April 29, 2005


dane dressed up as a pirate, with a hat and gun and sword and everything!

For the last few months we’ve been cookin’ something in the back room, and I think that this project is finally far enough along (by which I mean 99.9% complete) to announce it.

Captain Jack’s Pirate Hats is an outfit run by my friend/co-worker/client Jeff MacKay. The MacKay makes the finest pirate hats I’ve ever seen, and he does each one of them by hand. He makes every attempt to be as true to the era as possible, constructing his hats out of wool felt and coating them with an oil/wax treatment to stave off the angry seas. The results are stunning and incredibly authentic, as you can see in his updated gallery.

The MacKay’s passion for pirates is unmatched, and his love definitely finds its way into his work. He’s very well-researched and knows more about pirates than anyone I know. His car has a giant skull and crossbones across the hood, with customized pirate license plates and everything. As you could have guessed, he loves the movie Pirates of the Caribbean as well. Do you see that picture of Johnny Depp on his home page? Look closer. That’s not Depp at all, but MacKay in his Captain Jack Sparrow costume, accurate right down to the compass and belt buckle. The likeness is staggering.

You can grab a Captain Jack hat of your own, or choose from eight other available styles. Don’t see what you want? The MacKay also does custom hat orders. As for myself, I’ll be sporting my pirate hat while guiding canoe trips in the BWCA this summer. Keep an eye out. I’ll be the one leaping into other people’s canoes and stealing their gear.

April 28, 2005

For optimal results, roll around in the grass until your back itches.

Here are the remaining albums, as promised. The highly technical reviewing tool utilizes the latest advances in symbolic communication to convey information. It works like this. We have these small things, let’s call them letters, and we combine them to form larger things. These larger things (say, words in this instance), are combined to form objects called sentences, which efficiently convey meaning through the spatial relationships created with the aformentioned words and letters.

Now, these sentences can be combined to form paragraphs, but in this experiment such techniques have been discouraged in an attempt to conserve bandwidth. That is, until I have my brain-mouth FireWire connection upgraded to the 802.11g wireless protocol.

Anyways. Here are some albums. Most of them are great. How great? In the absence of any other useful information, the use of exclamation points and capital letters can serve as great indicators.

The Arcade Fire – Funeral


Slow Gherkin – Double Happiness

M’eh. Nostalgia, more than anything else. I first saw these guys play at First Avenue’s Ska Fest in ’96.

Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News

RIPSHITKICKASS! Music that’s totally obsessive compulsive. One of the best albums of 2004?

matt pond PA – Emblems

Good. Not what I expected, but good. Quite a different sound than Nature of Maps.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – By The Way

Whoa! This disc is officially the soundtrack of summer 2004. Every song on it is great.

Wilco – A Ghost is Born

RIPSHITKICKASS! So incredibly diverse, it’s dizzying. The other best album of 2004?

John Scofield – Grace Under Pressure


John Scofield – Time on My Hands


Built to Spill – The White Sessions

Some cuts from a radio show they did. Not bad.

Various Artists – One Bag, Two Lumps, Three Cozies

Honestly? I haven’t even listened to this. I needed it to round out the 3 for $10 bin.

‘N Sync – No Strings Attached


String Cheese Incident – On The Road – Atlanta, GA – April 20, 2002

Pretty dang good.

Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool

M’eh. You’d be better of with Bitches Brew or Kind of Blue or something. If you don’t already have ’em.

Dave Brubeck – Time Out


John Coltrane – Giant Steps

Better than smack.

Cowboy Curtis – Observations | Assumptions

Whoo! I totally love these guys! Observations | Assumptions is their first full studio album.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – One Hot Minute

Nostalgia, baby. The radio singles are hot. So red hot.

Saves the Day – In Reverie

Uhh… you’d be far better off picking up Stay What You Are, which kicks so much ass it breaks the leg off inside. I’d say that In Reverie is total sell-out material.

matt pond PA – (With Audibles)

Holy crap! This limited edition collection of unreleased charts and demos is awesomer than awesome.

