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Chilkoot Trail Here I Come!

Manor Avenue House

Our House on Manor Avenue

It’s funny how quickly things can change over the course of only ten days. Ten days ago I posted a list of things that I wanted to accomplish in my thirties. On that list was to return to Alaska for the first time since the fifth grade. My family lived in Alaska for one year when I was in the fifth grade and I really loved living there. I remember the address of the house we lived in: 4366 Manor Avenue, Juneau, AK 99801. I even remember the phone number we had: (907) 789-1235. (This phone number is now assigned to the Association for the Education of Young Children – Southeast Alaska, apparently.) I have a lot of fond memories of my time in Alaska: Bullwinkle’s Pizza, getting picked up from school by a limo on my birthday, family outings to Fred Meyer, wandering in the woods, visits to Mendenhall Glacier, accidentally bringing down the computer system of a global mining company, my first experience of a BBS, and having a huge crush on my fifth grade teacher.

Mendenhall Glacier

A few weeks ago my friend Mike Liliedahl asked if I wanted to hike the Chilkoot Trail with him from Alaska into Canada over the summer and I was really looking forward to it. We were going to start in Juneau with his brother’s wedding and then head up to Skagway to begin the journey. By the time I posted my list, though, it sounded as if that wasn’t going to be able to happen, after all. But, a few days later I got word that Chilkoot was back on, and now here I am only 10 days into my 30s and I’ve already booked the plane ticket to Juneau, we’ve purchased the passes, and we’re scheduled to summit the Chilkoot Pass on July 26, 2012. Now that the trip has gone from the conceptual stage to the “this is actually going to happen” stage, I find myself both excited and a little nervous. I love hiking – I grew up hiking in the Rockies and I’ve done plenty of hiking in California, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and elsewhere. That said, though, this will be my longest hike – 33 miles – and the first time that I’m hiking with camping gear.

Elevation Profile for the Chilkoot TrailAdd to that this slightly daunting elevation profile and you’ve got the makings of a truly challenging journey. On the first day we’ll be hiking to Sheep Camp. We’ll overnight there and then undertake the bulk of the vertical climb on Day 2 as we cross the border into Canada and end up at Happy Camp. On that Day we’ll climb over 2,000 vertical feet into a high alpine ecosystem. Despite the long days, I’ve heard that even experienced hikers have been known not to make Happy Camp. Day 3 will take us to Bare Loon and Day 4 should be a breeze, landing us in Bennett, BC.

It looks like I’ve got some training to do! Thankfully, I’m currently training for a 10K trail run in Napa that will include 700 feet of vertical climb in the first 2-miles, so I’ve already started a portion of the training for an ascent. The elevation, itself, should also be manageable. After all, I grew up in the high desert, so 3,500 feet should pose no problem. So, it seems that I’m already starting the check things off my list. So far, the 30s are treating me pretty well.

Categories: A Day in the Life, General | 2 Comments

Red Chinos and Saints

It would seem that red chinos are currently a very fashionable item. That is, at least, if the analytics for this site are any indication. Over the past month, the most common search term that ended up displaying Lance’s World in the search results was, in fact, red chinos. Why would my site appear so frequently in these results? Apparently, it has to do with this post about red chinos that I wrote several years ago. Far be it from me to actually write anything useful about chinos for men, though! The only thing interesting about that post is that it demonstrates the fact that at some point in my life I had the delusion that a pair of red pants for men was a good idea.

This seems a fitting post for today, Valentine’s Day, given that the color red is of such great importance on this (choose one: romantic, mushy, depressing, uplifting, frivolous, commercial) holiday. Red roses, red candy boxes, even red chinos for men! And of course, one other thing that’s red today – the word Memorial in the Liturgy of the Hours. While the history of Valentine’s Day is actually rooted in the Christian tradition, as my friend Mike Liliedahl points out in his Valentine’s Day blog (which is free of all reference to red chinos, I promise), today is no longer celebrated on the Roman Calendar as the Feast of St. Valentine. Instead, today is celebrated as the Memorial of Saints Cyril and Methodius.

