January 29, 2005


Last night was at the Red Carpet. As the name suggests, the Red Carpet is the classiest establishment in all of Hood River. The host won’t even look at you if you don’t have reservations, a sawbuck hardly buys you a glass of wine, and the tablecloths have thread counts in the thousands. They’re so soft and supple that you can’t help but put your elbows on them. Which is unfortunate because every time you do, the waiter comes by and fines you a dollar.

I should mention that you do get one warning, but after that it gets real expensive, real fast. My only reason for being there was that Jesse had planned a surprise birthday party for her friend Andrea, and I happened to weasel my way onto the guest list at the last moment.

Okay, I’ll level with you. It was nothing like that. The Red Carpet is actually a tried and true redneck bar. Think of the D&D in Bend, the Reef in Duluth, the Hilltop in Hanover. Now think of them smaller and without the charm.

When I told people that we were going to be partying at the Red Carpet, they were horrified, and demanded to know why, in the wide wonderful universe of drinking establishments, we were going to the Red Carpet. I mean, it’s one thing to rev up the night and accidentally find yourself at the Red Carpet, but this evening was obviously premeditated. Why the Red Carpet? Why, indeed. It was a legitimate question, and one that we answered with three words:

Five dollar pitchers.

Yeah buddy. Five bucks and you’re hooked up with an entire pitcher of delicious Rainier. And these weren’t no sissy pitchers with false bottoms, neither. These were the real deal, a sturdy column of beer from the table to the rim. What’s more, every night the Red Carpet offers specials on exotic drinks. Last night’s special was a $2.00 Rum and Coke. One can hardly begin to speculate what sort of crazy things are in a drink like that!

I mean, for how classy the Red Carpet isn’t, it’s still pretty classy. The tables are wrapped in textured vinyl, with cigarette burns on top and chewed gum underneath. The covering not only keeps your pint from slipping and sliding around, which can be really frustrating after you’ve invested $10 in drinks, but also keeps the kids from starting a fierce game of quarters. The kids find a way around this, usually by oozing into the front room.

While the front room does have amenities, like video poker and slot machines, that are absent from the back room, the back room has a personality all its own. The pool table only costs fifty cents a game, which comes in real handy when Jesse grabs all the racked balls and shoves them down a pocket for reasons evident only to herself. A lamp advertising Schlitz Malt Liquor, also known as Blue Bull, hangs over the pool table. It comes in 40s, and we never confirmed whether the Red Carpet actually carried Schlitz, or if the lamp was left over from days of yore.

You can read a number of reviews of Schlitz at www.40ozmaltliquor.com. Most of the reviews were written as the reviewer was still recovering from an evening of testing 40s. This results in comments like “That shit is designed for 60 year old Korea veterans,” and “…the smell of it is equivalent to a locker room of sweaty athletes.” It’s enough to make a man drop everything and run out for a couple of 40s!

…but not until he finishes reading this story, which begins, “My Tuesday night last week included urinating on a dumpster with homeless guys.”

The back room also has a metal bucket hanging from the ceiling. A sign, written with an angry Sharpie, demands that if a pool cue or pool ball hits the floor, you owe it 25 cents. With most of us being opposed to taxation without representation, we chose to not, in fact, throw quarters in the bucket. Instead, we threw quarters into a quadruple shot glass in the front room. For whatever reason, they were playing songs from Primus’ Brown Album.

The bar was in the front room, and it was stocked with chainsmoking women. A floroescent yellow sign behind the bar said they sold Breathsavers for 75 cents, and Rolaids for a dollar. It’s only 25 cents, and you get so much more! Another sign proclaimed that girl bartenders rule and guy bartenders drool. The whiteboard by the front door said our bartender’s name was Tammy, and it also said that if your dad’s cell number has nothing to do with a telephone, you might be a redneck.

Finally, there was the awesome cake that Jesse had fixed up. Andrea has a dachshund named Sonny, so Jesse made a cake shaped like a sun with a wiener dog standing on it. The problem was, the cake didn’t look anything like a sun, and when we added new rays to it, we had run out of white frosting and had to use chocolate. Though the cake itself was rather confusing, the dog turned out beautifully, with the body of a banana, feet of black licorice, and ears of Fruit Leather.

