Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2010 Ski Season: Day 2-Kirkwood

Location: Kirkwood
Date: 12/20/2009
Conditions: Packed Powder

Pirate Flag at Kirkwood

Kirkwood is my favorite Tahoe resort. I love skiing there and I've had some of my greatest runs in the Thunder Saddle. We were in luck on Sunday as Kirkwood's lift 2, Caples Crest had just opened two days prior. Conditions were generally very good. We missed the powder the past weekend but most of the mountain was open and snow cover was decent. The backside was a bit "bony" in spots especially at the top of 4.

We had our best runs of the day on Canestoga. Another experience that stood out was our somewhat delayed start to the Sentinel Bowl. Lots of people were coming to the top of Sentinel and complaining about the conditions and steepness of the terrain. That never inspires much confidence in other skiers who overhear blurted assertions like: "Oh my god, its the freaking Ice Capades over here."

We wrapped up about 3:30 - 4:00 and headed back to the Bay Area Ski Bus for some Ace beers and snacks. On the way out of Kirkwood, our host Anthony asked a "gimme" question: "What's the name of the peak and the elevation of the highest point at Kirkwood." Thimble Peak, 9876' scored me a free "Experts Only" sticker for my helmet, which I bought, fittingly, at Kirkwood several years earlier.

One of my favorite parts of the trips on the ski bus is stopping for dinner on the way back. Loomis leaves a lot to be desired as far as options go. We dashed in for some takeout chinese and munched on it watching the tail end of the latest Star Trek movie which was actually really good.

Next trip up we're tentatively scheduled to hit Northstar and Alpine for the New Year. Word is that the ski bus has a 12 passenger van to shuttle skiers to and from a new cabin. We were the last two to signup for the overnight trip leaving New Years Day and returning Sunday. Some logistical difficulties may prevent this trip from coming together so we're crossing our fingers for a New Years powpow miracle.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

5th and Santa Clara

5th and Santa Clara
Originally uploaded by dmourati
5th and Santa Clara

Jacob boneless off the water feature.

Strobist: SB-900 left, SB-80dx right
triggered via RF-602

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Turning Wheels for Kids

Turning Wheels for Kids
Originally uploaded by dmourati
Ever see 2200 new bikes in one place? I did today. Volunteers unloaded two semi-trucks (oddly enough sporting the Beautyrest logos) tonight in San Jose at the Convention Center. Tomorrow, local charities arrive to pick up the bikes and deliver them to 2200 kids.

That's a lot of new cyclists on the road. If you see a sweet Diamondback on the road, compare it to the picture and you'll know the back story.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

2010 Ski Season: Day 1-Northstar

Date: 11/21/2009
Location: Northstar
Conditions: Packed Powder, powder

Bayareaskibus Backodabus 2009/2010

Sunnyvale to Truckee and Back on Bayareaskibus

I've been waiting nearly six months to make this post. We started off the 2010 ski season in style yesterday at Northstar. Their season opener was marked with a 8" plus dump of fresh snow. My third turn of the season was in boot-deep powder.

Effectively, two runs were open. One had a small terrain park setup and the other was just a groomer. There were stashes of powder along side each of the runs. Some of the powder was strewn with rocks which definitely limited my willingness to explore.

One positive thing I will say for Northstar is all the employees there are super nice. When we got on the gondola first thing in the morning two employees took our skis and set them up in the rack outside the doors. At the top, another lifty grabbed Jodi's 148 rentals and my Volkl Mantra 184s to hand us our skis. As he handed me the Mantras, I said, "No, those are hers." Good times.

More to come as conditions improve and more mountains start to open. Peep the bayareaskibus site for more details.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

SVRG Intros

SVRG Intros

Introductions as the SVRG Dot.Kamikazes take the track versus the Humboldt Roller Derby.

Both the Kilabytes and Dot.Kamikazes went on to win their respective bouts. It was a great event featuring some awesome action. For more details, see the SVRG homepage:

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Andrew Langi: Helmet Required

You need a helmet to have this trick done to your head.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Toyota Ad Agency has History of Using Unlicensed Images

This is not the first time Saatchi and Saatchi have used unlicensed photographs for advertisements. They were fired by Dr Martens after running an unauthorized image of Kirk Cobain and other deceased rockers wearing their boots in heaven.

Dr Martens then issued the following statement announcing the termination of its contract with Saatchis. "Dr Martens is very sorry for any offense that has been caused by the publication of images showing dead rock icons wearing Dr Martens boots. Dr Martens did not commission the work as it runs counter to our current marketing activities based on FREEDM, which is dedicated to nurturing grass roots creativity and supporting emerging talent. As a consequence, Dr Martens has terminated its relationship with the responsible agency."

Link to Original Story

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Oh What a Feeling

I have a photo in my flickr stream of my brother and me skiing (well trying to) a huge powder day in Alaska. I started to see links to the photo from the website. Digging around a bit, I found an ad for the 4runner that basically copied a whole set of pictures from flickr and used them on their site.