Saints Cyril and MethodiusThese two Saints are honored in a very special way in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church. In fact another friend of mine, also a Michael, who is an Eastern Rite Catholic, shared this Wikipedia entry link about Saints Cyril and Methodius with me today. Michael went on to say, “We are all called to be Saints… Saints are normal everyday people living the lives God calls them to live.” It sounds like he may have been at one of my talks over the past few weeks at St. Dominic’s where we explored the lives of the Saints and how those lives reveal to us just that – that we, too, are to live the lives we have been given in the best way possible. Saints Cyril and Methodius are part of the Church Triumphant, but we, too, are members of the Communion of Saints as part of the Church Militant.

So, no matter your relationship status on this Memorial of Saints Cyril and Methodius, remember that the most important relationship is your relationship with God. Follow the example of all of those great Saints that have gone before us and lead a good, holy life. I promise you that such a life will bring you greater joy and happiness than any pair of red pants.

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Memories Fill Up My Mind

As I was going through some of my piano music yesterday, I ran across a copy of the hand-written sheet music for a song called “In Memory” by Erin Farley. This song is more commonly known as the “Theatre School Song,” and was the Alma Mater, of sorts, for the Theatre School for Youth (TSFY) program of which I was a part for about 13 years. TSFY was an after school and summer drama program for pre-teens and teens at the University of Utah.

I started in the after school program. My memory isn’t perfect, but I have a vague recollection that the after school program took place on Wednesdays Once a week during the school year, my mom would drive me from my elementary school in the city of Bountiful to the West Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. After a year (or so) of the after school program, I also started in the summer program, which was a four-week intensive program. Classes were held M-F for each of the four weeks, and the summer culminated with the performance of short scenes (all ages) and musical numbers (teen program only) by the various Scene and Musical Theatre groups.

I don’t remember everything about my time in the TSFY program, but there are definitely many things about the program that I do remember. Each year there was a new T-Shirt that all of the students received and had to wear. I remember each summer one of the first things my mom would do after I got my shirts would be to take me to a fabric / clothing store at Five Points Mall (a mall which no longer exists) where we would pick out iron-on letters in order to apply my name to the back of the shirts. I’m pretty sure that all of those shirts are still somewhere at my mom’s house.

I also remember that every morning during the summer program when we arrived at the school, we had to sign up for where we were going to eat lunch. There were many options, including Subway, B&D Burgers, 7-11, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Chop Suey Louie’s, the lawn (sack lunches), The Pie (until a student tried to light a table on fire), and the distance Student Union. By far my most frequented lunch spot has to have been Chop Suey Louie’s. They had excellent lunch deals, and I would almost always get the Sweet & Sour Pork or General Tso’s Chicken when they were available as the Special of the Day.
The classes, themselves, varied greatly. I took classes in acting, singing, dancing, accents, theatrical makeup, magic, comedy, improv, writing, directing, tech, and more. I attribute my current skills with performance and public speaking, in large part, to the TSFY program. After 13 years, getting up in front of an audience was no big deal for me.

My biggest regret, though, is that my memory of the program is tied so closely with what happened there, and not as closely to the people. Reflecting back, I have forgotten the vast majority of people that I knew in the program. Some I remember mainly because they ended up in high school with me, while others are but shadows in my mind, or lost to my memory forever. As I was playing the song on my piano this morning, I realized just how true the song was. OK, the lyrics are kind of cheesy, but the song is authentic, and I still love it. The TSFY program still exists, and I wonder if they still use this song, or if it, like the people running the program, has changed.

Read more »

Categories: A Day in the Life, General | Comments Off

2010, What?

Dear Loyal Readers,
OK… Who am I kidding? I don’t have loyal readers anymore. While it may be true that two people used to read this blog with (some) regularity, it seems evident that nobody is reading this anymore. Why? Well, one big reason: I haven’t given people anything TO read. The observant among you may notice that I posted nothing to this blog during the entire calendar year of 2010. It’s almost as if 2010 never existed in my world. And, in a way, it didn’t.

