July 15, 2003


We do things differently, here.

The summer finally feels like it’s rounding itself out. Today we drove to the Portland airport to pick up Motoshi’s girlfriend Miho, who has flown in from Japan to spend the rest of the summer with us. Once the Hood River dries up the two of them will be off to New Zealand for a year. The Gorge is but one stop on Motoshi’s world kiteboarding tour. Miho is a kiteboarder too, and it sounds like the two of them have done enough kite instruction in Japan to risk some kiting instructions on me. I’m excited.

I’m writing this thing while sitting outside, and the sprinklers keep cycling on which forces me to relocate. The bench was getting sprayed. Now the front steps are getting sprayed. It’s like chess only wetter and sexier. Yowza. Soon I’ll find myself on the roof with a shoe on my head, cursing the heavens to bring down any sort angry precipitation. And it might have had something to do with sprinklers.

The sprinklers are the only thing keeping me from sleeping in the backyard most nights, as the weather here is always absolutely amazing. I haven’t seen rain in a month. I have yet to get a good thunderstorm this summer. Every time I call the folks back in Minnesota it sounds like they’re suffering another thunderstorm. They curse tornadoes and lightning strikes. I curse blue skies. We’re both right.

People out here also curse mosquitoes, and flip out when they are SWARMING. Good god, the mosquitoes are SWARMING tonight, aren’t they?! In Oregon a swarm requires that you twitch twice in five minutes to keep your body clear of probing proboscises. In Minnesota a swarm carries off all your women and children and requires a good rock huckin’ to return the peace.

Oregon breeds whiners. By all means people should move here. People should move here now, it’s so craptacularly beautiful. But for heaven’s sake, don’t grow up here. You can’t truly take advantage of the rugged Cascade landscape until you’ve suffered through the Midwest and have learned how to deal with hardship. Grow up in Oregon and you’re destined for a weak mind and brittle bones. Move to Oregon from the Midwest and you come outfitted with everything you need to fine-tune your meat body.

So yeah, the weather out here is damn amazing, but I can’t trust it. It’s too nice. It puts me on edge. I don’t trust anything that can take all the activity and rigors of a hot American summer without unleashing fury every once in awhile. The Midwest gets it. There the weather winches down to the breaking point and suddenly explodes with theatrics across the wide night sky. The Cascades make the mistake of bottling up this rage and pushing it deeper into the gut. And when it finally breaks? It breaks big. An entire mountain pops open and dumps a flood of boiling cement down its slopes, forty feet deep, at sixty miles an hour. The blast instantly scours a couple thousand acres from the surface of the earth.

I suppose the sprinklers aren’t all bad. They fill up the bird bath and the crows love that.

Having Miho around really seems to round out our household. Three people always make for an awkward group, spare tire and all. Four? Four is perfect. Four is a party. Tonight we tossed together a nice little welcome feast. Mike made a roast. Miho made rice. I have a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies waiting in the fridge. Motoshi make a salad with Japanese radish. The Japanese radish was about a foot and a half long and four inches thick. And white. And led to a four-person exchange of lewd comments that spanned no less than two languages.

While assessing my weapons cache of baking elements, I realized I needed some cooling racks or wax paper. (bowls? check. electric mixer? check. enough sugar to float an entire kindergarten classroom to the ceiling? double check. plenty of flourine, the authentic baking element? check.) Wax paper struck me as the cost-effective solution so I hoofed on down to Rite-Aid to get some. I bought the store clean out of wax paper, which means I bought one box. I asked Josh the Cashier if I got a discount for living with the store manager. He said no, but he was wearing hornrimmed glasses so we started talking about stuff and things.

Watch this. People that wear hornrimmed glasses instantly identify with anyone else that is wearing hornrimmed glasses. We are a secret society. We are the Masons. We are the hidden gears that make the universe swirl. We share a mutual respect of the “I’m a nerd, doo-bee-doo, I don’t care,” mantra. People in hornrimmed glasses wear their nerdiness as a badge of honor.

If both parties are decked out with hornrims, they can cut straight to the chase in conversation. Participants can skip all that waffling and side-stepping that usually must pass before they feel comfortable partaking in nerd conversation. And today? In the course of about five seconds we agreed that nerd subjects were acceptable and could be talked about with Great Excitement. That’s one thing about nerds; we’d much rather talk about our interests with energy and passion. If you’re listening you don’t need to be remotely associated with the subject, but if you appear genuinely interested you can really get a nerd going.

The topic was 3D animation and design. Josh had been studying the stuff up in Seattle, and was back in Hood River for a brief stint before returning to do more school-adge. Super cool. No ego. Off in a world of his own devising. Pure nerd material. Ultimately he wants to do character modeling for video games. We talked about physics engines and 3D Studio Max and Maya and how muscle modeling works. Then another customer wanted cigarettes (and a clean white t-shirt, I would hope) so I had to duck out.

Check out people in hornrims. Watch how they interact with their own kind. Drag your fingers through the undercurrents. You can feel it.

An exciteding nerd is a happy nerd.

Is it me or is this world finally big enough to have multiple successful “global cultures.” Nerds have managed to carve a “cool niche” into the modern world and are now developing sub-cultures enmasse. Movie Freaks, High Fidelity style self proclaimed music guru’s, PC gamers, goth, cyberpunks, and of course Danes own brand (TM) Philosophy/Journalism/Music/Outdoors Fruitball penguin walking geekiness…
Wooch! seems to be a great consept for a sub-culture of the Outdoor Adventure “pop-culture.”
Now I’m rambling…

Yeah, the boulder people are wussy too. Aparently, since boulder actually got some snow this winter, the mosquito population has reached BIBLICAL proportions…at least thats what they say on the news. Local boulderites say that this summer is the worst the mosquitos have ever been. Anti-mosquito devices are being sold at Home Depot. I rarely wear a shirt outside. I think i have killed less then a dozen mosquitos counting my backyard, frisbee at school, and hiking in the bug-infested mountains. Boulderites just dont understand that in Minnesota, on quiet nights, you can hear the incesent hummmming of droves of mosquitos coming out of the swamps. And that is after the DNR has sprayed ’em.
i love this environment / weather. Its sunny over 300 days out of the year. I long for a good cloudy, foggy day.

The wonders of the thick fog bank rolling down 21st street on a summery Saturday morning. Only to have clear sky’s and 88 degree’s that early afternoon, turning to a thunderstorm and dropping to 52 degree’s by 3:00 pm. Later that evening the winds roll up and give us choppy un-surfable rolling waves crashing down. Gotta love August in Duluth.

You could take care of those mosquitos for sure with some Weapons of Mass Deduction.

With all the hype about mosquitoes (both in Hood River and Boulder), I’m still waiting for the tv news shots of bodies lining the streets, sucked dry of all life-fluids.
You know that somewhere in the archives they have footage of that, and they’re waiting for the prime (prime!) moment to whip it out.
I just like saying whip it out, so I’ll say it again.
Whip it out!

I discovered Alaska is NOT wussy about their mossies. They (the mosquitos) are big, aggressive, and there is little local complaint.
I actually discovered Alaska doesn’t really seem to be “wussy” about anything. When a guidebook says “moderatly strenuous,” they don’t mean for a 65 y/o overweight retiree, they mean class 3-4 scramble, gaining 3000 feet of elevation in 2 miles, moderately strenuous for a 31 y/o ideal body-weighted buck.
Yeah, that’s right. I’m a buck. Now stop stareing.