Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Curse


Saturday, August 30, 2008


Football is awesome. I forgot again how much fun football season is, and everything that goes into a season. I'm in three fantasy football leagues this year, one which drafted last Thursday. I got the first pick for the first time since Peyton Manning carried me into the playoffs single-handedly (must have been his record-breaking year in... 2005? 2006?). This year I grabbed LT. The only other real option for me was Tom Brady, but I think he'll take a shot or two and go down sometime this year. I grabbed Brady's backup just in case my hunch plays out. I also picked Ricky Williams before it was known whether he'd be the starter in Miami--that hunch played out swimmingly. My other two fantasy football leagues draft this coming week.

Another reason football is awesome is playing football video games. I've been playing since NFL Gameday 97 with my good friend Marc, and we play a co-op franchise each year. Today Marc finally crumbled and bought his first Madden game. He's been a big boo-bird of EA Sports and the Madden franchise for buying the exlusive NFL rights a few years back, thus monopolizing the NFL video game industry. We've been playing NFL2K5 for the past four years and he needed to upgrade, so we went down to the store and bought a used copy of last year's Madden 08 because the Wii version of Madden 09 apparently doesn't have create-a-player.

Creating players is vital to our franchise's success, especially when my perennial all-pro linebacker, Brick Wall, steps onto the field. Marc made a 6'6" 190lbs side-arm throwing left-handed quarterback to go along with my speedy running back, Nacho Cheese, and my wide receiver Sytbythe Pool. The first two games we dusted off some rust, and to spice things up we added in a push-up bet on defense because he also made a linebacker. Two points for a forced fumble, fumble recovery, interception and defensive touchdown; one point per tackle--loser each game has to do 10 push-ups. We split the first two games, but the third game Brick Wall went crazy. 7 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, and 2 defensive touchdowns!

I am also a big fan of college football. I just can't stand the blowouts and the poor sportsmanship. 66-0, 55-2, 45-0. How could those games be any fun to watch? Unfortunately for Washington State, we watched both UW and WSU get crushed today. I feel like this year will be another year of UW playing close games until the 4th quarter and just getting shalacked in that final quarter. Jake Locker is an amazing quarterback, but our wide receivers must have dropped a dozen passes and our offensive line couldn't handle Oregon's defensive scheme. I've learned to channel my irritation from college football into bone-crushing tackles delivered by the Brick Wall. It is a good therapy. It also reminds me of Terry Tate:

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Student Teaching: Prep Week

I spent three days this week with my mentor teacher, mostly in meetings, prepping for the first week of school beginning next Wednesday. The 4th grade class is going to be a lot of fun, and I will be tossed into a situation that will be foreign yet familiar at the same time.

Some highlights from the prep week:

--Getting to play tennis with my mentor teacher after school on Thursday. Playing tennis with him after school and having an environment outside of school to discuss things is going to be great.

--The nurse giving a demonstration about Epi-pens for children who have seizures. She described how in her demonstration the day prior she accidentally used a loaded Epi-pen instead of the training one. She didn't even notice the needle jabbing into her thigh until a minute later when a teacher asked why she was bleeding... the nurse described the feeling as a jolt of energy, nothing too crazy.

--Six of the teachers, representing each grade level, went to a teaching conference in Napa Valley over the summer and they have been instructing the rest of the teachers on morning meetings with the students. Morning meeting is a meet and greet that attempts to get all of the students active and involved in the class. There is sharing, games and a few other things to get kids engaged first thing in the morning. The lessons are fun and a good idea, add in the fact that I might get paid to go on trips to Napa Valley in the future--suh-weet!

--Receiving a warm welcome from every staff member at the school. I really feel like the school will be a great fit for me, and I think I'll also be a great fit for the school.


Monday, August 25, 2008


Everyone has their ups and downs and everyone has something that gives them inspiration. For some people it is a nice road trip to Montana to kick back on a dude ranch and ride horses. For others it is a late night trip to a favorite coffee shop with hopes the cute barista will come, sit down and discuss the book you're reading. Lucky people have healthy babies and children who inspire them every day. And I have a crush.

It has been a long time since I've had a crush.

My life used to be consumed with thoughts of the pretty girl in my second period language arts class, or the Pi Phi I would always catch eyes with down at the SUB. I listened to a lot of Dave Matthews Band in high school and college, and "Crash" "Crush" and plenty of their songs deal with love and lust. I've started listening to DMB again, especially the Live at Radio City DVD he did with Tim Reynolds that I grabbed off Youtube a few months back (which after a brief search is apparently not up anymore). I remember falling asleep listening to DMB and thinking of ways to approach the object of my affection that would not be awkward (which never turned out great, but always seemed very practical while half asleep and listening to DMB).

