What a Wondrous World

The world in which we live is a pretty spectacular place filled with all sorts of wondrous things. To see some of these things, both man made and natural, are among the reasons I like to travel so much. Often, seeing pictures doesn't come close to relaying the beautiful and awesomeness as does being there in real life.

Throughout my travels, esp. when in proximity to some especially wonderful place or building, the conversation often turns to The Seven Wonders of the World. I've yet to meet someone who can name all of them (without the help of the internet). It was amidst one of these converstations that I got to thinking about the wonders of the modern world.

Well, it turns out I am not alone. Days after I had this conversation, I ran across this site on one of the blogs. It is accepting votes on what should be included on the new seven wonders list. Unfortunately it requires signing up for something which makes me think it is some promotion or something, but the concept is good and browsing the nominations is very interesting.

Perhaps the best site I've seen on world wonders is Hillman Wonders of the World. This list contains 100 wonders and is good for killing a whole afternoon's worth of productivity. I've visited to 26 of the wonders, 8 of which were in this last trip. How many have you been to?
Tuesday January 16 2007File under: travel, links

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Still Cold

For anyone that lives or has spent a winter in either the midwest or the northeast, you can pretty much discount this post. Us northwesterners have a slightly different sense of cold. So when it snows (for the second time in a winter!) and there is still ice on the roads 4 days later, that is something of note. So I shall note.

Billy the snowman still guards our front door, although he has already started his eventual journey to the ground. He is also missing a face, for which I put the blame on either mischievous neighbor kids or hungry crows. Our water feature (a.k.a. pond) in back of the house has some great ice on it but still keeps plodding along. The earlier heavy rains caused a bit of a flood at Smiley's Bottom which has now frozen over and turned into a great ice sliding spot. (We northwesterners don't really have ice skates as they would only get used even less than once in a blue moon.)

Luckily I'm in a place to enjoy the snow, cold, and ice how it should be. I've got nowhere to go (and even if I did, my car isn't agreeable to taking me). The cold even makes some things better. Last night, for example, I had the pleasure of a dip in a hot tub under the clear cold sky. A scandinavian style roll in the snow made it that much more refreshing.

So to Jack Frost, I say this: Keep up the good work!
Sunday January 14 2007File under: misc

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Billy the Snowman

What a couple of good looking fellas, eh? Sure, one looks a little weird and is giving a bit of a goofy smile, and sure, one of them is made of snow, but still...

Jack Frost graced Anacortes with a beautiful blanket of snow today. The little kid in me (which accounts for about 95%) couldn't help but be giddy. I've got nowhere to go so let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Since the temperature is hovering right around freezing (and maybe even a little over), the snow is perfect for packing. It took only 20 minutes or so to put my masterpiece together. If the weather turns warm tomorrow, I'm prepared to build a tent and an elaborate chill tunnel from the fridge to keep Billy around.

Oh, and for some size perspective, try this one.
Thursday January 11 2007File under: pics

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Snowboarding (a.k.a Shralping the Gnar)

My first and foremost goal for my long anticipated day on the slopes was to not get hurt. I'm happy to report mission accomplished.

For the first time in 10 years, I strapped myself to a narrow board (courtesy of Heavy Chevy) and paid a bunch of money to let gravity have its way with me. I've been wanting to go up to the mountain for the last 3 years or so, but something always seems to come up. Work, weather, deserted pacific islands - it's always something. Now that I am unemployed, I hardly have an excuse.

Jule and I drove up to Mt. Baker to find a morning's worth of beautiful weather, decent snow, and exremely uncrowded slopes. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could ride almost as well as I could last time I was up 10 years ago. I guess it is just like riding a bike (at much greater speeds with less control in a much colder environment.) I was so pleased, in fact, I may have to try it again. And this time, I might not wait 10 years.
Tuesday January 9 2007File under:

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The Joys of Owning an Old Car

I own an old car. I'm proud of that fact. Marilyn has 309,811 miles on her and I would love to see her go further. But along with the pride of owning an old car comes the, well, let's call it adventure.

Let me share with you the adventure Marilyn has taken me on the past week or so. Firstly, I had to reawaken her from her 4 month slumber, which took some doing: two trips to the gas station on bike to bring back some fresh fuel, reinflating a flat time, and 3 jump starts. (Oh and the rear passenger door has now decided it doesn't want to open, so I am down to just the one functioning door.) Anyhoo, I get her up and running and take her out to stretch her legs. While approaching a friend's house, I down shift in preparation for the big hill. This, for some reason, triggers the radio, which normally just fades on and off from time to time, to kick into seach mode. Hmm...

In anticipation of the car not starting, I park headed down a hill. (Any old-car owner knows this trick.) While climbing across the front seat to get out of the car, my foot must have knocked the gear level out of park, because I suddenly find myself rolling (at a steadily increasing rate) down the hill towards a garden with my body half out of the passenger door. I quickly dive back across the seat and slam my hand on the break pedal. I guess that proves the e-brake doesn't work.

All it took was rocking my way out of the mud and just one more jump start to get us both home in one piece. I foresee some quality time under the hood in my future.
Monday January 8 2007File under: transportation

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Mac and Cheese Off

I'm still allowed to post about food, even if it is plain old American food, right? Don't worry, this is more than just a post to fill space. (Plus, it follows the already established cheese theme!)

