Friday, September 28, 2007

Dead Tarantula in Death Valley

We saw this poor dead Tarantula on The Racetrack in Death Valley. As you can see it is missing few legs (they were lying next to it). I wonder what killed it.

Another thing not to be shown to Flimpy :(

Thursday, September 27, 2007

100 points question

What's happening on this picture?

Yosemite NP

We left SF early on Saturday morning in attempt to reach Yosemite NP early enough to still go for at least a short hike on that day. We arrived in the park around 2pm and by 3.30pm we set up our tents at Porcupine Flat camping ground (located at 8100ft/2480m).

The afternoon we spent hiking up to Tenaya Lake. We were there shortly before sun down and it was pretty chili. Luckily, there was a small campground with a restaurant where we got hot tea/coffee/cacao that warmed us up. Moreover, we must have looked so sad and cold that the nice lady did not ask us to pay for the drinks. (That reminds me of a striking difference between my own and my friends' attitude towards this nice gesture. I was warmly touched by the generosity of the woman that had told us to get the drinks for free, whereas my friends were totally unimpressed by that fact and said something along the lines: "it was just a few bucks, she did not lose anything by giving it to us for free".)

Tenaya Lake:

View to Half Dome, Mt Watkins, Clouds Rest, Sentinel Dome from the trail:

On Sunday we set out for a full-day hike to North Dome. The round trip was around 11.5 miles and it involved the elevation change of 1,742 feet (less than 600 meters), so it was rather an easy hike. But it was incredibly beautiful and the view from the top of North Dome was just stunning. Half Dome seemed to be within hands reach. The weather was perfect and there were hardly any other hikers on the trail. I would strongly recommend this hike to anybody who will be visiting (or passing through) Yosemite.

On our way to North Dome we took a short (0.3 mile) detour to view the Natural Arch in Indian Ridge. It is the only (visible*) natural arch in Yosemite National Park.

Here we are on top of North Dome. In the background you can see impressive Half Dome.

That's a view to Mt Watkins (on the left) and Clouds Rest (on the right) also from North Dome.

On the trail we saw many chip monks, but the one on the picture was the cutest. It came to beg us for some food while we were having our lunch on the summit of North Dome.

Also this raven showed a lot of interest in our food. It was very brave and accustomed to people. I even managed to make it eat bread from my shoe.

*According to my guidebook there is a second natural arch in Yosemite NP, but as it is located in Yosemite Creek it is invisible to tourists.

soy milk

[Phaet] soy milk?! WTF
[Phaet] are you kidding me?!
[llio] there is something like this
[Phaet] lol
[Phaet] milk from cow, goat, f**k, female of mule or Venezuelan beaver, ok
[Phaet] but from soy?!
[Phaet] since when soy has breasts??

[Phaet] mleko sojowe?! WTF
[Phaet] co ty mi tu ściemniasz?!
[llio] jest coś takiego
[Phaet] lol
[Phaet] mleko z krowy, kozy, kurwa samicy muła czy wenezuelskiego bobra ok
[Phaet] ale z soi (soji) ?!
[Phaet] od kiedy to soja ma cycki??


Polish parliamentary elections

Polish parliamentary elections are approaching (in the US they will be held on 20th of October) and if I want to vote I should register now. I feel that it is my responsibility to vote (otherwise I will not have a right to complain), but as [Kosior] said on bash: "Taking into account the quality of the current candidates, voting in the election is a pleasure that can be only compared to visiting a bordello to chose your future wife."

[Kosior] Przy obecnej jakości kandydatów pójście na wybory to przyjemność, którą można porównać jedynie z wizytą w burdelu celem wybrania sobie żony.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

meet the fig-eater

Green June Beetle, Fig Beetle (Cotinis mutabilis):

I met this huge (almost 3.5 cm long) beetle in San Diego on 23rd of September 2007.

I'm back

Here I am. Back in SF and on the blog. As we visited many beautiful places and during the trip I took more than 800 photos, I decided to post separate posts about each interesting place that we visited.
In near future you can expect posts about:

  1. Yosemite NP
  2. Bristlecone Pine Ancient Forest
  3. Death Valley NP
  4. Las Vegas
  5. Grand Canyon NP
  6. Joshua Tree NP
  7. Anza Borrego Desert
  8. San Diego

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Ania and Moli safely arrived yesterday evening. After they took shower (Moli insisted on it claiming that he wanted to look nice and pretty while we walk through Castro) we went for a short walk through Noe Valley, Castro and Mission (as there is no better time than midnight to walk on 16th to 18th Street stretch on Mission).