You can see the screen capture here: Featured Alaska Powder Skiing Pic

Subsequently, other flickr photographers started to notice the same thing. One or more of them contacted Toyota who is now in the process of removing the photos from their site.

More info here:

Flickr Help

Here's the original pic. I'm in the red trying to navigate the storm.

Alaskan Powder Skiing

Here are the rest of the photos from that trip:

Top 12 Alaska Photos

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Thursday, October 29, 2009


Originally uploaded by dmourati
Motion blur shot.

And You Don't Stop.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009


Originally uploaded by dmourati
Half Moon Bay on a pumpkin hunt.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ballantine Quarts

Ballantine Quarts
Originally uploaded by dmourati
Ballantine quarts with the puzzle on the cap
I couldn't help to notice I was caught in a speed trap

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Victor Dancing on the Edge of the Bowl

More details on my flickr page. Click the photo.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Greer Skate Park

Greer Skate Park
Originally uploaded by dmourati
Photos from Greer Skate Park Shoot Wednesday.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Originally uploaded by dmourati
First attempts at spell casting.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Fists in the Air on the Finish Line

Team JD crosses the finish line for the 100 Mile Course of the Livestrong Challenge San Jose 2009 ride.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Originally uploaded by i want to go to there

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Perseid Meteor Detail

Perseid Meteor Detail
Originally uploaded by dmourati

Photo picked up by #meteorwatch host Newbury Astronomical Society thanks to Paul Thompson!

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Perseid Meteor

Perseid Meteor
Originally uploaded by dmourati
Tonight we trekked up to Skyline Boulevard to Skegg's Point to take in another night of stargazing and scoping for Perseid Meteors. The location was fairly familiar to us as it is near the peak elevation of some of our bike rides. This particular location came up as a result of the extensive research I had done on best spots to view the Perseid Meteor shower. Like my experience last night, it did not disappoint.

As we traveled up the hill to our destination, i could tell we were going to be in for some awesome viewing conditions. The moon had yet to pop up and the area was so remote that none of the light pollution affected our ability to make out starts, even as we drove up in the car.

Upon arriving at the location we threw down a blanket and set up camp in an ideal spot. We were perhaps the second or third group to arrive at the spot but those there before us seemed a bit clueless.

"What time does the meteor shower start?," one fellow inquired, as if the celestial display had a programming schedule. Meanwhile, we were busy getting our eyes adjusted and taking in the first meteors of the evening. I took pity on him and let him know that the shower was already in full effect and that his best bet was to look up and wait.

Before too long we saw one, then two, then three or four meteors clearly in the night sky. It was quite a treat. After seeing a good number with the naked eye, I decided to try my luck with the camera.

Before too long some friends started sending SMS messages to my phone inquiring if our spot was good for stargazing. As if there was ever any doubt? I let them in on our not-so-secret spot and gave them driving directions from their sub-standard first perch.

Luckily, not too many folks wandered into our little world that evening. A few car headlights proved distracting for a moment or too but luckily nothing affected our ability to see the wonderful meteors.

At a little after 11 PM, I captured this meteor as it streaked across the sky, low in the horizon. The trees and bushes near our blanket provided just enough context to frame the meteor in all its glory.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Perseid Hunting Grounds

Perseid Hunting Grounds
Originally uploaded by dmourati

Tonight I took off on a quest to see the Perseid Meteor Shower and it did not disappoint. I did some research this afternoon to help plan my stargazing for later that evening. I loaded up my camera, tripod, flashlight, warm clothes and some food and headed out on my bike at around 10:00 PM.

By 10:15 I was at my designated viewing spot and my eyes had adjusted to the dark conditions from the bike ride over. I laid down on a park bench right next to the San Francisco Bay and turned my attention to the sky above. It was a bit strange at first realizing how vast the sky was and not knowing where specifically to look for the meteors.

Within 10 minutes, I had seen the first signs of the meteor shower. The blue glow lasted for just an instant and traveled from my right to my left high in the sky. At the time, I wasn't sure I had seen a meteor at all. Perhaps my eyes were playing tricks on me?

If the average Perseid meteor is the size of a pea, what I saw next must have been at least a golf ball!

A vibrant red glow appeared off to my right. There was no mistaking this one, it was a meteor for sure! I literally whistled as I saw it appear as one might upon seeing a fantastic soccer goal or exotic sports car. It was beautiful. The meteor shone brightly for nearly a second then fizzled away leaving me breathless. Scientists call it an Earthgrazer.

"Earthgrazers are meteors that approach from the horizon and skim the atmosphere overhead like a stone skipping across the surface of a pond," explains Cooke. "They are long, slow and colorful—among the most beautiful of meteors." He notes that an hour of watching may net only a few of these at most, but seeing even one can make the whole night worthwhile.

The next half hour brought two or three more meteors. One other noteworthy sighting came into view directly above me. It appeared blueish in color and lit up nearly as brightly as the red one I had seen earlier. It solicited yet another whistle.

As the night wore on, I bundled up with a ski jacked and hat to keep warm. I was determined to see more and more meteors. There were just so beautiful I couldn't resist.

