Saturday, January 31, 2009

random thoughts edition

my brain is on ramble.

one, i think i may start using proper capitalization, rather than my current usage of proper nouns that i respect beyond simple old names. i'm not e.e. cummings, nor should i feign to be.

two, i have a new tag team blog idea. it was spawned by ridiculous scenarios that often spring from late night imagination. oh, and one of the funniest blogs i keep up with. ma, you might want to shield your eyes. i may enlist a few of the crazies in my cadre of friends. yes, that includes you, palmer.

three, i need to reassess how much information i share with acquaintances. i'm generally a pretty open person, but it's somewhat off-putting when details of my life spread to people i barely know. the result is getting pointedly personal questions about my life, my love, my plans, my hobbies. my impulse is to say, "none of your damn business," when i get them, but that wouldn't be very nice, now would it?

four, carpooling is fun. i had forgotten how much i liked it back when i was a summertime construction worker. the stupid things that justin and i used to do to and from jobsites are recreating themselves with casey. yet another example of fictional ridiculousness that would go nicely in random thought two.
we're going to stock the car with old pairs of underwear we get at goodwill. then at random stoplights when we're bored, toss a pair onto another car's windshield and make a fast getaway. what would go through the pantied driver's head? is that.......? no, couldn't be. it is!!! ewww...

five, i'll sleep when i'm dead.

six, life is good. i'm out.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

slip and slide

all the local blogs are simultaneously freaking out about the weather and decrying the local news media for doing the same. it's pretty funny actually. myself, i said the hell with it and rolled with the punches. for those of you out-of-towners, it snowed here most of the day on tuesday. it was a teacher workday, no kids. the county sent me home at noon. for light, fluffy, pretty snow.

i was glad to go home early, since i was going to try to sneak out anyhow. i'd run out of things to do. grades were due that morning at 8:30, so i'd finished them the day before. i spent the day working on smartboard lessons with a teammate.

i ate my lunch when i got home and stomped off into the snow to snap some photos. this new camera is a lot of fun, but i probably ought to read the user's manual a few times to figure out all the bells and whistles. i found my way to lubber run park near my house. it's my go-to wilderness spot in my urban landscape. against norm, there were many kids roaming the park with their sleds and snowballs and classmates. i wanted to take some fun action shots of kids being kids since it seems so rare these days, but i thought better of it. it's sad that it takes the local anomaly of snowfall to get lazy adolescents and younger kids out of the house to play in public with their friends. x-box and playstation and wii have ruined this generation.

yesterday, more of the same with far more than snow on the ground. the treachery of ice prevented most districts in the area from having school. instead of heading to the slopes to ride, i took off to the city for some urban winter shots. i threw out about 95% of what i snapped. i'll try some of the in-camera editing features to make them black and white or color balance or filter to tweak them before i post some more.

as of this morning, ice had refrozen on many sidewalks and roads. some of my sidewalks were never cleared by our management company, and my neighbors are understandably upset. we got a two-hour delay out of it, turning our already short week for the kids to barely more than a day and a half. i sure hope tomorrow is a normal-length day. i'd much rather have them in a normal, structured day than one that i've had to modify in the wee hours of the morning before school starts.

next week, forecast is calling for another dose of the white stuff. i'll deal with it with a grin and a grimace. the grin for the beauty and florida boy in me that enjoys the novelty of the seasons. the grimace for all the morons on the road and locals (who are mostly transplants to begin with!) who bitch about it. it's january folks. shut your mouth or move to brownsville, texas.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

this is jeopardy...

entering the studio are today's contestants. a school teacher from arlington, virginia...

gee, wouldn't that be grand! ok, so i'm not there yet, but i've taken the test yet again. fifty questions on fifty topics, fifteen seconds to answer each. no multiple choice, type your own answers. no, spelling doesn't count, but you'd better be a fast typer regardless.

who was president during the war of 1812? thought for a second, "hmm. jefferson? no! 'twas madison...i think." further research after the fact would confirm my second guess.

fill in the _________. half _________ alaska. what is baked?

this songstress renamed herself sasha fierce for a 2008 album? no thanks to a certain someone's ringtone, there's no way i didn't know this one.

