roblog - Official Blog of Rob Hurvitz

28 May 2002 - 2:28:51 PM
I just checked my Spammail account and found a message with the subject line of "Hats." The body of the message is:

I sent John R----- about 8 hats yesterday via Fed-ex.

I have no idea who the sender is, or Joel or John, but I suppose I should be flattered that I was considered important enough to be cc'ed on this intriguing message. Maybe the sender is a big fan of my hat page. I don't know.

I'll be filing this email in my "Bizarro Rob" folder. Remind me to tell you about the week last October when I found out not only that I worked in a clothing manufacturing company but I was also getting a divorce.

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27 May 2002 - 9:26:52 PM
Hiked up Mt. Pilchuck today with my friend Jon. I won't be writing a full-on trip report, so don't get worried.

We had to park about two miles from the trailhead because of snow on the road, so a 6.5 mile hike suddenly became a 10.5 mile hike -- should've gotten an earlier start! It was sunny on the way up, but about 15 minutes from reaching the old fire lookout station at the peak, a bunch of low clouds rolled in and eliminated the view. Ah well. Got some fun glissades in on the way down, though. On the walk back down the road to the car, we passed by a guy whose big ol' pick up truck was stuck in the snow. He had a shovel in the cab, which he was using to try and get his truck unstuck -- I had the feeling he gets himself stuck in the snow a lot.

When we reached our the car (parked before the snow began, so it wouldn't get stuck), it started raining, and the shoveling dude's buddy whizzed by on a little 4-wheeler ATV, soon followed by a Search and Rescue vehicle.

Back in Seattle, we met up with another friend and went searching for an open Ethiopian place. Ended up at Assimba, which is one of my favorite Seattle Ethiopian restaurants. Mmm. Food.

So, yeah, it was a pretty good day.

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25 May 2002 - 12:47:48 AM
Well, I did a little updating 'round my pages. Added three more books to my To Read list -- it's amazing how that list never seems to shrink. Added two more pictures to the home page rotation, both from my friend Kappy's wedding. And I put up better quality scans of the Guia and Green Island lighthouses. Busy, busy, busy.
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22 May 2002 - 9:29:58 PM
Trip Report: 5/17/02 - Guye Peak and Snoqualmie Peak

The Players:
Instructors - Chris, George, Sim
Students - Andrew, Janice, Mike, Murray, Rob

The Report:
The Three Hour Tour began after the Friday morning downpour let up, which allowed for a long, leisurely pack check in the cabin's rec room and a long, unfocused route-planning session in the dining room. We eventually picked Snoqualmie Peak, partially because Pat had suggested it earlier and partially because we wouldn't have to pack along harnesses or ropes.

The hike in to Commonwealth Basin started out pleasantly enough, with the instructors assigning Gilligan's Island roles to the various students. Mike and Murray began shouting at each other: "I'm Gilligan!" "No, I'm Gilligan!" The two nearly came to blows, but Sim yanked his hat off his head, wrung it in his hands, and sputtered, "Gilligans! When I get my--" Mike and Murray, along with Andrew, immediately took off before Sim could finish, leading as fast as they could. We wound up half way up Kendall before we were able to re-group.

The plan had been to get to the Guye-Snoqualmie saddle, scoot around Cave Ridge, and trudge up the south shoulder of Snoqualmie peak, just like it said in the Beckey guide. Murray looked around, pointed at a random mountain, and said, "That's Mt. Baker." He then pointed downhill and said, "So we need to go that way." Andrew pulled out his compass and took a bearing. "It's 320 degrees to Mt. Baker," he announced. The students set off again, switching leads about every 30 seconds, each adjusting our group's direction by 20 degrees or so in order to disorient the instructors.

We crossed the three rivers and began weaving vaguely north-ish and uphill until we overheard one of the instructors mutter, "Hey, I think I know where we are now." Mike took action, assuming the lead, turning 90 degrees left, and marching quickly downhill. It worked -- the instructors slipped back into their normal state of bewilderment. We crossed a tributary, headed uphill again, and found our old tracks from the Snow 1 weekend. Just as we'd planned.

