Leaf Peeping in Shenandoah National Park

I got the chance to escape the city for the weekend for a visit to Shenandoah National Park, just hours outside of D.C. The park was packed with fellow leaf peepers*. We camped, roasted hot dogs, corn, and sneakers over an open fire, hiked, peeped, and just enjoyed the beauty of the famous Shenandoah National Park. They don't make autumn scenes like this back in the Pacific Northwest.

Monday October 20 2008File under: travel, pics

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Working Vacation

I'm currently camped out in the back of a FedEx/Kinko's in Washington, D.C. for the second morning in a row, using their [reasonable priced, but not free] internet. I don't suppose that I can rightly say that I am on vacation when I've been checking in with work and logging in to fix bugs every day since I've left, but that's okay. In fact, while there is definitely a downside to it, being the optimistic guy that I am, I see a side to the working vacation that I kind of like. Let me highlight a few.

1. When I am able to work from the road, I don't need to let what's going on with work affect my travel schedule. As long as wherever I am going has an internet connection, I can always carve out a couple of hours from sightseeing or napping to do a little work.

2. It lends some structure to my day, which I generally am in need of. If I didn't have to at least check in with work, I might lounge in bed until 11:00 or keep coming up with excuses on why not to change out of my jammies and leave the house.

3. Doing even just a little bit of work in a day lets me feel like I've accomplished something and that I've earned the 2 ice cream cones that I'm bound to eat in my daily roamings.

4. Being a contractor, logging a couple of hours also means that I've earned enough money to pay for those 2 ice cream cones, so I don't need to carve away at my savings too much while traveling.

5. Daily (or almost daily) exposure to work reminds me why vacation is so important, so when I logoff, I can more fully appreciate where I am and what I am choosing to do.

6. When my co-workers/bosses/project managers know that I am taking time out of my vacation to get done what needs to get done, they really appreciate it, and feeling appreciated is a good feeling.

I imagine the novelty will wear off soon and I will start griping about having to check in with work. But luckily, the busy time at work will also start to taper off, so it'll all balance out. Then I will have to come up with another excuse to get my daily computer fix. *cough*nerd*cough*
Friday October 17 2008File under: work, travel

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Further Beard Adventures


If I had been thinking, I would have staged all photos the same. As it was, I was thinking it would only be that first one (which I really like). But then more hair started coming off and looked pretty ridiculous, so I had to take further pictures still. Anyway, since I can't take a beard picture that I don't post, here they are. (Maybe someday I will outgrow this childishness, but I doubt it.)

(Oh, and for those composing their Hitler themed comments, I'll pre-emptively* point out that many famous people sported the toothbrush mustache, both before and after Hitler gave it a bad name)
Thursday October 16 2008File under: beard

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Vote YES for TRANSIT!

We all know that I love public transportation, right? So it only seems natural that I do what I can to help out our local public transit agency as they try to pass a proposition to raise some much needed funds through a sales tax hike.

Step 1: Put up a sign in our yard. I know 20th isn't a super busy street, but at least the neighbors can see.

Step 2: Doorbell. This morning, I went doorbelling (for the first time evar). We basically just dropped of literature and asked them to review it before they voted, so no heated debates on doorsteps. It was an interesting experience and one that I'm glad I had. How much difference it will make is yet to be seen.

Step 3: Implore friends. If you are a registered to vote in Skagit County, please vote yes on the Proposition 1 Transit*. Otherwise, I might just be calling you when they cancel the bus routes that allow me to lead my [mostly] car-less existence.
Saturday October 11 2008File under: Anacortes

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FC 47 - Synergy

I came up with this idea a while ago after hearing some trendy buzzword being co-opted by some corporation to sell something. (Chances are, it was some company advertising themselves as green*.) Well, just last night, not 24 hours after I actually started putting this comic together, I heard someone talking about Slow Food Nation, a slow food conference in San Francisco. The topic of what they ate at the festival came up*, so the woman started talking about how there were booths where you stood in line and got your food (much like at any other festival). Everyone had a good laugh at the seeming irony and I got to try out my little line. People seemed to like it. I hope you like it too.
Thursday October 9 2008File under: comic

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Preach On Will


REST AND BE THANKFUL - William Wordsworth


This view and this quote greeted me after a quickie solo jaunt up Blanchard Mountain(?) in the Chuckanuts this afternoon. I was trying to take advantage of what might be one of the last sunny, non-muddy days of the hiking season. If the weather man cooperates, maybe I can get a longer jaunt in this weekend. It's the perfect cure for those computer blues.
Wednesday October 8 2008File under: misc

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FC 46 - Meat Huffer

Last weekend, I found myself looking back through the archive of comics here on BdW and grew incredibly nostalgic. While I know many of you don't much care for the comics*, I like them. They make me smile. And if nothing else, a blog should at least humor its author. So with that said, I would like to announce the reinstation* of the Friday Comic Series. Who knows how much longer it will go, but I hope for years and years and years (or at least until I have enough good ones to make a hugely profitable book).

Yeah, so I put this one together (obviously). I sketched out a slightly doodilier version while in a meeting at work, and was planning on scanning it in, but then I didn't.* Being that I've got a couple more weeks of doing the work thing, maybe I will try another meeting sketch comic. I find that nothing inspires creativity like meetings. (Granted, the creativity usually has nothing to do with the topic of the meeting, but still...)

(Oh, and it is worth noting that it is practically the one year anniversary of the Friday Comic Series. But I'll save the thank you speech and reminiscing until FC 52.)
Thursday October 2 2008File under: comic

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Reading Season

Last year at about this time, I posted about the beginning of knitting season. And while I am still excited to starts me some knitting, it would be kind of a cop out to post about that again. So instead, I'm going to post about the beginning of reading season!

Most people talk about the summer reading season, but I find there is just so much else to do in the summer. Granted, if you find yourself at a beach, it is always good to have a book handy, but my reading time is just before bed, and when the sun is still up when I go to bed, I just don't feel like reading. But now that days are getting darker sooner and it won't be long before outdoor activities become somewhat tedious due to rain and whatnot, I'm getting my winter reading list ready.

One of the things that may have gone unnoticed in the big switch over to the new skin here at BdW is the addition of the "Life Book List"* link on the header. It is a list of all the books I have read since the beginning of high school, sortable by author, title, and date read*. I've found it a great asset for when I am looking for a new book of a particular type. I just go through and find an author that I had forgotten about, and see if s/he has written anything new. Or when a friend asks me for a suggestion, I can quickly scan what I've recently read and hopefully come up with one.

At the beginning of this reading season, I'm feeling pretty ambitious. Last night, I started Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. It is merely 837 pages, so I should be able to finish it easily before the spring thaw, maybe even sooner. If I do finish it sooner, do you have any suggestions for me (and others), esp. based on what I've read so far? Please limit your recommendations to 1 fiction and 1 non-fiction. (We don't need to go recreating GoodReads here.) I'll list my recommendations in the comments below.
Wednesday October 1 2008File under: books

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PDX Weekend


As I mentioned in last week's Lopez Jugglefest post, I was planning on attending the Portland Juggling Festival. This past weekend, I did just that. It was, however, less juggling oriented than I thought it would be. While I did get my a fair amount of juggling in (including a great walk around pattern with drop backs that we came oh so close to running) and watched some great juggling take place, the weekend was so packed with other stuff, it would be unfair to restrict my post to just juggling.

There was also gambling friendly wagering! In the course of just 24 hours with Andrew, I managed to lose $24 in bets about the most random things. $9 on trivial pursuit (the wager: +$1 for every question I got right, -$1 for every question I got wrong*), $10 on skee ball ($5 per game), and $5 on frolf. Andrew (or in the case of frolf, Myke) won each of these bets on a fluke and I would be willing to throw down anytime again. Luckily, just before leaving the juggling festival, I made all my money back by winning the crumbled dollar bill juggling event in the games*.

Besides juggling and gambling friendly wagering, there was some biking around to visit friends. Once again, I was reminded of how bike friendly Portland is, even if you happen to be riding a fixed gear bike of death or basket-ed cruised that is 11 sizes too small (but seriously, I'm grateful you guys letting me pedal your babies).

Biking, juggling, wagering, frolfing, and hanging out with friends: not a bad way to spend a weekend. It serves as a great opening to my travel season.
Monday September 29 2008File under: juggling, travel

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More Bus Fun

Warning: Rambling anecdote follows. Proceed at your own risk.

I love riding the bus in new places. It reinforces the power of public transportation when a person unfamiliar with an area can get where they are going without resorting to taxis or calling a friend to pick them up. With the proliferation of online trip planners, finding your way around a non-familiar area is easier than ever. That said, it doesn't always go so smoothly.

Yesterday, I took the train down here to Portland. (My love affair with trains continues, despite them not showing a movie...) Andrew, being the good friend he is, offered to pick me up at the train station. "No," I said. "I'll just hop on a bus." I had done my research before hand (on trimet.org) so I had schedules and routes all documented.

I exit the train station and find my bus stop. There was someone else there, so I quickly confirmed that this is the bus I wanted. We had 20 minutes or so to kill, so we struck up a great conversation*. The bus comes and we go on our way. Trimet buses have reader boards displaying each stop as you pass it, so if you are paying attention, you won't ever miss your stop. I was paying attention.

While I don't know Portland overly well, I've spent enough time to get a general feel for it. From that general feel, I sensed the bus wasn't going in the direction I was hoping to. "Have faith," I told myself. Often buses take meandering routes to get to their destination. When everyone else had gotten off, my faith started running dry. I asked the driver and sure enough, I got on the right bus, but going the wrong way. Alas.

Armed with new directions from the driver, I get off and start trudging to the nearest bus stop. (By this point it is after 10:00). As I am walking away, the driver opens her window and yells, "I got a better idea. Get back on." It turns out that she was officially off duty and returning the bus to the garage, which was in the direction I wanted to go. So she turned on the off-duty sign, made me promise not to tell how fast she drove, and then floored it. In the course of my personal bus ride, she told me her life story, another meaningful conversation with a stranger courtesy of the bus.

I finally made it to my destination, perhaps a little later than I might have, but filled with inspiration from meeting a few good people and an ever renewed sense of appreciation for public transportation.
Friday September 26 2008File under: transportation, travel

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