Friday, November 28, 2008


There are periods in our lives. For me there is the soccer period. The college period. The Delaware period.

I sincerely hope that I'm eclipsing "The Remodeling Period". There has been only one store in my life, but recently I've been cheating on the orange store for the blue store. It may be that the customer service is better - or it might be I just needed different aisles to peruse. The truly sad part is none of this is a metaphor.

I've learned a lot the last six months: lighting, plumbing, electrical, drywall, finishing carpentry. Most of these I'd forayed into in the past, but now I'd declare some level of proficiency; well, I'm stretching it a bit on the plumbing and electrical. "Dangerous" might be a more apt descriptor.

In honor of this period, and hopefully its conclusion and a return to skiing, camping and friendships, the next few posts will summarize some of the projects over "The Remodeling Period".

We'll start with Shelly's study which we had to finish to make room for me to move in. Nothing new here, just paint and flooring. I did pick up a few shortcuts I'll share.

SHORTCUT 1: Don't let it dry.

I don't know why it took me over twenty of years of painting to learn to pull the tape off the wall immediately after painting. Wet paint can't tear or peel.

I realize this is simple and I've since learned everyone knows this, but, well, now we both know.

SHORTCUT 2: Why cut when you can guillotine?

Laminate Guillotine
On my kitchen, one of the biggest pains was cutting the laminate with a circular saw. Cutting the plastic composite dulls blades fast. For this project we rented a little lever-mounted laminate bifurcator that not only made a really clean cut, but was incredibly fast to use with no dust so I didn't even have to walk outside. It even cuts angles.

SHORTCUT 3: Circular saws are old skool.
I'm always trying to get by with just the tools I have. Facing a large trim job however I succumbed to temptation and borrowed a chop saw. I can't even estimate how much time it saved cutting moulding, shelves and casement. The fact that you can simply set it and go rocks. 22.5 degree cut? No problem. Loosen a knob, click, click, click, tighten a knob, cut. I'm in love.

SHORTCUT 4: Throw the hammer away.
As I mentioned , I'm skeptical of new tools. But already bending to borrow a chop saw, I couldn't stop myself from throwing my friend's nail gun in the back of my truck with the chop saw. This isn't love. It's lust. I've fired semi-automatic weapons before. It's like that, only productive.

My first nail. I put the gun to the trim and pull the trigger to a gratifying whump of compressed air. The compressor is dialed up way too high. It travels through the trim, through the wall and ricochets around in the closet on the opposite side. I grin and turn the pressure down. The second whump and the nail sets perfectly. I laugh out loud. A maniacal, but joyous laugh.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Multi-Cultural Volleyball

Buggy through covered bridge
Touring southeastern Pennsylvania with Shelly, my parents and grandpop and we happened across the Intercourse Heritage Days. Amish are really good at volleyball.

It was fun seeing everyone interact together as a community despite the obvious differences. A custom car show, helicopter rides and buggies. Horse drawn buggies everywhere. That, and a grandmother on a scooter. Good times.

Amish and non-Amish brought together

Why Dogs Don't Drive Trucks

I love this set of photos, they just crack me up. They look like an old couple. I can almost hear Kootenai nagging Desi, "No right. Right! Didn't you see the turn you stupid dingo!"

Friday, June 20, 2008

Building Substance

It had been a long time since I last visited DC. With this distance, I had forgotten just how impressive all the public buildings are in the capital. I get so sickened of public buildings in strip malls, such as our Federal Building in Boise that is nicknamed Fed-Mart due to it's not so substantive, but considerable neighbor.

When did courthouses start resembling box stores and churches warehouses? Show that place has meaning! It is delightfully refreshing to visit a public space that we embrace whole-heartedly, stating unabashedly, "This is a place that matters."

Some classic (and new) examples from around DC:

I was delighted to discover the new World War II Veterans Memorial. Another example of substantive architecture. It leaves a mark. Bravo.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Me & Ma and Ma & Pa

I enjoyed a stroll this morning with my Mama on a new section of the Ma & Pa Trail constructed on (or near) the abandoned Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad right-of-way.

Hiking the Ma & Pa Trail
Mom on the Winter's Run Bridge

Construction began on the trail since I left home and I have enjoyed hiking each new section when I return home on trips. This most recent section connecting Annie's Playground to the fairgrounds north of Bel Air is exceptional. The MA & PA Heritage Trail, Inc. and Harford County Parks & Recreation have really done a fabulous job of creating a well-used public space. The trail when I visited was heavily trafficked and all pedestrians and cyclists were friendly and courteous. It is a true multi-age/experience park used by all the citizens and I applaud them for a job well-done.

Hiking the Ma & Pa Trail
Pond near Annie's Playground off the Ma & Pa

My recommendation for the future?
Continue the concept, but scale the effort beyond abandoned rail lines to become not just recreation, but an alternative transportation network that allows citizens to use the trails to commute by foot or bike to work and shopping.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Game

For the first time in five years I had the luxury of being home to spend Father's Day with my Dad. For the occasion, I took both my parents to a baseball game, which appropriately enough pitted the Orioles (my hometown team) against the Pirates (their hometown team) for the first regular series matchup in the club's histories.

