June 22, 2006

ipod zombies

Ok, while I occaisionally still daydream about curling randomly, it is of a season where talk of other sports is in order. Like, say, hiking. Which has pretty much consumed my free time.

I have always had a love of hiking and interacting with trees, plants, birds, whatever I can find. Right now it is enhanced by the fact that I feel sick still but suddenly I feel well when I am out on the trail. No joke, I even feel the difference when stopped for a short break and can't wait to start back up. So the training started in March, took a reprieve in April and part of May, and will accelerate through late August when we ascend Rainier. Awww yeah.

I have a quick gripe about ipods as entertainment while hiking. You see, I am pretty old school. And although I value my ipod as much as the next guy, I can't stand hiking now that they are ubiquitous on the trail. It is a study of the effect of population density on the ways in which people interact with one another. In a city, especially a crowded one, you couldn't say hello to everyone you saw if you wanted to. You would go insane. As the population density dwindles, it becomes less burdensome to show an incremental interest in passing strangers. While hiking, in most cases there is a relatively low density, or else there is a feeling of isolation which fools you into assuming a low denisty. Therefore it is polite to greet each party you pass and this custom is perpetuated through social norms amongst the hiking community. Now you introduce the mp3 player which makes it harder to communicate with a party since, well, their ears are otherwise occupied. Therefore it is understandable that the music loving hikers would no longer participate in this minor ritual.

Who cares? I know, it is no big deal. But it is a striking reminder of how technology can hinder community even in environments which would not normally be considered fragile to this influence. To be honest, my gripe is that it is still rude of the ipod-encrusted folk to not acknowledge their fellow nature lovers. I am biased since I feel like listening to music while hiking is an indication that you are just not getting it. How can you hear the forrest and let it speak to you when you have buds in your ears? Also, when I am listening to music I am far less likely to notice the budding blooms around me, you know? I feel mildly saddened by the number of zombies wandering the forrests, especially on certain trails (ahem, Mt. Si) who are just seemingly there for a workout which doesn't involve ellipticals or free weights or whatnot. But maybe they get more out of it than I think.

Posted by fer at 12:49 AM

April 21, 2006

Live to curl, curl to live

Let's say I did some ... medically unsanctioned curling this evening. But man it was awesome! I am so glad I went.

For the first time I not only felt proud of my form, but of the placement of my shots as well. I have had trouble in the past putting enough weight on my throws so I was lucky to get them to the hog line. I didn't want to compromise my form by giving the stone an extra push at the end, and the ice is pretty slow, and there were plenty of excuses, but not having stones in play is pretty disappointing. Today I had it down, and was able to draw to the center of the house as well as even do a nice take out (ok, the skip asked for a double-take out, but at least I got the one!).

Oh yeah and I finally saw "Men with Brooms." What a wacky movie. It reminded me of "The Big Lebowski," but just very Canadian. It even had Bob Bainborough from "The Red Green Show" which apparently just ended with a series finale earlier this month I think. I am sad to see it go, but at least there are a ton of reruns to watch. Hee hee.

So now the hiatus begins. No more curling until September or October! Lots of time to shop for shoes? I can't wait to join a league. The lead instructer complemented J and I that we would be welcome on a team as a duo even though we are beginners since we have caught on so fast. I can't wait! Curling is so much fun!

Posted by fer at 10:07 PM

April 13, 2006


More curling again last night. At one point the instructor pointed out that most of my remaining form issues would be vastly improved by throwing with curling shoes. As if I ever need encouragement to shoe shop! We got a lot of one on one attention which was great and really helped our form, I think. I have a lot more to think about now, when I throw, which is great. I just need more time to practice the motion I think.

The thing I want to work on most is moderating the speed, or 'weight,' of the stone as I throw. Last night I tended to hold on too long, past the highest point of momentum, which then slowed the throw down and limitted its resulting distance. There is a temptation to try to glide right to the hog line, the point at which you must release, but in the end I was just adding drag to the stone and slowing it down.

I have been working out some strength and balance exercises to try to get more comfortable in the throw position, and hopefully those can take up some of the slack since I cannot get in ice time whenever I want. It's a start anyway.

Posted by fer at 11:48 AM

April 11, 2006

A Quick Note on Curling Shoes

I did a quick online hunt for curling shoes and I have to say I am disappointed. After envisioning stepping onto the ice in some styling, kinda girly green or blue colored shoes, imagine my horror in finding that basically there is one choice in curling shoe color: black. I know, black goes with everything, but what gives? The only non-black option I found was a cute red pair, in junior sizes. Oh well. I guess I need to keep looking, or keep dreaming.

Posted by fer at 2:20 PM

A Curling Blog

Seriously, this may become a curling blog. Thanks Granite Curling Club!

