Cerebral Gibberish

What's on my mind, might just blow yours.

Amazing Race 12

Posted by heymoe on 27th January 2008

Well, I finally got around to watching the final episode of The Amazing Race 12, which aired last Sunday, and I’m happy to report that the team I was cheering for won. Out of all the teams this round I feel they deserved to win and they did so without all the drama and bickering that most of the other teams had each episode. The final leg of the race took place in Anchorage Alaska so it was really cool to see some of the places I visited when I was up there last summer.

Any ways, out of all the reality shows that are out there, The Amazing Race is the one I would want to be on the most next to The Rebel Billionaire if they ever produce another season of that.

In case you have not watched the final episode yet I’ve listed the winners below but you will only see them if you click to read the rest of this post.

Read the rest of this entry »

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2007 Alaska Trip Pictures

Posted by heymoe on 29th August 2007


I’ve started to upload pictures from my trip to Alaska. I still have a lot more to process and upload but its a start. Enjoy!

more pictures

Update.. [8/29/2007 @ 6:39pm]

OK. All of my pictures from my Alaska trip has been uploaded except for the ones from Adak Island, the panoramas I made, experimental HDR shots and a few misc. shots.

Update.. [8/30/2007 @ 1:00am]

Woot.. All of the photos have been uploaded now except for the HDR ones that I still learning how to make.

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Adak Adventure: Day 8 – 9

Posted by heymoe on 26th August 2007

8/12/2007 – 8/13/2007: Sunday – Monday (Better late then never)
Even though we could sleep in today, since we finished all the work we needed to do while at Adak, I still got up around 8:30am for some reason. I took another cold shower since the hot water heater decided to stop working again over night and then cooked up some breakfast. We had issues accessing the Internet last night but this morning it was back so I checked my email and sort through the pictures I took yesterday. We were suppose to get a phone call from one of the Adak guys in the morning so we could go do some fishing but when it got to be around 10am Chris and I started to get cabin fever so we walked over to Justin and Terry’s place to see what they were up to and maybe borrow the truck again. It turns out they were also waiting to hear from Mike about the fishing but no one knew his phone number so we all decided to go out and explore more of the country side and abandoned buildings.

The first place we stopped was the old police station / police dog kennel. The office side of the building look like the other building we wondered though in that with some cleanup you would have a fully furnished and most likely functional office space. Granted the computers and the xerox machine are a little outdated. In the back offices we found the evidence log as well as the vault, which was open, that the evidence was stored in. There were a few smaller safes which stored ammo and other stuff which were left open as well. Boxes of shotgun shells where dumped out on the desks but I would not want to try and and use them since they looked weathered and rusty. On the kennel side of the building was another office with yet another open safe. There were several gas masks laying around in the room. The kennels themselves where not all that exciting.

From the police station we headed out into the country where we explored a few old WWII army barracks which were camouflaged in the landscape by being buried into the side of hills. Following the back roads some more we eventually found ourselves on top of a mountain or at least a really high hill where there was a small antenna array which turned out to be hooked up with some seismic sensors in these small huts with solar cells on them. I’m not sure how much use the solar cells are on Adak since I have not seen the sun yet while I’ve been here. From there we kept following this one road where we did pass by some hunters going the other ways most likely looking for some caribou. We saw the Alaska Airline’s radar array up on one hill and then two fairly large antenna arrays which Justin said looked like a small Elephant Cage Antenna. The road we were on eventually lead to a set of buildings that Chris and I went though yesterday but Justin and Terry have not been in so we went in again and this time I had my flashlight with me also.

We then headed back toward town where we stopped by a old warehouse type building that was missing one of its walls. There was a large bald eagle in the rafters that flew off when we entered the warehouse. There was a second floor to the warehouse but all the stairs up have been knocked down. Justin said someone must have done that recently since he was up there the last time he was on the island. On one of the walls in the warehouse someone spray painted “Keep Out Gary” on the well. I guess they knew I was coming. hehe.

