Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On the Road

Revisiting old books is always a fascinating exercise, usually with mixed results if I approach it honestly. Much of the Kerouac I devoured in the mid 90's has not aged too well in my mind. I do love Maggie Cassidy more than ever thanks to a rereading a few months ago, but I had until now not reread On The Road. Problem solved.

I vividly remember reading it when I was 18 because Scott was reading it at the same time. We skated almost everyday at Walgreens on Archer and would quote pieces of text to each other.

"D'ere you go man, D'ere you go."

That is an effeminate car.

"We'll look for work mon yana."

We pushed each other to devour text each night so we could chat about it at the next night's session and not end up behind the other. It was a book club that existed in a parking lot with a view of waxed curbs and the sound of flat spotted wheels.

I remember loving the way the characters rambled in all directions without any concern for money, future, or any other degree of planning. Dean and Sal were living ids. I was focused on college and showing up to work at the theater on time. These characters moved while I felt like I was standing still, as I suspect most kids at that age feel that way. I hold no regrets as I knew that college and some money in the bank would create an opportunity for bigger life movements in a few years. I had my eyes a mile or two down the road, yet I was still enthralled by 'ol Dean and Sal sprinting off at the drop of the hat. It has never been in my top 10 of favorite books, though it's energy and warm memory always lived happily in my mind.

I was somewhat hesitant to give it another try as I had a legitimate fear about adding another old favorite to the list of things I cannot now fathom ever liking (Spaceballs, Top Gun). Better to let the past stay warm and a bit hazy. However, a movie adaptation is the works and I know I will get sucked into seeing it, so I'd best tune up my memory of the actual text. Do I still enjoy it?

Yes, a great deal, though for very different reasons. As an adult with a child, I was extremely annoyed by the crass selfishness of the characters and the way they treated their families and responsibilities. I saw evidence in the text that the reader was intended to take a critical eye to Dean in this regard, though this evidence was rather lean. The energy of the book happily remains -- the pages just flat out zoom by. I was completely struck by Sal's loneliness, which is something I had not noticed to a great degree initially. Regardless of his difficulties to forge these bonds, the man is deeply searching for connections amongst men and women. I had always though of it as Dean's book, yet now I can only see Sal's stumbling hope of personal relationships.

I am now extremely interested to see which themes get emphasized in the flick. (How did I ever laugh at Spaceballs?)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

One of the things I truly love in life is getting rid of stuff and not replacing it. Although unrealistic, I would love to have my life fit into a studio apartment. Any even braver goal would be to be able to fit my life into a suitcase and be able to hit the road like a character a hundred years ago that is heading west to the frontier or heading east to college. In either case that person is moving their life semi permanently and all they have is 4-5 changes of clothing.

It's a goal. Chiseling towards this goal finds me glancing at my bookshelves and stacks of cd's asking "Do I need that? Will I ever pick that up again?" It means that old music gets another spin and old loves get another look.

I have always loved Henry Rollins spoken word, whether live or on cd. Over the past few years I've found his material redundant and a bit predictable as the topics fall into one of three categories: attacking political straw men (one of my huge pet peeves in arguing a point), name dropping tales that are often humorous, and listing the most recent set of visited foreign countries. Foreign travel is almost always inherently good, though presenting it in a way to make you feel like a rube if you don't do it very often due to scheduling or money is annoying. I'm a sucker for a funny story about a famous person, but taken alongside his latest straw man political rant and  brow beating of the untraveled masses, the whole becomes more annoying than the charm of its parts. It's all the more annoying because he is obviously smarter than that. But what of his plethora of cd's from the late 80's through the mid 90's?

They're wonderful. You can easily hear a young man reaching for art in every story, thought, and poem he stumbles into. His stories are not about politics or travel, but about people and experiences that may or may not have political overtones. In short, they are striving for bigger things. If you tell a real and true story about an experience you have a chance at striking a universal chord that may well resonate years and years into the future. That's why people reread great books. If you rant about Bush or FoxNews, you'll get some cheers and immediately begin the sprint towards staleness as the months and years begin ticking away.