Decibully – City of Festivals

Really good. Decibully is so intensely mellow, I can’t really compare their sound to anything. Pretty original stuff.

Paul Simon – Graceland

Neato. This album is so totally Wuda Wooch! Road Trip material, if you know what I mean.

Barenaked Ladies – Maroon

Yeah, totally! These guys always remind me that I never want to grow up.

Decibully – Three Song Thing

Cool. A promo EP, that mostly overlaps with City of Festivals.

Mates of State – Team Boo

Whoo hoo! I’ve never heard two people make so much noise!

Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – Zoot Suit Riot

Tasty. A replacement for a copy I sold years ago at the Minneapolis Cheapo. I saw ’em live in Hood River and had to pick it up again. I totally dig swing music with punk lyrics. That’s the way all things should be.

Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antarctica

Yeah! This album is angry at the Moon and Antarctica and everything in between. I dig it. My friend says that this is her favorite album by them.

matt pond PA – Measure

Cool! mpPA is a band that changes with every album. Measure is some of their older stuff, and i love it this much.

Save Ferris – It Means Everything

OMG I <3 U! Ska with female singers is so totally awesome!

Sunny Wicked – Live with Orchestra

Heck yeah! These guys commandeered an orchestra and played a live concert. I was in the audience and loved it.

matt pond PA – The Nature of Maps

RIPSHITKICKASS! This is one of my favorite albums by mpPA (the other being The Green Fury). For me, every song epitomizes moving to Oregon.

Sunday’s Best – The Californian

I like it.

Mates of State – Our Constant Concern

Mates of State are so totally cute.

Here’s a funny story. One winter day I was in the lower parking lot at Spirit Mountain in Duluth, sitting on my back bumper, lacing my snowboard boots and listening to a Polyvinyl Records sampler CD I had recently aquired.

The song Uber Legitimate by Mates of State came on, and a cute snowboard chick came up to me and was all like “OMG you’re listening to Mates of State these guys are so totally my favorite band where’d you ever find out about them should we start dating now or should we go snowboarding first?” Me being a master of linguistics and salesmanship when it comes to women, especially when caught off-guard, was all like, “Oh hey I don’t actually know this band all I know is that this is a sampler CD but it is pretty good what band is this again?”

She wasn’t impressed at all and evaporated instantly. I swear, she was gone so fast she must have evaporated, because I don’t think a person can disappear that quickly by any conventional means. My heart was broken. The first thing I did after returning to my apartment that evening was order a copy of Our Constant Concern to make sure that this sort of thing never happened again. And let me assure you, it hasn’t. Ever since buying my first Mates of State album, I haven’t met anyone else who knows Mates of State.

On second thought, that’s not a funny story. That’s a tragic story.

April 27, 2005

You are encouraged to scream real loud and flail your arms madly.

As mentioned previously, here are reviews of all the CDs I’ve purchased over the last four months or so, appearing in reverse chronological order. The full two-year list is forthcoming. You’ll seriously wet yourself when it finally comes out.

My ribs really ache today, and I think while kiteboarding last night I got yarded far more than I thought I did. The reason I couldn’t breathe was probably not due to emotional ecstasy, as I thought, but probably the result of crushed ribs and collapsed lungs.

Geez I love that sport. More than you will ever know.

Anyways, let’s talk smack ’bout music:

Beck – Guero

Like everyone else has said, Guero is every Beck album rolled into one. It’s got the sorrowful folk ballads of Sea Change, the hot funk charts of Midnite Vultures, the shit kickin’ liquor drinkin’ cowboy sounds of Mutations, and the addictive rock anthems of Odelay. It feels a bit watered down as a result, but I still think it kicks ass.

