Well, this is the longest hiatus I’ve ever had on this blog so far, but I won’t say it’s without reason. Still, there are many times I wish I’d had the space to catalogue some thoughts. The best I can do now is give a list of the sort of things I’ve been up to over the past months (with pictures!). Hopefully you’ll find some of it interesting.
In roughly chronological order:
- I went to Colorado for the Oltrogge family reunion (that’s my mom’s side). We spent most of our time out in the mountains near Winter Park. It was great to reconnect with family I hadn’t seen in a long time, and see places of importance from the past (my great-grand-relations were more or less ranchers in the mountains of Colorado, which I suppose I knew but never really considered). One day we took a drive through Rocky Mountain National Park, and it was breathtaking:
- The day I returned from Denver, I hopped in Trent’s car, and we drove down to Santa Barbara in order to prepare for his upcoming bachelor party in Mexico. The following day, we caravanned south, through dreaded LA, San Diego, and across the border. Our destination was 30 miles south at a hotel called “La Fonda”, where we had an intensely awesome weekend with close on 40 guys. Highlights included “La Fonda Trifecta” (a very serious volleyball, horseshoes, and bocce ball tournament, in which my team got 2nd place), eating every meal in the hotel restaurant which was set on a cliff overlooking the ocean, unlimited margaritas and beer, shooting very dangerous rockets into hotel rooms from the beach (accidentally?), and 18 holes of beautiful ocean-side golf (at which I sucked very badly).
La Fonda from the beach
Our base of operations
One of many beautiful sunsets
- Upon return from Mexico, I noticed that my Powerbook was not charging correctly–one of my batteries was dead and the computer would not run with it in, or charge it. With another battery in place, the computer would run, but the battery would not charge. After a phone call to Apple support, during which they had me press many combinations of buttons, the computer would no longer start at all, regardless of battery or adapter state. This was worrisome, because everything that I create or produce, whether for work or otherwise, is done on that computer. So Apple said they would fix it, and sent me a box in which to mail the computer to them. Of course, I foolishly hadn’t made a backup of my hard drive before talking to Apple on the phone, and they make no guarantees that your hard drive will not be wiped, so I was in a pickle. While figuring that out, I began using my PC laptop for e-mail and such things. Less than 24 hours after my Powerbook died, my PC hard drive inexplicably started making loud clicking noises, and died. The BIOS couldn’t even recognize it in order to format it. Thus a week went by computer-less while I tried to figure out how to get the data off my Powerbook drive before sending it to Apple. In the end, I bought a small hard drive enclosure, took apart my Powerbook and got the drive out, put it in the enclosure, and was able to use a friend’s computer to transfer data from the enclosed laptop drive to my backup drive. (After I bought one enclosure which was faulty, of course, causing me to fear my data had been lost forever).
As it turns out, it’s kind of a delicate and time-consuming process to open up a Powerbook
- In the middle of the computer fiasco, a couple cool things happened. First, I got a CD in the mail from my brother, which happened to be significant because it was the final mix of our most recent album, Hope (A Sliver, Like The Moon). Finally, months of hard work was over, and we had 6 kick-ass songs done! I look forward to pointing to some songs from here as soon as some non-recording type work is finished. Also, we’ve persuaded the design skillz master Chris Nyffeler himself to once again work on cover art for us. Stay tuned for more information.
- I also went with Dan to Tuolumne (in Yosemite) to tackle a climb we’d been thinking about doing for a while. It was called Regular Route, on Fairview Dome. It was 12 pitches to the top, most of which were technically easy, but some of which were quite challenging for me (it didn’t help that some residual snowmelt in the cracks meant for some slippery climbing at points), partly in virtue of the endurance, partly in virtue of the techniques required (much of it was crack climbing / laybacking, which I have not done much of).
Looking up at the second pitch, you can see Dan as the tiny orange blur near the middle
All in all, it was the best outdoor climb I’ve done, with some very memorable parts, including a 5.9 roof move, which, when performed 500 feet above the deck, was exhilirating. The last couple pitches were simul-climbed, which I’ve also never done before, and so required a great deal of concentration and focus. We took almost 7 hours to do the climb, but it was a beautiful day (I alternated between being cold and hot, so I suppose the temperature was ideal) and was exceedingly memorable.