After the first four or five meteors, the Moon made its first appearance. My research earlier in the day indicated that the moonlight would diminish visibility of the meteors and should be filtered out by positioning yourself behind a tree or building. This was not possible in my case and I realized later that my stargazing window was rapidly shrinking. Adding to the decreased visibility, fog started to roll in and further put a damper on the night sky.

I managed to capture a few shots with my camera which I set up initially with the tripod and some long exposure settings. I tried desperatly to record one of the Perseids with my setup but it was not meant to be. The only time the camrea was rolling when one appeared, it must have been out of frame as I could find no evidence in the shot.

By 1 AM I decided to wrap it up for the evening. By that time I had counted 13 meteors, five of which I would say were brilliant. It was truly an awesome experience. I hope the photo above gives you at least some sense of what it was like to be out there.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

The Latest Addition to my Home Deejaying Setup

control panel
Originally uploaded by Marked_man
Now, where did they put the crossfader?

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

Jay Z, get on the mic my man.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Old La Honda

We did a modified version of this today.

47 minutes up Old La Honda.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Captain Demetri

Captain Demetri
Originally uploaded by dmourati
I took this photo while at the helm of a 30 foot catamaran on the San Francisco Bay.

We took a sunset sail aboard the Adventure Cat from Pier 39. We made our way to the Richardson Bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge, then back along the San Francisco coast to the pier. I got my chance at the wheel towards the end of the night.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Livestrong 100 Mile Course Complete: Take that Cancer

Yesterday, Team JD completed the Livestrong San Jose 2009 100 mile bike course. The event marked the culmination of nearly three months of training, some of which has been detailed on this blog. Today, as I look back on the event, I'm with the overwhelming courage displayed by the cancer survivors who joined us during the event, the graciousness of all the volunteers, and the dedication shown by all 3000 plus participants and the generosity of those who supported us along the way.

It was an emotional day. From the introductory remarks from Carly Fiorina, a cancer survivor herself, the event created an atmosphere of perseverance. The National Anthem, sung by a LAF organizer and survivor was the most beautiful and powerful rendition I have ever heard. Once the opening remarks were delivered and the event was properly blessed, the countdown began. Under police escort, at 7:30 AM (by somebody's watch, I had 7:32), we were off.

The police escort lead the front of the pack out at nearly 20 miles per hour. That was too fast for Team JD so we slipped to the back of the 100 mile pack. Shortly after we took off, those going for 65 miles were turned loose on the course. With fresh legs and fewer miles to complete, some of the 65 milers overtook us before we even reached the first rest stop. We cruised past it, knowing full well we were good on food and water for at least the first 30 miles.

As we rode towards our first stop, off in the distance, high atop the hills facing the Pacific Ocean, we saw a foreboding marker of our Hicks Albino Quest training ride: the abandoned Air Force battery. Somehow, it was comforting to know at least we would have to climb that monster that day.

As we traveled on more familiar terrain, we made it to mile 30 for some Peanut Butter Jelly Time.

Refueled, we headed South through a route familiar from the I Care Classic, but in reverse. Eventually, we wound up in Gilroy's wine country and rode past another familiar site, the Jason-Stephens Winery. Somehow, when we had driven down there a few weeks past, it seemed farther away then on the bike trip.

The next section was perhaps the most mentally challenging of the entire ride. We battled winds on Santa Theresa for what seemed like an eternity. Other teams were more organized and formed pacelines to cut through the wicked winds.

We were not so organized so we had to battle through it on our own. After completing the long stretch of energy-sapping headwinds, we took a right onto Bailey and merged back in with the stragglers from the 65 mile course. A brief climb and a few more miles brought us to Power Stop 6, the base of Metcalf Rd, also known as the Metcalf Mauler.

I should say here the the Mauler was my inspiration during all the climbing sections of this seasons training rides. I would think to myself, any training I do now will just make the mauler that much easier. I had built this climb up so much in my head that I knew we had to tackle it once and for all.

The climb is brutal. It is steep, it is long, it is dangerously unpaved and exposed. There are motorcyclists heading to and from the Motorcycle park at the top of the hill. Everyone on their bikes was in a foul mood. We had to advise one rider who had just undergone heart bypass surgery to reconsider his options.

At the first break, we sat down with two cyclists who were in over their heads and calling it quits on Metcalf. One, a young guy, was bleeding from his knee saying he had angered the cycling gods. Another rider, a recumbent enthusiast, complete with long pony-tail and laptop bag, was asking whether his 6 foot long vehicle could be fit into the back of a Dodge minivan.

We cycled on. And on. When we saw the shack at the top we knew from riding last year's event that we were almost there. A few more turns of the crank and the previous 15+% grades melted to a still challenging 7-8%. A course marshal riding a motorcycle perched at the top of the hill gave us the thumbs up sign as we crested the top. A few feet more along the ridge, along side the motorcycle park, sparked this conversation with a wild-haired young motorcross rider:

Motorcross dude (in a taunting voicee): I think I can, I think I can
D (looking over): Hey
Motorcoss Fans: wave
D: waves back
Motorcross Fans: Woohoo, you did it congratulations!
D: Waves and smiles, Thanks!
Motorcross dude (relenting): Naw, you made it up here, I gotta give you props
D: smiles, and rides away

After a quick descent, it was time to take on more water and fuel for the final climb of the ride. If you look at the course profile, the big spike at mile 68 or so is Metcalf, which when combined with the second spike a few mile later, look like the dual horns of a Devil. Well, the devil was there, I'm told, cheering the riders on along Metcalf saying they were at the top. Cruelly, however, he was some 1000 feet from the top giving the riders a false sense of hope.

