FINALLY got out on a short hike for the FIRST time this year. How could I have let this happen? I’ve normally got several backpacking trips under my belt by this time of the year. Life just gets in the way sometimes.
Kris (sister), Karla’s mom (Wanda?), Karla, and Jen (a princess on her first hike!)
Anyway, did a 5-mile loop hike on the Appalachian Trail with some friends…5 miles that were a good representation of the AT in PA. Read – lots of rock and boulder hopping. We all took turns leading the pack and eating the spider webs spun across the trail through boulder fields, tropical rain forests, meadows, dense underbrush, and every other type of forest that PA offers. Ok, there were no tropical rain forests but there was a huge variety in vegetation.
Black snake across trail
Animals were sparce…except for a huge black snake sprawled out across the trail. First we thought it was a stick. After Charlie (my dog) walked across it a few times we realized it was a snake but thought it was dead. I reached for my cell phone to take a picture and saw its tongue move out of the corner of my eye. We threw some sticks near it and as it reluctantly started slithering off the trail, I think I heard it mumble something about “freaking hikers” under its breath. We continued on, coming up with some good headlines about a Palestinian woman (Jen!) out on her first hike being eaten by a black snake.
We continued on to the AT shelter about 2/3′s of the way in where we disturbed a couple sleeping in. Bummer. We sat on the edge of the shelter and the picnic table and ate a snack, and I took Charlie down to the spring for water. I’m always forgetting poor Charlie’s water bowl! But Karla’s mom gave me a great tip. She suggested keeping a piece of Saran wrap in my pack and then just digging a little hole in the ground, lay the Saran wrap over the hole and fill with water…voila, instant dog bowl. Cool!
Also got another great tip from her. I’ve got all kinds of packaging materials from having to ship horns. She said she uses the bubble wrap as a seat cushion. It’s light-weight, cheap, and replaceable. I’ll have to try it out.
So…we all had a really good time on our little outing…even my sister, Kris, who I often try to drag along on my ventures. Occassionally (very occassionally), she’ll give in and join me for something. I think she usually regrets it with several days of sore muscles and vows to never do it again. Eventually she always comes around again. This time, I think she actually enjoyed herself. By the end of the hike she and Jen were well ahead of the rest of us and chatting like magpies.
Then I went home and took an hour-long nap!!!
I spent the weekend at Temple University in Philly attending a 2-day conference called Podcamp/Searchcamp Philly. Topics included using social media, search uses, blogging, usability, creating podcasts, social bookmarking, and a bunch of other stuff. I learned quite a bit and got a few ideas for incorporating and tracking results from social media. Also made a few contacts, my favorite one being Kim Krause Berg of cre8pc.com and cre8asiteforums.com. She had some good information in her sessions and I plan on picking her brain some more.
I think what impressed me most about the conference was the atmosphere. Not only was it a geek town (I was in heaven!) but the entire conference was built on Creative Commons licensing – share and share alike. The presenters offered a lot but many of the participants added their 2 cents (where’s that cents key again?) too. The cost was negligible ($20) so it was really only the cost of the travel and lodging but would have been well worth a $400 admission price. There were about 230 participants.
Also had a good time hanging out with Jen M. We spent most of Saturday soaked. In the morning we were soaked from sweating to death on the 2 mile walk from the hotel to Temple in the warm, humid air. Jen had a high tolerance for my whining! By the time we dried off, we got soaked again on the way back to the hotel from hurricane Hannah dumping down on Philly. Thank goodness H.A.R.D. gave me the tip about putting newspaper in your sneakers to draw the moisture out or I’d have had soaked shoes all day Sunday too.
And probably the biggest thing to come out of this weekend is that I’ve finally decided to close my band instrument repair shop…sort of. It’s this geek stuff that I want to do. My heart is not in repair anymore and hasn’t been for a long time. In fact, back in March, I turned my web dev stuff into a full time gig at PCAR/NSVRC and the repair stuff into a part time business. I still enjoy doing the challenging repairs and messing with machining but that’s few and far between. I want to get back to doing the Probirt website that I’ve been neglecting for the past year and a half because of being too busy with repairs. So, while I’ll be closing the shop (hopefully within 2 weeks – when I get the customer instruments finished), it’ll still stay where it is at the Washington band hall because it’s needed for Probirt.
Anyone want to buy a website that ranks high for the key phrases of “band instrument repair,” “clarinet repair,” and “saxophone repair”? You can have the site, rankings, and content! You gotta get your own webcams though!