May 2011 Archives

5 Mile to Eureka

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In early May 2011, I led a group of ~17 ATV's approximately 85 miles round trip from 5 Mile Pass to Eureka and back. My friend Bill recorded much of the ride and posted it online:

5 Mile Pass to Eureka 1 from Bill Zumwalt on Vimeo.

5 Mile Pass to Eureka 2 from Bill Zumwalt on Vimeo.


Sgt. 1st Class Ray Castillo lost both legs after an ambush in Iraq two years ago while on his 10th combat deployment. (Photo by VInce Little, The Bayonet)

By Vince Little
The Bayonet

FORT BENNING, Ga., (USASOC News Service, May 18, 2011) - Sgt. 1st Class Ray Castillo is again flourishing as a senior noncommissioned officer at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., but that almost didn't seem possible two years ago.

That's when his 10th combat deployment with the 75th Ranger Regiment resulted in a life-changing event on the dusty battlefield of northern Iraq. Today, he's a double amputee - above the knees - but set to graduate next week from Fort Benning's seven-week Maneuver Senior Leaders Course.

"Just because I lost my limbs doesn't mean I can't give my experience and my knowledge to other guys, (but) I understood eventually I was going to be behind a desk," said Castillo, now an operations sergeant with 2nd Battalion. "There's nothing I could've done about that. I still wanted to be in the military, I still wanted to contribute."

The incident occurred Feb. 9, 2009, near Mosul. Castillo was a platoon sergeant with the regiment's 2nd Battalion with the unit in pursuit of a high-value target. The Soldiers had dismounted and were approaching the objective on foot when they got ambushed.

A command-detonated improvised explosive device hit Castillo.

"It was real quick," he recalled. "(The enemy) hid it really well in the ground. I got to that location, and it just went off. I blacked out for a short period of time, but I remember the explosion going off and flying through the air."

Covered in blood, Castillo went into shock. A platoon medic treated him at the scene and he got evacuated within a half-hour. On the ride to the hospital, he slipped in and out of consciousness.

"I was in so much pain," he said. "I told my medic, 'Hey, you need to give me something. I don't care if you punch me in the face or whatever, but I'm in so much pain.'"

Castillo had multiple lacerations, including to his liver, spleen, intestines and right kidney. A lung was punctured in three different areas.

After the blast, when he was dragged to a stretcher, Castillo remembered looking down and seeing his right leg severed at the ankle. He figured he might lose part of one leg, but woke up from an induced coma about a month later at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to find both gone. The infections had spread too quickly, doctors told him.

"I wasn't expecting to see 70 percent of my legs gone," he said. "Because of the infection, they had to keep cutting off more and more and more, because of all that bad stuff they have in the dirt over in Iraq."

He's undergone dozens of procedures, and not just to the legs. Doctors also removed shrapnel from his abdomen area.

"I lost count (of the surgeries). I had so many, I was sick of surgery," he said. "I still have a lot of shrapnel in me. Every once in a while, I'll get a scratch here or there 'cause it's trying to come out. It's all over the place."

There's a little ball of metal floating around a finger in his left hand. Castillo said X-rays at the dentist reveal more pieces in his head.

Castillo spent almost two months at Walter Reed and actually re-enlisted there in March 2009 from a hospital bed, surrounded by most of his family. He'd planned to do that in Iraq before getting wounded.

"I would say it's more frustrating than difficult," he said of his lengthy recovery. "There's a lot of frustration that goes with having some type of new life. Everyone has a goal in life, and then when something happens, it can change."

"You can still stay on certain career paths and other paths you want to do in your life," he explained. "It can be difficult doing those things, but it's more frustrating. There are simple things that you have to try to overcome and adapt to."

After being transferred to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for rehab, Castillo said he encountered other Soldiers in worse predicaments.

"Looking at them being able to do certain things, it gives you strength," he said. "I remember seeing a woman in San Antonio - she had both arms gone. She was an (explosive ordnance disposal) Soldier missing both arms up high. The wounds were so high up her shoulders that she couldn't have a prosthetic arm."

