Eastbound Train

Spring is in the air; trees blooming, baseballers spring training, me only needing 3 wool blankets on my bed in the garage, and, as is kind of becoming a pattern, me feeling the need to go out on an adventure. This itchiness for adventure that has been popping up in my life over the past couple years (and my increasing willingness to give in to it) interests me greatly. I could try to dissect it ("seeking answers to life's persistent questions"*, yada yada yada), but I'm hardly qualified.

This incarnation of adventure isn't going to be nearly as bold as some of the others–no circuses, scooters, or international travel, although anything could happen. Maybe even calling it an "adventure" is a stretch. Perhaps I should downgrade it grammatically to merely a "trip". Oh those pesky semantics.

Here's the plan so far: go east. My hopeful itinerary includes Chicago, Boston, NYC, Portland (Maine), Phillie, Baltimore, Ohio, North Carolina, and points in between. I leave on the first leg this afternoon: Seattle to Chicago by train. The ride is slated to take 48 hours and I've got my books, crosswords, and knitting all ready. I chose the train for a number of reasons; comfort, convenience*, purty views of North Dakota, and environmental concerns (more on that later, hopefully). Anyway, the hope is to see friends along the way so if you live in an aforementioned place and might have time for lunch, dinner, or an insider's tour of your town, drop me an e-mail and we'll work something out.
Tuesday March 18 2008File under: travel, USA

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Victoria Juggling Fest 2008

This past weekend, I made the trek from Anacortes up* to Victoria B.C. When I say "trek", I mean it. As is my wont, I decided to make the whole trip via public transportation: 6 buses, 2 ferries, and 10 hours*. It is good to know that it is doable, but I think next time, I'll look into carpooling.

Anyway, the festival was great. It was wonderful to see all my old juggling buddies again and throw things at their heads. The public show had some very creative acts and kept me quite entertained. The whole Canadian spin on things (metric system, funny money, accents, etc.) gave the weekend a more adventurous aura. Yep, good folks and good fun–I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend.

(The combination of my camera not taking good indoor pictures* and my laziness to attempt taking pictures led to only a few presentable shots of the festival: tall unicycle club passing and a gym of jugglers (taken at a non-optimum time because there were times when it was much hoppinger than this.))
Monday March 17 2008File under: juggling, transportation

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Amish Awesomeness

I would make an awesome Amish person...maybe I was this close to keeping this version of my I'm-gonna-shave-my-whole-beard-off-so-why-not-do-something-silly-in-the-meantime* beard. I think the Amish were really onto something with the whole mustache-less beard.

As for the other parts of being Amish, I figure I would fit right in. I don't really drive, so the lack of automotive technology wouldn't bother me. I can raise a barn like nobody's business*. Regarding the lack of electricity, it isn't like I use a fully electrified computeratrolatron for all aspects of my life. Oh wait. Maybe I will just go with the beard.

Since the Amish-style beard didn't turn out as silly as I had hoped, I had to go ahead and capture the neckbeard. Before you laugh*, please note that lots of famous people throughout history wore neck beards: Henry David Thoreau, William Tecumseh Sherman. While I may not be a fancy philosopher or Civil War enthusiast, I can at least kind of pull off the beard of one.
Sunday March 16 2008File under: beard

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FC 23 - Sideways

I had to outsource the artwork on this comic all the way across the border. Please don't tell the IRS. My gracious host, Gabriella, from Yelapa, Mexico drew this one. (And as [almost] always, it was colored by yours truly.)

Besides being a wunnerful comic artist*, Ms. Gabriella is also a wunnerful musician. Perhaps you recall how I recounted stories of some great evenings sitting around a campfire while she did her folksy music thing on stage. Well, I neglected to pass along the link then, so I will do just that now: check out her music over at MySpace. (Oh, and if anyone knows how to set it up so songs are downloadable through the myspace music player thing, pass that info along to me and I will pass it along to her and then I will download the music and then I will put it on my .mp3 player and then I will listen to it and then I will laugh at "I'll show you mine" and then the people on the bus will look at me funny for laughing when I'm not talking to anyone.*)

Anyhoo, enjoy the comic. Enjoy your Friday. Enjoy Pi Day!
Thursday March 13 2008File under: comic

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Happy Pi(e) Day!

Okay, so maybe Pi(e) Day isn't for another 2 days, but we all know what I save Friday posts for. And since today is Wednesday, unofficial crossword day, I thought I might as well go for it.

For some reason, this crossword* really took a long time and it didn't turn out awesome. It was my plan to submit this one for publication because I really like the theme, but a few of the answers weren't up to snuff*. That said, it still ain't bad so I encourage you to give it a try: Crossword - Happy Pie Day.

I also should thank Dan B. for saving me from using the answer "Radu II"*. His suggestion is quite a bit better, although still not NY Times material (which isn't his fault at all. How many things can you come up with that fit the form _ad_ _ i?)

