Sunday, December 30, 2007

2008: Mind, Body, Spirit

Over the past few months, I've been trying to live a balanced life--focusing on my mind, body and spirit. It hasn't gone very well. I've pretty much just sat around playing on the computer.

Sitting around and playing on the computer is fun, but it usually doesn't benefit my mind, body or spirit. Sometimes it tests my mind and rejuvenates my spirit, but usually it just dulls my mind, weakens my body and crushes my spirit. Poker, WoW, and TF2 all come to mind. Reading people's blogs, writing my own blog, and discovering new, funny, amazing and uplifting videos on YouTube are some things I think are pluses in the "sitting in front of the computer" column.


My mind is going to be tested in 2008, I have no doubts about this one. My first class begins on January 2nd, and I'll be in school until winter break. In addition to school, I would really like to read and write more, but I know any reading parameters I try to set I won't be able to keep, so why bother. As for writing, I am going to try and get something up on my writing blog at least once a week. I might not write every post, but hopefully I will have 60 or so posts on Fun-With-Words by the end of 2008.


I'm a firm believer in the idea that you only get one body, so you might as well make the most of it. Looking at me, you'd never guess. I'm not going to get overweight anytime soon, but I don't like the feeling of being weak. Barely being able to do ten push-ups just doesn't make sense to me, it seems like I am wasting the best years of my body. I've let myself get plenty weak time and time again, then I go on a fitness kick until I get fitnessed out, and let myself get weak again. This time, my method to bodily improvement is to work up a sweat at least every other day. The two exceptions are when I'm sick or injured. Working up a sweat gives me an opportunity to do a wide variety of activities, so I shouldn't get bored, and I don't have an every day goal set, so I won't be drowning in my own sweat.


My bane. Not really, but my spirit comes from weird places, not religion. I think going on an overnight hike out in the Olympics or the Cascades recharges my spirit for months at a time. Going on a late-night motorcycle ride through the city recharges my spirit. Heck, even just riding a motorcycle invigorates me. Being in a classroom, whether a student or an observer (and most likely as a teacher as well), makes my spirit soar. Sitting at home, bundled in blankets and reading a good book also puts me in great spirits. Balance is the key to my spiritual well-being.

So there you have it.

2008: Hopefully more reading, more writing, more sweating and more balance.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Discovery: 2007, A Year in Review

There are plenty of different words I could use to describe my 2007, but I think the one that best sums it up is discovery. I lived in Nevada City, CA with Kristina in January and February. I lived in Zephyr Cove, NV from March to August, and worked part-time in South Lake Tahoe, CA. Then I moved back to my hometown, Seattle, WA, and coached for the first time as a JV tennis coach at my old high school, from September to late October. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up the "ski bum" lifestyle for much longer (even though I only skied twice), which was a big factor in my move back to Seattle.

My big goal going into 2007 was to give myself enough free time to ignite some spark under my feet, and figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Working and making a lot of money was at the bottom of my list this year, and I think by having a lot of time to myself this year, I was finally able to figure out what I want to do, instead of what I thought other people would like, or what would make other people happy.

I don't think I will do a great job of explaining all of the changes that have occurred in me over the past year, but I can safely say that I've changed quite a bit. It might not be noticeable, but I've realized a lot of things about myself, and I'm much more comfortable in my own skin now than I have ever been. I can look back on different periods of my life and laugh at how immature, shy, posh, angry, or just downright mean I was. I wouldn't do much differently, knowing what I knew at the time, but seeing the changes over the years and the growth as a person I've undergone has been a fun experience. In 2008, I hope to continue to grow, both as a maturing adult, a student, and a teacher.

2007 brought me many great memories, and I'll start from the beginning:

January-February 2007:

2007 started out with a bang. In fact, 2007 really started back in October of 2006 for me, because that is when Stacey and I broke up, and I started thinking about a possible move down to the Tahoe/Grass Valley area. Once Stacey and I parted ways after going out for about 2 1/2 years, I really wanted to live in Tahoe, but I just couldn't afford it. I checked Craigslist a few times and the cheapest deal I could find was $500 renting out a single room in a crappy house with complete strangers. Given that option or living in Seattle with friends and family close by, Seattle seemed like the best option.

I almost resigned to staying up in Seattle and possibly moving in with Marc and Sarah or Tyler and Renee, if they would have me. Kristina then suggested that I could stay with her in Nevada City for either an extended amount of time, or until I found a place in Tahoe, and at a much cheaper rent... score! Stacey and I drove down a couple days before New Years, a trip we had planned before we broke up, and we split on good terms, so it made sense to make the trip again--especially since I was driving down anyways.

During the entirety of January and February, I think I only posted four different times on my blog. During January I didn't have internet at Kristina's house, and during February I wasn't all that excited to blog. I was in an amazing place--a cabin out in the woods, with all the free time in the world. With Kristina, who is a gorgeous, intelligent, ultimate frisbee playing dream girl--in a house she owned and grew up in that has a broken solar panel roof, a solarium with a hot tub, and five acres for her dog and three cats to frolic in.

Nearly every day Kristina and I would take Raffle and Hope out for a walk. Some days it was just down to the ditch, other days we took a drive and walked one of the thousand trails with the dogs. One Sunday morning we woke up at 7am and jogged with the dogs down at "the ditch" in the 27 degree weather. THAT was an experience!

During the end of my two-month stay in Nevada City, we finally got a big snow storm. We spent an entire day shoveling out her 300-yard driveway, to try and get her Yaris up the hill for the following school week.

Nevada City was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I just couldn't see myself staying in Nevada City and finding anything worthwhile to do job-wise with my resume at the time. In mid-February, as my funds were starting to dwindle, I started another Craigslist search in the Tahoe area. The third ad I came across was two 20-year old ladies looking for a few more people to share a house with in Zephyr Cove. I got in contact with one of the girl's named Kristara, and told her I'd be in Tahoe that Tuesday.