The last set of buildings we explored were surrounded by two barbed wire fences so you know something good must have been going on in there. It would seem this was a big communications center which housed several data center rooms. Of course the military did not leave any of their good hardware behind. It looks like the people that worked in these building pulled long hours or something since there was a full gym and basketball court in a connecting building. The wood floor of this basketball court was in a lot better shape then the court in the old high school.

After exploring, Justin and Terry dropped Chris and I back off at our house so we could cook up some lunch and finish packing for the flight home. Terry called us a few hours later letting us know that they were going to drop their luggage off at the airport and were going to come back by to pickup our stuff to take to the airport. When Terry arrived he had some bad news. The flight was running about an hour behind and of course our layover connection in Anchorage was only 30 mins if the flight was on time so it now looks like were are going to miss that connection.

After dropping our gear off at the airport we headed back to the Central Office to make use of the phones to see if we could setup a different connection back to Raleigh. After being on the phone with the airlines for 2 hours, they basically told us that since we have not missed the connection yet, they can’t do anything.

So begins ours journey back to Raleigh. The flight out of Adak was indeed late but once were were in the air the captain said we had a tail wind which would help make up some time but it was not enough. Once we landed in Anchorage we had 10 mins to try and make our connection. Chris and I made a run for it once we got off the plane but it was not going to help since we had to go to a different terminal which meet we had to go through security again, so we missed the connection. So back to the phones again to try and get on another flight. Luckily the Anchorage airport had free WiFi so Chris got on the phones and I started to look to see what our options were online.

It looked like the next flight out of Anchorage that would get us to Raleigh would be at 7am via Delta. By the way we are now into Day 9 of our Adak Adventure since we landed in Anchorage at 1:20am Monday. We eventually got everything worked out and made to to Raleigh by 11pm. It only took us 22 hours from the time we got on the plane in Adak to when we got back to Raleigh. Of course our luggage was missing in action due to the missed connection but it was good to be home and the luggage did show up the next day.

Well there you have it, my 9 day Alaska / Adak adventure.

Be sure to checkout my pictures from the trip here.

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Adak Adventure: Day 7

Posted by heymoe on 12th August 2007

8/11/2007: Saturday
Today started out just like yesterday expect we had hot water, sort of, for showers. The hot water would come and go during the showers so you have to brace yourself for the jolt of cold water every now and then.

Since we left things pretty much working when we left last night the only thing we had to do today was put some polish on a few things and have a training session for the they guys that work on Adak so they know how to manage our system. Of course a few minor bug were found but nothing that required a multi-hour con-call like yesterday. I made sure to bring lunch with me today so I did not have to miss lunch like I did yesterday. Justin and Terry did some testing from actual home sites while Chris and I finished up on a few things before Chris started the training class. Everything seems to work but the Internet link seems to be a little flaky so the Adak guys will have to work with the Sat provider on that one still.

We actually got done with everything a little after 5pm and the Adak guys were nice enough to lend us their truck so Chris and I could explore the island some. It would seem that a majority of the time Adak is cover is low clouds and mist. Justin pointed out a few mountains which he said that you very rarely see the peeks because they are also in the clouds / mist. Other then not being able to see a clear sky and winters with 100+ MPH winds and snow, the island is quite beautiful. After a short drive to get out of the city you are surround by rolling grass covered hills and mountains. The wild life seems to be vast on island with otters, seals, caribou, bald and brown eagles, several types of fish, whales etc.. This is most likely make Adak a good tourist spot for hunters in the future.

Chris and I headed back to Clam Lagoon to find some abandoned military and other buildings to explore and there are a lot of them on Adak. It almost like some sort of horror movies walking though some of these buildings. I kind of expected to see zombies jumping out at us as Chris and I wondered though these building in the dark with only a small flash light. Most of these buildings were abandoned back around 1998 when the Military decided it was not worth having a base on the island anymore and pull everyone out. It almost looks like White House called and said you had 30mins to get off the island. All of the house that military families lived in still have furniture and other personal type items in them. The buildings still have computers, copiers, draws full of stuff.

