29 December 2007

Powder so deep...

Just sitting here enjoying a nice hot cup of tea after braving the cold and the wind today to get my fix of freshies. Actually had to traverse down the checklist to option D today. This was because of several factor, the first being avoid I-70 at all costs on a weekend. Sitting in traffic sucks; sitting in traffic by yourself sucks more; and sitting in traffic by yourself and having to go to the bathroom is sweat-inducing, kidney stone-developing agony.

Another factor was, well, I'll let the table tell the story.

That's cold folks; that's nose hair-freezing, eyelash-riming, why was I ever born cold people.

So I bumped around a few hours this morning until it hit 18 degrees, got my things together and hit a spot lower in elevation, tree-covered - to avoid the nasty wind slabs that are developing above treeline currently - and usually holds some deep pockets of powder. I got my powder alright, a little too much.

Somebody had already set up a skin track, and I followed it up, appreciating the ease of not having to break trail. The track came to an end but there was still more hill, so swooshing through the powder I went up and up and more up - um, maybe I shouldn't have gone so much up.

You can watch the video of my highpoint, or the point where my sanity began kicking in here.

I hit rocky terrain and no real open slope; going down was going to require some tight navigation.

Did better than I thought on my first run down. Did scrape a couple of boulders and once again found a buried boulder that I hucked without my consent.

The second run I didn't go nearly as high up, stopping a couple hundred feet lower and found some nice slopes and linked some fun turns. The key was keeping spongy knees and keeping a downhill line. The third run was even better as my quads seemed to be awaking from their week-long slumber.

Voy a ir a Cerro Chirripo

Last night I bought my ticket to Costa Rica. Very excited about this 8-day trip. Need to brush up on the Spanish again and start figuring out an itinerary. I know the one spot I will hit is the tallest point in Costa Rica, Cerro Chirripo.

I foresee my climbing shoes and chalkbag being packed.

The cool thing is there is a hostel about 16 kilometers up you can stay in, hit the summit the next morning and explore the trail system. Now I just need to get my second Hep B shot and update a couple of other boosters as well.

ARTIST OF POST - Radiohead. Was grooving to this song on the drive up to the backcountry stash.

27 December 2007

Children are good for the soul

Christmas was ... different this year. And I can admit it was very difficult on the days leading up to the celebratory day, so much I didn't want to fly to Chicago to spend the time with my family.

The holidays are a fecundity to emotions - both positive and negative; it is a moment for reflection as you take stock of what is dear, how you celebrate those whom are important, and how you might have been too cavalier in your appreciation - it is easy to take family for granted since they have been there for your life.

Getting through this was much easier with a diminutive, 26-month-old Avatar who greeted me every morning with the mantra of, "Get up Dude. Get up Dude. Get up Dude."

The memories of playing with my little niece, be it coloring (yes I stayed within the lines), running around the dining room table until I got dizzy or playing hide n seek with her will be cherished ones - and probably good fodder for when she gets old enough to start dating!!

The only awkward part was when she arrived at my bedroom in my sister's house to begin her morning chanting. Dane had brought up her big gift the night before while she slept - a new Radio Flyer tricycle. As I fought through the fog that swirls in my head during the journey to consciousness, she turned around and spied the gift.

"Bicycle? Hannah bicycle?" she asked looking at me quizzically and waiting for the affirmation to answer her questions.

Uh oh! This was supposed to be a surprise that was to be shared with her parents, not a sleepy, half-naked dude.

"Um, go ask daddy. Go get daddy."

Unfortunately that experience was stolen away from Heather and Dane, but don't worry guys, it is locked away safely in my memory and it was incredible seeing the cognizance take shape in her face.

Hannah looks out the window after her cousins left Christmas night

Unfortunately I had used my new camera for a total of two minutes before this picture was taken. The lighting present was perfect, bathing Hannah in a ocher glow that tickled her face before surrendering to the darkness. I guess I have some reading to do.

ARTIST OF POST - Jack Johnson. Because I can't help but think of my little niece when I hear the "monkey song".

09 December 2007

I left my heart in Seattle, and my mittens, and my...

When going on a trip, it isn't a matter of "Did I forget something?" as much as it is, "What did I forget?"

I had a reverse case of this and it didn't show up until this morning as I packed up to go on a snowshoe trip. I already knew I lost my OR shell mittens. Those were good gloves that have been on many adventures. The backpack I was borrowing didn't have a pocket for my avy shovel. So it needed to be tied up to the pack's daisy chain. Well, the upper pocket wasn't zipped up all of the way (1/2 inch open) and the weight of the shovel and my jostling caused the pocket to open.