"Seeing someone like that reminds you, 'Hey, you shouldn't be complaining about certain things.' You don't want to have someone always helping you out, because they're not always gonna be there," he said. "In Texas, they taught (me) how to do stuff on (my) own. I had to figure a lot of things out and learn how to overcome those little obstacles and hurdles."

Castillo was fitted with prosthetics in May 2009. That November, his formal therapy ended and he left Fort Sam Houston the following January. He returned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord but had to clear a medical evaluation board just to stay in the Army - his paperwork was approved four months later.

"My focus was just to get back to my unit," he said. "I worked really hard every day as much as I could because that was my main focus - recovery and getting better so I could get back to my unit and continue working."

Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Hardy was the 75th Ranger Regiment's command sergeant major when Castillo got wounded in Iraq.

"His personal courage and commitment is truly an inspiration to us all," Hardy said. "He epitomizes the warrior ethos - I will never quit, I will never accept defeat. He symbolizes the strength of the American Soldier and I feel privileged to know him."

Castillo said he's driven to stay in and wants to reach the 20-year mark in his Army career. He'd like to become an instructor after his time with the Ranger Regiment ends.

The sergeant first class did a tandem jump at the Ranger Rendezvous in August 2009, only months after the ambush, and plans to return again this year. Calling the regiment a "brotherhood," Castillo said he knows some of the other Rangers better than his own family, and vice versa, after all they've experienced together in war.

The learning process also hasn't ended in his own recovery. Just walking downstairs, along a sidewalk or grass, and downhill can be challenging.

"Even when it snowed in Washington state, just going through the snow and it being slippery, I don't feel where I step until I put my weight on it," he said. "I drive, too, and that's a learning curve. My endurance and balance are getting much better. Being able to do random chores around the house or just doing stuff at work is getting better. It's gotten easier, with time."

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In early May 2010, my brother, youngest son (Nick) and his friend (Alex) all took off for Fillmore. We brought our rolling Marriott to stage at the Fillmore KOA.

Garmin tracks for this route:



The weather was moderate with temperatures in the high 50's and lower 70's. Our plan was to ride (and camp) from Fillmore to Beaver, stopping for food and fuel along the trail.


Rather than my normal route through Meadow and Kanosh, we decided to head out via Chalk Creek, exploring many side trails along the way. Water levels in the creek were moderate.




By the end of Day 1, we had already crossed I-70 and staged our camp  just between the Paiute 01 and 02 trails at about 10,000' elevation. Unfortunately, a massive storm blew in soaking everything. Fortunately, our little camp was well prepared to last through the storm.

Before getting too far toward Marysvale, we stopped at our favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant (Hoovers) and enjoyed an excellent meal.



Nick made a bet that he could finish an 1 pound slice of chocolate cake. Needless to say, we didn't allow him to complete that bet.

Off to Marysvale we went.


We awoke the next morning, broke camp and headed into Marysvale for food and fuel. Next stop was somewhere near Beaver and the lakes above the mountain. First though, it was a nice jaunt through Delano Peak and Big John Flat.





We found a few lakes about 15 miles south of Big John Flat and decided to make camp again. Fortunately, we had planned ahead and brought our fishing gear. Unfortunately, the fish weren't biting, so we just enjoyed the day.


For the return leg, we definitely wanted to hit the Max Reid and Paiute 76 trails. Toward the end of the 76 trail, we encountered a washed out section of trail and had to build it up with rocks to make it safely passable.


Moments after reinforcing the drop-off, another group approached from behind and we gladly helped them down the 4' drop-off - were they ever grateful!



Most of the way through the Max Reid trail, we stopped to climb my favorite spot. I went up first to stage a rope so the boys could have a safety line.



All in all, this was a fantastic way to spend 3-4 days with family! For Sept 2011, we're planning something similar, but in a new and interesting location near Casto Canyon.

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Are you prepared for the impending zombie invasion?

That's the question posed by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention in a Monday blog posting gruesomely titled, "Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse." And while it's no joke, CDC officials say it's all about emergency preparation.

"There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for," the posting reads. "Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That's right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you'll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency."

