Friday, April 30, 2010

The Trashman Gives, and the Trashman Taketh Away

Yesterday morning I put out my trash can for my weekly pick-up (which I am quite proud of, since I often forget, relegating Heather to the task, which does not score bonus points in the good-husband category).  Imagine my surprise when I came home and Heather asked where the trash can was.  Not as in "the trash can isn't in the garage, so where is it?" but as in "the trash can is nowhere to be found, so where is it?"  I did a cursory search of the cul-de-sac, and, prior to canvassing the neighborhood posting notices on telephone poles (Missing: trashcan.  Have you seen me?  I'm big, blue, and somewhat smelly.  I'm not micorchipped but belong to a good home, where I get walked to the curb once a week.  If you know where I am please call this number) I decided to assume no one would really steal a trash receptacle and called the waste management company. 

It seems the trashman accidentally dropped my can in the back of the truck, so they have to bring me a new one today. Apparently it is a common enough occurrence that the guy on the phone said "either your can had a defect, such as a broken wheel, or the trashman dropped it in the truck".  Once he entered my address he confirmed it was the latter. I don't know if it's a safety violation to climb into the dumpster to retrieve the can, or if they simply don't want to return your can with someone's diaper stuck to the side, but I appreciate that I'm getting a clean can today.   

I'm left wondering if the trashman is punished for his accidental mishandling of my can?  Hopefully not.  Do they get the can out and re-use it or is it left to be crushed with the rest of the garbage?  If so, how many trash cans have met this fate?  Some of life's questions that I will never have answers to.  I'm just glad it didn't feel so neglected as to have run away from home, and wasn't can-napped by some creepy dude down the street.  I'll never take my trash can for granted again.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hike to the Punch Bowls

Yesterday some friends invited me on a hike near the Garden of the Gods to the Punchbowls.  The creek that runs through there is running very high, and we had to cross it a couple dozen times as we made our way along the trail.  We knew we would be getting our feet wet, so Grace and Payton wore their five finger shoes and I wore my neoprene water shoes.  We felt like a tribe of Indians quietly running along the trail.  I wonder if they ever had five finger moccasins.  Probably not.  If they had, perhaps they would have defeated the white man.  Immunity to small pox would have helped too.

Each river crossing was like an adventure, hopping from rock to rock or balancing on a fallen log.  There was some rock climbing involved a couple of times, and some scrambling up a gravelly hill.  Peyton caught a fish by hand, Grace found some sweet smelling bark, and I found a frisbee.  The weather was great, the water was freezing cold, and we all had a great time.

The beginning of the trail

One of many crossings.  The next jump was to the large rock in the bottom left of the picture. 
For the record, I made it.

This is one of the bigger logs we crossed

Grace and Payton looked much cuter in front of the waterfall than me
On the top of a rock formation

Looking down on where we've been
The water is as cold as Grace's face looks like it is.  Payton walked up the stream, I slinked along the rock on the left, Grace went exploring and found some bark with sweet resin
The largest of 3 punch bowls.  I've got to go swimming here in the summer.
The other two punch bowls
Peyton's new buddy

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Best

It's Sunday morning, so I thought I would reflect on the cultural phenomenon known as "Wearing Your Sunday Best".  Wearing your Sunday best hails back from simpler times, when most people only had one set of nice clothes and only bathed once a week.  Kids obeyed their parents, which wasn't so hard to do because they only had to make it to 13 before they could get married and move out of the cabin.  They chose to combine these two events - full-body hygene and wearing the one set of clothes that weren't patched and sweat-stained - on Sunday mornings.  This was done both to show proper reverence and because if they didn't noone could have lasted an entire church service without passing out from the stench.  It's ok to smell au naturale in the open field, but pack 100 people into a small room filled with one part fire and brimstone and two parts B.O. and it makes for a bad morning.

As time went by people found themselves no longer constrained as they once were, thanks to a rising standard of living and indoor plumbing, but the tradition of wearing "dress clothes" to church remained.  People lost touch with the original version of why this was; "Cause we all stink to high heaven in our work garb", and had to come up with new reasons to tell their children why they needed to be uncomfortably clothed in church; "we're wearing our best for God".  That's the real reason I was given as a child, as my parents forced me to wear polyester pants and starched dress shirts with a tie on Sunday mornings.  The pants were solid in color but had a texture that is best described as quilted with 1/8th of an inch squares.  To compliment this getup mom and dad combined that with faux suede brown dress shoes from Payless shoe store.  Yes, blue polyester dress pants and fuzzy brown shoes, maximizing personal discomfort and social unfashionability in one hideous combination.  I still remember the one kid whose mom let him wear jeans to church and my mom commenting on how she couldn't believe it.  Yes, that mom apparently didn't  love her child enough to make him unbearably uncomfortable and a social outcast in one fell swoop.

