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Showing posts from 2016

Peak Weird

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I figured out when I hit peak weird in 2016. I needed to wait until the end because the weird dial had already been turned to "11" by June and they just kept adding numbers after that. You might think any one of dozens of moments in the election might earn the title but for me, the single strangest event was barely noticed by anyone.

Let me start by saying we've heard the sound of machine gun fire in our mountains as long as we've lived here. Not someone with an assault rifle squeezing off rounds as fast as they can; I mean "hold the trigger down until the clip is empty" automatic weapon fire like you hear in the movies, or you know, a war. Machine guns are tools of war, generally grouped with grenades and rocket launchers - things that shouldn't be part of a peaceful country's daily life. It's a federal crime to possess a machine gun without a staggering amount of background checks and licensing. Years ago, my brother took Carolyn and me to a s…

The Morning After

I should apologize up front to my conservative friends and family who don't expect me to wax political here but I'm not going to.

I left my wife in tears in bed this morning over the election results. I wish I could have joined her but I had to go to work. I left her with a cup of coffee and a cat. I thought I might get some traction with a pussy grabbing metaphor but I'm afraid I wasn't much help cheering her up.

She was crying for a lot of things. She was crying because her parents, both in their 90's lived to see this. They are both big Hillary fans. Her mom read an essay to her women's study group this summer in praise of her. She did that in Waterford NY, one of the oldest towns in America and so conservative, there has never been a Democratic party presence there. She knew it wouldn't go over well but she read it anyway. It was an incredibly brave thing to do. We wanted that bravery to be validated. America wanted an incompetent, failed huckster for …

Sheep and Wool

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Being a man in his mid fifties whose sole form of recreation involves shaving his legs and riding a bicycle around in the woods wearing brightly colored spandex, I have perhaps a bit more empathy for groups of like minded people whose shared enthusiasm for something might strike the rest of the world as a tad peculiar.



I was grateful for that as I wandered around the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in upstate NY taking in the hand knit splendor that is The NY Sheep and Wool Festival - the Comic Con of the fiber arts world. We're back in NY for a visit. Carolyn is upstate with her family. I've been visiting mom. Mom was working at the festival doing demonstration weaving on an old barn frame loom in the Antique Village Museum. It was one of the quieter spots at the festival but there was a steady stream of people wandering through and she got to explain at length what she was doing. Since I'm pretty sure having your 56 year old son sitting patiently on a bench wat…

Oregon 24: Still Bike Racing

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I think this is my 3rd attempt to explain that I really am still racing my bike. I've written enough about racing that it just didn't seem important to talk about it any more. But I got thinking about how much I enjoyed Chainbreaker, Sister's Stampede, and Alsea Falls and I thought that warranted some comment.

Sister's Stampede was especially memorable. I've always had a love/hate relationship with that one. Some years I do great. Other years I can't get into the groove and the first half's uphill rock gardens just kill me. This year started rough but I found some rhythm and actually finished a few minutes faster than a couple years ago. I also came down a technical section and passed a bunch of novice riders who'd finished the short course and they all did the wave for me as I went by. That's never happened to me before. It was the nicest thing. One of those rare selfless tribal gestures that our often vapid, self-absorbed culture managed to produ…

Running is Hard

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OK, quick summary: I did the Tillamook Bay 10k run today. It was wonderful. Really. If you're a trail runner and you want a great race along the ocean run by really kind people with the added bonus of easy access to some very famous cheese, this is your race. You don't need to read the rest of this. I just wanted to give a shoutout to the promoters. I really had fun at my first 10k.

If you're in for the long haul, here's the thing: Carolyn is back East for a couple weeks. It's really disruptive, if you're me. I don't know what to do without her. I'm already horribly self-absorbed and when she's gone I just turn into this supermassive black hole of self pity. It's awful. Event the cats won't put up with me. I watched "La Dolce Vita" on Netflix last night. I know. The nightmare.