DTran invited me to Squaw Valley that weekend for Google's annual ski trip. Google takes over the mountain during a Monday and Tuesday in February, and just goes nuts. Free hi-speed wireless that they set up in the hotel (In a room which usually runs $200/night). DTran and I played Vanguard from our Queen-sized beds, then hopped on the ski slopes, then partied it up at one of the Google Parties (which are pretty sweet).

The next day we went over to South Lake Tahoe to gamble it up, and meet Kristara. I was so timid that after playing phone tag with Kristara, I actually left a message saying, "Oh, if we don't meet up it is alright." I didn't really want to leave Nevada City, but the idea of living in Tahoe with two 20-year old ladies and having a crazy summer seemed too good to at least check out. Kristara called me back and said, "Are you sure you don't want to just meet up and check the place out?" I eventually buckled (as David and I were getting killed at the tables and needed a break).

We met up with Kristara in Zephyr Cove, a place I had actually been to a couple times before. Scott and Jess got married there, and although I wasn't present for the wedding, Stacey and I had visited a few times when we lived in Sacramento. The house I met Kristara at was amazing. I was expecting a run-of-the-mill condo or something, but this house was on its own private road, had a very unique feel to it, and was a five-minute walk from a sandy beach. I didn't even know Lake Tahoe had sandy beaches. I couldn't pass this up.

After checking out the cabin with Kristara, DTran and I decided to hit the poker tables once more, since the amazing cabin put me on a pretty big high. We made a bet to see who could make more money at the table that afternoon, and the loser had to pay for gas. David made $80 and I made $50. We were hitting hands and playing much better overall than in the morning.


Andrew was the only friend of mine (besides David, who lived in California already) that came and visited me while I was down in the Tahoe area. It worked out that he visited me my last few days in Nevada City, then helped me move to Zephyr Cove, Nevada. He got to witness the amazing house with the hot tub in the solarium, he got to experience plenty of snow at Squaw Valley and Kirkwood, and he got to party it up with my new house mates for a few nights. Those two ski trips ended up being my only ski days living in Tahoe. Somewhat a waste, but it was just a terrible ski season for Tahoe in general.

The day after Andrew left, I started my job search. I had actually interviewed already up in North Tahoe, but that was before my move and I wasn't entirely certain what my housing situation would be like. I went through a staffing agency in South Tahoe, and they found me a job at Tahoe Fracture by the end of the week. It was only a part-time job, but that left me a few options. I could just have the one part-time job and enjoy myself. I could get a night job working at a casino or elsewhere. Or I could try out the poker playing thing for real.

I entertained the idea of playing more live poker, but after checking out the scene, it didn't look like a great option. The city doubles or triples in size on the weekends, and I was usually playing then anyways. During the week, all of the sharks are just feeding on each other, which I wanted no part of. There were plenty of young guns with the idea in their head that they would ski during the day and play poker for a living at night. I wasn't that foolish.

I seriously considered getting another job, but then I crunched some numbers and found that since I was living so cheaply, I could come out of Tahoe just about break-even with the one part-time job. Most of the fun I had in Tahoe wasn't all that expensive. I did a lot of hiking and just having fun at home. Kristara, Jen and Gina were very good at making friends and having people over for drinking and beer pong, and they usually got the guys to buy the beer. I wasn't interested in trying to start up anything romantically with any of my house mates, so the parties were all fun and no awkwardness for me, which I'd suggest for anyone in the same situation.

During March and April, I made at least one trip down to Sacramento to visit old frisbee friends. Once I saw that it cost $50 in gas, I was very hesitant to make many more trips. I felt torn though, because I knew I would most likely being moving back to Seattle after Tahoe, and I didn't know how much longer I would be in the area. I wanted to get out and explore Tahoe, and go see my friends in Sacramento, but on my tight budget it just wasn't sitting well with me.


To solve my gas money issue, I decided to use some of my grandma's inheritance money on a 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 250R. I did my research, and looked on Craigslist, but the recent models were selling for $2,000 on Craigslist, whereas the brand new 2007 models from the dealer were only $3,000. The price has since gone up, and after doing some calculations, I figure that I will actually save money by buying the motorcycle. It gets 70MPG, as opposed to the 18MPG of my Exploder, and its resell value is through the roof.

In my personal favorite post of the year, which just so happened to be a "7 things" post, rolled into the declaration of my motorcycle purchase, I tell the story of my motorcycle purchase and the hysterics that follow. I didn't know what the hell I was doing, and it was awesome.


With June came the blogger Summer Classic in Vegas. Easily one of the top five highlights of my summer. The amazingly epic motorcycle ride for 400 miles from snow on the ground in Tahoe to 100 degree weather in Vegas. All in one day, while under the weather, and on a 250cc bike. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone I like, but I wouldn't give up the experience for anything in the world.

Meeting up with Brandon again was nice. He's a great guy, and he got to see a few familiar blogger brethren my first night in Vegas when we went out for some bowling action. Brandon played the role of high-roller and nice-guy well, buying us all a round--even though he didn't actually bowl.

I was under the impression the blogger tournament would be between $20-$50. Not something I'd pony up for every day, but not enough to make me sit out on a fun experience. It ended up being $85, but I was a few minutes late and didn't want to miss my chance, so I said goodbye to the $85... or so I thought! I ended up finishing 4th, and after some crafty final table deals where everyone at the final table got at least their buy-in back, I walked away with $225! Making that the second largest cash for me--ever!

I made my way back to Tahoe, and the rest of June sort of just flew on by. The weather started to warm up, the parties started occurring more frequently. I got out hiking and playing frisbee or basketball as often as I could with my new mode of transportation.

