Random Quote:

Tom: "I've been doing homework nonstop...except when I stop."

 

2009 Year in Review: A California Adventure 
At the start of 2009, I gave myself a resolution to make every weekend an adventure. The year definitely met its expectations with this one as it was filled with new experiences and exciting memories.

In January, I rang in the new year in Las Vegas, where the strip is closed down to traffic for the countdown and fireworks light up the sky. It would be back to work just a couple days later, but this also marked the start of mentoring a local high school for the upcoming FIRST Robotics build season. Although this admittedly took up a good amount of my free time early in the year, it was fun to work with the new control system. In mid January I met up with my dad in Denver, CO who was on a business trip, to ski at Breckenridge and Keystone.

Most of February was spent working on the AIAA High Powered single stage rocket, which was scheduled to be launched in March (and pushed back until May). Late in the month I found myself headed to Las Vegas with my bowling league team for sweeps at South Point hotel.

In March, I attended the Semi-Finals and Finals of the 2009 World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium. Watching two asian baseball teams battle it out in the Championship game was surprisingly exciting!
Sadly, my dog Taffi became very sick and was put to sleep in NJ after a battle with Cushing's disease. That day was especially difficult for me since I had to take a midterm exam for my USC grad school class that same night, as well as drive to Vegas for my First Robotics competition. I'll never forget you, Taffi!
In late March I found myself in Las Vegas once again for the FIRST Robotics Competition. I also saw Lance Burton (magician) at the Monte Carlo, who puts on an excellent show -- highly recommended.

In April, I went skiing for one last weekend at Mammoth Mountain. Once again, conditions were excellent. A couple weeks later, I went on a backpacking trip to Joshua Tree National Park with a coworker. We spent the first night in a campsite, but then explored the park and started on the trail the next day. We set up camp along the Boy Scout Trail and finished the trail the next morning. Also, I came very close to stepping on a rattlesnake, who warned me of his presence next to my leg with his rattle. My coworker wanted to take a close-up photo of the snake, and amazingly was not bit.

May was a very busy month. I went to the JPL Open House, which was demonstrating some of the new robots to be launched to Mars and giving tours of the site. Also, I was elected as the Young Professionals chair for the LA Section AIAA for the upcoming year.
I went to one of the games in the Dodgers-Mets series, and had a great time watching the Mets fail epically in extra innings. Did I mention 5 errors??
I then went to Palm Springs to play golf at PGA West, where I had the opportunity to play both the amazing Stadium and Jack Nicklaus Tournament courses.
In late May, we finished and launched our rocket in the AIAA Rocket Launch Competition in Mojave desert. Unforunately, we had a few issues, but learned a ton in the process for next year and had a ton of fun. Here is a video of our launch, and the debris rain down on top of the crowd.
I also played softball at Boeing 3 days a week. This eventually caught up to me, as I broke my finger and spent the next 4 weeks in a splint.

In June, I went to the Phillies games in both Los Angeles and San Diego. One of the games also featured Antonio Bastardo's MLB debut.
Later in June, I went on a 3-day backpacking adventure to Yosemite National Park with friends from LA as well as Stanford (more photos). We hiked from Glacier Point to our campsite next to Illouette Creek, then hiked past Nevada Falls to Little Yosemite Valley. We hiked up the Merced River a bit, then camped out and returned to Yosemite Valley.

My summer trips were just getting started! In July, I met up with my family in Colorado, where we explored most of the state including Rocky Mountain National Park where I hiked with my sister up to snowy Glass Lake and Sky Pond by way of bouldering up a waterfall and sliding down a glacier. This was also the first of 6 Continental Divide crossings.
We celebrated 4th of July in Dillon, watching fireworks over the lake. I played disc golf on top of Aspen Mountain, went Class IV-V whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River, and hiked Sand Dunes National Park.
Later in July, I moved into my new 2-bedroom apartment in Huntingon Beach. July also held the annual Aerospace Summer Games, and Boeing won! I volunteered at the Apollo XI 40th anniversary event in downtown LA, where I got to see Buzz Aldrin speak about the future of spaceflight. I also went to the US Open of Surfing in my new hometown.

In August, my friend Sam Harrington from RPI came to visit and we drove up to San Francisco (gallery 2) via Pacific Coast Highway. We stopped along the way to hike, and stayed at Sams' uncle's extra garage-turned-apartment in Berkeley. I saw 2 Phillies-Giants games at AT&T Park, including Cliff Lee's Phillies debut where he pitched a no-hitter through the 6th inning. We also met up with Noah Blum at Berkeley and biked across the Golden Gate Bridge to Pier 39.
Later in August, I ran into another rattlesnake during a hike in Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County. This hike was a warm-up for my Sequoia National Park backpacking trip the following week, where we hiked 8 miles/3000 ft up to Twin Lakes to camp, then up to Twin Peaks (elev 10,500 ft) for a view of Kings Canyon NP. Of course, we made time to check out and drive through the sequoias in the park.

In September, I celebrated my birthday with free golf and a trip to Disneyland. The following week, I met my dad in Las Vegas (yet again) and stayed at Red Rock Resort to play golf. I got an iPhone 3GS, which became my first smartphone that I've been addicted to ever since. I watched the Red Bull Soap Box Derby in downtown LA. Also, my team won 1st place (tied) in a Boeing scramble golf tournament. This month also wrapped up the Mets awesomely lousy season, and to commemorate it, I made a collage -- Metsfail: The Crying Mets of 09.

In October, I went to the two Phillies-Dodgers NLCS games in LA. Of course, I had to celebrate their NL victory watching on TV since it was a home game. I watched the World Series in between work shifts and once again at The Shack in Santa Monica.
I also went to the Edwards AFB Air Show, where I saw the Space Shuttle Carrier, White Knights 1 and 2, F-35 public debut, and tons of demonstrations by an F-22, B-1, B-2, and others.
I also went to filmings of The Big Bang Theory and the Jay Leno Show in Burbank.

In November, I went to ROCStock XXX, a huge high-powered rocket launch event in the desert where I camped on the lakebed. I scrapped together a couple rockets of my own, but was mainly there to watch the 15-foot rockets launched and learn more about their electronics and construction for my upcoming rocket competition season. Half of the month I spent on a business trip on the East Coast and spending a week in NJ for Thanksgiving.

In December I went skiing at Big Bear in SoCal, followed by golfing in Palm Springs in the same weekend. I broke 80 for my first time at Desert Dunes (79, par 72/133 slope course), and played at an awesome mountain-side course called Silverrock Resort in La Quinta.
I got a promotion at work, and at the end of the year my family came to visit me in California, where we saw Jay Leno at a comedy club, visited the Ronald Reagan museum and Air Force One in Simi Valley, watched a sunset in Malibu, and went to Palm Springs to go to Joshua Tree NP and golf at Indian Wells Celebrity course.
I finished the year by celebrating New Years in downtown Long Beach, where Travis Pastrana jumped a rally car 274 feet over the harbor onto a barge (see video), and I rang in 2010 at the Laugh Factory.

2009 will be a really tough year to top, but I hope to have just as much adventure in 2010!

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