Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dimensional Charcoal for the Perfectionist...

I poured some charcoal into the BBQ the other day and was surprised to see some tongue and groove lump. I guess that's one way to build a fire. HAH!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Please vote NO on Tim Eyman's latest attempt to destroy Spokane - Initiative 1033

And don't forget Tim's bestest buddy Mike Fagan is running against Amber Waldref for city council. Hey why not elect a guy to a position where he can witness firsthand the destruction he has wrought? Please vote for Amber.

Jon Snyder has my vote, in my district.

If you are in Nancy McLaughlin's district, please vote for Karen Kearney. Karen isn't so big into the UN takeover theory of Spokane that Nancy subscribes to.

Our city council has been getting saner and saner. Let's keep it up.

Amber Waldref
Jon Snyder
Karen Kearney

No on Initiative 1033.

Latest Eyman Initiative has Governments Worried (9/7)

Backers of revenue cap initiative lose bid to change ballot wording (9/12)

This Woman Came All the Way From Colorado to Tell Us Not to Vote for Tim Eyman's Initiative (9/15)

Richland council reviews how Initiative 1033 could hit home (9/16)

Hutchison, Constantine slam Eyman spending initiative (9/16)

Hutchison calls Eyman initiative "a disaster"

Hutchison slams Eyman initiative (9/17)

I-1033 will penalize Federal Way (9/22)

The Argument Against Permanent Recession-Level Spending (9/22)

Kirkland City Council opposes Initiative 1033 (9/22)

King County Executive Candidates Prevent Eyman proposal from Distracting Serious Budget Debate (9/22)

Realtors come out against I-1033 (9/23)

Muni League Slams Eyman Initiative (9/23)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Spokane River Clean Up 2009!

Great time at the river clean up this morning. It’s funny how you keep running into the same bunch at about every cool event in Spokane.

Everybody started out at High Bridge Park. It’s easy to forget that this park has more than a dandy disc golf course or clandestine romantic interludes going for it. I think it would be a great place for a family picnic. The grass is always green. Lots of shade. You can swim or wade in Latah Creek. You can play disc golf. You can have a romantic interlude.

Busses dropped people off at some of the further reaches of the clean up. Our group - Group Number Five - The Moose Group was assigned about a half mile of cleaning up to the west of the Maple Street Bridge. A nice walk but nothing too interesting. Mostly broken glass and stuff like that. Aidan found a cool fork that had the number 1847 stamped on it. Perhaps it’s the fork in the river that you always hear about.

Everyone scrambled around banks and boulders like post-apocalyptic foragers picking up crap. A guy in a cataraft was making his way down the river to warn each of us about an encampment that straddled the very path upon which we trod. I tried to reassure him that it was no big deal and maybe the folks there would have some garbage to add to our load. He looked at me like I had been warned and that he was now no longer responsible for my Blair Witch Project finale.

I was almost to the hobo camp when a lady carrying her clean up bag repeated the warning that she had heard from catarafter dude. She had sent some kids up a precarious outcropping to avoid the camp of the damned. I repeated my plan to her. She asked me what she and the kids should do. I said that odds were the technical climb the kids were now ascending was much more daring than saying hello to a hobo.

When I said hello to the camper, he said, “Hello” back. Wow. Good. And because it’s daylight, I know he's not a vampire. My lucky day.

There was a mound of garbage by his tent (actually not his tent. His camp was a little further up. He was housesitting). He said that raccoons and skunks had a party in the festering pile last night and that's why it seemed so unorganized. I offered to move some of the garbage out, but there was a lot there - probably beyond my means. Then man said that he was going to move a bunch of it out himself. Later on, walking back on the street, we saw that he had. There were a bunch of bags right where he said they would be.

During our conversation, the man told me about the campfires that they have sometimes. I told him I knew about them, because people were always calling 9-1-1 and hence us to put them out. The fellow said that one time a fire engine pulled up across the river and a firefighter yelled at them with a bullhorn to put the fire out. I told him that was me. For Fathers Day I had asked for and received a bullhorn. I used it at work a couple of times. What a great thing to have. I remembered yelling at someone across the river. We both laughed about what a small world it is and I was back on the clean up. I never saw the lady and the two kids ever again.

I met up with Sarah and Aidan shortly thereafter and we had a great picnic of David’s Pizza back at High Bridge Park. We enjoyed a fine bike ride home.

Look at some of the cool stuff that was found. I think that’s an airplane’s landing gear. Whoops! I bet there’s a story there.

This is where all the keys go.

I have never been on a "man down" or in a hobo camp where Miller was the beer of choice.

These might have been found in the park itself.

Cookie jar? Coffee mug? Tip jar? high school ceramics project? I think the verbiage around the areola is a Knights Templar/Illuminati/Opus Dei clue from the new Dan Brown novel.

The Spokane River's currents are notoriously swift and complex. In any other river this boot would have probably stayed on.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

This just in... An Insane Killer is on the loose at the Spokane County Fair!

Again, life imitates art.

We've seen this movie before. Will he re-offend at the fair? Maybe he will start a new life. Comedy romance on the midway?

I must admit I haven't been to the fair in three years, after realizing it was virtually the same as the last 10. Not being critical. Not a good thing or a bad thing. But this - this here breaking news story is making me realize that there is always the potential for change in fair programming. I wish I was out there right now.

If you avoid the local television news like a plague of marshmallow butterflies, tonight might be worth watching. AND THEY BROADCAST LIVE FROM THE FAIR! I just hope this story doesn't scoop the 12 minutes of weather, 10 minutes of "sports," and the lost puppy piece. Maybe they can tie the weather into the searching for the mad killer story.

The citizen rage tomorrow over this thing will be a fine wave to ride. This time it might even be warranted - a very strange circumstance in itself.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Long shadows these mornings...

