1000th Post!


Eight and a half years ago, I embarked on this blog not knowing what it might ever become. My reasons for starting it were both to document and share my life and to inspire me to do new things worthy of documenting and sharing. Even with those lofty goals, I could have never dreamed it would go on as long as it has and been as meaningful to me as it has. Through travel and comics, videos and poems, and pictures and data, Blog du Wren has been a wonderful constant in my life. So I only thought it fitting to take this post, post #1000, to look back.

Travel: Through road trips, bikes trips, business trips, or oversea adventures, more than anything else*, BdW has been a record of my travels. A rough count reveals that BdW has been with me through 30 or so countries. Among my favorite travel posts are the post-trip galleries and slideshows, a complication of all the photos I took on a particular trip. Just looking back now, I'm reminded of what amazing things I saw and did. To have a place to store travel memories is just one of the great services BdW has procided me.

Coding projects: I know I would have never dabbled with as many computer-coding related projects had it not been for this blog. And besides ending up with some really neat web-apps, games, and interactive posts (not to mention this blog itself), I also furthered my knowledge of web programming, a skill I have been able to actually use for work!

Data keeping: Much in line with coding, BdW has become a storehouse for a nerdy amount of data. From where I've slept, to the trivias I've done, to the books I've read* and more, I feel like I'm constantly checking back with BdW to remember or analyze some piece of data or another. And then there's the data on the blog itself: # of posts, # of comments, frequency of posts, popular referrer URLs. Data analysis is another job applicable skill that blogging has taught me.

Friday Comics: Though not much a part of the blog recently, there was a good five years when my poorly made comics were a staple, almost every Friday. The project even resulted in 2 books (which are still available for purchase today (here and here)!)

Accomplishments: An accomplishment means so much more when you can share it with people, and that's what BdW has allowed for so many of my accomplishments. From one-time, hey-ma-look-at-me doozies (like the epic Wheel of Fortune win) to well-documented, long worked on accomplishments (publishing crosswords, building of the cabin), it feels like it all happened here.

Everything else: Running maybe a close second to travel, totally random posts make up a good chunk of what's here and what's fun to remember. All my random beards, soap box derbying, becoming a "professional juggler", the great egg off, circus guild calendars, poetry series (Roses Are Red and Night Before Christmas), knitting, attempts at writing, shoenicycle, homemade salt—the list could go on. These random projects and posts are the meat of this blog.

One thousand posts over 8 and a half years. Not everyone is so lucky as to have that kind of chronicle of their lives, and lucky is exactly what I feel when I think about BdW. Lucky to have the record, lucky to be able to share, and lucky to have the inspiration. And while the posting frequency has fluctuated, I hope I can be so lucky as to be celebrating post number 2000 down the road. And I hope you'll be there to celebrate it with me.
Saturday March 7 2015File under: blog

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Hawaii Food Post

On our recent trip to Hawaii (thank you Wheel of Fortune!), Della and I had enough great food related experiences that I figured it deserved its own post. From new I've-never-even-heard-of-that fruits to delicious all-you-can-eat luau smorgasbord, it was a treat.

The logical place to start is at the farmers market, of which there seem to be lots of on almost any given day of the week. But somewhat to our surprise, of the 3-ish markets we went to, we weren't blown away by the selection. We did manage to score some star fruit and Della found a giant avocado*, but otherwise I guess there wasn't much in season. Luckily for us, however, a friend scoured the markets and put together a local fruits tasting that we enjoyed on the beach as the sun went down. The new fruits included lilikoi, chico sapote, dragon fruit, and a couple others I totally forget the name of. Super yum!

Then, of course, there were the coconuts. I first had a go at my traditional blood, sweat, and tears way of opening one using only my wit, my bare hands, and a conveniently sharp rock (see how-to here). Later I tried a new technique that I had heard about which I shall call smashy-smashy. Besides losing the delicious water inside, the smashy-smashy technique works amazingly and I might never go back*.

Continuing with the theme of culinary adventurousness, I stumbled across a uniquely Hawaiian dish called loco moco. After hearing the description, I couldn't pass it up: a huge pile of rice covered with 2 eggs, spam, and all drenched in gravy. Um, yes. The verdict ended up being meh on account of the gravy tasting like it was from a mix and the rice to everything else ratio being a bit high. But I'm glad I had a go!

Lastly, fittingly, comes dessert. I tried a shave ice with ice cream inside, which was quite nice. And our wonderful host* made us a delicious no-bake mamey sapote pie on macadamia nut/coconut date crust. But just as often as the good stuff, it was gas station ice cream and fast food milk shakes. After all, it's vacation and sometimes you just need some sugar.