The last week of June, just before I left for Seattle, the Tahoe fire happened. I have a few pictures and videos up on my blog that I'll remember for a long time to come. A group of eight of us were up at Angora Lake, lounging, drinking, and thinking about swimming. The weather was crappy, and incredibly windy, so we decided to head back home. On our way down, we see a huge plume of smoke right in front of us, and we can see the smoke billowing upwards. People race past us up the hill to go find their loved ones, and we try to get out of the place as quickly as possible. The fire was heading North, and the only way out for us was on a skinny road along the ridge just north of the fire. We knew with the 30mph winds and the incline of the hill, we had minutes--not hours--to get out or be trapped.

We got out safe, as did everyone else, which I still find amazing. If we had been higher up on the mountain, or weren't as lucky as we were to already be leaving at the time the fire started up, I don't know what we would have done. The fire would have already been at the ridge, and I guess we would have had to just hope that the fire department would hold the ridge and let us by.

One of my co-workers lost her house, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as she was going through a messy divorce. Picture this: you're an operator for the Fracture Clinic, your ex-husband is a drunken douche-bag and calls every other day yelling into the phone, "Bitch! I hate you! Why do you have to..." blah, blah, blah. She had to answer the phone--it was her job--and she had no way of screening the calls, it was hell. On top of the verbal abuse, he was planning on selling the house and not giving her a dime. The fire engulfed the house, and have of the insurance check is hers to help take care of her two teenage boys.

I drove up to Reno under the thick blanket of smoke covering the sky from Tahoe to Reno. Only after taking off on the plane did we get out of the smoke from that and various other fires, it was insane. Originally, I had planned on riding the motorcycle up to Seattle for the last week of June, to show it off to my buddies and enjoy some time along the coast, but after my 400-mile trip to Vegas, the 2000-mile trip to Seattle and back seemed moronic. 250cc bikes just aren't meant for the long highway treks.

The 3rd annual Coast Trip was another big success, as was about my 7th or 8th Potlatch in a row. Potlatch was amazing this year, because the team I originally planned on playing with, had dissolved without my knowledge, and as I walked around the fields, I saw two friends who used to live in Sacramento and now live up in Nanaimo, Canada. Their team had a few injuries and they picked me up and let me play the rest of the tourney! The team consisted of a core of Nanaimo pickup players, a handful of Australians and a few scattered Northwesterners--it was an amazing team to be a part of, and just another reason why I love ultimate.

I made it back down to Tahoe for the 4th of July, and the 4th of July scene at Zephyr Beach is intense. The beach I walked down to at the end of March and took pictures of icicles on ropes just above the water--with not another person on the beach--was now completely and utterly packed. Standing room only. There must have been thousands of people on the beach. The majority were drunk by noon.

On July 7th, 2007, aka "777" DTran and friends came to visit for some poker action. We had a blast all weekend, we played poker on Saturday night (777), swam in the lake a few times, and tossed the frisbee and football for a good chunk of time. We even got in some drinking games. It was one of my favorite weekends all summer. The fact that I hit my first Royal Flush ever didn't hurt. Get this. My first Royal Flush comes in a casino, on 7/7/7, for a jackpot of $550. And the best part was that it was a suckout on the river. The other guy flopped a flush, I turned a broadway straight, and rivered the Kd for the Royal w/Cheese. Remarkably, one of DTran's friends hit a straight flush less than an hour later for $200 and change, also on 7/7/7--definitely the luckiest day of the millennium for me!

The rest of July was taken up by plenty of hiking and motorcycle riding, and there are plenty of pictures in the archives.


August marked the last few weeks of my stay in Tahoe. I enjoyed my time in Tahoe immensely, but I was also ready to get out and start on something more permanent than playing and enjoying myself. The two big things I looked forward to since my Seattle trip at the end of June and beginning of July was my week long hike with my Dad and the Conways, and the motorcycle ride up to Seattle. The fact that my Dad would be driving the Explorer and we'd be caravaning the entire way up to Seattle made the trip 100x more bearable. It was nice to be able to stop and not feel rushed, and my Dad was the perfect person to do the trip with.

The week-long hike is unforgettable. We camped at over 10,000ft elevation, and I swam at about 9,800ft elevation, in a lake coming straight out of a glacier. It was refreshing the first time, then Dad wanted a picture, so I jumped in again and it got cold in a hurry.

It was great to spend a week with my Dad and the Conways out in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. The views were amazing, and the weather was perfect. One think I got to experience for the first time, since most of my hikes are day-hikes, is that on the longer multi-day hikes, nearly every human encounter is meaningful, whether it be a good excuse for a pit-stop or a good way to find out about camping sites ahead on the trail.

A lot of the time hiking I was lost in my own thoughts. When I wasn't chatting with the Conways or Dad, I was often thinking of what my life will be like in the next year, two years, or five years. It kept me very entertained, because the options are nearly limitless. I've finally decided I want to teach, but where I want to teach and what grade (or what subject), I wasn't sure at the time. The big step into choosing a career comes easier for some than for others. For me, it has been one big merry-go-round. I'm thinking about jumping off and starting on the path to become a teacher, but I keep hesitating and holding on just in case it might not be the right thing for me. Since the trip, I've hopped off the merry-go-round, and I like the direction I'm heading--but I'm still not 100% sure it is the right path for me. I honestly think I'll love it, and enjoy it for years to come, but that little voice in the back of my head says, "What about your business degree? Why not get an MBA?" So far, I've been pretty good at convincing myself to stick with teaching, but when the going gets tough, I know it will only get more difficult to stick to the plan.

The end of August marked the long ride back to Seattle. Riding from Tahoe to Seattle on a 250cc just wasn't meant to be done. After my long ride to Vegas, I realized long trips weren't for me. Being hunched over on a bike for multiple days straight simply just isn't enjoyable. I'm only a foot from the highway, going 70mph, but there are still times where I get a bit tired. Not "falling asleep at the wheel" tired, but I just realize I'm not 100% focusing on riding, which is dangerous.

