A Weekend in Seattle // Part 2

Where I left off in my last post from this series, Geoffrey, Vinny and I had run out of water on our hike up Mount Dickerman. Fortunately, as you can see in the photo below, we made it down safely and survived to live another day!

 

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The drive back was an absolute foil for the hike down. Our spirits were up and our nerves were calm.

 

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Not only were we utterly exhausted, our shoes and clothing were coated in mud and soil. Nothing escaped without some visible sign of our journey.

 

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Even my iPhone and my backup battery were on their last legs.

 

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The rest of the drive, we kept our eyes open for a place to stop for drinks. Unfortunately, the Mount Dickerman trail starts at a remote location; most of the drive is through the woods.

As soon as we saw a kid on the side of the road selling lemonade, we stopped and bought a few cups. It put a grin on the kid’s face and quenched our thirst. Normally I don’t like lemonade stands (I don’t think teaching kids to sell commodities of little value is a good way of teaching business skills), but I couldn’t have been more thankful.

Thanks kid. That lemonade was the most delicious drink I have ever had.

 

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Boeing Everett Factory
Everett, WA

Since Geoffrey is an engineer at Boeing and I’m an airplane nerd, we stopped by Boeing’s plant in Everett for a quick tour around.

 

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I first visited as a child. Since then, Boeing started producing the 787 and is using more composites in the construction of its other airplanes.

 

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The Dreamlifter below is an aircraft based on the 747-400 that was produced exclusively to ship 787 parts for assembly around the world and final assembly at the Everett factory. The tail of the plane is hinged and can open fully, allowing 787 fuselage sections, wings and horizontal stabilizers to be placed inside.

The Dreamliner follows in a long line of funny looking aircraft made for moving large cargo over long distances like the Pregnant Guppy, Super Guppy and Beluga.

 

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The image below is a panorama that can be scrolled or swiped horizontally. Click through for access to larger versions. Most of the planes in the center are 787s. You can recognize them by the curved serrations on the rear of the engine cover that are designed to reduce noise.

 

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Musashi’s
University District, Seattle

After freshening up a bit at Geof’s place we stopped at Musashi’s near University of Washington for some chirashi with Vinny’s high school friend, Mike.

 

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The fish was good, the portions were appropriate, the service was quick and the price was pretty low. I wish we had something like this nearby when I was at Columbia. UW students, I’m jealous.

 

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Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
University District, Seattle

We topped off our meal with dessert at Molly Moon’s. Given that I felt like huckleberries saved my life earlier in the day, I had no choice but a large waffle cone with huckleberry ice cream. Simply delicious.

 

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Linda’s Tavern
Capitol Hill, Seattle

As the night was still very young when we finished dinner, the next stop on our itinerary was drinks with Geof’s friends at Linda’s Tavern in Capitol Hill.

 

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I have an interesting connection with Capitol Hill. Back mid 2011, I was extremely close to taking an offer at Amazon and living in Capitol Hill. The guys at Brohaus convinced me to move to Palo Alto instead. I can’t even imagine how different my life would be now.

 

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Red Bull Soapbox Derby
Seattle, WA

The next day, went met downtown for the Red Bull Soapbox Derby.

The derby wasn’t the primary reason for our visit, but it was our reason for choosing the weekend that we did. In the race, teams tried to post the quickest time using homemade soapbox cars that are powered by nothing but gravity. When it’s a team’s turn, they are given a few minutes to perform a skit related to their theme and then must launch their car down the street. Watch Red Bull’s video below to see how it went.

 

 

Before the start of the race, all teams exhibited their cars at the top of the hill just like a paddock tour in F1 or Le Mans. The teams had a chance to show off their workmanship and creativity while trying to win the crowd’s favorite vote.

 

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Some teams even handed out cards autographed by the drivers.

 

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While at the race, we grabbed lunch at Napkin Friends, a food truck that sells sandwiches that are half latke, half panini.

 

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Photo Credit: Crystal

 

There were plenty of thrilling and humorous moments.

 

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And there were about as many spills and crashes.

 

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If the Red Bull Soapbox derby comes to your town, go see it. It’s a great way to connect with the community and watch people do stupidly hilarious things. I had an amazing time and I’m sure you will too.

 

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Stay tuned folks. I’ll be publishing the last post of this series next week with some photos of the streets and architecture around Seattle.

My 26th Birthday Experiment

A few days ago (Sunday the 15th), I turned 26. I’d like to thank everyone who sent me birthday wishes via Facebook, email, text and phone. You are all my motivation and the reason that I am where I am today.

To celebrate the start of my 27th year of life, I’d like to send you all something. As much as I love receiving gifts, I love giving them even more. I don’t care how much we know each other. If you are reading this, I want to send you something.