I don't care that I agree or disagree with his points of view, I care that he's getting boring. However, I am truly enjoying revisiting Sweatbox, Big Ugly Mouth, and Human Butt (these cd's are staying in my place for sure). Last week his website had a sale where all spoken word cd's and dvd's were going for $5. What a deal! For less than 30 bucks I could have had all the stuff my collection was missing. I took a pass.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ships

I believe that if we listen closely, we can hear themes converging in our lives across given periods of time. I do not believe we are necessarily living in novels of sweeping meaning, but it is fair to say that there is more to it than just saying, "I've ridden my bike a lot lately, therefore this phase of my life is all about bikes." I'll be sticking by this theory, even though I probably have sat in too many Literature courses looking for links and connections across characters and author biographies. The theme this fall involves ships, great lakes, and looking outward.

As the fall begins I always begin itching for future trips which usually sends me flipping through large maps and sliding my fingertip across ink that reads the names of forests, lakes, and remote towns I have not yet visited. This time I dug out my Boundary Waters maps and traced the trips of the past while spinning tales to Becky and Henry of Bears, rapids, and northern pike. I settled into thoughts of lakes in that area I had not canoed across, portages I had not sweated through, and campsites I had not sat in while watching the sun set. I though of Lake Superior right next door and imagined the old days of copper and taconite oozing out of the Mesabi Iron Rage and the UP. There are infinite canoeing opportunities right here in Alaska and I plan on attempting them all, though I'd love to visit the Boundary Waters every summer as well.

When November 10th rolls around the flickering memories of Boundary Waters and Isle Royale crystallize into the phantom Edmund Fitzgerald endlessly lurching across the Lake Superior of my mind. Lightfoot's dirge endlessly feeds the imagination of that day. I picture myself back in Paradise, MI at the museum looking out at Whitefish Bay.

As much as I have always enjoyed Lovecraft, I confess to not loving all of the stories at the same time. Some stories I may never love (Charles Dexter), some I recently "got" (At the Mountains of Madness), and some others I will always love (Dunwich, Colour Out of Space, and The White Ship). Man, The White Ship may not be in the top tier for most Lovecraft fans, but for me it has always threaded a needle of wonder and eeriness with perfection. The mood of that lonely lighthouse looking out over the water puts me at Whitefish Point, and the mysteries and unknown worlds hover just out of reach as I think of the trips and desires out there beyond the maps and coastlines in front of me.





Wednesday, November 02, 2011

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On Sunday morning we woke up to a few inches of snow and come Monday the newly studded cyclocross Trek made its debut. I needed to tweak the fenders a bit to get them to barely accept the 700 X 35 tires. As the snow stacks up I could probably ditch the fenders considering we won't really get above freezing until April, though if they keep working out I'll keep them on. Snow being kicked up onto my back and pants is not that annoying, though a Pineapple Express may make things sloppy for a few days.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The studded tires are on my cyclocross bike and snow is imminent. It has been a slow 6 week creep towards these 20 degree mornings: first I needed a skull cap, then a head light, then had to dig out my shoe covers.  (As a side note, you pretty much need gloves most mornings in the summer up here). Now it has come to studs. Bring it on! (and please groom it for XC skiing when it comes).
 ...

I seldom have the occasion to play Dungeons and Dragons these days (at least the more RPG centric flavor). It's actually sadly been years since I sat down and played paper and pencil D&D. It's just hard to find the time to do the preparation and time block to get folks together. Plenty of people in my age range do find the time, though I suspect my desire to ride my bike, hit the gym, watch a movie, read a book, etc. all essentially bully D&D out of the temporal room. Warhammer, skirmish games, and general board games fit my lifestyle nicely, particularly in the winter.

