Thanks to Everybody

For being a part of my life in 2007.  I've had an incredible year up here in Seattle, thanks mostly to my wonderful friends and family.  We just returned from Christmas in Omaha with my family, it was fantastic.  I miss those guys so much but we crammed a whole year's worth of laughter, games, love and fun into five short days thanks to Rachel making sure we could get there to see them....

Happy New Year!!!!!


Subway Sandwich Gives Local Man Hiccups

Or hiccoughs if that's how your roll.  I was studying for my art history final at the campus cafeteria today and stopped for a lunch break.  I bit into my footlong turkey on wheat Subway sandwich  and swallowed.  I was immediately afflicted with a crazy case of hiccups.  I realized at that moment that though I rarely get the hiccups, I do get them EVERY SINGLE TIME I eat a Subway Sandwich, strange huh?  I was so confident that this was a testable, repeatable hypothesis that I briefly scoured the net to see if I was alone.  It turns out I am not, though I am the first one to make the connection

From a chatroom thread titled "What did you have for lunch today?":
"A subway sandwich and a sprite (It gave me the hiccups)"

From a thread discussing a video of a girl with terrible hiccups:
i remember a teacher told me along time ago that you couldnt have hiccups for a very long period of time like years and $hit. and then i saw some story on some dude who still has hiccups after eating a large subway sandwich

And finally, I staged a google fight between subway sandwich and hiccups and guess who won?  You guessed it......Subway sandwich, proving I am right beyond the shadow of a doubt.......it's "science."


Come to me my animal friends!!!!!

Saturday we had a surprise visitor to our backyard pond. A Great Blue Heron showed up to investigate the waterfalls and see if I had stocked the ponds with any fish. Check out the photos and video courtesy of Rachel and her brand new digital camera:



Well, it took a three day weekend for me to get the time to post those Halloween pictures I promised. The party was VERY entertaining.



A little tidbit from the UW technology newsletter today, this totally shocked me.....what a waste of resources:

In September, 90.6% of the 137,001,383 email messages processed at the UW were classified as spam. Think that's high? A Help Net Security article reports that in the third quarter of 2007, global spam levels reached an all-time high of 95% of all email.

Halloween Pictures are on the way, we have a relaxed weekend so i should be able to post them tonight or tomorrow. Happy Friday to everyone!!


Danny's a Daddy

Congratulations to my best friend Danny boy and his wife Erica. They had a baby boy this morning at 6:12 AM. I don't know why those babies always wait until the middle of the night! Rachel and I are heading over there after I get off school today to meet the boy, Kerrig James......


I'm Happy.

It's Friday, I had a great week at school and THE SUN IS SHINING! It's a perfect fall day outside and I am just about to take the beast to the dog park. But first, we have no plans this weekend so I will likely be putting the garden to sleep for the winter, so I thought I'd take advantage of the sunshine and snap a few shots of this year's garden in its final days....


I Couldn't Have Said it Better....

My ma sent me this letter in an email this morning. After so many years of telling people I'm from Nebraska and them saying, "I drove through there once, it was terrible..." Finally somebody understands the beauty I see in that perfectly flat landscape, the sweet smell of the air, haystacks and, yes, even livestock. Our enthusiasm for football is no secret though and I am glad this USC fan was shown such a great time. The descriptions of the people and places have made me a bit homesick for Autumn and football in my hometown.

How--and why--I became a Big Red fan (from an USC guy)

I arrived in Omaha in the dark Friday. An early fall chill was accompanied by the sweet smell of crops in the air which was exciting just because it was so different than Los Angeles.

When I woke up Saturday morning I was bummed because I wanted one of those crystal-clear, bright blue never-ending sky days on the plains I had read about or seen on TV. Alas. We had breakfast at the Denny's off of exit 84 between Omaha and Lincoln. Then the beauty began. The countryside was just so beautiful. The rows and rows of tassled corn, the old barns off in the distance, passing over various creeks and rivers--I got goosebumps. Our hotel was waaaaaaay out of the way: America's Best Value Inn out at NW 12 st and Adams. We walked all the way into town--it was the best. Breezes rustling in trees, that sweet smell of the earth...