Many times on the trip home I'd pop up out of my hunch and just look around and try to take it all in. I don't envision myself ever riding a motorcycle from Tahoe to Seattle again, and definitely not through Eastern Oregon, so I tried to burn the images of long, stretched out plains and mountain ranges into my brain.

The second-most most awe-inspiring sight on the ride home was in the very northern section of Nevada. There is a road my Dad wanted to take, and he described it as "30 miles of absolute solitude." He was dead on. We made the turn onto the highway and there was a gradual descent, but the highway was perfectly straight, and you could see into the distance for what seemed like 20 miles--and not a single care in either direction. You can drive from Seattle to San Francisco and always be within sight of another vehicle. Twenty miles of no other vehicles was pretty cool. I gazed around, taking it all in, then zoomed by my Dad and got the bike up to 100mph, then decelerating back down in the oncoming lane and letting my Dad pass me. I was grinning the whole time, and when he passed me, he was too.

I found it funny that after two days on the road, passing through places I had never been and seeing many sights I had never experienced--the most amazing sight of the 1100-mile journey was our approach to the Cascade Mountains on I-90. I have made the drive a handful of times before, but almost always at night. In the daytime, the mountain wall is a sight to behold. Jagged and treacherous, the Cascades loom large. From Seattle, they don't look as intimidating as they do from the East. I just had to wonder what those initial explorers though when they saw the Cascades for the first time.

Once we got over the pass, the descent down from Snoqualmie Pass brought back memories of Ski-Attle, a middle-school ski program I did every Friday in January and February. We'd bus up to Snoqualmie after school and stay until 10pm. The night skiing was fun, and the social aspect even more fun, but I'll always remember the bus ride home. All of the kids, including myself, were just beat. A full day of school, followed by six hours of skiing--the entire bus was asleep. It was neat to look around and see everyone dozing away in dreamland. When we got back to Seattle, we'd all stumble out from the bus in a daze, and our parents would drive us home. It was one of the first "clubs" I was in that didn't involve parental supervision, and after lessons and dinner a coed group of us would ride a chair lift up the mountain, click off our skis and hike up into the woods and have snowball fights with people we had crushes on, but were way to shy to every admit.

And then you hit the bridges.

My favorite drive in Seattle is coming into the city across the 520 bridge. You can see downtown just above Capitol Hill. Husky Stadium is just north of the bridge on the west side, and Bill Gates' house is just south on the east side of the bridge. Way south, on a clear day, you can see Mt. Rainier looming large, guarding the Puget Sound. On a very clear day, you can see Mt. Baker way off in the distance to the North. They are the only two snow-capped mountains around in the summer. Both were out when Dad and I rode across the bridge that afternoon.


September started out with a flurry of activity for me. By luck, I was browsing the Seattle Public School's website and found that Roosevelt High, my old alma mater, was in need of a JV Tennis Coach for the Fall. I rode by the school and it turned out the old JV coach was now the Varsity Coach, and told me the job was mine if I wanted it. Never mind the fact that I had never coached before. Living in a place where I know people is foreign to me. The last three years in Sacramento, Portland and Tahoe I could guarantee that if I went out shopping or to a sporting event, I wouldn't recognize a soul, nor would anyone recognize me. My first week back in Seattle I had half a dozen such encounters--one netting me a part time job as Assistant Tennis Coach at my old high school.

Coaching was an absolute blast, and something I can see myself doing for a long time to come. The idea of teaching during the day and coaching a sport in the evening is very appealing to me. When I was growing up, I looked forward to sports like lots of people look forward to their birthdays, or the holidays. Knowing I had a tennis match in the afternoon was enough to keep me attentive in class during the day. I didn't look forward to math class, but once math class was over, I would be that much closer to the tennis match. Coaching kids who genuinely wanted to be there is one of the easiest, and most enjoyable things I have ever done. I can see how that might differ from teaching.

The end of September brought about the beginning of my 3-month courses at North Seattle Community College. I had a Geography course at 11am, followed by a Math class at 12pm everyday. The Geography course was the only one offered I was qualified to take, and I needed a Geography course to get into the UW-Bothell Teaching Certification program in the Spring. The math class at noon made sense, because I had to be there everyday anyways. It ended up fitting perfectly into my coaching schedule, it is just a pity I only made $1200 over those three months. It wouldn't have been doable if I wasn't living at home and living rent-free, which I feel somewhat guilty for, but at the same time I realize that in the short-term I am OK with it, and in the long-term it makes the most sense.

My life over the last few months has been pretty boring, really. I've had a couple of fun ultimate tournaments and met some fun ultimate people, but the majority of my time has been spent either going to class, coaching, or living extremely thriftily in my parent's basement.

It is going to be interesting how I remember this portion of my life in the future. In some ways, I can see it being a waste of time--I have friends the same age who are married and will have their first child next year--and here I am living in my parent's basement. Quite the contrast. In other ways, I really enjoy the decisions I've made. I've gotten out of Seattle and explored at least a little bit, which I can't say for some of my friends. I have plenty of time to find a better half and settle down, and I'm in no big rush. I always envisioned myself settling down when I am around 30, and it is still a definite possibility. If everything goes well, I'll have my Teaching Certification before my 27th birthday, and have a few more years in my twenties to sort out everything I need to before settling into a more routine lifestyle.

I don't really know if 2008 will be more or less memorable than 2007. It is a tall task. Living in Nevada City and Tahoe will be things I'll never forget. Buying a motorcycle when I had no clue how to ride one, then figuring things out as I went along will always be with me as well. I want to work hard in 2008 and progress along the teaching path, and while I'm working hard I know I'll have less opportunity to get out and do the fun things I did this year--but in the end I'll have a lot more to show for my accomplishments of 2008 than 2007. I didn't accomplish much this year, but I discovered a whole lot about myself. I am excited for 2008 and the challenges it will bring, and being excited about life brings me much more happiness than any alternative.

