2019 Summer Juggling Recap

If you're not following @wrenanddella over at instagram, what are you waiting for!?! In this new day and age of social this and insta that, Della and I finally got around to having a place to put pictures up on a slightly faster timeline than this blog. But since we all know how traditions die hard with me, I offer up some photos from our 2019 juggling summer season. Enjoy.





Tuesday November 19 2019File under: juggling, pics

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Cover Story of the Skagit Valley Herald

I've posted a number of times here on BdW about small town newspapers and the occasions I have appeared. I even have a series of posts called "Minor Media Mentions" where I capture for posterity the occasional photos or blurbs that make it to various print media outlets. This latest, however, doesn't feel like it quite fits the category "Minor". Recently, a profile story about me and my crossword endeavors was featured on the front page of the Skagit Valley Herald.

The SVH runs the Universal crossword, which, up until this past year, was a somewhat of a throw away puzzle constructed and edited by a persona non grata. Then editorship was taken over by David Steinberg, a great editor I've worked at the Orange Country Register and the Puzzle Society. This allowed for some of my puzzles to appear in the paper, which I thought was neat, something a small town paper might be inclined to point out—"Today's crossword is by area man" or whatever. So I pitched the idea when I had a puzzle coming out. To make a long story short, this article is what came of the pitch, notably not in conjunction with one of my puzzles. In fact, it doesn't even mention having a puzzle in the SVH, which was the pitch in the first place.

I can't deny that it is nice to have a feature story about me on the front page of my town's newspaper (albeit with a less than flattering photo). It feels like a neat nod to this thing I do. It would have been great if things could have come together to have the feature run with a puzzle, but I guess you can't have it all. If you want to try some of my puzzles, I've started a bit of a resume, as it were. Here's to hoping it keeps growing.
Monday September 23 2019File under: media, crossword

Toggle Comments (3)comment?
on Tue 24th Sep, 2019 08:07 pm EDT Chris said:
Congrats! Although I can't say I appreciate the cliffhanger - how did it all end on page A9?!?
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on Tue 24th Sep, 2019 08:10 pm EDT Chris...again said:
Ok, I'm an idiot, I JUST found the link the whole article you so blatantly provided :-( , I have shamed our honored brotherhood of SVH front pagers!
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on Wed 13th Nov, 2019 04:30 pm EST Horge said:
Nice work. One question, are you planning to post a copy of this Skagit article on your wall with the crosswords? That'd be pretty meta. Though I think you should also then post on your wall a copy of this Blog article talking about the Skagit article talking about your crosswords. Now that'd be some Inception-level meta-ness. (p.s. check your email dude)
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An Eating Contest Champion I Am Not

I feel like there's a saying that you should try everything once. Despite the obvious counter-examples*, it's an adage worth considering. With that (and a free meal) in mind, Della and I signed up for the XXXL Challenge at the casino.

The contest was to eat a Fatburger XXXL burger (3 1/2 lb patties with all the fixings) as fast as possible. The initial plan was to simply take our time and enjoy the free burger, but then our competitive sides kicked in. I finished last in my heat at 8 minutes 20 seconds (which, it turned out, was better than average). If there's anything that takes the fun out of eating, it's trying to cram it down my maw as fast as possible. But there is pride in accomplishment, and I did it. Della finished with the fastest female time at 12 minutes 55 seconds.

I now have no doubt that competitive eating is truly a skill, and a skill I don't have. But I'm okay with that. Does this mean that I won't sign up for another eating contest in my life? Probably not. I'm just too much of a sucker for free food. But if I do, I hope I remember the discomfort that comes with such an affront to nature.
Monday Aug 26 2019File under: misc

Toggle Comments (1)comment?
on Wed 13th Nov, 2019 04:33 pm EST Horge said:
I like the middle photo best with an expression seeming to say "if you don't get that camera out of my face, I'm going to projectile vomit all over it"
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Sleeping Around 2018-2019

The best way to sum up this year's Sleeping Around data, my annual dive into an attempt at comprehending my life through looking at where I lay my head, might be "as much as things change, they stay the same." Besides a few percentage points here and there, this year and last year look almost the same. But just because things look almost the same doesn't mean they don't warrant a closer look.

