December 29, 2003

Inversion Conversion

Central Oregon is losing its mind. In the past 48 hours we’ve gotten somewhere between 36 and 42 inches of snow at the Mountain, bringing the base up to 105 inches. In the past 48 hours I’ve dug and scraped my car out of the snow five million times. We have over a foot of snow in town and people are cross-country skiing down mainstreet. The roads are thick and snowy, and where they’re not thick and snowy they’re icy and homicidal. The city of Bend has one snowplow, but I heard they auctioned it off to some frat boys from Corvallis to fund their cogwheel-compass-salmon roundabout sculptures.

I didn’t work today, so I spent my entire morning and early afternoon kicking my own ass in the terrain park. I’ve effectively screwed up my leg, tailbone and both wrists, and I hit my head so hard I forgot how to make lasagna. That’s one of the tricks I use for teaching kids to stay on their uphill edge while snowboarding. "We don’t want to dig that downhill edge, because then WHOOP! we fall down and hit our heads. And when we hit our heads we forget important things like our parents’ names and how to dance and how to make lasagna. I don’t want to see any of you forgetting how to make lasagna!"

I made some serious progress in the park, completely inverting my freestyle trick bag. I used to be scared to death of rails but could totally stomp big air from kickers. Now when I launch off a kicker I fling myself yonder, miss my grab, roll the windows down, and can’t land for shit. But rails, baby, I got rails dialed now. Flat rails, fat rails, thin rails, kink rails… I got ’em all. I can 50-50 the 20 foot rail, tweak from a 50-50 to a boardslide on the 10 footer, slide all three sections of the 30 foot flat/down rail, and stomp a boardslide on the fun box. Whoopie doopie!

The hardest part about riding a rail is just gettin’ yourself up on it. When I would approach a rail, all I could visualize was me getting a faceful of metal and a mouthful of Chiclets. Once I realized that this would probably not happen, and it was far more likely that I would slip off sideways and break my ribs or fall backwards and pop open my skull, the rails came like butter. However, my success on rails inversely affected my success on kickers, such that I found myself spitting blood after a few huge and unsuccessful landings. On the snow it was pink and looked like I had been sucking on peppermint candy.

There was a dirty fellow at Safeway who reeked of weed and was carrying on a conversation with another patron that went to the tune of, I swear to god, “Grah maaah chagh wuh nephth looh.”

December 26, 2003

Tuning into the Crystal Spheres

If nothing else, all you PC users out there should download Winamp 5.0. It’s free, it rocks, and it lets you toggle between the huge, ugly freeform Winamp 3.0 skins (the default of which is actually very pleasant and comes in a wide spectrum of colors) or the leaner and meaner Winamp 2.0 skins.

Winamp 3.0 sucked so much it chilled my heels into ever upgrading Winamp again, but 5.0 has renewed my faith. It handles tracks and playlists with much more elegance than previous versions, and they must have retooled the randomizer algorithms because a) they sucked before and were merely a cruel abstraction of true randomness and b) I’m hearing songs from my collection of 3,155 mp3s that were never randomly summoned up with Winamp 2.0.

It’s the little things, too. Speedy loading. Subtle cross-fading between tracks. A CD player that actually works. Multiple pretty color options for the same skin. I’m tempted to slap down the measly $15 for the full version so I can rip mp3s for the first time in nearly a year. I used to use an old demo version of MusicMatch (which sucked for everything but ripping) to generate mp3s, and it let me sample at 160kbps, which t’ain’t bad. I then made the mistake of upgrading the demo to a newer version, which chopped me down to 128kbps, which is unacceptable in my realm. I spent the better part of an afternoon uninstalling the sinister new version and reinstalling the old version, which never completely forgave me. Then this past summer my Windows partition collapsed and the only way I could rescue my computer was booting in my Linux partition, cleaning house and reinstalling Windows. Stretched thin, like too little butter over too much bread, MusicMatch finally keeled over and stiffened with rigor mortis, and I was left with 200 CDs that still needed to find their ways into mp3 form.