Here we see the dachshund in its natural habitat, complete with Coors Light and a disembodied hand:

Andrea's Weiner Dog Cake

Moments later, all hell broke loose and the cake was severely violated.

January 28, 2005


I’m still here. I’d say that I’ve been busy, except for the minor detail that I haven’t been busy at all. I’ve had plenty of free time and I’ve been spending it in fun and exciting ways. I’ve found myself hanging out with friends, with glass blowers, with local musicians. These people, these people are stories.

Sal received an orange and green scarf from a fellow in Cambodia. This is something significant.

Chris knows all about borosilicates and bakes bread. These are completely unrelated.

Dave makes beautiful plates out of stained wood.

Roy pays for utilities by acting as an excellent cook.

Seth is a great sound guy who runs an active sound board. This means he twists knobs frequently and makes musicians happy.

Brian plays drums. He loves open mic night at the River City Saloon because he is not allowed to make loud noises at home.

Nate sometimes lets Brian play harmonica with his band Top Soil.

Earl will melt your face off with his guitar solos, but he has a real hard time sitting back in the reeds.

If Charlie got another shot at life, he would like to come back as Frank Zappa.

Ed plays guitar, and he loves the vintage amplifiers that Charlie has restored.

Michael busts out some great hip-hop lyrics, but he always screams uncontrollably over the chorus.

January 23, 2005

stayin’ up all night, playin’ D&D

To my list of things that I can absolutely live without, you can officially add pet hair. My new home has a dog and cat, who both seem to shed at an alarming rate. I’m not allergic to them by any means, so you can just write me off as one of those people who doesn’t like hair in everything.

Perhaps it’s a character weakness, like in Dungeons and Dragons. Maybe your chaotic neutral ranger was strong of body but weak of charisma, and had a face that looked like it lost a fight with a knife drawer. Perhaps your cleric who lacked in strength what she had in wisdom, had to roll a savings throw against a dislocated shoulder whenever she tried to open a door. And your halfling? Well, your halfling may have been clever as all get-out, but he cringed at the sight of wolves, raccoons and squirrels.

I don’t like hair. Actually, I take that back. I like hair. I just like it attached to something, and we have pets that manage to have a lot of hair that isn’t attached to anything. It’s all over the house, and I wouldn’t have so much of a problem with this if it weren’t for the fact that I keep tracking pet hair into my room. Even though I’ve moved my six-foot pile of boxes into the attic, it has since been replaced by a more manageable four-foot pile of stuff. I don’t have a lot of wiggle room in here, so inevitably many things end up on the floor… which, again, wouldn’t be a problem, if only I didn’t already have hair all over my floor.

I swept a few high-traffic rooms in the house, in an effort to stem the relentless tide of pet hair. I swept the kitchen no less than four times, and each time I ended up with a huge pile of hair that could have been glued together to form a whole new animal. I swept the other rooms, the dining room and living room, and stacked up similar piles. Tufts of hair would cut loose on the air currents of my movement every time I walked by them, and they would roll across the floor like horrible tumbleweeds.

Besides that, it’s been an awesome weekend. On Saturday I went for a hike out at Eagle Creek, which I hadn’t revisited since Ryan and I first came out here in March of 2003. I hiked until the trail turned into packed snow and ice, and then turned around because I really wasn’t in the mood for a twisted ankle. If I did wrench my ankle it would have been a long and lonely hike out, followed by a four-hour drive to Parilla’s in Bend, so I could get beer and wraps before going to the emergency room. Because we all know that if we wrench our ankles, we must go out for beer and wraps at Parilla’s before going to the emergency room.

Friday night I saw Oracle Shack at River City Saloon. I talked with the guys quite a bit over setbreak, and then jogged home to grab my saxophone. I got back just as they were starting their second set, warmed myself up, and sat in with them on a couple of songs. They were a blast to jam with; Cameron was super sharp and poppy on the drums, Ryan laid down some really thick, funky bass on a few charts, and the interplay between Noah the guitarist and Gilbert the keyboardist was really tight.