I am in love! With the sport of curling. It rendered me speechless last night. About 20 times I just said in reflection "wow, curling." Last night J and I had our first real lesson and it was amazing. Any time the instructors go around the room and ask "and you've won the national championship how many times?" you know you are in for a treat. We got into a really good group for the physical instruction and that helped a lot since we were able to quickly move beyond basics to really driving our technique, espeically in throwing.

There was this one throw, where I squared my shoulders and really extended my form and from that moment on I was smitten.

Curling is such a delight for engineers, what a sport for lovers of physics. The instructor did some quick, hand-waving-filled explanations of why the rocks must spin and how the rate of spin can impact the curl and you could tell he could speak on the subject in depth if time allowed. The ice-bound ballistics and the careful manipulation of the path the stones take is just so fascinating and cool. While it does emulate some aspects of more familiar games, like pool or bowling, like J pointed out, there are also some delicate throws which add a unique element to the game. Of course I still can't even ensure the stone stays in the house when I want it to, so there is still much to learn.

And there is shoe shopping to be done! I am half tempted to go looking this weekend for a pair of curling shoes. Not that I need them yet (the club provides everything we need) but it would be fun to have a real pair.

Sadly the club is only open through April and then closes for the summer, so after these classes there will be quite a reprieve, but I am hooked. Now to just wrangle two more team members by September and we will be unstoppable...

Posted by fer at 1:09 PM

February 17, 2006


McDonald's lied about the gluten content of their fries until very recently. Those bastards. No wonder I found them so tasty though. Anyway, score one for the FDA since their new regulations on labeling foods with allergen info is continuing to make my life easier.

Posted by fer at 6:43 PM

August 25, 2005

Squash bread

Since other people have posted recipes lately, I thought I would throw one in the mix. This is especially timely as we go into fall with its many squashes. I love eating this bread for breakfast, as it comes out with a coffee cake-like texture.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger / small piece of shredded fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (1 medium lemon)
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
1 cup shredded squash / about one normal size squash from farm
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix dry ingedients in a bowl, then add wet, one at a time. Preheat
oven to 350. Cook at 350 for 45 to 55 minutes or until smells/looks

I have pondered, but not tried, adding either cinnamon or brown sugar to the top, which might be tasty.

Posted by fer at 12:17 PM

Suctomer Service

AOL finally had financial repercussions from their outrageous practice of ensnaring poor souls and making it virtually impossible to cancel their service. They publicly admitted that their suctomer service department is given bonuses based on the number of "saves" they keep when a previously seemingly lobotomized AOL member finally comes to the conclusion that they are not getting the value they are paying for. Too bad the settlement only applies to residents of NY, I know plenty of people who deserve to have their fees remanded elsewhere as well.

Seattle PI article on this

Posted by fer at 11:54 AM

June 27, 2005

Settling down

I think I am not leaving the state for the entirety of July, if I can help it. Ok, at this point I would settle for not leaving the state for a whole week. Man, I need to sleep.

See, now I can't imagine ever saying that about my last residence. I mean, sure, there were weeks which I never left the state in the almost three years I lived and worked there, but not many. I certainly can't think of a string of more than three days where I didn't at least leave the county. It was easier to pop over to another east coast state of course, since they are so puny. I guess I have been perceived to be traveling a great deal more lately, but the wanderlust has been about constant since I acquired a motor vehicle.

Last night I dreamt that the priority travelers got better blankets. I have been just freezing lately, to the point of wearing a jacket around the airports I visited yesterday. I already miss the east, where they had 90 degree weather the entire time I was there. Hopefully tomorrow it will warm up a bit, since I will be out farming and I would rather not be wearing extra layers. The organic farm work share has been such a hoot! Last week I harvested radishes and hoed the flower garden. Let me say that two hours of hoeing is great for getting material for jokes, but quite tiring. Here's to hoping we get some good chores to do tomorrow!

Posted by fer at 4:24 PM

May 26, 2005

Random thoughts from a hyper mind

It looks like I may have to find a spray to keep the bugs from eating my tomato plants all up before they even have a chance to start blossoming. That kind of sucks since I would rather keep things as natural as possible. I am sure I can find something which is either non-toxic or has a low toxicity, but it makes my garden so much less pure.

There is nothing like the prospect of a visit from a close friend to get me hyper. Wow, I can't wait! There won't be enough time to see everything, I am sure, but I will do my best to try.

I love making food from scratch. This week it was bread, meatballs, and breadcrumbs, so far. I will probably be making whipped cream this weekend to then turn into semifreddo, which should come out nicely. And part of my crazy mind is also pondering crêpes, to "help use up" whatever leftover whipped cream there may be. Heh.

Oh man, it is so sunny out, why must I be indoors?

Posted by fer at 10:26 AM