I know the area where my mitts are at. The chances of ever finding them again are slim to none. Given that it was a matter of survival skiing back down on Thursday due to consolidated snow with the death ice crust on top, I wasn't going to go traversing the steep slopes I skied down again for two miles for the mitts.

Also MIA is my pair of gaiters and my fleece insert gloves. Those I am pretty sure are in the basement of Mike & Mary's house.

I managed to get by without them on my trip up outside of Evergreen. Though I feel if there was another six inches of snow, it would have not only made the journey more enjoyable, but I would've had some wet feet going sans gaiters.

The area was pretty with all of the pines covered with snow and the views were rather good from the summit rocks. Only Evans and Bierstadt of the big mountains were showing due to high clouds. Nearly lost my binoculars. As I scrambled over to a pedestal rock, I slipped on the snow-covered slab and my binocs went flying from my hand. Thankfully it came to a rest only shortly below me. A few more feet and they would have landed a good 2-3 hundred feet down.

ARTIST OF THE POST - Billy Bragg. Hard to believe this song was written over 20 years ago. It still rocks.

05 December 2007

Breaking trail & 100-year floods

Continuing my trend of bringing moisture to whenever, wherever I recreate, the Pineapple Express moved into the Seattle area shortly after I touched down at the airport on Saturday.

A slight dusting coated the metro area as I landed and by the next day, the thermometer climbed and we were in the mid to upper 50s at night. The deluge continued through the night and the next morning.

Monday saw Mike and I relaxing, drinking coffee and catching up before getting our lounging butts in gear and going for a nice hike up Cougar Mountain. We went a little this way and that picking trails as we came to their junctions. We wound up turning around after going to Coal Creek waterfall.

I was informed that this is normally a nominal trickle in the summer. After the bombardment of rain the area had received, this thing was powerful enough to move big diesel trucks. We were wet - well we were wet anyways, this is western Washington after all - from the spray generated by this torrent, frothing like a El Salvidorian mutt.

We never went and collected our stipend from King County Natural Resources for all of the trailwork we did. We diverted some channels to get standing water off the trail, removed some debris that was blocking streams and broke off the branches off a large hemlock that decided to lay down over the trail and take a rest.

Just got back today from spending time up at Hyak on a ski tour. Mike was floundering in his snowshoes as the snow crust was that flirtatious, "I'll hold your weight. Nope, I won't." It was rather taxing for him. So after a mile or so in, I got out of the nice ski tracks laid down and broke trail on the side. It was much easier for him and slowed me down as well.

We had rain, snow and wintery mix - swear to God, NOAA used that term in a forecast. Some of the peaks occasionally showed through the dreary cloud cover, but for the most part, we were surrounded by mature Douglas Firs, hemlocks and the occasional cedar and the gray mantle of mist that blew over Snoqualmie Pass.

After around 4 miles, it seemed like a good turnaround point; we didn't want to use up our legs and not go out on Thursday. So off came the climbing skins and much fun was had on the way down for me.

Thursday a quick tour and some serious turns are scheduled off of Alpental. The avalanche danger has subsided greatly after a deadly weekend - two people were buried and killed up near Snow Lake and three snowboarders are still missing out by Crystal Mtn.

I'll get to show Mike how to dig a snow pit and do a shovel shear test. If all the signs are good, we hopefully will get some nice bombardier runs in the Cascadian concrete.

And hopefully we'll remember the camera this time!!

30 November 2007

Taking the skis for a walk

What's more awkward than doing Class 3/4 scrambling up a mountain wearing AT ski boots and carrying a video camera? DOWNCLIMBING Class 3/4 terrain while wearing AT ski boots and carrying a video camera!

Got up Thursday morning for some backcountry turns up at St Mary's (no longer a) Glacier. The evening before I asked my producer if he wanted some weather video from the mountains for the next day's newscast. After receiving an enthusiastic affirmation, I grabbed the miniDV camera, the steady bag and packed them into my pack.

The drive up, I caught occasional glimpses to James Peak and could see the mountain was in an exhibitionist sort of mood; not much snow on it.

From a trip up James Peak this past spring. My route up was the left skyline.

Arriving at the trailhead, I could see that I would be hiking up in my ski boots before arriving to some snow. So the skis got lashed onto the backpack and up I went. The problem with my thinking was that there WOULD be snow to ski on. In fact there is NO snow to ski on. The glacier is the most reduced I had ever seen it and you could see its exposed ice heart shining duly in the sun.

Past the lake and at the terminus of the ice slope, I took off the pack and turned my attention to Fox Mountain behind me.