There were a few points where it felt like the five of us really locked together, and we were putting out a pretty sweet mix. The audience totally dug it, and some people accused me of rehearsing with the band during the day. We finally closed the whole thing down around 2:00 in the morning, and I packed up my horn and began the long crawl up the hill back to my home.

Back to my tumbleweed.

January 20, 2005


Tonight will be rambling and aimless, channeled mostly through Full Sail’s Amber Ale. I typically find the beer at Full Sail to be a bit heavy on the hops, but their amber is absolutely killer. Everyone needs a favorite beer from every favorite place where they have lived. Ahh, yes. Full Sail Amber, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, and Fitger’s Hempen Ale. My heart goes out to all those who have not discovered their favorite hometown brews. For you I raise a fine can of PBR.

Today I finished my first week back at the windsurfing shop. It’s great to be back, as I love my co-workers almost as much as I love the merchandise. I’ve been working hard on bringing the website up to snuff, and today I launched a completely redesigned codebase, which I’ve hammered out over the last week. The design renders in XHTML, uses pure CSS for all design elements, and has a newly streamlined structure for included files.

What’s more, the XHTML has almost exactly the same structure as Brainside Out, which is almost the same structure as every other website I’ve built over the past six months. Our shop’s site is likely the only XHTML/CSS website that exists within the entire windsurfing and kiteboarding industry. That will change.

What’s most notable, however, is the rate at which I was able to completely gut and recode the site. What had originally taken me two months to build I have rebuilt in five days, now bigger, better and stronger than ever before. There’s a lot more work to be done, however. I need to rework our scripting code so it does neat and exciting things, which is great and fascinating and only complicated by the fact that I’ve only dabbled in scripting. In the wrong language for this project, in fact. I’m picking it up quickly, along with everything I need to know about database querying, updating, etc.

Oh yeah. Did I mention that I get to rearchitect our database? And revamp our management system? Those shall be fun. I mean that. The only way to keep on top of the web design industry is to realize that you know nothing, and to kick your own ass to learn stuff, so you can continue to know nothing. Socrates himself showed that you need to know lots of things so you can show that you don’t know anything at all.

Otherwise, the weather has been getting nicer. Yesterday it warmed up into the early 50s and the entire Gorge was fogged in. Humidity was at like 200 percent or something, and when you went outside it felt like you were breathing through a wet washcloth. The air made my lungs feel full so I skipped dinner to hang out at the coffee shop and read the latest issue of Adbusters.

Adbusters is where everyone has problems and no one has answers. The answers are so self-evident that they need not be mentioned, nor discussed, so most of the content of Adbusters is reserved for pondering why the masses won’t listen to us when we have all the answers? Idiots.

I’d really like a pair of these sneakers. I only wish that I could try on a pair before buying them, or find them a little bit cheaper, or get a better deal on shipping, or have them arrive earlier than two months from now, or at least go to a place where I can pick up one shoe and toss it back and forth from one hand to the other. If only there was some sort of system that could offer such services to the consumer, and still remain economically viable.

Until then.

January 17, 2005

Previous, Next

I’ve been in Hood River all of four days, and I’ve already seen snow, rain, sleet, ice, and freezing rain. The only thing I haven’t seen is the sun. I assume it’s still there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was iced over as well.

Ever so slowly, I’m adjusting to a far more relaxed pace. This is more profound than it sounds, as relaxing is definitely not something that comes easy for me. Relax means to allow lax that which was lax before. I have never been much of one for lax, so to actually relax, to revisit a lax that may have existed previously, is rather difficult.

I always need to have a couple projects going on to satisfy the mad monkey of the mind. Previously it was planning my trip to Baja, but now that I’ve ironed out all those details, all that remains is to pack, get on a plane, and kiteboard for two weeks.