Walking there with them was lots of fun. They looked at everything with fresh eyes and brought my attention to things that make San Francisco different from other cities. It was fun to rediscover (and re-experience) those thousands of SF peculiarities that I stopped noticing a long time ago... And it was fun to hear them say all the time: "It is just like in the movies" ;-)

seventh continent

[Al] Educational disaster episode 2: Reading with understanding
[Al] Pupils got a text about Indian Elephants. The aim of the task was to read it and afterwards answer few questions related with it. One of the questions was: On which continent do Indian elephants live?
[Al] There was total of 48 pupils from 2 different classes.
[Al] Do you want me to tell you what they were answering or do you want to guess?
[Bobik] Most said that Africa? and 2 that Asia?
[Al] You guessed right with Asia.
[Al] 4 people answered that Africa.
[Al] And 42 that India.

[Al] Katastrofa edukacyjna epizod 2: Czytanie ze zrozumieniem
[Al] Uczniowie dostali tekst o słoniach indyjskich. Celem było przeczytanie i odpowiedzenie na kilka pytań związanych z tekstem. Pytanie brzmi: Na jakim kontynencie żyją słonie indyjskie?
[Al] Uczniów z dwóch klas: 48
[Al] Chcesz poznać rozkład odpowiedzi, a może się domyślisz?
[Bobik] większość że Afryka? a 2 osoby Azja?
[Al] Z Azją trafiłeś.
[Al] Afryka napisały 4.
[Al] A Indie - 42

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

intermission in transmission/przerwa w nadawaniu, prosimy nie regulowac odbiornikow

Ania and Moli will set their feet on American soil in less than 16h (I am so excited, I can not hide it...). I will be busy entertaining them and, hopefully, also working from time to time. That means no or sporadic posts during this week. Next week we go together on a trip "300 national parks in 10 days". As a result of that I will not post at all between 15th and 24th of September. Take care and don't do anything I wouldn't do.

Poniewaz Ania i Moli przyjezdzaja w odwiedziny, nie bede miala w tym tygodniu czasu by uzupelniac ten blog. Ponadto bede w podrozy przez wild wild west (= dziki dziki zachod) pomiedzy 15tym a 24tym wrzesnia i wtedy to juz na 100% nie bede miala czasu by tu nic napisac. Prosze mi tu nie broic w tak zwanym miedzyczasie.

life expectancy

According to Life Expectancy Calculator my current lifestyle should give me a good chance of living 99 years. Moreover, if I would be willing to change several things in my life (e.g. starting eating small dose of aspirin every day, cutting my working hours to less than 40 per week, and not working more than 5 days a week) I should be able to live even to 108 years. And that probably would mean living even longer (maybe even 150 or 200 years), as I am convinced that medicine will make a huge leap forward within this time.

Monday, September 10, 2007


from bash
[ubu] everybody is so dissatisfied and angry with PiS (Law and Justice, current Polish governing party)
[ubu] but I am actually grateful to them
[ubu] before, when other parties were ruling, I had so many dilemmas
[ubu] now I have only one
[ubu] Ireland or London?

[ubu] wszyscy tak najeżdżają tak na ten PiS
[ubu] a ja jednak jestem im za coś wdzięczny
[ubu] przez wszystkie poprzednie rządy miałem mnóstwo dylematów
[ubu] teraz został mi jeden
[ubu] Irlandia czy Londyn?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pacific Grove Triathlon

Today Kristina (one of my roommates) took part in Pacific Grove Triathlon. You just can not imagine how extremely proud I am of her! During last few months I had a chance to see how hard she was preparing for this triathlon and how much heart she had put into it. I also know that she was starting almost from zero: she had just learnt how to swim this year, and today she managed to swim 1.5 km in open water. I also remember going biking with her few months ago, so I know how slow biker she was. But today she managed to bike 40 km keeping decent speed! And after that she still run 10 km. I am more than impressed with her will power. She is my hero of a day!

More than thousand people took part in today's olympic distance triathlon. Here is start of Kristina's group (women under 29):

Hundreds of people in the water were attracting attention from birds and water animals (We even saw a big group of dolphins passing by, unfortunately, I did not manage to take a good photo of them):

Swimming distance was 1.5 km and consisted of two loops. Here Kristina comes out of water after finishing the first loop:

And here she comes out of water after finishing whole distance. At this point she looked pretty much exhausted and confused:

Biking distance was 40 km and consisted of 4 loops of 10 km each. Here relaxed Kristina starts her second loop:

The final part of triathlon was 10 km run. Kristina crossed the finish line 4h 13 min 2sec after the start! Pretty good as for beginning!

