2013 Year End Letter

For the past couple years, I've been meaning to get around to writing a year end/christmas letter. I always really appreciate it when I receive such a letter in the real mail as it keeps me informed about my friends' lives and let's me know that they are thinking of me. So this year I finally did it. It was a neat exercise, from picking the few pictures that I could include to narrowing down and summarizing my year.

If people still read the blog (like you do, which I am ever so grateful), most of the content would be a rehashing. And indeed, if you didn't get a fancy schmancy paper copy of this in the mail, it is most likely since I know you are a reader and it would all be redundant. But I wanted to post it here 1) for posterity* 2) because it is a nice summation of my year (and 3) If you can't tell, I'm desperate for blog material these days)

Anyway, click on the image* above and have a read.
Tuesday January 14 2014File under: misc

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2013 Shop My Friends Buying Guide

Any glance at a newspaper, TV, or billboard will tell you we've now entered into that Buy! Buy! Buy! part of the year, when anyone who questions the consume, gift giving attitude is sourly looked down on as un-American*. Well, although Black Friday and even Shop Small Business Saturday aren't my thing, there is a branch of this gift buying tree that I can get behind.

I'm lucky enough to have some pretty freaking creative friends who make things, neat things. So not only would you be giving a neat thing with a story to that somebody on your list, you are supporting a good creative person. And if supporting good creative people isn't one of the best parts of consumerism, I don't know what is. So have a look at my 2013 Shop My Friends Buying Guide.

(Oh, and if you have something neat for sale, post a link in the comments!)
Path Puzzles: My buddy Rod created this awesome book of a type of puzzle I had never seen before. It's a little like Sudoku, a little like Ken Ken, and a little like nothing you've seen before. Great for that puzzle enthusiast on your list!
Baby sweater patterns: Got a do-it-yourselfer on your list? A baby sweater pattern (knit or crochet) with an awesome story might just be the thing. My friend Stef* is doing this awesome project. Check out the site for all the info, and for goodness sake, buy a pattern. Don't let the babies freeze. (She's also got some pretty awesome earrings over at her Etsy shop.)
Chair Dancing: Learn the sexiest dance of all time: I posted once about it here, but it's worth calling it out again. If you've ever seen the chair dance, this book is a hilarious companion. Or it can stand alone for anyone who appreciates satire, humor, and maybe a little bit of hair flipping.
Troothpicks: You know them! You love them! Now buy them! Get 'em for yourself to take to holiday potlucks*, give them to that foodie with a great sense of humor, or stuff them in any stocking you can find. And if nothing else, at least it's good for dental hygiene.
Dexter and Stray: If you've got a young person on your list, then check this out. My fellow juggler, Chautauquan, and beard enthusiast Zack writes young adult books featuring Dexter (Tinkerer, bicycle mechanical genius) and Stray (free spirited juggling acrobat*). The adventures are great not only for their creativity and wackiness, but also for their exaltation of circus!
Friday Comics: Remember those hilarious weekly comics that graced BdW every Friday for all those years? Well, they can be yours to own or give to friends to enrich their lives. No reasonable offer will be refused! Contact me to order yours today! (be reminded of the hilariousness here!
Custom hand-carved block prints of your pets: Bill (yes that Bill of Spoonshine* fame) does something pretty neat. He hand carves block prints of your pet from a photograph. What a unique, thoughtful gift that would sure to be loved.
Music:It seems you can't swing a dead cat in the northwest without hitting a wonderful musician. But no need to start searching dumpsters, because I've got a few musician type friends that have music for sale, no cat swinging necessary.
  • Pepperjill & Jack: With a blend of classical training, old-school rock 'n' roll, and odball quirkiness, they're having a hard time defining exactly what genre we're aiming for, but it's safe to say it falls somewhere within "fun".
  • Strangely:Lively accordion often with bold messages, this street performer/juggler/etc. put lots of energy into his album for you to enjoy.
  • Rattletrap Ruckus: Rattletrap Ruckus is a rollicking four-piece instrumental band from Bellingham, WA. They play fiddle tunes, ragtime, tango, paso dobles, various breeds of waltz, klezmer, polkas, and oh so much more. Fun fun fun!

Saturday November 30 2013File under: misc, holidays

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Supporting Public Radio(ish)

I'm a big public radio guy. Three of my 6 car* radio buttons are dedicated to the different public radio stations around my area and their various translator stations. I enjoy being intellectually engaged, knowing what's happening in the world*, and being entertained.

But of late, NPR, esp. Morning Edition and All Things Considered, haven't been doing it for me. I started noticing last year that their political coverage esp. was becoming what I hate, why I can't stand to listen to CNN/Fox News/major network news. Since then, I've noticed it creeping into much of their "reporting" and find myself turning off the radio rather than listening to it.

I've been a contributing member of one NPR station or another since sophomore year in college*. I like what they offer and I'm happy to support. But lately, I'm less happy about supporting. When donating last year, I included a note with my check that explained why it was less than years past and I would love to see things change. They haven't.

So this year, I decided to try something new. I decided to support the shows I enjoy rather than the station (although I did contribute a little to my favorite station, Northwest Public Radio, as well). This concept of cutting out the middle man reflects how my listening has evolved; I'm downloading podcasts of my favorite shows (radiolab and freakonomics for example) rather than planning my radio time around them.

It feels good to know that my meager contribution is going directly to what I enjoy. The feeling is very much like those first couple years of donating to Maine Public Radio. So while I hope the news programs that I once really enjoyed find their way back from the icky mass media scene, in the meantime, bring on the podcasts.

(Are you a public radio fan? Do you contribute? If not, you should consider it. It feels great and is the right thing to do.)
Monday November 4 2013File under: misc

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Lazy and Easy

This photo, taken of last night's sunset and then pretty-ified with instagram, is meant to represent what I'm up to: chillin'. While I can't, for the life of me, think of what I've been busy with the previous 6 months or so, I feel like I haven't gotten a proper chance to indulge the lazy life that I once knew so well. These past couple weeks have been a return to that easy life, and it's been so nice.

Lazy and easy doesn't mean I'm not productive. I'm working on all the projects that have built up for me over the past months, both for myself and for others. I'm making websites, printing troothpicks, knitting(!), writing*, making crosswords*, and getting travel plans ironed out.

Lazy and easy, however, does mean that there is time for non-productivity too. I'm catching up on reading, tv, baking, and lots of Words and Scramble with Friends*. It's easy to let myself enjoy this because I know it's not meant to last. With spring travel then summer circus season just around the bend, I better enjoy the lazy life while I can.
Saturday February 9 2013File under: misc

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2013 Bellingham Circus Guild Calendar

Speaking of traditions, it's time* for the Bellingham Circus Guild's annual fundraiser calendar! This year Della took a break from design and layout and I partnered with the ever talented Kayla to make it happen. I did the template, grids, covers, and layout-for-printing logistics, and she did the picture gathering, grouping, and laying out. I think the result turned out super great and I'm stoked to have my portable, perfectly-sized, life-planning calendar to fill in with my busy busy schedule*.

The cover should be enough to make you want your own copy, but in case it's not, here's a few pages: June, September, and October. What's that? Now you've gotta have your own copy, you say? Well, don't delay. Go find a Cirque Guild member and plop down your big monies. Or contact me, and I'll see what I can do. And remember, you're supporting a pretty dang neat organizations whose state mission is "to assist and support the circus arts community of Whatcom County, to promote circus arts to the community at large, and to radically proliferate delight at every opportunity." How can you not want to support that?

Oh, and if you want to check out the previous calendars (which are also pretty dang neat), you can do so here: 2012, 2011, 2010. Yeehaw*!
Thursday December 27 2012File under: circus, misc

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License To Roof

What do you do with your old license plates? Perhaps you have a stack of them in the garage, waiting for a clever project to come along that could use them? Wait no longer!! I've got an idea!

In the same vein as the winedow, I want to do a roof out of license plates. Chances are I won't do my cabin because 1) I would need a butt load* and 2) It is an untested roofing material and I don't want leaks. But I'm thinking I will need a wood/generator shed and these are the perfect solution!