However, I do love to read D&D blogs. Just as I occasionally delve into online accounts of trips to the Boundary Waters, I love sparking and revisiting old memories of adventures past. This review of Beyond the Crystal Cave is fairly accurate even though I have an ultimately positive memory of the module. I ran it as a tournament back in 1992 on a random weekday when Brother Rice gave us a day off. I devised a point system that placed much more emphasis on puzzle solving rather than a body count, which fit perfectly with the module. Not everyone was pleased with the outcome, though Geoff was happy as the winner. Perhaps I'll break out my copy of Castle Ravenloft this weekend so Henry and I can envision some crystal cave styled caverns.


Monday, October 03, 2011

Call it a dry run if you will. I've always wanted to hike the length of Crow Pass Trail from Girdwood to Eagle River, but the timing never worked out correctly. You have to wait for June to melt away much of the snow and it is also wise to line up a companion or 2 to head along with you due to the river crossing. I have read that the first 3 miles from Girdwood to the top of the pass are pretty strenuous, so I decided to give that a day trip on Saturday. The termination dust is on the march so it is time to get these hikes in now.

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Yes, the goal of the trail is up there in the snow. I believe the parking lot is at around 1000 feet. Up and up the steep trail for 2 hours will get you to the peak.


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At the top of the pass is a Forest Service cabin available for rent. I gather that it is often reserved, but after determining that it was empty I decided to go inside for my lunch break.


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There is an undeniable charm to this little buttress to the howling winds and I'd like to stay there someday in the future, though hiking up the kerosene/diesel fuel for heat sounds like a pain. I read through the guest book and found a wonderfully charming entry that I will paraphrase from memory:

Your body brought you to this beautiful place! Take care of it and it will take you many more beautiful places!

I smiled at this thought and happily chomped away at the apples I brought along. About a mile across the blowing snow was the height of the pass and the glacier.


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The trail descended steeply from here to the valley that will meander to Eagle River in another 20 miles. I had had enough of climbing steep mountains so decided to turn around and concentrate on cruising downhill. I cannot wait to tackle this entire one way hike next summer! In Alaska, you're never more than a 2 hour hike from winter.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The colors are starting to change here in Anchorage and the birch trees are getting fairly yellow. When I ride up Hiland road in Eagle River and hit 700ft of elevation the colors become full blown and beautiful.

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Keep climbing. See the ridge to the right? I'll be pedaling up and up that sucker.

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And 50 minutes later I'll be at the ~2000ft. top. 15 minutes and 45mph later I'll be back at the bottom.

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There will be snow up here within a few weeks for sure. Time to get in as many climbs as possible.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

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Hiking Flat Top on a sunny day is the closest Anchorage gets to a traffic jam. The parking lot is craziness and the police have a field day writing parkers along the road up to the Glen Alps trailhead. We beat the crowds by a few hours Sunday morning and found a perfectly clear sky and Denali out very clearly (often Denali is only clearly visible from Anchorage in the winter when it is well below 0). Perhaps not the hottest and sunniest day of the summer, but certainly the best one on Flat Top. Aside from a 10 day stretch here and there of solid rain, this has been a very warm and sunny summer. We hit 70 over half a dozen times.

As we scrambled down from the peak a college age blond met my eyes and asked if I was wearing a Wisconsin hat.

Yep.

"I'm from Wisconsin!," exclaimed the corn-fed young lady.

"I lived in Madison for a bit."

"I'm from Wausau."

I gestured back to my cousin L while she already was stating, "I went to Point."

"Cool! I'll be back in Wausau in a week."

"I'll be visiting Edgar in a few more," I added.

More pleasantries and smiles were exchanged and soon down we went again. We joked about FIBs and FOBs (in Michigan) and tried to determine if I'm still a FIB. I don't think so, but I won't be betting the farm on it.

Wisconsinites are everywhere up here.



