|Twas the night before Christmas
At the house on the lake
It's gone from raucous to quiet
Now I'm barely awake
It's been a full day
Filled with of all sorts of good
Good food and good people
Just like a holiday should
We played in the pool
We pet the horse and the goat
We ate grilled oysters with butter
But I don't try to gloat
Homemade duck pate
Smoked salmon that Sam caught
Dates stuffed with cream cheese
And a spaghetti filled pot
It felt like a whirlwind
But of the best kind
Now that everyone's gone
We begin to unwind
It's just me and Della
For where now we call home
Next month we'll be elsewhere
As we tend to roam
It's a big part of our life
Bouncing from place to place
Different housesitting and travel
Rarely in our home base
This year is a rarity
That we're here and not there
So we were happy to host
This Christmas affair
Next year who can say
Where I'll be writing this post
Maybe an island in Thailand
Or in a van on the coast
But next year is next year
And this ode's about now
But since it's getting quite long
I think it's time to say ciao
Thanks for reading my rhyme
(The tenth that I've done!?!)
I hope that your Christmas is merry
Full of food, folks, and fun
My last words for the night
Before I click send
Is Merry Christmas to you all
My family and friends
|Tuesday December 25 2018||File under: holidays, poetry|
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|Progress on the old be-an-extra-in-a-movie life goal proceeds at a slower than hoped for pace, but that doesn't mean it isn't progressing. I've posted here before about various extra/background stuff I've done, but I've finally gotten it together to put it all together in one place. I introduce to you my TV/Film Resume! It has screen shots, links, dates, and more!
Despite the slowness of progress on said goal, it is nice to see the resume start to build up. In just about all cases, you can barely see me for a split second here and there (hence the screenshots), but some respectable names are represented (SyFy Networks, Adult Swim, MTV, Netflix) which has gotta mean something. It will also be a place where I post future film related appearances, so feel free to check back on it every now and again. I even added it to the header!!
Chances are I've already mentioned it to you in person, but in case I haven't, I'm serious about pursuing this dream. If you have connections or hear about anything that might get little old me on TV or in a movie, please let me know! I'll fly to Spain* if I have to.
Otherwise, it's a neat little list* that you might enjoy taking a peek at. I'm not saying I'm famous, but...
|Thursday December 6 2018||File under: extra, video|
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|Thursday November 1 2018||File under: juggling, circus|
|For the past 2 or so years, I've been directing much of my manifesting energy* at trying to achieve a life goal of being an extra in a big budget movie. While that hasn't happened yet, I'm slowly building a resume and having some neat experiences along the way.
This spring, I was able to be an extra on the Netflix show American Vandal (a pretty neat show if you're looking for something to add to your queue). The taping day was 14+ hours long, I had to take an uber to location (since public transit didn't run that early), and I only ended up with about 3-4 seconds of screen time. But even so, I'm pretty stoked on the experience. Seeing how TV is made is very interesting; you meet some fun people, get a free lunch, and even get paid!
Here are the screenshots (with episode and timestamp in case you want to see me in all my glory!). Hover on images to highlight me in the background.
Season 2 * Episode 2 * 19:04-ish
Season 2 * Episode 3 * 00:49-ish
Here are a few other clips of other projects I've been involved in
|Sunday September 30 2018||File under: extra, video|
|It's that time of year again, time for me to take stock of my life through numbers: it's Sleeping Around Round-Up time!! As I'm sure you all know, I track where I sleep every night and post it for the world to see. Then, every year, I dive into the number to see what it can tell me. Being that this year's data is year 10, perhaps a little extra analysis is warranted.
Firstly, as compared to last year and much of the year before, things are a bit skewed. Comparatively, housesitting is way down. But this due to the "Mansion effect", i.e. no longer having the longtime Bellingham stint (posted about here). Looking back to pre-Mansion time, housesitting is up and travel is a bit down, but not too far from normal all around.
As always, I encourage you to examine the data yourself and to look back at previous years' posts (which can easily be found from the archive page.)
Just for funsies, I did a bit of a 10 year analysis as well. The numbers are remarkably...well, predictable. I guess it turns out that I lead a pretty regular life in some senses. Sure there are spikes in travel or housesitting various years, but afterward, it seems to return to a steady average.
A few interesting facts pop out at me, like I've spent 261 nights in a car in the past 10 years and almost a year outside of the country. And some trend emerge, like downward slide in travel and the aforementioned lack of nights in tent. But overall, this data is becoming what data sometimes has a tendency to do: boring. But even thought it may be predictable and/or boring, I still find it incredibly informative. And I hope to have a second 10 years' worth of data to compare to this first decade down the road.
(I originally did this graphic with in-state, domestic, and international travel all separate, but the graph was a bit unwieldy (though still informative))
|Monday August 20 2018||File under: stats|
|Last month, I had my second New York Times crossword puzzle published! It was a Tuesday with what I thought was a quite clever theme. I promptly and proudly added it to my crossword wall of fame. And while the wall continues to get filled, getting an NYT is always a thrill!
The thrill of this NYT, however, was a bit tempered. On its publication day, I immediately checked out the reviews (#2). They were not good. I comforted myself with the fact that the puzzle wasn't geared for hardcore cruciverbalists, but instead, as Tuesdays should be, it was more for the beginner. The occasional review comment did step to my defense, but overall, the wind was a bit out of my sail. On the upside, some of the criticism was fair and I trust that it will help me make better puzzles in the future.
If you want a chance to make up your own decision, the puzzles runs in syndication today, so it can be found in papers across the country (and world!). Or, if you're happening upon this post days* later, here's a PDF copy*.
