Monday, September 29, 2008

silver lining

in mourning last night, amidst big ten faithful, i got a dig on a buckeye without even trying.

waiting in line for the bathroom when i first got there, a buckeye turns to me and asks, "what's the deal with the 'thank you' and 'you're welcome'? is it a penn state thing?"

it took me a second to realize that he was asking me not because i was at the penn state bar, but because i was wearing a penn state hat. i had no idea what he was talking about, this being my initial encounter with the happy valley crew.

as i corrected his incorrect assessment of my allegiance, his face fell, "i have no idea. i'm a gator."


Sunday, September 28, 2008


up and down day. my gators lost.

i built a bridge yesterday. that's right, i built a bridge. as part of adopt-a-crag, the mid atlantic climbers and the access fund did some trail work yesterday at carderock. this was the sixth year for adopt-a-crag at carderock, and in the past, i'm told it was little more than spreading mulch. from many scout service projects, i recall that spreading about 60 cubic yards of mulch is not what most would call fun. i was bound and determined to get on the crew that was building and moving and digging rather than the ones that were pitchforking and dumping load after load of mulch.

it was slow going at first, beset on all sides by subterranean rocks to prevent setting the rebar. we managed to find some gaps and with some creative cutting, we managed to level out our twelve foot bridge with some simple trigonometry from an engineer and pure grunt carpentry. predrilling nail holes became the modus operandi. my nail setting skill returned from my decking days with rance and didn't need the predrill, much to the chagrin of the dewalt-wielding fellow builder.

the bridge treads didn't lay out perfectly. there was going to be a big gap that wasn't quite wide enough for one of our foot treads, but far too wide to space out the rest of them to fake it. so i had to rip one of the treads to 2 5/8". perfect with the circular saw. the teammates were summarily impressed. i'll find the pictures online somewhere and share them with y'all.

that aside, i went 7-3 in my college picks. i've been having a good season. georgia lost. 'bama won. ohio state won. illinois looked good, but penn state won. that took the sting off a little bit. being surrounded by rabid fans who think by appearance that you're one of them makes any game fun. it was especially so yesterday among the happy valley faithful at rhino bar. espn kept showing our gator lowlights though.

at least i built a bridge.

Friday, September 26, 2008

fifty weeks

mind blown. i still can't quite wrap my head around this one. i'm not sure what to write or what to share. i've written several paragraphs below this one about this and that and deleted them all. as i've said before, i'm not sharing too many details about us. if you want to know, all you've got to do is talk to me. it's not like anyone reads this blog anyways!

speechlessly happy. dumbfoundedly lovestruck. i guess that's about all i can say. everything else is for she and i to discuss.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

all things considered

strike one, slept in until seven this morning. oops. i don't like hurrying in the morning, even less so when someone else is depending on me. i had to pick up casey at 7:20. mcdonald's southern style chicken biscuit and a sweet tea is not the way i usually choose to start my day.

i made my lunch last night. strike two, it's still in my fridge. i realized the problem as soon as we pulled into the parking lot at school. fortunately, i was able to order out for lunch on the playground. it showed up with five minutes to spare for my lunch period. fortunately times two, the guidance counselor scheduled an introductory lesson after lunch for me today so i was able to quietly eat my sub & salad while she taught.

all things considered, strike three could've come anywhere. nothing major anyhow. here i sit at home, bored and waiting for that third one to come in, high and tight.

sure hope i don't whiff on it!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

mmm, sulfur!

i'm a writer for a music website called jamsbio. well, sort of. i was a beta writer. once they stopped paying for contributing, i kinda quit doing it. more important phish to phry. the premise of the site is that certain songs are linked to memories in your life. listen to a song, tell a story to go along with it. interesting concept, no?

whilst on a bicycle ride today, mind a-wandering, i connected another sense to memories. the beginning of my ride was hella fun. zipping along a paved path, twisting alongside four mile run in breezy wooded glory. much fun. except for that god-awful smell. sulfur. it immediately linked to several happier memories in my past. thank goodness! here it is, my moment of zcent.