The weather here really does a number on the structures on the island. It looks like onces power was turned off on all these buildings the high humidity seeped in and started to rot everything inside and out. The old high school’s basketball court was severely warped due to the boards expanding due to the humidity. Some building with basements had standing water in them. The wind in the winter blows quite hard and some homes have siding ripped off of them and roofs missing, etc.. Add on top of that the amount of vandalism caused most likely by the teenagers having nothing else to do and no police to stop them. Justin described some of the other abandoned housing developments looking like something out of a horror movies where you feel like people are looking at you through the hold run down homes.

We found a few communication buildings that had really nice raised floor data centers that must have housed some really hush hush type stuff since some of these building were surrounding by fences and bullet proof glass. Some of the rooms still look like they are in good condition but I’m sure it would take a lot of work just bring power back to them rooms and most likely have standing water under the raised floors.

We had to cut our exploring short since we were going to meet the Adak guys at the bar for drinks, dinner and some pool. Over all today was a good day. We got all the work stuff done and had time to get out and see the sites. To bad tomorrow is our last day but the flight off the island is a little before 9pm so we have a lot of time to explore more before we have to leave.

Stay tuned for Day 8: The final day… maybe…

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Adak Adventure: Day 6

Posted by heymoe on 12th August 2007

8/10/2007: Friday
Today started out a little rough. I overslept a little since I set the alarm to go off at 7:15 PM not AM then I went to take a shower to find out we had no hot water. Boy that was one of the coldest and quickest showers I’ve ever taken. Breakfast wise we were on our own but both Chris and I packed a food with us since food on Adak is really expensive (IE: $8 for a box of cereal). Justin and Terry picked us up and took us to the office where we got started.

We got everything racked, powered and more or less working within a few hours. We had to make some changes on the fly to how the network hooked up due to unknown requirements or requests but nothing that my mad networking and system skills could not take care of. Of course I had help from Raleigh too. I want to thank Jason for putting up with us remotely hehe. Everything was going smoothly until we went to connect the fiber termination gear to the network which will give people access to the Internet from their homes. Did I mention that all the homes on Adak have FTTP (Fiber to the Premises). I wish I could get FTTP to my house in Raleigh. Of course the draw back to having FTTP on Adak is that network speed on island is super fast but the pipe to the Internet is only 1Mb. We must have been on a con-call on and off with the vendor of this hardware for 6 hours before they got it working and to get it to work they had to reboot the device which we should have done 5 hours prior. In any case Chris and I both worked without getting lunch as did Justin and Terry I think so it was nice to get back to the house to make some dinner. The bad thing is that we worked for 13 hours, mostly waiting on the vendor, that by time we finished dinner there was no time to go explorer after dinner. At least we had hot water, hopefully we will have it still in the morning.

Stay tuned for Day 7…

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Adak Adventure: Day 5

Posted by heymoe on 12th August 2007

8/8/2007: Thursday
More of the same morning routine today except instead of going to the local company office we had to do a few things to get ready for the flight out to Adak. First thing we had to do was do some laundry since this trip was longer then expected. After that we had to get everything packed up and checkout of the hotel by noon. From the hotel we went to grab some lunch at the Piper Bar and Grill which is located next to Lake Hood Float Plane Base which is the busiest float plane base in the world. It was really neat to see the float planes landing and taking off while we ate our lunch.

After lunch we drive down a little ways to the terminal to take some close up pictures of the float planes taking off and landing. The observation area was maybe 30-40 feet from the water so you could get a really good view of the planes. I think one of the pilots even posed a little as he was taking off with a smile and thumbs up. I still need to verify this though.