So my natural questions that I would have asked if I had wanted a big, red, hand-shaped imprint on my face would have been: "If we're supposed to wear our best for God on Sundays, why aren't we wearing tuxedos and ball gowns?  And if God is omnipresent why don't we wear our best for him every day instead of just one morning a week?  Doesn't the Bible say that man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart?"

Needless to say, now that I am an adult (I would say all grown-up but I'm still waiting for a growth spurt my parents promised me and to stop loving Looney Tunes) I wear jeans and a t-shirt to church.  I may not be fashionable, but I am comfortable, and can focus on the One I came to worship, rather than whether my shirt has any wrinkles or how well my socks match the rest of my ensemble.  And I will never wear polyester again, even if I live in a senior citizen community where they issue 70's clothing to the residents (I know clothing doesn't last that long so they have to be getting a new supply from somewhere).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dream Job

Today as a Gwen Stephani song was playing on the radio I realized that being a backup singer would be the ideal job. You don’t have to write music, don’t need to be especially attractive or outgoing, your wardrobe is picked out for you to match the other two backup singers, and you just stand off to the side and chime in every once in a while with an ooh, or mmm, or perhaps a chunk of the chorus. In the case of the song on the radio it was “woo-ooh, whee-ooh” a few times during each chorus. How easy is that? “Hold on, let me put down my glass of water, my part is coming up… woo-ooh, whee-ooh...woo-ooh, whee-ooh… ok, I’m done for a while. Don’t let me miss the next chorus”. Yeah, backup singer. That’s a job I could handle.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Sound of Music

I personally didn’t watch a lot of musicals growing up, and by that I mean other than The Wizard of Oz, I didn't watch any.  But after visiting Salzburg a couple of years ago and going on the “Sound of Music” tour, I felt compelled to watch the movie, which I must say, I quite thoroughly enjoyed. The movie has a decent plot and some catchy tunes, one of the most memorable of which is when the children are learning the musical scale do-ra-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do. Maria puts sentences with each word, which helps the children and the viewer learn the sequence.

Unfortunately, this requires mispronouncing the word “far” with either a British or New Englander accent, and you have to accept that there really wasn't a more imaginative line for "La" than simply "a note to follow so". Not to mention, who eats jam and bread with tea these days? Certainly no-one in this country.

So to make the song more relevant I have re-written the words with more modern American lyrics. Please review the original, below, followed by my new and improved version. If you don’t find yourself tapping your feet while singing along then something’s wrong with you.

First, the classic “Anglo-centric” song:

Doe, a deer, a female deer
Ray, a drop of golden sun

Me, a name I call myself
Far, a long, long way to run

Sew, a needle pulling thread
La, a note to follow Sew

Tea, a drink with jam and bread
That will bring us back to Do (oh-oh-oh)

Now you can sing it with modern lyrics that I have crafted for our generation, to the same tune.  Try to invision children in a garden singing this, although in today's world they would be holding portable electronic devices as they sing:

Doh, a word, that Homer says
Ray, a blind jazz-singing dude

Mii, the avatar on my wii
Fa, with sure, means we’re agreed

So, a word that goes with what
La, the only Spanish word I know

Tee, a thing that holds a ball

That will bring us back to Doh (oh-oh-oh)

Now, isn’t that a big improvement?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Lost is on in 5 minutes, so this will have to be a fast post.

Today I rode Bessy to work (Bessy is my motorcycle.  I couldn't afford a hog, so I bought a 1600 CC cow).  I love my motorcycle, and today I was thinking about why this is so.  You may think that riding a motorcylce makes me feel manly, but that is not what I love about it.  (At 5'6" and 135 I feel more like a grown-up kid in a kid's body, so manly man just isn't in the picture.)  No, what I love about Bessy is how much fun she is.  Driving my car doesn't make me giggle with glee.  Ok, so perhaps giggling on a motorcycle is another reason for less than the manly-man feeling, but I can't help myself.  I really love twisting the throttle and feeling the kick in the pants that commensurates with that motion.

