is a photo taken from Chauncey Peak. In the lower left corner you can see the parking lot at Giuffrida Park. The reservoir is to the right, but obscured by trees. In the upper right corner, off in the distance, you can see the Metacomet range. If you zoom in close you can even see Castle Craig.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Steep drop


Steep drop
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
The trail is not especially difficult or dangerous, but it does take you past some pretty steep drops, right off the trail, like this one. Last week, a girl died after falling from this trail: "she fell some 200 feet off a large cliff in Middlefield. She and her friends had just hiked the trails of Mount Higby... Rescue workers had a tough time trying to reach the 17-year-old. A state police helicopter was used to help find her but rescue workers had to carry her out by foot."

Be careful out there, people!

The trail


The trail
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
This is a view of the trail on the way back.

I made it all the way down to Guida's (at the intersection of Routes 66 and 147) at the south end.

There's a new parking area off of Route 66, so you don't have to park at Guida's anymore if you start at the south end. The parking area is about half a mile west of Guida's on the north side of Route 66. There's a red-blue blazed side trail that connects the parking area with the blue trail here. I was astounded because the parking area is paved and even has painted parking lines! There are about eight spaces, and one of them is a handicapped spot, which struck me as kind of ironic.

When I got to Guida's, I really really wanted to get one of their hotdogs. But it looked horribly crowded, so I just headed back.

I should mention that you can get a couple of glimpses of Black Pond to the south of the trail, between the new parking lot and the ascent to Mt Higby. Views of the pond are largely obscured by trees.

Natural bridge


Natural bridge
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
I was up on the ridge, checking out this natural bridge from the cliffside, when a large dark snake slithered into a crack in the rocks near my feet. It gave me quite a shock! You don't want a surprise like that when you're standing at the edge of a cliff!

Quarry


Quarry
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
When you get to the ridge there's a pretty nice panoramic view for a nice length of the hike. First thing you see is a large quarry operation. I want to take a guess and say that it's run by Tilcon, but I'm not sure. [Edit: On Sunday, I discovered that the quarry is not owned by Tilcon, but by L. Suzio.]

View of Route 91 from the trail

After about 2 miles of hiking, the trail begins to rise as you approach Mt Higby. The trail turns into a ridge walk that follows Route 91. You know you're approaching it when you hear the rather loud traffic noise.

One thing that's nice about this section is that the trail is level to start with, whether you approach it from Guida's at the south end or Country Club Rd from the north. This gives you a chance to warm up before doing any climbs. The climbs are not very steep or difficult, either.

Blue and white striped tape


Blue and white striped tape
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
After about 5 minutes' hike into the woods, I came to a sign that said the trail was marked with blue-and-white striped tape from there until the road, back the way I came. That would explain the lack of blue blazes! It would be helpful if they posted this sign at the start of the trail, too! Or not; there were only a few taped trees, anyway.

The first two miles of trail meander as if they were blazed by a drunken or crazed person. There's a lot of blowdown, and the trail seems to be all broken up. You have to be careful not to lose the trail since there are dirt roads that criss-cross the area. I passed some off-road bikes and ATVs in this area on the way out. Since I'm paranoid, I melted into the woods when I heard them coming.

Keep Out


Keep Out
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
Once you enter the woods, it's confusing unless you know where to go - no blazes in sight, aside from the first ones marking the turn-off. I just walked up the woods road, and hoped I'd eventually find blazes. I passed a couple of "Keep Out" signs. Very friendly! Beyond the signs you could see old tires scattered about in the woods.

Country Club Rd


Country Club Rd
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
Today's hike: 4 h 25 min | 8.6 mi | 2 mph.

I did the Mount Higby section of the Mattabesett. Lotta people out there today. Nice weather: cool, breezy, sunny.

I've done this section before. This time I hiked it in the opposite direction, going south. I took Rte 91 to exit 20, turned right onto Country Club Rd, and then zagged an immediate left onto an unmarked road. That is "Miner Rd" according to the map, but there was no sign - well, aside from the "Public Golf Course" sign. Almost immediately you get to the dirt shoulder where you can park - lots of trees for all-day shade, very nice!

From the dirt parking area, you walk about 5 minutes going east along Country Club Rd to get to the turn-off going south into the woods. It's not a bad walk: speed limit is 25 mph and there's a grassy shoulder the entire way. The turn-off is a little difficult to recognize. It's almost opposite house number 666 (really!).

This photo gives you an idea of the walk along Country Club Rd. No danger.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Pistapaug Mountain


Paug and Trimountain
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
I did a 2-hour hike on the Paug and Trimountain section (mostly Pistapaug Mountain) of the Mattabesett today; about 5 miles round-trip, starting from Rt 17.

Nice and sunny, hot but bearable.

This view is of Pistapaug Pond. It's the first view you get of the pond, coming up off Rt 17; about 20 minutes in.

Friday, August 04, 2006

A day of culture


Chihuly blue floats
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
I visited MoMA this morning (actually, Thursday morning...) for the Dada exhibit, and the Chihuly exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden this evening (complete with Jazz ensemble).

I highly recommend Terrace 5 at MoMA for lunch, especially if there's room to dine outside, overlooking the outdoor sculpture garden. Fantastic service, mouth-watering food (in particular, the chilled cucumber soup). I visited MoMA with two wheelchair-users, and all of the staff that we encountered were notably accomodating, friendly, and gracious.

Delightful day!

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Birthday Cupcake is sacrificed


Birthday cupcake, part II
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
This photo shows how many matches it took to get that candle going... It also depicts the luscious innards of a Hostess cupcake, in the midst of fulfilling its sacrificial destiny. Although my palate has become fairly sophisticated, I still find the Hostess cupcake to be a delicious treat, if taken only once a year. Let that be a warning to parents about what to feed their kids. You never know what they'll fixate on.

The only thing missing here is the Birthday Latte. But that's more a tradition for the Birthday Breakfast, and this year it was an evening celebration.

Happy Birthday to you...


Birthday cupcake
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
The weather was perfect, except for the slight breeze that kept kicking up just when I'd strike a match to light the candle. With the heat we've been having, I shouldn't have been cursing a breeze, but it made it devilishly hard to keep the candle lit. Lit, of course, the candle must remain, for the entirety of the performance of the "Happy Birthday" song - a crucial part of the birthday ritual.

Eventually I gave up and moved the picnic to a more sheltered area nearby, which lacked the nice view. Even there, I had difficulty keeping the candle lit. But it finally worked - as evidenced in this photo.

Hezekiah's Knob


Hezekiah's Knob
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
Today being July 31, I hiked up to a "high place" for the traditional celebration of the birthday of a good friend, in absentia. I picked Hezekiah's Knob, off the blue trail at Sleeping Giant. This photo gives you a cupcake's-eye view of some industrial area off to the south - if you stand up, you get more of a panorama. Alas, the cupcake does not have the good fortune to be able to stand up; sitting is pretty much all it does. I did hold it up to give it a good look at the scenery. That was the least I could do, as it was soon to meet its demise.