2007, you were great.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Xmas Rooooocks!!!

I'm hesitant to admit that Santa got me Guitar Hero 3 for Xmas, because I know I am still going to suck at the game. Then I'll go over to your house and you'll see me suck and be like, "Don't you OWN this game?"

So don't even.

But yes, I got the game... for PC, yes, for PC. It is the only way I can even try to keep up with Josh and his more fun and social Wii version.

I had a great Xmas with the fam. I seem to have misplaced my motorcycle keys, which sort of sucks, but other than that, the holiday was all good. My sister and I went down to Ravenna Tavern for the Xmas Eve for the second or third time in a row now. This time she actually recognized someone and we chatted for most of the evening. We were just planning on one pitcher of Mac & Jacks, but ended up with three. I won at Golden Tee for the first time ever against my sister, but I can't shake the feeling her complete lack of sobriety played a roll.

She literally stumbled home, and I decided to punish her for all of the torment she put me through growing up. I helped her along for most of the hike home, but I might have let her go a few times into the nice and wet grass, then accidentally stumbled "off the top rope!" and flying elbow dropped her... accidentally.

We're even now, sis! Retaliation is very immature, please don't.

Xmas for us is a pretty sickening site. Lots of presents and greed, but it is all good. Ichi got in on the action this year, with a spinnerroo toy and waterfall water thingie. His favorite present this year has to be the Guitar Hero 3 box. I almost feel like keeping it, just so he can lift it up and sneak inside for a nice hiding spot/bed. But the damn box takes up like a third of my room, so it has got to go!

We wrapped up Xmas festivities today with Andrew's mom and dad coming over for dinner and games. Gil and I beat mom and Karen at bridge, which is pretty awesome, because they've been playing in a bridge league together for 20 years and Gil and I never play. It was only 4 hands, but still! Afterwards, we played some Scategories and ended on some of "Dad's Scrabble."

In typical Dad fashion, he has changed the rules of a game to give himself a better shot at winning. He isn't great at coming up with long, archaic words to score big points, and he takes forever to try and think up words he doesn't know. So, instead of learning and bettering himself, he's changed the rules to speed and quickness! Lots of small words and a quicker game with less thinking--right up his alley! (just kidding!)

How you play:

Grab the bag of tiles and place them in the middle of a table, face down. You don't need the scrabble board, or even the scrabble tile holders for the game. Everyone grabs seven tiles and agree on a time to "GO!" Or you can we do like we did, and let Dad be the first one to flip over the tiles, then start flipping your own tiles.

So, you've got seven tiles, face up. Time to make them into words! It can be one 7-letter word, or two words connected somehow (or three, or four?). So if your first seven letters were "tanomeh" you could make "them" and from the m down make "moan." Once you've got all your letters into made, connected, real words, say "Take Two."

Everyone, including yourself, takes two tiles from the pile in the middle. The person who says "Take Two" has the advantage, because they only have to add the two tiles to their existing tiles and say, "Take Two" again to progress.

At any point in the game you can switch around your tiles, so if the tiles you pick up aren't fitting into your original set, completely reordering the tiles might be the best way to go.

The winner is the person who says, "Take Two" last, when there aren't enough tiles for everyone to pick up. We had a few games where one person said "Take Two" the most, but didn't win--as someone else drew letters to fit in better. We also didn't play for score, but however many tiles you have left over at the end are your score, and you're shooting for a low score.

So, with all that in mind, and my Dad having explained the game to us--stressing how this game was all about quickness and small words--the six of us decided to give it a shot.

I grab seven tiles, I might have even gotten off the first "Take Two" of the evening, but Mom went on a heater and although I was close behind, she said the final "Take Two" and won the first round. As we were looking over her tiles to make sure all of her words were real, she started cracking up.

"What?" we say.

She is laughing so hard she can't speak a word. We're all dumbfounded until she finally points at my Dad's tiles. Now, by the end of the game you have about 18 tiles if you play with six people. Dad and Mom are the only ones who have played the game before. With his 18 tiles, and a minute or two, he managed to come up with "FAST" and all the rest of his letters were scattered.

It was the funniest thing I've seen in months. The fact that he only got one, four-letter word is pretty funny (since he taught us the game), but "fast" just makes it infinitely more funny to me! He even had a U to go with his Q!

Dad's Scrabble

Ichi Toy

Ichi New Waterbowl

Ichi Guitar Hero

Ichi Gutiar Hero2

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

After a pretty lackluster few days at the end of last week, the weekend was a lot of fun. I went to the UW Men's Basketball game on Saturday and got to see a terrible fundamental display, but our team was raining 3's, so that is always fun. There was a Special Olympics game at half-time, and even one of those dudes made a shot from about 28ft out, and the place went berserk!

Speaking of berserk, a few friends (who may or may not remain nameless) and I got together on Sunday to watch the Seahawks game, play some ping pong, drink some beers, and play some Magic. The Seahawks game was pretty boring to watch, because we were up 27-0 at one point, I think. The ping pong was a lot of fun, and my winning streak is now at 4 games. Drinking beers is always good times. Oh, what was that last one again? Magic?

That's right! Magic! When we were in middle school, Magic was all the rage. We'd go to school, go play frisbee, then hang out at Marc's house playing Magic until dinnertime. Of course, as we grew older and more interested in girls, our Magic hobby took a backseat. But now that the guys are getting married and settling down (well, except for me), the Magic bug is biting! I dusted off my old cards and we played for a good 5 hours or so on Sunday, and I got whooped--just like the good ol' days. In one game I managed to kill both myself and Tyler, with a 10-point hurricane, because I would have lost on the next turn anyways. It was a moral victory.

