Fuel Economy…

3 blog posts in one day.. A new record?

Anyway, I was reading MSNBC, and clicked on this article about Newsweek's “Versatile Mileage Misers” – the most economical cars for each of 10 different categories (they're defining economical purely by gas mileage – which, let's be honest, it's getting closer every day).

I'm glad to see that both cars we drive made the list (in very different categories: Hybrid and Medium SUV )

Boundary Trail, Mt. St. Helens

Hiked On: May 29, 2006
Weather Conditions: Approximately 50°F and overcast, climbing to 65°F and party cloudy
Elevation: 4255'
Distance from Seattle: 160 miles
Pictures: Here
US Forest Service: Mt. St. Helens

As part of our Memorial Day Roadtrip this year (more on that coming soon), we spent a few hours at Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument (now that's a mouthful). The first few hours we were there were spent driving up to Johnston Ridge Observatory (JRO) and visiting the other visitors centers and learning centers that are along the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway.

Once we got to JRO, we hiked west on the Boundary Trail which gave us amazing views of the cloud-capped volcano only 5 miles away. Oddly, we were driving up the road that morning when a 3.1 magnitude earthquake shook the area, causing a 20,000' ash plume to come out of Mt. St. Helens. Unfortunately, it was overcast so we didn't get to see that, but later in the day we did see the results of the rockslide in the mountain's crater. We were also able to see the 1985-1986 lava dome, but this year's lava dome never made it out of the clouds for us to see.

Fittingly, as we got home that evening around 9pm, I looked at the VolcanoCam and was quite upset to see that it was clear without a cloud around the mountain. Grrr.

All in all, it was a great hike – good company, lots of people out enjoying the Memorial Day holiday, and an awe-inspiring glance into nature's rebuilding after the area was leveled in 1980. Diann & I will definitely be going back to MSH in the near future for more hikes.

Total distance hiked: 4 miles

Anti-Aircraft Peak

(catching up on hikes…)

Hiked On: May 20, 2006
Weather Conditions: Approximately 65°F, overcast
Elevation: 2200-2430’
Distance from Seattle: Just over 45 miles
Pictures: None
King County Park System: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park

This hike was fairly straightforward and easy, yet the temperature and the recent rainfall (coupled with the fact that we were walking near a marsh!) made for a very humid hiking day.

In terms of awe-inspiring scenery, there really wasn't that much to our hike. We started off at Radar Park, and hiked up the Anti-Aircraft Ridge and up to the Clay Pit Road. We ran into a few fellow hikers with kids of varying ages on the trail, and were amazed by the population of snails and slugs we encountered on different pieces of the trail. Also of interest were the many different types of ferns and fungi we ran into – we should pick up a book to start identifying these things.

Total distance hiked: ~3 miles.

GOOG: A daytrader’s delight

So, I'm having an IM conversation with a buddy at work, and we inevitibly get to talking about the day's stock market activity. Quote of the day goes to Stephen, regarding GOOG stock:

that stock is all over the place. It looks more like a heartbeat than a fund-owned security.

at any given point today, based on where you invested, you could have lost $1, made $2.50, lost $2, lost $4, lost $1, made $4, lost $2, or made $1

Oh, to be a day trader.

Republicans standing up for … Democrats?

Now, at first, that may seem odd. But the Republicans and this particular Democrat have something in common – apparent ethics problems. Seems the Republican leadership is saying that the Department of Justice has overstepped their bounds, and they're promising an investigation:

WASHINGTON — The FBI's weekend search of the House office of a Louisiana Democrat under investigation for bribery may have overstepped constitutional boundaries, House leaders said as the congressman under investigation pledged to stay in office.

House Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio told reporters Tuesday that the Congress will somehow speak to “this issue of the Justice Department's invasion of the legislative branch. In what form, I don't know.”

“I've got to believe at the end of the day it's going to end up across the street at the Supreme Court,” Boehner said.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert said the Justice Department had never before crossed a line that separates Congress from the executive branch by searching a congressional office while investigating a member of Congress.

Ok, so maybe I don't know all the intracacies of the law, but it seems to me that the DOJ has a right to investigate crimes, even if those crimes are committed by a member of Congress.

It also seems to me that the Congress should investigate the Executive Branch seemingly stepping into their court as well, but that's not going to happen.

Sony News Conference at E3

So, I wanted to jot down some of my thoughts after watching most of the Sony Press Conference at E3.

Overall, I was fairly underwhelmed with the show. Even the audience seemed underwhelmed — I don't know if it was just that the microphones weren't capturing it, but there was very little applause and cheering from the people in the stands. I counted at least 5 times where the Sony presenters asked for applause – it seems like it should be more spontaneous.

Most of the demos were unimpressive — come on, we saw videos at last years' E3. There were a few demos played, though. They started off with Gran Turismo HD (which they admitted is just newer textures on the GT4 engine). While Kazunori Yamauchi (the president of Polyphony Digital) was holding the controller acting like he was playing, it was fairly obvious by the camera views that he wasn't playing — seriously, who can hold a perfect racing line in turns while in the camera “fly-by” modes?

Some of the other games looked impressive: Eight Days stood out in my mind. Another cool thing was using the PSP as a rear-view mirror for the Formula One game they showed. That's a novel use, albeit a little expensive. Their Sony Network seemed pretty much like an Xbox Live copy (video chat was the only thing that's currently not there, but there's reports that the Xbox Camera will make video chat possible on XBL as well):

  • Friends list: check
  • Micropayments: check
  • Voice chat: check
  • Text chat: check
  • Rankings: check
  • Video chat: pending, supposedly

Back to the audience seeming, well, unexcited. Even the presenters didn't seem excited (except Kaz Hirai yelling “Ridge Racer” on the PSP), they all talked in monotone voices. Get some liveliness, guys!

And that worldwide launch thing? Good luck with that one, guys. It didn't treat the Xbox 360 team very well.

So, I didn't catch the tail end of the presentation (I watched up until Electronic Arts showed up, then decided to drive home). Engadget has the blow by blow which talks more in detail about a few events, shows off the new (erm, I mean old) controller (bluetooth? Weird.), pricing details (ouch), etc. Engadget follows up with posts about the launch details, the controller, and pricing info.