August 30, 2004

Someone’s Somewhere

It was an evening spent on the front porch of the Rad Pad with Erik and Fish, consulting cigars and ale. Rad Pad is the misleadingly casual name given to a house perched on a hill in the desert, one part ranch, one part rustic museum and one part bachelor pad. We munched and sipped and watched the sun drift behind the Cascades, and waxed philosophic about life, the universe and everything. It was on this porch, swinging in flying chairs while listening to a gurgling pond to be filled with flesh-eating goldfish, that I may have finally come to a decision.

I will run. I will bound to the horizon and wrest the sun out of the sky. It has been a terrific journey thus far, but I’m just getting warmed up. I know not what will satisfy the wanderlust, not where my restless feet will carry me, but I know that the resolve is now strong enough that it will be somewhere. Somewhere new. Something different. The passion for life is insatiable and I am not ready to curl my toes into the soil and call it good. Not yet.

Like all things worthwhile, this will be difficult. The mere thought of uprooting from Bend, of leaving behind my mountains, rivers and sage, tightens my gut. The depth of this landscape exceeds my most vivid dreams. I don’t know if I have the stomach to say goodbye to my friends again. Hopkins. Duluth. Ihduhapi. Hood River. Everywhere I travel I have found an incredible group of people to laugh with, to lean on, to cry over. The closest friends have been the ones who can see the soul, and they are the ones who understand the wanderlust. They understand that in moving on I am not leaving them, but completing myself. To them there are no sad goodbyes, only happy reunions. It is these friends who form the core of my being; I know that without their support I could never do any of this, and for them I am eternally grateful.

I will bow out gracefully. For how much I lose whenever I leave home, the gains have always been infinitely greater. There are wild swaths of life that I would never have crossed had I decided that a particular somewhere was good enough. I have left great things in my wake, a few good stories, and a legend or two. Wherever it is, I am always welcome. I can always go home.

My time in Bend has been the longest I have lived in one place since leaving my hometown nest of eighteen years. I have been here long enough for all my flesh and bone to renew itself and absorb into my body the desert sun, the churning rivers, the pungent juniper. Molecule for molecule, I have transformed into the landscape I love. I am living in, and I have become, everything I have always wanted.

And hence the growing itch in my back, to shoulder a pack again and venture into the wild. I know that there are new things to experience, more adventures to be had, and I shake with nervous anticipation of what the coming years will hold. I will not feign knowledge of the future, but I know that I am in control of this life and can take it wherever I wish.

We will run. We will transform this body into a Force of Terrible Reckoning. We will climb Mount Hood this fall and we will see what comes next.

August 25, 2004


I fixed a few issues with the Photolog templates, so things should look much nicer. It’s still missing basic functionality like previous, next and back buttons, but I’ve already had my fill in dealing with Movable Type for the week. I’ve also got a number of photos that chronicle the last six months, and as soon as I finish up with their processing I’ll toss them up.

Our weather has been fairly miserable the last few days, at least by Bend standards for August. A week ago we were still slammin’ forward with endless sunshine, 90° days and 60° nights, but everything turned last Thursday evening during our hailstorm bouldering session. Since then we’ve been been having clouds, wind and spitting rain during the day, and at night the temperature had been dropping into the mid 40s. It’s August. I’m wearing long pants and running the heater at night. It reminds me of living in Duluth, which shows just how crappy the weather really is in that town. Lovingly crappy, or Crappily lovely, depending on how you take it.

But then, I need bad weather. I experienced the same burnout last summer in Hood River, where I existed under gorgeous skies for three solid months, became a meadhead and cooked my brain. Nice weather presents a perfect opportunity to run around outside and screw off, but when the good times never stop you never get an opportunity to pause and reflect.

One thing about Duluth is that it offered plenty of time for personal reflection, perhaps too much time, as some people are prone to allowing their reflection turn to brooding, fretting, or other mental games that are conducive to misery. One thing about biking, climbing and other intense outdoors activities is that they definitely keep the mind occupied, and conveniently sidestep the existential quandries that dog an idle mind.