Yep, it's fair to say the culinary portion of our trip was a success. Exposure to new eats has not only expanded my palate, it has expanded my waist line as well.
Monday March 2 2015File under: travel, hawaii

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Postcard From Hawaii


Hawaii is fun. Look at all the fun we are having. Fun fun fun!*

Monday February 23 2015File under: travel, hawaii

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Roses Are Red Poetry Slam No. 9

It's that time again—to reluctantly and hastily dash off a few Roses are Red poems for that special someone. Well, that special someone for me is you, dear reader. So here are a few hastily dashed off poems to celebrate year number 9(!) of the Blog du Wren Roses Are Red poetry slam. Please leave your contributions in the comments below. Or, if you're not feeling the poetry bug, have a read back at the previous years ('14', '13, '12, '11, '10, '09, '08, '07)




It's late in the game
To beg your contribution
But the Roses are Red blog post
Is a BdW institution

Roses are red
With a hint of green
You've stolen my heart
And also my spleen

Twelve words about roses
Not a bouquet
My gift to you
OK?*



The day before Rose Day
Is a Friday quite ominous
Another scary thought?
My love for you is bottomess

Roses are pokey
Like your fresh trimmed moustache
And them kisses from you
Are so worth the rash

Roses embed
A love tasty and true
And our love runs sweet
Like milk chocolate fondue

Friday February 13 2015File under: poetry, holidays

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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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Throw Back Thursday

My dad recently celebrated his 75th birthday. By all measures, that's quite a cause for celebration. Us kids tried to come up with a special gift to fit the occasion. What we came up with was this—a reenactment of some goofy picture of us as children. And we may not have nailed it well as we might have, I think it turned out pretty dang neat. Hopefully he thought so as well.

The process behind re-staging a photo was more involved than I originally thought. The hardest part, it turned out, was finding the right photo. When selecting a photo, we looked for criteria such as background, distinction, accessories, and more. And so many of the photos to be considered seemed to have either distinct backgrounds or accessories/costumes that would be quite hard to duplicate (there were lots of good Halloween costume photos, for example).

Once the photo was chosen, the rest was easy-ish. A trip to the Goodwill to look for costumes, scouting shoot locations, and then post processing (to give it that 1985 fade).

I look forward to trying this out again, and will actively keep an eye out for any photos that might totally fit the bill. But in the meantime, I'm stoked with how this one turned out and was happy to have the opportunity to do it.
Thursday January 29 2015File under: pics, family

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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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My Crossword Mug Puzzle

Yeehaw! I'm super stoked to announce the publication of my second crossword puzzle! Rather than the traditional newspaper crossword, this one is written for a mug produced by the good folks over at Unemployed Philosophers Guild. The way it works is this: they made a mug with a static crossword grid on it. Every month, they produce a new puzzle that fits that grid. Mug owners download the new set of clues and solve each month's puzzle, right on the mug!

Creating a puzzle for a predetermined grid (esp. one of such non-standard dimensions) was a new challenge for me. To make it even more difficult, the editor requested a quote based puzzle. To find a popular quote that fit the very specific enumeration of the grid, I first tried just pouring through quotes. After my eyes could stand it no longer, I wrote a computer program to check quotes if they could fit*. Finally I found one and wrote the puzzle around it. While the quote might not be the most famous or moving one in the world, the grid allowed for all sorts of interesting fill which made the puzzle turn out great, IMO.

So how can you do the puzzle? Well, you could always head over to UPG and order yourself a mug (or check out their other clever wares). If your mug drawer is full up, then I suppose you could just download a printable version here.

And, for posterity, here's a screenshot of the puzzle on their website (complete with ridiculous bio) in case the internet ever dissolves and BdW is the only site left.

(The post about my first published puzzle, and the long road to publication, can be found here)

Sunday January 18 2015File under: games, crosswords

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Twas the Night Before Christmas 2014

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through Sin City
The lights were aglow
Making everything look pretty

The bright neon greens
And sultry neon reds
Could almost be seen as
A tree, Della said

The fountains at Bellagio
And the tower high above Paris
Miss Liberty at New York new York
And the giant new wheel of ferris

But for Vegas this is standard
Every night here is glitzy
After all that's why people come here
To feel a tad ritzy

But not me and Della
Shows are our reason
For coming to this place
This holiday season

So we did our best
And saw three shows just today
We saw a juggler, we saw Mac King
We saw a Cirque du Soleil

But Vegas has more than
shows big and small
Sometimes you'll end up doing
Something you didn't expect to at all

We got roped into sitting
through a timeshare man's pitch
And they almost convinced
Til we remembered we're not rich

But the swag that we got
Has added to our fun
Free lunch and a free show
And some cash (not a ton)

We packed it quite full
This Christmas Eve day
But tomorrow will* be fuller
Cause we're hitting the buffet

Until then we rest
On our giant hotel bed
While visions of adventures
Dance in our heads

I think about Santa
As I lay my head and retire
I don't think he'll visit
But I've got all I desire

Good family, good friends
And my partner I adore
Good health and good home
Who could ask for much more

So I drift off to dreamland
And its warm soft embrace
Reflecting on my full life
With a smile on my face

And just as I've ended
The 6 previous 'Twas posts'07, '08, '09, '11, '12, '13
I offer up my wishes
For my friends coast to coast

May your holiday be
A day filled up with delight
Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good night!
Thursday December 25 2014File under: holidays, poem

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Merry Christmas 2014


Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Tuesday December 23 2014File under: holidays

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updated at 08:58 pm Oct 21st


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