Saturday, December 05, 2009

Video Blogging

I'm not planning on starting my own YouTube channel just yet, but while watching the rapids cascading past Hollywood cemetery today I got the urge to add commentary to a few videos of the river. You really can't encapsulate the frightening force of the churning brown deluge in still photography. I'm not quite as eloquent in speech as I try to be in writing, but I hope you enjoy these!

Uploading video to Blogger isn't too bad. Today my upstream speed tested at about 3.5mbps, and it only took about 20 seconds to upload the video clips, then blogger 'processes' the video for about two minutes. Not a prohibitively painful experience, so maybe I'll try a few more video posts. I'd love to hear your opinions. Please comment!

An Urban Hike

Today I was hoping to take a trip to Shenandoah National Park for a day hike, and to try out my new boots. Unfortunately the weather forecast reported a 100% chance of rain, possibly turning to snow. Not the type of weather for spending time in the mountains. Instead, I revised my plans and went hiking on the Northside and Buttermilk trails in Richmond. I've cycled these a lot, but when its wet biking on the trails is too dangerous and damages the trail too much. I wasn't sure how far I would be able to get on foot, but reckoned that hiking couldn't be that much slower than mountain biking on technical terrain. I set off from the Texas beach parking lot and headed towards Tredegar St. Since the river was reasonably high I wanted to check out Hollywood Rapids up close, so continued over the footbridge to Belle Isle. Once I had gone that far, it seemed silly to retrace my steps, so I returned on the buttermilk trail to Boulevard Bridge and cut behind Maymont to get back to the truck.

It was raining when I left the house, so I donned full waterproofs. However the trails are mostly through wooded areas and the trees break up the rainfall enough that it is not depressingly drenching. My new boots fit me well, which gave me a sense of confidence of the slippery rocks covered in wet leaves and the wooden bridges that are lethally slick in the rain. By the time I was on the return leg my feet still felt warm and relatively dry. It really wasn't a bad day to be out for a walk, but I was apparently the only one who thought so. I had been on the trail for almost three hours and hadn't seen a single soul (except for a group of foolhardy Kayakers). While crossing Boulevard Bridge I did encounter a couple of joggers, but nobody else was out on the trails. Ironically, conditions on the bridge were the worst I encountered, as the rain was blowing down the river about 10 degrees from the horizontal and the wind was bitingly cold.

As I write this, the meteorologists have been proved correct. The rain has turned to snow. I doubt it'll settle, but I'm still happy I'm not out in it!

Thursday, December 03, 2009


I've written my fair share of apologetic posts seeking forgiveness from my neglected readers, so it is a pleasure to congratulate myself on a recent run of regular blogging. With 12 posts, November was my most prolific month to date, helping 2009 already exceed previous years with a good month to go, averaging about six posts a month. In comparison with the blogosphere's most successful voices (who frequently make a dozen posts in a single day) I obviously have a lot of space for growth. Those bloggers were clearly born loving the sound of their own mindless babbling, whereas I am rather quieter by nature and have a hard time believing that people really want to read about what I'm thinking and doing. I want to extend a huge 'thank you' to everybody who has offered encouragement along the way. I wouldn't have stuck at it if it hadn't been for you, and I'm glad somebody is finding this interesting!

In three-and-a-half years of authorship I have certainly been on a considerable journey. When I made my entrance into the online world my stated aim was to keep a record of my progress in the USA. I could never have imagined in what direction that progress would be. Two-Thousand-and-Nine was the most exciting year yet, what with the wedding and all! Stick around to find out what happens in Twenty-Ten (think of it like the next installment of a teenage vampire series).

Happy Birthday to Me!

This week I turned 26. My wonderful wife did many thoughtful things for me, making it a very happy birthday indeed. She made the fantastic banner you see me pictured with above, which is much better than the tacky single use affairs you buy at the dollar store made from silvery grocery bag material. She baked a Guinness cake using the recipe posted on my sister's blog. It sunk slightly in the middle but was deliciously moist. We don't like terribly rich desserts, so this cake was perfect as it is neither too sweet nor too chocolaty. The best thing is there's still three cans of Guinness left!
Thanks to all who sent me birthday wishes, especially my mates back in England - I miss you all! Hopefully see you again before 27 rolls around...