Once again from this past spring

So grabbing the steady bag, camera and leaving the rest of my gear near the trail, I made my way to the north ridge. Hiking soon turned to scrambling which soon turned into the camera resting inside my jacket like a pregnant belly to free up both hands. Finally at the summit rocks, I scraped a way up the west face and began my filming duties.

For a change, I didn't enjoy the exposure. I felt like a Golem with leaden feet climbing up and so looking down a hundred feet or so a couple of hands-widths to my left on the climb actually affected me. That and I also knew body first, camera second in case I fell.

When I get the footage of my video I'll post it up. While carrying my skis for nearly 4 miles wasn't my intention, I still had a shit-eating grin on my face most of the day. But then again some might say I'm not a smart man.

ARTIST OF POST - Iron & Wine. Seattle neo-folk. This song "Boy with a Coin" has also been getting heavy play in my iPod.

28 November 2007

Trail?! Who needs a trail?

Sunday after plans to go bouldering with a buddy fell through, it was up to my prerogative as to my plans. Wanted to give my thumb a break and let it heal some more so I opted for some bushwacking and climbing at Deer Creek Canyon Open Space outside of Denver.

Also decided to bring the video camera to get some much-needed practice for my series of web stories which I am to begin scribing for work starting next year. As I was making my up the snow-slapped slopes - not nearly enough for good purchase but enough to hide the occasional cactus clumped together on the rocky slope - I started thinking about how falling would be a bad outcome as I clambered up a small 15-foot wall.

Oh I knew the myriad stands of scrub oak would catch and cradle me like one of their offspring. No, for a change I wasn't thinking about life or limb nor tree or twig, I was musing about the expensive piece of equipment in my backpack that would go smash under my body weight.

Trundled down one giant knot of rock at one point but was able to spin out of the path with a good edge on the right. And finally after slowly trudging up a piecemeal path made by deer and rock and erosion I arrived at the summit.

After spending about half an hour up top I made my way back on the serpentine route of the trail. However shortly after departing I found a nice gully that would cut out about 2 1/2 miles of meaningless hiking. My route got adjusted after some warning yelps by some coyotes unseen under the pine-tree canopy below me.

Instead I found my self downclimbing some cliffs and going Tarzan as I did more a control slide down into the forest on some slippery steep stuff (snow-covered slab does not make for good purchase).

Partway down the trail I realized my trials, which more resembled the flailing penitence of a Benedict monk of the Dark Ages, took from a casualty - my sunglasses. I was rather miffed since this pair actually survived almost three years.

And of course, I screwed up my thumb again. Damn being a homo sapian sapian and my opposable appendage@

If enough snow has fallen in the mountains today, I see myself getting some backcountry turns out at St Mary's on Thursday.

ARTIST OF POST - Mobius Band. Catchy and getting heavy play on my iPod.

23 November 2007

Love lost is soon forgotten

I am none but the king of sad persuasion.
I am none but the salt for the sanguine abrasion
I am the finger of the hand that keeps the wound wet.
I am the finger of the hand that you never forget.
I am the finger, the hand - the mad persuasion.

I am none but the king of repetition.

Sometimes a verse strikes a cord. There is an amazing effect that stringing words together creates. Every once in a while it creeps up and ambushes you when you least expect it (something I've very readily related to emotionally for the past X amount of months).

A simple verse read in years pass can cause not even a pursing of the lips, as the page is lazily flipped like a shrewd shopper over a Tuesday mailing flyer or the reaction of a repetitive motion as the reader looks for the key tagwords, something that can be an orchestral accompaniment to the ennui of the moment.

Or is it that you are no longer the same person, who flippantly kept searching for a specific theme in that book? Perhaps when you look in the mirror, the reflection you gaze upon holds no semblance to one you donned; there is a vacant look in the eyes which didn't reside there before. Sometimes your skin is no longer a suit that fits snugly like it once did. There are creases and wrinkles where the corners were once rounded smooth.

It is then when you realize you are a changed person and you no longer expect to have your return ticket stamped, because you have forgotten what it was like at your starting point. And you know in your heart that no matter where the next destination may lay on the globe, it won't change the shadow whom you have become.

- Marc Jaffee. Since he is the one who scribed the verse, I should give him his due.

21 November 2007

Thanksgiving Eve

It is the night before Thanksgiving, and while the place is odoriferous with the scent of the garlic mashed potatoes I whipped up (literally), it isn't turkey that's on my mind. No a different animal is crawling inside my cranium, one that probably isn't as tasty but quite a bit more testy. I've been thinking about scorpions. Particularly a very large, very old one.