We wanted to make sure we did not miss this flight this time so we headed to the airport 2 hours or so early to make sure we got our tickets and bags checked and work out any issues if they pop up with time to spare. The plane for the flight to Adak was half cargo and half passenger plane where we had to enter the plane from the rear. There were a lot more people on this flight then I expected. It turns out that Adak is a great spot of you’re into hunting and fishing. There are so many Caribou the island that Alaska does not put any restrictions on the number of them you can kill on the island. Fishing is another big thing on Adak mainly for the silver, pink and red Salmon. Even though there is a limit on the number of fish you can catch, there is really no one on the island to enforce it.

Landing in Adak seem to take forever due to the low cloud cover and once we got under the clouds we were really close to the water. The landing was uneventful but seeing the big airport fire truck rushing to the airplane was a little weird. I’m guessing that since there are only two flights to the island a week that they try to get some practice in when a plane lands. There was nothing special about the Adak terminal. Instead of a jet way, two people pushed a set of stairs into place at the rear entry. It turns out there was a WWII vet on board the flight that was stationed in Adak making a return trip for a documentary or something.

Justin from the Adak company was waiting for us at the terminal and after packing up the truck with our gear we made a quick stop at the main office to drop off the hardware that we will install tomorrow. We then dropped off our remaining gear at the house that they set us up in. After getting settled in and finding out we had no water which turned out to be caused by a break in the main line feeding the city, we drove to the one and only bar on Island for some drinks and food. It turns out the bar is the only place to get food next to making it yourself at home. The sandwich I had was over cooked and crunchy but the onion rings were great. We also meet up with a few of the other guys that we would be working with over the next few days while at the bar including the big boss man. They all were a great group of guys.

After dinner at the bar Justin gave us a quick tour of the island from Clam Lagoon to Finger Bay which are north and south of the main city. For the most part the entire island is tundra as far as the eye can see. Other then the small trees that some people planted in front of their homes there are only eight native trees on the island that are all grouped together. This group of trees make up Adaks National Forest. We did see a few Bald Eagles on the drive and a whole bunch of abandoned buildings which Chris and I hope to have time to explore later.

After the quick tour Justin dropped us back off at our house and we were happy to find out the water was working. Chris and I turned in shortly after since we were going to get an early start tomorrow.

Stay tuned for Day 6.

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Adak Adventure: Day 4

Posted by heymoe on 12th August 2007

8/8/2007: Wednesday
Nothing special to report for the morning that did not happen yesterday morning. I got up, had breakfast and went to the local company office and did some work. There was some minor drama related to the mail migration I was up late for last night but nothing that my group back in Raleigh could not handle.

Since Chris and I have already traveled North to the Knik Glacier and South to the Portage Glacier there was no where else to go that did not require a several hour drive. It would have been nice to see a real, as in big and breaking up in the water, glacier but that will have to wait until next time. It would have also been nice if we could have gone to Denali National Park and see Mt. McKinley up close but that would be a 6 hour round trip drive not including the time to go site seeing. So we decided to go back downtown to do some shopping, get dinner and look around.

One souvenir that I wanted to get was an Alaskan ULU which is a multipurpose cutting knife. It kind of reminds me of a one handed, single blade Klingon Batleth. A lot of the typical souvenir stores downtown had cheap, made in Hong Kong / China knock offs that most likely would only be nice to look at but not actually use in the kitchen. As luck would have it there was a store downtown call “The ULU Factory” which hand makes ULUs from 100% USA materials. I picked up two ULUs, one to look at or maybe a gift and one to use in the kitchen.

Behind the ULU factory was a restaurant called “The Bridge” which as the name implies is a restaurant built on a bridge over Ship Creek. It would have been nice to have dinner there but was a little pricey and you needed to have a reservation. Below the restaurant in Ship Creek were a whole bunch of people were fishing. From the bridge you could see the fish in the water but they did not seem to be hungry since no one was catching anything. There was one part of the creek where there were a line of people fishing from each bank and Chris and I joked that any fish pass though that section would be running the gauntlet of death and fishing lure temptation. A little further up the creek was a spillway which had a no fishing behind this point line right before it. As Chris and I walked across the spillway bridge we could see why they did not want anyone fishing there. It was to protect the large schools of fish that were all grouped together at the bottom trying to make it up stream.