so, i got at least three of them right! we'll see about the rest...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

almost wobbled

i guess it's this week. i'm not sure why. i seem to be attracting the inept and inexperienced. on the road, in the gym, on the metro. there has to be some causality. instance number 103 from this week.

last night at the gym, i tied some knots so i could pull on some vertical plastic. i was still a little weak from friday's epic session which saw me work and send two V7s, a V6, a few V5s, and countless made up shenanigans (including playing takeaway on one of those V7s!). in any event, my biceps were sore and not willing to crank very hard on anything, much less what the strong(er) boulderers were inventing on the 45 degree wall. i convinced rob to put his harness on and climb some routes.

first one i get on is a wicked sloperfest of a 5.11. heel hooks, long deadpoints, and few rests snake their way up one of the tallest walls in the gym. did i mention it's slightly less than vertical the whole way up? flash pumped, my forearms fail me about three-quarters of the way up. as i chalk up and rehearse the moves, i notice movement below me. some kid clipped himself into the auto-belay and was now climbing below me. for you non-climbers, this is what's known in the climbing world as a bad thing. no matter your brain function, you should realize that climbing beneath someone who is probably going to fall is probably not the best idea for your safety, much less the other climber's.

"hey. you shouldn't be on the autobelay while i'm climbing on this rope," i say calmly.

"oh, i'll be okay. our routes don't cross, and i'm sure not going to fall," he responds rather snidely. my blood begins to boil as about 10 feet above his sight, our routes did indeed cross, and i took his falling comment as a i'm better than you kind of jab. which was not exactly the case as he was on a 5.9 jug haul.

so, i hang dog until he gets up and downclimbs so that he doesn't hit me when he releases his grip(!). i haul myself on, cruise the last few moves on adrenaline, and rob lowers me.

at this point, i'm fixing to toss a wobbler at this kid.
Tossing a wobbler” means throwing a fit after trying really hard and failing. A corollary is that wobblers are most often “tossed” (Britain) or “thrown” (U.S.) by sport climbers when they fall—usually a recurring fall at a specific high point on a route (though a fall henceforth from any point lower than this is equally wobbler-inducing). Tossing a wobbler is not limited to sport climbers, and boulderers and alpinists have been known to “throw mean wobblers” (slang). Trad and aid climbers, however, typically never toss a wobbler because trad climbing is too scary and aid climbing is too boring to justify anger.

not only was he stupid, he was arrogant about it and unapologetic. i could've throttled him. it was no better on terra firma. i kept my composure, though my italian blood was cursing lemme at him.

and thus ends your climber lingo lesson for the day. time to go play in the snow.

Monday, January 26, 2009

marsala must mean delicious in french or italian

"want me to make you dinner tonight?"

"um, of course!" came the predictable response. hmm, too bad i didn't really have an idea in my brain about what to make. steak weaseled its way into my brain and hunger, but i knew i wanted to do something beyond grilling it.

dare i actually use a....cookbook?!

this is usually something i tend to avoid. flavors combined on the fly have been coming out pretty amazing lately. truth be told, i just wanted an idea. problem is, i have many italian cookbooks, some more complicated than others, and few good cookbooks that are more useful. something to remedy at book sales, for sure. but i digress.

the meals in 30 minutes cookbook had an idea that hit my craving right in the jaw. well, as with most recipes, i altered it because of strange ingredients. here's what i came up with.

8-10 cloves of garlic
beef stock
half cup of mushrooms (i used haitake, which i've never heard of before; but anything but white mushrooms would be fine)
one shallot, diced
2 Tbsp. butter
half cup of marsala cooking wine
half cup of cream
pinch of crushed rosemary

start off making the sauce by boiling the garlic cloves whole in a small amount of beef stock. just enough to cover them. it'll take about 10-20 minutes. keep an eye on it while you dice up the mushrooms and shallot. when the garlic is soft, drain off most of the liquid. on medium heat, add the marsala wine, butter, shallot, and mushrooms. cook them down until the ingredients are incorporated and the shallots are soft and clear. add the cream and rosemary. i tried to whip this up a little bit with a whisk and made a mess. i don't quite know how to thicken up cream sauces.