So. If Winamp 5.0 can play mp3s well, and can play CDs well, and can burn CDs well, and can rip mp3s from CDs well, I may have found the last program I’ll ever need to buy for my PC. Why, unconfirmed rumors claim that it can even play videos, but I don’t want to strain the poor feller. On second thought, yes I do. Now I’m watching Harvey Birdman! Now I’m watching Invader Zim!

No way! It streams Internet TV! Now I’m watching British comedy! Now I’m watching Ween! Now I’m watching Radiohead! No way! It streams Internet Radio! Now I’m listening to symphonic music! Now I’m listening to ambient trance! Now I’m listening to Korean Gospel!

Now I’m siphoning fifteen smackers out of my bank account!

December 25, 2003

Live with Orchestra


Christmas Day in Bend, Oregon. The chickadees are flittering outside my window and eating snowflakes. Last night we had Christmas dinner over at Shane and Erin’s place, where we watched Oregon State drag New Mexico up and down The Strip. 55-14. Ouch, man. I’m not much of a football fan but I knows a whoopin’ when I sees one. Our dinner was delicious, complete with a juicy turkey, real stuffing, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce still shaped like the tin can it schlooped from, frosted cookies shaped like stars and stockings and trees and candy canes, caramels, Mrs. Zenner’s “Suicide” Syrup Brownies, triple chocolate marble fudge, Russian tea cakes, gingerbread men (and women), hot apple cider, and a Yule beer or two.

We didn’t get around to opening presents until 10:00 or so, but we’re young and fearless so that wasn’t a worry. After I unwrapped a radio controlled Mini Cooper Shane ran out to the garage to build a race track out of cardboard boxes. I got a few cards and photographs from my family and they made me cry. Christmas without the family is no fun, no fun at all, but I keep on truckin’ by embracing what surrounds me. I also know that there are millions of people in far less desirable conditions, who are fighting for my right to live free, whether I’m in Central Oregon, the Gorge, the North Shore or the Twin Cities.

And to all of them, and all of you, I wish a merry Christmas. Merry Christmas to everyone in Bend, all the workers and riders and skiiers at the Mountain. Merry Christmas to everyone in Hood River, all the windsurfers and kiteboarders at the ol’ Bee Dub. Merry Christmas to Motoshi and Miho in New Zealand. Merry Christmas to the Portland Habi-Trail for Humanity crew. Merry Christmas to the Powder River sheep herder who I met on my cross-country drive last May. Merry Christmas to the North Dakota small-towner who handwrote my gas station receipt for $13.00 in super unleaded. Merry Christmas to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine.

Merry Christmas to everyone from Ihduhapi, all the kids and counselors getting together tomorrow for Yukon Days. Merry Christmas to the kind folk at the UMD Statesman, especially the infamous Nial Pipslyrh, who published whatever the heck I wanted to write. Merry Christmas to all Woochers great and small, those who still trod the shores of Lake Superior and those who have scattered in the wild winds of the Universe.

Merry Christmas to music nerds, especially those who mix french horns and alt rock bands. Merry Christmas to nerds who notice that the Grinch’s mouth looks like a talking cornicopia, and who stay up late trying win Bubble Bobble. Merry Christmas to geeks (who are different from nerds) who start their own proms, and especially those who streak them. Merry Christmas to all my college professors, those who keep a lump of coal on their desk, a humidifier in their office or Billy Bob Teeth in their mouth.

Merry Christmas to Samba Hood Rio, Spontaneous Combustion, Sunny Wicked, Indefinite Particle Article, Teague Alexy, Cowboy Curtis (I still need a copy of that new CD), Happy Apple (Mike Lewis, thanks for that saxophone lesson all those years back), UMD Jazz Combo Three, UMD Jazz Ensemble One, Chernobyl and Pamplemousse. Merry Christmas to Jack’s, Pizza Luce, The Blue Max, Beaner’s Central, The Norshor (sniff), the Weber Music Hall, the Marshall Performing Arts Center, Bo 90 and The Depot.