Housesitting is up; that's good. As our circus business grows, housesitting represents a less critical financial piece, but it is still a prominent part of our life that I would not like to see fade away. Travel is down; that's bad. Both overall and the two most interesting types of travel, international and domestic, are not nearly as high as I would like. After two years with no nights in a tent, we got 2, internationally no less. At Home percentage is spot on to the 10-year average, which I find oddly amusing.

Other interesting stats from the year:
# of housesitting houses134 new "clients"
# of states (other than WA)5OR, NY, CT, UT, NV (fewest ever?)
# of countries (other than US)1 :-(Mexico
Longest stretch at home7
Longest stretch away from home70Just sleeping away from home. I passed through much more frequently.
# in car22Hotel Toyota
# in hotel/hostel24For work and play

As always, I'm excited to see what the next year will hold. We've got a big international trip planned, some changes in the housesitting landscape, and as always, the possibility for the unseen. Life is fun. Looking at it through the lens of data is fun too!
Friday August 2 2019File under: stats

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I Wanted To Be a Millionaire

If you haven't seen the episode and don't want any spoilers, I suggest you skip to the end of this post and give it a watch before continuing. I can wait...

Nearly 4 years to the day after I taped my Wheel of Fortune episode, I found myself back in a TV studio, this time in Las Vegas, nervously waiting to appear on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.

The process with Millionaire wasn't too dissimilar to Wheel, if you replace face-to-face testing and auditions with Skype calls*. There were a few more logisitics around bringing your "plus 1" and my producer was a bit more specific about wardrobe*, but overall the process was something like:
apply online -> [get lucky to be picked to move on] -> take a test -> [be smart] -> have audition -> [get lucky your attempt at jokes go over well] -> wait hopefully (and a bit nervously) -> [receive "You're in!" letter] -> do a jig -> anxious wait to hear about taping date -> binge watch the show for studying purposes -> keep waiting* -> fly to Las Vegas to tape the episode -> exhale
It turned out to be 9 months between taping date and air date, a long wait while having to keep a secret. The episode turned out great. I feel I came across quite well on screen considering I didn't do as well as I wished I had. Sure it was hard to relive missteps like burning those two lifelines early on and not correcting Chris's pronunciation of Anacortes, but I didn't cringe as hard as I thought I might. In fact, for the better part of that 9 months, I was stressed about how it might all turn out, knowing what I knew about the outcome. But via a couple of awesome watch parties and the fun facebook group with some of my fellow almost-millionaires, I found much more joy in the outcome than I expected.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience. I got to meet some really great people, added another cool adventure to my life resume, and ended up with a little bit of change in my pocket*. While the result of this pass at TV game show-dom didn't quite support the this-is-a-big-part-of-my-how-I-make-my-living plan, I'm not going to let that stop me from continuing to try!






Oh, and if you never saw my Wheel episode, check it out here

Thursday May 2 2019File under: video, pictures

Toggle Comments (1)comment?
on Sun 19th May, 2019 01:25 pm EDT Horge said:
Cool! Though I wouldn't have managed any better if I'd been your phone-a-friend. I mean, I could've helped you out with other planetary questions maybe...
In any case, sounds like a harrowing 9 months' wait. I know a bit about that myself ;-) (=read your email!)
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The Real Food Show (with Minor Media Mentions)

Almost 5 years ago, I posted about a show Della was involved in that goes into elementary schools and teaches kids about healthy eating and lifestyle. As of about 2 years ago, I took over the roll of Frank* and have been busy performing in schools all over Western Washington.