now, for the meat. the sauce's versatility works well with pork, beef, or chicken. i bet it'd even be pretty good with a grilled portabello mushroom! brush whatever you like with balsamic vinegar and season with pepper to taste. grill them. ladle the sauce on the meat when you plate them. i think that grilling the meats gives them all enough smokey flavor to not drown in the flavors of the sauce. really, you can do them however you want.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

old film from an old camera

prior to my recent purchase of a dSLR, i'd dug out my Canon AE-1 35mm SLR. lo and behold, there was a half-shot roll of film waiting for me in the camera. curious, i went out to finish the roll so i could see when i started it. turns out it was six years ago, on a field trip, with my first class. the film had aged, but the prints look kind of cool. here's a few of the shots. enjoy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

hopeless to hopeful

postsecret really got to me this week. forgive me for being a romantic at heart on this post. used to be, back when i was (seemingly) blissfully single i'd get all choked up at romantic gobbledygook. engagement stories of friends. sappy, cheesy chick flicks. blockbuster hits with that love story thrown in to appeal to a broader range of moviegoers. i'd silently sit, with the knot in my throat or that half a tear welling up in my eyes, with the thought racing straight from my heart to my brain and back again, "why not me?"

more often than not, it hit me after a few pints. still amped up and not tired, but alone in my room after a long night. stories of exes hit me hardest. so-and-so's engaged. really? super! one thing i finally learned in my years of trial and failure in the dating regime was that until i was truly happy alone could i truly be happy together with anyone else. even in relationships, these feelings beleaguered me at times, taking my head and heart out of any new attempt before it even got started.

so, i set out to focus on that which enriched my happiness and avoid that which prevented it. live music. climbing. writing. reading. traveling. surrounding myself with good people and limiting negative influences. even prayer crept back into my life. all things began to line up, and i truly was a happier person. moving here didn't do much to change that, despite starting over with the stresses of searching for a job, a place to live, places to climb, fun things to do, a new cadre of friends to spend time with. at that point, happiness sought me out. i wasn't searching for happiness. i created it, and it grew within my life to the point where i currently am. no longer a hopeless romantic, i favor the hopeful side of things. where those old triggers used to drag me down, i'm more optimistic in my tone of thought. that knot still rises in my throat and the tears welling are out of happiness rather than regret.

"i can't wait until that's me."

Friday, January 23, 2009

idiot magnet

not sure if this only happens to me, but you ever feel like everyone else on the road is distracted and out to get you with their negligence? i liken it to an idiot magnet. i'd love to know where the switch is for mine; it was clearly on high power this afternoon on my drive home.

in my pocket at chipotle with the lack of customer service. "hi. i'm in line. i don't care about your phone-in orders or internet orders. i walked in the door instead of sitting on my fat ass to order a 1,000 calorie bomb of deliciousness." perhaps it's in my cell phone...

from when i dropped casey off after work, what takes 3 minutes some days took about 20 today. people who need a turn signal not using it. people who don't need one leaving it on for miles and miles. cabbies that ignore every conceivable traffic law. extra traffic that i ain't used to, even for a friday.

one thing's for certain. there's no way in hell i'm getting back in my car tonight. anyone got the schematic for my car? please label the idiot magnet for me with instructions on how to turn it off. okthanks.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

this and that

no wonder my toes were numb for most of yesterday morning when we were standing around, waiting for john roberts to bungle the oath of office.


fortunately, we had a challenge to warm up the blood routed through my brain. how to get out of the mall in a seamless, quick manner. didn't work by the way. somewhere between a million and a half and two million people. they knew how many people were going to show up, but they still weren't ready. at times, it felt we were cattle herded into the chute at the slaughterhouse. it sure could've been bad. i've been in huge crowds before; luckily, i didn't need to know all this. it could've helped though.

