North Cascades National Park

月初去Portland出差之后去西雅图周边hike,顺便去了据说人很少的North Cascades国家公园。

去了之后我大概明白为什么这个公园离西雅图这么近但访客很少了。主要的一条横穿公园的公路上几乎没什么“景点”。仅有的一个viewpoint就是看Diablo Lake。这个湖很绿很好看,里面有人划自带的皮划艇。不过就这么一个点儿实在不值得开车几小时来看。所以这个公园游客才这么少,连门票钱都不收,纯免费。

Diablo Lake

但这毕竟是个在一堆大山中间的国家公园。风景还是有的只是不太容易看到。我选了一条Hidden Lake Overlook trail,八英里,上下3200英尺,爬上山脊去看群山环绕之中的一个隐湖。不得不说美国人民在给湖命名方面想象力相当匮乏,这些年去过数不清的Hidden Lake, Long Lake, Mirror Lake。。。

到这个trail起点的路上我就先被路况被吓到了,好好的高速路上开着,导航突然就让我往旁边的一个全是大坑的土路上走。停车研究了半天才确认这确实是去trail起点的路,然而这路上全是水道井盖儿大小,半尺多深,鳞次栉比的大坑实在看着瘆人。我在那儿犹豫了半天看见好几辆SUV跌跌撞撞的冲了上去,只恨自己只租了辆Camry。这时候突然冒出一辆蓝色小车,看起来甚至像电动的,居然也停都不停的冲了上去,看得我都愣了。于是我也心一横开始往上开,硬是把车开出了坐船的感觉……折腾了半天居然也到了。

我开走之前错误的预估了这个trail的难度,因为hiking project上只给打了蓝黑色的标记我就以为是moderate而已打算走一下热身的,走起来才发现这正经是个strenuous的。。无数的上坡,越往上路还越难走,爬石头踩雪的路段都有。以后得仔细看看数据了。

Hidden Lake

虽然走完已经废了,但这个trail的景色还是很值。前面一段是在树林里,可看的不多,好处是不晒。。走三分之一之后进入高山草甸景色的地带,这儿就很好看了。满山草地里点满了野花,到处是融雪汇成的小溪沿着山势奔流而下。随着不断攀高,周边的几座雪山一一从近处的山脊背后浮现出来。最后的三分之一路程则是在乱石和积雪中间穿行,路边还偶尔会看到上来扎营的人的帐篷,在刀削一般的岩壁下面显得十分渺小。翻过山脊看到深蓝色的Hidden Lake那一刻,有种feel alive的感觉。看到湖之后再往上爬一段乱石还可以到一个巡山的人住的小屋,先到的backpacker可以在这儿过夜。下山的时候发现远处的雪山因为光照角度的原因傍晚看不太清,这个trail还是比较适合早点爬。下到山脚树林里的时候天都暗下来了,树林里面更暗。这时候还遇上了几拨在往上走的人,每次在trail上遇到这种情况我都很好奇他们是打算干啥。。感觉天黑都上不到适合露营的地方。其中还有一家子是拎着水桶抱着被子的架势,令人咂舌……

去完这个trail之后,我歇了一天又去爬了Mt. Pilchuck。这个据说是西雅图附近很热门的一个trail,确实人也不少。令我大跌眼镜的是到这个trailhead的路也很破,也一堆坑,还很长!难道以后来PNW这边hiking都应该租越野车?

Wingspan和Gaia Project

前一阵子买到了今年的大热游戏Wingspan,鸟类学家女设计师根据真实鸟类设计的卡牌游戏。刚入手觉得很好玩,一连玩了挺多盘甚至和xw开了几场二人局。这游戏设计得比较轻巧,三栏摆放卡牌的玩法对我们来说是个新机制。节奏也快,每局只要半小时多。美工极赞,卡片,骰子,软陶的鸟蛋一看上去就很讨喜。但玩着玩着有种颜值有余,深度不足的感觉。平衡性似乎欠佳,虽然是个中型策略游戏的架子,但运气成分比较大。属于上手觉得很好玩,玩了很多盘之后觉得自己水平好像没什么长进的游戏。

Gaia Project则正好相反。我几个月前凑单的时候买了这个Terra Mystica的星际主题版。上手第一次玩的时候所有人都玩得很迷糊,还有人抱怨人设太丑拒玩。然而最近拿出来又玩了几次之后突然开始喜欢上这游戏了。系统深度足够,不同的种族特点鲜明,打法迥异,但平衡性调整得很好不会觉得哪个族或者哪个打法过强。游戏里面有各种机制来balance短期和长期收益。一上来相当overwhelming,打个两三局之后会觉得挺过瘾。缺点可能是偶然性偏低,开局setup完之后所有信息就都公开了,于是一旦落后太多的话翻盘机会很小,比较容易有人掀桌。但总的来说是个玩懂一点之后觉得很好玩且够重的游戏。

Switching to Android

I started using iPhone in 2011. I was using Blackberry before that. When I moved to New York, I bought an iPhone 4s and never looked back. But in the past few years, I’ve been thinking to switch to Android. The recent three generations of iPhone were just not that exciting anymore. On the other side, I use so many Google apps: Google Photos, Google Maps, GMail, Chrome, Google Calendar, Google Voice… to the extent I think it would be nice to have these apps more “natively”.