Previously it was moving to Hood River, but now with two whirlwind commutes under my belt, and a six-foot pile of boxes in my tiny bedroom, all I need to do is unpack. Which I’m not going to do. Ever.

Previously it was hammering out applications and references for employment this summer. I want to lead canoe trips in the BWCA like something fierce, and I’m scheduled for an interview next week. All I can do now is wait. And arrange accidents for all the other applicants. And wait.

It’s just so hard to get myself to slow down, even for a moment. I feel like if I’m not in a full sprint to the horizon that I will never reach it. And if I pause to catch my breath and I still manage to reach it, I feel like the horizon that I set wasn’t far enough away. There’s so much in the world that I want to wrap my arms around, and it’s often infuriating how slowly these things progress.

I want to live in Hood River and kiteboard in Baja and paddle in Minnesota, but I also want to work in Alaska for a summer. I want to live on Maui for a winter. I want to make snowboard videos. I want to tour the world with professional kiteboarders. I want to work as a travel photographer. I want to visit New Zealand and Nepal and New Guinea. I want to see the Aurora Australis. I want to punch through the atmosphere of this glorious little planet and look down on it from space. I want to climb more mountains (no mountains in particular, just yet). I want to play bass in a punk band. I want to chase penguins while giggling like a madman.

All that? M’eh. I’m just getting warmed up. The most difficult task I have, and one that I am continually confronted with, is prioritizing these guys. Previously I had wanted to work as a windsurfing gear technician, a snowboard instructor, and a web designer, which have all been done. This is not to say that these are now off the list of future possibilities, quite to the contrary. If the path pulls me again in the direction of windsurfing tech or snowboard instruction or web design, I will consider them as options. Nevertheless, it’s convenient to look at them as check marks on a grand to-do list, if only because it allows me to arbitrarily eliminate a few options and focus on other ones.

So then, what next? The question moves from How can I enjoy this relaxed change of pace? to one of How can I use this sudden lack of activity to further my goals? So much has been done, but there is still so much to prepare for. There is so much to do that we cannot bear to squander a single minute to idleness.

Busy, busy, busy.

January 14, 2005

Passive Aggressive

Okay, this has been a long time in coming. Martinis have been flung about and punches thrown. Squid enchiladas have been eaten and Donkey Kong dominated. Blues riffs have been written and the World Air Guitar Championships hosted. Pipes have exploded and neighborhoods flooded.

Nicaraguans have sent us on unwarranted trips to the dump. Sofa cushions have flown out of the trailer and into oncoming traffic. A television has been kicked off a cliff composed entirely of trash. Bowling has been played. Skee ball tickets have been won and chickens purchased. Mattresses have threatened to peel off the roof of the car. Wagons have been overburdened. Headlights have been flashed. Minds have been lost and regained. Meltdowns have been for the most part avoided.

Despite the world’s efforts to the contrary, I have now moved back to Hood River. My house is large and beautiful and my room is snug and cozy, so I keep telling myself that I’m living in a museum in Europe and that works pretty well. I was unable to carry my old mattress with me up from Bend, so I got to invest in a smaller mattress that frees up a substantial amount of space in my room. As a result of this additional space I am able to sit in front of my computer rather than fish it out of my molars. And this, this is good.

What’s more, my room has a mysterious Door to Nowhere that doesn’t seem to go anywhere. It might go to the roof, but that doesn’t make sense. Why make a door to the roof? I’ll bet it’s a portal to some other dimension like all those black holes and tourist traps. My landlady asked me if she should get a locksmith to work on the door, and I shuddered at the thought. I prefer to do most of my trans-dimensional traveling on foot, and I don’t need some stinkin’ mystery door to go cutting corners for me.

Tomorrow is a big day. I’ve got a pile of boxes five feet high in here, and a few more piles scattered throughout the house, and it’s gonna take a lot of energy to ignore all these boxes and avoid being productive. Luckily, I have a case of Full Sail and the newest album from My Morning Jacket, so my inactivity will be hazy and rewarding.