Now that I'm older and wiser, I know that it is better to regret something you do, than something you don't do. Especially when you've got the house and hot tub to yourself for a week. *Crosses fingers*

The new crush is a nice spark, and combined with the start of school next week, I have lots of excitement for life right now. Some of the excitement comes from fear, and tomorrow will be my first day in the elementary school helping set up the class for next week. I'm not exactly sure what I'll be doing, but I am sure there is plenty of work to be done--if not for my mentor teacher, then for another.


Sunday, August 24, 2008


Sunday evening when I amble around the house wishing I had a cane or a walker is usually the sign of a good weekend, and tonight was no exception. I did not play all that many points of ultimate at Spawnfest, but what I lacked on the field I made up for in beer consumed Saturday night. I drank the lion's share of our team's stash, which resulted in a (amazingly unexpected) hangover. The hangover crippled my play on Sunday.

I noticed, much like Potlatch this year, that my fun did not come from playing ultimate, it came from the people I play ultimate with. I had a great time seeing both familiar and new faces. Rob and Fionna, our pickup couple from the Ireland world's team were great frisbee players and a shot of fresh blood and perspective into the Tacoma team. Hanging out with Josh is always fun, and I won't soon forget his gold medal victory at 2am "testicle toss" over ZE GERMANS!! Kali, the Goddess of Death, who also played on my beach ultimate team a month ago, was fun to play with again--we share a love of playing handlers in zone-offense (thus not having to run).


Friday, August 22, 2008

Greatest Comeback in Prop-betting History

Astin... Astin! Don't mess with me, man! You know I'm the king of prop betting, so don't bring that trash in my HOUSE!

Here's the scene:

I'm watching the final table of Kat's Friday Night Donkament, while hitting and running at $0.25/$0.50 limit O-8 (the real men's game) and yes, polishing off a few cold ones in the process. The money and beer are flowing in like Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls, which is conveniently located near my evil twin Astin, who plays the role of villain this evening.

Now, I'm a nice guy most of the time. Instead of betting on the lock, I'll usually send some love to my friends at the table, which is why I picked BrainMc to finish first, Astin to place and Pokerwoolf to show at the final table (and my bff JGoat to bubble). Astin does us both a disservice by bombing out in 8th, ungrateful, spiteful--call it what you want to. He sticks around and proceeds to ACCEPT a new prop-bet where I've got my two remaining horses (BrainMc and JGoat) against the field to take this whole tourney down. Astin accepts, and the stakes are now at bankroll-busting level.

I'm feeling good, as Brian has a nice chip lead... then the wheels come undone. JGoat crashes and burns out in 5th when his QQ loses to biddle's tourist (rigged!). Then Brian's lead gets stolen from right under his nose on two horrific beats, sending him to the rail in 3rd. I am shocked. Brian is shocked. The world is shocked.

Astin is chuckling to himself while drinking his herbal green papaya mango martini. I've got neither of my horses left, and his "field" is a lock to place first. A sane person might give up here, shut down Full Tilt and start packing for a life in hiding (or pay the bet)--but I'm no sane person. I did not lose the bet.

How could I possibly not have lost the bet, you ask? Well Timmy, that is a darn good question. Like Batman locking himself in a freezer to escape the Riddler's death trap bomb in Batman and Robin the Animated series episode #26--I pulled a rabbit out of my hat. If you pay close attention to the bet, we bet on who would win the tournament. My only hope was, as Astin described, "an act of God to stop the tournament." But his quip was his undoing! God did not have to stop the tourney, all I had to do was make sure there was not a winner.

CHOP!!! Yes, as an observer I brokered an even chop between bdidde and OhCaptain. They both agreed, and since 1st place was chopped, nobody placed first, and I did not lose the bet!!! YESSSSSS!!!

Now I can go gamble the rest of my bankroll on Skidoo's fantasy football league. Degeneracy never felt so good!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

How I Want to Teach

dy/av : 002 : the next-gen lecturer from Dan Meyer on Vimeo.

OK, so this Dan Meyer is a bit of a dork. I think he may even be dorkier than yours truly, but I sure would like to incorporate some of this into my classroom. I am a big fan of getting away from the text book. At 1:11 in the video he includes a snippet from one of his classroom discussions. Now, I'm sure there are text books that do a great job of describing this principle, but the way Dan teaches it--especially letting the students come up with the next question--seems like such a better way to approach learning than through a text book.

Dan also touches on how he liked to "wing it" as a teacher in his first few years, until he realized it just did not work out the way he expected it to--especially in math. I have not been too stressed about becoming a teacher because I think I can do a pretty good job of "winging it." I'm sure the unplanned will occur, but after watching this video I think "winging it" should be reserved for dire situations instead of having it be the norm.

