Thursday, November 27, 2008

thanksgiving, succinctly

never really knowing much of a blessing growing up, i picked up two along the way. succinct though they were, they've stuck with me since the first time i went to philmont at the age of 14, or since my last meal at ye olde delta shelter. the only thing that these two leave out is the ever-present love in all of our lives, be it from family, friends, or that special someone we've been lucky enough to find.

first, philmont.
for food, for raiment, for life, for opportunity, for friendship and fellowship, we thank thee, O Lord. Amen.

i think that one is still in my brain because i used to say it to myself before every meal that i didn't eat at the delt house in college. that one didn't lend itself very well to solo recitation. it needs the voices of about 50 guys
Creator, we bow our heads,
grateful for life and this daily bread.
Help us contribute to all human good,
out of our Delta BROTHERHOOD.

can you guess which word we stressed in a louder, whiter version of barry white? happy thanksgiving to you and yours. may your blessings be numerous and your woes be few!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

east coast shreddin'

this is what we have to look forward to when it ain't quite snowing, but the weather's cold enough to keep the snow around.

soon, i will regale you with tales of injuries and triumphs on the man-made snow-covered slopes of extreme southern pennsylvania. joy!

Monday, November 24, 2008

under the influence

how appropriate a title for a snowsports movie! she and i have determined that the rough around the edges trinity of rock climbing, snowboarding, and surfing seem to have a pretty similar following. how so? watch any video highlighting these sports.

she and i went to a viewing of an backcountry skiing movie called under the influence on thursday. people watching galore. there was a distinct dichotomy among the ski bunnies and board bums. with the guys, it was easier to pick out the differences because womenfolk tend to dress better in d.c. regardless. skiers were preppier, on average. aside from a top-dollar jacket/fleece, the snowboarders were decidedly more like surfers and climbers. facial hair, unkempt hair, dirty jeans, beanies, ball caps. she commented to me, "that girl doesn't look like she's ever been on a mountain," as one tottered by in high heels and a cashmere sweater. "skier," i replied. ah ha!

"i've met snowboarders who used to be skiers, but never a skier who used to be a snowboarder," the emcee opens with. chuckles all around. then the video begins.

oddly, the movie focused on extreme skiers. i find the adjective extreme to be rather cliche these days, with everything from backyard wrestling to ironing getting that tag. i don't consider any of the trinity to be extreme, unless the participant makes it so. going to the top of 12,000 ft. peaks to ski down faces that are about 80 degrees vertical with a strong risk of causing an avalanche? yeah, i'd say that's extreme. that said, these guys were more like the trinity than the preppier ski lodge crew splitting the room. dreadlocks, loud colors, working only enough to support their skiing/snowboarding/climbing/surfing addiction...

under the influence indeed! if you're a disciple of one of the trinity, check out a video from one of the other three. myself, i've seen a few of each. climbing videos clearly resonate most with me because it's my passion. snowboarding would quickly become an obsession if i lived with real mountains and real snow. surfing, same deal if i were two blocks from the beach. what do you think?

Friday, November 21, 2008

poetry corner

my kids had to recite a poem in front of the class and analyze it today. i know that they had help thinking about it, but i'm still very pleased with some of their interpretations about autumn and it's symbology in this poem. ("symbology? i believe the word you were looking for is symbolism..."

happy fall, y'all.

Autumn Season by Flora Elliot
I like the autumn season
When Thanksgiving Day draws near
With air so crisp and biting
And sky so blue and clear.

Wild geese are winging southward
In a slow and graceful vee;
The squirrel at last is resting
In his hollow in the tree.

I always feel Thanksgiving
Is the turning of the key;
One door is shut behind us,
But another opens free.

what does the last stanza mean to you? let's see if you're smarter than a third grader...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

here we go again!

there's nothing like the excitement of a roomful of eleven and under students, already at free rein to talk amongst themselves. what my normal florida, excited-at-the-prosepect-of-snow reaction should be turns to, "there goes the rest of the day!"

of course, even with flurries, it's no different than teaching when the weather changed during the school day in florida. the same lecture applies.