January 12, 2005

Est. 1906

We are currently at a coffee shop in our new home town of Hood River, where they let us look at the internets for free and listen to Prince mix tapes. Last night there was four inches of snow in town, which made some suicidal and others stupid. Driving was dangerous, and I dragged one fellow for three blocks before he finally came loose.

My previous home in Bend was a house built in 2004. Nearly a hundred years before that, someone built my home in Hood River. It’s an old Victorian house with all sort of neat angles and I feel like I could look at it all day.

At night the house creaks and groans as a hundred years worth of ghosts roam the hallways. My landlady says that it’s because the furnace is old and dying, but I’m sure she’s just saying that so I don’t get too scared.

January 10, 2005

i said check baby check one two

Despite hangovers and snowstorms, yesterday was wildly productive for this whole “getting the hell out of Central Oregon” thing. I’m borrowing a trailer from Jim, and yesterday morning he picked me up at the house so we could take the trailer to the dump and unload some bags of yard waste he still had sitting in it. He also had to swing by the house so he could acquire my dresser, and because my car was still at the office as I obviously didn’t drive home Friday night. According to my roommates, when I got home I told them the same story three times in a row. The following morning, I didn’t even remember that they were awake when I got home.

At the dump we unloaded bag after bag of yard refuse, and tossed them on top of a funeral pyre of abandoned Christmas trees. Many of the bags were frozen solid to the bed of the trailer, so dislodging them took some serious grunt work with the shovel. After finishing our work at the dump we dropped the trailer off at Les Schwab to have its bearing repacked, to avoid any unfortunate seizures during my three hour drive (typically accompanied by epic storms this time of year) to Hood River.

Jim had to be somewhere in the evening, so it was my responsibility to pick up the trailer when they were done working on it. We jammed on down to Jim’s house over on the Westside to grab some tools for installing a ball on my new trailer hitch. I had the hitch installed weeks ago, but I decided I wouldn’t get a ball until I knew exactly what size I would need. Having the proper tools, Jim dropped me off in the Alpine parking lot and I took off in the Subaru to grab a ball at the trailer hitch shop.

That last sentence is so wrong.

Later that afternoon it was snowing pretty hard, and right on cue I got a call from Les Schwab that the trailer was ready to be picked up. I drove on over there, settled the bill, and dragged that trailer on back to my place. At one point the trailer shuddered violently and I was immediately convinced that I hit a mail truck. This was the first time that I believed I was a complete failure at towing, that I should give up anything active and switch over to needlepoint, and it would certainly not be the last.

Today was not as productive as yesterday. I spent the morning retooling Brainside Out, and I have rebuilt the home page and Weblog page so they’re potentially more useful for people. The Weblog page now features more (more!) weblog entries, more Photolog entries, and more Coolio entries. The home page is a lightweight version of the Weblog page, perfect for people who want all of the lovin’ but none of the commitment. I also fixed the print stylesheet, so those of you who hate reading online can send this stuff right into meatspace.

Anyways, around noon Erin and I ran out to run errands; I needed tarps and she needed bed sheets. I thought that trading one for the other would be really cool, but she did not. We returned to the house with lunch in tow, only to find most of our neighbors curiously shoveling slush out of the street. It had snowed four inches Sunday morning, but shoveling slush did not seem like the most productive use of the Sabbath. But then, maybe on the Sabbath that’s the point. I don’t really know these things.

Anyways, we were dense and clueless and our neighbor Aaron quickly brought us up to speed. As it turns out, the water pipe to our house was leaking at an alarming rate and flooding our yard, and the snow in the street was preventing the runoff from finding its way to the storm drain.

We walked to the leaky side of the house, and sure enough. Where the water connects to our house we have a large pit, three feet deep and the size of a bathtub. This is where we had typically worked on the piping for our irrigation system, which was a project that never got finished for some reason. And now, this pit was brimming with murky brown water that boiled up from the depths below. The overflowing water was carving a nice river channel through our front yard and into the street. We had our own personal, and unintentional and mysterious, water feature. Lots of people typically pay lots money for those sorts of things. Unfortunately for us, ours was in an inopportune location and threatened to flood the neighborhood.