If you haven't seen/read/listened to the news the past couple of days, scientists who have nothing better to do than use miniature hammers to tap/tap/tap at rocks and brush away the earth's crumbs have discovered the fossilized remains of a claw belonging to this creature of antiquity.

Reading about it reminded me of my two notable scorpion encounters while living in Oaxaca. Without digressing - I know it's the title of the blog! - let's just say the first story involves Mexican Raid. No, not a raid by Mexicans, we're talking about the nifty cylinder of death for all arthropods. But since this is south of the border where this tale takes place at, this isn't your over-the-counter can of bug moribund. This is the chrome can sans label. This is the stuff you keep away from children unless you particularly don't like them or really want them to take a nap after being fussy after lunch.

And the scary part is this noxious brew under pressure DID NOT KILL the scorpion. Here I am afraid of having any of this stuff get in contact with my skin or clothing, less they both begin melting away.

Mr. Big Black Scorpion, he just stopped, opened up his pincers and got pissed. Needless to say, we left El Escorpion Peligroso alone and gave him as much space as needed.

Not the scorpion in question

The second story involved a late night trip to the bathroom. No mind you, the room in the house we were renting in Arrazola didn't have the bathroom connected to the building. You had to walk across the courtyard. And mind you since we are in a rural village out in the valley, I usually didn't use said bathroom at night for a quick zip down. I just found a tree, shrub, something.

Our bedroom is on the right

However the family we were staying with were up at a late hour for them and we were talking. So being polite, I grabbed my headlight and trekked over to the cinder-block structure that held the toilet. Halfway through aiming dead center, I looked over at the wall and noticed to my discomfort a just-as-beefy scorpion on the wall, INCHES PEOPLE, INCHES from my little alacran, which was getting smaller after the discovery I must say. I never wanted to be done with Trabajo Uno so badly in my life.

Off to Copper Mountain on Thanksgiving for a few turns before working Thanksgiving night. I'll be giving thanks if the 8 open runs aren't crawling with tourons. Friends Dana and Duke went today and said it was more like dodging than riding; they bailed after two runs. I just know I'll be bundling up:

Happy Turkey Day everybody.

ARTIST OF POST - Mike Doughty. Former lead singer of Soul Coughing and one of the few musical choices Tasha and I ever could agree on.

18 November 2007

Visiting the white strip of death

There is always a sweet satisfaction I get when I go cycling and past roadies in their skin-tight lycra, bigger gears, bigger wheels and little racing jerseys. While here I come plodding along on my mountain bike which is in desperate need of a new cassette and I'm donning baggy mountain biking shorts and a T-shirt; dressed as un-aerodynamic as possible.

For a Sunday with temps in the 60s - the last warmth we will have in awhile? - the path wasn't too crowded. All in all it was a nice 2-hour ride from my place past C-470 & Kipling. And thankfully there was no headwind either way. The ride wasn't in the plans for today. I originally envisioned something a little more time-consuming and involving exposure. However my thumb is still a little sore. Why do you ask? Because I bucked up my courage and visited "The White Strip of Death"

Arising at the not-quite-light hour of 6:15 am, I set out for my rendezvous with Jason. The drive up went quickly in discussion and 45 minutes later after cresting Loveland Pass, we could see it laying flatly under the caliginous sky, THE STRIP. Well actually to be precise it is four strips that converge into one mighty strip - a strip so terrifying and austere that if you came across it in a dark alley, you would turn tail.

But it's only a series of Blue runs.

Ah yes, that might be so intrepid reader. But the blueness is so blue that it burns your retinas and its firmness is so frozen it will render your quads into holiday mashed potatoes bathing languidly in a lactic acid gravy.

Soon we were sucking up our will in a redoubt of courage as we rode the lift up - THE STRIP taunting us to our left as we slowly made our way up. Wait! Are those exposed rocks underneath us.

Human ingenuity is an amazing thing. We can make coffee makers that begin brewing at a designated time, we can send submersibles down thousands of fathoms and we can pave the way for downhill skiing even when there is no snow. We just blow it.

While some might consider this a technological wonder, I consider it to be skiing on shaved ice, just add some syrup and give me a little wooden paddle spoon and I have desert.

The first run, well the first run was the first skiing since May so it was ugly. I caught an edge coming down a drop and bit it, and bit it pretty good. Apparently I nailed my left knee with the edge of my right ski, cutting a gash and bruising myself like an overripe banana - something I wouldn't discover until later that day. It wasn't until Saturday when my thumb was acting funny, and not in a Dave Chappel sort of way either. Must have caught my ski pole and jerked my hand funny during my tumble.

