Ben Sikora

Men Who Stare At Goats on Quandary Peak

One of the three times I went back to Colorado last year was to hang out with the old clan from college, specifically roommates and associated friends from that era. Ben planned it all and we had awesome time hiking, playing paintball, putt-putt golf, have some drinks, and watching movies — basically, just like old times but not.

For whatever reason, we did hiked the 14er on our first day of activities. I’m not in the greatest shape, but I’m couch potato either, so I was prepared to tackle the mountain. What I didn’t take into account was the 14,000 foot elevation gain I was making in just about 12 hours. I started in Seattle (177 feet ASL1) on Thursday night and summited Quandary Peak (14,265 feet ASL) at 10am the next day. It took a bit for the symptoms to set in, but I had a migraine, felt very nauseous, and not really like my self — perhaps even slightly confused. Fortunately, it wore off pretty quick — within a couple of hours — after descending back below 6,000 feet.

50.0 mm || 1/400 || f/13.0 || ISO800 || NIKON D7000
Blue River, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/2.8 || ISO160 || NIKON D7000
Blue River, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/2.8 || ISO160 || NIKON D7000
Blue River, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/6400 || f/1.8 || ISO160 || NIKON D7000
Blue River, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/200 || f/7.1 || ISO160 || NIKON D7000
Blue River, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/500 || f/7.1 || ISO160 || NIKON D7000
Blue River, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/400 || f/7.1 || ISO160 || NIKON D7000
Blue River, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/4.5 || ISO160 || NIKON D7000
Blue River, Colorado, United States

  1. Above Sea Level 

Scenes from Colorado

I finally broke down and bought Lightroom 3. It’s awesome and definitely worth getting (even if you have LR2). Anyway, I was in Colorado this last weekend for my college roommates wedding. It was pretty epic. I got to see some great friends from my College Days™ — many of whom I haven’t seen in years1 — and meet some new people as well.

I think my favorite part was when Ben was reciting his vows to Kim, he did them in French. This was awesome because Kim was a French/Technical Writing major and Ben does not speak any French at all. I wasn’t part of the wedding party, but I was asked to take video of the event. So of course I brought my camera along too2:

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Ken Caryl, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/2.5 || ISO320 || NIKON D70
Ken Caryl, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/60 || f/3.2 || ISO320 || NIKON D70
Ken Caryl, Colorado, United States

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Littleton, Colorado, United States

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Littleton, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/80 || f/2.2 || ISO640 || NIKON D70
Littleton, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/160 || f/2.2 || ISO640 || NIKON D70
Littleton, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/80 || f/2.2 || ISO640 || NIKON D70
Littleton, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/250 || f/2.2 || ISO640 || NIKON D70
Littleton, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/100 || f/1.8 || ISO400 || NIKON D70
Littleton, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/2.2 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Littleton, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/80 || f/2.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Ken Caryl, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/125 || f/2.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
El Rancho, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/50 || f/2.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
El Rancho, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/40 || f/2.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
El Rancho, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/60 || f/2.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
El Rancho, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/100 || f/2.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
El Rancho, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/2.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Boulder, Colorado, United States

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Broomfield, Colorado, United States

Update: Added a photo I forgot to upload. Also, per usual, you can see the rest of the wedding-related photos on Flickr: Sikora Wedding Awesome.

  1. Okay, maybe 15 months 

  2. with only my 50mm lens as an experiment in creative composition 

My Kind of Town, Chicago Is

Chicago1 was awesome. I drove out with my Uncle Kit on Thursday and we got in Friday night. The was pretty much uneventful, lots and lots of flat land. We did stop by the Mississippi and take a picture!

We spent most of Saturday working on building a bookshelf, with a side trip to buy a $102 extension cord. The extension cord was actually only $7, the pet rabbit and cage was $95.

We went into Chicago proper on Sunday. I saw The Bean (aka Cloud Gate) and we stopped at Wired’s NextFest. Giordano’s World Famous Stuffed Pizza for lunch. We made a quick stop at the Museum of Contemporary Art before heading back.

On Monday, I rode the L the airport (took about two hours :-/). Not entirely sure where I’m going, I walked over to a United Departure screen and looked to see what gate my flight was departing from: Gate B17.

I go to the ticket kiosk and get my ticket, which says gate C25. So, thinking that the gate was updated, I went to gate C25. I get there and the gates been changed, predictably. So I check the monitor again: Gate B17. So I walk over towards gate B17. I get to about Gate B10 when I realize that I’m an idiot! I’m not flying to Seattle, which is what Gate B17 was for, I’m flying to Denver! So I go back to the monitor and the flight to Denver is at Gate B22; disaster averted.

Nikkor @ 18mm || 1/4000 || f/3.5 || ISO200

See more photos: My Kind of Town (Chicago)

1 When I say Chicago, I actually mean Chicago and Evanston


The Windy City

Fall break is in a few days I’m taking off to visit Chicago. Well, actually Evanston, “an affluent suburban Chicago municipality on Lake Michigan on the North Shore in Cook County, Illinois directly north of the City of Chicago.”

My good friend, and fellow Miner, Ben and his girlfriend, Kim, have taken up residence there as Ben earns his Ph.D at Northwestern University.

What does this mean for you? Absolutely nothing.

For me, though, it will be a welcome reprieve from the life of a college student in a town where the stops lights change to flashing yellow at 9pm (no joke).