Follow the link below to a form that you can fill out. Please do so before March 31, 2015. I want to send them out as soon as possible.

Arun’s 26th Birthday Experiment

Here’s the catch. Of course, everything has a catch. In the package that I send you, I’ll include a pre-addressed (with my address) pre-stamped postcard. On one side will be two questions:

  1. What is one thing that you think that I do well or is a strength of mine?
  2. What is one thing that you think that I should improve at?

The other side will be blank for you to decorate.

Feel free to answer the questions and decorate the postcard as you see fit before sending it to me. You could only answer the questions or only decorate the back. It is really up to you. You also don’t have to identify yourself. However, if you do identify yourself, I promise to answer any similar questions for you when your next birthday rolls around.

Thanks. I’m looking forward to the responses. I’ll leave you with four photos I took in Hawaii this week.

Photo Mar 15, 18 57 44Photo Mar 16, 14 28 36Photo Mar 17, 16 41 46Photo Mar 18, 16 55 30

A Weekend in Seattle // Part 1

Early last year, I saw a video about Red Bull’s soapbox derbies that are held around the world every year. In the past, Red Bull had held the US event in San Francisco, but in 2014 it was being held in Seattle. Vinny was already thinking about taking a trip to Seattle to visit Geoffrey, so I sent him the link. I was only half serious about wanting to see it. Traveling within the country to watch an F1 race is a no-brainer to me. Traveling for a soapbox derby though? I wasn’t so sure. A few months later, Vinny brought up the idea of a Seattle trip again and we decided to jump on it.

We flew in on a Friday night after work and returned on Monday morning before work. That gave us three nights and two full days. While Vinny was searching for Airbnbs for us to stay in, he was lucky enough to book an amazing one for a really affordable price. Later, we found out that the host temporarily put his extra room up just so that he could show the pictures to potential roommates. Vinny somehow reserved the room within that narrow window.

Vinny and I arrived late at night and went to sleep as soon as possible. We knew we had a long day ahead of us.

 

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Mount Dickerman
Northern Cascades, WA
Length: 8.2 mi. roundtrip
Gain: 3950 ft.

After a decent night’s sleep, Geoffrey picked up me and Vinny early in the morning on Saturday. We stopped for some breakfast and snacks along the way and then started the two hour long journey to Mount Dickerman.

 

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Eventually, we got our things together and began walking the 4.1 miles up to the top. Hiking is one of my favorite pastimes. I really should be doing more of it. I find that the thought of going on a hike only appears in my mind when someone is visiting or I’m visiting someone else. If you are reading this and like hiking, let’s go on a hike!

 

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In my eyes, there are many different types of hikers. Some like to take their time, stopping for photos, investigating the flora and fauna and snacking along the way. Geoffrey, on the other hand, is the type that goes to the top as quickly as possible. Even though I’d consider myself somewhere in the middle of the hiking speed scale and do a lot of cardio, I had some trouble keeping up with him at times.

 

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The views got better and better as we hiked further up the mountain.

 

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Once we reached the top, the views were amazing. We were standing among rolling meadows dotted with wildflowers and framed by majestic snowcapped mountains.

 

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It felt like we were in a scene from “The Sound of Music”. I had a strong urge to run through the grass while singing “Do-Re-Mi”.

The image below is a panorama. Swipe or scroll horizontally to view it.

 

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Protip: If you want to make Vinny laugh, just tell him not to laugh. It works every time.

 

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The rear camera on Geoffrey’s camera was broken. So the only way he could take photos was to face the phone away as if helping the world take a selfie.

 

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While at the top, I tried taking a few multiple exposures.

 

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As time went on, a mistake we had made much earlier became obvious. We hadn’t brought enough water and were quickly running out of it. We certainly wouldn’t have enough for the hike back down. That’s when we noticed some fellow hikers collecting and eating little blue berries from small bushes.

 

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We learned that they are huckleberries and completely safe to eat by humans. I’d like to think that the huckleberries were what helped us get down most of the way. They were so delicious and each one contained just a tiny bit of water.

 

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Unfortunately for us, as we descended lower and lower, the huckleberry bushes and flowers gave way to tall trees and very little undergrowth. Our last source of water had run out.

 

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Our once cheerful and casual hike had transformed into a minor ordeal. Morale was at an all time low and all we could think or talk about was what we wanted to drink at the bottom.

 

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Did we finally reach safety? Maybe these photos came from a camera that was recovered along the trail and my blog has been ghostwritten ever since. Read part 2 to find out.

