Author Archives: bob

Jump Number 3

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I think I’m getting hooked. I think a big part of it is that I want to do it right, so I’m going to keep doing it until I don’t make any mistakes. This time there were good parts and bad parts, but more good than bad. The good parts were my exit and my landing. I hopped out right, had a good arch, and was facing straight into the wind. The bad part was that I felt good about it and relaxed, so I lost my arch. Of course, I didn’t know this until the instructor told me on the ground. D’oh. I watched the chute deploy (it’s kinda fun to see. The instructors say not to look at it until 5 seconds after you jump so that you don’t get scared and think your chute is broken, but I like to watch anyway.), and was grateful when it all came out fine. Did the normal maneuvers to bleed off altitude and get closer to the field. I did the flare just right and was able to land on my feet and come to a stop still standing, which was good.

I’m looking forward to going again. I’m going to do a better job next time, but I’m also going to have to rely less on the radio and steer myself for the most part.

wheeeee. I like this sport.

Stupid subtitles

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I watch all kinds of movies. Tons of them. Sometimes I get good movies, sometimes they’re mediocre, and sometimes I want to snap the DVD in half and bill Hollywood for my wasted time.

Tonight was the kind that makes me want to not only bill Hollywood, but also write to each of the actors and tell them to get the gravel out of their mouth, write to the composer and ask him to create more than two bars of music and repeat it over and over and over, and tell the director to get over himself and cut out half the scenes. Argh. I shouldn’t have to have the subtitles on when I’m watching a movie in English.

No shirt, no shoes, gross

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This evening I was at the grocery store doing my routine shopping for food. WinCo is not home to the trendiest shoppers or the most beautiful people in the tri-cities, but I’m there for the food, which is also not the trendiest or most beautiful, but it is pretty cheap and is basically what I need.

I have nothing against large people. People are people, whether they’re tiny or gargantuan, and I’d like to think I treat everyone equally. However, there are things I’d rather not see, and the intricate details of one’s corpulence are among them; ESPECIALLY in a food store. It was 8:30 in the evening, and I still hadn’t had dinner. I was hungry until the father and son showed up. Dad looked like a tool with his cell phone headset firmly ensconced in his ear, though he wasn’t on the phone, and son obviously shared some of the same genes. Unfortunately for the store patrons, son, who looked to be about 10-13 years old, decided to share his fleshiness with the rest of the world by not wearing a shirt. Even worse, the pair was behind me in line, and I ended up bagging my groceries across from the son.

There are signs at the entrance of the establishment that say a shirt and shoes are necessary. I believe this is also a law and in general is good for public health. So how this person managed to get around the store without being intervened by the staff, and how the dad could overlook this are beyond me.

So now I wonder, are my feelings legitimate? Am I turning into a conservative and intolerant prick, or am I justified in thinking this was a bad thing that shouldn’t have happened?

For now, I think my solution will be to go to Safeway more, and go to WinCo even later at night.

Spiral of Unproductivity

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Way back in the end of March I posted about the Spiral of Suck. Essentially this is what happens to me on the racquetball courts sometimes when I do something stupid and get mad at myself, initiating a spiral of suckiness that ends with me angry at myself and incapable of hitting the ball.

I’d like to append a corollary to the Spiral of Suck. I’ll call it the Spiral of Unproductivity. I am by nature a very productive guy. I like to get things done. Occasionally, I’ll get slowed down on a project, which will get me frustrated. I’ll try to switch to another project, but just can’t get into it. I start flailing around, looking for a project that won’t immediately frustrate me, but as soon as I start any of them, I don’t feel like working on them. So I get frustrated with myself for being so unproductive. This frustration makes me feel less like working on a project, and soon I’m in a big hole of suck.