So we make it to the parking lot of the baseball stadium at the Haymarket when some Huskers fans collar us and invite us in to their tailgate. Soon we're helping them with the keg-emptying process and having great conversatiion. Turns out, we all had lots in common, starting with a shared love for the game of college football (and sports in general). Mike, Ross, Chad and the gang were awesome! So then, they insisted on taking us to "Rock the Dock" (something like that). Anyway, it's the place right outside Embassy Suites--what a great place. Cool live music, and the biggest six dollar beer I've ever had in my life. We were swallowed in a Sea of Redbut everyone was very cool--just wanted to have fun.

We left there and headed up O Street to The Watering Hole. A great place! Great pub grub and people bought us beer, including our new friends. So we chat about all sorts of interesting stuff with cool people in there. I got to know our new friends more. Farm life in Lawrence, NE. Wow! It truly is so different from life in suburban Los Angeles. But I couldn't admire it more. I think people forget just how tough--yet necessary--agriculture is to the existence of us all. I could see in the eyes of these young guys a genuine honesty that was very refreshing. We talked about the gamble that is farming. Yet I knew they wouldn't trade it for the world. The lifestyle, the people, the land. Which makes rooting for Big Red a very noble thing. Go Big Red is go big sky, go big land, go necessary rain, go sweet smelling earth, go John Deere, go flooded summer creeks, go people that have been there my whole life and always will be, go pork bellies, go old fashioned sensibilities, go things not changing too much, go quiet Sundays when you get to relax, go the feeling you worked hard outside all day and you fall into bed dead tired but wouldn't change it for the world, go being away from all the rush, go Runzas, go Saturdays out at the lake...

Our new friends made sure we got over to gate 2 on time. Everyone was really amped up by this time and there is much hooting and hollaring (as there should be). So, I ask "Where are y'all sitting?" They all replied matter-of-factly: "Oh, we don't have tickets. we just wanted to make sure you guys got here on time." Damn! Now that's what it's all about.

The stadium was, of course electric. My favorite memory of the game (yeah, I loved the score, but what I'll always remember) is at the end of half-time I was walking back up the ramp to my seat. I was able to look out past the campus, past the black line of trees to a sun that peeked through, bleeding Red into the land because it--like me--was tied to the land and the people that make it so great.

Gooooooo Biiiiiiiig Reeeeeeeeed! GO BIG RED! Fight On. Beat the hell out of everyone and know that y'all made a Husker out of me this weekend.



Sketchin' and a shakin'

It begins......I started design school at the University of Washington this week. My classes are Ancient Art History, History of Design and Design Drawing. The design drawing class is my favorite so far. It is taught by an excitable German dude named Axel who sounds like the guy from Ikea and thinks everything is 'crap.' (that drawing is crap, that brand of pencils is crap, your face is crap, etc) He says we have joined drawing boot camp. He fully expects us to go through an entire 500 sheet package of 11x17 printer paper with our sketches this quarter. Ancient Art History is fun, particularly since the professor specializes in and has great passion for Roman art history. I got to visit many of the great works of art she is discussing on my trip to italy this last spring. In the design history class yesterday we watched an incredible film about the Shakers, you know, the people with the boring furniture. Well, after watching this video, I get it, it's beautiful because it's boring. They showed the interior of many of the shaker homes and they were absolutely stunning in their simplicity. I've instantly become a huge fan of the shakers, oh, and they're called shakers because of the way they dance, cool.

Two other notes real quick, I am typing up this post on my brand new Macbook Pro (by far the most expensive required school supply I have ever purchased). She's fun, she's stylish, and much to rachel's concern, I have named her Nadia and she tells me the time in a sexy synthesized voice. Also, I have joined the ranks of the hardcore Seattle bike commuters. After years of griping about these rabid hyenas on wheels, I have become one, and am proud of it. My first week of weaving in and out of downtown traffic with my head constantly twitching back and forth watching for obstacles made me understand the mind of the bike commuter and what gives them that nervous tick. It's scary..........fun, but scary, its like being on a roller coaster you can steer, with cars, dog leashes, trucks, pedestrians and pigeons constantly making every effort to veer directly into your path. It is a pretty darn efficient way to get around though, it takes me 45-60 minutes to get to campus, about 7 miles away, which is actually pretty competitive with taking my car in rush hour when you consider the time it takes to park and then walk to the campus.



