Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Just read: The Adversary, by Reece Hirsch

P.S.A. -- Today is the long-awaited release date for Go Set a Watchman, a newly discovered earlier novel from Pulitzer prize winning author Harper Lee!

I was excited to buy this "new" book on opening day this morning, but our book budget is a little short this week.  Instead, I'll be binge re-reading Lee's unforgettable American classic "To Kill a Mockingbird" (purchased Sunday at Powell's City of Books with one of my favorite people) in honor of this historic literary event.

Disclosure:  The book reviewed below was a free selection from Amazon Kindle for Samsung's monthly book deals.  That's why I read it.  And this review will soon also be featured on my Goodreads page.

The Adversary (A Chris Bruen novel, Book 1) is a knowledgeably written tech thriller about a lawyer/ former D.O.J. cybercrimes prosecutor trying to thwart a massive cyberterrorist attack that could cost thousands or even millions of lives.

The good:  The trace bit of tech geek inside me enjoyed author Reece Hirsch's attention to credibility as the master plan of sinister cyberhacker Enigma is slowly uncovered by protagonist Chris Bruen. Cliches and gaps in logic are to be expected in novels such as these, but at least the technological aspects of the story seemed reasonably plausible.  And there was enough non-digital world action to balance it all out.

The okay:  The Adversary's engrossing plot makes up for protagonists Chris and Zoey occasionally feeling more like functional than sympathetic characters (though Chris eventually gets more fleshed out as his deeper backstory explains his quest for redemption). And author Hirsch has a tendency to repeat information in dialog at length that's already recently been revealed, as though spoon feeding it to readers who weren't paying attention the first time.

My take:  Ultimately, I enjoyed this story. A significant (and underused, in my opinion) twist at around the halfway point turns the plot on it's head, and the novel picks up plenty of steam as Enigma's villainous scheme sees its execution.  But reader be warned, a fondness for techno jargon may be required to enjoy this mystery-thriller.  I was all over it.

Throughout the final chapter, Kindle for Samsung kept reminding me that Book 2 in the Chris Bruen novel series has already been released.  Should I ever discover an opening in my reading list, I'd be game for checking that one out as well.

Coming this weekend on Garth's Blog, after our youth group camping/ rafting trip...

A photo posted by Garth Hamilton (@garth_hamilton) on

...The 2015 follow-up to last year's Cincinatti Flying Pig Marathon!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hiking Nesmith Point

Note:  Updates to the previous "Upcoming Climbs" (link) entry are at the end of this post, including a catch-up on some other recent hikes/events I've organized.

The Nesmith Point hike I led a few weeks ago for NW Wilderness was originally suggested by my friend Kaitlin as we hiked Katya's Rudolph Spur loop (itself a descendant of an earlier, hilariously disastrous scouting session with Katya) a couple weeks earlier.

Kaitlin's suggestion paid off!

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When I originally posted the invite for this Nesmith Point hike... which was reportedly pretty steep on its own... I mapped out some options to extend the adventure in the event that those who signed up would want a little more.  Those extra optional miles, waterfalls, and off-trail viewpoints I offered weren't even necessary.

Our group of nine carpooled to John B. Yeon state park in the Columbia River Gorge, and made our way to the junction of Nesmith Point Trail #428.  The adventure was on!

Mylenka, Kirsty, Saurubh, Jodi, Steve, Darren, me, and Li setting out from John B. Leon state park; Amarilis took this photo

Heading uphill, way uphill...

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...occasionally stopping to enjoy the views

Photo by Mylenka

A brief flat stretch, through the lush forest

Messing around at the summit

View from the top, high above the Columbia River Gorge

After Saurubh and I ran downhill for an alternate summit view, Kirsty and I found the "true summit" (Photo by Kirsty)

Kirsty and I break away from the group for the true summit, obscured in trees

Finding something higher to climb for the TRUE true summit?  Because we're ridiculous.  (Photo by Kirsty)

Lunch break (Photo by Mylenka)

Steve helps Mylenka perform one of his signature summit headstands

Deciding to not make it a longer loop, the group is MORE than content to head back down to the trail head

Here is my brief trip report, as posted on my NW Wilderness event page (that link also has members' post-hike comments and complete photo set):

Great job on Saturday, everyone! Thanks for coming out. You guys were a blast, and we knocked out that somewhat steep trail at a comfortable pace with plenty of time to spare. I'll try to upload my pictures soon (I currently have a bit of a photo backup). Using the GPS unit data I salvaged, I did the best I could to estimate our stats:
Total distance: 11.05 miles
Total time: 6 hours
Moving time: 5:05
Avg moving speed: 2.2 mph
Max speed: 6.73 mph
Elevation gain 3815 feet

And finally, as promised, here are a couple of updates to last month's "Upcoming Climbs" blog post:

1. Our grueling 33.8 mile Mount St Helens circumnavigation went ahead without me. My orthotic inserts badly needed re-repairing, as terrible as the timing was. Organizer Craig and I decided it would be too risky to discover my pain tolerance while trekking off-trail along a remote side of the mountain, with no feasible escape route.

2. We called off our recent post-season Mount Hood climb. Too dangerous, apparently.  But since my podiatrist was able to repair my orthotics in-house, I instead did a family hike with Lena and Levi... and then I organized an easy 10-person foot break-in hike up Old Baldy Mountain for NW Wilderness that weekend. The next day, nine of us hiked up to Copper Spur on Mount Hood.  And then I led 13 people on an exciting hike from Tooth Rock trailhead to Wauna Point on Fourth of July weekend.

Until I blog those trip reports here, check out those various links from NW Wilderness above for photos and post-hike comments from last Saturday.

Coming up on Garth's Blog...

Running again in this year's Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon!