Monday, March 31, 2008

"at least it's monday..."

a sentence that passes the lips of working stiffs oh-so-rarely. the p.e. teacher said this very sentence today. it got me wondering why. shouldn't we be thankful for each new week? the opportunity to contribute to the good of society? to do something we love?

problem is, no matter how much we love our jobs, the majority of us love our leisure time more. as the bumper sticker goes, a bad day fishing is better than a good day working.

in alachua county, we had early dismissal on wednesdays. those short days broke up the week nicely. here in fairfax, that day is monday. starting off the week with a short monday makes friday afternoon more bearable. i can skimp on prep then, leave on time, and relax on the weekend. the rest of the week still seems to drag as i tend to live for the weekend.

if you are indeed fortunate enough to truly love your job and all the people you work with, consider yourself truly blessed. i need some career advice so that monday is just another day in the sequence instead of the highest number in my perpetual countdown to the weekend...

pain is temporary...

pride is forever. or so goes the motivational t-shirt. today, i disagree. pain feels permanant, and my pride is bruised at least for a little while...

it hurts to walk after yesterday. when trying any new physical activity, it's best to not go into it full bore. like a bat out of hell. like a chicken with its head cut off. willy nilly. i should take that advice more often. i was battered and bruised in late december after my first mountain + snow excursion. i had trouble moving oh-so-many years ago after my first jaunt into the realm of rock climbing. yesterday, she and i decided to go on a leisurely bike ride.

leisurely, eh? my quads and seat contact point disagree. sixteen miles and one hot tub soak later, i'm still thinking ibuprofen may be coursing through my veins for a few days. my woefully inadequate bicycle and skill set spent the majority of the ride realizing that i'm dating a well-rounded athlete. what was a casual bit of recreation for her was pure exertion for me. i warned her she was going to run me into the ground. after a half-mile, my quads agreed. at least the weather was nice. 40s. overcast. headwind both ways.

to top it all off, when i was taking a post-beating nap, someone liberated my bike from my possession. i guess this means that my fifteen year-old bike now resides in some teenagers garage. my only hope is that an overly-curious bike fixer upper gets a little too nosy about the gainesville, coral springs, and sunrise, florida stickers from various police agencies and bike shops. i was already contemplating selling it on craigslist as it were. guess i'm out a few bucks.

any suggestions on used road, hybrid, or mtn. bikes?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

tourist times in the new town

it's hard for me to believe sometimes that people actually want to come to the district on their vacations. i'm so far removed from the tourist culture of south florida that i forget people go on vacations and might randomly choose where i live. someday, i'll figure out how to avoid the maddening crowds when they do come. as yet, i'm not that lucky. a lot of my exploring, adventurous nature manifests in the very things that tourists want to see.

case in point numero uno. two and half years ago, a friend had an internship at a vet clinic in the district. i'm doing the legit tourist thing with his girlfriend while he's working. it's triple digits outside, even our floridian bodies were screaming for a/c. smithsonian museums are free, let's go there! air and space: comfortable, but crazily crowded. sidenote, woman wearing all black from head-to-toe passes out on steps in front of us. bad omen.

case in point numero dos through cien. weekend. nice weather. national mall. memorials. smithsonians. fuhgettaboutit!

today. previous cases in point. add cherry blossoms to the mix and ninety-nine out of a hundred of these tourists is ansel adams in disguise. [full disclosure: yes, i'm in that 99, but i was trying to avoid the cliche shots of out-of-focus monuments in the background with blossoms in the foreground and 27 unrecognizable people screwing up the shot.] makes me want to play hooky from work this week to go take picures. perhaps some day after work to try to get cool pictures with a sunset in the mix. i'm mildly disappointed with my addition the the glut of cherry blossom pictures that will soon be flooding the web. you'll see mine, but my camera's eye and mine don't often agree. an upgrade is needed.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


spring snows settled silently last weekend. not quite as surreal. oddly, i've gotten used to snow, though little we had. i guess being out of my environment at granny's may have had something to do with that. early in the winter, when we actually had snow on the ground for a day or two or three, it seemed odd to me. growing up with rain or harder rain being the only likely precipitation possibilities, adding snow, freezing rain, and hail to the equation still throws me.