When you slip off a log and smack hard into a pine tree, the questions of whether or not you’re making a difference in the world, or whether or not you might be happier doing something else, don’t find themselves too difficult to resolve. Difference? Of course you’re making a difference. As soon as you can move your arm again you’re gonna make this tree sorry it ever tasted the sky. Happier? Of course you’d be happier doing something else. Biking on logs is the stupidest idea you’ve ever had in your life. As soon as you get home you’re gonna sell the bike and never leave the house again. The neighborhood has plenty of stray cats. You could eat for months.

The insta-answers are fed by adrenaline and their initial appeal doesn’t last forever, but the clarity of resolve is refreshing at times where you find your brain suffocating itself. Too much action without reflection, however, and the knee-jerk emotional responses start becoming the norm, and the ability to find yourself rationally from one end of the world to the other fades and becomes increasingly difficult.

All in all, a balance must be sought between action and reflection, emotion and reason, and that balance must be respected. Thus, even though it is an August night and I find myself layering hemp sweaters, I am thankful for this breather from insanity.

August 24, 2004


Last night I upgraded my version of Movable Type to start using a MySQL database, and I was surprised at how smooth the process was. Since I’m quite fond of the directory structure I have set up here, I was afraid I would need to mirror my existing installation of Movable Type to a new location, test it, nuke the old, and do a fresh install using MySQL.

Fortunately, the fellows at Six Apart had planned for this sort of thing, and built all sorts of nice stuff to make the conversion quick and painless. I backed up my old database just in case something went awry, and even though a two megabyte file sounds small, that’s a lot of data when it’s nothing but plain text.

I had to create and prep the new MT database by hand, which is made a little bit exciting by the fact that my MySQL server is at a different location than my web server. I found that the easiest way around this is to use PuTTY, secure shell into a Linux or FreeBSD box where I have SSH access, and from there run MySQL and hop into my database server. I mention this only because the entire process calls on knowledge I didn’t have even two weeks ago, and because I continually find the nonlocalized, anti-geographic nature of the internet absolutely fascinating.

What I find disappointing, however, is that 65 percent of all internet mail is spam, and that those of us who build and maintain the infrastructure holding up the internet are forced to accomodate these jerks, lest our own communications get swallowed up by a system that cannot handle the traffic load. Real men lay fiber optic cable. Sissies exploit vulnerable mail servers.

I mention this only because when I upgraded my database, I unwittingly punched a hole through the thin wall that protects my weblog from storms of comment spam. When I returned home this evening I had more than 500 new comments waiting for me; all spam, all posted over the course of twenty minutes. I eventually got everything cleaned up and running again, all thanks to MT-Blacklist and the magic of RegEx.

In all seriousness, death is too kind a punishment to be visited upon the people who do crap like this. My dear friend Nathan at Noble Hobo lost a year’s worth of his memoirs from Duluth, the South Pole, New Zealand and Sequoia while trying to delete massive sacks of dookie visited upon his site. Some of the latest pieces of comment spam are insidious as well, using <h1> tags to boost their links and “content” for search engines, and <font> tags (*chortle*) to make their text appear innocuous.

However. Like its creators and lovers, the internet is flexible and agile in thought and action. It will naturally detect infections and reroute around them, or remove them entirely from the body. Saints such as Jay Allen use technology, passion and creativity to keep this organism healthy, and don’t get near enough credit for cleaning up the messes left by a sad group of degenerates. Show yer appreciation. Get out there and smack the Donate button a bit. I’m in for a sawbuck. How ’bout you?

August 21, 2004

Physical Insanity

I’m slowly tearing this body apart, and I’m not sure how much longer it’s going to last. Last Tuesday I skipped out of work at noon to go bouldering with Mark and Laura out at Skeleton Cave, a beefy lava tube just out of town. We strapped on our chalk bags and climbing shoes, bouldered for a couple hours, and impressed some blind cave people who came scurrying up from the depths. The plan was to spend the afternoon climbing at Smith, but we were tired and burned out so we took naps and went to the Bend Brewing Company and watched the Olympics and peed out of trees, instead.