The downside to this spiral is that I haven’t found a way out of it yet. With racquetball, I can leave as soon as I recognize the spiral of suck and it won’t get too bad. With the spiral of unproductivity, I haven’t found a good way to get out of it. Even going out doesn’t seem to help. This usually happens on weekends, when I’ve got all kinds of errands that I SHOULD be running, but I just don’t get around to them. All I can hope is that the day gets done sooner.

Two great games

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Monday I had one of my best disc golf flash games ever. At the end of the first nine I was at +4. Each of the holes is a par 3, so getting only 4 over is pretty good. The back nine was even better. I was +0 on the back nine. I got a birdie on the tenth hole, but screwed it up on the 11th hole, so overall I ended up at +4 on 18 holes. This is a personal best on this course, and also the first time I’ve ever gotten par on the 18th hole, which is probably 3 miles long and the water hazards have crocodiles.

The tonight was a softball game. The first time we played this team we lost, but this time we won. We played a good game. A couple innings we had a bunch of errors that let them get a few runs, but we were able to hold them off most of the time and score quite a bit. In the bottom of the last inning, the score was tied and we were up to bat. All we had to do was score 1 run. I was up to bat first. I made it on base. The next guy got me to second. Then the third person hit it into the outfield and I made it home, ending the game. We celebrated by dousing our coach in the ice water she brought for us. She then bought us drinks and wings. The softball season is almost over now. We have the tournament, and then we’re done. Our team did pretty well overall considering it’s a completely new team. At least we did better than some teams that have been established for years.

Spelunking and camping

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This weekend I went with some friends to Ape Caves, next to Mt. St. Helens. Reader’s Digest version: it was awesome.

Friday we cut work early (I love flextime) to get prepared. The six of us met at my place to consolidate gear into two cars. We then drove about 4 hours to get to a campsite. The first camp site was completely full, so we had to drive another half hour to get to the next one, which was on gravel road most of the way. By the time we got to the second campsite, we were pretty much stuck there. It was almost dark, so either we would find a spot there, or end up camping on the road or something. Luckily, there was exactly one spot left. Of course, it was the slopiest site there, so we hooked up our harnesses and climbing gear, made a sideways fire, and slept on the cliff face.

It wasn’t really so bad. The flies were worse. Insects of all shapes and descriptions, mostly of the variety annoyingus-flyingmonsterae. I had intended to sleep under the stars on a tarp, but after considering the density of insects in the air, figured that I would consume more protein than I preferred during sleep, so I moved into the car. I measured later in the morning the exact width of my back seat; with my head against one door, my knees hit the other door. The seat itself is about 12 inches deep, so you can imagine the difficulty I had that night trying to arrange the majority of my body onto a surface clearly not large enough. It was an unpleasant experience, and I can only wonder at how two people could manage to do anything but suffocate horizontally in the back seat of a car.

The next morning we had blueberry pancakes and sausages with a sprinkling of insect carcasses as they attempted to explore every inch of every thing. We decided to pack up everything and hope to find a camping spot closer to the caves and the exit of the park. Around 11 we finally made it to the caves.

The Ape Caves are not named after apes. They are lava tubes (look it up) that are merely named after the sponsors of the Boy Scout troup that explored them in 1950. We chose to explore the upper tube, which is roughly 1.5 miles of tube. It was an unguided tour, so the 6 of us and our headlamps worked our way up the tube. I wish I could say it was all crawling and that the rope in my backpack was used. Most of the tube was at least 10 feet wide and 10-20 feet tall. There were many parts where rock had fallen from the ceiling and walls, so we did have some considerable meneuvering to do. There was a part where we had to climb up a wall, and a few parts where we had to squeeze ourselves through some fairly small patches. The wind was strongest where the cave narrowed of course. The cave was in the mid 40s (F), so it was quite comfortable and welcome considering the temperature 50 feet above.