Once we crossed the peak of the second devil horn, I knew we had a fun descent in store. Somehow, cruising along at 30 miles an hour without pedaling will put a smile on the face of the most exhausted cyclist.

We cruised back through San Jose as the familiar urban landscape unfolded under our wheels. The pony-tailed recumbent cycling was back, and he made a move to pass us. Not gonna happen you hippie, I thought. Especially after you SAG'd your way to the top of Metcalf with that junker. Order restored, we rolled into the finishing line just past 4:30 PM. My cycling computer showed 98 miles, including the three or so we did to get to the start earlier that morning.

As we got to the finish line, Team JD regrouped to cross over together. I gave a victory salute and felt an odd lump in the back of my throat. Emotions washed over me as I bypassed the cheerleaders and other volunteers congratulating each and every rider as they rode in. The ride was a great accomplishment and I'm glad I had Jodi with me to keep me going as the miles added up and the mental anguish kicked in. We trained together for this, we started together, fundraised together, and it only made sense to finish together.

After a quick bite, we hopped on the traino for a ride back to Saratoga and another 3 mile slog home. As my odometer crossed 100 for the day for the fist time, I pumped my fists and celebrated the moment with my teammate.

Team JD, at the Start. Notice, I'm half clipped in 30 minutes before we were supposed to head out. Photo by Berend.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

2009 Giro di Peninsnula 100K

It was a hot one today. Temps were in the high nineties. Here's the route we did for the Giro di Peninsula.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Palm Trees Line the Entrance to Jason-Stephens Winery

We had a fun evening at Jason-Stephens Winery in Gilroy. As soon as we walked in, a friend and colleague from work spotted me and walked right over incredulous that I was in Gilroy on a Friday night. Steve lives in Morgan Hill, which borders on Gilroy and fancies himself a wine buff.

We talked about cycling and Eye-Fi over wine and enjoyed the sunset to the tunes of Bob Marley and Jack Johnson played by a local band. Jason detailed the history of the winery and his involvement as the winemaker.

On the way home, I snapped this shot looking out over the vineyards and back towards Morgan Hill.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Getting Under Way for Tour de Cure

Originally uploaded by jsnku
Here's the start of the 70k Tour de Cure. That's me on the left rockin my Tour de Cure jersey from last year.

Thanks again for all the support.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Find gas...

Find gas...
Originally uploaded by richardmasoner
Dude, buy a bike.

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Kings Mountain in the Bag

Today, Jodi and I rode up Kings Mountain Road to Skyline. It was a long climb but I'm glad we finally did it.

Here's the route we took:

The ride was a total of 58 miles with a combined climb of 3850 feet. That brings my weekly total to 115 miles.

I'm feeling strong and actually starting to enjoy the climbing.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009


As a head, I'd seen this Hip Hop video before. Imagine my surprise when I walked in to my China Studies class last night at Stanford to see my 70 something Prof narrating this awesome video for the whole class.

All my Korean peeps must check this. Anyone else who likes Hip Hop will get a kick as well.

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Hi It's Vince With Slap Chop

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Slap Chop

You're gonna love my nuts!

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Fight Diabetes, Tour de Cure 2009

In June 2009, I will be riding my second Tour de Cure to help fight diabetes. It is a wonderful event put on by the American Diabetes Association to raise funds for a cure.

If you have a few dollars to spare, please consider sponsoring me. It's for a very good cause.

I will be riding the 70k route again this year which works out to just over 40 miles.

Thanks to the generous support of my friends and family, I've already raised $300 for the cause.

If you'd like to support me, or to learn more information, please visit my Tour de Cure Page.

Top Ten Reasons to Fight Diabetes
• Diabetes is a chronic disease and has no cure.
• Over 10% of American adults have diabetes.
• Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death by disease in the U.S.
• Each year, more than 80,000 people with diabetes undergo amputations.
• Diabetes can cause other serious health problems including stroke, heart disease, and kidney
• The incidence of diabetes has increased by 61 percent since 1990 and continues to rise at an
alarming rate.
• Approximately 23.6 million Americans have diabetes
• An additional 57 million people have pre-diabetes, putting them at great risk for developing
type 2 diabetes.
• One out of every three Americans born today will eventually develop diabetes if present trends
• More than $1 in every $10 spent on health care services in the U.S. is attributable to diabetes.
This translates to more than $132 billion direct and indirect healthcare costs (2002 statistics).

Every little bit helps!