After leaving Ship Creek we headed back to 4th and 5th street downtown to do more souvenir shopping. We hit three stores and I picked up a few little gifts for the guys back at the office and a few shirts for me. We then headed to this restaurant we passed by earlier called “Snow Goose Restaurant & Sleeping Lady Brewery” which had a two level deck which provided a nice view of Cook Inlet.

After dinner we headed back to Woronzof Point to since we had to cut our sightseeing short yesterday due to the email migration I had to do. It looks like this is a popular place to come in the evening for tourist and locals. Looking over Cook Inlet you could see mountains and rain falling in the distance. This made for a very nice back drop for a bunch of sunset pictures. Another interesting thing about this spot is that it’s located at the end of one of the runways of the Anchorage airport so every now and then a big airplane will roar over head.

Well that is pretty much all for Day 4. Stay tuned for Day 5.

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Adak Adventure: Day 3

Posted by heymoe on 8th August 2007

8/7/2007: Day 3
Tuesday was a calm day unlike Monday where we were running around trying to get everything rescheduled and what not. The weather was also nicer with few clouds unlike the very overcast Monday. It was also warmer then normal, highs of the low to mid 70’s but it did cool down quickly once the sun started to set.

Chris and I started the day off with breakfast at which was not nearly as nice as the breakfast spread that the previous hotel had but it hit the spot. We then headed over to the local office to make use of their Internet to check our email and other work related activities. Nothing really not worthy to talk about, it’s just work. Once the work was done we hopped into the car and went to Earthquake Park which was a short drive from the hotel. Alaska was hit by a massive earthquake in 1964 and this park is a reminder of the damage that shook the area. A little further up the road from Earthquake Park was Woronzof Point which over looks Cook Inlet and give you a distant view of Mt. McKinley. From there we headed south this time along the Seaward Highway toward Whittier / Seaward. This highway runs along the base of Chugach Mountains and the shore of Turnagain Arm and the view was breath taking with plenty of areas to pull over and take pictures. It’s listed as being one of the Top 10 most scenic drives in the US.

The first big photo op was at Beluga Point. This spot had two big rock jut outs into the sea that we climbed on looking for the perfect spot to take pictures. We basically did some rock climbing to get on top of the big rocks which provided a spectacular view with lots of wind. Next stop was Bird Creek which was a big attraction for fishermen & fisherwomen. There must have been 50 or more people along the creek fishing and it looked like everyone was catching something. It was an impressive site to see. Maybe next time I’m here I’ll have to give fishing a shot. Next stop we made was at Bird Point, which unlike Beluga Point, had side walks leading out to a large observation deck that over looked the water with the mountains as a back drop. From there we headed to Portage Glacier. This time we got a lot closer to the glacier then we did to the Knik glacier on Monday but not close enough so we could touch it. It also seems to be pretty small compared to some of the pictures of glaciers I’ve seen and was not even coming all the way down the mountain to the lake below. The water in the lake was, you guessed it, very cold. On the way back to Anchorage we stopped at a small dinner in Girdwood for dinner and once again at Beluga Point to take more pictures from the other big rock while the sun was setting (at 10:30pm) hehe. We were going to stop back by Woronzof Point to catch the sunset but I had to get back to the hotel to do some work.

