Soap Box Derby

This weekend, I competed* in the first annual Lookout Arts Center's Off-Road Soap Box Derby near Alger, WA. (Info here.) The whole experience was a hoot – from the dunk tanks and live music, to gravity fueled mayhem, to cliff diving and berry picking*.

My entry was easily the weakest of the 5 derby racers. Everyone else had contraptions either welded together by someone who obviously knew what they were doing, or a converted/modified vehicle of some sort. Me, I had a couple wheels and assorted parts and came up with this beauty. Brakes were a piece of 1x that rubbed up against the wheels and steering was by loose bolts on the front wheel that allowed you to wiggle it from side to side (which is much harder to do while cruising down the course than you might imagine).

By vote of the racers, the course was lengthened to include a gnarly stretch of trail that my horse wasn't build for, so it was no surprise that I didn't even complete the full first run. I did, however, almost make to the bottom, which is much more than I expected. What eventually did me in was a weak axle in the right wheel. The others, however gave us quite a show.

The whole thing was good fun with lots of creativity and enthusiasm. Hopefully next year will bring with it even more racers, more spectators, and more fun. See you there!
Sunday September 14 2008File under: misc, pics

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Longhorn Trivia Revisited

Seven weeks ago, Saxtor, Andrew, and I went and checked out a trivia night at a local bar. (Groundbreaking coverage can be seen here.) Since then, it has been a weekly tradition. The teams are always in flux with whoever happens to be around that particular week, but the fun is always the same. In the 7 weeks, my team has scored 3 first places, 1 second, and 3 fourths. (If it wasn't for the pesky music round, I contend many of those fourths would have been more like seconds or thirds.) Not a bad average considering there are often between 12 and 15 teams competing.

Anyway, to share the joy, as it were, I thought I'd post the visual identification round from this week. How many of these can you solve? (Team Discovery Channel* scored an 8. Hark!) For answers, hover: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Friday September 12 2008File under: misc

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Mmmmm Bacon

I had bacon for all three meals today. (Yes, my life really is exciting enough right now that this gets its own post.) In my defense, 2, likely 3, of the bacon servings were from local sources. Skagit Slow Foods organizes a meat buying "club" with Skagit River Ranch, making purchasing local meats easy to do*. You just place your order online once a month and then pick it up at a local delivery point. Then you cook it up with two eggs over easy, put it in a tortilla, drizzle some fake maple syrup over it, and enjoy heaven's sweet nectar.

Bacon is becoming quite a theme(/meme) on the interweb these days, so just for the heck of it, I thought I'd throw in a few bacon links.
*25 sizzling hot bacon-inspired MUST-haves for fall
*Bacon reddit (Reddit is a user-submitted list of what's new and interesting on the web*)
*Bacon bra (It's amazing what a simple google image search will turn up.)
Sunday September 7 2008File under: food, misc

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A Day on the Farm

There seems to be a trend of late of getting to know your food and the systems which brings it to your plate. Books like Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and movies such as King Korn are informing people about processes that are often quite hidden in today's boxed and packaged food world. Along with this trend is an awareness of foods that are produced locally and available at farmers' markets and coops.

Being a somewhat trendy guy myself*, I've done hopped on that band wagon. Besides the yearly local foods party (coverage of this year's party soon!), I found myself curious about that which happens before I buy my potatoes, celery, and onions at the farmers' market. So as research for this year's local foods party (and to help out some friends with the hectic pre-market harvest), I travelled up to Moon Dance Farm in Acme, WA to set how the onions get from the ground to the market.

First thing I noticed about Moon Dance Farm was how it wasn't at all what I expected. No vast acres of land planted homogeneously or heavy machinery, just a hugely oversized garden with tons of different plants from corn and greens to flowers and plants that I didn't initially recognize. Then there was the setting - mountains in the [not so distant] distance and trees surrounding everything. It really was a breathtaking sight.

But I didn't have much time to bask in amazement of it all because there was work to be done. We picked many types of onions, squash*, beans, peas, carrots, radishes, turnips, and so much more. After the picking came the sorting, cleaning, and bunching. I never would have guessed how much effort that takes; as much as, and sometimes more, than the harvesting itself. But when you are left with well cleaned veggies, boxed up and ready for market, it is a true feeling of accomplishment.

Yep, harvest day on the farm is enough to fill your head with understanding of the process, your back with appreciation of a hard day of work, and your heart with connections to the land around you.
Sunday August 17 2008File under: food, misc

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Compost Experiment

This week, I ate at the ever enjoyable Pizzeria Pagliacci's (a guy should be able to indulge himself on his birthday, right?). Besides having some awesome pizza and salad, which was not a surprise, I was served a frothy root beer in this "plastic" cup. It seems like any other plastic cup, even more sturdy, but it advertises as being made completely of corn and totally compostable.

Not that I don't trust one of my favorite pizza places, but I gotta see this for myself. Does the marketing definition of "compostable" agree with mine? Do you first have to send it through a shredder? Does it take non-normal composting temperatures to break down? Are we talking glacial timeframes here? Hopefully my little experiment will answer all my questions. What I've done is tied a string to said cup, dropped it in our compost (and buried it good with corn leavings etc.), and plan to check on it every 3 months or so. Any guesses? When we shovel compost onto the garden next year, will we notice any [pseudo-]plastic? I, for one, look forward to finding out.
Wednesday August 13 2008File under: environment, misc

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Ten Year Reunion


The 10-year high school reunion is an institution, a rite of passage, a tradition. It appears in movies and is something you have in common with everyone "of a certain age" you pass on the street (even if it is only comparing notes on why you didn't go, why you didn't hear about it, how your high school sweetheart looks so happy now, or whatever). This myth - lore, expectation, curiosity - led me to greatly look forward to my 10-year reunion. I'm pleased to say that it didn't disappoint.