the ball fields in north lauderdale were next to the water treatment plant. every fall (or was it the spring?) i played ball in the asphyxiating stench of sulfur used or released in the treatment of raw sewage. i loved playing baseball, bad as i was, so my young mind came to associate that smell with baseball. the smell of the non-potable sprinkler water used municipally at most city and county parks always brought me back.

when we moved to coral springs in the last month or so of fifth grade, i quickly realized that living less than a quarter mile from the treatment plant would put that smell in my nostrils for the majority of the days i played front lawn baseball or football or rode my bike. it was then that i also started camping in boy scouts. any of you that've been to camp seminole in davie (few in number for sure!) know that the water we were supposed to drink and clean with was tainted by the same resident of number 16, periodic table. it took a few years before my taste buds would adjust to the shock of such a vile elixir, nevermind my body to the simultaneous shock of a cold outdoor shower and the sensation of not getting clean in tainted water.

i'm not really sure where the stench came from today. dog poo fermenting in four mile run. industrial runoff along west glebe road. stagnating water. straight up raw sewage. who knows. all i can say for certain is that, pretty as it was, i'm probably going to avoid that route until it cools off and that cooked putrid olfactory assault subsides to less nausea-inducing levels.

Friday, September 19, 2008

oh, climbing magazine!

from this week's dispatch. a how-to guide for gals and guys unwilling to be hit on at the climbering gym.

Tech Tip - Sport - Welcome to the Jungle (Gym)
by Krisitn Bjornsen

Seven tips for warding off plastic predators
YOU FEEL EYES UPON YOU — is that panting you hear? You flee to the bouldering cave . . . but you’re cornered. Any second, the lone, roving male will pounce, turning your once-pleasant session into a socially awkward morass. To avoid such scenes, you visit the gym at weird hours, but even this doesn’t always work. However, there are some simple ways to repel the mack-inations of even the most persistent rock Romeos.

Before you start, prepare to identify your foe. Five distinct species of male inhabit the rock gym: Skin Monkey (usually shirtless, aggro, and prone to grunting); Smarmot (an unctuous, PepĂ© Le Pew-like creature who uses pick-up lines like “Nice rack!”); Chigger (doesn’t take “No” for an answer); the Coach (sprays unsolicited “technique tips” that might make sense); and the bona fide Nice Guy, who wants only to climb and maybe meet someone. While this last type deserves friendly honesty (because, hey, the gym still beats the produce section, the bar, or — heaven forbid — The Sims for meeting people), the former four must be dealt with swiftly and decisively. I recommend the following seven tips. (Note to randy gym d00ds: these pointers will provide insight into how not to meet women.)

1. Evasive Maneuvers
With practice, you can learn to spot an incoming predator (you’ll likely smell the Axe Bodyspray, with nearby climbers scattering). Once alerted, activate your impenetrable “Estro-Shield,” in the form of several female friends, avoiding eye contact with your stalker as you immerse yourself in the group.

2. Dress for (No-Molest) Success

Wear actual clothing. That means no whale tail, “Juicy” short-shorts, or sports bras that could double as pasties. Basically, the only
visible jugs should be on the wall, and if you dyno, nothing should pop out. I know, I know: women should be able to show off their
bodies — this is the age of female empowerment, blah, blah, blah. . . . Ah, right, because when a girl stems while dressed like a Pussycat Doll, that’s just what guys are thinking: “Wow . . .she’s so empowered.” [See Sporting Life, Climbing No. 269, p.42, for the Fleshfest Self-Evaluation Scale.]

3. Say Hello to My Little Friend!

Climb with a guy friend, especially a burly, angry-looking one — you know, the Tony Montana, protective-older-brother type. “I’ll often climb with a male friend, which usually keeps the creepy guys away,” says the trad climber LeeAnn Stevens, of Boulder, Colorado. “Although it does keep away the sexy, rugged ones, too.”

4. Authorized Personnel Only

Guard your safety zone. One tactic guys use to pierce your personal bubble is the Belay Loop Sneak: Casanova finishes a route using an autobelayer and unclips the carabiner from his harness. But rather than simply handing you the biner, so you can have a turn, he “helpfully” attaches it to your belay loop, his hand coming dangerously close to (even grazing) restricted areas. (Anecdotal evidence reveals that males only do this when the autobelayer awaitee is female.) The Belay Loop Sneak is not acceptable, and you should quickly intercept the carabiner or grabby hand with a swift, karate-chop motion. Same goes for the Chalk Bag Sneak and the ever-cheeky, figure-8-loosening Finger of Forwardness.

