Thursday, December 30, 2010

60,000 and 165,000!

I noticed that the counter for this blog just passed 60,000 visits in the three years/two months since I installed the counter, and so I checked my 15 year-old site, Bike Hike and Paddle, and it is approaching 165,000 hits!  Thanks to all my visitors!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Volo Bog with my StickPic

I've been solo hiking and backpacking for 20+ years which has garnered me countless awesome photos of magnificent locales, but I've always been there by inference since there's been no photographic evidence of my being there.  That's now changing thanks to Rod and David, the inventors of The StickPic, a tiny, light device that attaches your still or movie camera to your hiking pole, allowing you to take photos and movies of yourself as you hike.

 Here's a closeup of the StickPic on my camera.  They make a number of different models to fit the variety of hiking poles available.  As you see, it simply screws into the camera's tripod socket...

 ... and then the tip of your hiking pole is wedged into the white round opening of the StickPic.  In places where you are concerned about losing your camera, simply attach its strap to the hiking pole.

Just make certain you know how to put your camera into timer mode.  The  StickPic "learning curve" is very short.  In fact, my second attempt at a photo and all photos since have been spot on, and the videos are also pretty easy.  Of course the first and last few seconds of video filming will be of you reaching for the camera, so those few seconds should be cut from your video.

Check out this video I made as I hiked through the snow of Volo Bog today...

The gadget weights a mere 10.8 grams (about the same as 3 1/2 Saltine crackers) and takes about ten seconds to attach to your camera.  And it's not exactly a big ticket item, either -- only $11.99 and they ship it USPS immediately for an extra $1.61. Here's the contact info (and no, I'm not connected to them in any way except as a satisfied customer)
114 Arleta Ave
San Francisco, California
USA 94134

(415) 350 5282

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve Celebration

Continuing a 70+ year tradition in our family, the cousins gather and celebrate the birth of Jesus!  Hallelujah!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thank You! Thank You!

Here's an excerpt from an email I received from American Hiking Society:



You video is fantastic!  We really appreciate you putting it together for us and I think this is right in line with what we needed for the Travelocity site (and our website in general which we will definitely showcase it on).

Wow!  They liked it!  And grateful thanks to my friends and family who viewed the first draft of the promo video and offered valuable suggestions for improvements, many of which I incorporated into the revised version of the video which is now public.

FYI:  In 2010 AHS volunteers worked on 53 different trail projects (Volunteer Vacations) dedicating 16,840 hours of volunteer labor, resulting in $351,114 of estimated value in sweat equity given to the U. S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and various trail organizations.   Over 440 miles of trail were built, maintained, or re-vegetated with the hardworking hands of AHS volunteers.

If you're curious what a week in the woods is like on a trail project, check out the video:

Friday, December 17, 2010

American Hiking Society Reviews 2010

In 2010 American Hiking Society volunteers worked on 53 different trail projects (Volunteer Vacations) dedicating 16,840 hours of volunteer labor, resulting in $351,114 of estimated value in sweat equity given to the U. S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and various trail organizations.   Over 440 miles of trail were built, maintained, or re-vegetated with the hardworking hands of AHS volunteers.

I worked on two AHS projects in 2010, one in Utah building this bridge...

...and another in Arkansas, working on the Buffalo River Trail with this group...

If you are curious what a project is like, watch this 4 minute video...

...and if this looks like Volunteer Vacations are something that might interest you, go to and check out the projects available in 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Video I Made for The American Hiking Society

Over the last 14 years, I've volunteered on 25 week-long trail projects from Maine to Arizona and from Florida to Washington State, in some of America;s most magnificent locales. Twenty of the projects have been with the American Hiking Society, three with Sierra Club, one with Appalachian Mountain Club, and two for the local county forest preserve district.

AHS asked me recently to make a video of the projects I've worked and my thoughts about those projects, a video they wish to use for promotional purposes with their partner, Travelocity, and also on their own site.  Here's the 4 minute movie I made for them (double click to enlarge...)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Village Singers Party at Barb's

Last night we again celebrated another successful concert series with our traditional party at Barb's lovely home.  After a wonderful meal and stimulating conversation (something we aren't allowed during rehearsals)...

...all 25 adjourned to the family room to view the video of the concert and enjoy our efforts from an audience perspective...

Now we enjoy a few weeks off before beginning the process anew with 4 more months of rehearsals for our Spring concert series.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Messiah" Concert by The Village Singers of Lake Zurich

Our two performances of "Messiah" this weekend had record attendance, with a nearly full house on Saturday and a need to add extra seats on Sunday -- a grand total of approximately 500!