I don't think I will carry around a camera with me everywhere I go, but I like how Dan includes relevant media ("How I Met Your Mother" is brilliant for the 6-12 grade range) to help support math concepts he is currently teaching in class. I would like to do the same in my class, and use my technological side to support my teaching of material. This video almost makes it seem like Dan relies too much on his digital projector. Instead of creating all of the video clips myself, I hope I will be able to find video clips online that help get my students interested--then I would help my students create the tough questions from those video clips.


The End of Summer

The past few days have mushed into one another for me. The end of summer is never fun, especially when the last few days of your summer vacation are spent inside watching the rain outside. I've been staying up into the wee hours of the morning and sleeping until noon because there is simply no reason for me to be awake before noon. Last night I hopped into bed early at 11pm, in an attempt to wake up early and be productive today. It didn't work. I slept until 11am on my last day of summer vacation. That is a bit depressing.

After thinking about the time I've wasted over the past few days, I think I'm OK with it. I'm well rested for the classes and observation to come, and if you ask me two months from now what I'll be doing on Sunday morning, the answer will probably be sleeping in!

My favorite part about the end of summer is the freshness and renewal that comes with Autumn. In Seattle, we don't have the flaky leaves to rake into a pile and jump into--our leaves are soggy. But we do have the color changes and the great Autumn wind storms. For me, the biggest change will obviously be getting back into school both as a student and as a teacher. I've never experienced school as a teacher, and I can't wait.

I have been toying around with the idea of starting a new student teaching blog, to record my trials and tribulations of my student teaching experience over the next nine months. I started an anonymous teaching blog already, but since it is tied to another email address and a different profile I am much less likely to keep up with it. This blog is anonymous enough, and after thinking about the new blog for a while, I decided I will just stay with this blog and start to include more posts about my student teaching experiences.

This blog goes back to April of 2003, back when I was in college and playing intramural sports eight nights a week. The blog evolved into nearly a full time poker blog in 2005, and since then it has slowly come back to its roots as a life journal. I think the blog has done a good job of recording different stages of my life over the past five years. I am thankful for the poker playing bloggers I have met through the blogosphere, and I hope to meet and enjoy the company of teachers as the blog continues to evolve. At some point I may start a blog fully devoted to teaching, but after thinking about it today, I doubt that will happen for some time.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Skiing in August?

Not quite, but it looks like I'll be getting my first ever season's pass this year to Stevens Pass. I have a few friends who had seasons passes last year and loved it. This winter will likely be the last winter I'll be a full time student, so I'm going to get the sweet $299 student pass. We'll probably have Fridays off in the cohort later in the Fall, so I'll have three days every week to ski.

Whenever I think of skiing in the summer I always think back to my days in Ski-attle, a Seattle-area ski program for middle schoolers. We would go up to Snoqualmie after school on Friday and get back into town around 10:30-11:00pm. Us kids were usually sleeping on the bus ride back and we'd stumble out from the bus and into our parent's vehicles. It would usually be raining when we got back into Seattle, but the rain would feel warm compared to the sub-freezing temperatures in the mountains... much like the summer rain we are having today.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Summer Break - Week 2

Week two of summer break I ventured off to three different lakes. The first lake, and the most familiar of the three to me, Lake Tapps, I already wrote about for Jimmy's bachelor party. The second lake, Lake Cavanaugh, I was invited over for a Saturday night get together to christen Renee's Dad's new lake house. The third lake, Beaver Lake, is located over on the Olympic Peninsula, and is the only of the three lakes I did not jump into, as the weather cooled off on Sunday.

Friday and Saturday were the hottest days of the year in Seattle, and I got to spend Friday in a pool and Saturday at a lake. Friday I spent with my friend Joe and his wife Kristen and their 1-yr old baby Jane. Jane is much more of a climber than she is a swimmer--as soon as her little feet hit the water she would start climbing whoever dare lower her into the water. Saturday I made the motorcycle ride up to Lake Cavanaugh around noon. The road was perfect--zig zags and two-lane highway once I got off I-5. Tyler, Renee and a few other friends I hadn't seen in a while were already at the house, and when I arrived we all walked down to the lake with a cooler of beer and two inflatable Mylee Cyrus dolls rafts.

We spent the majority of our time swimming in the lake and playing ping pong. Willy, Tyler, Mike and I must have played fifty games of ping pong on Saturday, it was a bit overwhelming. We were all so evenly matched that it made for very tight games--the tightest being a 28-26 victory by Mike and I over Willy and Tyler. That brought our mini series to a 2-2 tie, and Mike and I won the fifth.