The short day of Spokane September takes its time to warm up. Then just when you feel it's too hot, the mercury starts to fall. Nights are cool. Coffee in the morning is welcome not just for its caffeine but its heat. Usually by the end of September I feel like I'm ready, even anxious, for fall and all that follows.

Summers past, I'd happen upon some of my winter bike clothes. Standing there sweating, it was hard to believe that I ever needed to wear so much crap. This summer I remembered last winter and winter/spring just fine. I might not be ready for fall this year. I'm sure as hell not anxious. We'll see.

Monday, September 14, 2009

SpokeFest 2009 Question...

Does anybody know how it turned out for the older gentleman who was driving a car into the oncoming SpokeFestivities on the Centennial Trail? We saw him a couple miles before the Seven-Mile parking area. His car had Oregon plates and he looked kinda scared.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wine Tour 2009

For over 12 years, our friend Jeff has been coming to Spokane from Washington DC to taste and buy Washington State wine. He then acts as Spokane's unofficial East-Coast oenophile ambassador - a port-plying pied piper. I suspect that if Jeff had a dollar for every East-Coaster he has hooked on our local wines, he would have several dollars (a lot). He would, in turn, buy more Washington wine with these dollars.

Jeff's job at Georgetown University is to arrange conventions and other destination events. Sometimes he has split his stay between our basement and the Davenport Hotel and other flop houses in the area. This 10-day stay, our basement was the sole command central for the taste and buy sorties.

He usually tries to arrange an overnight wine tour (or two) in one of Eastern or Central Washington's local wine scenes, as well as work in a Spokane wine tour. This year it was Yakima and Walla Walla. I went with him to Yakima. A great time.

I'm always grateful to be reminded of the great wine that Spokane produces, and how beautiful our state is. Nationally, Washington is only rivaled by California in the amount of wine produced. I think Virginia is in third place, interestingly.

I like wine fine, but I get burned out on it fairly quick. So, it will be good to take a little break.

Jeff is thinking of moving back to Spokane (He was here for grad school. That's where we met.)

If anybody can think of a job that's open or know somebody who is hiring, Jeff is an extremely capable, smart and very nice guy.

I don't think there's anybody on the East Coast who knows more about the Washington State wine scene than Jeff.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Five Year Anniversary of Spokanarama!

We'll celebrate in the next couple of weeks. Stay posted for details. Along the lines of celebratory spirits, here's a picture from the liquor store (For years I had the kids calling it "mom's store" until I was persuaded that this was not funny anymore).

A sign boasting "Shatter proof glass"? Go ahead, throw something at it. You won't hurt a thing. See!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Caught on Google Street View in front of the station...

On XtraCycle leaving the station in the morning. I haven't worn that sweatshirt in a while!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

First time bicycle camping!

Here's how it usually goes. I happen to discover some stuff that really interests me. Then I like to research the hell out of that stuff. Every once in a while (not very often) I actually do the stuff. So it was this last Friday that, after reading a lot about bike camping here, and researching it here, I really went out and did it, thanks to an invite from John.

I had worked the day and night before and was hopeful that we wouldn’t be too busy. We wound up getting up four times that night, which is kind of average at our station. I was actually feeling pretty well rested, as I headed home on the XtraCycle to convert it – from commuting machine to camping machine. In this pursuit, I made the ultimate sacrifice and removed the sound system in the name of lightening the load. That was kind of a lost cause.

I weighed all my gear and it came in at 9 pounds. But then I threw in a camp chair, some food and a couple of cans of Foster’s. So, it was probably pushing 13-15 pounds, all and all. Last year, Doogy and I weighed the XtraCycle at the station. It came in at 65 pounds. Kinda heavy even with no gear.

It was a very hot day, maybe a hundred degrees, and we all gathered at the Riverfront Park fountain to begin. There were two of us Johns and two of them Pats. One of the Pats has an excellent account of the trip and great photos on his blog here.

This was my first time bicycle camping and I was pretty happy with how it went. I learned a ton and hung out with some great guys too.

Some thoughts:

I had read about Hennessey Hammocks and had been intrigued. John and Pat had them on the trip. Patrick went with a one-man tent. A week before our trip, I started looking around Spokane for one of these hammocks. No luck. I found an army surplus one at the army surplus on Division, but it seemed kind of heavy. So, I made my own version of the hammock. I call mine the Half-assed Hammock. It worked pretty well. It had a big fly that kept the rain off of me and my bike.

I am not entirely sold on the hammock idea. It was a little different to sleep in. I will give it another try with a few modifications – the Half-ass II.

The XtraCycle setup is my summertime fun machine, but it is a heavy bitch. I don’t think I would take it on this long of a trip again – especially loaded down with camping stuff. I have done close to 40 miles on it before, but after 60 or so in 24 hours, well that’s a little much.

It was a hot ride out. My helmet straps were white with sweat salt when we got to the lake. My legs were cramping up a little at the end. It dawned on me that a little electrolyte replacement might have been a good idea. Next hot long ride, I am packing some Ultima, along with the beer.

I brought a sleeping bag liner because my only sleeping bag is really heavy. I’ve had it since 1973. It has a lot of sentimental value, but I think a new sleeping bag may be in order.

Didn’t cook. It was warm enough that some salami, mixed nuts, apples and really deformed cheese were perfect. I had brought a stove thinking I needed my coffee in the morning. It was raining when we got up and I was itching to get going, so I skipped the coffee. I was fine. As a side benefit, because I didn’t drink any coffee, I didn’t have to worry about finding a place to deposit and then destroy the evidence of what coffee does to my bowels every morning.

It was a fine trip back home, after a half-way stop at The Willow Springs Station Restaurant in Cheney. Thanks John, Patrick and Pat for inviting me along. Good times!