Well, what are you gonna do? In about thirty seconds I had already taken off my shoes and socks, rolled up my jeans, and hopped down into a bathtub filled with three feet of muddy water. The plastic boxes that were supposed to contain the valves for the irrigation and house had cut loose and were bobbing on the surface, so I grabbed them and threw them aside. I pawed through the frigid water, trying to find the leak, a shut-off valve, or a combination of the two. The leak was easy to find, but I could not find the valve. Finally, after digging through the mud and water for five minutes, I found a valve to the irrigation system and cranked it. The water stopped.

Victory! Meanwhile, our lunch was getting cold, so I figured that I’d step inside and grab a bite to eat before helping our neighbors drain the street. I emerged from the house fifteen minutes later, armed with dry pants, work boots and a shovel. The entire front yard was saturated, and it squished under my feet as I walked to the side of the house to check on the bathtub.

To my great surprise, the bathtub was still bubbling. Water was no longer pouring down our front yard in such great torrents, but I had yet to completely finish the job. I was less than enthusiastic at the prospect of dropping into that freezing pool again, and I decided that it was time to shut off all the water to the house before going any further. I knew that the master shut-off valve would probably be in one of the plastic irrigation boxes in the front yard. Unfortunately, since the front yard was damn near a bog at this point, both of these boxes were filled to the brim with murky water.

I was able to pull the lid off the control valve box without issue, but the water meter box was frozen solid. I fished around inside the control valve but couldn’t feel anything useful inside, so I grabbed a bucket from the garage and started bailing. About this time Aaron showed up again, and he donned some neoprene gloves so he could help root around for the valve. Because of all the water, mud had cut loose from the sides of the hole and had buried the pipe, so our time was spent mostly in bailing and digging.

We uncovered the pipe, only to realize that it was a stinkin’ backflow valve and thus was completely useless for our purposes. At this point I remembered the water meter, and so I channeled my frustration into yanking its cover from the ground’s frozen grip. After lots of smashing and wresting it finally broke loose, and again we started with the bailing and digging. We uncovered the meter, and watched the dial spin around as gallon after gallon was committed to the street. Finally, we saw something that Aaron recognized as a shut-off valve, and he cranked it shut with a wench.

The bathtub had stopped leaking, but it was still filled with water. Aaron and I grabbed some shovels to dig out a culvert, and we were able to bring the water level down by half a foot before it was too low to flow to the street. It seemed like we would need a pump or something to get the rest of the water out, but in the end all it took was a couple buckets and an hour or two.

At this point I donned Erin’s fishing waders, and reentered the tub to bail it out more quickly. It wasn’t as deep as I remembered it, which can be equally attributed to the amount of water that we had already pulled out, and the amount of mud that had found its way inside. The ground felt like quicksand, and there were a few times where I almost lost the waders when trying to pull my feet out of the mud.

Finally, the water level was so low that we traded in our buckets for my old Mount Bachelor mug to finish off the job. The valve system was completely buried in mud, so after we emptied the remaining water we needed to dig out the valves as well. Aaron had the brilliant idea of turning on the water to the house for a brief moment, so we could see where the system was leaking and avoid needing to dig up the whole thing. This he did, and Erin and I watched a small patch of mud bubble up and start to leak. In this location I dug, as though following a map to buried treasure, and eventually we uncovered the double check valve.

Right before the double check valve was a hand-operated valve, which we immediately turned and shut off upon finding it. Theoretically, one should now be able to turn on the water at the meter, and this valve would prevent the water from reaching the defective check valve. We stood back as Aaron turned on the water again, and nothing happened. Which was good. No explosions of water? Good. The valve held, and we knew the leak was somewhere between this valve and the opposite side of the check valve.

Aaron called over to me, and told me to turn on the valve. With the double check valve completely uncovered, I should be able to see exactly where it’s leaking if we put some water pressure behind it. I slowly turned the valve…


"AUGGHHH!! NOOO!!!" I screamed. The leak exploded at me, covering my face in mud and water.