Merry Christmas to all my Hopkins fellows, those who mix audio with a kung-fu grip, those who mix music and mathemagic to the result of huge explosions, and those who will be pilots in a new century of discovery in avionics. Merry Christmas to all the band nerds, anyone that painted a fence, swung a hammer or pounded a nail for Pops, the cast and crew of Guys and Dolls, and all those who let me crash every single Fiddler on the Roof cast party.

Merry Christmas to all the DRCitizens who gasped in awe at the wisdom of Kentucky 12th Graders and Souht Carolina 6th Graders, who know fully well how the bree affects the lever, and are now dancing crazy with a bass guitar or teaching the Evil Imperialist Tongue to the Japanese.

Merry Christmas to the Blogosphere, everyone who oils the dirty gears that keep this thing called Internet running, and everyone who produces stuff to make it worth keeping around.

Most of all, Merry Christmas to all family and friends, both near and far. Nothing would be possible without you.

December 22, 2003

Thai Schizilli

Ten minutes. Let’s play this out and see what happens.

Tonight I made thai chili, which was near-disasterous on any number of fronts. It turned out to be an absolutely gargantuan recipe intended to feed the entire crew of an aircraft carrier, which meant that a lot of vegetables had to meet some slicin’ and dicin’. In the mayhem of knife wielding and onion weeping and terror-alert panicking I sliced the bitty tip off my left thumb. I saw to it that the flesh didn’t make its way into the pot, lest I insult vegetarians with my tainted vegetarian thai chili.

All in all, I fared better than one of my snowboarding students did, yesterday. We were pulling a short run, from "the clump of trees to the chairlift." He fell on his arse, managing to break his tailbone, wrist, back, skull, pride, bread, etc. There’s nothing like standing with your class, watching one of your kids get carted away to Ski Patrol on a sled behind a snowmobile. My fellow instructors were a tad bit concerned for me:

"You doing OK, Dane?"


"It’s not your fault, man. Don’t worry about it."

"I’m not worried."

"It’s a sport. People are gonna get hurt, ya know?"


"…you seem rather calm."

"I worked at a summer camp."

"Oh. I see."

December 20, 2003

I’m So Chill

Ok. Egg timer initiated. I’m giving myself five minutes and one Full Sail Wassail to finish off this nonsense.

The clientele at the local Food4Less (other names considered include FoodOrDeath and Food4Ass) are creepy. I mean, we’re talkin’ Duluth creepy, here, the whole “she was crossing the street and she turned to look at me in my car and her face lit up and she started walking towards my car and the only thing I could think to do was hit the gas pedal and paint her across the intersection.” There was a lady shopping with her dapple miniature dachshund sitting in her cart, and I almost approached the pooch to pay it a mind and strike up a conversation, until I analyzed the situation. The lady was pawing through oranges, and had been doing so for quite some time. The dog was sitting on a dirty pillow that looked like it was used specifically for attending all of the lady’s shopping cart expeditions. This screamed creepy, this screamed off-kilter, so I sidestepped the entire encounter and pressed onward into the cheese section.

Ok, I’ll give myself ten minutes. Last Sunday we had an awesome party at Nate’s house, where I stumbled about in my leather jacket, talking in varying English/Irish/Australian/Southern/Midwestern accents. When Shane finally showed up we set up a gib park in the back yard, complete with teetering forklift skids for a ramp and an old flag pole for a rail. It took a lot of practice and liquid courage (which unfortunately doesn’t coexist with the human body’s natural gyroscopes and servos for generating balance) but soon enough I was grinding the rail 50-50 on a snow skate. Then I hit it with a boardslide. Then a backside boardslide with a 180 dismount. All while holding a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

I went to Ranch Records tonight and picked up used copies of Barenaked Ladies’ Maroon and the latest Saves the Day. I almost got Kingsbury Manx, Air, Primus’ Animals Should Not Act Like People, Blues Traveler, Dave Brubeck, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Wrens and Spacehog. But I didn’t. Because I’m made not of money but of flesh and blood.

