In the Mountains.

 Travel  Comments Off on In the Mountains.
Apr 202015

I headed up to Asheville to help out my folks a bit last weekend. I managed to get some good photos of bears and the mountains with my new gear. My major accomplishment was taking a truckload of recycling down to the dump.

Yeah, that rocking Asheville life.

The next weekend, I headed from Chapel Hill out to Hamptonville for my aunt’s 80th birthday party. It was a lot of fun, and Hamptonville is a great place to get away from it all. The only bummer was when I bruised the heck out of my elbow.

One discovery: with some rubbing alcohol, it’s really easy to remove Coppertone sunscreen. I never knew!

Push Off to Asheville

 DIY, Music, Technology, Travel  Comments Off on Push Off to Asheville
Dec 192013

I’m heading to Asheville to help the folks out for Christmas, so I’m gone for a while. I may or may not update, depending on whether anything interesting happens or not.

The monitor stand isn’t done yet. I’ll finish it when I get back. It needs more wood filler in a couple of places, and I need the weather to cooperate so I can lay down a finish.

Ableton Push

Ableton has a big sale on all of its software going on. I’m really interested in Push, though. I’ve been watching a lot of videos to see how it works, and how well it works, and it looks damn sexy. Of course, Maschine also looks sexy, but Push looks like it’s more up my alley, because it does scales. Lots and lots of scales.

I’ll need to do more research, though. Getting into Push is another $600, and if I decide to move to Ableton as a DAW, that’d be more money out for upgrading to Standard or Suite. We’ll see.

Back Home Again

 Photography, Travel  Comments Off on Back Home Again
May 292013

I’m home. The trip to Asheville was full of photo opportunities, so I took a bunch of pictures.

One night there were fireworks in the valley.

And on the 27th, I went to Mt. Mitchell to try out the auto-bracketing of my Nex.

I also picked up a new small, compact, light-ish aluminum tripod made by MeFoto. It folds up pretty small, and the legs will lock in 3 different positions. It’s nice and light, and compact. I’ll have to give it more of a workout to see how it holds up to more rigorous travel, but so far it looks good. It’s a lot better than my old Slik tripod that cracked and broke, or my 25-lb Manfrotto, which is great for video, but terrible for carrying up a mountain.

Now I’m back home, because I have work tomorrow. Lately I’ve been working for a Japanese company in RTP, helping their legal staff understand the US legal system and US culture. It’s been a win-win of sorts, because they get help on English stuff, and I get to use my Japanese every now and then.

Headed to Asheville

 Japanese Language, Travel  Comments Off on Headed to Asheville
May 242013

I’m headed off to Asheville for the next few days to help my folks out around the house a bit.

The online classes at JOI are going pretty well so far. I like the structure, and the pricing is good. The teachers are doing a great job, and I’m learning a bunch. (Like how much I don’t know!)

If you’re looking for a way to work on your Japanese, and there isn’t a language school nearby, I’d recommend giving them a try. It’s only $9 to try it out.

Snow in the Mountains Again.

 Photography, Travel  Comments Off on Snow in the Mountains Again.
Dec 272012

It snowed last night and this morning in the mountains. I was up here with the whole family for Christmas. It was 2010 when it snowed about a foot up here. This time, it’s just a light dusting, maybe half an inch to an inch, which is really nothing for the mountains.

While I’ve been up here, I have taken a ton of photos of the mountains. Editing them is going to be like cleaning the Augean Stables.

I’ll edit this post once I’m all caught up.

In the Mountains Again

 Photography, Travel  Comments Off on In the Mountains Again
Dec 102012

I spent the last few days in the mountains, and came back in time for my calligraphy class in Raleigh tonight. I took a lot of photos of the mountains, and some good macro shots of Christmas tree ornaments. I really like the Canon 50/3.5 FD macro + NEX combination. It really needs a tripod to be perfect, but it’s just fun to mess around with.

Asheville Again

 Photography, Travel  Comments Off on Asheville Again
May 272012

I went back up to Asheville for Memorial Day, to help the folks out and to take a bunch of photos. I’m still a bit behind on the editing, so I’ll post them when they’re ready.


 Japan, Travel  Comments Off on Bargaiiiiins…
Feb 142012

I joined the Costco Zombie Army a few days ago. I realized that I could save a lot of money just by buying gasoline there.

But I have to be careful when I go shopping there– it’s easy to wind up with more crap than I know what to do with.

Heading off to Asheville to help the folks out for a few days.

Some of my packages are coming back from Japan already. They’re all in surprisingly good shape, and nothing got broken or lost. The nice part is that I can kind of relive my trip as I go through the tons of crap I sent home.

