FC 25 - Unknown Caller

I love it. I love it. I love it. This has got to be one of my favorite comics of all times. The drawing is great, hopefully it will elicit a chuckle, and it provides valuable social commentary on the use of caller ID.

Credit for the awesome drawing goes to Deanna. I didn't have access to my regular painting program* so I had to use Adobe Photoshop*, which is why the coloring looks a little shabbier than normal. I'm almost tempted to go back and post the uncolored one because it is so great, but I'm also pretty lazy. I guess I'll have to save that one for the limited edition book–full of interviews with the artists, behind the scenes footage, and deleted comics–set to be released by Penguin Press in Spring 2009. Pre-order now!
Friday March 28 2008File under: comic

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300th Geocache!

It was a long time in the coming with a few clerical errors along the way, but I finally reached a geocaching milestone that I just had to share. I've found 300 geocaches! Okay, I've actually found prolly like 305 or something, but there are a few I haven't logged because I didn't happen to have a pencil with me when I found them. Here is cache number 300. Can you spot it? I was thwarted on my first attempt and had to go back. (And here is a shot I took looking for #299. Midwestern winter/post-winter "forests"* are pretty in the sunshine.)

Since I know the nerdiness of this accomplishment outshines other nerdiness contained on this blog, I'll try to make this short. I've been caching for just over 5 years. I've cached in 12 states* and 13 countries/territories*. While I'm not the 3 day hound that I used to be back in the early days of the "sport", I still find time to get out in the woods every now and again, esp. when traveling.

So I don't imagine #400 will happen any time soon (unless I happen to meet up with a voracious geocacher that impels me to tag along), but I don't doubt that it will eventually happen. And when it does, I'm sure you'll hear about it.
Thursday March 27 2008File under: geocaching

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Naperville Riverwalk

Every place has its thing, the park/mountain/bridge/building/museum/plaza/viewpoint/historic marker/etc.* that, when people come to visit the town, the residents all say "Have you seen ______?". (Many places, like Anacortes*, have multiple things.)

For Naperville, the 'burb of Chicago where I am currently hanging out, that ______ has got to be the Riverwalk*. I've mostly been exploring solo while my gracious host has been at work, so I don't have a guide to point this and that out, but the place is so cool, everywhere you turn is something neat. It is what you might expect from its name, a path along the river. At places, it is heavily landscaped with concrete and stone banks on the river, and gazebos, benches, parks, and more. Further along, it is a simple path that winds right along the banks of the river. Both parts are beautiful, tranquil, and oh so great.

This evening, in search of a geocache, I went all the way to the east end of the park (the river, of course, continues). I was so inspired by the magic of it all that I had to come back and post about it. Tomorrow, I plan to cruise all the way to the west end of the park. Yep, this Riverwalk is quite a thing!
Tuesday March 25 2008File under: travel, USA

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Giant Metallic Jelly Bean

(Since I kind of dropped the ball on the whole Easter thing this year*, I'm going to give this otherwise non-holiday post an pseudo-Easter theme.)

Yesterday I made my way into Chicago proper from my temporary base in the 'burbs. (The trip was made via commuter rail, which only served to increase my love of rail travel.) The goal of the jaunt was the Chicago Art Institute and all the culture it could spare. It oozed with culture in the form of Hopper, Van Gogh, [only one] Mondrian, etc. etc. Now that I've got my culture quota filled, I can go back to my routine of Simpsons and crosswords for at least a week.

As an added bonus, on the way back to Union Station, we side-tripped through Millenium Park. The prize discovered there was a gigantic metallic jelly bean. I have no idea how the Easter Bunny go that moved in. He must have had help from union labor. Anyway, the bean was fun to take pictures of. See? Me and bean; Sara, Me, and bean; disorder; and just the bean.
Monday March 24 2008File under: travel

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View From the Train

Being a coastal dweller, I sometimes finding myself dismissing that huge mass of land between the ocean as "flat and boring". Yet every time I am exposed to said countryside, I am always reminded that it has bushels of beauty. Traveling through the true countryside, away from interstates, truck stops, and billboards, I gained an even greater appreciation of this particular chunk of our fair country.