it's not snow that has been the most confusing to my brain. these colors and blossoms and new trees, none of which i can call by their proper names. in the fall, it was the eye-popping colors when the leaves changed. springtime, it's proving to be the never-ending rows of blossoming trees. my brain registers it as entirely surreal. a cgi hack job. photoshop brought to real life. surreality. i don't quite know when my mind will revert to appreciating the beauty in it rather than simultaneously questioning its very existence...

one thing's certain, i'm enjoying the resurgence of my interest in photography. pictures to follow for sure.

Friday, March 28, 2008

flashback friday

on the commute today, i was transported back to middle school and high school by the dj. times at the bus stop watching mtv in the morning, before it gave way to sportscenter.

color me badd, "i wanna sex u up". i think a little bel biv devoe was mixed in the background, not sure.

snow, "informer" a licky boom boom down...[anyone ever figured out what he was actually saying, or was it the 90s equivalent of scat and bebop?]

culture club, "karma chameleon". this was wholly unexpected and likely the only time that boy george has ever been on this station. masterfully mixed in; oddly enough, it fit.

the 5:00 traffic jam on this station is amazing on fridays. i may just stay a few minutes longer than i want to in order to catch more of it on the afternoon commute.

Monday, March 24, 2008


early this morning on good morning america, some political wonk was waxing poetic about how the campaigns are going for the dems and how the race might go against mccain in the fall. one thing that stuck in my mind was his analysis of obama's candidacy. he made the comparison between obama and that of two other groundbreaking african-american men, jackie robinson and tiger woods. he said that obama needs to put himself more in the mold of tiger and not jackie. to be the best candidate, not the best black candidate.

i take issue with this on many levels. first and foremost, he denigrated jackie robinson's contribution to athletics as we know them today where the best athlete is the best athlete. from the get go, he was a champion in the majors, winning the first ever rookie of the year award. all star game honors came his way six times in his career. he added to that one national league mvp award and helped the dodgers win six national league pennants and one world series ring. "the best black ballplayer"? au contraire!

the point he was trying to make, albeit with flawed logic, was that tiger woods began his career as the best african-american golfer. now, as he piles up trophies and green jackets and banks a lot of coin, everyone knows he's the best golfer in the game now, if not ever. that's the angle that this wonk wants the obama camp to take, that barack is the best candidate, not the best black candidate. that they should stop playing up his skin color and start playing the content of his character. the problem i had with his argument, as always, is that the media are the source of a lot of this spin. arent't the media the ones that are highlighting the fact that the democratic nod is going to the first female or the first african-american? aren't the media the ones that are asking poll questions like, "is he black enough?" aren't the media the ones that force him to take time out of his campaign to comment on the black experience in america when they lambasted him over his preacher's fiery sermons? this politwit needs to wake up and take a look at his own colleagues for how they're portraying all the candidates.

coat culture

a coat conveys much about its wearer. in my people watching of late, i've noticed a lot about people by they way they carry themselves, how they interact with diversity, and how they react to life. more often than not, these distinctions translate to their choice of outerwear as well.

what got me on this thought process? this weekend walking around western pennsylvania. it was cold. there was snow. my two jacket choices. mountain hardwear down jacket. mammut laser softshell. i felt the out-of-line-of-sight stares with them in the mostly carhartt or other chore coat outerwear. i do own a carhartt jacket. i love my carhartt jacket. it's tough. it doesn't show dirt. it will last for many years. i bought it in my pre-climber days, back when i was more likely to have calluses from swinging my hammer than from climbing a boulder. hard-working and loyal, these are your friends that will help you build something or move, no questions asked. their trucks are used well and don't have leather seats.

north face coats are ubiquitous these days. the wearer doesn't convey much information with this choice in outerwear. clean-shaven, designer jeans, low profile kicks translates into the coat being little more than an accessory, with the denali fleece being preferred for its large number of color choices. stubble, beanie, scraggly hair translates into the coat being a good deal. it's probably dark colored because we outdoor types don't like washing our fleeces or other jackets. the anomaly in these characterizations falls with the weekend snowboarders because you never know what they're going to look like in the real world. a quote unquote better outdoor brand tends to translate into someone i might run into at the climbing gym or in the woods or on the slopes. i'd guess that 90% of the outdoor brand wearing people on m street in georgetown are in fact poseurs, and not nearly as laid back and fun as the outlying 10% i want belaying while i'm on the sharp end or helping me out on the mountain.

the last person characterized is the proper overcoat wearer. this person must look nice and act gentlemanly/ladylike. while i tend towards the previous two, when wearing my pea coat, i carry myself differently. does this make me a poseur? in a sense, but mainly because i don't want to screw up my irreplaceable hand-me-down coat. it's hard to figure out the men in this category based purely on their coat though. i need to dig deeper. as most of my observations have been on the metro, i can't take note of their zip code or set of wheels. the matching scarf or gloves translate into a less-than-patient attitude with those around him. reluctance to standing/sitting because of an idiosyncratic hypochondria. the guy that sticks out most in my mind in this regard had the burberry overcoat with the collar turned up (just to show the plaid) and the matching scarf. even with gloves on he seemed annoyed to have to hold on while the train was in motion and looked with turned nose at anyone who entered his personal space on the full train at rush hour. the characteristic that turns this class on their head is the messenger bag. more indicative of the outdoor coat active young person than the snooty burberry set, the messenger bag links these categories together.

i wonder which shifting categories these familiar strangers travel between. how many of the overcoat set drive beat up pickups or climb rocks like me?

Thursday, March 20, 2008


realizing this weekend that i still like to take pictures, i decided to share more with people. i won't be cluttering my thoughts with pictures unless they help tell the story. i noticed i try to take artistic photos more and more these days, though it's a little harder to make my simple digital do what i want. less prolific in nature, more aesthetic as well. see the sidebar for the link for my foray into photography.

it's hard to spell i know, but sometimes a play on words takes a little work to do right.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


it may have been helpful if i had gotten this email a few days ago instead of the day after st. patty's.
In 1773, this city made its mark by throwing an unforgettable party (you know, the one involving tea), and it hasn't stopped since. First we suggest working up an appetite by walking the historic Freedom Trail. Stroll the two-and-a-half miles at your own pace while learning about landmarks like Faneuil Hall and the Bunker Hill Memorial. Next, duck in for homemade sausages or veggie pot pie and golden elixirs from the tap at Allston bar Deep Ellum, whose selection of 22 daily draughts and 100 bottled beers has made it a favorite among local hops heads. Wash it all down with an afternoon tasting at either Harpoon or Sam Adams Brewery.

thanks a lot, in any event, boston was a fun time. after a misstep or two, we found what we were looking for. fenway. looks just like wrigley, but greener. same sort of neighborhood. brownstones and bars, all full of baseball lovers no doubt. we ate lunch at the cask and flagon, which (according to them) is as synonymous to fenway as the green monster. i don't know about that, but their chowdah was pretty good. i went to quiet city boston with a warning in my ears, "remember. you're not irish." problem is, i'd just watched boondock saints too. my favorite oft-quoted line disputes that, "it's st. patty's day. everyone's irish tonight. why don't you pull up a stool and have a drink with us?" and so it was for the evening. everyone was irish for the day. it truly is a drinking holiday. it felt awfully cliche to be drinking guinness on such a day, but it was way better than the bud light quaffed by so many others. we initially set out to follow the freedom trail, stop at the irish pubs, have a pint, and move on. unfortunately, we didn't find the freedom trail until 4. by then, we were looking to meet up with friends, and hopped around quincy square with them. three in all, one dance club filled with girls and sailors, one bar irish in name only with budweiser and corona ads plastered on the walls, and one chinese bar featuring some god-awful karaoke.

quote of the night, "you're lucky our standards aren't as high as yours." and she laughed.

