Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shatner Rules

I listened to the audiobook of Shatner Rules, by William Shatner. I bought it without any idea if I'd like it. I've never read anything by him before. I was pleasantly surprised and I enjoyed it a lot. Shatner reads the audiobook and that helps.

While only partly biographical, and a bit self-promotional (in a humorous way), it's mostly full of funny stories and other humorous remarks. I learned a few useless things, like the phrase "Beam me up Scotty." was never used in the original Star Trek series. And if you yell that toward him in public, he's likely to flip you off.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Palen Pass Trail

Last Friday I drove the Palen Pass Trail in the Mojave Desert. It appears in Massey's book of southern California trails. It was fun to get out and about. The weather was nice with temps in the mid 70s and a little breeze. I basically took the long way to Blythe.

First, I stopped off at the aqueduct to snap some photos.

Then I walked around a bit at the old site of the Coxcomb Camp, part of the Desert Training Center. This is one of the camps where George Patton trained his troops for the Africa campaign in WWII. Here's a google map centered on the site. I didn't find any unexploded ordinance, but did find the remnants of walkways that ran between the tents. This site has photos of the camp during that time period.

The road headed east up the bajada toward Palen Pass was sandy in places (up to 4 inches deep) but that's no problem. The challenge is the many washouts and dips that require slowing a lot and having high clearance.

I saw this rock arrow beside the trail. It points east, which matches the "E" in rocks at the tip of the arrow. I have no idea what this is about.

More on Palen Pass in an upcoming post.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I listened to the audiobook version of Michael Lewis' latest book, Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World. I enjoyed it a lot. In fact, it was so interesting, I've already listened to it twice.

Told in the first-person, it's an account of his travels to Europe visiting several countries that have experienced trauma from the financial crisis that began in 2008 here in the US. Lewis has sufficient name cache that he scored interviews with important government officials in several countries.

I learned a lot from the book. I learned about some of the different ways the various countries got themselves into trouble. I learned about who the citizens of those countries are blaming for their lot. And I learned a few German swear words. There's a few of them in there. It's not rigorous or complete or comprehensive. In Lewis' style, he drills down into a few interesting alleys in each country. I liked that.

If you enjoyed Lewis' book, "The Big Short," then you'll enjoy this book.

For a more detailed review, here's the Washington Post writeup on it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Peaceful Desert

I went for a drive this weekend in the Mojave National Preserve. There were still small puddles of water from the rainfall the previous day. Snow dusted the tops of Clark Mountain and the Providence Mountains. The temps were a bit chilly (around 40F) but it was very pleasant.

I wanted to get away from the city and start listening to the Steve Jobs biography audiobook. That book is 24.5 hours long, so my drive only made a small dent into it. The next shot includes the top of Kelso Peak in the distant background. I hiked that years ago. It's a nice hike. Much easier than Cowhole Mountain or Old Dad Mountain.

I drove over to see if one of the trails in my map was open. It was not. It looked as if the government had blocked access a long time ago.

I stopped off at Kelso Dunes. It was too crowded for my taste. The parking lot was full. I took a few photos of the dunes and the people up on the ridge and summit.

Then I explored some trails east of the Granite Mountains. That was fun. I got out to scramble over some huge granite boulders and get some fresh air.