Happy Kristina few minutes after finishing the triathlon:

Some time after the amateurs, a professional triathlon started. The best men was Victor Plata, who finished the race in 1h 55min 21sec! Here he is among other guys biking:

The best woman was Becky Lavelle. She finished the triathlon in 2h 07min 26sec. She was absolutely amazing - she crossed the finish line 2.5 min before any other women!

I am so tempted to take part in triathlon myself next year...

Friday, September 7, 2007

political theater

The Polish parliament has voted to dissolve itself: BBC link, ONET link. It's only shame that it happens so late and in such bad atmosphere (there are multiple corruption allegations against many politicians that form current government). According to Polish constitution new general election will take place within next 45 days.

couldn't agree more #4753 +(13502)- [X]
[xterm] The problem with America is stupidity. I'm not saying there should be a capital punishment for stupidity, but why don't we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Monika 1987: my first portrait

Here I am 9 years old posing for a photo with my first portrait drawn by a street artist in Moscow. I did not change at all during last 20 years, right ;-)?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

A diamond star of 10 billion trillion trillion carats was found in the constellation Centaurus: BBC link.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Saturday and Sunday we (Bartek and I) spent hiking in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, the oldest Californian state park. We started our hike at Park Headquaters from where we took first Dool Trail Middle Ridge Road, and then Hollow Tree Trail to Lane Sunset Trail Camp, where we set up our camp for the night. On Sunday we took Basin Trail and Skyline to the Sea Trail back to Park Headquaters and our car. Below are few pics from that trip. (PS In the evening we saw Sweeney Todd at American Conservatory Theater that you should definitely see if you manage to get tickets!)

If it's Saturday, then we eat breakfast at...

It's very difficult to take photos of redwoods as they are so biiiiiiiiiggggg:

We met this beautiful Steller's Jay just next to the tourist shop at Park Headquaters:

A hollow tree trunk at the Hollow Tree Trail:

As there was no water at the camp we had to carry it all on our backs:

Here I am (looking stupid) on the trail up to the camp:

As always, we met several lizards that I had to photograph (I'm a big fun of all sorts of amphibians and reptiles):

Yet another lizard:

Pirate (almost) Bartek:

View to the ocean from Skyline to Sea Trail:

Bartek on the Basin Trail:

Tennessee Valley

On Monday Bartek and I drove through Golden Gate Bridge to Tiburon (a lovely little town with great views of San Francisco), then to Tennessee Valley and Tennessee Beach, and back through Sausalito to San Francisco.

Here is view from Tiburon to San Francisco. You can not see San Francisco? Trust me - it's there. It's just being shy and it is hiding under the fog cloud:

Here I am in front of the fountain in Tiburon:

Here is Bartek with Tennessee Valley in the background:

That's me on the hiking trail to the ocean:

These are pretty pink flowers (does anybody know their name?) that we met on our way:

That's a view to the beach from Tennessee Valley Trail:

Bartek on the beach:

Me on the beach:

Again me on the beach:

Rocks to the left (south) of Tennessee Beach:

The ocean and rocks to the right (north) of Tennessee Beach:

Golden Gate Bridge

Yesterday evening Bartek and I ended up nearby Golden Gate Bridge just when sun was setting down. So I couldn't resist the temptation of taking hundred more pictures of this bridge. Here are some of them:

And here view to Ghirardelli Square and part of SF downtown:

Bartek was here

Sunset at Golden Gate Bridge:

More photos tomorrow.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

run, Monika, run

Probably you already read this NYT article about women being too inhibited to put all their energy into sports in general (and running in particular), and therefore, having no idea how good they actually are as they never push themselves to their limits.
That's definitely true for me. Whatever sports activity I do, I never put all my energy into it. I always want to keep "a reserve", and this reserve is usually pretty big.
Today I decided to push myself a bit at running and see how fast I can run and for how long. I was surprised to see that I could easily triple the distance that I would usually run, and moreover, I would do it in less than twice the amount of time that I would normally take for a third of distance. The most surprising thing was that I still did not reach my limits. I did not find out where they are as I had other appointment that prevented me from continuing my little running test.

price tag

Shiva is my wonderful, extremely hot, sexy, smart and intelligent friend with a very naughty sense of humor. Tonight she offered to Assen that for 400$/h both of us (meaning she and me) would go to bed with him. Luckily he tried to bargain down to 250$ and she refused his offer. I wonder what would she do if Assen would be willing to pay that 400$... I also feel disappointed that she would try to sell us so cheaply, as 400 sounds as a number that lots of people could and would be willing to pay, and then we would have trouble to get out of this game without loosing a face.