"y'all have seen rain/hail/thunderstorms/snow/flying pigs/raining frogs before. let's all take a look out the window for a minute, then we're done being excited about it until school's out. capiche?"

i had to conceal my excitement over the weather change. of course, it's a lot easier when the flurries aren't sticking. now, when we get some measurable snow, i just might pee my pants this year because i've got a snowboard, waxed up and ready to go.

a million little pieces

way back when, i read this book. i wasn't in the best place in my life. lately, it's come up repeatedly in discussions, so i feel compelled to share my thoughts on it from way back when.
In case you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about James Frey's "memoir" A Million Little Pieces. Curiosity finally got the best of me, and I borrowed it. It was slow going at first because his writing style was hard to get used to. The further I got, the faster I read. Partly because I didn't have to stop and think about who was saying what, partly because it became more intriguing. I found myself laughing out loud at his interactions with his fellow patients and the staff. The descriptions in the book are haunting and vivid. His fellow patients are real, and come from a broad spectrum of society. Mob boss. Boxer. Steel worker. Judge. It holds to some of the stuff I taught. Addiction doesn't care if you're black, white, rich, poor, man, woman, child. You abuse, you're done. Simple as that.
With the brouhaha over the fictive parts of the memoir, I found myself wondering at points in the book what was made up. There were certainly parts of the book that I am convinced were complete and total bullshit, but then again, I've not been in his shoes before. Since I can't relate to the anger that addicts felt upon finding out about the embellishments or bold-faced lying, I can't help but wonder if there would've been the same outcry or hope if it was written by someone else as a work of fiction.
Never having dealt with substance abuse myself, I can't relate to those aspects of the book. The struggle the overwhelming need the craving the Fury...Sorry, I guess Frey's style got into my head. Hell, I've never taken anything harder than booze, and certainly not to the point of abuse. The most I've ever drank in one night was the better part of a fifth of SoCo, and I'm still being told details of that evening.
"Words can't say this. The one word love means too little for what it is. It means everything and that is still not enough. It doesn't communicate even a fraction of the feelings involved. Love. The word is not enough for what it is. Love. Love."(316)
The part of the book that I related best to was when he fell for Lilly. Being in love is about the only addiction I've ever experienced. Always wanting to be with that person, never wanting to part. It's awesome and it's powerful and it's draining and it's exhilarating all at the same time. When you lose it, you crave it and fear that you'll never find it again. I suppose it's an addiction that most everyone wants, and it seems to be awfully hard to find sometimes. Each time you're lucky enough to find it, your mind and heart race with all the possibilities it poses. But each time you're unlucky enough to lose it, the pain seems more intense than the last, though you build your walls and defenses and it sadly becomes easier to deal with. Thus a vicious cycle begins. Each time you meet someone worthy of your love, it's harder and harder to let yourself go and just be.

you read it? your thoughts, please. being in love then and being in love now are worlds apart, and i'm curious how your view may have changed (especially if you read this review when i originally posted it on myspace).

Monday, November 17, 2008

sunday morning coming down

since the weather in morgantown, west virginia was bad and getting worse, the organizers of the trek to cooper's rock bailed on the trip. perhaps this weekend, we'll try again. waking up groggy and deflated from a blowout win, i expected a lazy sunday.

no, wait, i didn't. climbing! hellacious wind gusts overnight left the rocks nice and dry and the temps somewhere around 40. perfect. tromping down the leaf-strewn trail with my crash pad and a beginning of the day stranger, we searched for the fabled long wall and easter egg boulder. i'd tried in vain to find them this summer, but was appalled by the stench of raw sewage runoff from a spill earlier that week. i bailed about 100 yards from where i wanted to be.

there was no mistaking long wall. it was...a long..wall. well done and creative, you first ascensionists. the highball warm ups were more like free soloing, but the holds were good, even if the face was scummy from mud runoff. scrubbed 'em down, and topped 'em out. if it weren't for graffiti, i'd have sworn i was at lrc. good grippy texture, nice flat landing. sent a few lines there, including one that we refused to grade because the grades at this microcrag are all over the board. the prettiest line we had was technical and tested our footwork and contact strength. tim sent it first and i took away some moves with my ape index when i sent.

easter egg boulder was home to only two problems. first one, pull off the jugs to slopey slap-happy slabbing. dynamic to static moves. i'd liken it to udge, nudge, or grudge plus a move. not that i've done any of those three, but... the other one, didn't much try it. too small of holds for me, and my fingers were getting pretty tender from the schist and crystals. for pictures, check on facebook.