Cruising over the mountain pass in the Cascades was great. The pass over the Montanan Rockies was even better. We encountered a bit of a snow storm round about Glacier National Park*. I liked taking pictures of the snow. The rest of Montana impressed me as well, with its rolling hills and vast plains(/grazing land, I assume). I thoroughly enjoyed spending the evening knitting while watching the lazy scenery roll on by. Unfortunately, our passage through North Dakota was in the night, so I didn't see much. I'm told, however, that it is very similar to Eastern Montana.

Besides the great landscape, it was neat to see the little towns. I got to get off and walk around in a few. Others we saw fly by at 50 miles an hour. There was a certain charm to the towns that was noticeable even at 50 mph*. Most of these places aren't experiencing the population expansion like so much of the NW, so the stores along main street are the same ones that have been there for years. (Or perhaps I am assuming too much. A brief glimpse and a lot of time to ponder can lead a person to do that.*).

Anyway, I just wanted to add this outside-the-train evidence to my previous post regarding internal evidence of why train travel kicks ass. I'm just sorry I don't have more photographic evidence.
Saturday March 22 2008File under: travel, USA

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Empire Builder

I *heart* train travel.

Before, most of my railway experiences were either in places where train travel was the norm* (Asia and Europe) or only for short distances here in the U.S. (Seattle to Portland, Northeastern Corridor, etc.). I had heard mixed reviews of Amtrak's cross-country service so was a little anxious about the trip*. After the fact, thought, I am glad to say that Amtrak's cross-country service on the Empire Builder couldn't have impressed me more.

Without going too much into detail, let me just highlight what has turned me into such trainophile, at least regarding this trip. For one, I was blown away by how much leg room each seat has. We are talking quite a bit more than first class on an airplane. You can keep your luggage at your feet, if you so desire, and still have space to comfortably sprawl. The seats themselves are on the upside of comfortable. There are foot rests and leg rests that fold out from under the seat*. One could wish for the ability to recline slightly more* but was still more comfortable than a plane*. The convenience of the boarding (/layover) process is also worthy of note. You don't have to take off your shoes, check your luggage 3 times, or empty your bags of all liquid and gel substances. You show up and then you get on the train. And at the station stops, you could hop off, have a quick stroll to stretch your legs, snap a few pictures, then hop back on without anyone hassling you for a ticket or anything. Speaking of stretching your legs, while in transit, there is plenty of space to get up and walk around. Plus, there are destinations to walk to: the diner car*, the lounge car, and the observation car (which was really the hip place to be). Lastly, the views couldn't be beat. (More about that later*.)

Can you tell I enjoyed myself? While there were certain unpleasantnesses associated with passing 48 hours in a relatively enclosed space, I couldn't help constantly comparing the experience to that of the alternative. The train came out on top 9 out of 10 times. If I was to do it again, the only possible changes I would make would be 1) try to convince someone to ride with me (it's so much friendlier with two) or 2) look closer at the possibility of getting a sleeper car (in my initial investigations, I didn't pick up on the fact that meals are included in the price of your roomette.)

While I concede that the train isn't approriate for all situations*, I encourage people to not discount it when they are considering their next trip.
Friday March 21 2008File under: travel, USA

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FC 24 - Braille Style

This Friday's comic comes to you courtesy of Jenelement (a.k.a. jenelvis, jenelevator, jenelephant). Again, the treacherous canvas of MS Paint was braved to bring you these chortles, which only proves that with talent, creativity, and constant nagging from a friend, people can create good images with bad image editors.

As for the Fridayness of my Friday comics, I fully intend on keeping the little tradition going while I'm on the road, but I do request that you give me a little leeway regarding schedule. Computers have a way of making themselves scarce sometimes, and I can't do anything but patiently hunt them. I thank you in advance for your patience.


Friday March 21 2008File under: comic

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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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