The Juliana Theory – Love

The Juliana Theory are changelings, adopting a new sound for every disc they release. Love is a good album, but I don’t think it holds a candle to Emotion is Dead. Then again, I haven’t had a chance to listen to it very much yet. While Emotion is Dead is totally emo, Love feels more mainstream hard-rockish.

Stroke 9 – Nasty Little Thoughts

Somewhere I aquired Stroke 9’s single “Kick Some Ass”, so when I saw Nasty Little Thoughts for a couple bucks at Mobius Records I had to pick it up. It wasn’t what I expected, much more poppy and not nearly as angry, but this disc has really grown on me in its own right. Catchy, really catchy, without being cornball.

Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning

Cool. I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning is Bright Eyes’ new folk album, and it’s pretty freakin’ good. Some songs are total downers, though, so the disc can be a tough emotional slog if you try to listen to it all the way through. I really like his voice. Then I hate his voice. Then I stop listening to his voice, and I really like his voice again.

James Sasser – Southside of Sorrow

Holy crap damn, if you’re anywhere near Oregon, these guys are a total party to hear live! Southside of Sorrow is a studio album, though, and thus feels pretty sterile in comparison. Even though it doesn’t do justice to their rowdy stage show, it makes a great fix in a pinch. If you take the cowboy attitude of “That Kinda Day” and multiply it by a hundred, you might have an idea what it’s like.

No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom

Geez, I picked up this album because I was jonesin’ for its radio charts, but the whole thing is really freakin’ good. The band is super tight, with a sharp horn section and everything, and there’s one chart where they pop in and out of 4/4, 3/4 and 5/4 like it’s butter. Gwen Stefani’s voice does something to me, too. She’s girly with attitude, but it’s total girly attitude, and that’s so hot.

Jim’s Big Ego – They’re Everywhere!

Uhh. Not what I was expecting. Jim’s Big Ego kicks ass, and I love the lyrics to their song “Boston Band”, but They’re Everywhere! is a strange anti-pop disc with songs about math prof rockstars and the everglades and stuff. M’eh.

My Morning Jacket – It Still Moves

My Morning Jacket has such an incredibly original sound, and It Still Moves is so huge and echoey you can’t help but love every square inch of it.

Rainer Maria – Long Knives Drawn

I’ve been meaning to pick up Long Knives Drawn for years, having first heard Rainer Maria on a Polyvinyl Records Sampler. It’s some pretty original alt-rock emo stuff, with a female singer and a healthy dosage of distortion. I totally dig chicks that don’t mind yelling.

matt pond PA – Winter Songs

Geez, matt pond PA still ranks in my top five favorite bands. Beyond myself and my friends, though, I’ve never met anyone who’s even heard of them. It’s a pity, as their mix of emo, strings and chamber pop results in some of the most beautiful melodies I’ve ever heard. Winter Songs is an EP of songs following a winter theme, and I swear that the air crackles with cold when I play this disc. Most of the songs are covers, which I’ve never heard from mpPA, and their Neutral Milk Hotel cover is so gorgeous it’s stunning.

Green Day – American Idiot

American Idiot is far better than you might think, and if you listen closely there’s some really cool stuff going on. The styles of all the songs interrelate and the lyrics are cross-referential, and on a couple tracks they do some awesome medley stuff. Two of the songs are more than nine minutes long, which is significant considering that most of Green Day’s songs weigh in at two minutes. This album is totally meant to be performed as a rock opera. I think it’d be awesome if there were some high schoolers with enough balls and talent to write and perform it.

Duncan Sheik – Daylight

I saw this guy when he opened for a Ben Folds concert at First Avenue in Minneapolis. Daylight is some really great solo guitarist stuff, and I recently picked up this disc as a replacement for the one I ruined years ago.

Ultimate Fakebook – This Will Be Laughing Week

I’ve been listening to Ultimate Fakebook for a couple years, and I had to pick this one up while digging through the $3.00 CDs at Ranch Records in Bend. It’s emo, but it’s angry pathetic geek emo, which works great to balance out all that sissy pathetic geek emo.