You see, in the last quarter of 2009, I was put into a deep freeze. Kind of like Woody Allen in the movie Sleeper, except that I wasn’t forgotten for 200 years. I was re-awakened just a few days ago, and I’m trying to get myself settled back into this strange world.

A lot has happened since September 23, 2009:

  • My employment at UC Berkeley was terminated (10/1/09)
  • I “lived” in Australia for two months (10/10 – 12/10/2009)
  • My friends Trish and Jamie were married in San Francisco, CA (12/12/09)
  • I started a regular food and wine paring dinner group (six dinners in 2010)
  • We bade my friend Heather adieu on her way to Korea (1/28/10)
  • I took a safari to Kenya with my sister (February, 2010)
  • My friend Johnny visited from Korea (April, 2010)
  • I was invited to (and attended) a “Mindful Dinner,” with a guest list intended to include only fascinating people (4/24/10)
  • I helped my sister buy a house in North Carolina
  • My friends Lauren and Chris were married in Atlanta, GA (5/14/10)
  • My sister got her M.D. from the University of Utah (5/22/10)
  • Flight of the Conchords in Concert in Berkeley, CA (5/28/10)
  • My fish, Sophocles, died, saddening many (6/5/10)
  • Mike and Suz visited San Francisco on a vacation from their year-long vacation in South America (July, 2010)
  • I hosted a “sweet” Dessert Party (8/14/10)
  • I participated in habitat restoration in the Presidio (9/4/10)
  • I was introduced to the Old Fashioned Cocktail – life will never be the same
  • My friends Ryan and Caitlin were married in Notre Dame, IN (10/2/10)
  • My cousin Jessica visited me in San Francisco (October, 2010)
  • I attended one of the best Baptisms ever (11/20/10)
  • I visited Texas for the first time (December, 2010)
  • Babies were born to: Amy & Frank (Toby, 9/29/10); Elia & Emilio (Emily, 12/16/10); Leilani & Shane (Gabriel, 12/24/10); and Melissa & Scott (Michael, 12/24/10)
  • My friend Joe Scaroni passed away unexpectedly (12/26/10)
  • I flew 35,332 miles with the Star Alliance (2010 calendar year)
  • I flew 11,662 miles with Sky Team (2010 calendar year)
  • I spent my first New Year’s Eve in San Francisco (12/31/10)
  • So much more…

As you can see, life was busy. As such, I hope that you won’t hold it against me for too long that I’ve kept you all waiting with bated breath. I can’t promise much more for 2011, but we’ll see. Until next time!

Categories: A Day in the Life, General | Comments Off

Coffee Lover’s Paradise

It may be hard to count them all in this somewhat blurry picture from my camera phone, but I think I’ve located the true Coffee Lover’s Paradise. No, not Starbucks or Peet’s Coffee; rather, 7-11 in Chicago, IL. I was amazed to see 20 different types of coffee brewed and for sale at this 7-11 near Randolph & Clinton in Chicago. Tell me honestly, who needs this much variety? Do they really all taste that different?

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Up for a Movie Puzzle?

I hope you all enjoyed the little ESP card trick from my previous entry. Thanks to those of you who made comments. As some of you realized quickly, the ESP site is a trick. Computers can’t really read your mind… which is a good thing. I admit, it took me a few tries before I figured out what was going on. Some of my readers apparently solved the riddle on the first try – I admit, it took me 6.
I have another fun puzzle for you today. You may have seen something like this from Virgin recently. This one comes from the Netflix of the UK – In this image (click the image to see the larger version) are cryptographic representations of the titles of 100 films.

It would be easy for you to find the answers online, but it’s much more fun, I think, to try and come up with the titles yourself, first. I admit to using IMDB to check a few titles, like “Big Pile of Money” (not a movie, by the way). As of the time of this posting, I had identified 67 titles. There are some images that I think should be very obvious, but which I haven’t yet been able to identify, like the little black star in the upper right hand corner. See how many you can come up with! Enjoy…

Categories: General | 2 Comments

Only 13 Computers?