After that, the legs went through a renascence - refamiliarizing themselves with the motions and before long I was pushing it and turning a little less pronounced. Three hours - 11 runs and a Telemark IPA - not a bad way to spend the day before going into work. Mmmm, beer!!

Jason and I got separated - a feat in itself considering there were four runs open - on our fourth run. I started ahead of him and thought he passed me. He didn't and I kept going to the bottom and he stopped mid-mountain. It was somewhat familiar to Where's Waldo? While riding the lift I saw him skiing a couple of times and vice versa. Apparently Jason fell twice and each time wasn't while he was ripping it down the mountain - I have no qualms admitting I think Jason is a better skier than myself - but while going slowly. Such is the way with friction and gravity.

So do your snow dance - the front coming in the middle of the week is not forecasting to bring abundant precipitation unfortunately, just coldness - I'm hoping to make this a winter with copious slaloming.

ARTIST OF POST - Radiohead. There's a shocker right? The album version of this song is amazing.

07 November 2007

We're moving on down

Every so often in a person's life, there comes a time to make an important purchase. Often times this purchase is a big-item transaction, such as a bed, or a car, or a big screen HDTV. Many would take it a step further and take a long time scrutinize over something that will be not only a major investment but a financial commitment and, dare I say it, an investment - like a house or a mail-order bride.

To give you some insight onto the type of person I am, my period of mulling and introspection was invested into a household item that is utilized for much time and is in a sense a place of creation: a desk.

A few weeks ago I found myself having to replace a pine stalwart of sturdiness, that while I never was attached to; it has caused many a banged knee; it did it's job admirably, despite having to tighten screws and adjust legs to get rid of its malady of wobbliness.

In the interim, I turned to my map table. Map table? What are you trying to do Ryan, discover a lost continent? What do you have a Stella Maris as well and a bad case of scurvy?

I like maps, always been fascinated by them since childhood. I spent many an hour in the car on roadtrips with my father keeping myself entertained by discovering little towns in the middle of nowhere, distant mountain ranges and where the closest Stuckey's was.

So over a year ago I built a map table to store my topographical maps that have been useful aids for mountaineering and backpacking in Washington. Made out of pine and oak, I rather like the thing:

I mean look at the painstaken detail:

While a piece I do cherish, it definitely doesn't double as a desk very well. For one, because of it's elevated height, it was like typing while riding a chopper.

"Yo bro! You blogging now?"
"That's right Snake. I'm letting people know about my last trip in the Indian Peaks wilderness."
"Well dude, you're gonna miss the cutoff for the poker run. I hear Breathern Fast is playing at the saloon."

So the quest began and included several trips to various antique, read junk, stores. While you can find the occasional treasure, I think the antique junket is merely an excuse of packrats to make a living off their hoarding tendencies. I mean I found an old 80s stereo system with the dual tape decks and an equalizer for sale - and it wasn't even a good one - at probably the same price it retailed for 20 years ago.

My infecund journeys were ended when I discovered using Craigslist was a much lazier and gas-saving alternative. At least this way I could look at junk without having to endanger my life or contacting a STD walking down East Colfax Avenue.

Finally I found my specimen:

But alas! Somebody has beaten me to the punch. I was informed by the owner of this antique relic that was made available for a steal, that somebody was to look at it that day (As is always the case. Damn those phantom buyers). Thankfully, a lackadaisical approach by the competition and due diligence by your intrepid purveyor of maps won me my opening and I swooped in and picked up the desk today.

It needs a good sanding and varnishing to clean up the scratches and time-earned discolorments on the finish. But given I have a coffee table to build (oak & poplar), an end table (pine & oak), bookshelves for some friends (pine) and spending most of December out of town, I don't see myself getting around to it until sometime in '08.

In the meantime, the Mac is perched akimbo and already I feel more refined as I drink a glass of Merlot and listen to Baroque while I dabble on the keys, situated at a height that no longer causes blood loss to my fingers.

God bless that crazy Greek who decided to ferment his grapes!

27 October 2007

Dismembering gourds

So last Saturday a group of us got together over at Brian's & Christy's and partook in the annual tradition of pumpkin carving. I nearly canceled twice the week leading up to the festivities for emotional reasons. Not that I draw any affinity to squash, rather pumpkin-carving parties were what Tasha and I did together for the past seven years, and it didn't feel right to do it without her.

Nonetheless I went and happy I did. I continued my streak of carving a Star Wars-themed Jack-o-lantern; choosing to etch out the visage of a stormtrooper.

Mine is in the middle, thanks for the pic Sandi:

Here are some of the ones I did in the past couple of years:


Dave Matthews Band - It's just where I am at in my life right now.