Monday, March 17, 2008

i've been everywhere, man...

i've been everywhere, man; crossed the deserts bare, man; i've breathed the mountain air, man; travel - i've had my share, man; i've been everywhere.

florida, georgia, tennessee, kentucky, indiana, ohio, michigan, illinois, missouri, kansas, colorado, wyoming, utah, nevada, california, arizona, new mexico, texas, louisiana, mississippi, alabama, south carolina, north carolina, virginia, west virginia, maryland, pennsylvania, new jersey, new york, delaware, connecticut, rhode island. later today, massachusetts. unless i miss my count, that's 33 states in all. and ontario in my only foreign excursion. all from the captain's seat of my truck.

yesterday was the most expensive drives, toll-wise, that i've had. per mile cost, only the pennsylvania and kansas turnpikes even come close. a lincoln here, a hamilton there. 400 miles and change came out to about $30 in tolls. it's all those damn bridges and tunnels along the way.

i loaded up the mp3 player with one song from every artist i wanted to listen to and the battery held out for the trip. too bad i forgot my charger. even driving across the bronx, i know why new yorkers spurn cars. even on a sunday morning, it was stop and go. the coastline scenery once i got into connecticut and rhode island was pretty awesome. unlike anything i've seen since being on the pacific coast highway near san diego or on seven mile drive in monterrey. once it stopped raining, it was pretty nice to open the back window and let the cool air trickle into the cab. i'm beginning to long more and more for responsive handling and peppy acceleration, but i think my truck's brain knows when highway on-ramp acceleration is needed. even in her old age, she does alright. i just wish she performed as well on long inclines.

off to boston for st. patty's. may the road rise up to meet you. may the wind always be at your back. may the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

shamrocks shamrocks everywhere!

[announcer voice]: saturday! march 15th! rfk stadium grounds! fifty bands! ten stages! beer! carnival rides! food! dc101's shamrockfest!

ahem. sorry, don't know what got into me. i spent a beautiful day in the sun yesterday. close to seventy outside. no clouds. music. ok, mostly cover bands where i stood, but still...

best part. i only paid 70 cents for it. whaaaat? here's the math. free ticket (valued at $20). free t-shirt (valued at concert prices of $43. no, not really). two free $5 food vouchers (really? you can't figure that out?). free chicken fingers and pizza and soda to boot (at carnival prices, $13). free beer (three at five bucks a pop). so far, my outlay is exactly zero. metro ride round trip $3.70. spent $7 on a philly cheesesteak with the food vouchers and got $3 cash in change. $3.70 minus $3.00 equals seventy cents spent. how did i get this amazing deal? i sold my soul to hiball events and the james madison university alumni association for four hours of pouring bud light at the beer trucks. tips went to scholarships. music went in my ears. sun went on my head.

after my duty was up, checked out the music after some grub. up-and-coming non-cover band out of richmond. carbon leaf. great stuff. i highly recommend catching them if they hit your town.

people watching was entertaining as usual. she's in spain, and i was hanging out with her friends all day. quote unquote, "you're becoming one of the gang." or something like that. if one of us noticed an interesting character, most of us did and had good laughs. the frat boy in the pink polo shirt. the guy that chugged his beer before he left the truck to get another. the guys that ran through the line like it was a marathon water table. the guys that came back five times an hour and their eventual descent into stupor, though they maintained they were fine. all the kilts. all the green and shamrocks. it was quite entertaining to see. much better than being the sober guy at the bar, that's for sure.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


as i delve deeper and deeper into so-called fringe sports, i'm learning a few things. last month, she and i saw a film on a swedish base jumper. the point was made that as the once-terrifying becomes mundane, the base jumper takes bigger and bigger risks. to this end, the "career" of a base jumper lasts 6 years. three reasons, the jumper dies, the jumper gets seriously hurt, or the jumper walks away. no exceptions.

same deal with snowboarders i'm told. at some point, the double black diamonds stop being terrifying. enter the terrain park. jumps, flips, tricks. the adrenaline rush returns with each new challenge. on a different track, enter free riding of big mountains. you know shaun white's name. he won a few gold medals in the olympics. owns the x-games. this documentary i recently saw called first descent showed this very talented freestyle terrain park wiz kid's first forays into free riding. i'm talking alaskan mountains. fresh powder, but damn near vertical faces and 30 foot drops on some runs. just feeding that adrenaline addiction.

climbers seem to take a more natural progression. boulderer to sport climber to traddie with tangents off into free soloing or deep water soloing, as the skill or mental deficiencies of the climber allow. i thought in comparison to the aforementioned sports that climbers were sane. nope. not even close. thanks for sharing this one with me clowe. check it out. dean potter proves that climbers aren't immune to the desensitizing nature of adrenaline sports.

