|I. Have. Made. Fire.
This was kind of how I felt yesterday when I got to use my wood stove* for the first time in my cabin. I've been gathering parts and scheming how things are going to work for what seems like a very long time. But it turns out that the installation process for a salvaged-from-the-woods stove isn't as easy as 1) carry heavy stove into place 2) light fire. But with persistence, I've got an almost standardly installed not-even-close-to-standard wood stove, and, it turns out, it runs great!
I won't know how well it heats the space, how efficiently it burns the wood, or how easy it is to maintain until the cold weather sets in and I have lots of occasion to use it. But this initial burn was very promising. Smoke flowed where it should, heat was emitted as I expected, and starting and stoking it were straight forward.
While the stove was cooking away, I spent a little time on a few other projects including plumbing in the drain for the sink, building a frame for the last uncovered window, and finishing up the siding on the outside. Yep, my little stone hobbit hole is coming along. I can't wait for the coming winter to enjoy the cabin as it should be enjoyed--reading a book by the wood stove with a cup of hot cocoa watching the snow fall outside the windows.
|Wednesday October 8 2014||File under: quarry, cabin|
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|As I mentioned back in January, I've been keeping a database of all the trivia nights I go to (or my regular team attend without me). We've now reached the 1 year point on the data and I'm like a pig in shit analyzing it. I think I really missed my calling in life: data analyst. Anyway, I wanted to share some of the fun stuff I've found. I'll try not to data you to death.
In the past year, I've attended 118 trivia nights at 16 locations (mostly bars) in 5 states and international waters, though the vast majority of them were my local 3 goto spots (previously covered here). That's a lot of trivia, averaging more than 2 events per week.
And while I'm in it mostly for the fun, the prizes aren't bad either. A compilation of the prizes we've won is ridiculous. From the inset, you can see that we did quite well for ourselves. And in addition to that, we had some real great one-off prizes: kayak tours, bike lights, Star Wars Trilogy on Laser Disc. But there were also some real doozies: finger painting of Steven Tyler by 9 year old, mini cupcake machine, a gift pack of variously-sized googly eyes.
As the prizes seem to suggest, we're not bad, winning about half the time. Of the 141 events in the year, we logged 70 1st place wins, 34 2nds, 16 3rds, and 22 non-top 3 finishes. At one point in the year, we had won so many consecutive weeks at one bar that when our team was announced, from the back of the bar came the shout "Nobody likes you". Good times.
The data has much more to reveal, like per capita winnings as a possible metric of contribution, but I won't bore you with that. Instead, I'll just keep nerding away until it is time for me to go to another trivia :-)
|Thursday October 2 2014||File under: trivia, data|
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|Why did I construct a giant changeable crossword on the top of my car? I like crosswords (as attested to here and here). I like fun things. And why not? If you can't do something silly every now and again, what fun is life?
A word about the process: first Della and I expertly* spray painted a white square atop the car. Then I meticulously divided the grid using a sharpie (and electrical tape for the outer border). The grid is 15x15, so standard daily size. Next, I bought some scrap magnetic material (from the nice folks at Chazzzam Signs & Graphics in Bellingham), like the stuff from those decal signs on the sides of construction trucks, and cut it into squares then painted them black. I used magnetic material for the black squares so that the grid arrangement can be changed to facilitate different puzzles. With the remaining magnetic material, I made the numbers.
The idea is that random passersby can collaboratively solve the puzzle using those little fridge alphabet magnets. I will post the clues on the window and provide a little step stool to reach the middle of the grid. I foresee it mostly being unveiled at festivals and other semi-controlled parking areas, but maybe airport parking lots, park & rides, and even right out on the street will prove feasible.
I wrote a custom car-themed puzzle to debut the project. The puzzle turned out pretty good, with only one answer I don't care much for. You can download the puzzle here (or .puz format here). Or you can stalk my car and do it in the wild!
And no good, fun, silly project is complete without a few glamour shots.
|Thursday September 25 2014||File under: games, transport|
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|Circus, in this day and age, can be any one of many things: artsy skin-tight costumed acrobats of cirque du soleil to traditional elephants and lion tamers to prop based gadgetry to a bunch of hippies putting on a show at their converted rock quarry. But the thing they all have in common, in my mind, is fun. So when a circus comes through town, no matter what the type, I try not to miss it.
Well, Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey was passing through town on it's biannual tour of the country, so I just couldn't pass it up. While the animal laden 3-ring variety of circus isn't my favorite, it's still something I'm not wont to skip. And for good reason. While the animal bits were a bit hard to watch (except the tiny dogs atop tiny ponies) and the verve of the hosts and clowns were a bit lack-luster, the skills displayed by the highlighted acts were top notch and the overall feel of the show was fun fun fun!