Friday, August 26, 2011

Why was I almost late for work today?

a)I caught a flat.
b)It was raining.
c)The moose and her calf would not move out of the bike trail.

The answer is C. After some clapping and stomping and 10 minutes they trotted a few yards into the swamp.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Double Musky in Girdwood is my favorite restaurant here in Alaska, perhaps even my favorite anywhere. I usually have a craving for steak a few times a year, so their Pepper Steak becomes a welcome bath in gluttony. The remaining seafood and cajun dishes fill out the menu nicely.

However, thanks to little Hank these days, we don't find ourselves heading out to Girdwood that often for rich, leisurely dinners. No problem at all, as I own the Double Musky cookbook and have plenty of time to tinker around at home. I made a stab at their jambalaya on Friday and it was fairly successful. I swapped the shrimp for chicken breast and opted for chicken Andouille sausage. It came out very spicy (just right for me and a bit hot for Becky) and a touch too salty (I neglected to account for the salt in the chicken stock). Overall I really enjoyed it, it flat out looks correct, and I now know where to make the adjustments next time. I'll just need to pick up some fresh,traditional Andouille at the butcher shop in town and give the non chicken option a shot. We'll have snow and cool days here sooner than I'd like to admit, so a spicy dish will be welcome before Halloween.


It just needs some rice.

Done!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Just to reaffirm that this is not the cute, family blog.

Tomorrow is the big day and we couldn't be more excited. I'll certainly keep blogging here about metal and cycling, though I've started a family blog to capture the changes in our growing family. No musings on black metal there.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

If I commute by bike, I arrive to a near empty office at 6:30 am. There is one guy that beats me here, but he is on the far end of the building. My quiet half is only broken up by a lone clock radio humming away down the hallway, whose clarity only reveals itself when I walk by on the way to the bathroom to change into work clothes. A full-throated and excited pentecostal preacher rails away for souls from a tinny little plastic box deep in an office. Another employee arrives sometime after 7 and undoubtedly walks in and clicks off the championing voice, though this does nothing to stop the next morning's pre 6:30 am ritual to repeat. It certainly has a mood of a horror flick or an eery roadside store one stumbles into, but at this point it has descended into a small note in my morning ritual. I look forward to it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011



Alaska is truly the last frontier. This means being aware of hypothermia when boating, having a break down kit and extra fuel when traveling in the winter, or just generally being more self sufficient than people in most parts of America. The climate and rugged country dictate this, though in Anchorage you can largely avoid these challenges. It's not the same as Chicago, but in most cases you can pick up the phone, whine, and soon have someone headed for your home to fix your problem.

I anticipate a frozen pipe someday, perhaps a malfunctioning boiler, or even a pesky septic. I did not plan for getting our water from a hose for 48 hours. It turns out a water main needed to be replaced in the parking lot and in order to have continuous water service throughout the repair we needed to have a hose mainlining water directly into our hot water heater. It worked out just fine, albeit with a slight dip in pressure. It just seems a little silly. The last frontier indeed.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Catching up...

The triathlon went better than I had expected. I shaved 13 minutes off of my previous time and placed 75th out of 128. I improved greatly on my transition times. In the future I believe my biggest gains will be found in the running portion. Considering I dislike running, 29:33 for a 5K is not terrible. I could probably focus on a better kick and finds some gains there, though running with cement legs from the bike will not change.

Overall I had a great time and loved the feeling of pushing myself beyond preconceived limits. I don't know if I'll participate next year, as I'm hoping for the Fireweed 200. Eh, maybe I'll do both.

...

Getting older means slowly stripping away all of the little behaviors that I once thought made me cool. This usually happens years after everyone else in the world knows I should give it up. In high school my coolness told me that waiting for the bus in January without a hat was a good plan since only the uncool wear hats. Once I started commuting by bike to UIC I quickly got over any hangups on wearing a skull cap, though it took 7 or so years to complete that mental journey.