 

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My Twelve Most Popular Posts

As of today, I have published 175 posts to my blog. That’s an average of 2.33 posts per month for the last 6 or so years. Not bad at all. Over that time, some posts were complete flops, receiving only a handful of views. Others made it to the front page of Reddit or Hackernews and almost crashed my site. Here are the twelve most popular posts on arunhasablog.com in descending order. The percentages represent each post’s share of total site traffic.

 

18.7% [updated] Beware: Uber Has No Customer Service and Still Has Bugs

The most popular post on my blog is my complaint about Uber. Back in Fall 2013, I was overcharged quite a bit after an Uber ride and had a hard time getting a refund. I resorted to writing a scathing post about Uber and posted it on Hackernews. The post stayed on the front page for a night and my customer service issue was quickly resolved.

 

10.9% Omegle Bot Hilarity

One tenth of all traffic to my blog was generated by this post from 2010. I let a robot speak with strangers on Omegle, an anonymous chat website similar to Chatroulette. Surprisingly, one girl from Scotland had an hour long conversation with the bot without realizing that she was chatting with my computer. I put it up on Reddit and it stayed on the front page for a day.

Here is short excerpt from the chat conversation:

You: Do you want to hear a joke?
Stranger: why not
You: Ambiguous: Sure or Because that is what told me to say.
Stranger: thats not a very good joke

There are quite a few hilarious dialogues and nuggets in the transcript. I had to hold myself back from reprinting them all here.

 

4.9% Why Is It so Hard to Exit Skype?

If you know me, you know that I don’t like it when services and products that I pay for have poor usability or customer service. When I’m paying, I expect a great user experience. Skype didn’t make it easy for me to shutdown their application on Windows. Naturally, I complained. Somehow, this post has brought in nearly 5% of traffic.

 

1.9% 40 Year Old Lens On My DSLR

This post is from college when I was getting interested in putting older manual focus lenses on modern cameras. I bought a fisheye lens from from the late 1960s and mounted it on my 30D via an adapter. I posted about how I found the lens and a few technical details about mounting M42 lenses on EOS DSLRs.

Since then, I have sold the lens and mounting old lenses on new cameras has become commonplace. In fact, my only digital camera right now is a modern mirrorless camera with a manual focus lens mounted on it.

 

1.8% New Camera: Canon Canonet 28

This one is yet another post about camera gear. I bought an old Canon rangefinder film camera at a thrift store in New York and wrote about rangefinders. I even included a video shot through the viewfinder of the camera that shows how rangefinders operate. A lot of people land on this page after searching for information about the Canonet series of cameras.

 

1.8% Week in NY 10/4-10/10/2010

This was one of quite a few weekly posts that I was doing in my senior year of college. I wrote about my watches (which I still wear daily almost 5 years later), an information session at Microsoft, my first hackathon, and a few other school activities.

 

1.6% E-Waste Hunting

This is one of my favorite posts from my junior year in college. Caroline and I used to regularly visit a “computer graveyard” deep in the bowels of Columbia. We would remove and take home small components like CPUs and RAM from the computers that were being discarded. I amassed a sizable collection of CPUs spanning a few decades, an almost complete history of Intel chips. In this post, I wrote a bunch of geeky details about some of the stuff we found.

 

1.3% Movies I discovered this summer

This post is a very short review of three movies I watched in the summer after my sophomore year of college. Coincidentally, all three were foreign films. One is French, another Chinese and the last is Korean.

 

1.1% Headphone Mod

The first high end headphones that I ever purchased are the Audio Technica ATH-ES7 . I bought them much before Beats by Dre and other high end headphones became mainstream like they are now. I loved them, but they had one problem. The cords kept tearing or getting frayed. I sent them in once for warranty repair, but they tore again. I was fed up. I took matters into my own hands and replaced the original cord with the cord from a pair of Apple earbuds.

 

1.0% Week in NY 10/25-10/31/2010

This is yet another weekly post from senior year. It covers halloween, our halloween potluck, shopping for and assembling costumes, dressing up in our costumes and attending the Village Halloween Parade. I think this post gets a lot of traffic because of my Nerd Herd costume from the show “Chuck”.

 

0.9% Wonder Girls!

As you may know, I used to be a huge K-pop fan from the end of high school to the end of college. One year, Caroline surprised me with tickets to the Wonder Girls JYP concert. This concert still is one of my favorite concert experiences. Rereading this post brought back so many memories. It also makes me sad that the Wonder Girls ended the way they did. They had so much potential.

 

0.8% I’m a Burner: My Experience at Burning Man 2013

This last post is by far my favorite. It might not be my best writing or photography, but it took the most thought and effort to produce. Burning Man continues to be one of the most transformative experiences in my life. I find that the things I learned there have seeped into every part of my life. I’m a burner and always will be.