December 18, 2003


This cold thing is starting to get out of hand. I’ve been playing it safe and sleeping lots and not playing outside in the cold and drinking homestyle orange juice so it isn’t progressing into something fierce, but it isn’t going away, either. I’ve now missed two bluebird days at the Mountain, which are a precious commodity in the Cascades because the weather is pretty nasty most of the time. Overcast skies, thick fog, blowing snow, wind that tries to rip you from the chairlift, the occasional rainstorm… they’re all a reminder that those 300 inches of snow have to come from somewhere. The Summit chair was open today, which ground my soul something else because the Summit chair typically only opens three days a season, and this season it has already been open three days.

Mentally and spiritually I need to be shreddin’ around the mountain, but physiologically my body suggests that I need to take it easy, lest three days of needed rest blossom into two unnecessary weeks of stumbling angst at the world. The hardest part about not being at the Mountain is that all of my friends are fellow co-workers up there, and since we’ve so far been lazy about trading phone numbers, if I don’t see them on the slopes I won’t see them in town.

Nonetheless, the day hasn’t been a total loss. I swung by the mountaineering shop down the street to learn where all the climbing punks hang out in town, and they referred me to the Cascades Mountaineers, who are based out of the Central Oregon Environmental Center (also right down the street). I dropped by, picked up details on their next meeting, and trucked on down to Bend Map and Blueprint to pour over topo maps and whet my appetite for adventure.

Also, I am seriously pursuing an avenue that would make Bend, Oregon my home for an undisclosed number of years and months. This is a spooky prospect, as I am still a bit uncomfortable with the idea of casting down roots, especially so far from the place and people that feel like home. The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that there could be worse things than living in Bend, Oregon, a town that caters to groovy outdoor folk with its mountains and snow and climbing and trails and rivers and lakes and forests and wildfires. If I do end up hanging out here for an extended period of time, I will become, in essence, a western outpost for fellow rugged Midwesterners looking for a change of scenery.

Even though I needed to blaze fresh trails and often navigated by dead reckoning to find my way out here, there’s no reason that you passionate individuals need to dive headlong into the darkness yourselves. Looking for a cool place to hang for a summer? Looking for an outdoor bum lifestyle post-graduation? Chances are we’ll be here, looking for you.

Let the exodus begin.

December 17, 2003

That River’s got me Hypnotized

Despite strident attempts to convince myself otherwise, I’m getting ill. The sore throat snuck up during night in strange dreams of hanging out with the Nerd Herd, and the weezy hacking summoned itself while dining at Quizno’s. I’ve put myself on a strict diet of water and vitamin C pills, strict as in "That which still allows gentle abuse of Double Stuf Oreos and winter ales." Despite extreme sacrifices to prevent myself from slipping further into the world of weeping relatives and death beds (such as postponing this season’s fourteenth day of snowboarding until tomorrow), my tummy feels rumbly and my tongue is riddled with tell-tale canker sores.

I don’t do well with getting sick because I rarely get sick. For some people illness is as common as mail delivery, but for me it comes around as often as comets, white rappers and clean public restrooms. All seen together. In this I rarely fare well when the angel of grippe finally does pay me a visit, as I haven’t developed any emotional or spiritual strategies for dealing with such things. The lack of cohesion coupled with short-term memory loss ensures that each bout with a bug becomes its own independent battle, complete with improvised rules of engagement.

My faculties for logic and reason are the first casualties, and at my weakest, degenerated state you could convince me that anything will make my body heal faster. A stiff glass of unleaded? Goat hearts strug on an elastic candy necklace? The left-hand suzuki method? Bring ’em on!