5. Shrinkage

Outclimb them. This frightens away 98 percent of male suitors.

6. Tell the Truth

Patent lies like “I got a man!” “I have SARS,” or ”¡Estoy loca!” will eventually be uncovered. Instead, just be blunt. At Yosemite’s Camp 4, where the horny-dude vibe is “worse than the gym,” says big-wall climber Lizzy Scully, “I generally just smile nicely at [my would-be suitor], reply to his questions with one-word answers, and then either walk away and find a friend or, as I did in one extreme case, say, ‘Excuse me, but I’m trying to climb. Please leave me alone. Thanks.’”

7. Jock Block

Wear headphones, which act as a Do Not Disturb sign. If a roaming predator still attempts eye contact, look anywhere but directly at him (i.e., ‘What is that fascinating splotch on the ceiling?’). And, of course, avoid high-risk climbing times, such as student-discount night and “Swingers’ Sunday.”

For the Guys: Coug-Alert!

Fit climber dudes are like catnip to on-the-prowl females of a certain age. Cougar warning signs include: inordinate amounts of brightly colored makeup; rock shoes that match the pants (that match the shirt, which matches the chalk bag . . . ); manicured claws (I mean, nails); and batting-eye requests for Beta or a spot. After the latter, “She inevitably breaks into small talk, and then asks, ‘So, do you climb outside much?’ followed by, ‘You have to take me!’” says one of our male sources. To make your escape, respond with, “I don’t have any outside plans right now,” and then back slowly away. (Don’t run, lest you trigger the cougar’s hunting instincts.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

i can't

this pace of life the last few weeks is wearing me out. i need some r & r. after a weekend spent at home for barely more than to sleep, i've got another busy one coming up. lord help me make it to october 4th!

Monday, September 15, 2008

changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes

down south, bouldering is king. at least among my friends. sure, there's shiny bolts to clip and i've heard of splitters to plug gear in, but the number of boulderers i know far outnumber the ropers. practically no one climbs top rope outside, aside from sussing out moves on a tough sport route before attempting the redpoint.

the people are different too. yesterday, i was privy to the climber genre war that only presents itself in online forums. i went toproping. met up with some folks from a local climbers' listserv. missy was curious why i had to get up so early, and consequently go to bed somewhat early on saturday night. i surmised that it was because of the difference in age and life station between myself and my expected climbing partners. my guess, 5-10 years older, married, families, perhaps kids, unlikely to boulder much.

survey says...87 responses, our number one answer!

not only was i the youngest in our crew, i'd also been climbing for the longest. it still strikes me as odd that i'm a good climber among certain groups. i've been humbled by the rock around here a time or two since moving, only to be confused by how easy the routes were yesterday. granted, none of them were sustained throughout, but i put most of them down in short order. one of the routes was a 5.8 called butterfingers. maybe 20 feet off the deck was the crux move, a mantle to a sloping ledge. from the ground, i knew exactly how to negotiate it. i cruised the route, and had to show those on the ground (including my belayer) several times how to make the move before i hit terra firma again. any boulderer friend of mine would do that move in flip flops without a problem. the biggest problem yesterday was the seeping rock; otherwise, i might've tried more than just the one 5.10 that was dry and full of sustained, crimpy, footwork-intensive, slabolicious climbing. perhaps when it cools off and the rain rain goes away for another day or week i'll head back to sugarloaf and be a climbing phenom again.

then again, maybe not. it sure is hard to crank when there's no one to chase...