Keeping busy helps. Right now I'm staring at the vacuum cleaner. I'm staring at it thinking "I just vacuumed the house. And I did …

Home Improvement

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So, it's been a funny kind of year. In a strange way, we've sort of rolled back the clock and after years of bike racing and jetting around Europe, we've reinvested ourselves in taking care of this place where we live. You have to understand, unless you're content to live in a bombed out double wide surrounded by garbage, it takes a lot of work to live out here. Things wears things down pretty quickly when your house is in the middle of a field in the middle of the mountains with no erosion barriers, curbs, sidewalks, asphalt, all those things that slow down Nature's need to move things downhill and out to sea. Nobody's going to fix this house or this land for us unless we're ready to shell out some serious money and we're not going to do that on account of we don't have any.

The good news is, or was, this is a pretty well made house. 1997, 2x6 walls, vinyl insulated windows, oak floors (downstairs) and a positively 19th century brick chimney. It&#…

The Web

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I attended An Event Apart up in Seattle last week. It's a conference for web designers.  I apologize to my friends and especially my nephew Kyle for not looking you up while I was there. It was two very intense days - think 10 TED talks in a row on web design. It's not my usual HiEdWeb conference. That's a great one but I needed to change things up. This fit the bill. There wasn’t much free time; but I also just needed some time alone to think. 
I’ve been writing the eulogy of my professional life for the last year or two. At 56, most of my working years are behind me. There’s no time left for a career pivot. Nobody’s going to hire an old school webmaster in their mid-50’s. What I do is being distributed among specialists now anyway. Nobody needs someone who can do a bit of css, a bit of php, some design and a bit of copy writing. That’s a recipe for mediocrity.
Also, I have back hair. I’m fat. My knees hurt. It just gets worse from there. I can feel myself sliding back t…

Beauty

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We were in NY visiting family for a couple weeks. It was Carolyn's dad's 93rd birthday and a chance for me to spend a little more time with mom. Carolyn's folks live in Waterford, a small canal town at the intersection of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers. It began as a trading outpost of the Dutch East India Company in the late 1600s. It's one of the oldest continuously incorporated towns in America. That's a remarkable thing considering its penchant for burning down and/or flooding. My in-laws have left their home in a boat more than once. My mother lives about 70 miles south on 16 acres  up in the Catskills. It's Washington Irving country and a favorite subject of the Hudson River School painters. There's a sort of haunted quality to these places; a feeling of a past that doesn't want to let go to an encroaching future.

It's a feeling that resonates more this trip since they've begun clear cutting a large part of the mountain range across from our …

That New Bike Smell

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Saturday I took a ride over the ridge to Mill Creek. It's a short loop with a fun, steep drop in off the ridge.  It wasn't much of a day. The sun didn't make it out and rain was moving onshore. Heading out, it felt like riding in a cold, wet dumpster. It kind of smelled like it too. The Christmas tree farms had been burning slash right before laying down a few thousand gallons of Crossbow. Damp soot, broadleaf herbicide, Gray skies. Just depressing.

But I was riding a new bike; a 2014 Salsa Spearfish! So who cares? It might as well have been raining unicorns and circus peanuts. It's the first new bicycle I've purchased in 26 years. I'm pleased to report that the "new bike feeling" I, and every other kid experienced getting one for Christmas or a birthday, has not diminished over those years. And just like I did 26 years ago, I'm going to tell everyone about it whether they care or not because ITS A NEW BIKE and seriously, I just don't get ex…

Pedestrian Life

Carolyn and I were looking out the living room window yesterday. We were watching El Niño. At least, we were watching it as much as anyone can watch a complicated seasonal weather event triggered by changes in ocean temperatures thousands of miles away. I'm sure it does no good to anthropomorphize the weather. Still, the amount of water coming down reminded me of teams dumping a large cooler of Gatorade on a coach after a Super Bowl win so I took some comfort in seeing the weather as some guy who just showed up with an unbelievable amount of water and wind and a need to celebrate.

We were trying to think of something to do. None of our cats have hats and even if they did, we've kind of aged out of the Dr Seuss demographic's measure of fun. We drew a total blank. In a way it was a relief. Sort of "Oh, you feel that way too. Thank God, I thought it was just me!" So our inability to figure out something interesting to do on one of the rare weekends when we have two …