While some of the cliches applied (there was a drunkard or two that made a fools of themselves, and a few people that had "swelled"*), in general, I was pleasantly surprised at so much. Lots of people showed up, way more than I was expecting (across the 3 events, I would say about half of the graduating class was represented). Most people looked really good. The conversations were much less stale than I might have thought (quickly getting the location/marriage status/job stuff exchanged and then finding a commonality; not nearly as much reminiscing as I feared). But possibly the most pleasant surprise was most people's seeming willingness to leave behind cliques, old grudges, etc. and eagerness to re-meet the people with whom we all share a common past. And while often unsaid, the openness, acceptance, and inclusion displayed signified to me an appreciation and camaraderie the stemmed from that shared experience.

My only real disappointment* was the lack of more than a few notable faces. As I pointed out in my earlier post, "the more, the merrier" couldn't be better applied than to a class reunion. Those who chose not to go made the experience that much less complete. During the showing of the senior class video* when a non-attending classmate was featured, you could hear murmurs from the crowd. Why isn't Siri here?, I wonder what Jeff is up to., or I was really hoping that Aron would be here.. Alas. While not the same, perhaps those questions will be answered at the 20-year. See you in 2018!
Sunday August 10 2008File under: Anacortes, misc

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Ms vs. Twins

One of the upsides for working for a big company is the little perks now and then. Photoworks (now an American Greetings Company) recently made available a couple of Mariners' tickets that I handily snatched up. Baseball games are fun. Baseball games for free are even more fun.

Despite the $4.25 bottled water*, no ground crew dancers*, and the one place that servers soft-serve ice cream in a little plastic helmet being closed, excitement and fun conquered the day, helped along by an epic rally by the Ms late in the game led by a Raul Ibanez grand salami.

Yep, an epic comeback, a gorgeous night at the stadium, and free tickets make for an evening that is alright by me. (Lack of a drunken college roommate yelling in Japanese at Ichiro did lessen the excitement, however).
Tuesday August 5 2008File under: misc, Seattle

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Sedro Frolfing

(To all of you who read the Brothers Root version of the events first, sorry for the overlap. But cross-blogination can be fun, like this counterpoint to Andrew's pic)

Summer in Anacortes means a constant flow of old friends passing through town. As a semi-full time resident*, I try to take advantage of their free time and more pressing desire to get out and enjoy what the area has to offer. The most recent case of this involved a trip up river to the NSRA Frolf Course outside of Sedro Wooley. I've been up there once before, but since the first time through a course is never ideal, I was greatly looking forward to this little excursion.

On the upside, the area of the course is gorgeous, with spectacular a backdrop of the Cascade foothills and hayfields. It is [supposedly] on the site of an old mental institution and has some old overgrown buildings to fit my creepy mental image. The course is a full 18 holes with decent terrain include varying drive lengths and a bit of vertical change. But...

On the downside, the course was overgrown to the point of being almost unplayable. The fields were covered with grass up to 7 feet tall* and the blackberries and other pricklies thankfully only claimed one disc*. In spring there is an issue with soggy ground, so when is the best time to play this course has yet to be determined. But still, tromping around with friends is always a good time.
Tuesday July 22 2008File under: misc, pics

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Oregon Country Fair 2008



The word I've most often been using to describe the Oregon Country Fair (which I attended this weekend) is "magic". Others include: body paint, juggling, dressed in drag, food(!), uninhibited (or not dressed at all), art, impossible, music, good people, harmony, fantastical, freedom, and HOT. If you've never been, you should go and experience it. Words and pictures cannot do it justice.

But the fair was only part of the adventure. Transportation for the weekend was a pop-top '77 VW bus, crammed with 2 more people than seat belts. At the first stop, 30 minutes into the long drive, we realized the starter didn't work. Luckily my childhood provided much wisdom and know-how regarding push starting a VW bus which came in handy the rest of the weekend*. Long, late-night drives, sleeping in a rest area, and running out of gas only added to the adventure of it all.
Monday July 14 2008File under: pics, misc

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What is it

One of my favorite non-personal blogs, Neatorama, has a sometimes feature of "What is it?". It is exactly what you might imagine: from pictures, you gotta decide what it is.

There has been an it lying around our house for a while that has us quite perplexed. I've done some research as to what it is, but have so far been thwarted. Then I figured, why not open it up to everyone to play along. Here are some pictures: 1, 2, 3. If you can't tell from the picture, the logo reads "Rex" with "Made in Finland" below. The metal spikes on the inside are angled downwards and towards the upturned tip. The two tags read "105208, $4.00" in handwritten script and "Devil's Thumb, $4.00", neither of which I think have anything to do with it's origin.

Anyway, if anyone thinks they've got a clue to what it is, post it in the comments. If you have a source to prove you're right, you will be reigning champion...OF THE WORLD*!

(I know the title/headline to this post should have a question mark, but whoever wrote this crappy blog software doesn't properly encode headlines, so it will have to remain an implied question mark.)
Saturday July 12 2008File under: misc, contest

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