a good half day. anyone who comes to visit might actually get to boulder now. not a destination crag by any means, just something to futz around on if the weather's decent.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

oh, metro!

i love people watching. a short one from yesterday morning.

headed to foggy bottom, teething toddler screaming bloody murder. as soon as i get on the train, i'm making faces at this kid. he immediately stops crying, starts bouncing and giggling and chewing on his little bitty rattles and toys and such. kind of like growing up going to mass with mom, except i was a little less reserved since it wasn't a stodgy church.

five metro stops later, his parents say thank you, little guy waves goodbye, and i set out for my epic walking adventures.

good grub, good stuff!

today i had a frat boy meeting, again. this colony re-expansioneering is a helluva time gobbler. that makes three events this week alone. i'm hoping it settles soon so that i can honor my commitment. i like my free time. i like my 80s movie nights with my better half. i like riding my bike. i like climbing. i realized something last night. i'm not the intense delt i used to be. the guys i keep up with have moved on with their lives, in that it's not the sole focus of their lives. do they hang out mostly with delts? yep. is it a result of our days at 1926 west university avenue? most definitely. i find that the guys i keep up with up here are almost anti-delts in their commitment to those days past. i was asked last night where the 10 or so boys of ol' florida were at the alumni events i've been to recently. absent. that's where. we'll work on that.

anyhow, the weather was supposed to be awful today. i walk out of the meeting, and it's a sunny, windy day. for some odd reason, i decide to kill my time by walking from foggy bottom to capitol hill. for you non-locals, that's about 3 miles as the crow flies. as you may know, i do not sport black feathers. it was a pretty nice walk. i passed a couple of protests for the G-20 summit, saw about a million dc cops, and ambled past a proposition 8 rally in front of the capitol. it was a nice day for a protest.

by this point, i'm starving. sandwich? nah. burrito? nah, too hit or miss. bar food? probably....WAIT A SECOND. good stuff? i like where your head's at. if you're not a top chef devotee, last season had a contestant named spike. kind of polarizing, but he opened a burger joint in capitol hill. i'd heard the buzz, and for once, i happened to be hungry and in front of its doors.

best. burger. ever.

i liked it so much, i went back after the game and had some fries and onion rings and a milkshake. all delicious. i've been craving a good burger for a while now. i think i might be a new addict.

Monday, November 10, 2008

a tale of two cities

first, an old article from slate magazine. it was written in 1993 when the clintons were moving to the district. they updated a few things, but their primer of the city for president-elect obama seems pretty accurate to me.

done? ok, good. it's funny to me how the article references some in the city that come here for political jobs or financial jobs or just the hell of it that never venture outside of their safe little enclave. this is a two city kind of town. i love the diversity. i'm glad that some of my friends live in columbia heights and shaw and the u street corridor. i'd never have ventured to chinatown or black cat or artomatic in the east side of town without them to guide me along the way. sure, there's the hip, trendy parts on the east side, and i've hit them up too. this city is far too diverse to not try to breathe in all of its uniqueness. i find more in common with the eastsiders than the northwesters in mentality and personality than i do with the yanks that populate most of the rest of the city.

it's that slower, southern speech that makes me feel at home. it's not name dropping. it's weather talking. gonna be a cold one today. it's not work work work. it's gotta get home to sunday dinner with the family. working enough to get by, but not enough to get ahead.

life is more than just work. it's football in the fall and laughing children at the park and singing in the rain and listening to street music and eating ethnic foods and listening to different points of view and reading in the sunshine and laughing at tourists and....

Friday, November 7, 2008

rabbit lovers, part deux

in my new recipe series, here's an easy breakfast casserole that you can make for the masses or just your small lil' family. i prepped it last night for our staff breakfast this morning. 'twas a hit. i doubled it since it was for so many, and i'm glad i did. all that's left is about one spoonful from a 8" x 16" casserole dish.

one cup of dry grits. don't use instant.
one cup of shredded cheese. i used sharp cheddar, but you could make this all kinds of delicious with different cheesy blends. sargento makes that pretty easy!
two eggs, beaten
1/4 cup of butter
seasonings to taste.
optional: bacon, sausage, home fries, chili peppers. use your imagination.