I was shocked today when I read an article at about a computer hacking attack that took place. What is so shocking about computer hacking? Afterall, some of the world’s most “secure” servers have been compromised. What could there possibly be on the hacking front that hasn’t been seen before?
In truth, it wasn’t the hacking itself that shocked me. It was this line: “Hackers briefly overwhelmed at least three of the 13 computers that help manage global computer traffic.” 13 computers? There are 13 computers that help to manage global computer traffic? Do you know how many computers there are on the internet? Millions. Do you know how much traffic is generated daily on the internet? Perhaps as much as an exabyte (1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes or 1 billion gigbytes)? That is one figure that I’m not at all sure of. Regardless, there is a lot of daily internet traffic. And to think that there are 13 computers sitting somewhere that are helping to direct all of that!
Of course, I realize that these 13 computers aren’t the only computers serving and directing data. Significant portions of the workload have been distributed around the world, but still, to think that there are 13 computers that are responsible for the bulk of internet traffic management is astounding to me.
This intrigued me, so I did a little digging, and found a study that was done at my place of employment – UC Berkeley – in 2003. The study aimed to estimate the amount of data generated worldwide each year. The study is called “How Much Information?” According to the study, the “size of the internet” in 2002 was about 92 pedabytes. This represents raw data that existed on the internet as webpages. In addition, it was estimated that there were ~441 pedabytes of original e-mail data (excluding forwards and quotes replies). That was in 2002. It is now 2007, and I suspect that the internet is far larger than that with the recent advances in video on the internet. Even this blog entry is adding to the the size of the internet right now.

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In Honor of Mario Danelo

As much as I dislike USC as a team, I was shocked and saddened when I read that their kicker, Mario Danelo, was found dead on Saturday at the bottom of a cliff in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles. My dislike of the USC Trojans extends only to the team as a whole, and never to any of the individual members. When the Trojans lose a game, of course I celebrate; however, when one of their players loses his life tragically, I find it not only impossible to be elated, but also completely insensitive to be even remotely satisfied. After all, this is a human life, a life that is loved infinitely by God and without reservation. When I read the story abot 21 year old Danelo’s body being found, my first reaction was something to the effect of, “WHAT? HOW TERRIBLE!” It was certainly not a reaction of excitement; rather, it was a reaction of deep sorrow.
Regardless of our allegiances, may we all recognize that every life lost so tragically is a loss for the entire human race. Let us all, therefore, offer our prayers for the repose of the soul of Mario Danelo, whose life was lost tragically and suddenly. Let us also pray that his family may be healed and comforted in this time of great loss.

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Why must Apple be so awesome?

I was just browsing the Apple website, and I find myself wanting to buy a who load of new Apple products, including the new Quad Xeon 64-Bit Mac Pro computer. Do I need another new computer? Of course not, but it just looks so awesome. Up to 4 hard drives, 2 optical drives, 16GB of RAM and dual 3GHz dual-core processors – who wouldn’t want one? According to Apple, there are up to 4.9 million customization options for the Mac Pro. (For information on how the number of combinations in any situation is calculated, see the brilliant theory posted at
In addition, Apple recently released a whole new line of MacBooks (replacing the iBook). I saw the new MacBooks first at an event here at UC Berkeley, actually. An Apple rep came to the Cal Summerfest and brought along the new MacBook. I was immediately drawn to it because Apple wisened up and released a model in black. Now, Dell and other PC manufacturers have released black laptops for years, but none as sleek and stylish looking as the new MacBooks.
Apple has also recently released a Sneak Peek at their new Operating System, Leopard, set to be released in 2007. It is designed to take full advantage of the new Intel processors and adds many new features. I usually don’t get excited about Operating System upgrades, but some of the new features in Leopard are pretty cool, like Time Machine for backups. Windows hasn’t released a new Operating System in how long? Too long. Some might say that Apple releases new Operating Systems too often, but they almost always have significant improvements, not just minor changes. Apple is innovative beyond belief.
Why must Apple be so awesome? They make me want to spend all of my money. Oh yah, that’s why they’re in business.

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Good Luck!

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Categories: General | 4 Comments