The post, written by Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan, instructs readers how to prepare for "flesh-eating zombies" much like how they appeared in Hollywood hits like "Night of the Living Dead" and video games like Resident Evil. Perhaps surprisingly, the same steps you'd take in preparation for an onslaught of ravenous monsters are similar to those suggested in advance of a hurricane or pandemic.

"First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house," the posting continues. "This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored)."

Other items to be stashed in such a kit include medications, duct tape, a battery-powered radio, clothes, copies of important documents and first aid supplies.

"Once you've made your emergency kit, you should sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan," the posting continues. "This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your doorstep. You can also implement this plan if there is a flood, earthquake or other emergency."

The idea behind the campaign stemmed from concerns of radiation fears following the earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan in March. CDC spokesman Dave Daigle told that someone had asked CDC officials if zombies would be a concern due to radiation fears in Japan and traffic spiked following that mention.

"It's kind of a tongue-in-cheek campaign," Daigle said Wednesday. "We were talking about hurricane preparedness and someone bemoaned that we kept putting out the same messages."

While metrics for the post are not yet available, Daigle said it has become the most popular CDC blog entry in just two days.

"People are so tuned into zombies," he said. "People are really dialed in on zombies. The idea is we're reaching an audience or a segment we'd never reach with typical messages."

Click here to read more on the "Zombie Apocalypse" at

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Thursday June 16 at 7:00am - June 18th at 10:00pm

Hosted by Lizzie & Charlie's RV Park. Lots of fun and adventure planned. This will be a great event with Poker Runs with some great prizes. All money collected from the Poker runs will go to "Take Back Utah" presented at the Saturday night dinner. Take the opportunity to come and network with those that believe as you do. It will be a great time and lots of great food also.

99 South Main Street Marysvale
Directions to Lizzie & Charlies

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In an interview with PC World posted this morning, HP's Consumer Desktops Product Manager Xavier Lauwaert was quoted as follows in regard to the absence of Thunderbolt ports in HP's newly announced desktops: "On the PC side, everybody seems to be content with the expansion of USB 3.0. Do we need to go into more fancy solutions? Not convinced yet."

The official Thunderbolt logo.

The official Thunderbolt logo.

Thunderbolt, if you're unaware, is a new peripheral device input standard. In development at Intel since 2009 (when it was code-named Light Peak), Thunderbolt debuted this year in Apple's most recent MacBook Pro laptops and iMac all-in-one desktops.

Boasting 10Gbps full-duplex data transfer speeds (meaning it allows 10Gb of data per second both into and out of each port, simultaneously) Thunderbolt also integrates support for the DisplayPort and PCI Express 2.0 standards. That means along with fast data transfers, Thunderbolt can act as a monitor port, and also work with external video-processing devices at bandwidths approaching those of an internal graphics card.

Although Thunderbolt ports have been available by way of the new MacBook Pro since February 24, no Windows-based systems offer Thunderbolt. When we asked why, we were told by Intel's Dave Salvator that we "should expect to see Thunderbolt in a lot more places in 2012." It's worth noting that Intel is currently the sole vendor of the necessary Thunderbolt controller chip.

No Thunderbolt-based peripheral devices have come to market yet, but Apple representatives told us to expect them "this summer," in a meeting earlier this month. A number of vendors previewed Thunderbolt devices at the NAB Show this past April, among them external solid-state drive arrays and video port hubs.

USB 3.0 is sometimes called Superspeed USB.

USB 3.0, alternatively, has appeared in Windows laptops and desktops since 2010. It is a common feature in Windows-based PCs that use Intel's second-generation Core processors. Although Intel doesn't yet support USB 3.0 natively on its motherboard chipsets, a number of vendors sell the necessary USB 3.0 controller silicon. USB 3.0 features 5Gbps maximum data transfer speeds--half that of Thunderbolt--but it is also backwards compatible with the vast universe of existing USB 2.0 devices. Unlike Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 does not feature native support for any video bus or display standards.

From a purely technical standpoint, Thunderbolt is superior to USB 3.0 in that it's faster, and offers greater potential in its video and graphics device compatibility. USB 3.0, though, has more immediate utility. You can already find USB 3.0 hard drives and other devices available for sale alongside legacy USB 2.0 devices. The only thing you can connect to a Thunderbolt port right now is an external monitor via a Mini-DisplayPort cable.

