2015 Year End Letter

A couple years ago, I did an end of the year letter that I sent out to folks I don't cross paths with digitally very often (or ever). It was a "this is what's up in my life" letter, akin to Christmas letters that people often do. (You can read it here.) Well, it was fun then so I thought I'd try it again, this time with me and Della's year in review. It turned out pretty fun (in no small part because we have pretty fun lives, IMHO) so I wanted to share. I'm guessing that none of this will be news to you, as you probably read about it all on the blog (which is probably why I didn't send you a paper copy), but hopefully you'll enjoy it nonetheless.


Monday February 22 2016File under: misc

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Summer Stone Projects


Above is a picture of the bottom terrace wall that I built this summer at the Quarry. Someday we hope to have the whole hillside terraced, but it turns out that building big rock walls is hard work, so the most I could get done this year was 1 wall. I'm shooting for one per year and soon enough, we'll have ourselves a nice little amphitheater! But since the picture above doesn't really do the wall justice, here's a few more. (It's a really nice wall)

Speaking of rock work, check out this patio I made behind Mom's house in Anacortes, also this summer. It is an extension of the patio that has been there since around 1995. Back then, Flip built it. In the 20 intervening years, I've learned all Flip has to teach* and put it into effect (-ish). The fountain is based, in part, on one don't at Mt. Rainier I helped erect (during Dude Camp 2014).

Yep, I like playing with rock—I mean, working with rock. Totally working.
Thursday October 8 2015File under: work, misc

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The e.g.

File under "My Life Is Awesome": I recently had the great opportunity to attend the e.g. Conference in Monterey, California. It was 3 days full of inspiration, ideas, schmoozing, high class living, and, of course, a little juggling.

The best way I can describe e.g. is that it is a lot like TED. In fact, it is held at the same place TED was started, and there is much overlap between the organizers, attendees, and concept: get really interesting people and have them talk about what they are doing. The presenters ranged from photographers and film makers to adventurers to scientists to artists to even YouTube stars. The presentations were well prepared (with slide shows and hitting time points uncannily) and always interesting.

On top of just being interesting, I was familiar with a lot of the presenters' work, which made it so much more engaging. There was the artist who makes snow art with just his footprints, the youTube science guy whose demonstration on spools kept us debating for a good hour on the drive home, the adventurer and photographer whose journey across Australia I had just seen a movie about, an author whose books I've read many of, and Adam Savage of TV's Mythbusters. Adam did a fun talk on juggling(!) which was totally awesome. A bunch of us jugglers found him in the lobby to talk juggling with him afterwards. I even got to show him a trick!

The conference was relatively small with only maybe 400 attendees and presenters, which gave it a great intimate feeling. And besides the presenters being super interesting, all the attendees seemed to be top of their field or have something super interesting to add. It was lots of fun striking up comversations with whomever and realizing that they were an exec, inventor, or previous e.g. presenter.

Another interesting aspect of the conference for me was the aura of money. Tickets to the event were $4000, so most of the attendees weren't likely to be found behind me in line at the local taco truck. Many of the adventures or pursuits presented about were not something I could head off on tomorrow (the guy that drove one Mercedes-Benz SUV 500,000 miles around the world, the guy that replicated a float plane his father took to Brazil and retraced that journey, the guy that flew drones around volcanoes to get spectacular footage). It was a bit of a glimpse into how life can be with lots of money, which triggered as many thoughts and ideas as the presentations themselves.

The e.g. is something I am still processing and will probably for some time to come. The inspiration and ideas, the rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, and the great community time with Chautauqua* made the event something that I won't soon forget. Now it's time to start scheming how to find an invite to next year's e.g.!
Tuesday May 19 2015File under: misc

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Cards of Business For a Man of Business

Back in the beginning of my professional career, I remember seeing my friends get their business cards and hand them out with a sense of pride. It's like having a business card meant you had made it, you were a productive member of society almost. Well, my professional career was a short-lived one and I never got around to having a job with business cards. But every now and again, someone asks me for my card and I wish I had one to give them.

So I went and made my own! I've been toying with the layout in my head for quite a while and all it took was grinding it out*. While some of the "titles" aren't ones that I foresee ever gaining me much business per se (e.g. "Supertaster"), I thought this might give whomever receives it a better idea of who I am and what I could do for them.

I don't think I'll ever be in the habit of plopping these bad boys in the drawing for 15% off happy hour margaritas at the local drinking hole (they are a bit too tedious to make for that), but I look forward to the time when someone asks me for my card and I can say "here you go!" Professional career #2, here I come!