21 October 2007

They have a bouncy castle

I know it's quite odd for a 32-year-old single guy without kids to have so many pictures of children. What can I say, I love my niece and my friends' kids. Good people with good children and this is what happens when you get older; everybody propagates.

So Saturday was Hannah's 2nd birthday party back at my mom's place in Chicago. I actually think my mother is unable to move out if she ever wanted to. I believe it's in the family clause of the contract, but that yard is used so much for family functions I'm surprised it hasn't been zoned commercial yet.

I think you can get the picture of what the scene was like. I can. Lots of decorations, lots of kids, lots of screaming, lots of things going crash and, wait a minute...

They got a bouncy castle! Nobody told me they were getting a bouncy castle! I would have flown in if I knew there was a bouncy castle involved. And hold on a second...

Cupcakes! I love chocolate cupcakes! I supposed you had stuffed pizza as well. Ah...stuffed pizza!

I digress. Everybody had a wonderful time. I mean really, does that not look like content cuteness right there:

I guess I also have to fess up to a statement I made in the last post about my mom and sister making Hannah too girlie. One of her birthday gifts from me was this:

So yes I am just as guilty and my mother let me know about it as well:

The jacket you got Hannah is adorable - she will look great in it. And don't talk about Mommy and Nonna putting her in pink and purple - you got her pink too.

Thanks mom. Realized the hypocrisy when I ordered it. Also found out that Nonna is not Nana. Teach the kid pronunciation will ya! Any ways, do you know how impossible it is to find girl clothes which don't have the colors pink or purple in them? Darn near impossible. And I have to confess I do feel very awkward when I go to the store and am perusing through the kids clothing section. I get this ESP feeling that all of these mothers think I am some sort of sick creep.

As for life in Colorado, I'm musing on the memory of trail-running yesterday in shorts and a tanktop as I watch the snowflakes whisk by out the window. The Jack-o-lantern I carved yesterday at my friends' party appears to have a bad case of dandruff as I can measure over three inches of freshies on my balcony.

One more good storm and I'll be heading out to the backcountry in search of some powder stashes without worrying about giving my skis a bad case of talus-burn.

Think today will be spent doing some chores, drafting a couple of cover letters for a pair of jobs in South America and maybe some work on my novel.


Linkin Park - It's an addicting song for some reason.

20 October 2007

Happy Birthday Hannah!

Yesterday was the second birthday of my niece Hannah, who many of you know I am very fond of. While she lives in Chicago, I talk with her about once a week. The key phrase there is I talk. Hannah talks but she does more looking at the phone, surprised that there is another voice on the other end other than Mama or Dada or Nana.

Her favorite past time when on the phone with me is naming everybody who she knows. It's quite funny actually. I know she can make sentences because I hear her in the background when I call either my sister or mom. But for some reason she gets phone fright and only gives me words.

Also I am not Uncle Ryan. When I was back visiting Chicago in July, you could see the mind working but the mouth doth protest with so many syllables. I had a simple solution. Just call me Dude. So on that humid, hazy Midwest afternoon, we each took a moment of silence to bury the short lifespan of Uncle Ryan. And out of the ashes and overturned syllabaric dirt arose Dude.

Obviously yesterday (coincidentally a month after my birthday) was a big day for Hannah and my family. Really it is the first birthday she is what I would consider to be a human. She's got personality now and more than just a pooping, sleeping, bumping into things little baby.

Hmm....does she love Lamby more than Dude?!

As you can see, my mother and sister are having a bad influence on the poor little girl. All pink and purple. I have my work cut out to make sure she ends up being a tomboy who can throw a crisp 12-6 curve, can spit at least 10 feet and enjoys the outdoors. She does love water though.

Her big gift from her parents was a brand new push-car coupe. And apparently the little tyke is so attached to it, I wouldn't be surprised if she slept in the thing last night. She also has an affinity for animals - which is well understood since she doesn't quite live in a house but more of a mini-zoo: two dogs, three cats and a cranky old Cockatiel. Not quite sure how she feels about frogs though...

While I am proud to share these photos of her, this posting also has a dual purpose; just some embarrassing material whenever she brings a boy to meet Dude, which hopefully will be about 20 years down the road!!



Feist - Just something light and irreverent for such a pink post

16 October 2007

Well I'll be damned

Congratulations to the Rockies. I have to say when they got to within five outs of advancing I kept on thinking back to 2003 and the Cubs. That's how close they came until they had their monumental collapse blamed on an overzealous fan.