How to Avoid Getting Trampled at the Inauguration

one for the ages

i've been in a few crowds in my day. football games at the swamp tend to have more than a few die hards among the faithful. rush hour traffic on the beltway. fire drills at school. the only difference is that all of the above happen week in, week out; day in, day out; or month after brake-gas-brake-gas month.

an inauguration of a new president occurs only quadrennially. people can't get used to it because their memories fade, and rarely was it so highly attended as yesterday's hullaballoo surrounding our new 44th president. the peaceful transfer of power between two diametrically opposite leaders is rarely, if ever, accomplished in all but a few of the countries on earth.

for a large portion of the crowd, this meant more to them than just a new president. this was more than a young, charismatic new president replacing a curmudgeonly, reclusive, widely reviled old president. this was a sense of triumph. a sense of satisfaction. the highest office in the land finally attained, now the rest of the gaps in our country's history of exclusion and segregation and discrimination can finally begin to be filled in. it was really moving to see women in their 60s, braving the cold with us young folks, for the chance to see something that they'd never have dreamt of as children. to see the chests of old black men swell with pride at seeing barack put his hand on lincoln's bible and take the oath of office.

hearing the chatter around me afterwards, it really hit home how inclusive his administration can be and the sense of pride, regardless of race, that all felt walking around the district yesterday.

"i really liked that he included nonbelievers."
"he wants to bring science back into government."
"he wants to end sectarian politics."

jaded and cynical as i am about politics in general, i can't help but think that a lot of the soaring rhetoric and ideals embodied in his speech yesterday were jabs at the past administration. with bush sitting nearby, the camera panned to him at each of those talking points; he sat emotionless and silent. just as i suspect he'll be from here on out.

Monday, January 19, 2009

tomorrow, tomorrow

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu. Adieu, adieu, to you and you and you.
So long, farewell, au revoir, auf wiedersehen. I'd like to stay and taste my first champagne.
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye. I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye -- Goodbye!
I'm glad to go, I cannot tell a lie.
I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly.
The sun has gone to bed and so must I.
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


food comas are best enjoyed after a long day climbing or outdoorsing. case in point, today.

left with the two chucklehead copilots today 'round about eight. hit their parking lot a little after 9:30. we expected single digits and were pleasantly surprised with the teens for most of the day. translation? only three layers and none of them heavy insulation. as long as i was moving, i was doing alright.

fortunately, today was yet another snow day spent on my feet more than on my tail. big progress today. big props to snow for helping me improve all day long. no, i'm not personifying precipitation. for those of you that don't know, a pledge brother of mine's last name happens to be snow, and oddly enough, he also shreds the gnar. quite well, in fact. good pointers from him had me falling all over the place in the morning to confidently running all of the blue trails by the end of the day. i was linking turns quickly and falling rarely. when i did fall, i bounced right back up again and kept on cruising.

right now, it's turned into a mind game of enjoying the adrenaline from the speed and still building the muscle memory to make turning at higher speeds second nature. turning off the anxiety with speed is the first step towards getting better and quickly. fear does funny things to your brain in so-called adrenaline sports. with some, it makes you overly cautious and second guesses your every move. on a snowboard, that can be pretty dangerous. it was the same with climbing; the fear of falling makes you overly cautious and sketch out on moves you can make. the fear takes over, and shuts you down.

i noticed last night at the gym how much my climbing technique has evolved over the years. some movements are so second nature to me that i forget how difficult it was for me to learn them, let alone build the core to make them. i suppose the same is true for snowboarding as well when friends are trying to help me straighten out my game strapped to a 154cm waxed piece of wood.

twelve hours later, and one cracker barrel coronary special, i am all sorts of comatose from fatigue and food. catch you on the flip side!

Friday, January 16, 2009

i have a dream

on august 28, 1963, dr. martin luther king gave his famous sixteen minutes and twenty-eight second speech on the steps of the lincoln memorial. it was forty years before my first year teaching.

that year, i saw the students self-segregating, as was the case with the community it seemed. long bred hatreds and distrusts has unconsciously worked their way into a younger generation. a pocket of white girls over here, a pocket of black girls over here, a handful of colorblind students starting to break the trend. as the years passed, most of them became colorblind, at least in choosing their friends. i was able to have serious discussions about race relations and history with them. i was often surprised by the poignant responses i got out of the blue with students that made painfully personal connections to the troubles of the jim crow south.

this year, with older students, the poignant thoughts continue. i asked my students to expand upon and revise dr. king's dream today. it's been nearly 46 years since his speech. much has been done, but i see the hope in the younger generation to continue to live out dr. king's words. the common thread running through their speeches were attitudes of peace, acceptance, tolerance, love, and kindness. the broad palette of my students makes me ever hopeful that the progress will continue.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


i subscribe to a few weekly finance newsletters from various newspapers. the one i enjoy the most is written by michelle singletary of the washington post. last week, she asked for some reader responses to a dear prudence column about being underemployed with a college degree. granted, i'm not underemployed, but i do think from time to time about switching career tracks. i responded anyway. here's the context:
Working It Out
A grocery store clerk was wrestling with customer and colleague questions about why he's bagging groceries with a college degree.