We got back to the hotel at around 11pm just in time for me to go back to work. Justin, working from Raleigh, and I were migration more customers to our new mail cluster. I was a little worried that I would not find a stable Internet connections since previous attempts at our current hotel failed. I ended up unplugging on of the hotels computers used for guest access and was Justin and I finish the migration around 2am Anchorage time (6am Eastern)

Stay tuned for Day 4

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Adak Adventure: Day 2

Posted by heymoe on 7th August 2007

8/6/2007: Day 2
I’m still in Anchorage, AK and this morning we got the go ahead to stay here until Thursday and then head out to Adak. Chris and I spent most of the morning calling different airlines and Orbitz trying to get our flights reworked, calling around for a different hotel since the one we stayed in last night cost something like $500 a night and trying to figure out where our missing bag, which happens to have all the hardware we need to install on Adak, is. Someone at Alaska Airlines seems to think there is a flight out to Adak today which would be great and supposedly our missing bag in on the flight out of O’Hare today arriving in Anchorage at around 2pm.

We went to the airport around 2:15pm to check on our missing bag and after running around between United and Alaska Air for about an hour, our bag appeared. While waiting on the bag, Chris was talking to Orbitz to see about getting on todays flights to Adak just to find out they were wrong as we expected. So we are now officially here in Anchorage until Thursday. After visiting with the local office of the company we are doing work for we headed downtown to take in the sits and to grab some lunch. 4th, 5th and 6th streets downtown seem to be where all the action is. Lots of of tourist type stores, a big mall where we stopped in to make use of the food court, parks and other sites to see. After we walked the strip we got back into our car and headed North to the mountains.

The first place we stopped was Thunderbird Falls. The hike to the actually water fall was about 1 mile down a nicely kept path where to one side was a gorge in which you could fall to your death and the other side more or less just woods and more mud. We both took several pictures of the falls, the gorge and river. I think Chris and I tempted fate a few times by leaving the official path and taking a few risks that could had lead to a nice fall into the gorge in order to take some pictures.

Once we left Thunderbird Falls we continued north with the idea of trying to see Knik Glacier. The map, if you can call it that, we had made it looks like the road we were on would end where the Glacier was but it didn’t. We did find an over look where you could see the Glacier in the distance and we both took some picture from a distance. Heading back south we made a few stops along side of the road and took pictures around Knik River. There was and old two lane bridge that still crossed the river but was closed to traffic that we got on, ignoring the signs that said stay off, and got some great shots. It should be noted that by this time it was around 10pm and there was still plenty of sun light to take pictures.

We did not get back to the hotel, which is no where near as nice as the one we stayed in the previous night, we stopped at a 24 hour McDonalds to grab some late dinner (around 10:45pm now). The hotel we moved is a two bedroom suite with a single bathroom, no AC, none of the TVs work, no Kitchen and Internet access that does not seem to exist unless you are down by the office. It does not cost $500 per night so I guess you get what you paid for. Any ways after the late dinner we went back to the room and settled for the night.

Stay tuned for Day 3.

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The Great Adak Adventure

Posted by heymoe on 6th August 2007

8/5/2007: Day 1
Greetings from Anchorage Alaska! Work has sent me on another travel adventure. This time to Adak Island Alaska. In theory I should have said “Greetings from Adak…” but due to bad weather my flight from Raleigh to O’Hare got delayed and I missed my connection that would have gotten me to Anchorage around 2pm giving me plenty of time to make my connection to Adak at 4:50pm. I had to take a later flight out of O’Hare and arrived in Anchorage at 7:20pm. There are only two flights a week to and from Adak Island, one on Sunday and one on Thursday. My coworker and I will find out what the new game plan is tomorrow. I think it would be a waste of a trip to fly back to Raleigh to just have to fly back out here again. I’m pretty sure we’ll just stay in Anchorage until Thursday and head to Adak to do the work we came out here to do and then head back to Raleigh next Sunday.

Anchorage is pretty nice so far. The weather has been overcast today with a temperature around 62F. Its currently 11:30pm but it looks more like 8pm outside. You can still see sun light which is a weird experience. Since I now have a nice new camera, I’ll be taking bunch of picture that will be posted when I get back home.

Stay tuned for more updates about my adventure.

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