I have an aesthetic issue with too much crap on my bike. I like it lean and slick. However, I do not enjoy arriving at work with a mud racing stripe up my back. I've used a removable rear fender before, though it was marginal at best. I'm hoping to commute into the winter which means studded tires and some proper fenders for the cross bike. The Trek XO1 looks a little less sexy with its full Planet Bike fenders, but it was time for me to grow up. I commuted through a steady drizzle this morning and only arrived at work with wet hair. I'm a believer.

The Orbea will not be getting any fenders though.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Today is the culmination of Bike To Work week here in Anchorage (and in most cities I suspect). There are a total of 9 people at my gig that participated and we were lucky enough to receive t-shirts from the city (about a third of participants randomly get chosen for these freebies).

Given that today is the big, final day, the bike trails and major intersections become littered with the occasional comfort station. Most of these have free water, a cookie, or maybe some coffee. I gather that most of these were up and running by 6:45-7am, which is unfortunate because I am at work by 6:30. I can live without a free bottle of water, but it is harder to know that I missed this stop on my commuting route:

This year we are very excited to bring back the popular BCA Bacon Station. You can find us on the Chester Creek trail in the park just east of the tunnel under the Seward Highway. We’d like to thank Spenard Roadhouse for donating the bacon, Raven’s Brew Coffee for the coffee and Great Harvest Bread for the cookies!

Monday, May 09, 2011


The baby will need a rocking chair so the stripping and refinished has begun. It's a fun little project.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

I've restarted my bike commuting and it is as fun as ever. I'd happily do it every day of the year, but the bike trails become ski trails and a snow bike becomes a necessity for 5 months. I haven't quite determined whether I want to make that purchase or not. If I had more room for a 3rd bike I suspect I'd jump on it.

I guess it is spring these days, though riding in at 26 degrees is a touch chilly. Riding home at 50 degrees in the same day is much nicer.

Riding in this morning in a 36 degree drizzle makes for a pretty filthy mud streak from my back to my ankles. My Chrome bag is pretty filthy right now and it is making me realize that I have never washed the thing. It is well over 8 years old and has who knows how many hours and miles on it. It's a trooper and I should probably show it some love. I'm guessing some oxy clean and a hand washing in the sink will do the trick. The bag seems like it will easily last another 10 years, if not longer. Chrome makes great stuff.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Once you post your resume on Monster or CareerBuilder it is on there forever. Head hunters must either download all resumes for safe keeping or scour the cached archives. I have not had an active resume on either place for quite a while, but I am now receiving calls for opportunities, this time in Madison. If that means that folks out there are hiring, then good for everyone. You'd think the Alaska phone number would tip them off though.

Monday, April 25, 2011

It appears that Halloween has come late for me. I've been burrowing into Bradbury tales at lunchtime, chipping away at the 900 page collection of short stories (I'm well into the second half). At home I've dug into some Poe stories I've needed to reread as well as started a fresh look into Lovecraft.

I have always enjoyed Lovecraft, though at times in my life I just wasn't in the mood to dig deeply into the mythos and plow into his often dense prose. (Oddly, I have never minded the denseness of Poe's sentences). The Rats in the Walls is just as great as ever and my Lovecraft interest is at a high these days. And I have started reading a few pages of The Colour Out of Space each night to Baby Turek. How that bodes for him, I have no clue.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I always attempt to enter the spring cycling season as strongly as possible, usually with mixed results. As much as I had more access to winter cycling in Madison due to their plowing of bike trails and ubiquitous salt usage (up here they only groom for skiing and rarely use salt anywhere), I often had to ramp up early in the season to break in my legs and lungs for longer rides. I believe the opportunity for intermittent winter cycling (I have never owned a snow bike) was just enough to keep me off the treadmill. Why run a 5k a few times a week if you'll be able to get on your bike a time or two?