We exited the cave at the end, stopped for a snack, and headed back above ground to the parking lot. We drove around until we found a good spot for lunch. Then we decided that instead of trying to find another camping spot, which would have been very difficult and unlikely, we would just head back home. Thus began the frustration of unmarked roads. Almost immediately the other car disappeared from view. Since he had the GPS and the good map (our map didn’t even extend to where we were), and every part of a forest looks like every other part of the forest, so we started doubting ourselves. Then we missed a turn and had a lively discussion 10 minutes later when we decided that we had actually missed the turn, followed by silence 10 minutes later when the exit I had pointed out was, in fact, the one I should have taken. So we had taken the scenic tour of most of Gifford Pinchot National Forest by the time we made it back to the gas station in Carson. Just after I left, I got a call from the other car. Somehow, they were right behind us. It turned out they had missed a different turn. We all caught up a few minutes later, and it seemed miraculous that after an hour of driving independently, we managed to meet up almost exactly together. We drove back to Richland, stopping by Stonehenge on the way. This Stonehenge is a WWI memorial, and it’s a huge concrete structure high on a hill overlooking the Columbia river. It’s pretty cool.

Eventually we made it back to my place, where I cooked up some burgers and hot dogs and we watched The Goonies.

ow ow ow – different reason this time

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It seems an unusual proportion of my entries describe the various pains I am experiencing. From getting beat up at racquetball to hard landings skydiving, I have a knack for putting myself in situations that result in my body expressing great dissatisfaction. Yesterday I did it again.

My friend Joe has a sailboat, and yesterday he threw a bit of a party on it. There were 7 of us: me, Joe (owner of the boat and works at the lab), Jeff (who is also on my softball team and works at the lab), Ben (works at the lab, too), Carolyn (good friend who works at the lab with Ben, Jeff, Joe, and Cassandra), Cassandra (intern at the lab for 10 weeks), and Ben’s friend’s cousin Emma, a Swedish girl spending some time here. We had a bit of trouble getting the boat out of harbor because there was no wind, but eventually we pushed ourselves off of other boats long enough to get onto the lake. There we ate and drank and told jokes and jumped in the water and swam and in general had a good time. Later the wind picked up and we were actually able to sail some, getting up to a pretty good clip.

In all, it was a lot of fun. I learned a bit about sailing: it’s not nearly as hard as you’d think. But the brain cells I dedicated to the art of sailing may have prevented other brain cells from the art of instinct, because I am now paying for something I should have done but didn’t.

Now I was responsible enough to put on sunscreen. I got my arms, my legs, and even behind my neck. I’m not sure why I didn’t do my face, though. For the next few days I will be the very model of solemnity because moving my face hurts too much to be anything else. The other stupid thing I did was put my sunscreen on while I had my shirt on, then go out on the boat and take my shirt off to swim. Now I’ve got three distinct colors on my arms. Most of my arm, up to a little above the elbow is a satisfying tan. From there it tapers off to white, where I managed to put on sunscreen while my shirt was on. A few inches after that, it fades into a bright salmon color (guys don’t turn pink, they turn salmon).

So right now I’m sitting shirtless, applying lotion every once in a while, mostly mad at myself for not doing what I knew I should have and wondering if I’ll get skin cancer now.

I do have a meeting at work tomorrow, but frankly I much prefer being shirtless, so I think I’ll work from home and just go to work for the one meeting.

On Restaurants

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I’ve been cooking on my own for the past couple years, and I can honestly say that I’ve gotten the hang of a lot of it. I know how to do some things really well, and I’m getting pretty quick about putting my dishes together, so that my average meal, with an entree and two side dishes, takes between 10-30 minutes from start to finish to prepare.

For the past few weeks I’ve kicked it up a notch: I’m taking photos of everything I make. The original intent was so that I could start working with GMS Events on a personal cookbook release, but almost instantly I realized another benefit. Because I want these pictures to look good, I’m really focusing on my presentation. Presentation is a huge part of a good meal, and it can transform a mediocre one into a spectacular one. I’m collecting a sizable folder of photos of my dishes, and I have to say that looking at them I’m a little proud.