"Did you see where it was leaking?" asked Aaron.

"No I didn’t see where it was leaking!"

At this point I had had just about enough. I had been outside working on this project for hours, the temperature was in the 30s, and since I had been working with my arms up to their elbows in cold water, I was wearing nothing but my favorite Matt Pond PA t-shirt. I couldn’t wear gloves, so by now my hands had become useless claws of frozen meat. I would have called it quits right then and there, too, if it weren’t for the minor detail that despite our best efforts, we still couldn’t turn on the water to the house without flooding the neighborhood. I was tired and muddy and cold, and I was sure as hell not going to let this project end anywhere short of a hot bath. In a real bathtub, too, not in my muddy pit next to the house.

We learned that the double check valve was leaking at its gasket, and Aaron grabbed a wrench and tightened down all the screws (which were all horribly loose). Again we tested the pressure, this time with me standing back a good ten feet, and again it leaked. Finally, we completely pulled the cover off the valve, carefully reset the gasket to its appropriate location, and tightened it down once and for all.

Aaron turned on the water and the valve didn’t so much as whimper. It worked. Everything worked. Erin and I thanked Aaron profusely, promised him that we’d fire our landscaper, and that we’d bake him chocolate chip cookies. I would have shaken his hand, but I feared that my fingers would have snapped off like icicles.

I wriggled out of the waders. I got my hot bath, and soaked in the tub for half an hour while listening to Bob Dylan. All the while I kept saying to myself that I should have moved out yesterday.

January 8, 2005

Known Knowns

So. I just got back from a night on the town with the Alpine crew, and I am currently lacking in clarity of thought. Today was my last day at Alpine, so we partied hardy, as Alpine employees are wont to do. When we took our Friday walk to the Market and were perusing the coolers for beverages, one of the regular employees (who recognizes us as regular Friday afternoon customers) immediately recommended their new alcoholic energy drink. We grabbed a couple cans and downed them during our regularly scheduled Friday staff meeting, as we are wont to do.

After work we were under obligation to throw me an epic going-away party, so we hit up downtown Bend. As I recollect we started at Miranda’s, which is actually a rather fancy eating establishment, and proceeded to order nothing but India pale ales and free flat bread. Our group was a monstrous eight people before all was said and done, which was rather large in contrast to the typically manicured couple of Miranda’s. After realizing our intent, the servers requested that we leave the restaurant no later than thirty minutes after happy hour.

Well, no later than thirty minutes after happy hour, we uprooted and jammed on down to the Deschutes Brewery. We waited at least twenty minutes for a table to open up for our group, but then it started snowing. Being people with short attention spans, we were quickly distracted by the storm and stepped outside to hang out in the cold. Prompted by a group of teenagers commenting about the dire consequences of the inclement weather, we started complaining that this here weather was horrible for our bangs. With us we carried this meme for at least ten minutes, incessantly complaining about our bangs, before the rest of our group met us outside, having decided that the Deschutes Brewery was no longer worth the wait.

That, or we had finally caught up with Rick’s wife, who we were destined to meet at the Deschutes. Upon meeting her, I asked whether she was Rick’s daughter, and feigning surprise at her answer I proceeded to hit on her. It didn’t work, of course, but like most things it was worth the effort.

We started heading towards our next venue, and for some reason or another, Jody and I decided that fighting in the middle of the sidewalk was a really good idea. We went at it, I cut my knuckles open on his teeth, but in the end the former combat medic had me pinned to the ground. Nevertheless, he hurt his bum ankle in the process, and we limped our way to the Bend Distillery.

The whole goal behind the Bend Distillery was to acquire martinis, and I got one with gin and twist and the whole bit. We sat in old theater seats collected around an old bathtub, and it wasn’t long until my blood was up once again and Jody and I had to step outside for another fight.

We went at it in the street right in front of the bar, and even though I managed to get some good punches in on the back of Jody’s neck, I still got taken to the ground. Upon returning to the bar, I was surprised to learn that the waitress had decided that I was completely cut off. This distressed me so, as I knew I was not particularly drunk, and I was by far not drunk enough to warrant being cut off by a business established for the purpose of making people drunk.