When I was a kid, my favorite activity was riding my bike all over town.  I rode it every day during the summer.  Riding my motorcycle is like riding a bike, except you go a lot faster, it's less work, and you don't have to make the engine and transmission noises yourself.  (Come on, you know you did it too.  Wraaaa, wa wa wraaaa).

Ok, time to get back to the island.  I can't type and watch tv at the same time.  I'm what you would call a mono-tasker.  It's a curse, I know.  But it's made up for by other skills.  For example, I have a special gift for interacting with animals.  In some parts, I'm known as the "hampster whisperer".  Do you have an unruly hampster?  Give me a call and I'll have it sleeping and running in it's wheel like normal in no time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Bad Start to a Good Day

Somewhere in the middle of the night I awoke to the telltale feeling of an upcoming visit to the bathroom and a review of my last meal.    I actually went so far as to lift the seat to make sure I had a clear shot when needed.  Fortunately, the feared rapid de-lunchification never came; however, I lost a fair amount of sleep to a stomache-ache and the first part of the day feeling like someone had punched me in the gut. 

Thankfully, by lunchtime I was feeling much better, and was able to enjoy a hamburger covered with fries which in turn was covered with nacho cheese.  I have been working in a room for the past week with a lady who runs the local clinic, and she insisted I go see the doctor today.  Not for my stomache ache or my bad eating habits, but because she couldn't bear to hear me popping my neck.  So I finally let her talk me into it, and the doc worked me over like a piece of bacon on a griddle, popping my back several times.  My favorite was when he twisted my head and my neck crickacked about 5 times in rapid succession.  Needless to say, I left the office thankful to still have full control of my extremities, and feeling much better.  Thanks doc! 

On a slightly related note, I had a cold all last week, and it feels good to be over that as well.  The thing I miss the most when I have a cold is the ability to sing.  Singing is something that I absolutely love to do and am not all that good at it, which is why the car audio system is my best friend.  I can belt out the tunes and nobody has to suffer for it.  At least until I pull up next to someone at a stop light.  Then selfconsciousness sometimes causes me to pause, although if I'm really into the song there's no stopping me.  Yesterday Heather and I pulled up next to a car and not only was the guy driving it singing, but I could hear him in my car, and my windows were all rolled up!  I couldn't help but laugh and silently applaud his gusto.

Unfortunately my motorcycle has no sound system (the exhaust doesn't count, although it creates a sweet melody) so I am relegated to singing to myself.  I wonder how many other people are filling their helmets with tunes as they ride?  When you sing without music accompanying you, you quickly realize how many songs you don't really know other than the chorus.  It's also much easier to hear the notes that are off-pitch, which is why the car audio system is so good.  But the car just isn't as much fun to ride in!  I guess everything has its postives and negatives.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mt. Sherman Trip Report

On Saturday April 10th, I went on my first 14er of the year.  I figured Mt. Sherman would be a good climb because it's close and rated as an easy climb.  Unfortunately I did not have this blog last year to capture my first 2 14ers - Mt Yale on July 4th, and Pike's Peak on July 18th, so you'll have to take my word for it that this was number three. 

The climb actually started in Greenland in January.  They have a 750 ft geological feature called Mt. Dumas that the locals like to climb, so I and some co-workers decided to attempt it, despite its being fairly steep and coverend in snow.  I really enjoyed the climb and started getting a hankering for doing some more 14ers in Colorado, and realized that snow doesn't have to be a limiting factor.  So I bought some snow shoes and started looking for a partner on   I found someone willing to do Bross, Lincoln and Cameron, and we started making hiking plans for the 3rd of April.  The weather was uncooperative, so we ended up hiking with a group of her friends on North Star instead.  That was a great experience, despite the hurricane winds, and really whetted my appetite for climbing again.

Keifer Sutherland voiceover: The following takes place between 4 am, and 1 pm.  (Doop...dop...doop... dop... doop)

4:00 am: The alarm goes off and I quickly get up and ready, excited for the day to come.  I pack my car and hit the road.
6:20 am:  As I am driving the twisties through the mountains a few thoughts come to mind, such as "Wow, this is fun", and "This would be even more fun on my motorcycle", and also "This would be even more fun if not for the Jeep in front of me slowing me down". 
7:45 am:  After missing my turn thanks to my GPS not having the correct final coords loaded, I finally make it to the 10 mile dirt road that leads to the trail head.  As I approach the trail head a few things became evident: The slushy snow is going to prevent me from getting to the trail head, necessitating a longer hike, and my visions of a day alone on the mountain are quickly evaporating as I park along the side of the road in a long line of cars.  I begin my hike, finishing putting my gear on as I go.
8:00 am: My hands are getting cold.  Not finishing getting the gear adjusted while in the car seems like less of a good idea.  My snowshoes are strapped to my pack, since the snow is well packed.

