September 2, 2010

Sierra Buttes Spring Epic Trailwork, May 16th

Filed under: Bikes, Travel — maryparadox @ 3:23 pm

After two days of riding everyone went out the trail and did trailwork. This wasn’t much of a payment for all of the amazing treatment we’d received except for the fact that there was poison oak EVERYWHERE. I covered myself in technu, wore long sleeves and pants, and washed in the ice cold river afterward but I still ended up with poison oak covering half my body. And not the good half.


Peter started doing some basic pruning during his trailwork.

But then it morphed into this dramatic trail widening project which involved moving large boulders. Every man that walked by the project wanted to get involved and eventually pretty much everyone was working on the same 15 feet of trail.

Overall people only worked from about 10am to 2pm at the latest. We probably cleaned up a couple hundred yards of trail, and we probably all got poison oak, so overall it was a good day.


August 6, 2010

Sierra Buttes Spring Epic Biking, May 15th

Filed under: Bikes, Travel — maryparadox @ 10:10 am

On the second day in Downieville we got to ride another new trail called the North Yuba Trail, which goes between Downieville and the Indian Valley Campground where we were staying.  Peter rode from the campground into Downieville and I took a shuttle into Downieville and started from there. The trail stewardship picked us all up as a group, drove us into town, and dropped us off at the Yuba Expeditions bike shop.

Sierra Buttes Bike Shop, Downieville, CA

I rode with our new friends up First Divide and then we turned around to meet Peter back at Yuba Expeditions for lunch. You can see Peter and I right in the middle of the photo above with our helmets on, recovering from our lunch. Photo source. After lunch the whole group of us went back down the North Yuba Trail back to our campsite. It was pretty far so I’m glad I didn’t ride up with Peter, though I can imagine it is fun both directions as it was a very rolly trail.

The trail was beautiful and really fun to ride. I’m looking forward to riding it again. I was tired by the end and ended up getting my front wheel jammed in between two rocks and then flipped over the handlebars. Luckily there was only a three foot drop at that point of the trail so I didn’t fall very far, but I didn’t almost knock out my front teeth (but managed to put my hands in front of my face). I broke my rear break handle out of the socket as well as bending by whole chain ring.

Sierra Buttes Spring Epic BBQ

In the evening back at the campsite there was a BBQ, fund raising raffle, and much drinking and mayhem. Peter and I are to the right of the giant stove talking with our new friend Heather and the coordinator for the Sierra Buttes trail stewardship. Photo source.

The Sierra Buttes team cooking up dinner.

July 7, 2010

Sierra Buttes Spring Epic Biking, May 14th

Filed under: Bikes, Travel — maryparadox @ 1:22 pm

Peter and I went mountain biking in Downieville a couple of weeks ago. We went as part of a large group who were invited because we are members of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (i.e. we donate money for trailwork). The weekend included two days of mountain biking and one day of trail work.

On the first day we went for a ride which started in this tiny town called Forest City (population around 10-20 people). First we did a loop that started and ended in Forest City and had us riding through some snow banks and a river crossing. One part of the trail was either just created or just redone because it had been cleared by a machine to be about four feet wide.

At the end of that ride the Sierra Buttes team had a little care van set up with fruit, chocolate, chips and drinks. I think I ate a half a watermelon all on my own.

We then went on another ride which went quite far out of town and required a *grueling* road ride to get back to forest city. The dirt part was really fun but it will be a while before that road climb allows me to remember it. Luckily Peter helped me up the hills or I think it would have taken me all year just to ride back.

After the up hill the Sierra Buttes team was waiting with another care van but this time full of chips and margaritas.

At the end of the day we went back to the campsite we had picked out and ended up sharing it with a couple of really cool girls. They were way more prepared then we were and had all sorts of snacks and were really generous. We made new friends!

June 9, 2010

Japan April 11th-14th

Filed under: Asia, Travel — maryparadox @ 2:51 am

I was working for the last three days we were in Japan — we had a team “offsite” where all of the program managers got out of the office and spent several days talking about overall organization changes that would improve our jobs and productivity. It was pretty fun and we work covered some pretty nice lunches as well as dinners. My mom and I split the dinners so she got to come out with us, which was really great.

A.G. (middle above) lives in Tokyo so could order for us and also knew good restaurants to take us to. This night was a little fancy and had some drinks as well as sushi and assorted meats.

The next night we went out for street food which was dish after dish of “mystery meat”. I tried raw cow heart but I don’t think I would eat it again.  Afterward we went to this really cute bar and had drinks and dessert.

Below left is me and my coworker Anna, who I bonded with during the trip. Below right is my coworker Thomas, from Hong Kong. This guys is totally tough but below he is demonstrating how he is a “puppy” for his wife.

Back at our hotel a company selling razors (I think) had set up this huge TV which had a digital camera set up in front of it. It recorded you standing in front of the TV, then displayed you on the TV with the addition of a beard or mustache. It then put shaving cream on your face and then shaved it off. It didn’t make me buy a razor but it was totally awesome!

June 4, 2010

Japan April 8th-11th

Filed under: Asia, Travel — maryparadox @ 2:44 pm

I went to Japan again for work, and this time my mom came with me (last time my sister came). We were lucky and this time it was cherry blossom season and we came at almost the peak week.

This is the street our hotel was on (before we switched to the work-provided hotel), it was definitely the most beautiful street in the neighborhood so we felt really lucky.

We got to spend a lot of time walking around town and looking at all the parks and waterways. Luckily we happened onto the big (we think) cherry blossom park:

Everyone was outside enjoying the trees and the beautiful weather. The park was full of people walking and having picnics (though everyone stayed within the designated areas!)