The letter made me wonder if others were employed at jobs that weren't satisfying just so they could maintain an income. Here's what some of you wrote:

M. Johnson of Orinda, Calif., says that like the grocery store clerk, he was passed over for a job because he was overqualified and they were fearful he'd resign for another opportunity.

"But more alarming is why they wouldn't bring me on and then hope to create something for me where I could continue to add significant value to the enterprise far beyond my cost to them. Shortsightedness? In this market? Unfortunately," Orinda wrote.

Teacher Ben J. from Arlington, Va., said he's "content to have a job that I enjoy, even if it feels like it controls my life at times."

One Maryland reader, who asked that her name not be used, said that she can "identify completely with the grocery store clerk." She graduated from a top school and took a fellowship that paid $26,000.

"I loved my job, but I would often skip meals just to make sure I was making my bills," she wrote. "I found work at a high-end retail store in sales and actually make significantly more than before. But I still get asked all the time why I'm not using my degree or what I'm doing there. Sometimes I feel like responding, 'I enjoy eating lunch.'"

Joseph Zairo of Pa., puts it all in perspective: "I get up at 4:30 a.m. and as I am getting ready for work I think about and plan for the day. I try to make things interesting. Work is work."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

monday night heights

last week was a high gravity week at the gym. every problem was a challenge; every move felt like a deadpoint. taking the weekend off is usually enough to solve that. of course, i went climbing on saturday with rob & brad. weather was nasty, so we went out to the other gym in sterling. great bouldering. rob and i messed around mostly; brad was intrigued/fascinated/slightly overwhelmed by the bouldering scene. remembering back to my first few trips to the gym, i can recall the acrophobia kicking in about five feet off the deck. brad was no different, though he did a pretty good job running down a few V1s on his first plastic outing.

this week, high gravity weighing heavy on my mind. ha ha, get it. weighing. heavy. gravity. anyhow...

i decided on monday to rope up rather than be a boulder rat. i spotted a belay partner waiting for the auto-belay. i'd climbed with her before. she's good people and climbs about the same as i do on rope, maybe harder if only because of endurance. she wanted to get on the new routes, foremost a 5.11. a slopey, pinchy, sustained route. the crux was about halfway up. i rocked through that and ran out of steam soon thereafter. no endurance. i put all the moves together, came down flash pumped, and flailed on the next route too. pockety 5.10 does not equate to easier in my book, especially when my forearms were already screaming.

here it is, two days later, my forearms are still fatigued; yet, i'll probably tie some knots and see if i can't tick the redpoints on those two pretty sweet routes first thing tonight. maybe i ought to warm up this time though...

Monday, January 12, 2009

shoeless at IUPUI

While this coach isn't getting near the amount of press that his taxi-driver-assaulting colleague is, perhaps he should get far more.

300-plus Coaches to Go Barefoot

The skepticism about good intentions and cynicism over athletes' and their coaches' behavior in general makes us all as sports fans enjoy sports a little bit less. How much happier were you as a sports fan seeing the Gators win the crown, knowing that the quarterback at the helm is a genuinely good person? Or that the linebacker leading the defense isn't going to spend his NFL-riches-to-be on a new Benz, but proper representation so that his incarcerated brother might get a fair trial? Contrast that with the joy you felt at hearing that the Cowboys cut Pacman Jones after his twentieth-time-too-many screw up. Maybe sports weren't so driftless after all. Perhaps all we needed was the media to start highlighting the good instead of the bad...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

we are the champions...