The last few days I’ve made it a habit to trek on over to the public library every evening, if only in an effort to infect as many fellow intellectuals as possible. My living conditions in Bend are supercalifragiloovy in that the Deschutes Public Library is huge and beautiful and two blocks from Lava House. A few days ago we had a little snowstorm in Bend that left three inches of accumulation, and it’s still hanging around because it hasn’t been above freezing since then.

In the world I’m familiar with this wouldn’t be a problem because we so salt the hell out of everything that flesh itself melts at 17 below, but in Oregon they use (what I have described before) what they call "cinder". And since cinder is useless for anything beyond breaking windshields and turning roadside slush into bloody hunks of meat, the walk to the library can be slippery and treacherous and wrought with unspeakable dangers.

I have been lucky enough to complete this excursion successfully three days in a row, and each trip has rewarded me with unadulterated access to secular periodicals that I consume ravenously. I have thus far spent an evening with Skeptic Magazine, Smithsonian and Scientific American. Scientific American has always been one of my favorites, even when I was ten years old and really had no idea what in the hell it was talking about. Most ten-year-olds are satisfied when handed an issue of Popular Science, but even then I believe I had an inkling that Pop Sci was a bit thick on the Pop and light on the Sci.

Really, Popular Science should be renamed “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Scientific American.” Most of Pop Sci’s articles are wrought with junky elation over stealth battleships, overpriced satellites and American cars. Not to mention that every futuristic, speculative article is filled with artist conceptions of technology, which are useful in that they show you exactly what the future won’t look like. More than anything, it’s the fight between engineers and natural law that determines the shape of the future, not artists.

Artists are consulted only at the very end, when they get to mold glass into huge salmon murals to hang in libraries. At this the artists do a very good job, as well as at the traffic circle on Colorado where a dozen metal salmon statues swim on little poles. They also do well with the traffic circles in the Old Mill District, where we have huge gears fashioned out of weathered metal. This also leads you to wonder, though, what huge gears in the Old Mill District have to do with salmon. Did the salmon once run so thick that one could cross the river by walking on their shimmering backs, and the mills were powered more by their seasonal migration than by the water? Were the mills where turn-of-the-century workers, after a large salmon harvest was floated down the Deschutes, ground salmon into gourmet cat food, cosmetics and housing materials?

These are the things that command your ponderance whist you descend ever deeper into the yawning void of unhealth.

December 16, 2003

Precious Booty

Frozen Statue: Pine Marten Lodge, Mt. Bachelor

This is precious. This is perhaps the best thing I have seen on the web since the exploding whale video.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you OBJECTIVE: Christian Ministries… 4 KIDZ!

My OBJECTIVE is JUST 4 KIDZ! The “z” is for “zealousness,” ’cause Jesus wants us to be hot for Him, not lukewarm. I read in the Bible that He said: “”As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent””… Let’s do that!

Oh baby, let me tell you. Since experiencing the thrill and excitement of this page I have never been hotter for Jesus in my entire life. In fact, because of my newfound hotness for Jesus, my big red throbbing hotness for Jesus, I have printed out the Spiritual Safety Tip and posted it by our front door. Click on the goat head for valuable insight into the mind of an atheist, including a shout out to one of our beloved (and thus secular, godless and evil) authors.

Don’t miss the Kidz Art Gallery, where you can see Professor Giraffenstein feed trees to T-Rex (“Just like Adam and Eve did!”) and Jesus high-fiving a pirate (who, in his own throbbing hotness for Jesus, says the Son of God "tis the most precious booty of all!").

Having just finished Krakauer’s "Under the Banner of Heaven" and being exposed to this site, I’m now going to take up religious zealotry as a hobby. How cool would "Zealot" look on a t-shirt? On a job application? On a business card?

More later. I’ve been busy partying over the capture of Saddam, jibbing rails on a snow skate, snowboarding in knee deep powder, interviewing for jobs, and teaching snowboarding lessons to kids who are slightly embarrassed to be associated with me.

December 12, 2003

X-Mas Lights Extravaganza!