After Magic, Tyler and I went out bowling, and I continued my losing ways there. I was up big in the 2nd and deciding game, then squandered my lead in the final frame. I lost the bet and either had to karaoke or do 20 push-ups. My arms hurt this morning.

Saturday night, Josh invited me down to the 2nd Annual Sarah and Sean Festivus Party, which was also a blast. Lots of good food and drink, and lots of fun frisbee people from Tacoma to hang out with and rock the guitar hero with.

In conclusion, I have more fun hanging out with friends and doing stuff, than sitting at home playing video games. But, I have been working on a big YEAR 2007 review post, which should be done by the time 2008 rolls around.

Have a good Holiday season!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Poker: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Vent

In 2003, I caught the poker bug just like millions of other people all around the globe. I'm not going to lie and say I've been playing No Limit since I was a fetus. I'm not going to pretend like I'm better than all the groupies who saw poker on TV and jumped on the bandwagon. I saw poker on TV, then jumped on the bandwagon.

Over the last four years, I've experienced the ups and downs associated with poker, and I've also gotten to see both amazingly beautiful things associated with the game, and of course the Dark Side. I've curbed my poker playing a ton over the last 12 months, and for multiple reasons. The main one is that I don't want to play professionally, so my poker hobby has fallen into the same category as softball, basketball and ultimate frisbee--hobbies I LOVE to play, but just don't play that often.

I had a talk with Princess Leia the other night for the first time in a while, and talking with her about her recent trip to Vegas and also the current drama in the poker blogging community made me interested in writing a post about the many facets of poker.


I love the game itself. Much like chess, poker is a game that you can learn in an hour, but takes a lifetime to master. Toss in bluffing, incomplete information, the ability to read "tells" and you've got yourself one fun game to play. Another great thing about poker is the people who play it. I'd argue that most of the people you meet playing live poker are just a lot of fun to be around. Whether it is the joker at the table telling crude jokes, the grandma who is on her last legs raking in your chips and having the time of her life, or the peer you exchange a wink with, which means, "we'll stay out of each other's way and take all their money."

And then of course there are the bloggers. I got to attend my first Summer Classic, and it was much more fun than I could have thought. I had a feeling people might not be as friendly as they were, but everyone was very outgoing and had a great time, whether we were bowling, playing cards, or drinking. One of the coolest interactions, however briefly, was Hoyazocoming up to me at the MGM Sports Bar and shaking my hand. I had read his blog, and many more have read his blog than mine, but I thought it a very classy thing of him to do. Whenever I saw Hoy that weekend, he seemed very relax, laid back, and in a good mood. This might have been due to his strong finish in the money at the 6-max WSOP event, but I respected both his game and him as a person, from what I had read through his blog. I met many other bloggers and got the same feeling from them, including Bayne, Poker Gnome, Columbo, Falstaff, Iron Girl, Astin, Brian, Pauly, Waffles, Miami Don, Spaceman's Wife, and a slew of other bloggers.

I also got to experience the ritzy side of poker this summer in Vegas, while staying with Brandon, ZeeJustin, MrSmokey1 and a few other young prodigy poker players. They rented a mansion, hired a 25-year old chef, and smoked blunts in the hot tub every night--all due to their success at poker. Just sitting in the same room as them, playing mario kart and discussing poker hands makes you a better player, without a deck of cards in the room. They were all amazing people too. Not a one of them made a snide remark or treated any other person in the house in bad taste.


Addictiveness of the game. Much like anything you fall into quickly, poker can make money vanish quicker than a kid spending money in an arcade. I played above my roll many times and experienced this the hard way more than once. The opposite of the elation and smugness you feel after a winning session, every losing session you end up asking yourself, "Is this worth it?" "Why play a game for money where luck is such a big factor?" "Am I a good or bad poker player?"

The next morning, those answers usually come, "Yes." "Those luckboxes will give me their money eventually." and "Yes, I am a good player." You might not be a good player and just have an over-inflated ego, but that doesn't really matter--as long as you can convince yourself to keep playing and having a good time while doing so.

The people. Whether it is the anonymous online-type who act like douches because of their anonymity, or it is a sexist, racist or homophobic player at the table who thinks he or she is the center of the universe. I haven't met too many female ass-hats in poker, but I know there are a few.

I've already mentioned some people in THE GOOD section, and almost all of them, including myself, have had lapses of judgment and made their way into THE BAD section at one time or another. Although ZeeJustin and MrSmokey1 were nice to me, I'm sure other people have very different opinions of them, because they were treated differently--much like I'm sure many people have different opinions of me for the way I've acted around them. I honestly try to give everyone a clean slate, but if I sit down at a table and one person is being a big D-bag, I'm not going to be remembered by him as a friend--I guarantee it.


Poker, like life, can be a downright bitch sometimes. Like a wave of bad fortune, or string of setbacks or death in the family, poker has a troublesome way of making the bad worse. Many people have been ruined by the game, by not being able to stop playing and walk away. It could be a table you KNOW you can beat, but Lady Luck rears her ugly backside to you, and your Aces go down in flames. The money on the table to be had increases, and stopping just seems moronic. Yet you continue to lose more and more, to the point you can't be sure if you're tilting. You are.

Poker has a very natural way of bringing in some of the ugliest and dastardly scum of society. The point of the game is to bluff, steal and use any means necessary to win money. Although this does attract people to the game who see it as just that: a game, these core values of the game attract those who lie, cheat and steal in life--not just on the felt.

At the Summer Classic, I believe Marc (was it?) got held up at gunpoint for the $2,000 in his wallet, while he was on his way to buy into the WSOP. You don't really think it could happen to you, but in the Sin City, anything is possible--and it is more likely the bad will happen than the good (and I'm an optimist).