I took a sanity break from work on Wednesday and finally got out to Smith Rock with Mark and Laura, where we climbed Bunny Face and Lycopodophyta. By afternoon our brains were cooked from the intense heat, so we packed up, slogged out of the river valley and made our way back to Bend.

Thursday I ducked out of work early to go bouldering with Jody down along the Deschutes River. We spent our time sessioning a neat traverse problem and hiding from intermittent hailstorms, and took a couple hours in figuring out a gnarly, gnarly finishing move on the traverse. The move has nothing for hands, nothing for feet, and demands that you stem out right for a smear that isn’t there, reach far right for a hold that doesn’t exist, and stick your left foot in your ear so you can yard up and slap into a bomber hold above your head.

On Friday afternoon I left work early (notice a pattern, here?) to go climbing at Smith with Ned, a fellow who Jody and I met during our session at the Deschutes. Our intent was to hit up White Satin, a sweet three-pitch climb in the Smith Rock Group.

Ultimately we followed the wrong bolt line up some filthy nasty rock, and spent the next couple hours figuring out how we were going to rappel off 100 meters of rock with a 60 meter rope. It took a few false starts, some clever scouting and a bit of ingenuity, but we eventually reached a set of anchors that we could use to rappel back to the ground. Even though we didn’t make White Satin and never got our multi-pitch, it turned out the be an epic session regardless. We celebrated by throwing ourselves up Moonshine, a bomber 5.9 trad climb, in the dark.

This afternoon, Ned and I hit up Smith again, with the intent of finishing off White Satin. Unfortunately, when we arrived there was already a group on White Satin (who would stay there until 8:00 at night, having their own epic session wrought with Challenge and Danger) so we headed towards Sky Ridge, hoping to still cram some multi-pitch into the day. The approach to Sky Ridge is a nasty, exposed, unprotected 5.4 scramble, which we did while getting rocked by winds from a storm ramping up in the Cascades. Once we reached the base of Sky Ridge we decided the wind was bad enough that we didn’t want to attempt a multi-pitch, so we down-climbed the approach.

Down-climbed. A freakin’ sketchy 5.4, with no protection, while wearing a backpack filled with ropes and junk. Ned is a mountaineering guide by trade and profession so he had no trouble getting down, but for the first time in my climbing life I felt sketched by the height and exposure. One false move, a missed hand hold or an unexpected twist from my Chacos, and it was a thirty foot drop to the ground. I simply took my time, told myself that both falling and panicking were not options at this time, and eventually found myself to the solid ground.

We swung over to Testament Slab in the Christian Brothers, and climbed Nightingale’s On Vacation, Revelations and Irreverence. Nightingale’s is supposedly a 5.10b, but it feels more like a solid 5.9 with a 5.10b crux. Revelations is a 5.9 with some of the ballsiest bolt placements you’ll ever see, with a first bolt that is 30 feet off the ground. If Nightingale’s is supposed to be a 5.10b, then Irreverence cannot possibly be a 5.10a, as its sustained moves are far more difficult than those of Nightingale’s. I’d say Irreverence is a sustained 5.10b with a few 5.10c moves, but I suppose it’s not my call.

Ratings aside, as Ned dropped down from Irreverence the sun had dipped low enough to poke out from under the cloud veil of the Cascades, scorching the medieval towers of Smith and igniting a triple rainbow that arched over the entire park. It was very cool and very spiritual, and it took my over-stimulated mind off of how incredibly tired my body has been feeling.

Five straight days of climbing. For tomorrow, I am praying for huge thunderstorms and rainbows galore, as I am supposed to bike thirty-some-odd miles from Mount Bachelor to Bend with my friends Shane and Erin. In the last few weeks I have lost every ounce of my will power to resist pushing my meat body to its breaking point, and I fear now that the only thing that can save me from myself would be an act of god.

Tomorrow can be only biking or thunderstorms. The universe itself has converted to binary notation.