This happened a while ago but it definitely needs to be posted before I forget. On the way to camping, my Jeep roared past its 150,000th mile! Now for many of you, your car is just a way to get around. My Jeep is a member of the family, much like my dog. I bought her at 88,000 and she has reliably transported me all over this great country for six years now. So, we celebrated this milestone by pulling off the interstate into a less than desirable part of Tacoma and creeping around the neighborhood until we hit 150,000. At that point Rachel pulled out the champagne she had brought(thanks babe, I forgot) and we took a couple swigs and poured the rest on the tires of my other girlfriend. Sound crazy? You wouldn't understand.....It's a Jeep thing!

All is Well in the Heartland....

Clearly.......because the senator of my home state has enough spare time on his hands to sue God. Literally. It is not often that news from WOWT pops up on my morning skim over the Google news headlines but this morning it did, with this tasty little tidbit......

Ernie Sues God

Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers has filed a lawsuit against God. He says he just wants to make the point that the constitution allows a lawsuit to be filed for any reason.

The action seeks a "permanent injunction ordering Defendant to cease certain harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats."

The Plaintiff (Chambers) is identified as "the duly elected and serving State Senator from the 11th Legislative District in Omaha, Nebraska." Full story---->

Particularly interesting is this little rhyme session he threw into the document.....
"Defendant directly and proximately has caused, inter alia (among other things), fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornados, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating droughts, genocidal wars, birth defects and the like."

At the time I read the article, it had drawn 138 comments. Many insulted Ernie Chambers but a surprising amount stood up in his defense and truly understood the point he was trying to make. I have not been involved in Nebraska politics since my second year in the Navy when I sent in my last absentee ballot. At first I wrote this guy off as a looney-toon, but reading through some of the comments shows he has great support and may actually be quite a visionary. Most importantly, he got people talking with this action, sometimes it takes extreme measures to get attention drawn to wrongs that normally drift by unnoticed. For stirring the pot Ernie, I commend you.......


I May Have Just Lost My Appetite

I am at work right now, finishing my chores early so I can head to the monthly Brewmaster's Dinner at Mccormick and Schmick's downtown. The dinner features a different brewery every month and is a five course meal with each course utilizing a different beer in some manner, whether its in the sauce, part of the marinade, or baked straight in as in the chocolate stout cake or 'beeramisu' desserts. Between each course the brewmaster and the chef come out to discuss their respective creations. This month is our local Pike Brewery and features one of my favoritest microbrews, the Kilt-Lifter IPA. Its hard to go wrong with any IPA but this one is particularly exciting. Just throw on a traditional celtic man-skirt, toss one back and you'll see why, it is HOPPY!!! Anyway, the brewmaster's dinner instantly became a favorite tradition with the inner circle of our urban family. As I said, it's a five-course meal, but also includes all-you-can-drink beer and costs only $49.95, tax and gratuity included. A smokin' deal!

So, I haven't looked at the menu for tonight but I did come across something in my usual hyper-productive manner of probing the deepest realms of the world wide web that made my stomach turn and will surely haunt my dreams forever. I came across it while researching Chupacabra for some unknown reason. It's Sam, the three-time champion of the world's ugliest dog competition. Unfortunately Sam passed away in late 2005 but his blog is still available online. Man is this one ugly dog!!


Why People Pee in their Wetsuits......

Cuz its so F'n cold in the North Pacific! (Peeing in your suit is referred to as a "wettie warmer" in surf lingo by the way) Our surfing trip was SO much fun! The weather was ideal on Saturday but MAN was that water cold! Every wave that breaks over your head results in a pounding ice-cream headache like you just snorted an entire 7-11 slurpee! It really gets the adrenaline going though and the suit actually does a very good job of keeping you warm. I asked for a beginner's board at the surf shop and the guy brought me out a monstrous longboard. Trying to impress the surfer dudes that I realized this was a ridiculously large board I said "is that a board or a boat!?!" he replied, "Yah, sometimes we rent it out for parties..."

On the first day, I spent much of my time in the water fighting the current and getting a feel for the waves at Westport. I got up on the board to my knees and then tried to stand up only to be repeatedly launched from my board with arms flailing wildly. It was very much fun though. We had a cooler full of beer and food and an umbrella over some lounge chairs, a very sweet beach setup. The second day our typical "liquid sunshine" was back and it was cold, windy and rainy so we skipped the beach setup and headed straight to the waves with only our boards. I must say though, I was very impressed at the crowd on the beach. People in the PNW just don't let the weather interfere with their plans. There were kids building sandcastles, kites flying, people picnicking and about a hundred surfers. I managed to actually get up and stand on the board this day many times. I wasn't maneuvering at all, but definitely was up and riding the wave. It was a great feeling!