My friends and co-workers assured me that it was some element of Oregon state law, that the waitress was legally obligated not to serve me, due to my untoward actions. I was deeply concerned that it was my excitable and boisterous personality alone, not the alcohol, that was banning me from further (delicious!) martinis, but when I tried to raise this point with the waitress I said all the wrong things and made some apparently threatening actions that further ensured isolation from my inebriated crew.

No matter. To relieve my emotional distress at this sudden failing of service, Jody and I stepped outside once again. In the street again, he demanded that I get a free punch, a free punch anywhere. “Chest or face?” I asked. “Either,” he replied. Well, I can’t bring myself to punch a friend in the face, so I threw a measly punch to his chest and we grappled to the ground once again. I tore open my elbow on the icy ground and got punched in the eye, but all things considered it was a pretty good fight.

Good as in fun, not as in effective and/or victorious from my side. I kept trying to pick fights with Morgan, but he insisted that he wasn’t a violent person. I insisted that I wasn’t a violent person as well, I mean really, but man, I had found something here that was actually pretty fun and self-destructive that I had never experienced before, and hey, don’t you want to experience it, too? He didn’t. Back in the Distillery, my co-workers proceeded to pawn their half-finished martinis off on me, as I was obviously not going to get reinstated with the waitress based on my current track record.

Utterly hopeless, I finally challenged Lance to a brawl in the icy roads of downtown Bend. Lance, having a good hundred pounds on me, didn’t hesitate to accept and we went at it. Passersby thought that I was absolutely mad, but being used to such things I refused to let their impressions guide my foolish actions. Lance took me to school and back. Somewhere in there I got glocked in the nose.

The blood had finally boiled out of me, and I took a cue from my boss and started chatting with a girl sitting across the bathtub from us. Her name was Andrea, and she had lived in California before getting her real estate license in Arizona. She had just recently moved to Bend on Monday and was flying by the seat of her pants, looking for work, money, or exploitation opportunities. I thought of telling her that I had ready access to all three, but held back. Feeling that it would be unprofessional, I also kept to myself such stories as search engine exploitation with Ads For Free, four-wheeling expeditions through North Rim, and stories of working with The Big Giant Head. Bend real estate? Oh, do I have experience with Bend real estate.

As with most, she was gone within five minutes of my talking to her. Other people started sobering up and bid farewell, and eventually Jim and I left Rick and his wife so we could hit up the Bend Brewing Company. Jim grabbed a wrap the size of a horse pill while I ate a plate of breaded tentacles, and we waxed philosophic about the journey ahead. Afterwards the drive back to Rolen was icy, so Jim shifted the Trooper into four wheel drive to make sure that we could run over anyone who happened into our way.

Ladies and gentlemen, this doesn’t even begin to account for the activities of yesterday evening, which included such things as the Cranky Old Man Blues, a CD entitled The Sounds of the Mosquito, and the innate suction between a bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and a glossy shaved forehead. These things, too, may become known.

January 4, 2005

Stop the Bleeding

Hmm. I could hammer out some banal story about the pains of moving, or how much it sucks to spend fifteen minutes scraping bulletproof ice off my car three times in a day, or how much crap I need to get tied up between now and then even while stumbling about in a drunken haze…

…but it all feels so inappropriate. With tsunamis in the East and assassinations in Iraq, I get the impression that in this new year the world is making every attempt to hemorrhage itself into oblivion. I dearly hope that I’m wrong, that this too will come to pass, but in the meantime there are things afoot that preempt the muse.

This month, this year, I encourage anyone who has the capacity to give, to do so. I don’t particularly mind which organization (or organizations) you choose to support, just so long as you take the time to contribute something somewhere. Pick something you believe in. Give to the Red Cross Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund, the Iraq Democracy Project, or the X Prize Foundation. Or give to something else entirely. These may be my personal favorites, but they need not be your own.

Let’s turn this baby around, and see what we can do to make the rest of 2005 a ripshitkickass year.