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Monday, April 20, 2009

Tour de Cure 2009

Update: My Tour Page is setup. More details.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lead Jammer

Lead Jammer

Saturday, Jodi and I went to see roller derby in San Jose. The bout featured the Silicon Valley Roller Girls (SVRG) Dot Kamikazees versus the Sac City Rollers.

I had never seen live roller derby before and had only seen some TV broadcast of it back in the 80s. It was a total blast. These girls really throw down.

The crowd was really into it. In fact, there were at least three pro photographers there recording the events. I saw two people setting up light stands for remote flashes. Wow, people really take this stuff seriously.

For more information on the SVRG, check out their site:

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

2009 Ski Season: Day 22

Location: Sugarbowl
Date: 4-10-2009
Conditions: powpow

Wow. Everything finally came together today. A new bus was added for the trip to Sugarbowl after the first one sold out by Sunday. We made it to Sugar Bowl by 8:30, leaving plenty of time for me to catch first chair!

First run, pure powder. Noone on the mountain. It was surreal.

I found a few gates marked "open" off Lincoln and saw Ski Patrol working to drop the ropes. At one point, I thought ski patrol was chasing me for ducking the ropes. The female patroler responded "I'm not chasing you, I'm skiing."

After a few laps in the park I took a brief lunch break and then a few more turns through SB's awesome terrain park before hooking up with a free group lesson starting at 1. Lessons were divided into six groups, numbered one through six by ability level. I had a brief discussion with an Instructor in the cafeteria and based on my description of my skiing, he put me at level 6.

The lesson moved pretty rapidly into some cliff areas and tree skiing. By 3PM, we were all over the mountain rippin fast lines. It was a blast.

You really can't beat spring powder skiing. What a day!

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Monday, April 06, 2009

2009 Ski Season: Day 20-21

Juniper Jodi
Originally uploaded by dmourati

Location: Homewood
Date: 4-4-2009
Conditions: Hardpacked, groomed, bluebird

Day 20

I made my goal of 20 days this season Saturday at Homewood. I scored some free lift tickets from Tahoe Loco and Jodi and I decided to head up for the weekend. I had been to Homewood only once. It was the first mountain I skied in California after moving here in 2004. I think I was on the ground in the state for 6 days before heading up to the snow.

After an awesome breakfast at Old Tahoe Cafe, we got to Homewood by 9:00 AM and got a great parking spot literally feet away from the lift. We rented some skis, got our free lift tickets, and hit the lift by about 9:20.

One of the funniest moments happened just before noon. We were coming down off the Old Homewood Express lift and wanted to go to the Ellis Chair. I spotted a shortcut, a black diamond run called White Lightning. It was ungroomed but didn't look too bad. As I took the first few turns down the run I heard Jodi asking "Is this a run?" That should have been my cue to traverse out of there but I kept going. Jodi made her way across the run a bit then got a little freaked out before making the next few turns. She took a small tumble and let out a huge cry. I helped her collect her gear and get back in. As I was handing her a fallen pole, a ski patroller came over on a snowboard.

Ski Patroller: Hi, are you guys okay?
Demetri: Yea, she's fine
SP: gets on the radio SP to Base One
Base One: SP Come in
SP: Negative Fifty on White Lighting
Base One: Negative Fifty on White Lightning, copy
SP: Okay, you guys have fun
D: See you later
D: (for the rest of the trip) Negative Fifty on White Lightning

Apparently Jodi's shriek had alerted some passengers on the Ellis chair who did the responsible thing and notified ski patrol. A "Fifty" must mean an evac by sled. A few turns later on White Lightning and we were down to the Ellis chair, ready to explore the rest of the mountain.

Jodi was a good sport about it and she let me take her photo in front of the trail sign to commemorate the story.

Homewood offers the best views of Lake Tahoe from any of the resorts. The low-key atmosphere is contagious. Everyone was in a good mood and enjoying awesome spring skiing. The snow held up amazingly well. We learned that the resort will close on 3/19 so get up there and get after it.

Day 21
Location: Northstar
Conditions: variable
Date: 4-5-2009

The next morning we headed to Northstar for another shot at some fun spring skiing. The two resorts could not have been more different. To get our skis on a run at Northstar we had to take a car to the parking lot, a bus from the parking lot to the base, walk 200 yards through the base to the gondola, take the gondola to a lift, and then finally take a lift to the first run. All told that Planes, Trains, and Automobiles adventure took over 30 minutes. At Homewood, five.

The snow was still decent at Northstar at least in the morning. The groomers were firm and the coverage was pretty good. Lunch at Northstar is always awesome. They have the best on-mountain food I have found.

That afternoon, we hit up the terrain parks and I tried my skills on the funboxes and mini-jumps. By then, most of the snow was slushy and it was time to wrap it up. We elected to take the gondola back down instead of enduring the slush-fest we knew waited for unsuspecting skiers at the bottom of the mountain.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

2009 Ski Season: Day 19

Pirate Flag at Kirkwood

Location: Kirkwood
Date: 3-29-2009
Conditions: Firm, groomed, icy in spots

Sunday we took yet another trip to Kirkwood for some spring skiing. We arrived early on the Bay Area Ski Bus and boarded the Timber Creek express lift before its official 9 AM start. The front side of the mountain was groomed and still a bit firm from the overnight freeze. We applied a follow the sun approach which dictated that we head to Kirkwood's backside early in the morning. The runs below Iron Horse were great.