This Weekend = Hyper Fierce Gnar Gnar

Cousin Lisa is taking us on a surfing adventure this weekend. I have only been surfing a couple times in my life. I get cool points for surfing in Hawaii, but instantly lose them because it was on the south shore. I have larger waves in my pond. In any case, we are going to REAL waves this time and I am very excited. I'm not even letting the mid-60s air temps, and low-50's water temps sway my enthusiasm. We're renting wetsuits and boards and I'm gonna make those waves my bitch! Also, I'm a big dork, i looked at a surfing lingo dictionary for interesting words to use in my title and found some real gems that will surely help me fit in with the surf veterans out in Westport......

Some of the ones most likely to apply to this trip:

Hopefully won't use these, but good to know in case someone shouts it so I won't run into the water thinking we are being attacked by business men:
MEN IN GREY SUITS--------------------Sharks.
LAND LORD------------------------------Great White shark.

Words likely to be used by surfer dudes and dudettes observing my unique style:
POO MAN--------------------------------To stand extremely wide-legged, arse sticking out.
OWNED----------------------------------That wave owned you dude! See wipeout
MOOSE---------------------------------- A fat boy/girl that tries to surf.
KNAT BOX-------------------------------Where you slam you nads onto the water.
CAVEFISH-------------------------------Pale surfer.
NARDUDE--------------------------------Hot guy with sculpted abs.
RANDOM STANDER---------------------Inexperienced / weekend surfer.
SHACKED--------------------------------Being barrelled or getting drunk.
SPIN CYCLE-----------------------------Wiping out and getting thrashed underwater until you don't know which way is up.
SQUID-----------------------------------A beginner or newcomer.
TAKE GAS-------------------------------Get obliterated by a wave.

And these just made me laugh out loud.....
CABLE-----------------------------------1. To fart. 2. To hang a poo.
SWAMP DONKEY-----------------------A really ugly woman.
STEALING THE BEACH-----------------How much sand you take home in your buttcrack.

Heh heh.....hang a poo........that's great! I can't wait for this fun surf adventure and hopefully I won't eat too much sand :)


I Think I'm Turning Japanese....I Really Think So.

A year ago when ABCOW(what I call my blog now, say it with me, AB -- COW) was still in its infancy, a publisher from Japan contacted me and asked me if he could use a couple of my posts in a book he was making. There would be no payment but he said he would send me a copy of the book when it was finished. That day has come, I'm now a published author in the land of the rising sun. Cool, huh. The book was written to help Japanese speakers learn conversational English by reading American blogs and the first chapter features two of my posts, A Pirate's Life for Me and Rocky's Fortress of Solitude. They didn't use any of the pictures from my blog but they did illustrate the Rocky dog post with a funny little cartoon of Rocky(as a sheepdog) proudly sitting among the things he has destroyed.......


Pumpkin love....

I put on some Marvin Gaye this morning, turned the lights down a little bit and armed myself with Q-tips to go out and assist my pumpkin patch in some sweet, sweet pollination. I found a lazy bee inside one of the flowers and noticed an odd behavior. Though he was flying flower to flower, between each one he was landing on a leaf and kicking all the pollen off his legs......strange......in any case, hopefully I will have some fruit appearing soon.....


Garden Updates

I've put a lot of work into the backyard recently, including finishing the pond. No, really, I think it is actually done now. All I have to do is learn a LOT more about caring for the water and getting Ma Nature to balance it out for me. The final redesign for the pond included cement and stone walls bordering the lower pond. I have never worked with cement before but am very happy with the way it turned out.....THE POND PROJECT(by the numbers, for joanne)