James Holden – Balance 005

Holy crap, I came across this album while listening to XTC Radio streams at work, and it’s a total rush. I think Holden is considered electronica (the term “techno” typically reserved for heavier things), and I must say that Balance 005 is electronica at its finest. His talent at mixing totally blows my mind. Spans two discs. If you’re not coding to this, you’re not really coding.

April 25, 2005

Business End

Okay, this is what we in the industry call scope creep. Unfortunately in this instance, I’m both the client and the contractor, so I get the business end of both sticks.

So. Music is, like, a hugely important thing to me, and while packing I realized that I still have the jewel cases for all the discs I’ve purchased since moving out to Oregon. So, I thought, how nice would it be to provide ya’ll with a list of these albums, so you can puruse them and write me off as a complete wanker because not only did I buy N’Sync’s No Strings Attached, I listened to it last night and actually enjoyed it?

All I wanted was to do was publish a list of CDs, but the project quickly grew out of my control. Compiling the list alone took an hour, as there were 46 albums to paw through. Then I got to thinking that a list would be of little use for ya’ll… what I need are links to a place where you can hear and/or purchase the album!

After isolating an alternative to a leading online retailer who I refuse to do business with, I set up links. Then I realized I wanted money. Great big wads of money, that I can rub all over my body or use to insulate my house.

So I joined the Barnes and Noble affiliate program. Now, if you were follow a link from my site to their site, and if you were to complete a transaction after following that link, the wheels of the mighty Brainside Out juggarnaut would be oiled just that much more.

At least, that’s how it would work if I were one to follow instructions. You see, Barnes and Noble offers a handy little link tool that will automatically generate the correct link code for any product I want to reference. The problem is, this link code is a tortured mass of HTML that harkens from 1995, complete with unencoded special characters, meaningless one-pixel spacer images, deprecated attributes and everything.

I refuse to add this ugly bloat to my website. I also refuse to add third-party HTML code that would unquestionably invalidate my XHTML 1.0 Strict validation. Now, me screwing up my own code is something I can deal with. I know that even though this kid is a total screw-up, with women and kiting and everything but valid code on his brain, he’s trying as hard as he can. But third parties? Trying to give me money? Pul-leeze. Get your act together, guys, and then maybe we’ll talk.

So I wrote my own valid link code, which Barnes and Noble has assured me will not work. But we don’t know this, at least not yet. The only way to find out is if you guys buy lots and lots of things on Barnes and Noble by clicking through via my site. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter what you buy from those guys, or when, just so long as you make a layover here on your way over there.***

So. After coding all the album links, I coded them again. And again. Finally, after writing and testing the links, and having found them to be working to my desires, I decided that a list of cds was the dumbest idea in the world if I didn’t add some comment about whether or not I thought a disc was worth a damn. So I started writing personal responses for each album, and found that I am unable to say everything I ever wanted to say in five words or less. Words became sentences, sentences became paragraphs, and paragraphs became pictures in my mind.

By the time I had written a dozen responses I was completely burned out, and I knew I had no desire to finish with the 34 discs that remained. What’s more, I didn’t pace myself at all. I worked backwards chronologically, writing descriptions for mediocre albums while leaving complete jewels out in the cold, just because they were early to the party. An album with a detailed reaction seems to imply that it held more interest than one without, when really in this case it signifies nothing more than a lack of committment on the part of the reviewer.

Screw it all. I’ll share the reviewed albums and then I’ll share the remainders, using a state-of-the-art processing tool to fill in the gaps far more efficiently than you can imagine. It will be so efficient it will blow your freakin’ mind. BLOW YOUR FREAKIN’ MIND, MAN.



…did I mention I went kiting tonight? That I nearly got blown off the water on my 9 meter kite? That it was so incredibly amazing I could hardly breathe as I left the beach?

* It was in the 3/$10 bargain bin at Ranch Records. I needed it to round out Built to Spill and Ultimate Fakebook.