It turned out to be a really competitive game that kept nearly everyone on the edge of their seat.

Orioles vs. Pirates
I know the picture quality is horrid, but I just love my Dad's emotion in this shot

Orioles vs. Pirates
The usher was kind enough to snap a family portrait

Orioles vs. Pirates
First pitch

Orioles vs. Pirates
Ball or strike?

Orioles vs. Pirates
Esskay Hot Dogs, classic Baltimore

Orioles vs. Pirates
No hands required.

Orioles vs. Pirates
So not everyone stayed on the edge of their seat...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A/typical Morning Ride

On the trail
We visit Military Reserve often. Shelly admits it's her favorite ride and while I might not go quite so far, I am partial to the views and the snaking downhill singletrack.

Over a year ago, Shelly showed me these trails hidden behind the Veteran's Hospital. I was delighted, because up until then my mountain biking trips in Boise were all of the ski lift variety... a long slow steady climb up Table Rock or the Boise foothills followed by a fast steep descent. While fun, the directness of it all always left me bored when compared to the fallen trees, roots, mud, jumps and other obstacles which littered the trails of my childhood.

I've never seen it this green
Taken in profile the route we take through Military Reserve remains an up and back, but it's a playful journey. It starts with a creek crossing and a rutted root path through deciduous forest (now closed to bikes unfortunately), followed by a long meadow ride up a gently sloping valley. This ends with three options, all quick climbs out of the lush (for Boise) valley floor onto hilltops clothed in dry grass and sagebrush.

From there the more leisurely ascent resumes, the trail graciously looping back more than once for vistas of the city below. Wildflowers flank the sides, displaying a a color for each season, on this morning the yellow arrowleaf balsamroot flowers were fading and their replacement, of which I do not know the name, a soft purple-blue display blanketed the landscape.

Last reflections

Like many weekends I spend with Shelly I find myself feeling as if I'm on vacation in my own town. It is a contagious joy that Shelly speads infectiously through a glint in her eye that echos a two-year old's amazement at the world around them and a smile so pervasive that the lines remain on her face betraying any attempt she may make to contradict them.

More than once I've stopped Shelly mountain biking as a love bubble gets the better of me. Something about having to give my all to chase her downhill on a bike just presses my buttons. Perverse I know (I get amorous snowboarding and backpacking as well). So it was odd this morning that she was on to me. Perhaps it was because we hadn't yet begun our descent.

Stopping at the top to take in the view, a typical morning mountain bike ride, turned atypical when I started talking more mushy than usual. Looking around, Shelly asked uncomfortably, "Am I on a reality TV show?"

In answer, I dropped to my knee and proposed. Shelly, helmet-clad and still straddling her bike answered wordlessly, with a kiss and arms wrapped around my neck. An embrace which should have been startlingly difficult, but worked.

Still straddling her bike

Yes Photoset

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Edit this Website

Having spent days of my life coding around Internet Explorer's limitations, I found this priceless.

With Firefox or Safari, go visit Steal This Footage, which contains all the tape shot for Steal This Film.

I love the mindset they've adopted! Yes, they are sharing all the footage they shot and allowing it be remixed, but how are they doing that? By letting the public edit and annotate it. No limits. It's a wide open wiki! Every page, every word is editable by anyone. No login.

This is Open Source on a different level.

On top of all of this of course is fully transcribed, searchable video clips that allow one to jump exactly to the piece of the clip of interest to you. I'm sure it's been done before, but the implementation is impressive in it's own right, but giving anyone the keys to edit, removing the producer - consumer dichotomy completely is ground breaking.

What do you call this? Open Source ____? Culture, Community, Production? I love where this is heading. I wonder how much work it takes to keep out the Trolls?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Big Cinder Butte

I'm really into goals, the more obscure the better. I'm working on climbing the 11th highest volcano on each continent. So far I've done one... but hey, it's a life goal.

For this year I've set a myself a somewhat less lofty, but still obscure goal: "climb" the highpoint in each of Idaho's wilderness areas. . Climb is in quotes because truthfully none of them are really all that difficult. Beautiful, challenging at times because one must place on foot in front of the other for more times in one day than some Americans do in a month*, but not hanging off rock faces challenging. With any luck I'll summit all the Idaho Wilderness Seven Summits before the snow falls again.

Idaho Wilderness Seven Summits
Wilderness AreaHighpointElev. (ft)
Craters of the MoonBig Cinder Butte6,515
Gospel-HumpBuffalo Hump8,938
SelwayRanger Peak8,817
SawtoothThompson Peak10,751
Hells CanyonHe Devil9,409
Frank ChurchMount McGuire10,082
White Clouds**Castle Peak11,815

* Research studies estimate the average American adult may take less than 3,000 steps a day, which adds up to roughly 34 miles, so I may be exaggerating a little, but not much. The average Texan may be more accurate. A number of these peaks will require a round trip distance greater than 34 miles, though I will span the effort across a couple days.