Friday, September 12, 2008

keeping afloat

it ain't easy learning the ropes all over again. i'm staying afloat. barely.

climbing and cycling are keeping me sane. we went for a nice, long bike ride on sunday in gorgeous weather. my place to old town alexandria. stopped for lunch by the river. laying around in the grass, watching people walk their dogs, push their infants in strollers, playing beach volleyball, stroll with their spouses, talk with their grandparents. grandsons in matching getups with their grandpas. young moms teaching their toddlers. old folks in their sunday best. locked the bikes up, checked out the torpedo factory and the plaza on the river. street musicians and balloon animal makers. kid smile producers. birds birds and birds. shakespeare lovers performing a midsummer's night dream.

heading back north along the potomac on mount vernon trail. water break at gravelly point to watch the planes take off at reagan. families everywhere. bikes everywhere. subarus with sailboats on trailers. tahoes with speedboats. a taxing final three or four miles through rosslyn and some neighborhoods to get back here. two bikes sit in my apartment now, hers and mine.

started bouldering again this week. lots of power lost in the top roping hiatus, but i think it'll return reasonably quickly. i'm gunshy about the left knee, but it ought to be in fighting shape by the time hound ears rolls around.

here's hoping anyhow...

Sunday, September 7, 2008


last night was the first time that i felt somewhat at home when i went out in d.c. in case you missed it, the Gators played the hurricanes last night. if yesterday's weather was any indication of how the game would play out, hanna was all bluster and no substance. clear skies by gametime, there was actually a little fall feel by dusk. that calm after the storm that is my favorite thing about big ol' tropical rain makers.

anyhow, when i walked into the bar, i'd made two new gator friends from the metro. lo and behold, i run into an ex-delt. this guy i genuinely thought well of, until he kept doing dumb stuff and got himself kicked out. so, i'm standing there, drinking pitchers with him when jedd shows up. round about the second quarter, the boss and her entourage showed up. i run downstairs to the head, run into another dc delt, and a stranger approaches me. she knows a few of my friends, and we'd actually crashed on the same square of carpet down in chattanooga in december whilst on a climbing trip. lee's accommodations are so lush! by the time the game was over, i felt like i actually knew a few people in this town. granted, most of them were friends from elsewhere, but what else would i expect when i go to watch the game with gator alumni?!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

d.c. politics saturation

the funny thing about this city and the surrounding 'burbs is how saturated with politics everything is. everyone has an opinion about this or that and feels the need to share it when a tiny opportunity presents itself. case in point, last night as i shopped for the contents of a care package for an old friend. he's a marine, deployed in afghanistan. it's his fourth tour overseas; the previous three were in iraq.

i asked romona the cashier to keep my two bags of stuff separate, as one was a care package for a marine. we got to talking about his duties and deployments when out of the blue, "well, he's got bush to thank for that!"

silence. crickets. i didn't know how to respond. many of you don't know brian. he's a character to say the least. as long as i've known him, all he wanted to do was serve our country. as i thought more about it, it became clear to me why i'm so conflicted about the war.

do i think we were misled into iraq? more than likely. do i think that guys like brian bemoan their multiple deployments? absolutely not. if it weren't iraq or afghanistan, it'd be some other theater and far more covert. he'd be bored as hell stuck behind a desk, and while special ops guys are an anomaly, it is what he signed up for. he wouldn't still be at it after 11 years if he weren't good at it, and sad as it is, there's plenty of work for him to do. we're in too deep in iraq to cut and run. i don't think there's an easy answer, but i'm glad that there's been more positive news lately. hopefully, we can help straighten things out and our next president gets all the credit.

Monday, September 1, 2008

fall saturdays are here at last!

after a summer of lazing away on my bike or reading in the sunshine or climbing the rocks, football season just plain snuck up on me. i can't wait for the big games to come along, oh, next week.

start off the day walking around eastern market. people watching, sidewalk musician listening, art appreciating. go to the deli, munch on an incredible chicken salad sandwich, read a book in the sunshine.

walk down pennsylvania avenue towards the pour house, orange and blue around me. belly up to the bar, and make some friends while waiting on bubba and liz. rawls & mary pam show up first. watch some of virginia tech's first half before our game kicks off. worry a little in the first half, then the gators pour on the points effortlessly. say my goodbyes to the friends old and new, walk towards the capitol with the happy couple.

hop on my bike and take off down pennsylvania, weaving through tourists and tour buses and traffic. past the capitol dome, museums, the white house. cross the key bridge back into the old dominion and take a beverage break. weather couldn't have been nicer. low 80s, cloudless skies. eight mile ride or so.

hit the showers, lay around on the couch, watching football. if i can't be at the swamp, i guess saturday was a damn fine alternative. go gators!