cook the grits according to package directions. stir often to keep them from sticking to the bottom of your pot. when they're done, add the other ingredients to the grits and stir well. if you just dump them in, the eggs will probably poach instead of combining to thicken the grits. when you have a uniform, delicious solution, pour into a greased casserole dish.

you can bake it right then in your preheated 350 degree oven, or put it in the fridge overnight. either way, my recipe said to bake it for an hour. that seemed a bit much since everything was pretty much cooked already. i don't know if it holds together better after an hour because i only left it in for 45 minutes. i got so many compliments on it, and yes, it was that easy.

well, except for the butter jumping out of the pot and skittering across the floor. (no, i didn't put it back in! i had more in the fridge, thankfully.) you know how much of a pain in the neck it is to clean butter off linoleum? i don't recommend trying it yourself. well, the butter on the floor nonsense. i do recommend making this for yourself. i bet it keeps real well, and you could eat on it all week long for breakfast. it's probably not very low in calories or saturated fat, but what delicious foods are?!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


sorry to be on a downward spiral today, but i got a bit of bad news today. some of you may know him, some may not. i've got a very close friend named brian. he is a walking warrior, the very embodiment of "the few, the proud, the marines." he and i have known each other since middle school, but it wasn't until high school that we became more than friends, more like brothers. we've walked our different paths in life: mine to college and calm stateside jobs, his to parris island, south carolina and exciting top secret missions. when our paths reconverge as they sometimes do, it's easily apparent that we've been close. it's been a few years now since i've seen him, but that's merely circumstantial.

he spent the better part of three years in japan, jumping out of planes, and diving beneath the waves of the sea of japan. trained austrailian troops way down under. he's been to iraq three times and come home safely each time. he's now in afghanistan, trying to help stabilize the mess its been in for the last 30 years. i got an email today that's made me sick to my stomach and brought this war on terror finally home to my life.

he was on his way back from a mission when an IED destroyed his humvee. he suffered a major concussion and some serious bruises. some others with him weren't as lucky. he'll be fine, and will be returning stateside in february. i rarely ask for them from my friends because he's been safe thus far, and the prayers watching him to date have kept him in one piece. say a prayer for him and his unit tonight, that they make it home safely. i surely appreciate it.

closed minded people

some friends of mine had joked, some quipped seriously, about moving to canada if mccain was elected for another four years of republicans. hell, slate magazine posted a parody video about it! if you missed it, see below. it hasn't even been 12 hours since barack obama has become our first african/american president elect. oh, how the tide has turned!

aside from the elation many feel over this historic election, the anger others feel confounds me. in the short amount of time since it was called, i have heard no less than 5 people within my seven degrees of separation call for moving to canada, costa rica, et al, all because of barack's election.

aren't we all americans first? last time i checked, this wasn't republicanistan, nor is it democratia. i've not traveled outside of our borders too often (four whole days in america lite), but i know by osmosis that beyond isn't as comfortable and easy as these threateners-to-leave make it seem. the only reason it's nice in those countries for you is because you're a prosperous american. you have money. you can afford to make it nice and insulate yourself from the day-to-day realities of many of the people in the world. except of course for canada. it's just effin' cold up there.

so if you're mad, shut your mouth, and act like an adult. a country full of eric cartmans we are not.

"screw you guys, i'm going home." this is america, not trey parker and matt stone's south park, colorado. grow up.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

new age exit polls

this is my third presidential election. i've never been exit polled. the cnn and foxnews folks should look to facebook status updates for their exit polls from now on. well, at least for the young folks. if my friends are any indication, obama wins by about 80 points...

i got up at 6:30, was out the door about five minutes later, at the polls by 6:40 i'd estimate. the line was down the block and almost around the corner. i'd say close to 200 deep. i read my magazine cover to cover, shivered a little, and cast my vote. 7:30 i was walking back to my apartment to eat breakfast and get ready for the day. thank GOD it's all over.

yeah, that's not so realistic. here i sit in this bastion of american democracy, mid-atlantic fall descending upon us, foreboding mood outside. i ought to go watch the results roll in, but i'm a victim of inertia right now. she's ill, and most of my other area friends are going to watch the results at the hawk and dove, a capitol hill bar that is apparently THE place to be on election night. i'm not too keen on going into the district because of the weather and my recent bout of experiences with metro's punctuality.

anyone want to go to the arlington drafthouse with me? anyone?

happy election day!

a little humor from my favorite news site. get out and vote.