Saturday, October 27, 2007

Welcome Parentals...Have a beer

My parents dropped into town Friday afternoon for a quick visit. With the weather turning from (so I hear) gorgeous to gloomy we opted for some indoor entertainment. Much to the chagrin of my reeling liver after a week of Solarc Ascent, we headed up north to Fort Collins for some beer sampling and brew tours. First stop on our tour was New Belgium brewery, where we'd divide and conquer and belly up to the bar for a tray of samples as we awaited our guided tour to start.

Sarah, Yack and Jill diligently study the beer dictionary

Samples arrive, followed by happy faces

Pretty maids in a row

Cheers to family reunions

Cheers to being back at home with my lovely wife

So at 1:30, we headed back for our tour. New Belgium is an incredibly cool place, and everyone that works there seems genuinely overjoyed to be there. They are a really family type employee base, with perks ranging from profit sharing to stock in the company to a free bike (you had me at free bike!) to a trip to Belgium after 5 years on the job.

The tour was very informal, but told the story of how New Belgium came to be and turned into what they are today. They are a very green company, using 100% wind power and lots of other eco-friendly type of policies. And they give you a free bike.

More pretty maids in a row...

Sweet Trike

Tile mosaic surrounding a huge 1.5 story vat, again bike oriented

And why not throw in an alien for good measure

Yet more Pretty maids in a row

Our tour guide after serving up yet another sample

After finishing the tour and buying some New Belgium gear, we headed to old town to grab some food. After filling our bellies we hit up Odell's for another quick tasting before heading back south towards the house to watch the Rockies, which unfortunately wasn't much fun to watch.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

SolArc Ascent 2007

In 7 years of working at Solarc, I never once attended the user conference. In fact, I avoided it at all costs even when lots of my buddies headed down to do various duties. Last year when I started at MarkWest, my first week on the job coincided with Ascent and I didn't go. This year, I've been really looking forward to Ascent and after 3 days of catching up with a lot of my old friends, it lived up to my expectations.

The common theme seemed to be everyone having more kids than I expected. The list of friends I got to catch up with is extensive, and several people I didn't expect to see showed up too, like Lisa Garcia and Kelly Stocksen. Lots of story telling with Cliff and Duke, hearing the ins and outs with Jake and just enjoying getting to see what all craziness has transpired in the 3 years I've been gone. Time definitely has not stood still, we've all grown up and changed and matured (well not Cliff) but the overwhelming thing we all had in common is that everyone truly seemed to be as happy as I've ever seen. Of course, that could have just been due to the open tab at the SkyBar....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The evil temptress

There is no hiding it, I've been pretty obsessed with the iPhone since its announcement earlier this year. Its pretty much the Holy Grail in portable media devices for me, allowing me to carry just the iPhone instead of my Ipod and phone every day. Since its launch I've purposely avoided going into the Apple stores to play with it too much, and had to listen to all my buddies from Solarc tell me how great it is. Well all except Jake, which is maybe the most shocking development.

Well today was to be the day, or so I thought. I was given the opportunity to switch my cell phone to the MarkWest corporate account, a nice surprise, which is on Cingular. I had it all worked out how I could get our Network Manager to allow me to use the IPhone, even though its not supported. He gave me the thumbs up (it helps he is a mountain biking buddy of mine), so I was just going through the final stages of "Do I just buy it and then transfer it to the MW account" or "Should I just buy it through our corporate agent?"

Well after a quick email to our corporate agent crushed all my hopes and dreams. Evidently iPhones are not allowed to be added to corporate accounts. What? I didn't believe it, so I googled it. Yep, pretty much screwed here. With that revelation, I thought through a couple of other options before realizing its probably just time to conform to corporate policy like everyone else.

So that leaves me with two choices: Treo 750 on the Verizon Network or the new Blackberry 8820 on Cingular (shown below).

After spending about 30 minutes playing with both phones today in the office, I think I like the Blackberry better. All 3 people I asked about the Treo pretty much said uniformly they hated it, especially with the Windows Mobile OS that apparently locks up a lot. I've never been a Blackberry fan, but from a corporate phone stance it really makes more sense. Perhaps with the next iteration of the iPhone it will be "corporate approved" and then I can switch over, but if not maybe I'll just buy myself a new touch iPod at some point. Besides all those visions of watching movies or The Office on my iPhone on the bus ride to/from work are just pipe dreams, I like sleeping too much...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Some fine pie

Pizza pie that is.

About a year ago, the guys at Markwest introduced me to "true" Chicago style, deep dish pizza. Yeah I'd had plenty of "Chicago style" pizza before, but this is a different creation altogether. These pies are 3 inches deep, and when you cut a slice out, the cheese literally oozes out the sides. It takes 20+ minutes to bake, and when done correctly its about as good as it gets. And just when I got absolutely hooked on Benniamino's pies, he closed up shop and moved on. I was upset. Tim, Benny's biggest fan, packed up and moved back to Chicago. While I'm not sure it was 100% due to Benny's closing, I think it certainly played a roll.