August 19, 2004

Kittens and Rottermelons

Note: If there are an abnormal number of typos tonight, it’s because I spent the entire evening bouldering down on the Deschutes, and my finger meat aches to the bone. I can’t feel the keyboard. All I feel is pain. Dusty, tasty, hail storm pain.

Over Fourth of July weekend I bought a watermelon. My friend Mark was visiting and he bought a watermelon as well, but his was seedless so we ate it instead. I kept my watermelon in the kitchen until it got mooshy, and then I put it out on our back deck. I should have tossed it out, but after a few weeks it turned yellow and started sagging and didn’t look much like a watermelon at all, more like a rottermelon. Now that it’s been sitting back there for over a month and a half I’m afraid to touch the rottermelon. When I kicked it two weeks ago, a whole family of fruit flies came out. I’m afraid that if I kick the rottermelon now, a litter of kittens are going to pop out.

So there on the deck it sits, alone, dejected, the poor lonely rottermelon. I will have to take care of it soon, as Erik is moving out of Lava House this week to go live in a squalid house in the country that is so backwards it doesn’t even have city plumbing. Or neighbors. If things pan out, I plan on ejecting from Lava House in late September to go live with my Mountain friends Shane and Erin.

Ever since our neighbor Mike moved out from across the street, the Lava neighborhood has been losing its mind. A small yap-yap dog now lives across the street, and I think it killed and ate its owners a few weeks ago in an attempt to gain ultimate sovereignity. I don’t know how the dog plans on paying utilities and rent in the coming months, but I know it loves the cars who drive down Lava and honk for no reason, and the dirty noisy jays who have taken over the World’s Dirtiest Elm Tree (which just happens to unfold right over my car), and the car alarms that go off all night long and sound like the toy gun aisle at Wal-Mart, and the drunk that stumbles up our driveway and demands that we give him beer or a ride to the 7-Eleven.

It would seem that Lava House has served its purpose, and while I will indeed miss being within stumbling distance of downtown, I believe it is time to move on to something different. In the meantime, this house is in complete disarray. Erik’s move has uncovered new and exciting locales of intense filth, and as his domestic items make their way out into the juniper and sage, I’m left floundering for something to sit on, something to cook with, or something to sleep on. Ultimately, everything ends up on the floor, and I’ll probably raid my camping gear for any culinary artifacts I require in the coming weeks. What I will miss most, however, will be the spooning.

My room is an absolute mess. There’s a four foot pile of kiteboarding and windsurfing junk between me and my closet, which isn’t too inconvenient considering that most of my clothes are piled on the floor. My backpack is mixed in with that pile, and I have used it so much this summer that I need to rinse away the layers of salt rime deposited by my sweat. My bike blocks my bedroom door, and it will probably stay there until I fix the flat tire that I got riding at Swampy Lakes with Shane and Erin last Sunday. Random climbing components are strewn everywhere, left over from bouldering in Skeleton Cave with Laura and Mark, climbing at Smith Rock, or pumping tonight’s session on the Deschutes.

Yeah. Something needs to be done. But it doesn’t need to be done tonight. I’m just gonna nurse my sore fingers with some Australian wine and hang out on the front deck. The light over our front deck burned out two months ago, and I finally got around to replacing it with a black light.

Front deck. Not to be confused with the back deck, which is reserved for kittens and rottermelons.

August 15, 2004


After two years, I have revived the Externals page for people who are in to that sort of thing. I hope you love it.

I also assigned a hover state color to visited links, because typically people expect that sort of thing. However, this breaks the visited state color assigned to visited links in Internet Explorer, which is a kooky little program that a lot of people use to look at the internet.

August 12, 2004

WANTED: World’s Greatest Web Designer

Okay, here’s the deal. My company (well, not my company, but the company I work for) may be looking for a few uber-talented folk to add to our team. If you are interested in designing web from an adrenaline-junkie town named Bend, Oregon (pronounced “bend o’er again”) near 10,000 foot mountains with great climbing, biking, skiing and bowling, read on. If not, well, bummer.