** Ok, so the White Clouds isn't a Wilderness yet, you got me. But it's a great climb in a great location. Plus I'll already have achieved the metric just in case it ever gets approved.

The most difficult are Class III scrambles in remote terrain, the easiest is a short skip up a petrified zit. So I started with the zit, though I did choose to go before the park opened up the roads and part of the Butte was still snow covered to make it a wee bit more interesting. I invited the folks in Idaho Mountain Recreation to tag along and two of them took me up on the offer.

Big Cinder Butte Highlights

Big Cinder Butte
Looking ahead

Big Cinder Butte
That is a really, really strange landscape

Big Cinder Butte
The mars rover has to be around her somewhere

Big Cinder Butte
A strangely habitable "summit"

Big Cinder Butte
On top with Big Southern Butte in the background

Big Cinder Butte
Red lava fingers

Big Cinder Butte

Big Cinder Butte
Red rock I took a lichen to

Big Cinder Butte

Big Cinder Butte
Blue lava

Big Cinder Butte
Intestinal lava

There's more...
View Slideshow | View Photoset | Google Earth (kml)

Bogus Closing Day Festivities

I'm way late writing this up (and the next few posts). Here's some snapshots from our tailgate on the last day at Bogus, Sunday April 13th.

It was a perfect closing day. There was still enough snow to make tree skiing possible and by 10AM it was soft and turnable without too much slush spray. Perfect shorts-skiing in a cowboy hat weather. Combine tailgating, skiing and wacky costumes... what's not to love?

Bogus Closing Day
Getting breakfast started

Bogus Closing Day
A hot pink pussycat and her pimp daddy

Bogus Closing Day
Hansel and Gretel

Bogus Closing Day
My roomate finally made it skiing with me

Bogus Closing Day
Shel relaxing on the hill

Bogus Closing Day
A bumblebee and a pooch sharing a mud puddle

Bogus Closing Day
Happy braids

Bogus Closing Day
In Character(s)

Bogus Closing Day
Tim in Hawaiian Regalia

Bogus Closing Day
Winnie the Skier

Bogus Closing Day
My hat took a beating on the slopes when a snowboarder clocked me (you can barely make out the tear behind my ear)

There's more...
View Slideshow | View Photoset

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Boise Bike Week 2008

Boise Bike Week 2008
Photo over my shoulder on the tandem of the Bike Parade. My co-worker and fellow commute-by-bike enthusiast Wendy prominently placed on right

We missed the Sunday night activities, but we made it to both the Scavenger Hunt and the Bike Parade this year. The Scavenger Hunt was an absolute blast on the tandem. I was left to navigate and break traffic rules using my map geek radar to navigate from place to place while Shelly on the back of the tandem did her best to solve riddles, document our finds and point out near collisions all while remaining on board. Needless to say we do not have any photos. We finished well, in the top twenty I believe and we would have done far better if only we could have remembered that the Record Exchange was in the Hitchcock Building. This is a fact we can now not forget if we wanted (now what is the combination to my bike lock again?).

Boise Bike Week 2008
A gentleman and his little man festively enjoying the parade

Boise Bike Week 2008
The parade taking over a lane of traffic on 9th Street

We did get a few photos of the bike parade which keeps getting bigger and bigger each year. I hear a change of venue is necessary to accompany the growing tribe in 2009.

It was one of those weekends where way too much is going on it town, and you feel like you're on vacation in your own city with no time to see all the sites. The Green Expo was downtown and my friend Brian graduated from BSU and threw a fun party at his pad that evening. We were like kids at the fair running from one ride to another all weekend.

Boise Bike Week 2008
Expo-goers and their trusty steeds taking in the music and summer air

Thursday, May 01, 2008



Monday, April 21, 2008

Top Gear Polar Challenge

I just ran across an incredible, possibly incredibly stupid (at times) effort by Top Gear to be the first to take a street legal car to the North Pole. And they succeed.

Yet another testament to the durability of a (heavily modified) Toyota pickup.

Here's a few highlights from the saga:

You can watch all eight segments on YouTube or download the Torrent.

Friday, April 11, 2008

You Call That a Pansy?

You call that Pansy?
My father always said that the expression was incorrect. You shouldn't call someone a pansy. You should call them a petunia, because pansies are hardy.

Pictorial proof-positive of pansy vigor. In fact, this one over-wintered in Idaho.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Swing Season

Despite my last post concerning winter's grip on Idaho, these boaters we encountered on the trip home from Donnelly suggest otherwise. Swing season has begun, and in Idaho it doesn't involve the World Series and Monday Night Football overlapping.

No, in Idaho this lands you in the North Fork Payette with snow-covered banks. Class V water that was a solid earlier in the day. Perhaps boaters are just skiers following temperature and gravity.

Nork Fork Payette

North Fork Payette

North Fork Payette

North Fork Payette

North Fork Payette