900....................................capacity, in gallons, of the pond
12,652...............................amount, in gallons, that the previous seven designs leaked out
8.........................................number of times I 'finished' the project
87.......................................trips to the hardware store
500....................................initial budget, in $
1,500.................................final cost, whoops
6,000.................................cost to have it installed professionally
1.........................................weeks to have it installed professionally
0.........................................amount of fun that would have been
61.......................................weeks to install it myself(see NOV '06)
6.........................................mouthfuls of stagnant mud water while siphon-starting shitty pump.
150....................................cost of brand new pump on bestnest.com
3........................................pairs of pants ruined by expanding foam sealant
1.........................................times I glued my forearm to my bicep with expanding foam sealant
16......................................."toolman" taylor references by onlookers

Also, my pumpkin patch has been blooming for almost two weeks now! I have two kinds of pumpkins, one good for carving and another that is good for baking. Should make for some fun at Rachel's SEVENTH ANNUAL HALLOWEEN PARTY. One question though, as the blossoms fade away, they are falling off.....is that normal for pumpkins or does that mean they were not pollinated? Anybody know?


Monday Night Workout

First off, check out rachel's excellent post about our exciting weekend.

So, I was surfing the net in an extremely productive manner tonight and stumbled across this little gem. If you are webcam enabled and are not pregnant or suffering from any heart conditions, I strongly suggest downloading the demo and playing for a bit. The software utilizes your webcam in some pretty innovative ways, from bouncing soccer balls on your head to cheesy, but fun, special effects. The best part, we played for over a half hour and the games were so physical that we had both worked up a sweat by PLAYING VIDEO GAMES.

Also, though this is late news, we had a huge fire in West Seattle last week only a few blocks from our house. Turns out one of the many condo buildings under construction was set on fire, an arson. The blaze was so large that it set off smoke detectors in homes 10 blocks away. I hear a lot of people complaining about the overdevelopment of West Seattle and the irresponsible practices of those looking to make a quick buck throwing up cookie-cutter townhomes and condos and wonder if this was somebody who took it a step too far.......


Sparks 07!

An outstanding and diverse menu, an impressive group effort for a new record level of whiskey consumption, some intense early morning discussions and an abundance of shooting stars courtesy of the Perseid meteor shower all combined to make my time at Sparks Lake unforgettable. This is my second year camping at this heaven on earth though Rachel's family and friends have been coming to this same spot for almost three decades.

We arrived on Thursday, pitched our tent, tossed back a couple of cold ones and went right into dinner production where I continued my personal sparks tradition of potato prep (missed you Isaac!). Rachel's dad had a cooler full of chickens which he cooked on a rotisserie and Joanne created a wonderfully mysterious gypsy sauce to put on top of the meat. Nobody told Seaton I'm not allowed to play with sharp things and he handed me a big knife to carve the chickens with. I think Rachel actually ended up with more bandaids on than I did this trip, a rare event.

We camped in a sweet little spot overlooking the water. The second day we woke up and made coffee and a nice fire to keep us warm, it had dipped down below freezing in the night and Rocky made sure to get us up before sunrise when it was still icy. The morning is a beautiful time at sparks. This picture is the view from our tent in the morning.....

After a huge breakfast I realized that I woke up wayyyy too early and promptly passed out under a blanket in the nearest hammock I could find. After a little nap it was time for sparks-style swimming. This is very similar to regular swimming except there is less actual movement and more laying in the sun on a big raft and drinking ice cold adult beverages. It's a very strenuous way to spend the afternoon and should only be performed by experienced professionals like us. I manned the kayak and took pride in delivering EIGHT ice cold adult beverages at once to the floatilla without spilling a drop. This exhausted me and I retired to the shore for a well-deserved hammock nap. We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying more ice cold adult beverages and congregating in the sun while Bruce and Sue prepared a fantastic dinner of veggie and chicken curry, papadum, naan, mango lassi and delicious sauces all followed by a medley of cookies :)

When we weren't "swimming" or eating, Rachel and I filled our time canoeing across the lake and taking a looooong hike. Rocky highly approved of both activities. He led the way on the hiking trail, it was really nice to be at a place where we could have him off the leash. He is so worn out that he has been sleeping for most of the last twenty-four hours.

The hike was a little longer than I had intended and when we got back to camp we were beat. Luckily there were delicious carnitas for dinner. We stuffed ourselves and then laid in a hammock to give our throbbing legs a break.

The final day had come, Doug prepared his famous Chile Rellenos and we packed up and moved out. We packed the canoe to the brim, well actually, way above the brim, and said our farewells to Sparks Lake until next year. Thanks to everybody for making it such a great experience! I had an awesome time!