Sunday, December 10, 2017

Trotting at the Oceanside Turkey Trot


I ran the 5k Oceanside Turkey Trot race and here is a picture that was taken of me at the finish line. Hooray! I ran the 5k in about 39 minutes. I really enjoyed it because the weather was perfect and it was nice running in Oceanside streets and then finishing at coast all the way to the pier. It was great. I should do this every year if I can. There were about nine thousand people running in total, about three thousand of them ran the 10k race and the rest ran the 5k race. Compared to the Double Peak race I would say this one is the better one. The crowd was much larger and the venue much better. There were people from different states as well as from other countries as well. That is how famous this race is. I saw people from Canada as well. I guess people come here because of the nice weather at this time of the year whereas they have snow at home.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Peaking Up at Double Peak


I participate in the Double Peak Challenge 2017 which took place Saturday 9/30/2017. I ran the 5k race, which was an untimed race around Double Peak. Finishing the race in itself is a challenge because of all the hilly trails along the 5k path. In the end I got a Double Peak #reachthepeak medal and a red bag full of snacks. During the race I took a wrong turn and made an extra 1 km, so in reality I ran a 6k race! It was fun and I would do it again if I can. There are other similar races in San Diego area. There is one coming up in Escondido called Grape Day race, and then the day of Thanksgiving there is one called O'side Turkey Trot race in Oceanside. I would like to participate in that last one because its 5k race is grouped into different waves, each wave with certain speed range, so one can choose the wave that is suitable according to one's ability to run. There are two waves in the end for walkers/strollers. I think I will join the one above those, i.e. about 16 minutes per mile.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Los Angeles Double Decker Tour


We took a double decker bus to tour Los Angeles. The bus is a hop on hop off service and has four routes. We bought tickets for one day only and therefore the best we could do was to explore only two routes: the red route which tours Hollywood and Beverly Hills, and the purple route which tours downtown LA. Each of the tours is more than two hours, so we did not have time to get off at any point but remained on the top deck watching the scenery and listening to the narration with earphones. We started at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood by the Walk of Fame area. The red route went through Sunset Blvd to the exclusive area of Beverly Hills where the rich and famous live. Along the way we saw Chateau Marmont, the Beverly Hills shield, and the exclusive streets where Palm trees stand tall on either side. We saw the Spanish Renaissance City Hall building of Beverly Hills where the police of the city reside, and where the movie "Beverly Hills Cop" was made. At Beverly Center is the premier fashion shopping mall of Los Angeles where you find hundred plus stores like Vuitton, Gucci and Burberry making Beverly Center a unique shopping destination. Then we took the purple route which took us through Wilshire Blvd to LA Museum of Arts (LACMA) and the Tar Pits Park, where you can see oil in the form of tar still bubbling to the surface as a reminder of the oil fields under the city. We passed by Canter's Deli which is open 24 hours a day and is considered an LA classic. Along the way we saw pioneer studios like CBS and Paramount pictures still standing in their original places. We passed by MacArthur park and lake in Westlake area, then on to the Broad, LA city Hall and the new famous LAPD building often called the glass house. Next we passed by Koreatown, where all the signs are in Korean and English. They say there is a famous stationery store in Koreatown called Daiso of Japan, which I am planning on visiting one of these days. Then we passed by El Pueblo historic Monument, which reminds you that the city of Los Angeles was established by the Spanish in the eighteenth century. The famous Union Station is next to El Pueblo, and next is Chinatown which is maintained by the Chinese government itself as a tourist attraction. Nearby Chinatown is Little Tokyo whish has interesting free museum to see. We saw the tallest skyscraper in downtown LA which is the US Bank tower, and then we passed by the Staples Center situated at Figueroa St., which is a multi-purpose sports arena and whose picture you can see on the right. That concluded our one day trip. The bus then took the highway back to Hollywood and dropped us at the Dolby Theater where we started. This tour was just a means to know about the places of interest in LA so that one can visit them again later at his leisure. LA is a very vast city and it is impossible to visit everything in one day or even one week. It requires many weekends to cover all the other places. For example there is the yellow route that takes you to Santa Monica area and Venice beach, but that requires a separate day, so we will visit that area on our own at some later date.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Lights of the Valkyries