Sunday involved a lot of motorcycle riding. I left Lake Cavanaugh at 10am and rode back to Seattle. I grabbed some lunch and some warmer clothes then made my way to the Edmonds-Kingston ferry. Riding motorcycles on the ferry is a great deal because not only is the fare cheaper, I also get to skip the two-hour line of cars and head straight to the front of the line! I rode west on 104, which takes you past a really neat little town called Port Gamble. There was a wedding going on at the church when I drove by, and it looked almost too good to be true. Highway 104 keeps going and it takes you along the Hood Canal floating bridge. Nothing too special about the bridge itself, but the view was holy. Rays of sunlight were shining down through the clouds from the southwest and directly to the west were the snow-capped and foreboding Olympic mountains. I felt like Frodo leaving the shire. For reals. Unfortunately, no stops on the bridge, so no photo from Frodo.

Highway 104 eventually meets up with 101, which took me past Sequim and Port Angeles, over to the bustling town of Beaver, WA (just outside of Forks). The ride on 101 along the south edge of Lake Crescent might be my new favorite stretch of highway. Ten miles of 30mph curves along a beautiful lake is motorcycle riding at its very best. It reminded me a lot of Tahoe.

I met one of my closest college friends in Beaver, Jenna. She is living with her boyfriend and his family on their property which covers a good five acres on Beaver Lake. Apparently Andy's grandfather used to work at the lumber mill and the mill's owner gave the land to his grandfather for a ridiculously cheap $9,000 in the 70s. The place is great, and when I arrived the whole family was outside playing volleyball in the backyard, celebrating Andy's dad's birthday. Jenna and I tossed the disc, then we all went inside for some delicious blackberry pie.

I'm not very familiar with living the rural life or having a big family, but they made me feel right at home. The most amazing part of the family get-together had to be Andy's aunt Cathy. She will be 58 in November and she has Down's Syndrome. The average life expectancy for people with Down's Syndrome is in the 30s. Cathy looked great, and she was my partner for a game of marbles after we all finished our pie, and we wiped the floor with Jenna and Andy (ok, we beat them by a single point). Cathy's situation seems to be perfect--she works at the grocery store less than a mile away, she has nearly her entire family living close by to help and support her, and the entire town embraces her whenever they go to the grocery store or come by the house to visit--no wonder she's lived so long.

Jenna decided to get a bit frisky and challenged Andy and I to a 2v1 match of horseshoes, and she got her ass handed to her. Well, OK, we only won by one, but if not for a lucky ringer by her late in the game, the score would not have been close. After horse shoes, Andy taught me a new game called "The Beaver Lake Game." You take two rocks, throw one up in the air over the lake, then try to hit the first airborne rock with the second. It is nearly impossible, and an impressively fun way to spend time by the lake, especially while looking for good skipping stones.

We decided to retire back to Andy's house and play some cards before calling it a night. I was gathering up my stuff from the grandparent's house when I realized I was missing my keys. Checked my pockets and my bag--nothing. Checked around the bike, inside the house where I set my stuff, then out on the lawn where I first greeted everyone--nothing. Jenna offered to help me search, which I took as a sign that she had probably pilfered the keys and wanted to poke fun at me, but that didn't turn out to be the case (after much prodding on my part). We looked for a good hour with no luck, so we headed to Andy's and had a fun project to look forward to in the morning... the three of us played some cards for an hour then hit the hay.

I woke up around 9am with a guard dog at my feet. Brock is part husky and part wolf, and had been rightly accused of mauling two kittens at a neighbor's house the evening I arrived. But does Brock really look like a killer?

2008-08-18- Lake Cavanaugh and Beaver 043

Stone cold, baby.

Andy was long gone for work, so Jenna and I had some breakfast and played cards before our second attempt at finding my keys. Lucky for us, the 30% chance of rain was not happening just yet, and within 30 minutes I miraculously spotted the keys in the grass right by where Jenna and I had tossed the frisbee the day before--which is a place we had combed over multiple times, but just didn't have the right angle to spot them. Huge sigh of relief on my part, and I must have stuck them in my sweatshirt pouch and had them flip out.

We drove to "Third Beach," not to be confused with First or Second beaches. It was super foggy on the ocean, which was not too much of a shocker. The fog made for a pretty cool view of the rocks stretching out into the ocean, and the seals were showing off for our crowd of two.

2008-08-18- Lake Cavanaugh and Beaver 042

We grabbed lunch at the place Jenna used to work and I downed a french dip and chocolate shake while we played a game of cribbage (which I held on to win! a first!). Playing all the card games with Jenna definitely made me miss playing cards with Andrew. We haven't been in the same town since 2000, and when we get together cards always get played.