Friday, March 14, 2008


the new season of top chef appeared unknowingly on my dvr last night. i admit it. it is the only reality show i'll admit to watching. i apparently programmed it months ago for the new episodes only. for those of you not in the know, it's survivor meets iron chef. a cooking competition. budding chefs vie for a feature in wine and food magazine and exactly $100,000,000,000. i may be a little off on that figure...

one of the features i've figured out on this show is that a lot of fancy chefs merely reimagine classic dishes with flair. there are several flavors you don't want to overdo, as they'll compete with one another. sweet. salty. spicy. you wouldn't put strong versions of any of these together. i'm still trying to figure out how to balance these competing flavors when i create on the fly.

tonight as i watched that episode of top chef, i tried again. mostly because i forgot my climbing stuff to go to the gym on my way home, but partly from television inspiration. ingredients. a whole chicken. two sweet potatoes. a can of french onion soup. brown rice. black pepper. garlic. cooked the rice, mixed it all together, shoved it in the chicken, and spread it around the chicken in my casserole dish. cooked it for an hour and change. screwed up by cooking it upside down, but it turned out pretty damn good. i might just have to make it again sometime.

when i have a guest or three...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

forgetful thoughts

random thoughts have been running through my head lately. as i have resolved to not be a boring, pathetic loser while she's gone for two weeks, i have a spell to put them on, screen. you know what i mean.

1) vomit. still gross. i'm glad my immediate gag reflex at the sight and/or smell of vomit has lessened. yesterday, boy tells me, "mr. j, i've got to throw up." he looks up at me with it dribbling down his chin, shirt and sleeve onto the floor in the hallway.

2) blackberries are the new bane of my existence. parents that have them, yes, there are many, do not use typical margins, spacing, or capitalization. this is the stepbrother to the txt msg fx i sometimes see in normal emails from the non-blackberry crowd. it occurred to me last week why some parents' emails were terse and almost telegram like, while later in the day they'd have correct form and all. does this mean i need to teach that kind of grammar form to the kids too?

3) i don't have the energy or patience or time to buy a car now. i think i've got the freedom now to walk off the lot and not come back if i don't like the salesman. the danger ranger's still kicking. hopefully, spring break's road trip won't be her last hurrah.

4) is it spring break yet? seriously, my mind is frazzled. i can't wait to lift a few pints on st. patty's, pour a little on the ground for my homies not with me, and make up ridiculous life plans for places i'll never go again.

5) i'm crossing my fingers and hoping and praying that there's still snow at blue knob next week. i might just have to stop if the conditions look good. there's no way that i can spend 3 or 4 days in ebensburg with nothing to do.

6) that ain't all, but it's all i've got time for. gotta get the kids.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


i never knew i had esp. i've got espn, the deuce, espn classic and espnU, but no esp.

mid-'80s toyota camry, more rust than paint. probably over 200K miles. distracted moron behind the wheel. see it?

driver pulls too far into the intersection. light turns red. instead of going, driver backs up to the turn lane. me, i'm fine. no worries, he's got plenty of room.

looking through his rear window, i see the glint of a cell phone glued to his ear in the rearview mirror. reverse lights still on. raise your hand if you've ever had someone do this in front of you. that many?

can you tell where this is going? my hand shifts to the horn, knowing full well what's going to happen when the light turns green.

green. zoom. honk. skid. shift. zoom in correct direction.