Recovering on the top, before the walk down the backside of the dome
One of many incredible views from the top
- After returning from Yosemite, I conscripted my parents and sister, who were all at our place in SF, to come down to Palo Alto and help me put together my new room. I had been living with 4 other guys, but one was getting married and had moved out, so I no longer had to share a room with Justin. Glorious freedom was mine! I was excited about the prospects of designing my own space, and with the help of my parents and the local Ikea, I dare say we’ve created a very functional masterpiece in the small space.
The all-important reading area: bookshelf, chair, light, and a place to put a cold beverage
The under-the-lofted-bed desk, with record player + LPs, my “mega-amp”, importantly-displayed tobacco paraphernalia, bike storage, keyboard, and place to work on a computer or write
The piece-de-resistance: track lighting from Ikea that I installed! I love track lighting with a passion
- The day we put my room together, I went back up to SF to prepare to travel once more–this time back to Denver for Trent and Natalie’s wedding. I had the honor of being in the (very large) wedding party, and so the weekend was full of meaningful and fun events, as can only be mixed appropriately when two families come together who dearly love both God and light-hearted enjoyment. The wedding ceremony itself was somewhat haphazard, involving a reluctant flower girl, a forgetful minister, a fainting bridesmaid, and an ill-timed best man’s joke, but such variegations were soon forgotten, and the reception was what one might call “epic”. Between the unlimited Fat Tire on draft and the many hours of dancing in the company of friends old and new, the night was both tiring and satisfying–not to mention the pleasure felt to see to great friends begin a new life together. The day after was occupied with the World Cup final, which many of us watched at a crowded ESPN bar in downtown Denver. France, unfortunately, did not win (Zidane??), which gave me the honor of claiming a very improbable personal statistic: in 100% of World Cup games for which I actually desired that the winner be a specific country, the other country emerged victorious. I should have bet some money against myself! Of course, it felt weird to not have more World Cup games to look forward to, seeing as it had occupied so much of my time.
- Since the wedding I have spent my days somewhat less hectically: enjoying the summer, working, and going frequently to the climbing gym. Most of my free time has been taken up with learning Ruby and Ruby on Rails, to further the breadth of my coding knowledge and experience.
- Books: Importantly, I finally finished Alister McGrath’s Scientific Theology trilogy, consisting of Nature, Reality, and Theory. This is one of the more significant works from the perspective of Christian theology which I have ever read. I hope to be able to do an extended review at some point, but for now let’s just say I was extremely glad to deal for an extended length of time with issues at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and science. More than anyone I have read, Alister remains faithful to the central insights of all three disciplines. Remember, we have his Faith & Science course available here at Teleios. I also picked up and read Graham Tomlin’s The Provocative Church, which I’ve been meaning to go through for years. I was present at the Teleios course he taught on the same subject, but had never read the book. I was immensely glad I did, and anyone interested in evangelism, postmodernity, the heart of “church”, or church formation should read it. On a lighter note, I’ve started the last book of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Sequence–a children’s fantasy series which I hadn’t read since 3rd grade, but had remembered to be excellent. Apparently my taste was good back then too, and I’ve enjoyed being immersed for short periods of time in a world which existed only in my vague childhood memory. Finally (in books), Nyffy and I are almost done reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince out loud (a project we started last summer when the book came out). There was a long hiatus, but we’re back at it, and trying to remember who all the characters are. We’re near the end, and some very shocking things have happened, which we’re not sure about.
- Music: the summer has been good for new music, and I took that opportunity to make a 2-disc compilation for my friends showcasing such new music (and various other tracks particularly appropriate for summer listening, even if from years past). I’m very proud of the compilation, which I called “Summer of Rock”. Anyway, here’s a short list of some bands that have new albums I’ve enjoyed this summer: Band of Horses, Built to Spill, Dashboard Confessional, David Bazan, the Flaming Lips, Josh Ritter, Mat Kearney, Snow Patrol, Splendour Hyaline (!), Stars, The Stills, and Thrice. Check them out!
And there you have it. Summer 2006, so far. Hopefully various non-event-list-type entries coming soon. Thanks for reading!