Taiwanese-American blogging about his travels outdoors and occasionally his thoughts on life.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Video: Hiking Cascade Head, Nature Conservancy Trail

Here's a video of me and Ben hiking the Cascade Head, Nature Conservancy Trail. Very foggy in the morning, but it cleared up when we started heading down the path.

To read more about this video, check the accompanying blog post here: http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2016/07/west-coast-roadtrip-cascade-head.html


Video: Battle Rock Park State Park

Here's a video of me and Ben briefly visiting Battle Rock.

To read more about this video, check the accompanying blog post here: http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2016/07/west-coast-roadtrip-vista-pub-and.html


Video: Hiking Jedediah State Park

Here's a video of me and Ben exploring Jedediah State Park.

To read more about this video, check the accompanying blog post here: http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2016/07/west-coast-roadtrip-jedediah-redwood.html


Video: First Time Riding ATV

Here's a video of me and Ben riding ATVs for the first time.

To read more about this video, check the accompanying blog post here: http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2016/07/west-coast-roadtrip-dune-city-and-atvs.html


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hiking Siphon Draw to Flatiron Summit, Superstition Mountains, Arizona

Trail Description

Length:  6 miles round trip
Trailhead Elevation:  2,080 ft.
End Elevation: ~ 5,000 ft.
Difficulty Assessment: Moderate
Trail Type: Out and Back

The Hike

Siphon Draw to Flatiron summit hike is a popular hike in the Superstition Wilderness that is both challenging and rewarding. As a comparable, if you are capable of hiking Camelback without difficulty, then Flatiron should be within your abilities as well.

The trail begins at the Lost Dutchman's State Park where you'll have to pay an entrance fee of around $7. From the entrance, I suggest parking at the very last lot where the Siphon Draw trail begins.

From the parking lot to the basin, it's about 2 miles. After an additional mile, you'll reach the top of Flatiron. To the basin, the trail passes through some campgrounds and is clear to follow. Only after the basin can it get a bit confusing. From the parking lot to the basin, it's about a 1000 ft elevation gain.

After the basin, you can decide whether to head towards the first summit which is an additional half hour of hiking or continue on towards flatiron. If at that point you're still physically fine and are not struggling at all, continue on to flatiron summit.

Between the the basin and flatiron summit, the path seems to increase in steepiness and at some points, requires some amount of scrambling. The elevation gain from the basin to flatiron is an additional 2000 ft.

If you find yourself scrambling of loose rocks like in the picture above, it means you took the wrong turn. After the basin, you should begin to see man-made markings on rocks to help guide you. Look for white circles on rocks (the colors may change).

But once you're at the top, the views are worth it, and is a great place to enjoy a lunch.

Trail Resources

For more information on the hike, check out these sites:

1) http://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/arizona/siphon-draw-trail
2) http://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/arizona/flatiron
3) https://www.theoutbound.com/arizona/hiking/hike-siphon-draw-to-flatiron-summit
4) http://www.summitpost.org/flatiron/151062

My Climbing Roots

It would be an understatement to say that I like climbing. I don't like climbing; I absolutely love it.

These days, most of my free time is consumed by climbing and my thoughts throughout the day often dwell on the projects in the gym I've yet to send.

It's a funny development because years ago, my friends tried numerous times, unsuccessfully, to get me into the sport. I remember my first time climbing was at the University of California, San Diego. It was at a small indoor rock wall hidden in a corner on campus. This was back in 2007-2009 (I can't be exactly sure). I went up, I went down, my hands were sore, and I was uninspired.

Flash forward to 2014. I had returned to the Bay Area after a two year stint in Phoenix Arizona. My friends wanted me to climb so they guest-passed me in to a local climbing gym, Planet Granite, in Sunnyvale.

Once again: I went up, I went down, my hands were sore, and I didn't really think much of the experience.

At that point, it seemed like I was done with climbing. I'd given it a shot and it just didn't stick.

Then came 2015.

In 2015, my coworkers at Genentech invited me on a trip to Bishop, CA for some rock climbing. It wasn't the climbing that attracted me, it was more the combination of getting to know my coworkers better and camping that sold me on the idea.

For those of you who don't know, Bishop is considered a mecca for bouldering. There are other types of climbs there as well, but Bishop is typically referenced as an incredible place to go for bouldering. For one reason, the catalog of problems available there is amazing. For another, the size of area is large enough to accommodate many, many groups.