Up at the saddle, we shed our packs and took a lunch break. Chris pulled out a mass of cheese and began gnawing at it. "It's very stinky," he said, an odd glint in his eye. Janice pulled out some tart, chewy candies. "They're British," she said, but they were good anyway. Periodically, the instructors would ask if we wanted to climb Guye Peak, and we would shrug. Andrew and Janice took advantage of the break to call in to their respective jobs, and the rest of us pelted them with snowballs.

The instructors asked for the fourteenth time if we wanted to climb Guye Peak, and Mike grabbed his ice axe and said, "Yeah, let's do it." We left our packs at the lunch spot, crossed through our old camp site, and step-kicked up to Guye Peak. This time there was a beautiful view. The weather had cleared up nicely, and Rainier was out, but we had missed the magic gully Chris had read about in the Beckey guide that would have taken us to the south rib. From the north rib, we were able to scope out the approach to Snoqualmie Peak. It looked long, and we could see ski tracks snaking down an avalanchey stretch. Hmm.

After a quick descent with a fun (for those with long pants (especially Schoeller pants)) glissade, we returned to our packs. Andrew and Chris had both glissaded in shorts, and Chris spent the next fifteen minutes complaining about ice wedged in uncomfortable places (thou dost protest too much, methinks).

We wiggled around Cave Ridge and reached the approach to the south shoulder, which was basically a stretch of avalanches waiting to happen. Mike step-kicked like a madman up the slope to reach the shoulder and get out of the gully, and then we were on the prime avalanche slope portion of the shoulder. We regrouped and discussed things. After some debate and speculation, we finally reached consensus that Janice had a nice butt. Sim and Chris step-kicked to a steeper portion of the slope and dug a pit to analyze the snow pack, which seemed sticky enough to hold. One by one we slogged up the shoulder and took a break just above the steepest part. The rest of the way to the peak was pretty straightforward, except for the number of moats scattered about we kept discovering.

On the peak (6278') we had our second lunch. Some folks took off their boots and spread their musty socks on the rock to dry out. Mike lit up a cigarette. Chris pulled out his stinky cheese again. The combination of fumes and high altitude, unfortunately, had a deleterious effect on several members of the group, and Murray, Rob, Sim, and Chris grew light-headed and began spewing Monty Python quotes. George acted fast and administered Diamox to the afflicted members. Janice held her head in her hands until the drugs kicked in.

A good idea at the time was descending via the west face, meeting the Tooth group in the parking lot, and having them give us a ride back to the cabin.

Sim and Chris went first to scout out a route down and try to start some avalanches. At the end of one of the glissades, Chris demonstrated the somersault technique of stopping. "You won't find that in Freedom of the Hills!" The two of them decided that the descent was too easy, and did their best to make it more challenging by sending us back and forth between cliff bands, having us downclimb steep snow slopes and a rocky outcropping or two, and setting up Mike's 20m emergency rope as a literal hand-line (harnesses? prusiks? bah!) over, into, and through a sketchy tree moat. Murray was proud to leave behind his first piece of webbing in the mountains.

George demonstrated another interesting method of stopping a glissade by leaping into the air and to the right, spinning around several times and grabbing a tree in order to avoid glissading directly into an open moat. The French judge, however, deducted several points because the maneuver was not performed in the pike position.

Sim's voice crackled over the radio: "Okay, now we're going to do an obstacle course glissade through broken tree branches. Good steering technique lesson!"

True to making the descent as challenging as possible, Rob performed three self-arrests, and Andrew performed one. The rest of the students didn't seem to be in the full spirit of it, and contented themselves with just postholing into moats and breaking through steps while downclimbing.

Looking for a way down to the parking lot, we began traversing north and reached the bottom of a long avalanche chute, which would have been about a two minute glissade from the peak. To the left was a nice view of the parking lot, where Pat was patiently waiting for us. Murray approached the end of the chute and said, "Wouldn't it be fastest if we glissaded over the waterfall and down the 100 foot cliff?" Sim advised against it, and we continued traversing. We eventually found a spot to descend, which involved downclimbing into a tree moat and grabbing the tree roots to lower ourselves. "The ol' vegetable belay," Sim said. "You won't find that in Freedom of the Hills!"