When Colorado got past that hurdle, I knew they were in the clear, though they added a little drama in the 8th as Arizona came back. I dropped off my friend Brian at Coors Field after the show last night. He's credentialized through the World Series and got into the park in the 7th inning. After the game, he was down on the field and went back into the locker room and had a blast.

I'm glad for him because he had one of his worst days he's ever had at work, so it was a good reward after dealing with such melodrama in the newsroom. I'm sure 10 years from now he won't remember the undermining that a couple of coworkers were doing, instead he'll look back on this:

I watched the end of the game with my friend Dana at our usual place at our usual table during one of our every other week night out. The poor women gets to hear me vent. Had plenty to vent about Monday night as I got into a heated argument with one of our photographers and was actually shaking from adreneline - the two cups of coffee didn't help. It's hard to speak logically while all the time preparing to pummel somebody.

Gotta run and meet somebody for coffee.

12 October 2007

Is this thing on?

So my shoot in Boulder went well. Got up at the early-to-me (still trying to acquire a sleep schedule after two months of alternating between early morning and afternoon shifts) time of 7:30 am, got lucky with a no-traffic window and got out to INSTAAR (Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research) just off the University of Colorado campus early for my interview.

Wasn't sure what to expect. I never talked to my victim, er, interview on the phone, only corresponded via a few emails which were terse on his part. My biggest fear is he would be one of those types that have allowed their education go to their head. You know, the ones that earned their PhD and demand to be called "Doctor".

Sure I'm a bit rusty out in the field. Considering much of my time is behind a desk, it's not like I haven't done this before. Hell, I've interviewed everybody from senators to 4-year-old children. I just didn't want what could be a fun story to be ruined by somebody who was stuffy.

However I felt he couldn't be that bad of a guy after checking out his personal page. C'mon, can this guy look intimidating?

The interview went well and Mark wound up being a guy I could go have a beer with. The interesting part was also being the videographer as well. During the interview, I constantly was thinking about framing and if I should zoom in for a vistage shot and what kind of lighting do I have, is the bloody thing recording? You know, the important stuff.

But this is really only for the sound that might be overlaid on some B roll I get next week. So we set up an appointment to meet Tuesday morning and head up to Niwot Ridge so I can get the money shots.

It is interesting what they do. For instance, they have discovered their is more nitrogen release in the winter and that level has quadrupled in the past 20 years. Why? They discovered life. Seriously! They discovered microbes that only exist predominately in the winter time that like the insulating effect of the snow. If I lived up in the Indian Peaks I would want to be insulated as well. The wind blows on an average at 25 mph. That is gale warning speed. One researcher has discovered that at just over 100 mph, one can actually fly! Might have to take a few more sojourns back to the area this winter!!

Plans for the weekend? None really. Probably try to fall off some rocks on Saturday. Been invited out on Sunday but my place is in desperate need of a cleaning. Plus I have yet to put my books back up after staining my downstairs bookshelf. It'll be much easier to put on the apron with cruddy weather outside.

Elliot Smith - Many know him from his song from Good Will Hunting. Took his life in 2003. Hope it was poetic and he found peace.

09 October 2007

White strip of death

October 10th!! October 10th!! These resorts are taking this race to be first a little too far. So on Wednesday, October 10th, 2007, Arapahoe Basin will officially become the first ski resort in the nation to open for the season, which is news to me because I didn't realize ski season began when there are still green leaves on the trees and I will probably be out doing something in shorts and a T-shirt.

But in the never-ending challenge to be the initial provider of something, be it skiing, news or a laundry detergent that actually does get out red wine stains, the blurring wheels of technology revolve at blinding speed to churn out what the masses want. Never mind the fact that outside of the ONE strip of snow, the high country is bone dry.

Take a look for yourself

My friend Dana will keep alive her streak of four consecutive years of snowboarding on the first day the first resort opens. She knows it is flippant but it just helps crave her Jones for carving some turns - even if the snow beneath her board has the tensile strength of a Slushee that has melted sitting on a park bench and then stuck back in the freezer.

The race to offer the first chance to ski in the year has been an on-going battle between Arapahoe Basin and Loveland. But as a member of the esteemed (cough) media, I can tell you being first isn't always being the best.

Facts change, stories change, and quality gets tossed out like an overripe banana in the race to be first to bring you (insert said product that you can't live without yet somehow managed to for the previous X amount of years of your life) before anybody else did.

Never mind substance, let's just stick with flash, that will distract the audience long enough. Until they realize they have been flimflammed too long.


Laura Veirs - funky, folksy and bizzare imagery.