I decided to wrap up my time in Beaver early at 2pm on Monday because it looked like the rain would be coming into town soon. Beaver is a fun little town, and if Jenna can keep busy I'm sure she'll have a great time. I got lucky on the ride back and missed nearly all of the rain except for a little drizzle while waiting for the ferry. It just POURED when I was in the warm, sheltered ferry, but by the time we docked in Edmonds the rain had stopped and I made the twenty minute ride home with ease.

Week 3 I originally planned to get another motorcycle ride in, but the weather looks crappy. I'll be recharging my batteries to full capacity during the week. I also got invited to play in a frisbee tournament up in Burlington on the weekend, so that should be a fun way to cap off summer break :)


Also on the trip to Beaver, the diner I ate lunch at with Jenna also doubles as a gas station. The gas station is so old, and oil prices have gone up so much, that the price the pump shows is actually half of what you have to pay. It says so right on the hand-written sign at each pump: "Payment is 2x the price shown."

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Friday, August 15, 2008


Well, now I've done it.

After skimming numerous posts over the years by Hoy and Julius Goat regarding LOST, I finally watched my first episode last night. I've been watching the Olympics online at, and wondered what shows I could watch on other big station websites. I hit and watched about ten minutes of that new show "Wipeout." I'm all about the Japanese-style destroy-contestant game shows, but without the hilarious dubbed voices (and hilarious Japanese contestants), it just isn't the same. The contestants in Japan get pummeled into submission for glory and honor--American contestants just do it for the money. Well, OK, I guess that is pretty comical when I stop and think about it.

Anyhow, I browse other ABC shows and BOOM! Not only the most recent season of LOST, but EVERY EPISODE of LOST can be watched in high-quality, full-screen glory! How could I possibly resist? I've only heard good things about the show, and I've got another week left on my summer break...


I am sorely disappointed with the show. With all the hype I've read in the blogosphere, I expected to be entertained. Pelting me with a zillion new questions every episode is not my idea of fun. LOST is like a very poorly written book, or an episode of Family Guy that hops from one random flashback to another. It is annoying to try and keep track of every little detail. I was interested in Kate's back story, but it looks like I'll have to go through snippets of every other character's back story before I get another little snippet of Kate's, which will undoubtedly leave more unanswered questions. This shit is whack.

One, maybe two twists an episode and I'll try to figure things out. When there are a dozen new twists or weird looks by Locke or other characters each episode, I start to get lost. Hey! Maybe I'm on to something! The whole point of the show is to completely lose the viewer and to see how long they continue to watch. Well shit! I figured it out on episode 4, I don't need to watch any more episodes now! Woo!

(Also, when people regain the use of their legs through a plane crash, I start to lose interest)


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jimmy's Bachelor Party

What a walk down memory lane. Flash back ten years and last night's party could have been an exact duplicate. Good times with old friends.

When I was in high school and college, I had an image in my head of what a bachelor party would be like. There would be razzing of the bachelor to commit embarrassing and blackmailable offenses. Friends would be enjoying every second of skin shown as women strut their stuff on stage. None of the bachelor parties I have been to were anything link my imagination predicted, including last night's party.

Most of my friends have been to a strip club or two in their lives, but more to say they have been than to ogle at women. I've still never been, and no Cayne, that isn't an invitation to take me out to a strip club (Thelma and Louise I would not turn down, however). Honestly though, if I went to a club I would probably feel more sorry for the girls than wanting to "make it rain!" on the girls, and that would be a waste.

All the bachelor parties I have been to have been a blast, but none of them have been much different than an ordinary party. We went paint-balling for Marc's. We played video games and drank at each bachelor party. We hit a casino for Marc's.

Tuesday night was Jimmy's party, and we had an amazing time out at the lake, but an outsider looking in wouldn't be able to distinguish it from a birthday party--minus the presents. We swam, we played video games, we played whiffle ball, we grilled, we played piggy wants a signal (a glorified version of hide and seek, that involved a death defying rooftop melee between myself and Wink, because I couldn't remember the fucker's name--had to call out the person's name if you spotted someone), we drank, we drank some more, played poker, then passed out.

Experiencing a few parties that double as bachelor parties make me wonder what kind of bachelor party I'd like to have thrown for me if I get married. Nothing too wild, but I think it would either have to involve a casino or a trip some place if it is an all-guy event. If the bachelor party involves both genders, I think it could be a lot more fun. The primary reason would be me getting to cozy up with all the ladies, my last night a free man and all! Don't get me wrong, an all-dude party would be just fine, but I think getting lots of kisses from lady-friends would really only be allowable on that one night, and I would be a fool to not indulge. Tanya's brother put it quite nicely by envisioning his bachelor party as him and a handful of strippers. 'Fuck friends, just me and the hookers! That'd be a party!'