As kind of a neat coincidence, it just so happened that I had a puzzle in the USA Today that very same day! It makes my 6th or so USA Today puzzle, so the thrill is a little less, but neat all the same. Three cheers for being a published crossword constructor!
|Tuesday May 22 2018||File under: crossword|
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|Della and I again this year had the privilege of being in Bellingham Circus Guild's My Circus Valentine. It makes the 4th year I've been in the event and Della hasn't missed one yet (often times with 2 acts!) Our act this year turned out to be our best, IMO, but it was hard fought to get there. Dual creative pursuits, such as act creation, isn't our strong point and each year, after going through it, we swear we'll never do it again. But we do and after we have an act that I can be stoked on, I'm so glad that we did.
You could see the act, posted along with other videos of our acts, over at our website www.wrenanddella.com, but I will post it here as well in the interest of posterity. We ended up getting this awesome edited copy from BTV show broadcast the event. I hope you get as much a kick out of it as I did totally nailing it.
(The costumes (a.k.a diapered cupids) were made by none other than Della, of course.)
|Saturday April 14 2018||File under: juggling, circus|
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|This year marks the 5th year I've attended the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. I've never been under the delusion that I had any chance of actually competing at the competition, but instead go to schmooze, network, and be surrounded by people for whom an enjoyable day is spent inside a ballroom doing crosswords silently: in other words, my people.
I figured five years is enough to start tracking my progress (after all, what fun is collecting data if not to be able to analyze it), but first, a report on this year. I finished 366th out of 675, putting me in the 47th percentile. I aced 4 out of 7 puzzles, with just one dumdum mistake on puzzle 7. Without that silly mistake, I would have jumped up to the top half, my very attainable goal. Puzzle 5 destroyed me this year, part of which I attribute to the fact it was written not with solvers in mind, but to outsmart Dr.Fill, the crossword solving computer program. I'm sore about it, but the puzzle was actually really good. I got to chat up some old friends and say hi to some of my editors and get some suggestions on where to submit new puzzles to. Overall, it was a good time, if not remarkably so.
When asked about how it went, I find myself responding, "Oh, about like always." And the data seems to support that theory. Here is a chart of my performance for the past 5 years. After a year or two getting comfortable with the format and pressure*, and with the fluke of acing Puzzle 5 in 2016, I can usually count on ending up just barely below the middle. Granted it's not a brag-worthy place to be, but being that these are the best solvers in the world, and I'm just merely a guy with a hobby, I don't feel so bad.
And while I don't feel so bad about my ranking, it sure would be neat to do a little better. And that's what will drive me back again: I would like to get 6/7 perfect puzzles and finish in the top 40%, both of which seem doable. Who knows, maybe I'll even get a mini-trophy for doing well in my category (affectionately called the "At-least-they-tried"s)
With crosswords becoming a bigger and bigger part of my life (and livelihood), attending the tournament was kind of a no brainer. It is a little oasis of nerdiness in this otherwise cool world, and I for one love it.
|Friday March 30 2018||File under: crossword|
|Last year, I made a post that summarized my earnings for the year. It started with all sorts of caveats regarding the taboo of talking about money, etc. etc. All the same caveats apply for this year, so feel free to go back and review them. But basically, I'm posting a summary of my yearly earnings for the same reason I post about my sleeping around data—because I think it is neat and an incredible tool for self-analysis.
In last year's post, I talked about achieving a life goal (of sorts) of having no more than one quarter of my income come from a particular source. This year, I guess I juggled my way out of that one. But I think it's good. With this data, I can see that I'm succeeding as a juggler and I have no small amount of pride in that. Other numbers–housesitting, trivia, labor, crosswords–aren't changed too much. It's neat to see that those elements aren't necessarily suffering from juggling's big takeover.
I look forward to continuing tracking, analyzing (,and probably blogging about) this data in the upcoming years. It is truly mind-boggling how much interest I find in these simple numbers. But for now, it is just nice to have an answer to the question "What do you do for a living?".
|Thursday February 22 2018||File under: stats|
|Whenever I travel, I'm drawn to skip the air-conditioned plush tourist buses in favor of whatever transportation the locals use. I tell myself it is to get to know the place better, to mingle with the locals, but I imagine cost plays no small role. But whatever my motivations, it is a travel habit I'm glad to have as it leads to some wonderful experiences. On our recent trip to Jamaica, these local transport adventures proved to be among the most memorable from the whole trip!
The two dominant non-tourist transport options were route taxi and mini-bus, both variations on the same concept: pack a regular old vehicle as full as possible with people going from here to there. When I say full, I mean FULL. Think of a regular sized car, like a Toyota Camary. Put 4 full-sized adults across the backseat and 3 adults plus the driver across the front (with additional cushion for the middle person to span the e-brake). Now drive that vehicle at a million miles an hour around curvy mountain roads and you've got an idea.
We chose Christmas day to venture from the north of Jamaica down to the south, a 77-mile journey through the less inhabited center of the island. While there was some fear about transpo not running, we found that with the exception of 1 leg of the 6 leg journey, we were in luck. Each leg took us from one small town to the next, about 45 minutes to an hour, costing about $1 or $2 per person. After each leg, you'd hobble out, try to get feeling back in your butt and legs, and then cram into the next rig.
By the end of our time in Jamaica, I truly felt like I had grown accustomed to the experience of getting nice and friendly with your neighbors and riding in companionable silence (albeit with the Reggae blasting). I won't say I loved it, but it wasn't the hardship it was on that first mini-bus.
In chatting about the mini-buses to a local friend, he casually mentioned "Yep, like two white girls on a mini-bus". In quizzing him, he told us of a once popular song that recounted the public transit experience from the perspective of a non-local. Della and I looked it up and found it couldn't be more accurate. So I'll leave you with this, Two White Girls on a Mini-Bus.
|Saturday January 13 2018||File under: Jamaica, travel|
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