Scraptacular

Scrapbooking is all the rage these days. Back in my employed days at www.PhotoWorks.com*, we were always taking the scrapbooking crowd into account when designing our products. ("Who would possibily want to order an empty book? Oh yeah, scrapbookers.") Besides knowing that scrap bookers might want to purchase an empty book and fill it with pictures themselves, I didn't really know much of the nitty-gritty about the world of scrapbooking.

When I got back from Asia, I was thinking that I should a book together for myself. I had saved maps, ticket stubs, and of course had lots of pictures. When looking around and talking to people about scrapbooking, I found that it was much more complicated than putting pictures and ticket stubs in a book. You needed embellishments. "Embellishments, embellishments, embellishments", a scrapper* friend told me.

That same friend recently put together a scrapbook of my scooter trip for me as a gift. Let me tell you, it was a fine piece of work. Embellishments galore! Now that I have an idea of what a proper scrapbook looks like, I might have a go at my Asia one again. Not that I have a chance of equaling the style that is this, this, and this, but I can try.
Saturday June 23 2007File under: pics, misc

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Simple Solar Power

Sunny days here in the Pacific Northwest aren't as frequent as some other places in the world. In fact, we probably rank pretty low on the number-of-sunny-days-per-year list. But for a brief time during the summer, the sunny days outnumber the grey ones reminding all us Washingtonians that NW Washington is a great place to live.

For this month's Environmental Project of the Month, I thought I would focus on the sun. Part one of the project is nothing new for me, but I want to share it in hopes of encouraging you to give it a try. Hang drying clothes is a wonderful way to harness the power of the sun and save electricity [and fossil fuels, if you have a gas powered dryer]. Not only is it great for the environment, hanging your clothes on the line is a great excuse to be outside on a beautiful day, if even for 10 minutes or so. Drying your clothes on the line isn't a summer only practice, even here in the northwest. For the past 5 years or so, I would say 90-95% of my drying needs have been met by the sun and wind.

Part two of this month's EPotM is what I am really excited about. From junk found around the house, I've built a solar oven. (Plans abound on the internet if you are interested in giving it a try yourself.) Basically an insulated cardboard box with aluminum foil covered collectors, a well made solar cooker can get to 250-275 degrees. In test runs, I've only got mine up to 214. Right now, I've got a couple of baking potatoes and some lentil beans cooking. We'll see how my first home solar-cooked meal turns out.

For those of us not ready or not in a place to make the leap to photovoltaic panels for supplementing our electricity needs (or even for those who are), harnessing the power of the sun through simple methods is a great way to reduce our impact. And speaking of how awesome the sun is, check out this audio ode to the sun. (For those of you at work (esp. in cubicles), be warned: The audio is embedded and hidden in the page so no volume controls or stop button is present. When will people learn that just because you can doesn't mean that you should?)
Tuesday June 19 2007File under: food, environment

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Local Music Equals Local Fun

Saturday evening, I found myself at Boulevard Park in Bellingham rocking to the sweet sounds of Spoonshine (Best. Band. Ever.). Even though the weather wasn't perfect (although it did clear up for a moderately nice sunset*), the turnout wasn't as good as it could of been, and I didn't have any juggling buddies to throw clubs at*, it was still the best Saturday night I've had in a long time. Oh, and any day that you get to hang out with a caped wonder can't be a bad day.

Speaking of local music, rumor has it that the Red Note (current band of former Perfect Day frontman and local legend Shane Chapman) is playing at the Brown Lantern this Saturday night. It'll be a raucous good time, no doubt. (Okay, everyone is entitled to doubt. Far be it from me to tell you how to feel.)

Anyway, it is good to poke my head in on the local music scene every now and again. Knowing the guys (or gals) that are up on stage always makes for a more enjoyable show.
Sunday June 17 2007File under: Anacortes, misc

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Wear Sunscreen

Graduation season is upon us (and has been for some time if the "Dads and Grads" ads are to be trusted). It is a time for new graduates, whether from high school, college, or even grad school, to look ahead. It is also a time for non-graduates to offer congratulations and advice. Congratulations are easy. Advice can be a little more tricky.

In a famous graduation speech/column* (often falsely attribute to Kurt Vonnegut*), Mary Schmich of the Chicago Times compiled her own list of advice to graduating seniors. It grew in popularity from a forwarded e-mail eventually to a top 40 song. If you've never heard or read it, I highly recommend it. The speech can be found here and Wikipedia's entry on the history of it can be found here.

Not that many folks about to, or having just, graduate(d) read BdW, but I thought it would be fun to compile our own list of advice gleaned from our own personal meanderings, just as Ms. Schmich did. To start off the list, I will borrow 2 pieces of advice that I've come to greatly support. Know thyself* (Those Greeks really knew what they were talking about.) and Just do it (Perhaps a little pushy for an advertising slogan, but often valuable as advice when faced with decisions of action/inaction.)

What say you?
Thursday June 14 2007File under: misc, participation

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4000 Miles Video


Inspired by a video put together by a friend of some of his transportation experiences in SE Asia, I decided to put together a little video of my recent scooter trip. I've got a long way to go before expecting an Emmy nomination in the mail, but it ain't bad for having only a 5 year old digital still camera and free editing software that comes with windows. If the inline version doesn't work, click here to go directly to the YouTube page.