Tonight after running some errands around Boulder, I took Jill to Baked in Boulder. Aside from having a great name for a pizza place in Boulder, the man makes a mean pie. We walked in, and immediately I felt like good things were to come.

No menu.
No prices.
Seating for about 15 people.

The one employee (I assume the owner) simply asks what we want. I reply "pepperoni" and he says "I'll make you up a 12" double pepperoni". That'll work.

So 20 minutes passes and the pie shows up, an enticing mix of tomato sauce, pepperoni and cheese. The cook immediately serves me up two pieces, and I made quick work of it. I had found a replacement for Benny's, and it is close. Good things for my pallet, bad things for my waste line.

And in other news, tomorrow at noon MST marks the start of 24 Hours of Moab. I've got two riding buddies taking on the task with Chris Plesko running Solo and John "The Punisher" Perry on a 5 person team. I'll be tracking the real time results and pulling for them in this monstrous task. I've got this feeling that Chris is going to put up a big result...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Rocky Mtn Natl Park Hiking - The Big Bear Loop

With our first real threat of serious high country snow moving in Saturday night, we decided to be proactive and try to get in another big hike in Rocky this weekend. We were up early, and on the trail before the Front Range woke up, which in hindsight was a really good decision.

I had identified a loop that started at Bear Lake, hit some of our usual haunts but added a lake that we'd been near many times but never visited. We would eventually pass 6 alpine lakes, ranging in elevation from 9450ft to 10,2000ft, one major waterfall and countless smaller features.

Starting at Bear Lake, we dropped down for a mile or so before starting the climb up to Alberta Falls. We've been to Alberta so many times, and with the run-off low, we barely even paused as we kept our steady pace climbing up to our first destination, Mills Lake. We got to Mills a bit too late for good light, and subsequently got some pretty terrible pics but our in person visuals were much better than what we captured in photos.

Lake #1 on the day, Mills Lake

Backtracking from Mills, we headed west on our way to The Loch. We had been there once before, but it was snowed in and not overly impressive in that state. We were much more impressed this time around, and sat on the bank to take in some views before moving on to our next lake.

The Loch, clear of snow (for now)

Jill poses during a break at The Loch

The trail from The Loch to Lake Haiyaha is "unimproved". If you remember, our last "unimproved" trail on the East Inlet was a bit of a bear. Thankfully today's trail, although unimproved, was much easier to navigate and we knocked on the mile connector and .3 mile spur to Lake Haiyaha pretty quickly and thus completed all the climbing for the day, a welcome event.

Lake Haiyaha is an overlooked, but worthy destination

The happy couple poses for a pic

After some snacks and a break, we dropped back down to Dream Lake. We've been to Dream lots before, but today the lake was unusually crowded. We had evidently been ahead of the crowds all morning, but as we got near Dream/Nymph/Bear the crowds grew large. We snapped some quick pics at Dream/Nymph/Bear and the headed for the car to get the heck away from all the crowds. One of the busiest days we've ever witnessed in RMNP, but it was nice to be out in front of everyone thanks to our early start.

Dream Lake, always worth a picture

Finally some calm waters at Nymph Lake

Bear Lake, #6 on the day and our final stop

We ended up doing right at 9 miles, with a healthy 2700 feet of elevation gain for the day. Not a huge hike in terms of mileage for us, but a great day to be out and about in the park. I'm guessing next time we're back in the park it will be on snowshoes.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Random thoughts from Fall...

I've got Rockies fever!

I've got to admit, I've really become interested in the Rockies and their improbable playoff run. Left for dead in early September, they closed the season winning 13 of 14 games, and with some help, landed in a 1 game playoff to decide the wildcard last night in LoDo. While laid up sick in a various hotels across Ohio last week, I watched their games on television or online intently.

Last night I found myself hanging with ever pitch of a back and forth game with an improbably ending. The Rockies, down 2 in the 12th, rallied back for a spectacular win to claim the wildcard. They start the Division series tomorrow in Philly, and you can bet I'll have an eye on the game while at work.

The 'Ster visits

Sunday saw the return to the Front Range of Sarah from a 2ish week tour of Europe, and with her she brought Yackster (my dad, and his real name is Jack) along for the drive back. We got to dine on some good grub at Pasta Jay's and visit for a bit before he jetted back to Oklahoma. Although brief, was really good to get to see him.

Fantasy Football

I'm in two leagues this year, the Solarc league that I've been in for the last 9 years and a newly formed MarkWest league. Through 4 games, I've gone a combined 7-1, although I've been incredibly lucky thus far. Its pretty much all luck when you get down to it, but its still make for fun bragging rights with coworkers and old friends.

Trainer Time

Its the time of year to break out the trainer. Days are getting short, making it tough to routinely get rides in after I get home from work. So Ruby gets setup on the trainer, and the two fat tire bikes wait for their chance to hit the trails under the lights when the opportunity presents itself.

The lastest SNL Digital Short

If you're familiar with "Lazy Sunday" or his other SNL works, you need to YouTube Andy Samberg's latest digital short 'I Ran', serenading Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.