Dealers have to put up with a lot of shit too. Whether it is the superstitious high roller (or low-roller) who scowls at the dealer with hatred after flipping over an unwanted card, or the drunk or elderly player bringing the speed of the game to a crawl. I once thought about becoming a dealer, and although the money would have been decent, and the occasional table memorable, the majority of the time would have been a nightmare.

ZeeJustin got caught using multiple accounts a few years back, and his reputation took a big dive. I can assure you that the only reason he used multiple accounts is that many other players were doing the same thing, and to have an even playing field (and an advantage over others), he chose to do the same.

The current blogger drama between Hoyazo, Chad and LJ is further proof that everyone has a bit of ugliness in them. Like I mentioned earlier, I've had much respect for Hoyazo at times since I first read his blog, but at other times I wonder why I even read his blog. I'm sure he could care less whether I read it or not.

The point I'm trying to make is that everyone has GOOD, BAD, and UGLY attributes. And to complicate matters, every individual determines their own set of G,B,U values and parameters. In a perfect world with gum-drops for rain and chocolate street posts, people would always do the good thing in everyone's eyes.

In our world, that isn't possible. Hoy has a blog, and he uses it to vent sometimes. Sometimes that is directed at individuals, and specifically at their play. He vents a lot more than I'm willing to read, and I usually skip his posts when the interesting (to me) section ends and the bitching and moaning begins. Is he a bad person for venting? No. Is he a bad person for calling LJ out on a play he thought terrible? No. Did his venting have any positive effect whatsoever? Nope!

Maybe to him, but then there really isn't any need to post it publicly, is there?

Did LJ responding have any positive effect? Nope! By responding, she only increased the drama. It doesn't matter if she thought she was wrongly accused, by defending herself and her play, and attacking Hoy and Chad, not a single positive thing occurred. Maybe she felt a little better after getting it off her chest, but then there really wouldn't be any need to make that post public, would there?

I don't mean to sound preachy, but if you are going to vent, please consider what you are going to accomplish by hitting the "Publish" button. Curse out people all you want, be homophobic, racist or sexist if that is who you are, but save the draft and just... walk away.

Labels: ,

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Or... a couple years late and lots of time wasted individually clicking on people's blogs instead of getting an RSS feed thingamajigger.

Finally set one up today, so expect less hits on your blogs while I read them all from the comfort of Google Reader. Which brings me to my next question... Google Reader, yay or nay? Is there something else out there better and easier to use?


Saturday, December 15, 2007

#250, Moto Map Update

I'm already up to post #250 on this blog. Two-fifty comes down to a post every other day since June 2006. I was looking through my August 07' archive today for a picture of my Dad on our week-long hike along the John Muir trail, when I realized again how neat it is to have an online journal. Pictures, videos, and most importantly: thoughts. I can instantly be put in my own little time capsule and relive a bad beat from a poker hand, or the feeling of adventure on a backyard hike into the wilderness with Ichi in the Tahoe National Forest.

While I reminisced, I realized I never got around to updating my motorcycle map!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The big addition was the Tahoe to Seattle trip I took with my Dad in August. I've made a trip both up to the cabin and down to Portland, and I'll likely make those trips again. One thing I notice while looking at this map is the absence of coast miles. I really wanted to hit highway 1 down in California near Santa Cruz, but never made it. This summer I plan to go on a number of hikes, bringing my camera along for the ride. I had fun doing it in Tahoe, and I know I can keep the tradition going in the Northwest like BrainMc alluded to in one of the old posts I reread today.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fantasy Football, 2007

The playoffs started last week for my fantasy football league. The league is comprised of some of my good friends here in Seattle, then another group of Scott, his wife, and his wife's mom and sister. The 12 of us got cut down to 8 for the playoffs, and I squeaked in at 7th. Tyler had the 8 seed.

For the first week of playoffs, Tyler was up against the 12-1 Tristan "Milraukee Cow Tippers" who dominated the league. Tristan had Romo, Moss, Adrian Peterson and a few other big-time fantasy studs this year. Tyler didn't change his squad the entire year, hell, he let auto-draft pick his team, and he still somehow managed to make the playoffs.

And he beat Tristan in the 1st round! What??? One of his guy's was out this week, and he still beat the number 1 team in our league. It helped that Adrian Peterson only had 3 yards rushing, but who would have thought? Of course, I picked Tyler to win the game, because I always root for the underdog!

Not to be out-done, I was down 35 points going into the Monday night game in my 7v2 game against Jeremy. But I wasn't scared, Drew Brees and Marques Colston put up huge numbers and carried me to victory!

This week, I have to dispatch the #3 ranked Scott, and Tyler needs to take care of #5 ranked Sam. If we both win, I win the last-longer bet made with Sam, Jeremy, Marc and myself--and win free dinner and booze! Gooo Tyler!


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Dangle Wrangle 2007

I got back from a Guitar Hero rockin' trip down to Tacoma this morning at about 1am. The drivers in Seattle are crazy around midnight. I got to drive the new Saab, and that thing has some getupandgo! I would be motoring along with the speed of traffic, assuming it was around 65-70, and I'd look down and be going 80.

The drive back from Tacoma was pretty funny. I'm not the craziest driver out there, but unless I'm distracted, I usually follow the "Nine you're fine, Ten you're mine" cop slogan when driving. I came across an unmarked cop car about five miles outside of Tacoma, and slowed down and trailed it from a ways back. Not a minute later, this car comes zooming up two lanes to the right of me, and passes a semi on the right side (semi was in 2nd lane, crazy driver passed in far right lane). The unmarked cop car swerves from the leftmost lane across three lanes of traffic and passes the semi on the right as well, then proceeds to ride the crazy driver's ass for a good quarter mile.