So there I was at the Happys, waiting on a rock as my friends got themselves ready (putting on shoes, putting on tape), when I noticed an attitude shift. Not from them, but from myself.

Something was different. The moment I touched the rock, I knew something was different.

There was now a curiosity in me that didn't exist before. Curiosity in the holds and curiosity in the techniques required to send a problem.

The week I returned from Bishop, I immediately signed with a climbing gym, bought a harness, chalk bag, and shoes. And before I knew it, my routine became 2 hours at the gym, bouldering 3-4 times a week.

Since then, I've never looked back.

I started climbing in 2015, and I was 27.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Video: Clam Beach and Fern Canyon

Slowly taking my sweet time putting these videos together. I took a lot of short clips on my trip and part of the learning process while making these videos is identifying what I think might be interesting for people to see and what's excess.

To read more about this video, check the accompanying blog post here: http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2016/07/west-coast-roadtrip-trees-of-mystery.html

Hiking Butcher Jones Trail, Tonto National Park, Arizona

On Tuesday, Simone took me and Mandy on a wonderful hike around Saguaro Lake. To enter the park, there is a $6 fee.  The address to the park is: Butcher Jones Trail, Fort McDowell, AZ 85264.

There are two ways to do the trail and both ways follow the same route. One route is a 2.5 mile (5 mile round trip) hike from the parking lot to Peregrine Point. If you choose to continue beyond Peregrine Point, the hike increases to a 4.5 mile (9 mile round trip) hike.

From the parking lot, the trail begins east of Butcher Jones Beach and follows the lake. Along the way, as you hike alongside the Salt River, you should pass by Peregrine Cove, Camper Cove and Burro Cove.

There are several side trails that lead to the shoreline in case you want to fish. We saw a lot of people on boats fishing that morning.

The return to Butcher Jones Recreation Site is along the same route.

For more information on the hike:

1) http://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail/us/arizona/butcher-jones-trail
2) http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/tonto/null/recarea/?recid=35461&actid=50

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Trail Running at Cave Creek Regional Park, Arizona

Last Sunday, I found myself at Cave Creek Regional Park running trails in the hills. I didn't know what to expect but I wanted to get back into shape after weeks of projects and studying, and running seemed like a good start.

I assumed the group would run somewhere between 3-4 miles, but we ended up doing 6.72 miles of mostly incline instead. To be fair, I had the option of doing easier routes. However, I wanted to challenge myself and see where my fitness level was in terms of running.

I used to run a lot. I ran for cross country. I played a lot of soccer and basketball. I even dabbled in track briefly. But then I got burnt out and my knees started really acting up during college. So I stopped.

From the parking lot, we started on the Slate Trail. Then we connected to the Quartz Trail, heading north. Finally, we jumped onto the Go John Trail and ran counter clockwise all the way back to the lot. Our trail run looked something like this:

At the end of the day, although the trail was incredibly tough, it was very fun. There was a lot of variety to the trail that I appreciated and the views were nice. The sights weren't breathtaking or anything, but they weren't boring either.

Will I run this trail again? I don't think so. My knees just can't handle it. Near the end, there's about half a mile of decline that destroyed my knees.

For healthier individuals, I highly recommend this trail.

Here are some additional stats from Auden's fitness tracker:

For more information about the park, go here: http://www.maricopacountyparks.net/park-locator/cave-creek-regional-park/

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Video: Hiking Founder's Grove

Video of my visit to Founder's Grove.

The video doesn't really capture the beauty of the place. Some of fault lies in my ability to take useful videos and some of the fault lies in my ability to edit. I think I'm under utilizing Adobe Premier Element's capabilities.

For HQ pictures and a detailed account of my visit, check the following blog posts: http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2016/07/west-coast-roadtrip-founders-grove.html


Video: Hiking Alamere Falls, California

School has taken a lot of my time so finding the time to put together the videos I took on my roadtrip has been difficult. That said, here is a short clip of the first day of my road trip and my visit to Alamere Falls.

The accompany blog post can be found here: http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2016/07/west-coast-roadtrip-alamere-falls.html

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

[Off-Theme] Variable and Absorption Costing

This week in Managerial Accounting, I learned about Variable and Absorption costing.