When doing some research for my local foods party (see 2nd BdW post ever), I came across the food-oriented I'm Mad and I Eat. At the time, it provided a good "recipe" for salt. Now, it has presented me with a challenge: the mac-n-cheese-off.

My entry is probably the most simple of the bunch. I opted for the stovetop variety. The cheese sauce is of [organic] half and half, [organic] cream cheese, and [local, handmade] jerk-seasoned cheese (whose title is so sadly appropriate to my life). To round out the meal, I added peas, corn, and [meatless] gimme lean sausage. Although it turned out a little on the dry side (as Ma so quickly pointed out), it satisfied my hunger. (Oh, all the [stuff] is thrown in as a nod to one of my New Year's resolution: to eat for a heathlier planet.)

My neighbor, to whom I was explaining my dinner plans, decided to surprise me and join the fun. Her entry, titled Fat-Mac (or is it phat-mac) was a more traditional baked variety complete with the cruton toppings. There were lots of spices in it too, that made for some good eating. (Ma voted for that one.)

See the rest of the entries to the mac-n-cheese-off here. And if anyone is looking for a good meal of leftover mac-n-cheese, please stop by.
Friday January 5 2007File under: food

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Travel Slideshow

In lieu of a slideshow presentation in person, I've decided to go with the BR-esque online slideshow to display the better of my travel photos. Actually, many of these photos aren't mine. Many thanks to Andrew, Per, Myke, and Trista for their generous photo contributions. (Also, many of the photos are repeats from previous posts and from Andrew's Thailand slideshow. But I just couldn't pass up putting them in)

Oh, and a tech note. I've decided to try YouTube in order to cut down on network traffic on nwlink's servers. Also, it seems like a good cross-platform solution. If it isn't working out for you, or you for some reason hate YouTube, I can e-mail you the .wmv file. So, press play (or visit the YouTube page directly here) and enjoy!



Wednesday January 3 2007File under: travel, video

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Environmental Atonement for my travels (part one)

Travel, general speaking, is bad for the environment. Until a year or so ago, I didn't realize that air travel was among the worst forms of transportation for the environment. (The all-knowing David Suzuki has a great explanation of why here.) Throughout my trip, I was thinking about what I could do to atone for this. Carbon offsetting was something I knew something about, so I promised myself I would environmentally redeem myself, or at least make an attempt, when I got back.

First step in my quest for atonement was to assess the damage. A quick calculation of the miles traveled by plane came out to around 20,000 miles. This figure alone hit me pretty good, as it is approximately equal to 4 round trip flights from Seattle to NYC. To equate that to environmental damage, I chose carbon dioxide production as a measure. Various "calculate your impact" websites gave total carbon production from just me from 7,500 kg to 10,800 kg.

Step two is to find a way to offset said carbon. The sites that help calculate are quick to offer an easy way to offset the impact of your flights. Each does it a little differently, but the general idea is that they use the money you give them to support clean energy projects, which conceptually takes carbon out of the atmosphere. The prices for this ranges from $13/tonne(1,000kg) to $27/tonne putting the environmental cost of my flights between $100 and $300.

This investigation into my impact and what I can do to offset it has been very enlightening, but I hestitate to drop a couple hundred bucks on such an abstract solution. As the title of this post implies, this is to be an on going project. My next focus will be alternative methods for offsetting carbon. Stay tuned!
Tuesday January 2 2007File under: travel, environment

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Happy New Year!

Besides Thanksgiving, New Year's has got to be my favorite holiday. The two really kind of complement each other, if you think about it. Thanksgiving is for recognizing and giving thanks for what we have. New Year's, in my eyes, is about taking stock of the previous year, and looking forward to the upcoming year. In looking back, it is a great way to remember the good things and let go of those that can go without remembering. In looking forward, it is about clarifying hopes and giving some thought towards realizing them.

An older friend of mine once shared with me the New Year's resolution he's been making for the passed 30 years. "Each year," he said, "I resolve to make this year better than the previous. So far, it hasn't failed." Last year, I borrowed his resolution. It seemed to work. I might just try it again this year.

While conceptually I really like New Year's, in practice it never really lives up to expectation. Perhaps big parties just aren't my style. Perhaps the evening always falls short of expectation because I don't get a kiss at midnight (which has been the case for the past 9 years (not that I'm counting)). But I guess with the new year comes new opportunity.

Anyway, I want to wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!
Sunday December 31 2006File under: holidays

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Another Successful Game Night

Well, it was another successful game night at the Studer/Schultz household. As always, it was a great mix of people, food, games, laughs, humiliation, and socializing. A big thanks to everyone who made it.

As for games, we played some of the tried and true games (take two (pictured), the name game, the portait drawing game (can you name these folks? 1, 2, 3, 4), and the drawing telephone game (whether for good or bad (or worse)). We also tried out a new version of the name game which takes a page from the charades book that was a huge success. Many thanks to the Fates for introducing that one to us.

For those of you that missed it this year, you have always have the next one to look forward to. Until then, keep you eyes peeled for any new additions. Now I am going to go play some tiddly winks.
Friday December 29 2006File under: pics, games

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