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London bombings

I've just arrived back in town from an overnight solo camping trip in the back of beyond to some rather shocking news from reality. The concern that's been lurking since 9/11 has been realized with four bombings in Central London. 38 killed so far with hundreds injured. My condolences to anyone affected by this act.

It's bittersweet to learn at the same time that yesterday London won the bid for the 2012 Olympics. Well done to all invovled in making that happen. As Tony says, "we shall prevail and they shall not"�and I have confidence that the people of London will continue on with firm resolve.

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Camping at Summit Lake

From Seattle it's almost too easy to take a drive and hit wilderness. Taking Highway 410 out to Buckley and then Highway 165 to just before the Carbon Glacier entrance to Mt Rainier NP, a longish gravel road crosses the Carbon River and heads up to the trailhead. It's probably less than three miles of steady grade which rises some 1000 ft to up to the lake which sits at 5450 ft.

My hike up was easy although rather moist with all the humidity and dense fog. I scouted around the lake for a while and found a clearing in the woods on the north shore just a few feet from the lake edge. By the time I'd set up camp, the fog had dropped quickly and with zero visibility across the lake and a mix of cold wind and spits of rain. I made some tea and spent a while fishing, but the temperature was just a little to low for comfort. As night fell, it became pretty clear that I was the only human being within miles and the silence was almost scary. Mixed animal noises and a spattering of rain did little to harm a fantastic night of sleep in the cold mountain air. The fog had cleared by morning to give a great view of Rainier over the lake so I climbed the extra half mile up to the real summit which looked out in all directions to a rather fantastic view.

No problems with the hike down and drive back into town aside from the news coming out of London. As an�escape, it was almost perfect. Highly recommended.

Pictures of Summit Lake

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Podcasting comes of age, but will it stick?

Seen recently in some Mefi comments: podcasting: cb radio without the RF.

I've been quietly downloading podcasts and not listening to them for a good 10 months now. Interestingly, this is one area where the technology is with, if not beyond, the ideas - there's no 'one day portable players will be able to...' excuse here; a music player or recent cell phone works just fine. The problem, to my mind, is the content that's out there. Sure, it can be entertaining to listen to a range of characters putting together their own radio shows, but I'm not finding myself that bored just yet. Half an hour of NPR in the morning is about all I can fit into my day. But maybe that's just me.

Of course, perspectives change. It's good to see the beeb jumping on board with a bunch of Radio 4 programs now available as download. I can listen to BBC radio instead of NPR without having the morning-shows-in-the-evening dilemma due to the�8 hour difference. Bonus points for freeing us poor listeners from RealPlayer too.

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Napster v2

I was one of the fortunate college-goers who had an unmetered in-room ethernet connection before anyone had really figured out.that music 'sharing' on a huge scale wasn't doing the recording industry any favors. Of all the tools available at the time, Napster won hands down in terms of UI polish and quality of track/title/artist information. All good things come to an end and�it became pretty clear that providing a questionable service in a centralized fashion was not going to win any awards for business acumen. A couple of years and many gigabytes of music later, the last Napster server went dark.

These days, Napster is back as a subscription service. It's a simple plan; $10 per month for access to a really wide library of music. As a penniless student I'd have run a mile from this kind of�deal but things are different these days. Several months I�ago I cancelled my�Netflix subscription (which is another great service�if you have the time to watch) and�replaced it with a shiny new music-only one from Napster. Once you get your head around not owning music but instead renting it, it's an obvious choice for the musical dilettante. No need to buy any more CDs, listen to music�based on�whim alone�and�one's music collection travels between home and office seamlessly. Rather good.

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Holiday vs vacation

Apparently there's a big difference between holiday and vacation.

Yesterday, you see, was holiday; a day shared by all, a day to drink beer, watch fireworks and generally revel in the consequences of the actions of several brave chaps some 229 years ago. Hot sunshine, barbecued food and a prime spot on the sundeck made for a good afternoon. Despite early wins of $9 in quarter-chip poker, I barely came out even but survive to play another day. With everyone nearly done by nine thirty, it's sad that we almost traded the fireworks for watching a celebrity�Who Wants to be a Millionaire rerun, but�did manage to rally somehow.�Big up to the guy with the lines during the fireworks--'you're #1', 'we know how to rock', 'yeah!'--which made for just the kind of American experience the fourth deserves.

Today, however, is different. I'm taking some vacation for what seems like the first time since Christmas. And I have nothing planned. At all. And it's a good feeling.

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Camping at Deer Park, again.

This time last year, I'd just bought my truck and was itching to take it out on some logging roads somewhere out of town to see some 4x4 action. Suitable cover story in place ('let's go camping'), Katie, Anne & I made our way out past Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula and headed for an out-of-the-way campground called Deer Park, 18 miles of gravel track off Highway 101. The drive is well worth it; the campground lies just below the summit of Blue Mountain at a modest 5400ft and its title is well deserved. Within minutes of arriving, the inquisitive and fear-free residents that give the site its name form a welcoming committee and tend to mill around for the duration of the stay. Above the clouds, the views are fantastic and the background noise is filled with silence.

Well, this fourth of July weekend we decided to do it again. Additional recruits Sean and Jenna honored us with their presence and by 1125 on Saturday morning, we were all riding a ferry together. A quick stop of the liquor store and supermarket on Bainbridge and we were ready to go with a straight shot drive all the way through. The party in the green vehicle was somehow detained at a local winery for a brief period, but the rendezvous at site #12 atop the mountain turned out well. Adhering to long established priorities, we ate, drank, set up camp and then headed out for a stroll through the mist. Sean's tracking skills, while impressive, were no match for the agile quarry that was the rest of us. Back at camp, we had to cut short a game of hacky sack realizing that holding out for a hack would probably leave us without firewood and nutrition for the night. We ate like royalty and quickly found out how cold it could get when the sun went down. No-one seemed to take objection to an early night.

According to the ranger it dropped to 33 degrees (F) overnight which is rather impressive in July. Fortunately, we woke up the following morning to discover�bright clear skies and perfect weather for a wander to the summit. Once again, Deer Park scores a 10/10 in the beauty, tranquility and escape categories. Well done us.

Pictures here.

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Visitors in town

It's always good having family to visit when you live a long way from that�nebulous place called home.�My cousin Steve and his fiance Natalie just spent a week of vacation in Seattle and we had a great time. Mostly good weather, barbecues on the sun deck, a Mariners game, an alarming number of trips to Starbucks (even for a Seattle resident), a trip to Snoqualmie Falls and some general time to catch up made for a well-spent week. As I write this they'll be in NYC and are no doubt having fun in the big city, a point about which I am quite jealous.

The pictures of the bar games�from Friday night don't really do the week justice, but it's always fun seeing little lady conclusively beat a big man�at Indian leg wrestling. And who knew, you can get Pimms & Lemonade at the bar just down the street.

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