When I moved up here I realized how much more difficult winter cycling is if you don't commit to a snow bike, so I quickly found myself jumping on the treadmill here and there during the winter. I decided to give a spring triathlon a try, which means swimming laps soon followed. As much as running and swimming definitely generates fitness, it doesn't necessarily feed into strong miles on a bike. The cardio strength is there, but the precise cycling muscles need to be rustled from the their slumber.

This winter I xc skied about 6 times per week (8-9 hours total) in hopes of staying in shape and embracing the winter, both of which happily worked. I had also read that the muscles involved were nearly identical to those used in cycling. Holy cow is that true. I've only been back on my bike for a week but I am amazed at how in cycling shape I am. It's a wonderful surprise. There is a very steep climb nearby (Stuckagain Heights), that I often use as a barometer of my strength on the bike. When will I be able to make it to the top without standing during the grinding climb? It usually takes a month or so, but this year it happened on day one (and I turned around and climbed it again immediately after the first attempt). I am very pleased and really looking forward to the triathlon in 7 weeks. The next challenge will be climbing Hiland Road in Eagle River. That is earmarked for this weekend, assuming the road is ice free.

It's also very exciting to come back from my ride at dusk and notice that the clock is just turning 10pm.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Aside from seeing more and more bikes cruising around town, I noticed a steel Colnago passing along one of the back roads near my place. I really enjoy that my dream bike is rolling around my immediate neighborhood somewhere. It just proves that in a small way the model is getting closer and closer to being in my home. That day will come.

Monday, April 11, 2011


It's still winter at higher elevations, but the snow is melting and the road is acceptable for road tires. Spring is coming.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Saturday and Sunday were the final, joyous XC Skiing outings. I hit Russian Jack on Saturday and the trails were mushy and ungroomed, but I completed my usual loop. Even though it was in the high 30's the hard packed trail has a long time to melt.

Sunday I opted for a drive out to Chugiak. Their trails are groomed more often than most and the hills are pretty fast, yet safe. It's a great blend. On Sunday the freeze/thaw cycle had generated a trail of crusted ice -- extremely fast and fairly unsafe. We still skied an hour as planned, but took the turns and twists with way more caution than we had the previous week.

By the time I returned to town on Sunday it was 40+ degrees with a clear, sunny sky overhead. I tore open the storage locker in the garage, filed away the skis, pulled the fishing gear to the fore, tuned up the bikes, swept out the garage, and then washed and cleaned both vehicles for the first time in months.

Which means that today's ongoing dump of snow is my fault.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Russian Jack



Above is the short but somewhat steep hill that has been the small learning experience for this, my first season on nordic skis. I've been zipping down it easily these past few months, though in November it was a bit intimidating. I love it now. Also, this picture was taken this evening at 8 pm. Spring is coming someday soon as shown by the longer days and my slightly improved skiing. Perhaps I'll be pedaling down this path in late April on pavement with a little luck.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I'm brainstorming on the wise things I need to do with my son while also trying to find a way to pursue my own hobbies and interests at the same time. If I don't spend a little bit of time on the things that spin the wheels in my head I won't be as interesting as I can be for the little guy. It's a balance, though it leans way towards him. Great.

The one constant in the literature I read is that the more you speak to your child the better. I think this primarily helps generate language skills as well as encourages general bonding. Sign me up. I'm sure I'll be reading plenty of children's books, but why not Ray Bradbury stories? There are plenty of stories I've been meaning to read so why not read them a little more slowly and out loud? There are no vulgarities in the stories.

It strikes me as no sillier an activity than the permutation of "googoo/gaga" aping parents indulge in. Sadly, Becky's kindergarten experience has shown me that many parents do not even have the inclination to consider reading to their children. So my impulse has me on the right side of the curve.