What to make, then, of these apparent battle lines? First, understand that the two standards do not necessarily exist in opposition to each other. Intel has said it will feature native support for both standards in chipsets supporting its next-generation Ivy Bridge CPU architecture, due out at the end of the year. That will allow PC manufacturers the ability to easily adopt both standards in the same system, similar to the co-existence of USB 2.0, FireWire 400, and eSATA ports on many existing motherboards.

Second, while Apple worked with Intel to bring Thunderbolt to market earlier this year, it does not appear to be an option available to Windows vendors or motherboard manufacturers at the moment. Intel was not willing to speak more specifically as to the reasons why, although Salvator said no when we asked whether Apple paid for short-term Thunderbolt exclusivity.

As for Mr. Lauwaert's comments, although HP will have low-risk access to both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 a year from now, it still has PCs it hopes to sell today. HP's TouchSmart all-in-ones, with their touch screens, Blu-ray drives, and HDMI inputs and outputs, for example, are aimed squarely at consumers who might not see the benefit of a standard like Thunderbolt that has no compatible devices available for purchase. USB 3.0 and its support for a large number of existing devices makes a far more logical choice for HP's desktop target market, which is one reason you'll find USB 3.0 ports on HP's recent TouchSmart 610 all-in-one.

Alternatively, the new iMacs and MacBook Pros lack some of the more consumer-oriented features you'll find on Windows PCs in the same price range. The new iMacs and MacBooks have plenty of merits, but by adding Thunderbolt, Apple has made a typically forward-looking decision that will attract digital media professionals and other serious-minded customers. A video editor who has to move a multigigabyte file between multiple workstations will always appreciate faster data transfer speeds. Thunderbolt and its superior throughput allow Apple to make a better pitch to that customer than it could with USB 3.0, which provides only an incremental speed benefit over Apple's existing FireWire 800 ports.

By bypassing USB 3.0 in favor of Thunderbolt, Apple has made its preferences clear. HP and other mainstream Windows PC vendors may need to see a broader consumer benefit before they embrace Thunderbolt. Once Intel adds native chipset support for Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 next year, we expect more PCs than not will support them both.

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Note: Pretty much any device that's connected to a public wireless network could be susceptible!


Most of the Android smartphones on the market are susceptible to an attack in which someone could access calendar and contact data over an unencrypted Wi-Fi network, a team of German researchers said in a new report.

The problem is fixed in the latest version of Android, but 99.7 percent of all Android devices are running older versions, they said. Attacks can be carried out over unencrypted Wi-Fi hot spots by an attacker sniffing an authentication token (authToken) used by the Android devices when they communicate with the Google services, according to "Catching AuthTokens in the Wild: The Insecurity of Google's ClientLogin Protocol," which was released Friday.

It is "quite easy" to launch an impersonation attack against Google Calendar, Contacts, and Picasa Web albums on newer Androids, and theoretically all Google services using the ClientLogin authentication protocol for access to its data APIs (application programming interfaces), the report said.

A Google representative confirmed that the latest version of Android, 2.3.4 for smartphones, and 3.0 for tablets does not have the problem. "We're aware of this issue, have already fixed it for calendar and contacts in the latest versions of Android, and we're working on fixing it in Picasa," he said in an e-mail statement.

Here's how it works. With the ClientLogin Protocol, applications request an authToken from the Google service by sending an account name and password via an HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure) connection. The authToken is valid for up to two weeks and is used for subsequent requests to the Google service API. If the authToken is sent over unencrypted HTTP, an attacker could use network sniffing software, like Wireshark, to grab it, the researchers said.

"For instance, the adversary can gain full access to the calendar, contacts information, or private Web albums of the respective Google user," they wrote. "This means that the adversary can view, modify, or delete any contacts, calendar events, or private pictures. This is not limited to items currently being synced but affects all items of that user."

An attacker could grab multiple authTokens by setting up a Wi-Fi access point with the same name of a common wireless network provider, such as T-Mobile, Starbucks, or AT&T Wi-Fi and wait for Android phones with default settings to automatically connect to a previously known network and start syncing immediately, according to the report. Syncing would fail, but the attacker could capture authTokens for each service that attempted to sync.