What made the show even more fun was remembering back to the last time* I went, when we* got to go behind the scenes because I knew a guy. And while the comparison of the last experience to this one shows either that the greatest show on earth is getting a little less great or I'm getting a little more circus snobby (probably due to my constant exposure), having that previous frame of reference was just plain neat.
Yes, I love a circus. If I had my way, I'd be like a deadhead, but for following circuses. Imagine: touring the world seeing the best troupes and acts there were, getting to know the names, the sets, and the details. Yes, if I ever win the lottery, that's what I'll do: I'll become a circus-head.
(It should be noted that part of my disappointment with this itteration of RB + B&B was the lack of juggling. No circus should be without a juggler. So RB, if you're reading this, give me a call.)
|Friday September 19 2014||File under: circus, juggling|
|I recently got to live out one of my long time dreams: hosting pub trivia! I've hosted trivias before: at my Christmas party, on Chautauqua, at an ex-teacher*'s anniversary party. But never have I done it all official like: with prizes, in a bar, with lots of strangers weighing potential answers to questions from my brain. It was a great. And not only was it great for me, it seemed that the attendees had a good time too.
So not only was this just checking off the dream of hosting a real bar trivia, it was hosting it at one of the best trivia places around. Scratch that: not one of but the best trivia place around. Will, the host at the Longhorn Saloon in Edison, WA, writes some of the best trivia, is the liveliest host, and creates the best atmosphere of any trivia I've ever been to (and that's saying a lot, because from last check over at the trivia database, I've been to 12 other locations just this year!). Anyway, to fill in for Will was quite an honor. I sure hope I did it justice.
As is my wont with trivia, I thought I might post the picture round so you can play along at home. I really like how this one turned out: not too hard and not too easy. The only one nobody got was #4. Can you? (Make sure you're answering the question in the lower left hand corner!) Answers in comments below
With as much fun as I had, I truly hope that I get another crack at hosting. It takes a while to hone in difficulty, categories, etc. But it is safe to say that I now know that I don't just love playing trivia, I love creating it as well!
|Saturday September 6 2014||File under: games|
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We were out in Colorado for a wedding (a post about that later) which just happened to coincide with the event. A group of us gathered up some bikes, donned costumes (complete with capes honoring the special couple), and dove into the chaos. Della and I brought along our Yippee and Ki-yay costumes, but with a twist. The twist: wearing nothing but undies underneath the chaps. Being out in public (a parade no less) dressed rather far outside of our comfort zones was an experience. But people loved the hilarity in it and we had fun.
The event was more than just a parade of costumed people on bikes. There was a festival awaiting particpants at the end with food and beer booths, music stages, crazy bike contraptions and more. And all the money raised went to support bike organizations int the Ft. Collins area. So neat!
Yep, the Tour de Fat was a super lucky coincidence for us and really added to our already great trip to Colorado. Who knows, maybe it'll draw us back some time in the future!
|Tuesday September 2 2014||File under: colorado, transportation|
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|For the past 3 years on my birthday, I've been involved in some Chautauqua event, whether tour or a benefit. While Chautauqua is always a fun time, individual celebration can get lost in the mob. This year, my calendar was clear and I tried to take full advantage of it. With the planning help of my wonderful partner, the day was a resounding success.
In short, breakfast with the fam (including cake*!), a dip in the quarry (when the weather was super hot, so it was great!), gathering with friends for happy hour (and more cake(!)), juggle club at the park with more friends (some of whom even dressed up as me!), and all ending by sleeping in my cabin at the quarry*.
Birthdays can be stressful with too much expectation or can be lonely with not enough planning. Mine, I'm happy to report, was just perfect.
|Thursday August 14 2014||File under: holidays|
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|Who's ready to nerd out on the most insignificant details and break them down statistically!?! Everyone? Good, that's what I thought. So without further ado, here's the breakdown of my year of Sleeping Around™, the industry standard for tracking one's itinerant life.
Some interesting observations: this year takes the cake for most nights spent at home, up 20 nights from the previous high mark (and up 37(!) over the 5-year average). I attribute this to the settling that Della and I have been doing in the Outback (covered here).
Also notable is the record low number of travel, down almost a full month from the previous low mark (down 50(!) nights from the 5-year average). While there's a twinge of regret in seeing that number, I also know that it's low because I've got a pretty dang good life for myself here on the home front so there's less fun to be had in leaving. But still, I hope to see this number rise for the '14-'15 year (esp. that peskily low international travel number).