We visited the Griffith Observatory of the city of Los Angeles on mount Hollywood near the Hollywood sign. You can climb up the Hollywood sign, which takes about 1 hour, but you can see it clearly from the observatory as shown in this picture. What we liked most was the live show in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. The show was called "Light of the Valkyries" which took us on a voyage of Viking cosmology and explored the true nature of the aurora borealis - the northern lights. We explored the source of the northern lights (the Sun) in a cosmic light show set to one of the most iconic pieces of music of all time, Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. We learnt how in the northern arctic (and the southern arctic) there are days when the sun never sets, but moves across the sky near the horizon in a full circle that starts from the north and ends also at the north. There are other days when the sun never rises leaving the arctic north in creepy darkness for months.
There were telescopes outside set up for free viewing. We looked at the moon magnified 130 times and we looked at the city of Los Angeles. The telescope's power enabled us to see street signs from above mount Hollywood many miles down the city. There are hiking trails also that one can take you down to the park along the way to the city of Los Angeles, but this is best done in the weekend because the park closes by sunset. One of the items displayed inside the observatory building is Tesla's coil that Nicola Tesla built in 1891. It is an electrical resonant transformer circuit used to produce high-voltage, low-current, high frequency sparks, and was used in the Frankenstein movie. There is other exciting information inside so go visit the observatory if you can, you will enjoy the information inside, and the fantastic views of the city of Los Angeles and the Hollywood mount, but above all visiting the Planetarium is a must. Admission to the observatory is free and there is free parking outside, however the planetarium ticket costs a mere $7 per adult.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Fitness Tracker Advantage


I tried one of the fitness trackers out there and this one is the fitbit charger 2. It is not really that great and certainly one can do without it, but it has some advantages that made me keep it. First of all I am not going to wear it all the time as they recommend. I tried wearing it all the time for a couple of days just to get some statistics, and as you see in this picture it tells you what your activities were like how many steps you walked and how many stair flights you climbed, and your average heart beat rate and things like that. When I went biking I set it up to track my activity but the GPS signal was not strong enough so the results were not accurate at all as it missed a big chunk of my exercise. A good feature of it though is that it pairs with your cell phone and it vibrates when you get a call or a text message. You can find out who called you and can even read the text messages you receive. This is useful because when I am biking I can't reach my phone and the same is true when I am on the elliptical machine. Also it is useful to continuously monitor your heart beat rate during the exercise. It is good to know if you reached your maximum heart pulse rate and for how long etc. Therefore I decided to use it only during my exercise, like during weight lifting or aerobic exercise sessions, and of course during outdoor activities such as cycling or hiking.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Cycling Oceanside


This picture is taken at Carlsbad beach during a cycling event with Performance Bikes group. We started from the bike shop at Oceanside, rode down Plaza drive to Hecienda, then south on Melrose, to Palomar, to Paseo Del Norte, to Cannon Rd. to Carlsbad Blvd. On the way back we took Cannon Rd. all the way to College Blvd. to Plaza Dr. to the bike shop again. The ride was about 22 miles and took about 2 hours and 15 minutes including a brief stop, which means we were making about 10 miles per hour. My Trek mountain bike served me quite well over the past several years especially on dirt rough roads up and down hills, but here in California one needs a road bike to take on those smoothly paved hilly roads that require a lighter and more maneuver capable bike, so I bought this Fuji Roubaix 1.0 road bike. This bike comes with a light aluminum frame (except the front fork which is all carbon), Ultegra 11-speed drivetrain, 105 front derailleur, and Oval compact crankset and Shimano 11/28 cassette. The wheels are Oval 327 with Vittoria Zaffiro slick Slick tires. At first I installed Shimano pedals with triangular cleats PD-R550 that go with Shimano RP-05 shoes, but after falling four or five times while using them I decided to return them and replace them with regular platform pedals. I rode this new bike along 18 miles which took me about two hours and the experience was fantastic. The Ultegra drivetrain shifts flawlessly and the brakes work great giving an overall exhilarating experience. I also liked the Oceanside bike shop "Performance Bikes" who accepted my returns with no questions asked, and they re-aligned my gears after my numerous falls off the bike free of charge.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fig Tree Growth


Growing a fig tree is so easy. If you know somebody who has a fig tree, ask them to give you a branch of it during April as the tree starts to bloom. Take that branch and soak it in water for a couple of weeks until you see roots start to come out, then bury it in the ground. That is all to it. In picture number 1 on the right you see the branch after a week or so from planting it in the ground. You see that it started to have leaves. The picture number 2 shows the same branch after a couple more weeks as new leaves started to emerge.
Picture number 3 shows the same branch after six weeks or so when even more leaves came out and it started to grow in thickness as well. The last picture number 4 shows that branch after about six months. We were away for a couple of weeks and when we came back we were surprised to see the tree started to bear figs as you shown in the picture. That was quite a pleasant surprise as we did not expect to see any fruits this year. I am not sure if the fruits will be good enough quality to eat the first year but that remains to be seen. It seems that next year we should have tasty figs coming out of this tree which started as nothing but a leafless branch. I need to point out that no special preparation was made to the soil at all. We just planted that branch and later I used some compost that I prepare in the garden using old leaves and kitchen vegetable refuse. I also installed a sprinkler to the root of the tree so that I don't have to manually water it daily. Other than that the tree is low maintenance and quite easy to grow. Try it out and you will be pleased at the results as I did.