As always, I would love your feedback (too hard, too easy, too many specific knowledge clues, etc.). Also, have a wonderful Pi Day on Friday. Bake a pie. Recite pi. Go to a Pi Sig frat party. (Oh, and for those of you who aren't following the whole Pi Day thing, check out last year's post on the subject for further enlightenment*)
Wednesday March 12 2008File under: misc, holidays

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The Speed of Technology

I just had a wacky little thought. Since it is shaping up to be a slow blog week (good stuff to come, but not until next week), I figured I'd share. The icon that most programs use for a shortcut for saving (pictured at left) struck me as outdated. When I started thinking about it, I realized that it is so outdated, that many computer users probably don't even know what it is a picture of. When was the last time you used a 3.5" floppy?

I can't really think of anything better to replace it—maybe a folder with an arrow going in to mimic the "open" shortcut icon. And I'm not trying to complain—afterall, I know what it means. I just thought it was kind of an interesting observation.
Tuesday March 11 2008File under: misc

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North Sound City to City Public Transportation Guide

It's been a year now that I've been without a car. And while Scoot Scoot gets me around, it isn't the most efficient thing for longer distance travel*, so I very often find myself on the bus. In fact, I'm getting to know the local area bus schedule pretty damn well–so well, in fact, that I often find myself acting as consultant to people who want to go from A to B under C circumstance.

Fancy schmany public transportation districts have websites with trip planners where you can get routes to and from anywhere in the system without having special knowledge of which routes run when, where, etc. This is what I've set out to recreate for the transportation districts in our area. You select where you want to start and where you want to go and presto, this website lays out what routes to take, as well as helpful tidbits about schedule, price, etc.

One thing that the site doesn't offer (yet) is a full timetable for each schedule. One reason is because to maintain a separate database for all these would be problematic. Whenever a company changed its schedule, things would be out of sync until I realized the problem. Another reason is because I am just one guy, and the prospect of doing a full blown trip planner (for free) was a little overwhelming.

But despite the lacking time element, my hope is that this tool will help those who want to make inroads into public transportation travel but don't know where to start. Spread the word about North Sound City to City Public Transportation Guide.
Sunday March 9 2008File under: transportation, coding

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FC 22 - Three Piece Suit

Ever since the days of Key Club conventions*, I've always had to chuckle at the term "business casual". That qualifies as an oxymoron, right? These days I don't find myself with the occasion to be invited to business casual events much anymore* Well, only after I contracted out this comic did I really realize that it is written without a slash in between, hence the last minute addition of the "typo" portion of the caption. I think it still works.

Thanks to Deanna for the lovely drawing, as always. (I tweaked the lips a little. Please don't disown me.)
Thursday March 6 2008File under: comic

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The Upside of Being Under the Weather

Ugh. I'm just recovering from a nasty bout with a devilish bug that had me laid up for the past couple days. Today is the first day since Saturday that I feel able to get up and move about in a semi-regular fashion, albeit with significantly less energy. I was fortunate that my particular strain was just achy muscles, headaches, fever, etc. and skipped over the whole yammying* aspect. On the whole, it wasn't a pleasant experience. All my time lying shivering in bed did allow me time to try to put a positive spin on things. Since I know a lot of others are going through a similar aguishness, I thought I might share my look-on-the-bright-side conclusions.

1. Lying in bed is a comfort activity that many of us don't get to do often enough. Sure the shakes are bad, but pulling the covers up to your chin in the middle of the day without the feeling of guilt that you should be doing something else is a bit of a perk.

2. A forceful respite from our sometimes hectic schedules can be a great opportunity to reflect on our lives from an outside perspective. When you're in too much pain to push a broom, write thank you cards, or paint the bathroom, you will find that you have some good old fashion think-time.

3. Being sick gives you an excuse to listen to your body with open ears (for those of us that don't find ourselves doing that enough on a regular basis.) If chicken noodle soup is the only thing that sounds good, eat it. If you wanna lie in bed ALL DAY and not move, do it*.

4. For those times just before the worst of things and right after when you are able to think clearly and move your appendages slightly, but not so much your whole body, there isn't a better time to negotiate working from home. Your work will like it because you won't infect the whole office. You will get to skip out on a commute (and probably a lot of office politicking). Everyone wins.

5. The line between being too weak/incoherent to do anything constructive and being too lazy is quite fine. Bask in that laziness, if just for an afternoon. You know you want to. Trooth* is, the longer you bask in the slow life of letting your body take care of itself as it was made to do, the quicker you will return to health.

Can you think of other upsides of being under the weather.
Tuesday March 4 2008File under: misc

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Olympic National Park

File under "Beauty within a half day's drive from home".

This past weekend, I went for a little jaunt out to Olympic National Park to visit a friend. (Ma was generous enough to leave me her car when she went out of town.) While ONP is beautiful anytime, it is even more beautiful in the rare chance there is sun. We totally lucked out with two days of semi-sun and only rain at the appropriate times when it helped set the mood.

In addition to enjoying Lake Crescent and tromping on the Olympic Discovery Adventure Trail, we headed out to Dungeness Spit in an [successful] attempt to follow the sun. Oh, and it should go without saying that geocaches were involved all around.

Overall, even though the seemingly ubiquitous sickness of late hindered out plans a little, it was a great chance to catch up with a friend, bask in nature's glory, and get away from the routine* of my life.
Sunday March 2 2008File under: travel

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