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Summer Break - Week 1

My first week of break started out with a bang. Monday I met up with a few classmates and we headed up to Lake Wenatchee for a couple nights of camping out under the stars. There were so many stars at night we had to turn on a light to make out the constellations. The lake was amazing and the weather was beautiful. We cooked steaks, played board games and even got in some Asshole (a drinking game where my true colors shine).

From Lake Wenatchee, I ditched my camping gear with one of my very awesome classmates and continued on to Winthrop, WA, where I met up with my parents at Sun Mountain Lodge. It is as swanky as it sounds. The motorcycle ride from Lake Wenatchee to Winthrop was a lot of fun because I had eight hours to travel what amounted to a four-hour trek. I stopped in the bustling town of Entiat for a big breakfast. I stopped at Lake Chelan for an hour of reading in the shade by the lake, which turned out to be 30 minutes of reading transformed into a 30 minute nap.

The nap recharged my batteries and I rode in to Winthrop with two hours until check-in time, so I stopped at the ice cream parlor in the middle of town. My family usually eats there whenever we go to Sun Mountain, and we usually get a round of putt-putt golf in, and my Mom usually wins. Unfortunately, we didn't make the putt-putt round this year, but I at least got to have some ice cream before their arrival (picture below). Winthropians know how to do ice cream. I spent another 45 minutes there eating ice cream and reading. From Winthrop, I rode nine miles to Patterson Lake, just below Sun Mountain Lodge. It was still sunny and 85 degrees when I jumped in the lake, but when I left the lake an hour later (more reading), clouds appeared out of nowhere, which made for my first arrival at Sun Mountain not in the sun.

Sun Mountain consisted of fine dining, deer 10ft from our back door, gin & tonic drinking, reading, pinnochle with the parents, sun bathing, billiards, ping pong and... golf! Golf with my parents is amazingly fun, and even giving my Dad three extra strokes each hole this year, I still retain the title as best male golfer in my family. I actually beat my Mom this year too, but that was a fluke.

You may be asking what has got me all wound up in a book. To my knowledge I haven't mentioned any books on this blog for years. I stumbled upon Clifford Simak's "City" last Friday at the library and picked it up. It had me hooked all last week until I finished it this morning. It won the 1953 International Fantasy Award for Best Novel. It is about Man, Dogs, Robots, the past, present and future. It is a great book, and although I have not read much science fiction, after seeing some of the author's who praised this book (Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Gene Wolfe, Allen Steele), and actually recognizing a few of the names--I think I might check out Simak's "Way Station" next.

Friday morning I took off early from Sun Mountain and experienced quite possibly my most enjoyable motorcycle ride to date. It is hard to top a few of my rides around Tahoe in the first months of motorcycle ownership, but my ride on Saturday comes as close as possible. From Winthrop, I rode West across the North Cascades Highway, then up to Vancouver, B.C. for the World Ultimate and Guts Championships. I had been looking forward to riding the North Cascades on my motorcycle from before I bought it over a year ago. When I was in my teens, I dreamed of renting a fast sports car and driving the North Cascades Highway for a birthday. Doing it on a motorcycle did not creep into my mind back then, but now that I have done it, I can't imagine a more fun way to experience that road. The weather was perfect and I never got stuck behind any slow vehicles in the 100 miles from Winthrop to just outside Burlington. The North Cascades Highway itself is a beautiful 2 to 4 lane highway which is the north-most passage across the Cascades in Washington. The road is closed during the winter and the speed limit varies between 50-70mph, but the majority of the ride seemed to be on 35-45mph advised turns. 35-45mph advisory signs are aimed at semi-trucks, but on a Kawasaki Ninja 250, with a little leaning, I can take those turns at 60-70. The ride was everything I hoped it would be, in fact, I was not even listening to music as I made the ride. I've become accustomed to listening to my iPod on any ride longer than 20 minutes or so, but I wanted to take this ride in with all my senses, and I'm glad I went with the music of the road instead of the iPod for this section of highway.

Customs was slow. Why don't they have an HOV/Motorcycle lane at customs? I guess it might take just as long, with the additional passports to check, but I waited about an hour getting into Canada at noon on a Friday. I also thought the speed limit in Canada was extra slow prior to this trip, but I was averaging 70mph on Canada 1, heading West into Vancouver. The km/h meter on my bike is cut off by the mileage ticker, so I know I was going somewhere between 40km/h and 140km/h, but I'm not sure what 70mph translates to.