We hit Sunise lift as well. I thought the conditions there were fine, other skiers apparently disagreed as I overheard a ton of complaints about the "ice." We headed back to the front side for a lunch run, but not before I hiked to Outlook Vista and took a run down the face. It was pretty crusty up there and I had the entire area all to myself. Still, I'm glad to have checked off the new lift. I can once again say I've skied all the lifts at Kirkwood.

That afternoon, we headed to Cornice Express were the real fun began. The lift line had an "Experts Only" warning which should we should have taken as a sign. We traversed along the ridge past Jim's, Fireball, and Chamonix. As we did, I peered over the ledge and convinced myself that it was indeed steep. As we came to Sentinel Bowl, tt was like the Ice Capades had come to town. One could hear skis scraping the ice, skiers exclaiming how difficult the run was, and the sounds of skiers sliding down the mountain on their backsides. At one point, I saw a kid drop a pole and then slide sixty feet on his back. His dad was first thinking about grabbing the pole but finally decided it was a better idea to ski down below him then stop to arrest the kid's fall. We managed to stay (mostly) upright and made it down in record time.

That afternoon, we hit up the terrain park for some fun box training and a few cracks at the half pipe. It was a nice way to wind down the day and prepare for the ride home.

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Big Basin Hike

Golden Cascade

On Saturday, Liam, Jodi and I took off for a hike at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Liam wanted to go to Big Sur but that was too far away. Jodi came up with an awesome backup plan.

I took a look at the Waterfalls of California page for more info. It sounded like several of the waterfalls there would make for a great destination and some great photos. To get to the destinations, you have to put in the work.

The Skyline to the Sea trail was closed so we wound up getting robbed of our plan to go to Berry Creek Falls, rated a 9.5 as one of the best falls in CA. Instead, we hit Golden Cascade via the Sunset trail. The round trip hike topped out just over 5 hours. It was rated as "strenuous." During the hike, we joked that it wasn't as bad as we expected and that the trail keepers needed to come up with a new designation "super-strenuous." All that joking faded away when we got home to sore legs and blistered feet. Good thing we had nothing on the agenda for Sunday besides a full day skiing at Kirkwood.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

2009 Ski Season: Day 18

Location: Sierra-at-Tahoe
Date: 3-21-2009
Conditions: hardpack, groomed, trace fresh snow

Saturday, we headed up to Sierra-at-Tahoe for another day of fun on the slopes. This trip brings my current season total to 18 days, just two shy of my goal, and marks the most ski days in a single season to date. The conditions were okay most of the day. On the plus side, it started snowing as soon as we got on the mountain. It turned out that the storm hit Sierra the hardest, according to On The Snow, the mountain got 35 inches in the past 48 hours. Hows that for Spring skiing?

This latest dump means the rest of the season should be fantastic. We are already ahead of the total snowfall from last year and well on the way to 500 inches for the season.

Runs of the day included Castle which is always fun and a few trips into the progression parks off of Easy Rider and the backside. The first time through, I hit the fun box straight on and dropped straight off. The next time, not so much.

D: waits his turn and drops in to the park
D: Jumps on the fun box
D: Decides now would be a good time to start trying some new tricks in the park
D: Tries a left turn on the box, envisioning a sweet drop off sideways and a smooth landing
D: Finds the fun box is really a freakin' slip-and-slide, skis go out from under him, hits the ground like a ton o bricks
Skier on the lift: YARDSALE!
D: Slides ten feet down the hardpack on his left side
D: Gets up, tries to climb back to his stuff, avoiding 3 new riders who have no idea he is down right below the feature

I'm still hurting a bit today on my left ribcage.

Note to self: go straight on the fun box, especially when it has just started snowing.

After that, I got a few more runs in before I had to call it quits. Still, I am happy to get some time in the park and to take my lumps. Still in my sites: rails.

Then again, maybe I have been watching to many videos.

Hey, at least I did better than this guy:

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Monday, March 09, 2009

2009 Ski Season: Day 17

Hi From Lake Tahoe
Hi From Lake Tahoe
Originally uploaded by dmourati

Location: Alpine Meadows
Date: 3/7/2009
Conditions: Groomed, powder, soft

The day started off on a sour note when our Bay Area Ski Bus host was late to arrive in Santa Clara. We waited for her for 20 minutes then finally took off only to make 4 more stops on the trip to Tahoe City.

Stop 1: pick up more folks in San Francisco

Stop 2: pick up more folks in Oakland plus our missing host

Stop 3: pick up more folks in Walnut Creek

Stop 4: pick up lift tickets in Truckee

Finally, we made it to Alpine Meadows about 9:30 AM.

I was on promo duty so I helped my main man Tom carry what seemed like a 100 pound plus tent through the parking lot and up to the base of the mountain. Ordinarily, it would not have been a big deal but in ski boots, walking across a parking lot, carrying skis, poles, and a 100 pound tent is not the best way to start out the day. After finally erecting this monster, I was anxious to get in a milk run. Tom and i hit Hot Wheels and I went into the gully in search of pow.