The Real Food Show is a dynamic 35-minute performance that combines circus arts, food education, laughter, healthy lifestyle awareness, and fun. Della eats an apple while juggling. I ride a unicycle. Della dances* while standing on my shoulder. I balance a huge stack of protein blocks on my face. It's a really fun show.

The funding model so far has allowed schools to get the show for free through sponsorship by local area co-ops. Overall, the show has been in 75+ schools (40-ish under my tenure) and is universally well received. But we're looking to expand to communities that might not have co-ops. We're excited to be doing a PTA sponsored show soon and hope to find lots more ways to bring this important message delivered in a fun way to more students! If you have want the show to come to your kid's school or have an in anywhere that might want the show, please contact me.


A few of our recent shows have been covered in print, and as is my wont, I shall post the articles here for posterity. A big thanks to the Port Townsend Leader and the Skagit Food Co-op for the coverage, and as always, the Community Food Co-op for their initial and continued support of the show!



Friday April 19 2019File under: media, juggling

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Mexico 2019 Finance and Picture Recap

Our recent trip to Mexico was quite wonderful. It was relaxing, adventurous, warm(!), much-needed, and varied. It almost felt like 4 trips in 1: beach time with my dad in Zipolite, urban adventuring in Mexico city, lazy resort time in Puerto Vallarta, and off the beaten path time in Yelapa. And as is my wont, I wanted to summarize costs and post a few random pictures so that this fun adventure (and its details) won't be lost.

Finances
The total trip, including airfare, hotels, food, in-country transportation, lots of ice cream, and all entertainment came to $2360 which covers both me and Della. We were gone 15.5-ish days* That makes the per day per person cost to $76. With the amount that we did and saw, this is a number that we are both rather proud of. It's nice to know that travel doesn't have to be crazy expensive.

Flights$778YVR->HUX, HUX->MEX, MEX->PVR, PVR->SEA*
All-inclusive resort$8505 nights. This was a timeshare deal. Included in this money is supposedly a cruise and additional resort stay. I'm somewhat skeptical, but we'll see.
Everything else$732Food and hotels for the other 9 days, museum entrances, subways, etc.

We have a breakdown of every penny we spent (tracking that is kind of our hobby), but I won't subject you to that. But having this rough idea helps us contextualize the trip and plan for future trips! Next winter is going to be a big one!! :-)

Pictures
Click on each photo to read the caption for context.

Saturday April 6 2019File under: Mexico, pictures

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Losing a Phone In Puerto Vallarta

You know that sinking feeling when you reach for your phone in your pocket and it's not there? Imagine that feeling, but while being in a foreign country where you rely on said phone for not getting lost, figuring out what it is you're eating, and getting access to your plane tickets. Not to be overdramatic, but it can be a bit of a heart stopper. It was exactly this feeling I had yesterday as Della and I hustled off the crowded public bus in Puerto Vallarta on our way to see a two-bit (but still very enjoyable) Mexican circus*.

"Maybe I left it in the room..." [Nervous two hours of trying to ignore possibility of phone loss, search room top to bottom, ask hotel staff where bus lost and found is, enjoy staff's laughter at this concept, lose hope]

"Didn't I hear a podcast about an online way that can help you track where your phone is?" [Google "find my phone", log in, see blinking red dot a map nearby(!), hustle out on the street, get lost finding intersection, find intersection, don't find phone, return to hotel]

"Oh hey, the blinking dot moved!" [Internet sleuth everything possible about new blinking dot location, grow disheartened by very rural location, enlist friends' help to call phone, remotely lock down phone and prepare my goodbyes, search for phone replacement costs]

"The dot moved again!!" [Put on Sherlock hat, start spreadsheet of GPS coords with time of observation, frantically refresh website until bedtime, sleep fitfully]

"I think the phone is still on the bus!!" [Continue to track route, convert spreadsheet of GPS coords into map, develop a plan to find this bus out of the 100s of public Puerto Vallarta buses.]