So with St. Presents Day right around the corner, I humbly suggest if you want to donate to the cause, send 'em my way. (I promise not to use them for robberies, getaway cars, or parking ticket evasion.) Viva la recycling!
Wednesday November 14 2012File under: misc

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Minor Media Mention - Soup Swimming Edition

It looks like I can now add "professional model" to my ever growing resume*. I suppose, to be technically correct, "professional" doesn't really apply here, because I haven't seen a dime in royalties. But I did help set up the photo shoot and strike a pose for the ad that runs in the Fall 2012 issue of the Chuckanut Reader (which you can read here...*)

A slightly better version of the ad can be seen here. It is advertising the wealth of great homemade soups at the Colophon Cafe. And while their clam chowder is really top notch, I don't advise bathing in it.

(File this under news clipping scrapbook, just like this, this, this, and this)
Thursday September 27 2012File under: misc

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Winedow

I couldn't be more proud to present...my Winedow, the product of many months of pondering, pent up enthusiasm*, experimentation, and hope. It turned out great and I can't wait to get it installed in my cabin and see it in the wild.

As you might have guessed from the ever-so-clever name, it is a window made of wine bottles. I have heard of (and even seen) a few of these in the real world, but nothing exactly like what I wanted, so I had to just wing it. I've briefly outlined the steps I used below. If you are wanting to try this yourself, please feel free to contact me with more questions.
  1. Get a bunch of wine bottles. I tried to get a variety of colors with different thumb indentions.
  2. Cut the bottles. The method I used for cutting was to score the outside of the bottle in a jig, then to pour a thin stream of boiling water over the score followed by a thin stream of cold water. This causes a nice cut.
  3. Get a frame. I used cross-section of a metal 55-gallon barrel, about 1 foot tall.
  4. With the frame sitting flat against the ground, fill it with sand, which allows for positioning of unevenly cut bottles, and holds them in place while filling in the gaps.
  5. Once the bottles are arranged in the sand, fill in the gaps with expanding foam, up to 2-3 from the top surface*.
  6. Fill the rest of the way up on the gaps with mortar. I( left about .5-1 inch of the bottle exposed.
  7. Let set and dry for a couple days and voila!
The project is only half done, really. I still have to finish the backside, which I plan to do with a solid piece of frosted glass, edged with a decorative piece of rope(?). Then, of course, I have to install it. Once in place, I'm sure it will warrant another post with lots of pictures, but in the meantime, here it is [in all it's glory].
Wednesday April 11 2012File under: misc

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Troothpicks Are Back!

I trust you all know about the amazing product sweeping the nation, the product that your next party shouldn't be without: Troothpicks! If you don't know of them (or don't yet have your cupboards stocked), check out the website at www.troothpicks.com.

Speaking of Troothpicks, I got my first order in years(!), only my third order ever from a random customer. I was so caught off guard that I figured it must have been spam. But sure enough, the money was in the account and it was all legit. Needless to say, I dove deep into the stats* to see where this manna from heaven came from. The answer: a google search of "non-toxic" dinner party hors d'oerves.

I'm so giddy about the order that I found myself starting to think about starting back up the business (or at least promoting it more than just as a conversation starter at parties*). So get 'em while the gettings good and not only have a fun addition to your next party, but also support yours truly.
Tuesday February 21 2012File under: misc

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Spoontastic

I like making things, esp. making useful things. Most times, I would much rather have a crappy (yet totally functional) thing made by me than a fancy, well made (and also totally functional) thing made by someone else. Perhaps that explains my passable but not top notch comics, crosswords, knitting, and soon to be cabin.

Anyway, the new genre of Things I Made is wooden stuff, in this case spoons. I'm greatly enjoying learning about what woods to use, how to cure wood, and about the tools. I haven't gotten to the complete stage on any of said spoons, but in their current state, they would do just a dandy job of stirring soup or getting it to your mouth. Someday, however, I'd like to get to the point of making some nice enough that I might feel good giving them as gifts.

All this woodworking has me looking at what else I might have an attempt at. In addition to spoons, I've started a spatula and a bowl(!). When/if those ever turn out, I'll keep you posted.
Wednesday January 25 2012File under: misc

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