Any suggestions on what to see or do while I’m in the Windy City?


Almost Screwed the Pooch

  • Mines

I had brunch today with Ben, Mike, and company. I happened to be talking with Mike about my classes for this semester (Mike is a fellow EE, although he graduated in May). I mentioned that I was taking Introduction to Law and Legal Systems, which is a 200-level class. Mike then pointed out that I need to be taking 300-level LAIS classes to fulfill my graduation requirements.

Well crap. I was kind of looking forward to that class.

With less then two days before the start of Fall semester, I got back on Trailhead and found a 300-level LAIS class to take: Modern European Literature

This course will introduce students to some of the major figures and generative themes of post-Enlightenment European and British literature. Reading, discussion, and writing will focus on fiction, poetry, drama, and critical essays representing British, French, Germanic, Italian, Czech, and Russian cultural traditions. Engaging these texts will foster understanding of some of the pivotal philosophical, political, and aesthetic movements and debates that have shaped modern European society and culture. Thematic concerns will include the French Enlightenment and its legacies, imperialism within and beyond Europe, comparative totalitarianisms, the rise of psychoanalytic theory and existentialism, and modernist and postmodern perspectives on the arts.

Never a dull moment in my life.

Update: Looks like the rules have channged.


Mount Falcon Hike

I went on a hike/run today with Corinne, Ben, Michael, Kendra, and Kevin. It was about a 10km hike up Mount Falcon on the Turkey Trot, Castle Trail, and Walker’s Dream Trail.

Yellow: Route we went on once
Red: Route we went on twice

It was fun to get out and we left early enough that it wasn’t too hot outside. I was also felt pretty in shape, especially since I haven’t been as active as I’ve wanted to be. Hopefully this will be the first of many hikes this summer.

Kevin took some pictures and I’ll update this post after I get copies.

See also: Mount Falcon Park page at Jefferson County Open Space


Andrew Ferguson: The Final Frontier

  • Mines

My friend Ben and Mike took a film studies class this past semester for their final LAIS (Language Arts and International Studies) class. Part of the goal of the class was to make an actual film and Ben and Mike wanted to make one about me.

Being the general good sport that I am and also my somewhat long love affair I have with film (and being creative in general), I was more then happy to have them make a mocumentry about me.

Now, I feel the need to point out that while the film is based on me, it is still very mockumentry in nature. In short, they’ve taken little bits of my life and blown them waaaay out of proportion. Some parts are also made up and don’t have any truth to them at all. I really can’t emphasize this enough.

Also, I’m only an actor (and technical consultant). I didn’t write the script, I didn’t film it, I didn’t edit it. Please, have a good laugh. I certainly did. But remember that it’s still a mockumentry and should be treated as such. (Note: the only reason I bring this point up is that I think people who don’t actually know me will get the wrong impression. I’m more then happy to poke fun at myself, as long as others realize it’s all in good fun.)

Enjoy – Andrew Ferguson: The Final Frontier:


Last in the Cat Pack

Back during sophomore year, I was living with Ben, Chris, Mike and Jens. We also picked up three cats: Dunstan, Kitty and Quantum…the Cat Pack. Dunstan is my cat and Quantum and Kitty were Ben’s. Last year, Kitty was hit by a car and Ben had to put him down.

Ben is Chicago looking at graduate schools, but Chris came over today (we’re flatmates now) and wanted to know what I was doing. He hadn’t seen Quantum in a few days, which was unusual, so he went out looking for him.

The news wasn’t good.

And now there is one. I’ll be keeping Dunstan in now for sure (at least while I’m living at this location) since I used to let him roam outside on the warm days.

If I had known that on that day our time was near the end
I would have done things differently, my forever friend.
I would have stayed right next to you deep into the night
but I thought I’d see you in the early morning light.

And so I said “Good night” to you as I walked in through the door
never thinking of the time when I’d see you no more.
But if I had known that on that day our time was at the end
I would have done things so differently, my forever friend.

Written by Sally Evans for Shoo-Fly



I was having a conversation with my flatmate Ben about tattoos. We were talking to Amie, a girl in our climbing class about her tattoos. Ben expressed interest in getting a the outline of the Periodic Table. That made sense because Ben is a Chemical Engineer/Chemistry double major.

This got the gears turning in my head. Why EE related tattoo would be neat and interesting?

The idea of getting a tattoo has been in the back of my head for a number of years now. Originally, it started out as (naturally) some sort Star Trek related design: the Vulcan IDIC or Star Trek Command Insignia.

The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) has a pretty spiffy logo:

I think the arrows are particularly spiffy since they represent the right-hand rule which is so often used in electrical engineering.

With that all this in mind, I mocked up the following tattoos:
The original IDIC

The original Star Trek Command Insignia

Right-hand Rule arrows (IEEE)

Combined Star Trek/IEEE

In any event, it’s not something I would get before graduation. I’m also not set on the getting it on my wrist. It was just a convenient place to mock it up.


  • Mines

It starting last night. The idea was innocent enough and one I’ve had before: would I be better off back in Seattle at the UW. It’s a thought I’ve have times before and nothing has really come of it and nothing came of it tonight. But for whatever reason, the seed grew. Part of it might have been the email this morning from Ben, perhaps the last straw in growing housing tensions. Part of it might have been my own failure to achieve the grades I want at Mines and the reflection in others about the grades they achieve versus the grades get. Why am I so complacient in my own learning?