My Homestead - Blog

Parker Mesa Overlook

Since we did not hike on Saturday, we decided to challenge ourselves a bit with a 6 mile hike that gives you an 800 foot elevation.  For today’s hike, we picked Parker Mesa Overlook located in Topanga State Park.  Hiking this moderate trail you get breath taking views  of the surrounding valleys and at one point downtown LA.

When you start the hike, there is a nice climb up to a split in the path.  If you turn left there are at least four other trails to follow but if you want the overlook as we did you will turn right.  You find yourself going up and down the hills through the canyon at time there are some steep points but not awfully bad.  Be warned…there are bikes on this path and even though bikes are supposed to yield to hikers they are at times going pretty fast so, get out of their way.

At the trails end there are breath taking views of the ocean, Santa Monica, and from what I have read Catalina Island.

The return trip is just as good as the trip up.  At times you find yourself going downhill and other going back up hill all while taking advantage of great views.  There is not a lot of shade on this rail so make sure you wear sun screen.  Also, take plenty of water…especially if it is in the 80s or higher.

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Red Rock Canyon

After the hiking yesterday at Fryman Park, we decided to make this a two hike weekend.  Today we head north of Los Angeles to Red Rock Canyon.  This is not to be confused with Red Rock Canyon in the Las Vegas area – even though that is a spectacular park as well.

Getting to this park is a bit confusing as there are two entrances.  The main entrance, of which we were unaware, is off of Topanga Canyon Road and is an easier hike than the one we picked.  So if you are using the book Day Hikes Around Los Angeles or a great site called Local Hikes they give detailed directions to the one we picked.

After a winding trip through some pretty scenic view we find ourselves at a pull off on Stunt Road.  We parked and I saw the hill…I was like are you kidding me.  This hike takes you between 700 to 800 feet elevation immediately.  I was astounded!  The weather was a bit better than the day before no rain but still a bit chilly with the wind blowing.

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Update for March 2012 & Fryman Park Hike

Welcome back!  This summer, my partner and I will be spending the some weekends hiking around LA and Southern California.

Today is the first day we will be hiking; the weather is not great…it is a bit rainy and cold. We are meeting a friend at her house and she will be taking us into Fryman Park.  Now I know that sounds scary but really, Fryman is located in Studio City sort of in the middle of the drive up into the hills off of Laurel Canyon.  We are going to be hiking on the Fryman Canyon Loop trail which according to one source, “Day Hikes Around Los Angeles” by Robert Stone is a 4 mile hike but other sources report it being 3 miles; one really good site is an article called Hiking Fryman Canon.  I tend to think it is closer to a three mile hike as it seemed really quick and painless.  Of course unless you hiked with each author you never know what path they followed.

Getting to the park is really easy and as you can search maps on the internet I will not spend time talking about how to get to Fryman Canyon.  All I ask is that you pay to park in the lot versus parking on the road.  Paying to park helps keep the parks open.

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HTML Email an Introduction

So, lately at work I have been charged with creating HTML email campaigns to market the trade shows to exhibitors.  Having a good understanding of HTML and CSS has enabled me to succeed in managing several campaigns.  When I started crafting the emails, I did not understand the process of an HTML based email as I had never done that before.

There are a few things to keep in mind when crafting these emails.

  1. Size of message, not file size but width.
  2. Code both HTML and CSS
  3. Images
  4. Devices used to open the email

Size of Message

You need to keep in mind when crafting the HTML email the size of screen most email programs have for the preview.  This issue is really important as you really do not want people to have to scroll, either horizontally or vertically, more than is needed.  Typically, you should keep your HTML between 650px and 850px for the width, the ultimate size is 650px.  With 650px you can manaage to get your message in most preview screens.

Code – HTML and CSS

When crafting the email, you still need to use proper W3C compliant HTML and CSS.  The big difference is the CSS.  With an HTML email, you can’t use external style sheets because many of the modern email programs block external style sheets.  Instead, you have to put the code inline.  This means you need to style your headers, paragraphs, bullets etc. as you go when crafting the message.


Have you ever gotten an email where the message is a red x in the window?  So have I!  This is very annoying and if you are like me you simply hit “Delete”.  To solve this issue, keep images to a minimum when crafting HTML emails.  The reality is, for the banner of the email you should use a smaller image, say 320px in width.  Then create the rest of the header using CSS.  This achieves two things, first if images are blocked most of the header is still visible to the reader.  Second, if crafted appropriately, your email is more mobile friendly.

Devices Used to Open Mail

If you are using HTML chances are you have an email service.  If you are using one of these services, make sure they give you reports that show the UA String at a minimum.  If you are really lucky, the service will show you the type of device in a separate report.  If you are using the string it is a bit more work to get the information but if you can export the report into Excel, or other spreadsheet, you can do a simple find and replace to highlight different devices.  In a later post I will show you how to read a string and a good free service to use.  Furthermore, I will discuss how to craft an email for mobile devices.


Blog Update

You know, it has been awhile since I wrote an entry; I have been busy with work.  Starting a new job has its own learning curves; yes I said curves because there are many.  for example, getting used to the new hours, getting used to the job itself, getting used to a new routine, etc.

I was able to get over the learning curve of new hours pretty easy; after all I get to go in earlier than my old job.  I have been an early riser for a few years so it was easy to get used to going into work an hour and a half before my old job.

I am getting used to my job; the learning curve is bigger than in prior positions as I have many tasks.  One task I have mastered is creating HTML email campaigns.  More about this later.

Getting into a new routine is a bit more challenging.  Eating, going to the gym, reading, etc have all been a bit interesting.  I have gotten the eating part down; I love food so that part was easy.  Going to the gym is a bit harder…after all who wants to go to the gym after working  a 9-10 hour job.  Going to the gym is getting easier.  The hard part is figuring out when I want to read or spend time thinking about writing.  I have decided going forward, I will read an hour before I go to bed each night and well I will start writing once a week.

Just to keep you posted…my blog will focus on anything from drivers in Los Angeles to what I am doing at work.  some will be humorous and others technical.  So stay tune this show will not be in reruns.