We reached the last stretch before the parking lot and, on the way across, found a few more moats. At the snow's edge, however, before the parking lot began, a swift, cold stream flowed by, and Sim and Pat evaluated the situation. "I don't know," said Pat. "It could be dangerous. Maybe you should hike back up to the saddle and come down Commonwealth Basin."

Sim nodded. "The stream looks pretty fast. If someone falls in, they could swept away. Instant hypothermia and death." He hefted his pack and addressed the group. "Looks like we're heading back up."

As we resignedly lifted up our packs, the air crackled, and Nate's glowing form appeared above us. His booming voice filled our heads. "Heading back up? What are you, a bunch of Big 5 employees? Use the beer, Pat! Use the beer!" There was a bright flash, and the vision was gone.

Pat smiled and laughed. "The beer! Of course!" He ran back to his minivan, pulled out several cases of Miller Genuine Draft (in cans, naturally), and lugged them back to the stream, where he quickly built a makeshift bridge. "This'll also chill the beer!" he said.

Once safely in the parking lot, we piled into various cars and drove as fast as we could to the Pancake House while chugging MGD. Oh, one last thing -- miraculously, Rob didn't sweat a single drop during the entire day. Yeah, that's the ticket. Not a drop.

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20 May 2002 - 10:01:36 PM
Oh, one other thing about Attack of the Clones. I saw it on a Monday afternoon, and yet I ran into four other friends of mine there by coincidence. It's a small, geeky world I live in, I guess...
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20 May 2002 - 7:35:10 PM
Well, I wasn't expecting much from Attack of the Clones, and so I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, the dialogue, particularly the "romantic" stuff between Anakin and Padmé, was indeed horrible, but there were plenty of fun action scenes to balance it out. Plus, there was very little of Jar Jar Binks, who, in a satisfying twist, turns out to be more or less responsible for the downfall of the Republic. Very fitting. Maybe in Episode III the Empire will have him summarily executed -- I can only hope. It was also fun to see Christopher Lee show up, and it looks like he'll be in Episode III, as well. Now all he has to do is get a role in the Harry Potter movies -- as Lord Voldemort, perhaps?

Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones gets: *** (out of 4)

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19 May 2002 - 11:32:00 PM
It's a long story, but I ended up with a poster for what looks like will be a silly TV movie about climbing called, cleverly enough, The Climb (no relation to the book). Normally I wouldn't bother mentioning anything about this, but I noticed some interesting rope technique in part of the poster, which I've scanned in. Click on the image to the left to see a bigger version (110k).

The climber on top is rappeling down the rope with an ATC, and the climber on the bottom is tied in to the end of the rappel rope with a re-woven figure eight knot through his harness, leaning back somewhat. Never seen that before. It's a good way to rappel onto somebody and cause an accident, or, in this case, the lower climber can keep the rappeler from actually descending by putting tension on the rope. The two of them could hang out like that all day long. I suppose it saves time for the lower climber from creating his own anchor, at least, but then the rappeler, when he's basically sitting on his partner, will have to fumble around to anchor into something. Doesn't sound like fun to me, but it might be funny to watch.

Yeah, I know, it's just a TV movie poster, and I'm wasting my time pointing out its flaws, which, for all I know, may have been created by slapping together disparate images with Photoshop. Maybe I should go put this poster in the recycle bin right now and stop whining about it.

Anyway, if you're interested in some real climbing humor, go check out Tami Knight.