I found it. I ripped my way down the gully and back to the Hot Wheels lift where we met Jodi for another lap on Hot Wheels.

We headed to the backside and took a few runs off Lakeview Chair. As the chair's name implies, it offers some of the best scenery the mountain has to offer. See above.

I had an awesome wipeout off of Sherwood Express. I was mach schnell down a groomer when I spotted some fresh powpow off to the side. I went into the powder field without slowing down. My skis started to grip the snow but I was not able to make any proper turns. When I came to a slight embankment, I knew it was trouble. My left ski dug into the snow and popped off. I kept going full speed ahead. Yardsale. It was fun though. Back at the bottom, Jodi knocked a huge clump of snow off my helmet, a dead-giveaway that an accident had occurred on my last run.

We hit the Alpine Bowl later that afternoon which showed evidence of avalanche debris in the form of huge snow boulders. Roundhouse provided the rest of the afternoons fun and we wound down around 4:00 PM after a full day of skiing.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Splunk Light Forwarder

In this instalment of Fun With Splunk, I will walk you through how to setup a distributed Splunk installation using the new Splunk Light Forwarder. While lightweight forwarding has been around for some time, the new install makes things a bit more streamlined. The idea here is that you setup on machine to index your data and run the web UI. This box should be free from other production duties. An infrastructure box, such as one running Nagios, Ganglia, Cacti or the like is a good candidate.

The logs you will want to analyse, however, are likely on your production machines, your web servers, app servers, databases, etc. Since those machines have real work to do, you'd like to offload the data indexing and searching to a machine not in the critical path of your customers. The new Light Forwarder is what you want.

First, download Splunk for your architecture. I'm running version 3.4.6, the latest as of March 4, 2009, on x86_64 for Linux 2.6 kernels. I downloaded one copy to my workstation to get started.

Next, I scp the RPM file to all three of my machines for this install, two Light Forwarders, and one full-blown Indexer.

Run "rpm -Uvh /home/dmourati/splunk-3.4.6-51113-linux-2.6-x86_64.rpm" on all three machines to install the binaries. Next, setup splunk to auto start out of init. To do this, I run "/opt/splunk/bin/splunk enable boot-start" again on all three machines. Finally, start splunk with the newly installed init script via "/etc/init.d/splunk start".

When I attempted to connect to the indexer with my web browser, I noticed some firewall ports issues. I opened port 8000 for the UI, 9997 for the intra-splunk data transfer and was able to connect. On the forwarders, you can open the port but you won't need it in the long run. Remember to close the port back down in your firewall config or at least document why you have 8000 open. There will be no listener on the Light Forwarders when you are done.

Next, I consulted the new 3.4.6 Documentation on setting up Light Forwarders. I've already configured my Indexer to receive data. So I'm on to the next step.

Then, on the forwarding Splunk instance:

1. Install Splunk on the machine that will be forwarding data.

2. Enable data forwarding by pointing your forwarder at the receiver using these instructions.

"/opt/splunk/bin/splunk add forward-server indexer:9997"

3. Use Splunk Web or the CLI to add inputs as described here. Data from these inputs will be sent via the forwarder to the receiver.

I'm using follow-only, which I helped drive as a Splunk feature in a previous life.

# /opt/splunk/bin/splunk add monitor /var/log/eyefi -follow-only True
Added monitor of '/var/log/eyefi'.
# /opt/splunk/bin/splunk add monitor /var/log/httpd -follow-only True
Added monitor of '/var/log/httpd'.
# /opt/splunk/bin/splunk add monitor /var/log/messages -follow-only True
Added monitor of '/var/log/messages'.

4. Then, use Splunk Web or the CLI to enable Splunk forwarder or light forwarder.

"# /opt/splunk/bin/splunk enable app SplunkLightForwarder"

Now, restart splunk on the Light Forwarders

Point your broswer to the Indexer at port 8000 and start Splunking.

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

2009 Ski Season: Day 16

Location: Kirkwood
Conditions: Groomed, bluebird

We arrived at Kirkwood at 7:35 AM. That is the earliest I have ever been to the mountain on Bay Area Ski Bus. We were meeting two friends from Oakland; what's up Samantha and Guhan?!? They were a bit behind us so I had delusions of hitting sentinel bowl prior to hooking up with them. All hopes were dashed when the stoned-out Kirkwood lifties arrived.

Demetri: Waiting patiently in line before the lift lines are even set up at 8:15 AM.
SOKL: Dude, it's going to be another hour at least before this lift opens
D: Want me to help drill some holes or run some lines
L: Uhhhhhhh
D: Ok, no prob, I'll wait
L: Chair 5 is opening at 8:30, duuuuuude
D: Oh?
L: Yea, but only for the comp, what do I know

After waiting patiently for nearly 45 minutes we took the first chair along with our Ski Bus host David. As I shred the sweet corduroy all the way down the bunny slopes I imagined the poor people stuck on the lift watching as I slayed the mountain. After a few SMS messages, we hooked up with Samantha and Guhan and took another few laps in the Timber Creek area. I hit up the terrain park and made my best attempt to not look like an idiot on the half pipe and small features.