A friend who bought a Pixel and loved it, asked on social media: why still iPhone? I commented: “Because of Apple Watch and AirPods”.

Then I lost my AirPods… again.

So I bought a Pixel 3a. Now I have used it for a week.

Pros

Google apps are indeed more native. No more Apple Map when clicking an address link. No more “additional” apps for photo, email, calendar.

Android is definitely more friendly and open to 3rd-party apps: finally can use GBoard now (it’s never stable enough on iPhone). Can finally control Spotify with voice… App can interact with each other more freely thanks to the intent system.

Home screen can be customized to be more useful. Notifications feel like being organized better. The “always on” home screen display and “flip to shhh” are nice touches.

Google Assistance (voice control) is more powerful than Siri. Could actually be used to do some voice text input… I need more time to get into the habit of using voice control beyond setting timers.

Battery is better than my 1-year-old iPhone 8. Not sure that’s a fair comparison though. And USB-C is definitely nicer than lightning. It charges faster, and can share cables with laptop and other stuff.

Cons

No more Apple Watch or AirPods. I tried to wear my Apple Watch for a few days and found it just silly without a phone to connect.

No iMessage or FaceTime. It was more annoying than I thought, because I could miss messages.

No good ad blocker in Android Chrome. This was a surprise to me… Ad blocker works fine on desktop Chrome. I know Google relies on ads, but didn’t realize Android Chrome doesn’t support native ad blocker support.

User interactions can still sometimes feel slightly sluggish, or not as smooth as iPhone. Definitely much less gap than 5 years ago, but I can still sometimes feel it. And the momentum of scrolling through list items feels weird sometimes, like it overshoots a little bit… not sure if it’s due to habit.

Unfortunately, non-google apps on Android generally have lower qualities than iPhone. Google apps are great, top-tier apps are on par with their iPhone versions, but apps that are not that high profile often feel like an afterthought compared to their iPhone version. Ironically, the general high quality of Google apps on iPhone makes iPhone more of a “best of both worlds” choice.

Camera is supposed to be very good. Lots of bragging of its “Night Vision”. But honestly I don’t feel I have that much need to do night photos. On the other side, it’s kind of a turnoff to have “face retouch” default on, and it sometimes actually makes people look weird.

Last but not least, WeChat, the Chinese super app, doesn’t use Google’s native push notification service, so it has to stay alive in background to receive messages in time… So the system sometimes prompts “WeChat is still running in background”, and I sometimes see WeChat message notifications with 10+ minutes delay… It’s a complicated issue and hard to say it’s WeChat’s “fault”, but the overall user experience is just far worse than iPhone with this particular app.

Verdict

So overall I have mixed feelings so far… I like the fresh feeling of using a new phone and a new OS. But I also miss iPhone for the reasons above.

So, I’ll likely stick with this Pixel 3a for a little longer since it’s a new phone. But if I accidentally dropped it in water tomorrow… I would happily switch back to my iPhone 8 and Apple Watch. Let’s see what Apple have for the next iPhone.

Follow-Up

Switched back to my old iPhone 8 today (2019/07/15) because I just don’t find enough reasons for me to stick with Android, and I miss the general better qualities of iPhone apps…

Game of Thrones完结

GoT第八季昨夜完结,可以说是骂声一片了。。我个人倒是觉得这一季并没有太差,起码没有相对于前面几季来说更差。只是不够让人满意,或者说不符合绝大多数人的期待。然而一个有如此影响力的剧到了这个程度,写一个让大多数人都满意的剧情根本就是不可能。观众很多还都自觉站队了呢,能登上铁王座的家族可最多只能有一个而已。

以下剧透

Oversleep

最近由于过敏吃药和回国倒时差的缘故,睡眠很不规律。往往是晚上七八点就困得不行,早上又很早会醒。

从北京回纽约的飞机起飞时间是晚上十点半。我一反常态的睡了得有十个小时,连飞机餐都错过了。。到家是晚上一点钟,收拾了一下也就睡了。

第二天去上班,到下午感觉一阵一阵困得不行。下午四五点就回家,晚上八九点开始睡到两点左右,就又睡不着了。这时候来了几个工作邮件,于是起来干了干活,看了会儿电视,就天亮了。那会儿早上七点多,我就想再睡一会儿然后起来去上班。

再睁眼的时候,突然觉得天色有异。再一看表,妈呀怎么下午五点半了!