This is what it looks like close up, more or less

Saturday March 21 2015File under: work, misc

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My Wild Wheel Ride Winds Down

Yesterday (103 days after air date, 17 days ahead of schedule) I got my check from Wheel of Fortune. After California State income tax (7%) and deducting the "value"* of the Hawaii trip (including $1000 spending money to cover meals*, etc.), the grand total came to $37,689. More taxes will be deducted when I file for 2015, but the amount is yet to be seen.

Don't let my focus on the details lead you astray: I'm pumped. This is huge. And while the lasting impression of my whole Wheel experience will be one of the excitement, etc., the money means a lot as well. We're talking 3 years' salary, give or take. So please don't think I'm not stoked.

But there is some bitter-sweetness to it all. This check represents one of the last things to be delivered from this experience of a lifetime which has spanned almost a whole year. There was the invitation to try out, then the tryout, then hearing I got on, then waiting for my taping date, then doing the taping, then the air date, then getting my Hawaii trip dates, then getting my Hawaii spending money check, and now the big check. All that's left is the trip to Hawaii (Della and I leave next week.) It's been one exciting thing after another and now it is all coming to an end.

So what did I do to celebrate my nouveau riche status? After considering splurging on a fancy lunch out, I remember I had ramen and cereal at home so did that instead. I guess I'm a man of simple tastes. I'm sure Della and I will do something fun to celebrate (can anyone say Red Lobster?), but for now, the check went in the bank* and life continues as normal—that is to say awesomely.
Wednesday February 11 2015File under: wheel, misc

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Green Tree Gum

Longtime BdW friend and once Brothers Root blogger Andrew is involved in some pretty exciting stuff I wanted to share about. He and his buddy have started a natural gum company called Green Tree Gum Co. The gum is made without the sketchy ingredients in standard gum (sorbitol, butylated hydroxytoluene, baby seal tears, etc.), instead using all natural ingredients to achieve a cleaner, simpler chew.

And while the existence of such a product is exciting in its own right, what has really been interesting for me has been being privy to the process of starting a business and a product from the ground up. From packaging, distribution, branding, website, and everything else, hearing about what it takes to get an endeavor like this going is just plan neat.

What's that? You're sold. Now you just want to go buy some for yourself? Well far be it from me to stop you. Head on over to their online shop and get yourself some. Or, if you are in the Portland area, find some at your local retailer.

If you're looking to support this awesome endeavor more, you might even head on over to their facebook page and like them. But go buy some gum first. Tell him BdW sent you.
Saturday January 24 2015File under: misc, food

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Further Minor Media Mentions - Anacortes American


Click here for the rest of the story.

(Or if you want to view the online version, you can find that on goAnacortes.com, at least for the time being.)
Thursday November 6 2014File under: wheel, misc

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Minor Media Mentions - Anacortes American


It's less than a week now until I make my big national TV debut* and word is building. I've got my facebook invite* out, gchat status blaring it, and I'm constantly hounding friends and family to spread the word. The Anacortes American even did a story about it! It's a good story with only super minor factual errors. Yeehaw for hometown media!

And since I know the story won't be online forever (as opposed to this blog which will!), here's a scanned copy for posterity.
Saturday October 25 2014File under: wheel, misc

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Play On In Spokane

Last week, I headed over to Spokane to help Jule reassemble a kick-ass play toy that he scored for the low low price of lots of work. With a record low of swearing*, we got it assembled with nary a problem. All told, Soren loves it. And I loved it too. I sure do like being helpful.

Since the assembly went so quickly, there was lots of time for other fun. Jule and I played frolf a couple times. Due to the changing seasons, pretty much everywhere you looked was gorgeous, esp. this course along the river. We checked out the Spokane trivia scene, which was good times. And I got some good bonding time with Soren.

In between the work and the fun, it was just good times checking out Spokane, hanging with the fam, and just chillin'. Spokane ain't half bad, despite what people say, and I'm looking forward to heading over that way again once there's some ice skating to be had!
Saturday October 25 2014File under: family, misc

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Outback Renovation

After remaining extremely unchanged* for an almost depressingly long time, it was time to breath a little new life into the Outback, my wonderful garage home. With a bit of construction, a few yard sale furniture finds, and Della's eye for form in addition to function, we've got ourselves a nice new nest.

The two biggest changes were a new bed(!)* and a new wall dividing the space into 2 "rooms". It's amazing how interior walls can make a small space seem bigger actually. Now Della's got a place to permanently set up her sewing and still have room for a mini office.

Otherwise, the changes have been minor: curtains covering our junk shelves, boxes upon boxes of cast-offs to the Goodwill, and new wall adornments. Some of my favorites are my framed pride and joy and my first attempt at a trinkets shelf. Fun!

I imagine the process will continue to evolve, hopefully with clearing out even more stuff and learning the systems that allow us to work in a small space. But I think it's safe to say, this is a huge improvement!
Tuesday July 8 2014File under: misc

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