Variable costing is when you only take into account the manufacturing costs that vary with output. This includes direct materials, direct labor, and the variable portions of manufacturing overhead. Under this method, fixed manufacturing overhead is not treated as a product cost but rather is incurred the period that a product is produced.

Absorption costing is when you treat all manufacturing costs as product costs, regardless of whether they are variable or fixed. This includes direct materials, direct labor, and both the variable and fixed portions of manufacturing overhead. Because absorption costs includes all manufacturing costs in product costs, it is frequently referred to as the full cost method. Sometimes, the net income under absorption costing can be higher than that calculated by variable because the product costs is capitalized in the inventory until sold.

An example of setting up an income statement for the two cost methods:

From what I can gather, both methods have their benefits and drawbacks.

The advantage of absorption costing is that: 
  • It hides details when you need to report to external investors.
  • It takes into account indirect costs. 
  • And some argue that it paints a more accurate picture of a company's economic health. 
The disadvantage of absorption costs is that: 
  • Because it bundles fixed and variable costs into the same product, it can be difficult to truly discern what is a product "cost." 
  • You can also hide costs in the inventory to make net income larger.
  • If fixed overhead costs vastly exceed variable costs, it can be hard to see the effects of production decisions.
The advantage of variable costing is that:
  • Fixed cost effect is transparent on the income statement.
  • Takes into account total cost of investments. When you finally sell your products, you may experience surplus net income.
  • Enables cost volume profit analysis.
  • Clear income statement
  • Correctly identifies variable cost effects
The disadvantage of variable costing is that:
  • Difficulty separating fixed and variable costs
  • Loads costs heavily early on. Even if you don’t sell all the products you make, you must deduct the full cost of fixed overhead.
  • Not GAAP.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Climbing in Lower Devil's Canyon, Glitterbox Area, Superior, AZ

This past weekend, I found myself back in Superior, AZ for some climbing.

On Friday, I arrived at Oak Flats Campground around 8-9pm after rushing to finish as much as I could for school. The drive from Tempe, AZ to the campsite was surprisingly fast. The last time I drove to Superior, I had the impression that the drive took 2 hours. Knowing now that it only takes an hour or less, it definitely changes how I feel about climbing in Surprise.

The campsite was standard and developed fire pits were available. Ample space to set up tents. Beautiful view of the stars. For more information about the campgrounds, consult the following:


In the morning, we cleaned up what we could at our site and then began preparing for the day ahead of us.

To get to the approach, you need a vehicle capable of 4-wheel drive because of all the loose rocks on the road and how steep some of the roads get. If necessary, people can drive from the campsite closer to the crag and then leave their cars at the turnout if they plan to leave earlier. But from the turnout to the parking lot for Lower Devil's Canyon, it's still a bit of a drive, making it inconvenient for the person who will have to shuttle people back to their cars. However, the turnout is indeed a closer alternative than driving all the way back to the campsite if necessary.

On the way there, one of the trucks unfortunately suffered a blow out during an attempt up a steep hill. The tire was replaces, the truck was parked, and we all packed into the other vehicle. Given the space constraint, we got real creative with how to fit 9 people into one car.

The trail to Lower Devil's Canyon, specifically the Glitterbox Area, is straightforward. Simply follow the path leading up and towards the canyon. A sign that you're going the right way is when you pass through the barb wire fence.


Monday, October 17, 2016

[Off-Theme] Simple ROI Calculations on MBA

The return on investment (ROI) of getting an MBA is a calculation that roughly predicts how many years it will take to pay off getting a MBA.

ROI Calculation: ((2-year opportunity cost) + (Full program cost)) / ((Theoretical Post MBA Salary-Original Salary))**

**This equation is an extremely basic predictor that leaves out many important variables, such as additional costs of living, and aims to primarily gives you an idea of who should and who shouldn't pursue an MBA from a salary point of view.