The question remains: If the lack of vulgarities is the primary qualification for a story being read, will Poe, Hemingway, and Lovecraft be far behind Bradbury?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

You see all kinds of interesting people while waiting for your appointment at the OB/GYN office. You see many people happy and overjoyed at their situation (I'd include us in this group). There are a handful that seem skittish and nervous at the unplanned roller coaster they are on. And there is a huge amount that is a blend of both.

I like the young couple that consists of an expectant father with a plethora of facial tattoos. What kind of tattoos, you ask? Well, advertisements actually. Logos and websites in their correctly branded font. He must have received some sort of payment for that, though that hardly seems like a justification.

I liked "pornhub.com" on his cheek the most.

I'm trying not to be a snob, but I suspect my son will have a leg up in life on the the kid with the dad at the playground with a porn web site on his face.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

I spent a lot of time in Gage Park while my aunt lived there and beyond. This is a sad story.

...

On a happier topic, it will be a boy come mid July! Let the name suggestions begin.

Friday, February 25, 2011

If you are somewhat famous and see me walking near you, treat the sound of those steps as your death rattle.

Last summer we were in Girwood at the Double Musky when Uncle Ted walked in. We chuckled and elbowed each other at our small brush with fame. Ted was dead within 2 weeks.

This past weekend we were in Homer for a relaxing weekend and as we cruised down the spit I craned my head in hopes of finding the Time Bandit in port. There it was. I'm not the huge Deadliest Catch fan that I was when the show was new (the plotline is pretty repetitive at this point), though I still enjoy it. We snapped some pictures. Even cooler was watching the boat randomly tool around outside of our room Sunday afternoon.


(more pictures here)

The weekend was terrific all around and we were sorry to leave on Monday. However, a Time Bandit deckhand passed away later that night. He had to have been on the boat while we observed its 10 minute cruise just off the Homer spit.

We did see Tom Skilling at the Double Musky a few years ago, but he seems to have escaped unscathed. Maybe only the Alaskans have the mark of doom?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The more I live in a townhouse, the more it annoys me. I understood this potential decline when I bought it, but at the time it fit my budget and needs. I suspect this is true of many people. However, as the years pass the fees and rules get more frustrating. The only cure is single family home ownership, which should happen in 4 years or so.

Waking up on Monday morning to no hot water sent me downstairs to realize that the first floor was 53 degrees. The electronic thermometer also told me that it was -3 outside. I threw on some pants and shuffled onto the deck to check the boiler/water heater closet. It couldn't be more silent in there, meaning that nothing was operating. This boiler feeds 2 total units and is accessible from outside the 2 units. I called the emergency condo line, flipped the switch on the gas fireplace, and embraced an ice cold whore bath. Becky and I washed up and put on a few extra swipes of deodorant.

The outdoor closet was very much off limits in terms of tenant monkey wrenching. The heating and plumbing guy would be there within an hour and would not need access to our unit to fix the problem. And since he doesn't want to fix any burst pipes, he would be there in a hurry. Finally, since it was outside the unit we would not pay a penny. +1 for condo ownership today.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I'm pleased with it and very happy that it is done. It was an excellent change of pace from painting little dwarfs, and also a sentimental journey (I hadn't built a model plane since middle school). The decals are a bit long in the tooth, but then again they are close to 20 years old. I have a few more kits from that era that have yet to be built. And they will be built.

It's hard to permanently escape the model cars and planes I built way back when that brought me to my current Warhammer hobby.

Friday, February 11, 2011

So many things these days are dangling and crying out for completion. It's not as if the world will shudder to an end in mid July, but rather things will happily take a sharp 90 degree turn after which it will then be much harder to find the time to wile away at solitary tasks.

I can't say that I am being much more productive than usual. It is probably more accurate to say that my focus is on being less schizophrenic in my interests.

Rather than dabble across several stacks of comic books and collections, I now pick a single title and finish the sucker within a day or so.