"The buses seem to be laying over in this abandoned field. We should go there and search every bus we find!" [Jump through hoops to get internet on Della's phone, hop a bus that looks like it's going that direction, hop off bus once it diverts, see intermittently updated blinking dot pass us, furiously speculate, hop on new bus, bounce our way to the "station"]

"Yesterday he/she/it lose thing phone in bus please us look for"* [Start searching buses, try to connect via Della's phone to make it ring, no ringing, see dancing Della with phone in her hand, jump for joy, many self congratuations]

With a successful completion of the mission, we felt like badasses. From the get go, we felt like our chances were slim. But for a few pesos for bus fare and international data charges and a bit of ingenuity and persistance, we triumphed. In fact, it was a better adventure than the overpriced omni-present snorkeling excursions the resort keeps trying to pitch us. Adventure, badassery, frugality: that's the way we roll!
Thursday March 7 2019File under: travel, mexico

Toggle Comments (3)comment?
on Thu 07th Mar, 2019 01:34 am EST Mom said:
OMG I was on the edge of my seat until I realized that you must have found it or I wouldn’t be reading this tale. Whew!!
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on Sun 10th Mar, 2019 09:37 pm EDT rus said:
well ill be damned
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on Thu 14th Mar, 2019 05:14 pm EDT Horge said:
¿Donde está la tarta de hoy? Aunque estaís en vacaciones no sería un razon bastante fuerte para no hacer una empanada por el catorce de marzo... ¿Porque no estás/eres listo?
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An Age Milestone

Today, I am exactly half as old as my dad. Or, in other words, I am the age now that my dad was when I was born. This fun milestone was discovered as I was visiting him in Zipolite, Mexico. What an interesting perspective it can give about where I am in my life. But mostly, it was just a fun tidbit to toast over chiliquilis and fresh squeezed orange juice on the beach!

Della and I are on a bit of a Mexico adventure and Zipolite proved the perfect places to start it out: a mile long picturesque beach on which we found a circus hotel for next to nothing price-wise. We played in the surf, we juggled for locals while dad played accordion, and we ate really well for very cheap. As far as a place to relax a bit after a winter of back-to-back-to-back* housesitting and an intense run of Valentine's day circus shows, it can't be beat.

My dad and I have good travel history together. This trip is the third Mexico adventure together (San Cristobal 9 years ago, and San Miguelle de Allende 15 years ago (pre-BdW(!))). While "adventure" might apply less on this trip than it did to the others, easy time over crosswords and good food is an experience I can get behind just as much. I can only hope that when I'm his age, I'll be living as great a life!
Wednesday February 27 2019File under: travel, mexico

Toggle Comments (1)comment?
on Sat 02nd Mar, 2019 03:38 pm EST Andrew said:
A ese gato le encanta hacer malabares!
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2018 Year End Letter

I wish Della and I were on it enough to put out an end of the year letter to send to friends and family every year. We love it when we receive updates from others (even if we have gotten bits and pieces from social media.) We put one out back in 2013 and again in 2015. Well, we got it together enough to do it again for 2018! Most of the info is probably old news, but not everybody is so good about staying updated on BdW* as you! Anyway, I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday January 15 2019File under: misc

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Recent Comments:
*Horge on An Eating Contest Champion I Am Not
*Horge on Cover Story of the Skagit Valley Herald
*Chris...again on Cover Story of the Skagit Valley Herald
*Chris on Cover Story of the Skagit Valley Herald

Recent Content:
*2019 Summer Juggling Recap
*Cover Story of the Skagit Valley Herald
*An Eating Contest Champion I Am Not
*Sleeping Around 2018-2019
*I Wanted To Be a Millionaire
*The Real Food Show (with Minor Media Mentions)

Websites du Friends:
* Wren and Della
Della and my juggling website
* The Real Food Show
A circus-inspired elementary assembly show to teach kids about healthy eating
* Della Moustachella
Della's performance website
* The Fun Bags
Della and Sadye's Performance Troupe


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