I got a bit lost in Vancouver, trying to find University of British Columbia solely on my memory of a googlemap I scouted out the night before. I crossed a couple of bridges and was stuck in traffic on the second bridge when a guy on a scooter zipped past me and barely missed smacking into the stopped truck in front of me. Guy turns around and says, "Nice day for a ride!" The guy turns out to be an 80-year old dude with a white mustache and decked out in full leathers--riding on a scooter with flame decals. We rode together for a while along the coast, chatting at stop lights, until I finally asked him where the hell UBC is! He said he was actually heading there too, but just taking the scenic route, he'd be glad to show me the way. Sweet!

Then another image popped into my head. The old guy in Family Guy who is on Chris's paper route. "Hey there, muscley-arm! Why the long face? Do you like popsicles? There's a freezer full of them in my basement! Why don't you run down and grab a few?"

It freaked me out. But, true to his word, he showed me the way, which involved crossing another bridge. I made it to UBC just in time to see my friends play against Japan in the semi-finals of the World Ultimate Frisbee Championships. Those Japan guys are speedy, but they just could not match the skill and intensity of the USA team. Not to mention the height difference--that didn't help Japan one bit. I got a couple sweet shots of Sam catching the game-winning score at the end of this post. We went out to an all you can eat sushi place after their game and we ate so much sushi they eventually booted us out, taking a loss I'm quite sure of.

I was tired, full of food, and no place to sleep. Room at the Sockeye house was full, but I knew a handful of other people in town for the tournament, but had no way of getting in touch with them. I made sure I got a room number for Will before I left the fields. He was staying in the UBC dorms, so I made my way to The Rits and found the place with some help. I walked around the building a few times with no way of entering until I spied some people coming down the stairwell and I rushed to the entry, getting there just before the door closed behind them. I made my way up to 209, knocked--no answer. Balls. Walked around some more, scouting out the dorm, looking for a lobby or a place I could catch some Z's... when I ran across a magical dojo in the middle of the dormitory.

It was crazy. There were sliding paper-pane doors, just like the ones you see in Japan, or at least in movies about Japan. The "please remove shoes" sign was posted outside, so I slipped off my motorcycle shoes, slid the screen to the side and walked into the dimly lit, matted room. The low table occupied the middle of the room, but nobody else was in the room and although the mats were hard, I slid the screen closed behind me and used my towel as a pillow.

I woke up the next morning with the sun and walked over to the ultimate field. The clock outside a coffee shop said 6:45am, and the first round wasn't until 9am. The guys final game wasn't until 4pm, but I lasted the entire day at the field to see them lose to Canada 15-17. It was an amazing day of ultimate, and although I considered leaving earlier in the day for Seattle, I enjoyed the gratuitous amounts of ultimate watching.

It would have been a perfect weekend if not for one thing...

the ride back to Seattle last night was horrible. Wearing a long-sleeve t-shirt and a motorcycle jacket without the rain liner, I rode the 150+ miles from Vancouver to Seattle in a rain storm, half of it in the dark. I didn't think I would make it, especially after taking a wrong turn at the US border and heading East for 15 unnecessary minutes. I stopped in Bellingham drenched to the core, hands frozen. I sat in a booth at Denny's, knowing that if I took any of my clothes off, putting them back on would be 10x worse. I ordered a cup of hot chocolate, a bowl of vegetable-beef soup, in attempt to warm up my core before another 80 miles on the highway. I felt great leaving Bellingham, it wasn't raining and I was warm. Before I made it to the freeway, the skies closed at it poured--just POURED. I gritted my teeth, breathed through my nose to keep as much warm air in my mouth, and tried to think warm thoughts as I froze my way home.

I crawled up the back steps in Seattle, teeth chattering and skin blue. I stripped down and rolled into the hot tub. It stung at first, and then I realized I still had goosebumps. I was in 100 degree water and had goose bumps... that's not right. After soaking for a good 45 minutes I felt like slush and zonked as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Week 2 Outline:

Bachelor Party Tuesday night at Lake Tapps.
Camping Possibly?
Lake Cavanaugh party on Saturday.