That stack of complete Jonah Hex comics from the 70's that I had been reading in slow tastes as to enjoy them like fine wine or kobe beef? I'm now devouring about 5 comics each night and immersing myself in the themes and settings. I've chosen a sack of White Castles over a bi monthly Kobe slider. How could that be wrong?

I've been mentally annoyed with finishing a model airplane and have consequently not painted a Warhammer model since Christmas. I asserted that the plane must be finished before anything else hits my painting table and I have stuck to that, albeit with sluggishness. The plane goes down this weekend.

I have thrown my hat over the wall regarding a June triathlon. It's a sprint distance and one I have completed before. Now I just need to do it faster. Between swimming laps, hitting the treadmill, and nordic skiing, I'm training away 6-7 days a week, showering twice a day, and producing as much dirty clothing as cycling season. This may explain why the model plane idles away, but that is a weak excuse.

Miles to go before I sleep...

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

It sounds like the snowbeast has put the hurt on the midwest quite forcefully. Judging by the facebook status updates and growing stack of posted pictures, Chicago and Madison have been slammed. We get plenty of snow and cold up here but without the population density and arterial road system of the midwest, it is much easier for us to muddle through. Also, it is expected and tolerated to a much greater degree. It's Alaska.

I do love the pictures of Lake Shore Drive and the orphaned cars. So cool.

As a child I remember the blizzard of 1979 vividly as a time when I was not allowed to build snow forts in the yard without direct adult supervision, which meant someone watching from my parents room. I guess a kid somewhere in Chicago found himself in some collapsed snow, and due to not being monitored closely enough ended up suffocating. So that's the doom of '79 in my mind.

Chicago always has a strange, distinct beauty when submerged in superfluous fresh snow.

...

I am a long time fan of The Office, though these days it is more mediocre than anything else. We're staying together for the kids, regardless of the random guffaws a given new episode will yield. Parks and Rec is complete genius in my mind though. Ron Swanson is the man.

The remainder of Thursday nights on NBC is a good impetus to head upstairs and iron or paint for an hour or so. The less said about Outsourced, the better. 30 Rock always feels very pretentious and cute about itself -- if you're not in on their little jokes, well then you are just not in. And Community is a bit too repetitive in theme.

However, this week's Community is all about Dungeons and Dragons so they've captured my time.

Point, NBC.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Bears did what the Bears often do. They break your heart. I did like that the third string quarterback had a mustache. That was something.

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Mid July will undeniably be a truly happy moment. Just wonderful.


Monday, January 10, 2011

I finally caught up with The Social Network this past weekend and enjoyed it a great deal. I don't have much to add about it that has not been stated better in many other places. It's not my favorite film of the year (I have not seen True Grit yet, so The King's Speech is currently my favorite), but I would not object to seeing it on anyone's list.

My mom saw it back in October when it was first released and aside from strongly recommending it to me, felt compelled to tell me just how much the main character reminded her of me. I asked why and she said it was due to the fact that I am a computer guy and that I (in her eyes) have a fast mind with creative ideas. I took it as a compliment.

After seeing the movie and knowing my mother is plenty sharp, I am starting to wonder how much of a compliment it was. Perhaps a backhanded one, kind of like telling a woman she dresses up pretty nice for a fat girl. It confuses me.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Like most people, I gravitate strongly to books, movies, and shows that relate to places I enjoy or have some sort of connection to. The smaller or more unique the place, the better.

I get my Chicago fixes via podcasts from Nick, Milt, and Jake (I wish Roe Conn offered more podcasts). Madison comes from Ultimate Outdoors.

I still have not found the perfect North Woods piece of entertainment, but the Starvation Lake novels come pretty close. They may be set in northern Michigan rather than my preferred Wisconsin, but the mysteries and settings are excellent. I just cannot get enough of these books lately.

Now I need the perfect Chicago novel (Stuart Dybek has the short story front covered) and some Boundary Waters fiction. I've been told I could simply just satisfy this need by writing them myself. I'm trying.