My cooking has changed how I order food in restaurants. As a general rule, I don’t order anything that I can make at home. If I’m eating out, the last thing I want to do is spend three times as much money to get a meal I can just as easily prepare in my own kitchen. It won’t teach me more, and it’ll taste just as good. This means most pasta is out, steak is definitely not worth it, a lot of stir fries, chicken, and pan-fried fish. This rule is actually pretty convenient, as it eliminates a decent amount of the menu from my consideration, giving me time to focus on the more interesting dishes. Two of the things I look for are techniques that I don’t know or that would take a long time to cook (like lasagna or quiche, which take a long time to prepare and bake), and ingredients that are exotic or to which I have limited access (like some kinds of seafood or fruits). This way I’m guaranteed to get something I probably won’t be making at home, so it’ll be new and interesting to me, which is why I go out.

The other thing I do at restaurants is look at the presentation of the dish. They always clean the edge of the plate. There’s often parsley flakes sprinkled on top to give the dish flecks of color. The fancier the restaurant, the more vertical the food will get. So if you’re going to Denny’s, you’ll have a plate with meat and mashed potatoes next to it and corn next to that, and the whole plate will be covered with some kind of food. If you’re at a fancy restaurant, you’ll have a wide plate, but the food itself will cover a smaller area and be stacked, so the meat would be on top of the asparagus on top of the mashed potatoes. Then some kind of sauce is artfully painted around the unused portion of the plate. And the plate is always wiped clean after the food has been placed on it.

A successful restaurant venture leaves my stomach happy, my tongue intrigued, and my brain full of good ideas to try.

We Win Again!

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Last night was our third win in softball. I don’t know how many times we’ve lost, but that’s not important. What is important is that we’ve gotten a lot better as a team and we’re happy with ourselves, and last night was our chance to prove it. In our first game of softball we got stomped about 20-5. I’m not sure if that’s the exact score or not, but we were royally whipped. Last night we played them again. We played a tight game, catching what we were supposed to, making our throws, getting on base, etc. I didn’t do anything spectacular during the game. I scored a couple times, hit a couple base hits, caught some pop flies, the usual stuff. But what was really cool was that we were able to play such a solid game and hold them back while we continued to score. In the end, we won 13-9, and we were very happy pirates.

I created a monster

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Necessity is the mother of invention, and I was in serious need of food. My problem, though, was that I had hot dog buns but no hot dogs, and hamburger but no hamburger buns. May god have mercy on my soul for what transpired in my kitchen today at lunch, for what I bred was neither encased hot dog, nor round hamburger, but instead a beast of a meal fit only for the likes of those willing enough to put their life on the line in pursuit of the perfect meal.

Today I made the hamburger dog. Instead of making round hamburger patties I carefully fashioned crude oblong patties, holding a hot dog bun beside them to make sure they were of an appropriate size. They were as thick as a normal hamburger, 1/2 inch of pure beefy goodness, but as long as the bun. My George Foreman steamed and sizzled as it struggled to cook the strange shaped patties. At once, I smelled the burning flesh and knew that it was done. The socket sparked as I unplugged the grill. I had prepared my bun in the manner of a typical hamburger: sliced tomato, sweet relish, ketchup, and mustard. Once I placed the finished patties on the buns, my creation was complete.

If you have not yet recoiled in shock and awe, then the completion of my tale should not disturb you further. After I had built these monsters (there was a pair of them because I was hungry, remember), I poured a glass of cold tea, sat down, lifted one of them, and took a bite. What followed thereafter is hazy in my mind. When I came to my senses my plate was empty, my stomach full, and my napkin messy. I can only assume that I devoured them both in a frenzy, leaving nothing but a few flecks of relish on the plate.

Thank you, dear reader, for stomaching this entry as heartily as I stomached the monsters I made for lunch. If you have the inclination, the fortitude, and the equipment, I highly recommend making the bastard child of barbecues; the hamburger dog.