The Scariest Drive. Ever.

 Travel  Comments Off on The Scariest Drive. Ever.
Dec 232011

I made it safely to Asheville.

Ah, a little rewinding first. I had to have AAA come and jump-start the car, and get a new battery for it first. Yay.

Then I packed and left for Asheville later in the afternoon.

Let me just say that that was the scariest drive ever. I was doing okay until I got hit with a sudden intense urge to sleep, like a sleep hammer hit me in the face. Repeatedly. I had to blast the radio, guzzle caffeine, open the windows, and turn on the air conditioner, just to stay awake. (And it was 40F/5C outside!)

I stopped every 30 minutes and did exercises, too.

I made it Asheville, though. Now I will have a Merry Christmas and sleep for a week or so.

That means fewer posts for a while, but this blog is only really active when I’m traveling, anyway.

This adventure is over. Stay tuned for the next one.

Back to Mt. Mitchell (Finally)

 Travel  Comments Off on Back to Mt. Mitchell (Finally)
Aug 012009

I finally had good weather today, and decided to make the drive to Mt. Mitchell State Park, which lurks around milepost 354 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The last time I was there was in 2007, right before I left for Japan, so I figured now was as good a time as any to head back and see what things were like.

In case you didn’t know, Mt. Mitchell is the tallest peak east of the Mississippi River in the U.S. When the weather is cooperative, the views are great.

First things first, though– getting there. I always go via Elk Mountain Scenic Highway, which is one of my favorite roads in North Carolina. The road starts in North Asheville, and it’s windy, curvy, and feels just a little dangerous. It dumps you out on the Blue Ridge Parkway after about 20 minutes or so.

About 15 minutes down the road, there’s a place where a lot of people pull off to the side on the right where you can gaze out over some of the valleys. But if you’re not careful, it’s really easy to fall off of the mountaintop and wind up a stain on the valley floor. It’s not an “official” overlook, it’s just some place where everyone goes to look at the mountains. So it’s usually kind of messy and covered with graffiti left by high school kids, as well as some leftover beer cans and other hazards.

In spite of all of that, it’s worth stopping for a few minutes on the way to the Parkway. Just be very careful where you step.

With road work on a 16-mile stretch of the parkway from mile marker 375 to mile marker 359, the usual 45 mile an hour speed limit was cut down to 35. To top it off, the road itself is in sorry shape in places, so I really didn’t want to push my luck. I’m talking “surface of the moon” potholes here. It was even less fun coming back from Mt. Mitchell, because that’s all downhill.

The weirdest bit had to be the random stoplights on the parkway, used to control traffic through a single-lane construction zone. It was brutal. I wound up sitting there for about 10 minutes on each side, just waiting for it to turn green. Not much traffic went by either way. I’m not sure how it works, to be honest, but a lot of the time I bet it was just red on both sides, while its dark silicon heart laughed at us.

Mt. Mitchell

I finally got to the summit of Mt. Mitchell after about an hour or so total of driving.

They replaced the gravel path to the summit with some sort of asphalt with a pattern cut into it. I’m sure it has better traction now, but it looks bland. I miss the charm of the old gravel path.

They also tore down the shabby old observation tower and replaced it with an open air ramp that ends in a big circular platform thing that’s very shiny.

The clouds were in great form, with giant thunderheads and rain clouds forming all around us. I got some good photos, in spite of the fact that I didn’t have the right filter on my camera. I really need to drop the money for a good graduated neutral density filter for the new lens. It makes a huge difference with landscape shots.

I’m glad I managed to wait out the weather up here. It took almost a week, but it was totally worth it.

Bele Chere

 Travel  Comments Off on Bele Chere
Jul 262009

I’m in Asheville for the weekend, and I decided to take in the Bele Chere festival today. Yes, that’s how it’s spelled. According to the official website FAQ, it’s Scottish for something along the lines of “have fun.”

It’s definitely not a misspelling of the French phrase that refers to your beautiful loved one.

All disputes about spelling aside, this year’s festival was very enjoyable. Tons of arts and crafts, lots of food, and good music. The best part was that finding parking was relatively painless, in spite of the maps provided on the website.

I hope they provide a better map next year– or at least one that shows the approaches to downtown, rather than just showing where all of the roadblocks will be. For those of us coming in from out-of-town, it’s a little confusing to just see a small grid full of roadblocks, without any real clues as to what’s what.

I took some photos, but nothing really jumped out at me. There wasn’t a “wow” moment that I just had to get a picture of.

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