Downtown Bend

Are you at a loss for your innovative outdoor Christmas lights display? Does tossing a string of lights over the shrubs not cut it for you, anymore? Want to be the envy of all your neighbors? Have we got a scene for you!

First, gather the necessary materials:

One wireframe, light-up fawn

One light-up animated deer, preferably a type with "feeding" somewhere in its name

One million (or so) strings of red Christmas lights.

One baseball bat

Got it all? Right, then. Clear an ample space in your front yard and set up the animated deer. With the baseball bat, smash the fawn to within a breath of recognition and place it under the deer’s muzzle. Haphazardly scatter red Christmas lights over the entire scene, making sure to concentrate on the space in and around the fawn. For effect, run one string of red lights from the carnage up to the animated deer’s mouth.

And you’re done! With a bit more effort you can enhance the scene with a spray bottle filled with red food coloring, a roll of yellow caution tape, and a whole pack of "feeding" deer.


Snapshots of Life in Farewell Bend


"Well hello there, little girl!"


"Your face is covered in chocolate!"


"…at least, I hope it’s chocolate…"

Standing at the intersection of Wall Street and Franklin this evening, I watched a large fellow in a Chevy Blazer drive by with all his windows down, singing along to country music at the top of his lungs.

Last night we got eight inches of snow at the Mountain, bringing the base up to 61”. It was heavy Cascade Cement snow that gives your legs a real workout, and often causes you to catch an edge and go pinwheeling down the hill (or fall into the trees and end up half-buried in snow). Nevertheless, it softened up things in the terrain park enough for me to 50-50 a few rails, boardslide the funbox, dial in my frontside 180s, try a few backside 180s, attempt a frontside 360, and catch some wicked air off the kickers.

What the hell am I talking about? Transworld Snowboarding has some good video clips of tricks that explain ’em better than I can. The pros will teach you to snowboard with their own eloquent language:

OK, and when you approach the jump, um, just take, ya know, medium speed, umm, just find a jump that you’re comfortable with, that, you know, you can go straight-edge over, just go up like you’re gonna do, you know, just go straight over it, and uhh, just, just twist your shoulders just a little bit when you go off, and it should just float right around, and uhh, just keep your weight centered and, ya know, if you got good hang time, ya know, just keep your eyes on the landing, but you can reach down and grab or, just look for the landing and just ride away clean.


December 11, 2003


Shane & Neil - Sunrise Lift

The Bend Target draws a totally different demographic than the Hood River Wal-Wart. We have discussed the clientele of the Hood River Wal-Mart before, the shower sandals, the striped tube socks, the pasty hairy legs, the basketball shorts, the "Playah" jerseys. Yikes. And let us not to forget the essential "girlfriend" accessory, who always looks like she was cut out of the most recent issue of Cosmo, complete with a complexion resembling the shiny finish of magazine paper, and a thin two-dimensional nature that, when held up to the light, lets the other side of the page shine right through.

But yow, Bend Target. I have not seen that many hot moms in one location since the Hot Moms Convention we threw at Stadium Apartments last March. Arguably I shouldn’t be looking at hot moms this way, because like, they’re hot moms, but seriously. These gals are a scant few years older than I am and totally have it going on. A guy takes notice of these things.

I’ve gotta start hanging out in the toy department more often.

Today we didn’t do landscaping, but that’s OK because I think the landscaping company has since been fired from the temp agency. I got home, sharpened the edges on my board, detuned the nose and tail, ducked out my stance a bit more to 15 and -7, and gave myself two more notches of forward lean. Totally stoked to try out this new setup I dashed out the door and slid on !DANGER! BLACK ICE !DANGER! all the way to the bus stop.

And then, right as the bus pulled up, I realized I had forgotten my season pass back at home. Disaster. I parted ways with Linux and Simon Says, who headed up to the Mountain to find some powder left over from yesterday, and I went home to read, revamp webpages, take a nap, and pretty much do whatever else you do when you’re stuck at home and your friends are out having sick rides on 56 inches of snow.

So really, I had to do what the rest of you do every day.