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19 May 2002 - 6:04:31 PM
Picked up some tickets for Attack of the Clones. A group of us will be seeing Monday's 3:30 afternoon matinee show at the Cinerama. I have to admit, being unemployed certainly has its advantages.
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19 May 2002 - 12:13:51 PM
Go read about this hysterical easter egg of naughty words in a Disney Flash app. I think my favorite is "coprophag" because I'd never before seen the word "coprophagous" (or "coprophagy"). So, it was a learning experience for me. Thanks, Disney!
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16 May 2002 - 5:14:45 PM
I know, I know. I haven't been posting much to my blog. Shame on me. I'll be having another climbing day tomorrow up at Snoqualmie Pass, so maybe I'll work up another trip report out of it. Don't really want to clutter up this page with trip reports, but I take what I can get...
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14 May 2002 - 1:55:37 PM
Trip Report: 5/10/02 - The Tooth, 5604'

The Players:
Instructors - Pat, Maria, Todd, Angela
Students - Fred, Janice, Mike, Nate, Rob, Tim

The Report:
Started from the Alpental parking lot Friday morning around 7:30ish. Sunny with intermittent fog for the first hour or two. After crossing the footbridge, we immediately headed uphill, following the trees to the right of the ski lifts, gaining roughly 1200'. Rob did his best Norm Fox impersonation by sweating buckets, inadvertently sliming up the slopes. We rested at a convenient bench near 4600' and then began traversing northwest, keeping an eye on the cornices lining the Denny Mountain ridge.

Avalanches were a major concern, and after traversing a short ways, there was an instructor pow-wow to discuss the situation. The students did their best to amuse themselves. Nate took some pictures. Mike smoked a cigarette.

Group discussion about avalanche concerns. Lots o' cornices and we would be traversing across several open slopes beneath them. The options were to turn back, proceed to a point where we could see more of the approach to the Tooth and then re-assess, or do an alternative objective such as Denny Peak. Angela did not want to continue but offered to lead avalanche-wary students to Denny Peak. Went around one by one and everyone else decided to continue on. Angela wished us luck, crossed herself, and headed back to the parking lot.

Our pace slowed down as we spaced ourselves apart to traverse the open slopes cautiously. Things went well, though (i.e. nobody was swept away in an avalanche), and we reached another convenient bench overlooking the gully leading to Pineapple Pass. Two climbers were already in the gully, step-kicking their way to the pass, and we hoped they were heavy enough to leave big, solid steps for us.

The two other climbers had reached the pass by the time we plunge-stepped our way to their tracks. Pat called out, "We've got paddle feet!" Having a solid stairway to Pineapple Pass made the going much easier, but not quite easy enough to keep Rob from doing his Norm Fox impersonation again.

A bulging but solid cornice at the pass prompted the interpretive dance portion of the climb, as packs were hauled around and over, and the players had to perform limited gymnastics, half on snow and half on rock, to wiggle their way onto the pass. We rounded a couple rocky corners and came to the base of the Tooth's southeast face, where our two step-kickers were about to start climbing. The clouds to the south briefly cleared, giving a clear view of Mt. Rainier.

Mike realized at this point that he had forgotten to called in sick to work. There was some shuffling around for cell phones, but he turned down the offers. Instead, he smoked another cigarette. Fred broke out his big bar of Hershey's Special Dark, and suddenly everyone was his best friend. As a reward, he was allowed to be the first student to climb after all the belays were set up. Rob, on the other hand, would have to wait until he stopped sweating before climbing in order to avoid sliming up the rock.

Pat gave the two other climbers a generous head start before leading, but he caught up with them below the catwalk area, where he gave them some beta and encouragement. Once the belays and hand-line were all set up, Fred started climbing. Tim watched all the activity on the rock and began to slowly psyche himself out. So we made him climb second. Once he got on the rock, he calmed down and cruised on up to the top.

As each student stepped out onto the exposed catwalk, the cliff dropping away several hundred feet below, Pat instructed, "Now look down!"

The climb went very smoothly, and everyone was on the summit in two and a half hours, except for the two other climbers, who worked their way through us to rappel down. We had the summit to ourselves, and there was very little wind. The sun was frequently obscured by clouds, though, giving Janice a chance to use her new down jacket. Todd poured the best mocha most of us had ever had on top of the Tooth. Nate took more pictures. Mike smoked yet another cigarette (we'll get him to quit, yet). Maria, apparently, managed to have a romantic summit rendezvous, but no one else seemed to notice. (Afterwards, in the parking lot, she claimed it had been with Janice, but that remains unconfirmed.)