Not only does this expose Calendar data, but also exposes information about users' contacts. An attacker also could change the stored e-mail addresses of contacts and the Google user would be at risk then of inadvertently sending sensitive information to the attacker instead of the intended recipient, the researchers noted.

"We tested this attack with Android versions 2.1 (Nexus One), 2.2 (HTC Desire, Nexus One), 2.2.1 (HTC Incredible S), 2.3.3 (Nexus One), 2.3.4 (HTC Desire, Nexus One), and 3.0 (Motorola XOOM) and with the native Google Calendar, Google Contacts, and Gallery apps (or respective synchronization services)," the report said.

This pie chart from Google shows that as of May 2 most Android devices were on older versions of the operating system.

This pie chart from Google shows that as of May 2 most Android devices were on older versions of the operating system. (Click to enlarge.)

(Credit: Google)

Calendar and Contacts apps transmit requests in clear text via HTTP up to Android 2.3.3 and are therefore vulnerable to this type of attack. Since Android 2.3, the Gallery app provides Picasa Web Albums synchronization, which is also not encrypted, the researchers said. In Android 2.3.4 the Calendar and Contacts apps began using an HTTPS connection, however the Picasa sync does not, they said.

Android users should update to Android 2.3.4 as soon as possible. "However, depending on your phone vendor you may have to wait weeks/months before an update is available for your phone," the researchers wrote.

Also, Android users should switch off automatic synchronization in the settings menu when connecting with open Wi-Fi networks and avoid using open Wi-Fi networks at all when using the apps.

Updated 3:34 p.m. PT with official Google statement saying its is working to fix the Picasa issue.

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New tires for the Dually!

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It seems to me that OEM tires that come with new trucks are subpar. My 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 had 6 miles on the odometer when purchased, but I only got 26,000 miles out of the American General tires.

Off to Discount Tire, Les Schwab and Big-O I went, in search of the largest tires available for my stock rims.

To my dismay (and surprise), I was only able to upgrade from 235/80/17 to 255/80/17 with one brand of tire: BF Goodrich Mud Terrain KM2 tires.

Most everybody wanted just under $300 per tire and I needed 7 (to replace the spare).

Sears initially was the most competitive, but only had my tires on sale for one day.

Off to Discount Tire I went to haggle. I was able to negotiate the tires down to $195/each and get $125 trade-in credit for my American General spare.

A few days later to accommodate my special order and I was back for the instal. A few before & after photos:




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Note: That didn't take long. The Playbook has only been out ~2 weeks.


Research In Motion has recalled close to 1,000 of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablets due to a glitch in the build of the operating system for those specific units, according to a May 13 memo sent to Staples.

RIM confirmed the recall in a statement sent yesterday to tech site CrackBerry. But RIM said few of the defective units had made it past the distribution stage and into the hands of customers.

"RIM determined that approximately 1,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets (16GB) were shipped with an OS build that may result in the devices being unable to properly load software upon initial set-up," the company said in its statement. "The majority of the affected devices are still in the distribution channel and haven't reached customers. RIM is working to replace the affected devices."

The company's statement mentioned "approximately 1,000," though other information from RIM suggests the figure is closer to 900.

An unnamed source told Engadget that the batch of buggy PlayBooks were shipped to Staples, as per the memo. RIM didn't indicate whether customers with the faulty units would be contacted directly, so Engadget has published a list of 935 alleged serial numbers of the affected tablets for PlayBook owners to check themselves.

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5Mile Pass to Eureka

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I've been asked many times to provide a Garmin track for my route from 5Mile Pass to Eureka. Two weeks ago, I took a group of 17 ATV & Motorcyclists on this route and decided to capture a track route. Unfortunately, I powered the GPSr off before saving the entire loop, but got a partial.

A few photos from the event.




What a great day it was. Even though we lost half our group on the West side of the Tintics (just after leaving Black Rock Canyon).

Partial GPSr tracks from the ride:5Mile-to-Eureka.gdb
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This page is an archive of entries from May 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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