Here's a video of excerpts from all choruses and soloists (Double click to see full screen.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

In Memorium: Ron Santo

Ron Santo (age 70) died Thursday, December 2, 2010 in a Arizona hospital, due to complications from bladder cancer and diabetes.

Wrigley Field was a mere mile from my childhood home at Addison and Paulina Streets, and we kids often walked to the field after classes at Hamilton Elementary School.  Wrigley Field's double doors on Waveland Avenue were opened during the seventh inning to allow exit from the park, and we kids were allowed free entrance then, and since attendance was so low, we could often get front row seats in the left field bleachers. Over those childhood and teen years, my favorite players were Hank Sauer, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, and of course, Ron Santo.  At that time, only his roommate knew he was a Type 1 diabetic, information he kept secret because he feared repercussions if ownership knew.

Career highlights include:

-- debut on June 26, 1960;
-- led the National League in putouts every year from 1962 through 1967 and again in 1969;
-- nine-time National League All-Star;
-- led the league in walks four times, in on base percentage twice, and in triples once;
-- hit for a .300 average and hit 30 home runs four times each;
-- only the third baseman in major league history to post eight consecutive seasons with 90 RBIs (1963-1970)
-- winner of five consecutive Gold Glove Awards for fielding excellence (1964-1968);
-- set or tied National League records by leading the league's third basemen in total chances eight times, in games, putouts and assists seven times each, and in double plays six times;
-- from 1966 to 1974 he held the National League record for assists in a single seasons;
-- set National League records for career assists (4,532), total chances (6,777) and double plays (389) at third base;
-- his National League total of 2,102 games at third base fell 52 short of Eddie Mathews' league record;

-- his 164 games at third base in 1965 remain the major league record.
-- establishing a league record with 364 consecutive games at 3rd base
 -- career batting average -- .277
-- career home runs -- 342
-- career Runs Batted In -- 1,331
-- 1973 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award

And yet he was denied entrance to baseball's  Hall Of Fame! 
(Perhaps he'll make it as a broadcaster)

Santo joined the Cubs' broadcast booth in 1990 as the WGN radio color commentator and he worked with play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes, and these radio broadcasts are also known as the Pat and Ron Show. (Photo below) He has also worked with Harry Caray, Thom Brennaman, Steve Stone and Bob Brenly. Santo also briefly worked with Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers commentator Wayne Larrivee. He also did commercials for Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating, which he endorses, and for years plugged his Ron Santo restaurant and his Ron Santo Pizza.  In Chicago, Santo is known for his unabashed broadcast enthusiasm, including groans and cheers during the game. As excitable as Santo is when a great play for the Cubs occurs, he is equally as vocal in his displeasure.  Fans regularly heard "Oh, no!" when errors were made, and "Oh, boy!" when he was truly disappointed in their performance.  He was truly the voice of Cubs fans.

Santo became the first player in major league history to wear a batting helmet with protective ear flaps, when in 1966, in the midst of trying to break the Cubs' modern consecutive-game hitting streak record of 27 games (set by Hack Wilson in 1929), Santo was sidelined for nearly two weeks following a pitch thrown by the Mets' Jack Fisher (beaning) that fractured his cheekbone and ended his consecutive playing streak. When he returned (and broke the hitting record with a 28-game streak he was wearing an improvised ear flap on his batting helmet in order to protect the injury; ear flaps have since become standard equipment on batting helmets.

On September 28, 2003, Santo's jersey #10 was retired by the Cubs organization, making him the third player so honored behind his teammates Ernie Banks (#14) and Billy Williams (#26.)

As part of the publicity surrounding "Ron Santo Day" at Wrigley Field on August 28, 1971, he revealed his struggle with diabetes. He was diagnosed with this disease at the age of 18 and was given a life expectancy of 25 years. Santo has had both his legs amputated below the knee as a result of his diabetes: the right in 2001 and the left in 2002.  In 2004, Santo and his battle against diabetes was the subject of a documentary, This Old Cub. The film was written, co-produced and directed by Santo's son Jeff.  In later years, serious heart surgeries and bladder cancer slowed him down but didn't end his broadcasting career or diminish his effervescent optimism and joy for life and for his beloved Cubs.  Rather, he joked about his legs, his cancer, his heart ailments, and his toupee. 

Santo has been endorsing the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's annual Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes in Chicago since 1974, and has raised over $50 million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). In 2002, Santo was named the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's "Person of the Year". He also sponsored an annual golf outing to raise money for JDRF.  Santo also inspired Bill Holden to walk 2,100 miles from Arizona to Chicago, to raise $250,000 for diabetes research.

(Information from Wikipedia)