Original Salary (USD)40,000.00
2-year opportunity cost (USD)80,000.00
Theoretical Post MBA Salary (USD)90,000.00110,000.00120,000.00140,000.00
Salary difference (USD)50,000.0070,000.0080,000.00100,000.00

Program Cost Annual (USD)Full Program Cost (USD)Full Opportunity cost (USD)ROI on 90,000 (years)ROI on 110,000 (years)ROI on 120,000 (years)ROI on 140,000 (years)
Debt Payback on 90,000 (years)Debt Payback on 110,000 (years)Debt Payback on 120,000 (years)Debt Payback on 140,000 (years)

Original Salary (USD)50,000.00
2-year opportunity cost (USD)100,000.00
Theoretical Post MBA Salary (USD)90,000.00110,000.00120,000.00140,000.00
Salary difference (USD)40,000.0060,000.0070,000.0090,000.00

Program Cost Annual (USD)Full Program Cost (USD)Full Opportunity cost (USD)ROI on 90,000 (years)ROI on 110,000 (years)ROI on 120,000 (years)ROI on 140,000 (years)
Debt Payback on 90,000 (years)Debt Payback on 110,000 (years)Debt Payback on 120,000 (years)Debt Payback on 140,000 (years)

Original Salary (USD)60,000.00
2-year opportunity cost (USD)120,000.00
Theoretical Post MBA Salary (USD)90,000.00110,000.00120,000.00140,000.00
Salary difference (USD)30,000.0050,000.0060,000.0080,000.00

Program Cost Annual (USD)Full Program Cost (USD)Full Opportunity cost (USD)ROI on 90,000 (years)ROI on 110,000 (years)ROI on 120,000 (years)ROI on 140,000 (years)
Debt Payback on 90,000 (years)Debt Payback on 110,000 (years)Debt Payback on 120,000 (years)Debt Payback on 140,000 (years)

Original Salary (USD)70,000.00
2-year opportunity cost (USD)140,000.00
Theoretical Post MBA Salary (USD)90,000.00110,000.00120,000.00140,000.00
Salary difference (USD)20,000.0040,000.0050,000.0070,000.00

Program Cost Annual (USD)Full Program Cost (USD)Full Opportunity cost (USD)ROI on 90,000 (years)ROI on 110,000 (years)ROI on 120,000 (years)ROI on 140,000 (years)
Debt Payback on 90,000 (years)Debt Payback on 110,000 (years)Debt Payback on 120,000 (years)Debt Payback on 140,000 (years)

So what do these tables mean? Lets look at the 70k table for example.

First, Original Salary is how much you are making now. 

Original Salary (USD)70,000.00

2-year opportunity cost is the cost of going to school for two years without pay (ignoring paid internships).  

2-year opportunity cost (USD)140,000.00

Theoretical Post MBA Salary is just a reasonable salary range that a freshly graduated MBA student might expect, depending on their profile and prior experience.

Theoretical Post MBA Salary (USD)90,000.00110,000.00120,000.00140,000.00

Salary difference is the difference between their post MBA salary and their original salary. 

Salary difference (USD)20,000.0040,000.0050,000.0070,000.00

Full opportunity costs is the sum of the cost of the entire program and the two years of lost salary. The cell values descend according to different program costs.

Full Opportunity cost (USD)

And the ROI portion of the table details how long it would take at various post-MBA salaries to pay back your education when you take into consideration the full opportunity costs.

ROI on 90,000 (years)ROI on 110,000 (years)ROI on 120,000 (years)ROI on 140,000 (years)

However, if you're mainly interested in how long it'll take to pay back the MBA and want to ignore opportunity costs, Debt Payback would be how long it would take for you to pay your loan back.

Debt Payback on 90,000 (years)Debt Payback on 110,000 (years)Debt Payback on 120,000 (years)Debt Payback on 140,000 (years)


Take-aways from the chart.

It's hard to write down any defining, all-encompassing, rules to take away from this exercise because there are so many variables to consider beyond just how much you're making now and how much you might make later.

Just take a good look at yourself and be honest with your abilities. That's the first step to getting any value from these charts. For instance, if you're all around just an unspectacular, but not bad, average applicant, making 70k, and expect to make 90k coming out, it'll take you anywhere from 4-7 years to pay off your education. 7-13 years if you want to consider those two years of not working as money lost as well.

However, if you're making 40k only and can land a full scholarship cause you're amazing, it's essentially a no-brainer to pursue an MBA, especially if it adds value to your career. In almost every case you'll be making money instantly after your first year graduating.

Just remember that most applicants are around 28-29 when they enter and 30-31 when they leave. How old will you be when you finally pay off your loan?

As a reminder, the sheet doesn't take into account whether or not an MBA actually advances your career, whether or not it can actually benefit you, or even the type of job you will get coming out, it simply plays around with salary numbers. It doesn't fully embody the cost of living as well. 
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