New Years Resolutions? Try something better.

New Years Resolutions? Try something better.

New Years Resolutions. Awesome in concept, terrible in practice.

Working out 6 days a week.
Drinking 8 glasses of water every day.
Taking a 15 minute walk at work every day.
Saying good morning to your co-workers.
Using recipes to cook awesome meals every night of the week.
Making your bed every morning.

Whatever yours might have been - I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you have already failed at least some of them in these first 7 days of 2016. If you haven’t, my apologies, and congratulations - you’re a superhuman.

Design Spotlight: Grand Canyon Wine Company

Packaging matters. I'm a strong believer of that. Generally, no matter how good the actual product is, it won't be a prodigy unless it's packaged well. That holds true for beverages as much as it does with electronics, clothing and resort websites. 

A few weeks back, my girlfriend and I were traveling through Arizona, and we popped into a roadside gas station to fill up. We didn't have any intent of buying anything other than gas there, let alone buying wine. But as soon as we noticed this really cool bottle amongst the selection of beverages, both of us got the instant urge to bring some of that red wine home. 

Liberty Mutual Responsive eSales App Design Analysis

New this week, Liberty Mutual's responsive policy quoting and bind website (currently available for Renters insurance on mobile devices 9" and smaller) boasts a clean and modern design, heavy reliance on native HTML5 functionality and a streamlined interview process. 

Now that this application is public, I've decided to post a short design analysis outlining key new features behind the new application, which has been designed with the customer in mind from the first page, to the last. 

Land of the Midnight Sun: Getting Lost in Alaska

Few places in the world offer such pristine landscapes where glaciers meet the oceans, wild animals roam freely unafraid of people, and endless forests stretch as far as the eye can see. Alaska has a lot going for it, and I am glad I finally decided to check it out. A couple of my friends, Larisa and I started planning our trip earlier this year. Sometimes, when going to other parks, things are certain - go here, go there, hike this trail, hike that tail. Easy. Planning for Alaska was a whole different kind of beast. 

Alaska has eight national parks, scattered across a landmass the size of eastern continental US. Transportation and amenities in Alaska are generally expensive compared to other destinations in the lower 48. Visiting as many different places as possible is usually in most people’s interest. After long deliberation and many days of research, we all agreed on three core places to visit: Kenai Fjords, Denali and Katmai National Parks over the course of ten days. 

Katmai National Park: Bears, Scenery, but Mostly Bears.

Katmai National Park: Bears, Scenery, but Mostly Bears.

Alaska is known for the number of national parks and national forests and their size. For most people visiting the 49th state, Denali and Kenai Fjords national parks are at the forefront of the places to visit and are the most-visited national parks in the the northern part of the state. 

When Larisa and I were originally planning our trip to Alaska, we didn't even consider any other parks due to their remote locations, high cost, and low popularity. I started doing more research and talking with people who have been to Alaska, I've discovered that the true gem of a park is actually located several hundred miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula - Katmai National Park and Preserve. 

Katmai National Park, established only 35 years ago in 1980 to protect the area of extreme geological interest and the prime salmon and costal brown bear habitat is located 235 air miles from Anchorage and getting there isn't easy.

Denali National Park: Into the Wild

Denali National Park: Into the Wild

With an area larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, Denali offers enough space to cover the distance as far as the eye can see in all directions. Denali is the king of all the National Parks. We were slated to spend three days in the park - a tight schedule considering the sheer geographic area. 

Denali National Park and Preserve is located about four hours north of Anchorage. Having been warned about wildfires along the Parks Highway, we made sure to leave early on Monday morning to make it to Denali at a decent hour. Luckily, there wasn’t much traffic, nor wildfires on the way up, and we even got a glimpse of Mt. McKinley from a viewpoint just south of the park. We were hoping that we’d get a much closer view of the mountain from inside the park, but later we’d be grateful for having at least seen it on the way in.

Kenai Fjords National Park: Marine Wildlife at its Finest

Kenai Fjords National Park: Marine Wildlife at its Finest

Located a couple hours south of Anchorage on the mountainous Kenai peninsula is Kenai Fjords National Park. Most of the land area of the park is actually covered by a massive glacier, a remnant of the ice sheet that covered much of North America as recently as 10,000 years ago. While Harding Icefield stretches over 300 square miles and flows out through 40 glaciers of varying types, it is rarely seen by most park visitors. For most people visiting Kenai Fjords Nat’l Park, the experience is all about marine wildlife and tidewater glaciers, seen by boat from the bays and inlets surrounding the park. 

A Word on Climbing and Yoga

A Word on Climbing and Yoga

I have always been averse to trying new things. New things are scary, intimidating, and take effort to perfect. Despite my typical unwillingness to try something new, last year I decided to pick up rock climbing.

My first experience was at a small climbing wall at a fitness center. I was attached to an auto-belay (scariest first experience ever, I do not advise it) and attempted to scale up the 50 foot wall. I was wearing running shoes, had no chalk on my hands, and knew nothing about technique. Miraculously I managed to make it up about 3/4 of the way until I got way too winded and scared. Being on an auto belay, there was no way to rest, and the feeling of uncertainty about how fast the descent would be if I was to fall gave me chills. I prepared for the fall, and let go. To my initial surprise, the descent was very controlled.

The first time scared me, but it also inspired me. There was something amazing in that adrenaline rush, and I had an intense craving for that feeling of reward after completing a route. 

So that’s how it started. From then on, I started going to various climbing gyms with various climbing partners, most of whom were only slightly more experienced than I was, but it was a good start. After a few times, I really started to regret not giving rock climbing a try earlier. For years people told me to try it out, but I was too afraid, too rock-shy.