At 3:00, we started the series of four rappels back to the base of the climb, most of which even reached the stations below them. We re-packed and headed out, doing a brief rappel over the Pineapple Pass cornice. Then it was a matter of glissading and plunge-stepping down the gully to the South Fork valley, where there was a hard-packed snow trail back to the parking lot. We reached asphalt at 6:15, and the Pancake House about an hour later.

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12 May 2002 - 1:16:27 AM
I just came back from seeing Tim's band Popstar Assassins play at the EMP's Liquid Lounge. Good set. The EMP's newsletter describes them as: "Placing equal emphasis on 'power' and 'pop', Popstar Assassins balance the sonic assault of home-grown post-hardcore with the delicate melodies of Britpop in crafting a densely-layered sound all their own." I have no idea what that means.
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11 May 2002 - 1:18:44 PM
Here's a quote from Vladimir Nabokov's Pnin that reminds me of my friend Kappy:

His life was a constant war with insensate objects that fell apart, or attacked him, or refused to function, or viciously got themselves lost as soon as they entered the sphere of his existence.
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10 May 2002 - 9:52:51 PM
Spent the day climbing the Tooth. I volunteered to write a trip report, so when I get around to that, I'll post it here, as well. In the mean time, though, I'm really, really tired. It's not even 10:00 p.m. on a Friday night, but I'm going to sleep. Good night.
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6 May 2002 - 11:07:30 PM
Okay, here are my movie rating definitions. Make of them what you will -- they're completely subjective.

0 - I oughta sue the studio for wasting my time.
* - Pretty bad, but had some moments that didn't suck.
** - Okay. A decent rental, perhaps.
*** - Good movie. Check it out.
**** - This movie kicked ass. See it at least once.

Half-smiley definitions will be left as exercises for the reader.

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6 May 2002 - 10:14:10 PM
I saw that Spider-Man movie this afternoon with a few folks. It was fun. I liked it. It would've been nice to have seen it for free, but oh well. (Actually, I still have to pay Bill back for the ticket...) One goofy little detail I noticed was a small, internet-related sign on a building reading "Webthreads Platform." Cute. My main complaint was the movie didn't include the Ramones' version of the Spider-Man song. Oh well. An odd piece of trivia: one of the guys on the bridge shouting at the Green Goblin towards the end of the movie was Brad Grunberg, who went to high school with my brother Nate. So that gets me to three degrees of separation from Spider-Man. Sweet.

I haven't used my anemic smiley in a while, so I may as well make it my movie rating system. Spider-Man gets: *** (out of 4) (I'll have to come up some sort of ratings definition, and a half-smiley...)

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6 May 2002 - 2:00:48 PM
I'm thoroughly enjoying Nick Hornby's About a Boy. Here's a sample:

His way of coping with the days was to think of activities as units of time, each unit consisting of about thirty minutes. Whole hours, he found, were more intimidating, and most things one could do in a day took half an hour. Reading the paper, having a bath, tidying the flat, watching Home and Away and Countdown, doing a quick crossword on the toilet, eating breakfast and lunch, going to the local shops . . . That was nine units of a twenty-unit day (the evenings didn't count) filled by just the basic necessities. In fact, he had reached a stage where he wondered how his friends could juggle life and a job.

I think I've spent about six or seven units so far today reading the book. The movie version, actually, will be coming out in a couple weeks. I hope it doesn't suck.

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3 May 2002 - 7:47:46 PM
Just a quick entry before I leave for the weekend. Will be doing class-oriented snow fun up around Snoqualmie Pass Saturday and Sunday. It's supposed to be a cloudy/snowy/rainy weekend, so it should be interesting...
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2 May 2002 - 12:00:20 PM
I saw a free screening of the new Woody Allen film, Hollywood Ending, last night. It was all right, but I'm glad I saw it for free.

Hollywood Ending gets: **1/2 (out of 4)

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