** As for this, I really have no excuse for this.

*** This paragraph has probably violated my affiliate agreement on so many levels. I’ll let you know when my court date is set.

April 21, 2005

Minimal Ramifications

That which was known as Coolio is now known as Sundries. If you are distraught in any way, or if you are having difficulty adjusting to this change, you will get over it.

I think I’m addicted to content. I used to regularly check out two or three websites throughout the day, and feel satisfied with all the neat stuff I read, learned and discovered. Now I’m up to about fifty, and I get irritated when they haven’t been updated in the last hour.

Mind you, I’m still spending the same amount of time online. It’s not like I’m spending 200 hours a day browsin’ the internet now, compared with four hours before. More like, I’m doing a heck of a lot more glossing and scanning these days, and far less digesting and comprehending. Which isn’t as bad as it sounds, because the total value of the information I’m gathering is minimal, good for up-to-the-minute news trivia and geek-culture quiz shows. In this, the year of the Blogosphere, we sacrifice quality for quantity.

I need to start reading books again. My brain feels like it’s stuffed with wadded-up copies of the Weekly World News.

April 20, 2005

Spatial Reasoning

Okay, let’s try this again. If nothing appears under this comment you know that I accidentally closed my browser window, and I’m probably down in the kitchen browsing the knife block.

It’s odd how our vision for ideal living conditions changes depending on our current living conditions. It’s strange that the ideal version is always diametrically opposed to whatever we find ourselves living in at the current moment.

Right now, I don’t want much. All I want to live in is a huge hangar, the size of a football field, with ceilings so high they make your neck ache. I want to live in a warehouse. I don’t care what it looks like. I just want it to be huge and dry, with more floorspace than you can imagine, and a giant bay door that nearly peels off the entire wall when it opens.

In this space I will build whatever amenities I find necessary, dividing it up with masking tape or stage props or tool sheds. Different areas of the hangar will serve as my kitchen, my bedroom, my living room, my office, my garage and my attic. Each will be separated by enough space to set off boundries between them, but not too much space to make travel between them inconvenient. In effect, my entire house will be contained in one room, but it will be the most obnoxiously huge, echoey room known to mankind. I’m thinking Astrodome, here, only with more beer and fewer restrooms.

What brings this on, you ask? Today I brought my kite gear down from the attic. I want to put the straps and fins back on my board so that I’m all set and dialed to hit the water when the wind blows. In this house, I don’t have a workbench or garage or basement or any other area to work on large projects in meatspace. So, I set up shop in the only space I have. I brought my bag of kite gear into my bedroom, threw it on my bed, and went to work.

I opened the bag and popped out my kiteboard, and quickly put the footstraps back on. The tricky part was going to be the fins, as they require that I suspend the board off something so I can brace the fin from underneath while driving a screw from above. I reasoned that I shouldn’t use my bed for this purpose, seeing as how the fins are extremely sharp (they cut through skin just fine) and my mattress is one of those inflatable deals.

Well, at least it used to be inflatable. About three days ago it started becoming a deflatable mattress, and it suddenly isn’t keeping pressure nearly as well as it has in the past. Before I only needed to repressurize it once every couple weeks, but now I need to inflate the sucker every couple hours. It’s rather miserable. I suspect that this is happening because the mattress has a three-month warranty, and it was mere days ago that I finally crossed the three-month boundary.

I mean, think about it. Your average manufacturer probably does a cost-benefit analysis of when their product is most likely to fail, and thus makes it policy to terminate warranty coverage just before that time. Same thing goes for insurance, whether it’s car or health or whatever. Insurance companies will consider the most common things that can happen and exclude them from their policy, or place the deductible just beyond their reach. Arguably, they justify this decision on purely economic grounds. Personally, in your search for morality I would argue against an economic approach.