I don't think it will beat week 1, but I'm going to have fun trying :)

Photos from week 1 (chronological order):

2008-08-10- Sun Mtn Week 027

2008-08-10- Sun Mtn Week 032

2008-08-10- Sun Mtn Week 037

2008-08-10- Sun Mtn Week 038

2008-08-10- Sun Mtn Week 064

2008-08-10- Sun Mtn Week 103

2008-08-10- Sun Mtn Week 139

2008-08-10- Sun Mtn Week 142

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Driving Range

Today marks day one of my three week summer break. Like most people, I enjoy a good break. A prolonged break from school or just a bathroom break in the middle of a long day at work--both are welcome opportunities to spice life up a bit. Breaks give me time to investigate what it is I am actually doing and how that is different from what I want to be doing. With this break, I've already realized that I am taking school less seriously than I originally intended, and I would like to be more serious about school in the Fall. This break is the calm before the storm. Fall Quarter is going to be tough, Winter Quarter is going to be tougher, and Spring Quarter I student teach for two months.

In addition to reflection and attempts at temperance, breaks give me time to have fun, and I fully intend to have fun for the next three weeks. I've already got a few camping trips planned, I'm heading to Lake Tapps tomorrow, and I hope to ride the ninja up to Canada to possibly meet up with Schaubs for some much overdue B.C. poker. Today started the break out great with a bit of Warcraft, a successful trip to the library, and a splash of Team Fortress 2 sniping. But the highlight of the day was going to the driving range with my folks.

My mom taught me how to play golf when I was a wee one, maybe 9 years old. We would go to the little par 3 courses around Seattle and I would tee up the ol' 5 wood for Greenlake's behemoth 115yd 5th hole. I remember being giddy for my 12th birthday, because according to mom, 18-hole courses had a minimum age requirement of 12 to play. For my 12th birthday we played the Jackson 18-hole course in North Seattle. It wasn't until I was old enough to drive that she let me know there really was no such thing as a minimum age requirement--she just didn't want to walk 18 holes all the time! Oh to be young and gullible.

That story pretty much sums up my golfing history. Whenever the family gets together to play, we play for fun and try to prank each other every chance we get. Favorite pranks include shifting the golf carts into reverse for the high-pitched squeal in the middle of someone's back swing, and replacing dad's golf ball with an exploding golf ball that has a thin cover with just flour inside, or a snake ball on the green that has a weight inside it and goes anywhere but straight.

Our golfing went from once a week in the summer to once a year when I hit college. The only place we've played for the past ten years has been Bear Creek golf course over in Winthrop, WA. It is a spacious 9-hole course conveniently located near Sun Mountain Lodge, which is where the parents would go to get away for a few days each summer. The course is cheap compared to normal greens fees, cheap enough for us to get golf carts for the round--which is, of course, the most important part!

We're heading to Sun Mountain on Wednesday, so last night I suggested we hit the driving range to warm up for our high-stakes golf match at Bear Creek later in the week. Mom's been doing physical therapy for her shoulder for the past few months, and dad has a foot problem that has forced him to cancel our summer hike this year--so I was a bit doubtful about our chances at getting a round in at Bear Creek this year. Those doubts were put to rest today at the range--we had an absolute blast!

It was a blustery day today, with 15-20mph winds whipping across the range. Fortunately for us, the wind did not affect our shots, as we had trouble getting the balls up in the air. I secretly brought along my camera to take pictures and video of dad golfing, because he has a hilarious swing that just had to be captured on film:

I got my sports skills from my mom, as you can clearly see with her smooth swing. Dad improved remarkably as the video progressed--he went from missing the ball, to hooking the ball, to not being able to get the ball out of the ball rack, to slicing the ball and then he fished with a straight and true right down the fairway rocket.

THE GOOD: I have to give credit where credit is due. We were all swinging pretty well today. Mom corrected her "trying to swing too hard" complex about halfway through the bucket and finished with some nice strokes. Dad was hitting the ball in the air more than 50% of the time, which is unheard of for him. I was crushing the ball and actually hitting my driver in the air, straight, which hasn't happened since I was 13. I also sunk a 40ft putt uphill and into the wind to win our putting challenge--and mom gets credit for calling it from the moment it left my putter.

THE BAD: Well, dad didn't hit all the balls he aimed at, but that is to be expected. He is 6'5", after all. Unfortunately, I too missed a few with powerful whiffs that undoubtedly altered the course of our universe and may or may not have created tsunamis in Japan tomorrow morning.

THE UGLY: The ugly is my dad's category, he is the king of ugly when it comes to golf. He had some absolute prizes today, but the single swing that had me laughing the longest was when he took a big swing at the ball and just BARELY nicked the ball. So softly in fact, that it wound up in the ball holder just to the right of the driving range mat. I can honestly say I have never seen that before. I have trickled the ball off the front of the mat, I have ricocheted the ball off of the screen behind the ball holder--hell, I have even hit the roof of the covered driving range before, but I have never hit the ball so gently, on such a strong swing, to get the ball to rest peacefully back in the ball holder with the rest of its round, white friends. Kudos to dad for doing the impossible. Kudos.

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