Warmed up, we headed to chair 5 to get started for the day. After a quick break, our border buddies were ready to tackle the line down past the water tank a few times before heading in for lunch.

I lead the pack out towards chair 10 for some early afternoon Buckboard basics. Jodi loves Buckboard and I was unable to coax her into the drain which runs parallel. I had a few nice drops into the gully off of 5 before we moved over to chair 1 for some beginner laps.

As we headed up chair 2, Caples crest, the mountain revealed its backside slopes. There were cliffs, and awesome lines as skiers and riders took the newly opened and running Outlook Vista to the ridge separating the two halves of the mountain.

We took it easy and came down to chair 3 for a return to the mid-mountain. By this point, it was time to start heading all the way across the mountain for our bus departure at 4:30 sharp.

I ran into Brandon from Flowskipix and said hello. As I raced down the route to the frontside, I lost Jodi and Samantha for a while and caught up with Guhan. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves on a perfect bluebird day.

A few chairs and traverses later and we were back in Timber Creek where warm buses and cold beer waited for us. I loaded my pockets with free beer and had the chance to bust out my 686 snow tool belt for the second time this season. A quick stop in Jackson lead to more beer and a sandwich allowing me to sleep off my day on the slopes with friends. Day 16 will go down as one of the most fun of the season!

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Squaw Valley Tram Face

For the first time in history, the legendary Tram Face will be officially open for pro riders since the resort was opened in 1949. The competition face is clear visible from the resort and the cable car system. Squaw Valley USA, host of the 1960 Winter Olympics, is one of Americas largest and high tech resorts attracting over 600,000 visitors every year.

Weather could still rule out a shot, but you better believe the competitors are licking their chops for a shot at this technical piece of skiing and riding.

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An Abundant Present « Flickr Blog

An Abundant Present « Flickr Blog

Posted using ShareThis

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Cookie Chick

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

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Monday, February 23, 2009

2009 Ski Season: Day 15

Location: Sugar Bowl
Conditions: 12+ of Sierra Cement
Date: 2/22/2009

We skied Sugar Bowl yesterday on the Bay Area Ski Bus. When we arrived at the resort at around 9:30 AM, there was about 4" of fresh in the parking lot. This was a relief as most of the other resorts were reporting rain.

We hit a few warm up laps on Judah lift. There was fresh cement to cut up and it was fun. The Judah lift serves the terrain parks and noone was going for the fresh so I had it all to myself.

We then headed to the Jerome Hill lift for some more. The snow there was more tracked out but still fun. We took Sidewinder to the Lincoln side of the mountain and went directly to Mount Disney. The runs back there were very heavy with new snow. Some of the best skiing of the day was in a little gully off Mt Disney.

We came back to the front side to pick up a friend around 11:30. From there, we took a few laps then went back to Sidewinder. The trees off of sidewinder were untouched. We did a few laps on Christmas Tree and I found some great snow below the lift line.

Mount Lincoln was very windy up top. By this point, we were all soaked. I could literally wring water out of my gloves. Otherwise, I was dry as a bone.

There were some awesome lines to be had off of Lincoln. Very few people were there and the snow was coming down at about 2" per hour.

A true Sierra Cement day will test your legs and your gear to the fullest. Get out there and enjoy it, and bring a pair of spare gloves.

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2009 Ski Season: Day 14

Jodi Shredding Red Dog at Squaw

Location: Squaw Valley
Conditions: Groomed, moguls, bluebird
Date: 2/21

Saturday, we hit Squaw on the Bay Area Ski Bus for the first day of a two day trip. My Volkl Mantra 184's needed some tuning so I dropped them off at the base ski shop for some welds, wax, and edge. I took the funitel to Gold Coast and hit up the demo shop for some boards for the day.

I was going to get the 2009 Manras in a 191 if they had them. I talked to the demo shop guy about what to chose for the day:

Demetri: Hey, my skis are at the base getting repaired and I need to demo something for today.

Shop Guy: Sounds like a great idea

D: Do you have the Mantras?

SG: Yup, sure

D: What size?

SG: 170, 177, 184

D: No 191s?

SG: nope

D: I actually have the Mantras, is there anything else I should try?

SG: Head Mojos, they are the Mantra killer

D: Seriously considers punching the shop guy in the face for dissing his Mantras. Okay, I'll give them a shot. We'll see. I'll take the 187s.

I liked the skis. They were heavy pigs though. I found myself tightening down the boot buckles to get a bit more control over the monsters. I liked the 187 length. The Mojos were great in anything tracked up.

We hit the whole mountain that day. We started out on taking Red Dog over to Squaw Creek for a few laps. We did Shirley Lake, Granite Chief, Gold Coast Express and a few rides on the funitel. Conditions were pretty good all around the mountain with lots of moguls especially in Siberia Bowl.

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Friday, February 20, 2009