ok, so it's a few days past. it hit me today whilst i was avoiding the nasty that is a mid-atlantic winter. no, it didn't snow. i should be reasonably more productive at work now with less to read about football on a daily basis. i don't care as much about the pros, though i will probably take up cheering for the steelers with a terrible towel. college basketball season is upon us, and i have had a hard time following the gators from up here. they're a good team this year; hopefully they'll be on tv more often so i can catch their games.

the last of them. 'neath the Orange and Blue VICTORIOUS!!!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

two little words

"buenos dias."

a smile. for the first time since i've been shopping at the neighborhood market on glebe road, a cashier made eye contact with me. it wasn't terribly busy, and we were the only customers at any of the registers. she didn't say a whole lot else. she probably knew that i didn't speak a whole lot of spanish and saw my eyes scanning the register in the off-chance that she told me how much in spanish.

"six seventy-five," she says. i pay; she give me my change.


"de nada."

all the more reason for me to sharpen my spanish. as has been the case for years, i understand far more than i can speak, so long as the speaker isn't a rapid-tongued cuban. i watched a primetime special earlier this week called "what would you do" on abc. it was a candid camera kind of show, though not for comedic effect. the first situation was a cashier at a lunch counter who refused to serve day laborers because they couldn't speak english. both sides were actors, but they wanted to see what the real customers would do. some did nothing; some agreed with the cashier; few helped the "laborers". when the host interviewed a local laborer, he tearfully told him that situations like that happen more often than not. it ain't right.

"we are all made of flesh and bone," he opined (through the translator), "treat me like a human being."

Thursday, January 8, 2009


don't know if i'd received this email before, but it's a good one. i wish you enough in the new year.
Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure. Standing near the security gate, they hugged, and the mother said, 'I love you, and I wish you enough.'

The daughter replied, 'Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom.'

They kissed, and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there, I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed me in by asking, 'Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?'

Yes, I have,' I replied. 'Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?'

'I am old, and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead, and the reality is - her next trip back will be for my funeral,' she said.

'When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, 'I wish you enough.' May I ask what that means?'

She began to smile. 'That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.' She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and she smiled even more. 'When we said, 'I wish you enough,' we wanted the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.'

Then, turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory.

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

Then, she began to cry, and walked away.

They say, it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but an entire life to forget them.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

crushed hopes

every time we get our hopes up and try to plan for weather, it crushes our hopes. it's like a perfect game. from here on out, no mention of snow or rain or sleet or ice until it actually happens.

i guess i should go get dressed. wearing pajamas to school is generally frowned upon when you're the teacher.

Monday, January 5, 2009

no pain, no gain

as i sit here, back at work for the first time in the new year, my legs hurt. so while i wait for videos to upload to my school website for the parents, i thought i'd fill you in on a highly successful and hilarious trip to white tail.

for those of you not in the know, white tail is the closest decent resort to us. there's 20 trails, 16 of which are open currently. yes, more than half of them are out of my reach. for now. one resort is closer, but that was the site of my first trip to the slopes. it was painful. it may be time for a return trip.

anyhow, she and i left for our day trip, arrived to a packed house, and i strapped up warily. i will say one thing about this season that i already like better than last season. once i get my lift ticket, there's no fussing with changing into proper clothes, no waiting in line for rentals. just strap up, and hop on the lift. that's pretty much amazing.

let's go back to that wariness. i was skeptical of the quality of the snow. granted, it's all gravy because it's cold, and i was at least familiar with the resort. no mistakenly going up the wrong lift and being in over my head. after the bruising season debut, i wasn't real confident from the get go. fortunately, the snow was softer and the temperature was warmer, so the ice was pretty much nonexistent.

my heel side turns got easier as the day progressed. the links were coming smoother. the only times i was falling was to avoid people that weren't being particularly prudent in their rocketing down the mountain. a few times, that left me on my tail for a little bit longer than i wanted as i waited for a clearing to merge back in. i saw an "i'm proud of you" smile on her lips as we were actually able to ride down a few trails together. by together, i don't mean her stopping to encourage me every 10 yards or so. granted, they were a little bit too easy for her, but they were right where i needed to be. on my feet.