Friday, March 7, 2008


i successfully fought off my first cold of the season. a stiff regimen of nyquil, tylenol cold, and vitamin overdoses in the form of airborne did the trick. extra sleep helped. i'd like to blame it on my kinfolk, but we're not sure who was first with the bug...

so, surprisingly, last night, i ventured out into chinatown to an irish pub called fado's for some awesome live music. scythian is the band. i highly recommend visiting one of their shows. bouncing crowd. high-energy bluegrass meets a mellower brand of irish punk. think more comprehensible, less angry dropkick murphys or flogging molly. they rocked out hava nagila, some song from fiddler on the roof, and put an irish twist on some dc101 airplay. that's most of what i got to see. i hope i catch their set at shamrock fest next weekend!

[what is the corrolary to adding insult to injury? to add fresh powder to blue skies? good friction to strong climbing? whipped cream to chocolate chip banana pancakes? the cherry on top?] aside aside, add in a visit to the district from one max merrick miller (of ankeny, iowa fame). we had a grand time reminiscing about times from way back when and people we ain't seen since then. stories of snipers, divorcees, and RVs. that was just from florida-georgia one year! it seemed to be hat night, and i was without one of my new trademark hats. i will not make that mistake next weekend at RFK.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


it took me all of standard time to figure it out. i can't quite adjust to finding my way around because it's pretty well dark when i leave for work, and more often than not, it's been pretty dark when i leave work. my old scout tricks of finding north don't really fly in the city or the 'burbs. there's no moss growing on the north side of trees and there's nary a star in the sky, not even polaris.

the roads here aren't particularly grid-like, i have no maps, and just because a road sign says you're headed north doesn't make it so. trial-and-error (as was the case today) often leads into unanticipated snarled traffic. when summer rolls around, i might actually enjoy knowing where i'm going several hundred miles from my new home.

i am headed to AAA's website right now to order road maps for me to study. i'm going to pin them on the roof of the truck. maybe the wall behind the toilet?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


what a difference 8 hours makes! i got home yesterday afternoon, early no less, and laid my feels-like-a-cinder-block-filled-with-mayonnaise head on my couch and barely moved the rest of the evening. i managed to go to bed somewhat early last night, slept 8 solid hours, and feel like a hundred bucks.

yeah, a hundred. i know the saying is a million bucks, but i'm not quite there yet. let's see how things go today...

Monday, March 3, 2008

faith restored?

i finally got around to checking my home voicemail. [yes, i have a landline.] four messages. cringing as usual because of collection agencies after someone named david. i generally don't answer toll-free numbers on the caller ID. anyhow...

message one. lady from sprint. they got my complaint i filed with the better business bureau. please call back.

message two. same lady from sprint. they received my payment, charges were valid, account is closed, no reporting to collection agencies. please call back.

message three. same lady from sprint. she's requesting that the $224.22 i paid as the early termination fee be refunded. should be here in 7-10 business days. please call back. (she's persistent!)

i'll wait with bated breath for that check to arrive. when it clears, consider my faith restored in one american company. yes, i've learned from this experience. don't trust cellular companies, but if something goes wrong, make enough noise that they hear you. i wonder how many of the 1,000,000 subscribers they lost in the last quarter got the same response.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

silver lining

it seemed like nothing went right today. late to work, early to leave, and a comedy of errors in between.

theodore geisel's birthday is on sunday. who is theodore geisel, you ask? why, dr. seuss, of course! today, we celebrated his contributions to american children. included were plans for a read-in at the end of the day. the kids brought in pillows, beach towels, a stuffed animal, and lots of books. some forgot, some didn't care. one little niña told me yesterday that she didn't have a stuffed animal. ¿qué triste, verdad?

flashback two years ago. an end of the year gift from a less-privileged girl was a well-loved teddy bear. it was small, dirty, and came from the heart. it's been one of the few gifts that i've kept. ok, that's not true. one of the few gifts that has not been spendable or perishable that i've kept.

return to now. when she told me she didn't have any stuffed animals, i immediately thought of that well-loved oso pequeño. this morning, i called her over and gave it to her. big smile. she read with it this afternoon. at the end of the day, she came back over to me to give it back. i asked her if she wanted to keep it. a big smile and brown eyes that said, "can i really?"

¡por supuesto!