Oh, and for kicks, here are a couple pictures about the making of the video.
Monday June 11 2007File under: video, travel

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Internet Video-athon

It's a rainy day here in Anacortes, perfect for catching up on the latest happenings on the interweb (pshaw...like I ever fall behind). But besides the latest goings-on, it is sometimes worth reminiscing over the gems that have had their time in the spotlight and then moved along. I almost consider it a crime to hear when a friend hasn't seen (or even heard of) some of my favorites, so I thought I would use this opportunity to share.

Because I have frisbee on the brain right now, I can't pass up sharing this gem (8MB .mov). If that doesn't get you inspired to play, then nothing will. Or if politics are your thing, check out these two classics of Will Ferrell impersonating President Bush. Here (QuickTime or YouTube) is one of my ultimate favorites: an ad for Sony's Bravia TV (worth watching in the high quality QuickTime).

I know there have been a ton more over the years, but none come to mind immediately. And since sharing is a two-way street, you should leave a link to your favorite internet video in the comments for us all to enjoy. Ain't sharing a beautiful thing?
Saturday June 9 2007File under: video, links

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Frisbee Season is Upon Us

The 2007 Anacortes Parks & Rec Ultimate Frisbee season is upon us! 'Round about March every year, I start getting excited to run around in the luscious green grass fields of Smiley's Bottom while throwing around the frisbee like the hippie I am. Then 'round about June, the weather starts to cooperate. This year, I've been designated as the facilitator which I suppose is only right because I've been participating for so many years now. In addition to running the P&R game, I've been helping out with the high school team. It has been great to get some extra playing time in as well as feel like I am making the world a better place by helping to train tomorrow's frisbee players.

So if you are in the Anacortes area, set aside Tuesday nights to come join us for a game. Smiley's Bottom at 6 pm. All skill levels welcome. (Spectators and cheering squads welcome as well.) Hope to see you there!

Oh, and for those of you who don't know what Ultimate Frisbee is, www.whatisultimate.com has this to say:
Ultimate is an exciting, non-contact team sport, played by thousands the world over. It mixes the best features of sports such as Soccer, Basketball, American Football and Netball into an elegantly simple yet fascinating and demanding game.
Wednesday June 6 2007File under: Anacortes, games

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Two-wheeled Kin

To me, scooters are in a class of their own. They aren't beefy and macho like motorcycles, and they aren't efficient, sporty, and popular like bicycles. If you ride either a motorcycle or a bicycle, it is like you are a member of an instant club. Fellow cyclists will give you a nod or warn you of a rabid dog 2 blocks up. Motorcyclist will share specs, stories, and conversations about the latest and greatest gear with you. As a scooterist, I wasn't expecting to be accepted by either group. Luckily, I was quite wrong.

Motorcyclist have this hi-sign that they give to other motorcyclist as they zip by one another. While I saw many variations on it, it usually consists of a left hand extended below the handle bars with a few fingers out. At first, I thought it was a sign telling me to slow down or something until Dave explained it all to me. Then, on this trip, I got into the habit and really grew to like this welcoming sign of camaraderie. Besides including me in their group with the hi-sign, motorcyclist I met on the road were invariable interested in my scooter and my trip.

On the other end of the 2-wheeled spectrum, bicyclists, whom I thought might lump me in with the motorcyclist category, always gave me a smile as I scooted by. It was almost as if they were saying, "I acknowledge that you too are an outsider on this road made for high speed behemoths." When there weren't bicyclists around, I would frequently use their lane to inverse pass the cars that had built up behind me.

Without a metal box to separate you from those that you met on the road, it only seemed natural to acknowledge them with a hi-sign or a nod. It lent an unexpected friendliness to my time on the road.
Monday June 4 2007File under: travel, road trip

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Camera Obscura

Ever since I learned about them, camera obscuras (cameras obscura?) have captivated that neato-sciencey portion of my little ole brain. The most spectacular (and maybe the only) example of a camera obscura I have seen is at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Ten years ago, I passed through San Francisco and saw it. Since then, I've often thought of that dilapidated giant camera on the pier. This trip, I got a chance to return.

For those of you who don't know what a camera obscura is, think projector. If you ever saw the movie Addicted to Love, one features prominently in that. It is essentially a series of lenses and mirrors that project into a darkened space whatever it is on the other side of the lenses. Wikipedia does a better job of explaining it here.

Seeing a 10X magnified verion of what's going on outside projected in super-dooper HD quality (actually, there is no comparison to any digital format) for some reason just amazes me. The camera isn't aimed at anything particularly cool, but seeing just the waves crash or the sea gulls fly by is excitement enough. Perhaps it is seeing an image so crisp but having the sound muffled by the building walls that makes it such a surreal experience.

Anyhoo, camera obscuras are neat. If you are ever in San Fran, I definitely suggest you stop by this place and check it out.
Friday June 1 2007File under: travel, road trip

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Picture This

It's a sunny day, but not warm by any means. There's a thin fog coming off the Pacific causing anything more than 100 yards away to take on a dream-sequence like haze but also spoiling the crisp view you are wishing you had. To the left, a cliff drops menacingly to the sea. To the right, a steep hillside is covered with many shades of green and dotted with yellows, purples, and oranges from blooming wildflowers. The road dividing these drastically different but equally spectacular landscapes winds, banks, rises, and falls. Convertibles and motorcycles are the order of the day, with their drivers hopping out at every view point for a quick picture and then speeding along their way.

I could hardly capture the natural beauty of it with my dinky little camera (not to mention that stopping Scoot Scoot meant a throw of the dice as to whether I could get him up and started again), but my attempts weren't half bad. Moral of the story: drive U.S. 1 between San Luis Obispo and Big Sur sometime in your life. It's purty.
Wednesday May 30 2007File under: travel, road trip

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