So I'm wondering if the cop just didn't get a gun on the driver, or if the unmarked cop car is even a cop at all. The car looks identical to a cop car, but it doesn't even have the little bulb of a side mirror that gives away all the other cop cars. I couldn't see a big antenna anywhere either. The crazy driver slowed WAY down after recognizing this "cop" swerved across three lanes of traffic and was riding his ass at 90+ mph.

I kept my distance for the 20 or so miles I trailed the "cop." What was funny is that at least six other cars came ZOOMING past me, and then would practically screech their brakes once they saw the "cop" car. The cop led our little pod of me and crazy drivers, all driving 65mph and exchanging glances at each other in between glances at our speedometers and the road.

If that dude actually wasn't a cop at all, that would be hilarious!

Today was also a bit crazy.

As much as I wish I could be in Vegas with the other bloggers, that just wasn't the smartest option for me. So instead of cooping myself inside all weekend, I headed down to Tacoma yesterday and played in the Sixth Annual Dangle Wrangle frisbee tournament. It is an all-men's hat tournament (which follows yesterday's all-female "Chick Flick"). I played in the tournament three or four years ago, and we had a very solid group of guys and won it. I wasn't planning on playing this year, but I haven't gotten out as much as I wanted to this last month--and wasn't going to Vegas--so I signed up earlier this week.

The best part about Dangle Wrangle is the mandatory spike rule. Spikes are usually considered bad spirit (think touchdown dance but with a little more taunting and less crowd play). For Dangle Wrangle, if you DON'T spike the disc, you don't get the point. The Tournament Director split us into 8 teams of action heroes, ranging from Clint Eastwood to Chuck Norris.

My team was Wesley Snipes. Boo-yah! Although not a very big action movie like Demolition Man, Blade, or Double Impact, my favorite Wesley Snipes quote has to be from "White Men Can't Jump." Woody Harrelson and Snipes are betting money on 3-pointers, and Woody needs to make the last one to tie Snipes. Snipes walks out in front of Harrelson and shakes his butt from side to side and says, "The wind moves the ball six to eight inches." Harrelson misses, and Snipes grabs the cash and scoots.

So yeah, I brought out that spike. Other favorites today were using the frisbee as Blade's sword, and slicing down everyone else on the team who became vampires after the score. A spin on that was that the vampires take Blade's sword, then promptly get their hand chopped off from the kick-ass fingerprint verification on the sword (best part in the movie!).

We played against the Jean Claude Van Damme team and brought out some obscure references, like "Sonic BOOM!" because Van Damme played Guile in the Street Fighter movie.

But my favorite... has to be... the cheer we did for the Steven Seagal team. One of the guys on my team knew the Family Guy episode where Seagal fights the baby seals, snapping many baby-seal necks in the process.

"You bastards come into our village, kill our fish, pollute our water... I'm going to send you back to hell where you came from!"

The worst part about today's frisbee tournament would have to be the fact that we were playing on a frozen tundra, and in the snow. I've never played frisbee in the snow, at least not organized frisbee. It was fucking cold! Ah! But that reminds me of my Beowulf cheer where after scoring, I took my four layers of shirts and sweatshirts off (which took longer than I anticipated), and screamed:

"I... AM... BEOWULF!!!"

Then I played a couple points with no shirt on, in the snow, to prove my manliness... like I know my good friend Beowulf would have done.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Vegas Request

To the poker bloggers in Seattle going to Vegas this weekend. Can I ask one of you to do a favor for me? I have a copy of a book that I would like to get signed by Iggy. It would mean a lot to me, and it would make for quite an interesting way to introduce yourself to The Blogfather.

When I introduced myself to Waffles for the first time this summer, I wanted to do it with style. We were at the Orleans, playing in the Blogger tourney. After reading his (possibly fabricated) stories of being an arsonist growing up, I thought it appropriate to buy him a flaming shot. Unfortunately, the Orleans doesn't do flaming shots at their bar. Well, at least the idea was there. We ended up being the last two guys remaining in the tourney (he got knocked out 4th, me 3rd, Grubbette 2nd and Mrs. Spaceman took it down).

Anyone interested? I can come deliver the book to you before you head to Vegas.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Ichi vs Snow, Round 3

Ichi didn't have any experience with snow growing up in Sacramento, so his first encounter with the white stuff came two years ago in Portland. Like most cats in snow for the first time, he tried to simultaneously swipe at and dodge the falling snowflakes. A cat in the snow for the first time is a favorite of mine, up there with dangling a piece of string off the edge of a couch and having kittens hurl themselves at it, and the always popular: feeding peanut butter to dogs.

Ichi got much more experience with snow in both Nevada City and Tahoe. He learned to not like snow very much. Smart cat. Whether or not he knows snow is a frozen form of his arch nemesis: water, I cannot say for sure. Today, when the blizzard dumped two inches of snow on Seattle, Ichi stayed inside.

Snow isn't the most amazing thing in the world, but when it falls in Seattle, it is a pretty big deal. Some years we don't get any snow in the city, and every so often we get a big dump. Today's two inches is by no means a big dump, but when the snow starts sticking, I've gotta reach for my camera. I stuck the photos up on Flickr. There are many more pictures of Ichi than the snow, because I had already been taking some photos of him the past few days. Tessa also got in on the snow picturing and stuck a few Maxwell Smart Wagner photos in for good measure.

A game to go along with a few pictures. See if you can match the caption with the photograph.

1) I hate you. I hate snow. I hate the flash on your camera. And once this plant grows leaves I am going to eat them.

2) Cocky high-school Ichi pose, looking slightly to the right of the camera.

3) Chris, buddy... my friend the laptop here told me, to tell you, that you play entirely too much World of Warcraft.

4) How much is that kitty in the window? (Free!)

Labels: , ,