Alpine Internet Solutions is a web design / development / services company that specializes in delivering kick-ass websites that offer our customers a strategic platform from which to launch their most extreme marketing desires. Some of our recent work includes Continental Mills, BendFilm and Bev Sherrer. Please judge us not by our clothes, but by the hard work we do for others. Our own website is a little bit stale.

As a company, we aren’t very big (there’s seven of us who work full-time), very formal (we wear sandals and bring our dogs to work), or very sophisticated (we just recently got rid of our garage door). If you’re looking to work for El Corpor-O Inc. and slave away with the well-dressed code nymphs of Silicon Valley, you best keep walkin’. We throw Friday afternoon barbeques in the parking lot.

What we are is passionate and courteous. We want our customers to be successful on the web. We run on equal parts quality, service and Red Bull.

Do you have what we’re lookin’ for? What are we lookin’ for, anyway? That’s a good question, and one that waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon. Like a skilled climber Alpine is lightweight and flexible, and we are always searching for new and better ways to serve our customers. There are definitely some core skills that we would love to see in our applicants, but sufficient passion, vision and creativity can trump all.

But enough of that. You wanna know the grit, eh?

  1. Alpine’s delivery model is based on web standards, and we make every attempt to take advantage of the benefits that they can offer to our customers. With that, a strong versing in XHTML and CSS is very much desired. If you’re still using transparent gifs and more than one table to house a design, there isn’t much we can do for you. However, If you can look at the code for this website and say to yourself, “That ain’t no thang,” we’d love to chat.
  2. Alpine runs a home-brewed robust and powerful content management system that is used on nearly all of our client sites. This work of art has been lovingly crafted using PHP and MySQL, and it purrs away on our FreeBSD machines. Personally, I am an XHTML/CSS junkie who gets a contact high from the PHP / MySQL / FreeBSD / Apache mix, and I’m sure that there are those of you out there who could take me to school on this schizzle. Knowledge and passion about scripting, programming and databases will earn you a gold star.
  3. Many Alpine employees work under what we call “The John Galt Incentive Program.” If you help our company quickly and efficiently deliver great websites to our customers, you will be rewarded accordingly. If you spend most of the day updating your weblog and reading Slashdot, you will be rewarded accordingly. We run a lean machine, and the intense environment that can result isn’t for everybody.
  4. Alpine is always on the lookout for creative folk, and a common misconception is that if you don’t paint landscapes or build canoes or play the kazoo, you can’t be creative. Untrue. More than anything, creativity is a problem-solving process by which one is able to generate numerous alternative solutions before deciding on a course of action. If you were asked to build a website, and the only tools we provided were a toaster and a cuttlefish, could you do it? Huh? Could ya?
  5. Flash? Flash is good. Everyone loves Flash, especially when it’s wrapped in HTML that validates. If you’ve got some l33t fl45h sk1llz to show off, by all means, Flash away.

So, how does that all sound? Wanna give it a shot? Fire off an email to “jobs at alpineinternet dot com” or fill out the form at our website.

First things first, however. Pause. Take a deep breath. Now exhale. I’m sure you’re all hot and heavy about it now, but will you feel the same way tomorrow morning? Have you warmed up your kazoo chops? Are you truly prepared to face the cuttlefish?

Are you ready for some all-terrain bowling?

August 11, 2004



TONIGHT (Wednesday the 11th of August, 2004)

6:00 PM – ???

AT TIMBERS SOUTH (you know, that crazy hack-job meat place by Goodwill… and you know the party is gonna be at Goodwill before everything is said and done)

If your last name starts with A-J you should bring eggs

If your last name starts with K-S you should bring stolen street signs

If your last name starts with T-Z you should start running now

Members of the public are welcome and encouraged to attend. Witness the wretched filth featured on the front page of Community Life first-hand!

August 10, 2004

gentlemen, start your spam engines

After taking drastic measures, comments have been reactivated.

Ya’ll better behave yourselves or I’ll turn this car around.

I mean it. Don’t make me come back there.