...and then my confidence (and my better half) convinced me to go up the lift to the more advanced terrain before the day was through. peering out over the edge, i got that same uneasy feeling that had all but disappeared with the successes of the day. after a few false starts, i sheepishly admitted that i was in over my head, sent her on down the mountain, and trudged my way down 900+ vertical feet on the side of the trail, dragging my board alongside. when i got to the bottom, she was there, waiting to apologize. i ran over, stopped her with a kiss, and said, "i'm tired. can we go home now?"

so instead of bruises this time, i left with weak, tired legs. they still ache today. two more weeks 'til a four-day weekend. i hope there's some good weather!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

i almost forgot!

a month or so ago, i fell in love with a delicious burger from good stuff eatery in capitol hill. on monday night after the gym, i fell in love with a burger much closer to my home. this may be dangerous.

ray's hell burger. is. king.

i'd link you to some reviews from the local critics, but as critics are, they tend to be pissed off and nitpick every detail, especially soon after a grand opening. that was what i found with good stuff initially, and what i found at ray's.

simple menu. build your own burger. pick how you want it cooked, it's all fresh ground quality stuff. i got mine blackened, medium rare. topped it with sauteed onions and 'shrooms with white cheddar. i was starving, and it didn't disappoint. i could eat a bowl of the onions and mushrooms on their own. they were delicious. with so many topping choices, i could make a different burger every day for a month and never have the same combo. some of them might get a little pricey, but such is life with artisinal cheeses, foie gras, and bone marrow options (yes, seriously).

it's been open for less time, there's less hoopla surrounding it, and it's not on pennsylvania avenue. we were able to order quickly and find a seat with no problem. old dominion draft root beer and lots of napkins. i was set.

dammit, now i want another one.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

conflicting interests

something pains me each time i walk into an outdoor store. the gear head id in me is elated, excited, intrigued at all the shiny new toys and clothes that will keep me entertained whilst pursuing outdoor fun. i want to try them all on and have an unlimited gift card to purchase said gear. this half of me is in conflict.

the quieting force that seems to be stronger in me is the anti-consumerist ego that fights its every id whim. i'd just as soon keep the same old stuff and old clothes and old pickup, but in this american society, it's pretty difficult to do. i read not buying it by judith levine a while back. if you've not read it, it details the trials and tribulations of the author's challenging project of not buying anything but needs for an entire year. i thoroughly enjoyed the book and identified very strongly with her internal conflicts on doing so. i'd say in climber fashion, this is the strongest statement we make. thrift store finds, flea market used pants, army surplus wool sweaters. to top it off, it's all chalked up because wearing clean clothes to climb in seems to be a ridiculous faux pas.

of course, this is fought by our craving for new shiny carabiners and cams and ropes and packs to stow it all in. granted a good bit of our climbing gear carries our life in its function. substandard gear doesn't cut it. in the snowboarding realm, i've had to drop a few bills on new gear just to get started. it ain't top notch stuff...yet, but it gets me outdoors on the weekends when the rocks are too wet or snow-covered to climb on them. this weaker id loses far more often. were it stronger, i'd have a kayak, a new mountain bike, and and and.

Friday, January 2, 2009

the meaning of life

in the absence of meaningless new year's resolutions, i thought i'd share some of my favorite bits of wisdom from Esquire's Meaning of Life issue. enjoy!

"Nobody likes to fail. I want to succeed in everything I do, which isn't much. But the things that I'm really passionate about, if I fail at those, if I'm not successful, what do I have?"--Eminem

"Streets are straight, houses are square, and our bodies are round. We don't belong there. We belong outside, doing stuff."--Warren Miller

"If you believe that every word in the Bible is the word of God, literally, you've got a problem. When you go through Genesis and you count back and the world began four thousand years ago, I am not convinced. It is of course metaphorical and should be taken as such. Is it nonetheless useful? Oh, absolutely."--Brent Scowcroft

"It's much harder to make something simple than complicated."--Phil Bredesen

"...But you've got to live to get old. You can't get old without living."--Jim Brown

"Every man that's good, his mama stayed on his behind."--Evander Holyfield

"Success needs no explanation. Failure does not have one that matters."--Rev. Jesse Jackson

"Every kid should learn how to swim and how to shoot a .22."--Steve Zahn