8:20 am: I just got passed by two guys who are hauling skis up the mountain.  I'm a bit embarrassed, since their packs look much bigger and heavier than mine.
8:25 am: I pass the skiers while they take a break.  Take that!
8:27 am: I am passed by the skiers again.  Dang it!!
8:50 am: I'm working my way up the first decent hill of the day.  Ok, the jacket must come off.  I'm sure I'll be putting it on in another 15 minutes when I get cold considering this under armor shirt isn't exactly well insulated, but I'm burning up so what's a guy to do.  It turns out I move much faster without the jacket, and apparently I am a furnace when exercising, as I'm the only one without a jacket on, and I don't put mine back on until right before the summit 2 hours later, after climbing almost the entire mountain without it.
9:50 am: After getting away from the line of climbers early on, I meet up with a couple of guys who are nice enough to take my picture.  They break trail for a bit, postholing as they go, then I take the lead.  My indentations in the snow are much shallower, since I am lighter, making climbing easier.  Every once in a while it pays to be built like a 12 yr old boy.

10:20 am: I have left the two hikers behind, and run into another guy who is taking a breather.  We chat for a bit and he informs me that he really got into doing 14ers in November when he weighed 300 pounds.  He is now 210.  I'm duly impressed, both by his weight loss and the fact that he hauled 300 pounds of flesh up the side of a mountain.  Well done, sir, well done.

10:30 am: Walking along a narrow ridgeline and hands are getting cold.  My mittens are in my jacket, which is in my pack.  I remove my pack and re-don my jacket and mittens.  I almost lose my balance putting the pack back on.  I realize that a two foot wide trail overlooking hundreds of feet of rock-covered steep incline is probably not the best place to swing my pack onto my back.

10:57 am: I arrive at the top of the mountain.  The views are much better than last week when white-out conditions prevented seeing more than 20 ft.  I call Heather to let her know I made it and leave a message.

11:10 am: Views having been taken in, it is time to start working my way down.  Coming down is much quicker and easier than going up, as expected.  The snow makes it easier on the knees than descending on dry ground.  I take a much more direct path that may or may not be an avalanche danger.  I figure if others are skiing down this path it must be safe.  (*Safety disclaimer: Actually the snow was very stable, and dozens of climbers had been taking the same route throughout the day. Always choose your route carefully.) 

11:20 am:  I am halfway down the mountain and nowwhere near the tree line.  I don't see anybody around, and I really need to go pee.  Can I hold it for another hour or more until I can find someplace more private to go to the bathroom?
11:22 am: I feel much better.  Sorry if there were any hikers with binoculars at the base looking for wildlife.
11:30 am: The snow is warm enough that I am post-holing up to my thighs.  Glad I brought the snowshoes.  Time to put them on.
12:00 pm: I am back on the road to the car.  I'm not feeling so well.  I'm hungry but don't want to stop until I get to the car.  A gentleman apparently from Austria who looks nothing like Arnold Swartzenegger but sounds just like him joins me for a while, making the walk go faster.  I keep wanting him to leave so he can say "Ah'll be bahck".
1:00 pm:  I finally get to the car and eat.  I'm a bit dehydrated and sunburned, which is why I wasn't feeling so well.  All in all a good hike, and I can't wait for the next one.  I'll make sure the suncreen is in my bag next time!

First Blog

I guess this is my mandatory first blog.  Wow, I'm moving into the 21st century.  Why a blog?  A couple friends recommended/asked me to post descriptions/pictures from my hiking adventures this summer on a blog.  So Gary and Vicky, this blog is your fault! 

I figured as long as I'm making a blog for capturing my outings, I may as well put other random thoughts to the page.  Especially since it is very annoying to run out of space on Facebook.  I know, I can use notes, but that doesn't help one join the blogging masses, now does it?  My goal is to use this blog to get out some of the thoughts that circle around in my head.  I don't expect many people will read it, but that's ok, because A: that's not the reason for this blog, and B: I'm pretty boring, so I'm used to it.  In fact, I can see your eyes rolling back in your head so it's time to finish this post.  I hereby smash a proverbial bottle of champagne against the hindquarters of this blog (don't worry, it was a cheap bottle).