This was our campsite in Lassen Volcanic National Park. The “black” triangle in the top center is Brokeoff Mountain (also known as Mt Tehama). This was at 4am. We had just woken up to an “alpine start”, to try and summit the peak while the snow was still hard, before the sun came out and turned it into something too slushy to ascent in. The moon had just set in the West behind that ridge – and its afterglow still leaked into the sky, leaving only the brightest stars visible.
When out in the backcountry, especially in the winter, you can’t really count on having any marked trails. We spent a good amount of time studying maps of the area, identifying the trailhead, waypoints and landmark features before we even left home. We also researched recent trip reports from others and talked to the rangers on the phone to better understand what to anticipate on the ground. Then we plotted our planned route with waypoints on the map using the Garmin software on my laptop. We loaded the map and route onto the GPS. And then also printed the map on paper and laminated it so it wouldn’t get damaged in the snow.
On the trail, it took us way longer than our most liberal estimate as we got lost quite a few times and had to backtrack and re-evaluate our plan a few times. Eventually, the GPS battery died. We had 4 more sets of backup batteries between the two of us so that wasn’t an actual problem. But a GPS can stop working for various other reasons.
So we decided to use this as an opportunity to sharpen our compass-based way-finding skills. Paper doesn’t run out of power 😋 Not so fast, however. We hadn’t checked our compasses closely. Both of them had developed bubbles after years of use. Maybe we left our packs out in too much heat without realizing it. But that meant it became very unreliable to sight using the compasses.
So we finally switched to the last fail-safe. Using landmarks (and elevation using the solar altimeter) to locate ourselves and chart our progress. That turned out to be quite easy as there were a lot of streams that served as natural guide-rails. We emerged exactly where we had parked our car within +/- 10ft error. That was a little surprising but quite awesome.
Always carry extra batteries for every electronic device you rely on. Always have an analog backup if possible. Spend some time thinking about things that are most likely to go wrong and have mitigations in place.
I was blown away by something unexpected this weekend. I looked like this but the FaceId on My iPhone X recognized me each time I looked at it!
I didn’t really expect it to detect my features but it kinda makes sense as the glasses block UV and visible light but FaceId uses IR light.
I didn’t do any additional testing to check if this was more of a false positive. But it was nice not having to unglove the hand to use a fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone in the cold, chilly weather.
I captured the sound on this video using two separate microphones in the field. This simulates how the human ear hears sounds. This is called binaural audio and it creates a deeply immersive, spatial experience.
Please put on your headphones and then hit play. Without headphones you won’t be able to hear the spatial 3D audio.
As we debate whether our Facebook friends have the right to share information about us with the apps they use, how about this new question: Can your relatives share fragments of your DNA with 3rd parties and public databases?
“The fact that detectives used commercial DNA and genealogy websites to catch a suspected serial killer from 42 years ago — after the federal criminal DNA database failed to yield results — is revelatory, said Ruth Dickover, director of UC Davis’ forensic science program.
“This was a shot in the dark, definitely,” Dickover said, “If that’s what they did, that approach is very new and innovative and explains how they were able to crack a case when the more traditional types of DNA testing couldn’t.”
“GEDmatch is a crowdsourcing website where the public can submit DNA and genealogy screening results they may have received from other sites such as 23AndMe and Ancestry and cross-reference those findings with other collected data for a more complete picture of their genetic background.
A relative of the suspected killer must have submitted their DNA to one of the sites at some point for authorities to have been able to use it and find him, Dickover said.”
The Bandra-Worli Sea Link is a cable-stayed bridge with pre-stressed concrete-steel viaducts on either side that links Bandra in the Western Suburbs of Mumbai with Worli in South Mumbai. It has a total length of 5.6 km (3.5 miles). In this pic you see the largest pylon towers which are 128 m (420 ft) high. At the base of the bridge, in the water, you see fishing boats that are not too different from the original ones used by the Koli fisherman who, less than 200yrs ago, originally inhabited this marshy region of seven islands. Most buildings in this frame are under construction, even the one with the glass windows. Enjoy this view, it’s going to disappear soon – see the slabs piling on down below? Love how the setting sun hit the skyline so selectively!
1. Gaathiya (yellow fried dough things)
2. Jalebi (orange/yellow sugary syrupy thingy)
3. Mircha (fried hot peppers with salt)
4. Cha (hot tea)
With two sides:
A) raw onions
B) pickled carrots
The flavors work so well together, at many different levels, despite the simplicity. The hotness of the peppers is accentuated by the heat of the tea, and the salt somehow blends with that intensity while the gaathiya creates the neutral grounding and the jalebi keeps bringing a glimpse of the sweet.
I grew up right next to this beach in Mumbai, on the Arabian Sea. Between slums, sewage, and littering, the beach had turned into an eyesore and the pollutants had made the water inhabitable. I last visited this beach 5yrs ago and can’t believe how much it seems to have changed today. The beach has been cleaned up and is actually hospitable to marine life again. The significance of this may be hard to notice for some, but I never in my wildest imagination could have ever expected this to happen in a city that’s bursting on its seams and barely keeping it together. This shows how people *can* make a difference if they work hard and don’t give up.
Check out this news story for the full rundown.
🌋 Kīlauea is a currently active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaiʻi, also called the Big Island. Located along the southern shore, the volcano is between 300,000 and 600,000 years old and emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago. The currently active lava flow is called the 61g flow. Until October 2017, it was flowing all the way to the ocean. Now the flow ends higher uphill on the slopes.
We started the hike at night, near the ocean, walking uphill on the recently solidified lava. It was a surreal terrain: shiny, silver and brittle with fabric-like textures and folds – but this was solid rock! We made it to the flow and decided to spend the night there. We settled for a spot right under the lava flow as it was close enough without being scorching hot.
We slept under the stars on the clear moonless night, with fresh lava crackling and turning a mere 20 ft from us. About 7hrs in, we heard a loud sound as the lava cracked out of a spot much closer to us. Then we noticed steam bursting out from the rock we were sleeping on! I placed my hand on the rock and could feel a strong rumbling vibration underneath.
Within seconds we collected our sleeping bags and gear and were off that rock and onto safer ground. That’s when I took this picture!
It was a very humbling experience to spend this time with Tūtū Pele, the Fire Goddess, and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands.
Disclaimer: we had done a lot of research, knew what we were doing, and made sure we were safe at all times.
I was hiking up early morning on Mission Peak, in Fremont, when the Sun began to break through. It started casting very long shadows on the grassy plains, accentuating their waviness. After I took this picture I noticed that solitary, red post at the bottom, valiantly contrasting itself against the otherwise green terrain. It was an ephemeral, magical moment, when everything seemed super quiet and in harmony. In the summer, this entire terrain turns yellow and brown.