Renting a boat and viewing the trees from the water was really popular:

December 16, 2009

Phuket, Thailand

Filed under: Asia — maryparadox @ 5:37 pm

I went to Thailand for a couple of days with my dad in between my trips to Hong Kong and Taiwan for work. He was helping out at an orphanage there and it seemed like a good time to visit a country I had always heard good things about.

I was totally expecting some cliche orphanage from the movies where all the kids are miserable and there are yuppy white people shopping for the perfect child. Instead the kids all looked really happy — like you got to hang out will all your friends all the time. They also were surprisingly *not* up for adoption. The plan is to put them through school then set them off into the world — no parents required. It was a neat thing to see and the kids had a lot of resources available to them; in fact the parents of non-orphans complained that their kids were at a disadvantage so the orphanage opened up its job training classes to the whole community. I didn’t spend too much time interacting with the kids since I unfortunately ended up working the whole time, but they were all really sweet, and I am now convinced that being an orphan instantly makes you cuter:
2009-11-29-47 (1)The countryside was amazing and it seemed that just about anything would grow anywhere. We went down to the beach and plants were just growing out of the sand. Apparently coconuts need the salt water to take root.

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While driving from Phuket, where the airport is, to the town with the orphanage, we passed by a number of these shrines as well as stores where the shrines were sold.

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Most importantly, we ate. My dad and I both love food so we took every opportunity to try new places and eat anything and everything that looked delicious. We tried eggs over rice with a sweet sauce (left) and tons of grilled (fried?) fish. Usually you just walked in and asked for food and they brought you something, with some occasional pointing at things like eggs or rice to see if you wanted them on the side. It was always a surprise but never bad, and occasionally fabulous. Thailand is definitely my favorite Asian food destination at this point.

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Fried flat bread with (spicy) red curry and usually eggs.


A weird coconut banana paste which tasted *exactly* like banana bread. Yum!

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December 15, 2009

Hong Kong

Filed under: Asia, Work — maryparadox @ 3:25 pm

I went to Hong Kong for the first time for work last month. The work wasn’t very exciting but the hotel was pretty weird. It was the W and it was super hip to the point of being obnoxious. There were some cool parts though:

The pool on the 87th floor (roof) of the W hotel and the view of the building next to it from the roof. Apparently the building next door is the 4th tallest in the world:

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The view of the harbor from my window:

And the view of the harbor a couple days later from the breakfast buffet:

To give you an idea of the weirdness of the hotel here is the weird Alice in Wonderland whitewashed hallway:

Me at work in Hong Kong. This is a pretty accurate distribution of skin tone and gender at our company:


October 22, 2009

Kimono Shopping, Tokyo, Japan

Filed under: Asia — maryparadox @ 7:47 pm
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Jackie and I spent a day walking around in the Asakusa neighborhood shopping and relaxing. It was raining cats and dogs. We tried all sorts of novelty foods and looked at every shop for kimonos. My sister really wanted one but we had no idea how much they were supposed to cost and the different quality levels. After several hours we got a pretty good feel for it — there seemed to be cheap packages at the tourist shops which contained a cotton or synthetic kimono, an oobe (belt) and sometimes shoes. There were used silk kimonos for around the same price or up, but they didn’t contain the belt, which is required to really wear the kimono, and the selection wasn’t as good. Then, after we had just about given up, we found a store which sold new silk kimonos for the same price, and cheap belts too! Jackie was so overwhelmed at this point she wasn’t sure she even wanted to buy one anymore, but the women in the shop were *very* good at sales and convinced her that she should try it on.

This ended up meaning they would dress her up properly in the kimono, which was a rather long process.

First there is some sort of undergarment which keeps the collar of the kimono in place.


Next they put the kimono over it and tie a small belt around your waist to pull the extra length of the kimono up.


Then they tie another two layers of belt around your waist to really cinch things in. Jackie said it was really tight.


The oobe goes over that. Unfortunately Jackie couldn’t see what they were doing, but it was some sort of crazy complicated knotting method we will never be able to reproduce.

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When they were Jackie looked pretty happy! I hate to say shopping is satisfying, but we were pretty happy by the time we left that shop. I even almost bought a kimono, but I managed to stop them from putting it on me, which would have been the kiss of death. I almost regret it, there was a beautiful orange and cream one that was totally “me”. Jackie is going to hang hers on the walking stick from Mount Fuji (more on that later) in her bedroom, which I can’t wait to see.


Interestingly, the oobe isn’t supposed to match the kimono. We had a hard time with that, so ended up picking one that matched on one side and was a contrasting color on the other. I think the combination looks great.


And for when Jackie does want to attempt to tie that crazy oobe again — there is an whole instruction book to go along with the kimono!

Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan

Filed under: Asia — maryparadox @ 7:15 pm

My sister and I went to Tokyo, Japan from August 8th-15th. Jackie was lucky enough to go to Kyoto the week before that but I had to go to Sapporo for work.

I’ll try to post our Japan photos over the next couple of days — posting them all at once has been a little intimidating. So here are our photos from visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market. We got up at 5am to try to catch the auction but somehow missed it still — either it was not on that day or we were too late. It was also POURING that day so we spent most of the time walking through foot high fish-water.


The fish were HUGE! The process seems to be to freeze the fish, cut it with a table saw (look how dangerous that looks!), thaw, clean up with a crazy huge knife, then haggle!

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New Glorious Mini-Camera

Filed under: Hsinchu, Photography — maryparadox @ 5:31 pm




Thanks to Peter of course!

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