Other fun data:
Since this is year number 6* of data collection, I thought I'd throw a fun little Over the Years graph, a fun way to compare year to year.
To have a further look at this year's data so you can run your own graphs and charts, go here. Posts on previous years sleeping around can be found here: '08-'09, '09-'10, '10-'11, '11-'12, and '12-'13
|Monday August 4 2014||File under: stats|
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|I've recently been spending some time up at the Lookout Arts Quarry. Besides summer being a perfect time for hanging out with the artsy folks there just for the season, for some of the best swimming around, and for spending time at/working on my cabin*, it is also a great time for working on all sorts of projects out there. I wanted to share a couple of my latest.
The first is a welcome sign to go along with my license plate-roofed info kiosk (covered here). I got the idea from a housesitting house. I'm super pleased with how it turned out. And with the remnants of the project, I can make oodles more signs! If I just had more things to say....
The second project was one that I worked on over the spring but finally came to fruition recently. Up near my cabin, there's a gorgeous viewpoint lookout out over the whole quarry. But like most viewpoints, it was paired with a dangerous cliff. To keep it at least a little safe, we had DANGER tape strung up haphazardly which totally ruined the pristiness of the place. Well, I built what I call a highway viewpoint style guardrail to keep people safe but not ruin the beauty of the place, maybe even enhance it! I'm excited for a few trees to get removed and have it really be a place people can enjoy!
There are so many projects deserving of attention up there. It's nice to have the great weather to get up there and get some of them done. If you're ever in the area, make sure you allot some time to swing on by. I love giving tours! And maybe we'll even get you to chip in on a project or two.
|Friday July 25 2014||File under: quarry|
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|First, let me assure the Wheel of Fortune producers and legal team that there is nothing in this post about the winners, outcome, or any content of any episode (as I agreed to in my contract). This post is merely to share a little about the process with my friends who are very interested in this great show and institution. Please contact me with any concerns. And thanks for being totally awesome!
Among the things I've gotten to do in my life, there are quite a few neat ones: running away with the circus, spending time on a deserted tropical island, getting a crossword published, building a cabin in the woods, etc. etc. Well, I've now got another great experience to add to the list: being on Wheel of Fortune!
My taping was last week down in Culver City, CA. Della and I flew down for a 3 day stay* where we got to explore the area a little, but mostly it was a focus on the task at hand.
The day started early with a shuttle picking me up at the hotel and whisking us off to the studio where we went through some paperwork, logistics, etc. Then it was time for make-up, a whole new experience for me. The make-up lady was so super nice (just like everyone I interacted with*) and the hair lady said I looked great and didn't need to do anything.
After we were all gussied up, they took us out on the set to first ooh and aah over seeing the set, which was totally awesome! but then to film our hometown howdies, a short clip of us saying where we're from and when you can watch us on our home station. I don't know if KOMO airs these (some stations do and some don't), but I look forward to seeing it!
Next was spinning practice. You might think there isn't much to spinning, but there is! The wheel weights 2400 lbs and to get it moving is not as easy a task as you might think. They actually had us do stretches before hand so as not to pull a muscle! When it was our turn to spin, they had us practice our calling out of letters in loud clear voices. They really want the show to be as good as possible.
Seeing the set, spinning the wheel, and even a cameo appearance in the green room by Vanna both served to calm my nerves in getting me more comfortable with everything but also get me more nervous in knowing that it was actually happening! While I won't say that I was a wreck, I was more nervous than I thought I would be, and I wasn't even playing yet!
After spinning practice, they divvied us up into games* and our positions on stage. I was put in the 4th show of the day, just after lunch. This meant that Della, who was to arrive at 11:00, would have to wait until I went on at 3:30 but not know it. As the contestants came out for each show, she said she was on the edge of her seat waiting to see if it was me!
Those of us not in the first show were then ushered into the audience* to watch the tapings before it was our turn. While I initially was bummed at my draw of a later show (thinking that it just meant more time to stew), seeing how everything was done (commercial breaks, movement of the contestants, etc.) helped me feel more comfortable in knowing how things were going to play out*.
And then it was my turn to hit the set, which is where this story will have to end for now. I fully intend to keep my promise to the producers about not revealing the outcome, and I wouldn't want to anyway. I want you to watch and find out for yourself. So tune in on October 30, 2014. Check your local listings for times and channel.
Overall, I have to say again how wonderful the whole experience was. Between the clear communications, wonderfully helpful people, great co-contestants, and the extreme neatness of seeing how things that you love are done, this experience ranks up near the top of my Life Neato list no matter what the outcome. To know that outcome, be sure to watch!
|Wednesday July 16 2014||File under: wheel|
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