07 October 2007

Elk, dogs and elevated heartrates

A shower has never felt so good. There is credence to the simple pleasures of a hot shower after several days camping, after an irksome day at work or after a good cardio workout.

Started the day with designs on completing a trail run followed by a bouldering session at Pence and O'Fallon parks up in Jefferson County. Parked at the trailhead, put on some gloves to afford some protection from developing handsicles in the chill and turned on the iPod. I never took the trail up out of the parking lot at Pence Park and now seemed like a good time.

It started off well; a nice rocky trail that broke up the tedious monotony that occasionally accompanies running. Then things got steep. How steep? Those in the know will understand the description of "climber trail" steep.

Why is my heart pounding? Looking down I can see my legs still churning; why aren't I going anywhere quickly? Maybe because I can see the ground at eye level four feet in front of me.

According to the bouncing altimeter on my wrist, I scampered up over 300 feet in about six minutes. The aftershocks were any small incline after that felt like scaling K2. When I saw a couple of downhill bikers donning their protective armor, I understood why my heart was pounding, why my lungs were resperating as if the fast-forward button had become stuck and why my rib cage felt constrictive.

Running down the hill was not any easier. The nice thing is it makes you adopt quick feet to avoid sliding down on your backside, rolling an ankle or spiraling through the air in a manner reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes sledding.

For some reason, my legs ignored my mental urges to stop and I continued over to O'Fallon Park, up the trail and onto the Ridge Trail. Finally when the way began it's long descent, my body listened to my executive decision to savor a few minutes to break, enjoy the view over to Bierstadt, Mt Evans and the Sawtooth Ridge.

A moment of drama presented itself on my way back. I took a way trail up a ridge that passes underneath a bouldering area I've been frequenting lately. Along the skyline I spotted a canine running. Coyote? Too big. I realized it was a fairly burly dog, which was now running towards me, barking viciously during its intercepting sprint. I shouted authoritatively at it to no avail. Finally its owners feebly began yelling at the dog with no effect.

Either it ultimately heeded its owners' calls or realized I wasn't blenching when it got within 10 feet of me. As I ran pass the languid owners, they shouted out apologies for their overprotective dog. I didn't bother sharing with them that I had my climbing knife out and open and was going to put an end to Fido if he attacked.

Mind you, I love animals - more so than people to be truthful. But I wouldn't lose sleep killing somebody's pet if it means protecting myself or somebody I care about.

Anyways onto Saturday:


SIDENOTE: It's interesting to hear my downstairs neighbor moan about some play which happened on whatever NFL game he's watching. How about you shift your beer-fed paunch, get off your haunches and do something yourself that might be memorable one day? I'm off my sanctimonious soapbox now.

I finally fulfilled a months-old pledge to take my friend Brian out mountain biking. He bought a nice Fuji bike a few months back and truthfully it was looking too shiny. Not a single speck of dirt or scratch on it. We were going to have to change that and get him off pavement for his first time.

I'm not a sadist so I took him to the most mild singletrack I knew of: Flying J Ranch outside of Conifer. Gave him some pointers about shifting, looking ahead and bike balance.

Several times he informed me I was trying to kill him and there was one occurrence I heard the tell-tale sound that signifies "We've got a biker down"! Well, you're supposed to get scraped up and a little bloody from time to time; that's how you know you're alive.

I have to say I'm proud of the guy. I told him the first time on the trail is by far the hardest and he made it the entire 5 miles.

Afterwards we drove up Hwy 73 to my second home, Alderfer/Three Sisters Open Space Park. On the way to my favorite bouldering area, we came across some natives.

One elk quickly multiplied into nine as we searched the surrounding forest and discovered the heard on both sides of us, including the patriarch.

When we got to within 25 feet of him, he bugled his displeasure, making each of us take a step off the trail away from him.

Finally we got to the Big Boulder - that's at least what myself and a couple other climbers call it - and I forced Brian to endure about an hour of my playtime.

I tried not taking too long, even though I warned him about my intentions. Still my energy was getting sapped by cutting out the rests. I found enough reserves to get in a traverse into a highball.

Padding to the top after the 30-foot climb felt good, especially after an exposed smear of faith up high.

Tetzler's torturing continued afterwards as we made our way up the trail to the base of two of the sisters. Scrambling up, I pointed where he wanted to put his feet and hands. Finally we got to the top of one of the formations and looked out onto the vista.

A treat of some Chicago hot dogs in Evergreen concluded a fun afternoon. Now we just have to see if Brian ever answers any calls from me again.

ARTIST OF THE POST: Tori Amos - Randomly came on while online. I enjoy the juxtaposition of the high note melody on the piano accompanied by occasional forceful drum.