Weekend Wall Building

At one point in my life, I was a stone mason's assistant/landscaper guy*. The job mainly entailed carrying heavy rocks and shoveling gravel. As I worked my way up the not-at-all-corporate ladder, however, I got to get in on the actual building part. And while I never did a wall all by myself, I was involved in all the different parts of wall building, at least enough to get the general idea of things.

Fast forward 5 years. I got a chance to put those skills to use. My brother is now a homeowner, and as such, he is on a home improvement kick, as with most new homeowners. A layer of paint here, a new floor there, new gardens here, there, and everywhere. When he started talking about putting in a rock retaining wall/terrace, I couldn't help but give my two cents. To make a long story short, 2 cents became 2 tons over 2 days. This weekend, I went down and acted as director for the wall you see before you. Jule and Katy did the majority of the actual building (as my wrist has recently put in for its 2 weeks vacation for the year and refused to work). I stood by and imparted sage wisdom.

The results, IMHO, are spectacular. With the materials we had in the time we had, we created something pretty freaking nice. It felt good to be back out working with the rawest* of building materials, creating something from nothing. And with the way the wall turned out, I now have an even greater appreciation for those skills that I learned so many years ago, with a yoke on my shoulders, an ache in my back, but almost always a smile on my face.
Monday November 24 2008File under: work, misc

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Family Circus

When I see young 'uns outperform me, whether it be in sports, language comprehension, or circus arts, I like to think that if I got started at an early enough age, I could be juggling polyglot soccer star. But that ship has sailed, for me at least. Enter Punksto.

I've touched before on the story of The Trick and how I attempted to planted to the circus arts seed at an early age. Now that seed is growing. It looks like she's moved on from acro-balance to aerial stunts. Give it a few more years, and maybe she'll take after her old uncle and pick up juggling! And when she does, Barnum and Baily watch out!

My plan: to tour the country. Punksto will open with her Monkey Girl act and I will follow with my Hickboy combo tricks (mini-video of combo trick can be seen here.)

Yes, I predict we will be quite the hit. Get your tickets now.
Tuesday November 11 2008File under: misc

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Serious Ultimate

I like playing Ultimate [frisbee]*. In fact, I list it among my top pastimes (whenever I am asked to list pastimes, which isn't very often). But this weekend, I realized that I am not nearly as serious about ultimate as some people. Oy!

On an invitation from a friend, I cruised over to join in the fun at the Sundodger Ultimate tournament. Though I should have known better, I was not expecting what I saw. Ultimate players as far as the eye could see. There were 24 fields packed with players. (Quick math: ((24 fields x 2 teams per field)+4 or so bye teams) x 11-17 players per team = about 700 ultimate players in one place!) The place was so vast, in fact, that after roaming around and not finding my original adopted team, I was recruited by another team to get a couple games in. Then, during their bye, I went and found the original team, and played a round with them. Three all out competitive, high quality games is enough to point out that I'm not hardcore like so many of the folks there.

But worth noting: the fact that I could just show up at a tournament and find not 1 but 2 teams (on which, I only knew 1 player on each team) to join up with goes to show you the prevailing attitude of the sport: acceptance, camaraderie, and easy-goingness(?). It is why I ditched the high stress world of Div III track back in college and took up with those hippies throwing a frisbee around. Yep, good times.
Sunday November 9 2008File under: misc

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If She Could Vote...


If Punksto (front row left, dressed as a pegasus) could vote, I'm sure she would vote to re-elect Governor Christine Gregoire (back row right, dressed as Dora the Explorer).
Tuesday November 4 2008File under: misc

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Broadway Baby Broadway

Last time I was through NYC, everything fell into place–weather, meeting with friends (, meeting with strangers), etc.–everything that is except one thing: seeing a Broadway show. This time, while the weather has been against me and tracking people down for getting together has panned out less smoothly* (not to mention no fun strangers -> friends), I did make it to a Broadway show.

Avenue Q is hilarious romp, once described as Sesame Street meets South Park. A combination human/puppet cast lends the musical a playful feel. And although the set, costumes, production wasn't as spectacular as I had imagined*, the experience was extremely fun. While I wouldn't consider myself a great fan of musicals, the songs in this one were funny enough, tongue-in-cheek enough to make it really fun. (In fact, do yourself a favor: go search google for "Avenue Q The Internet is Really Really Great" and watch a video that ensues.)

Yep, a Broadway show: another thing checked off my life list.
Wednesday October 29 2008File under: travel, misc

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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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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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