So, I decided to set up my desk chair as a workbench, and here’s where the claustrophobia started to kick in. I pulled the chair out from under my desk, and the back legs ran into my bed. I didn’t have enough space to work with the board on the desk-side, so I turned the chair around. At 45 degrees it ran into my computer. I pulled it to the side to clear the computer and it ran into my nightstand. I jostled back and forth like this a few times, until the back of the chair ran into the desk.

Satisfied, I put the board on the chair, squeezed myself into the space between the chair and the bed, and went to work. I was three fins into the project when I realized that the screws were still salty from Baja, some starting to corrode, and that I should probably rinse them with fresh water before attaching them to the board for any length of time.

I removed the fins and collected the screws, sidled out from my cramped workspace, and on the way to the door stubbed my toe on my encyclopedia of CDs. Then I tripped on a box of jewel cases. To stay my fall I grabbed my clothing rack, the impact of which caused a number of hangars to slide off the backside. When I made it to the exit, I had to kick a pile of magazines out of the way so I could open the door.

In all honesty, I’m excited to spend the summer waiting out thunderstorms in the cavernous expanses of a backcountry tent. Come the fall, I’ll see what it will take to move into my dad’s airplane hangar. With him rebuilding a Piper Supercub and me living in there and keeping an eye on things, I’m sure we’ll get along just fine.

I mean, we’ve got a lot in common. Sometimes my dad washes engine parts in the kitchen sink and my mom hollers at him for it. Sometimes I wash fin screws in the kitchen sink and my landlady hollers at me for it.

April 19, 2005

Consumer Whore

I really want to fling more words at this thing, but these days I’m scrambling to finalize a few design projects before I duck out of this town. It’s not much. Honestly, these past couple weeks I’ve been spending more time at the shop hooking people up with gear than working on our website. Even so, over the last week my moonlighting gigs, coupled with my personal goings-on in the computer realm, have been enough to make my hands seize up. Sometimes they spasm, which is definitely new and probably not indicative of anything good.

That being said, let’s ramble about something more light-hearted. Let’s talk about all the neat stuff I’ve bought over the last few days! Today I picked up a new snowboard from Brave Dave at Storm Warning, a Ride Timeless 156. Stiffer and longer than my current stick (snicker), it promises to be an all-mountain carving machine. It’s incredibly light, too.

Today I also took my Naish Xeon trainer kite out for a whirl. Naish describes it as a “super fun park flyer,” even though no one has any idea what that means. Like, am I supposed to take this kite to the skate park and take it off any sweet jumps, and get like three feet of air that time? Whatever. For being an airfoil trainer, the Xeon is surprisingly resiliant. While practicing kite loops I slammed it hard into the shoreline muck a bunch of times, and dragged it across the beach while trying to relaunch it (self-launching the trainer is a cinch, but self-relaunching is a pain in the ass). Despite my greatest efforts, the only damage I inflicted on the kite was that it now smells like dead fish. Hello, Columbia.

I picked up a new kite harness the other day, a Pro-Limit Felix Pivec waist harness. It was last year’s model so I got a pretty good deal, and I outfitted it with a DAKINE kite knife. Strange thing is, the back pocket has been cancelled on the 2005 Pro-Limit harnesses, so I have no idea where they expect you to put your knife. Maybe they expect you to carry it in your teeth. I have no idea. Definite design oversight, if you ask me. Tensioned kite lines will cut through your arm like string through wet clay. You don’t want to mess with that, which is why any kiter with any sense carries a knife.

I got the fifth-line system retrofitted on both of my kite bars, so now I’m good to rock and roll. The conversion was painless, but was rather time consuming and involved tying a bowline. Our shop is offering free installation with the purchase of any retrofit kit and 2004 kite. I’m not sure if we know what we’re getting ourselves into.

…Okay, I had written more, but I just recently upgraded to Opera 8.0. I’m not used to the new interface and I lost half of this entry when I closed the wrong tab. Of course, I hadn’t saved it. This sort of thing has happened to me in the past, and it always makes me lose my will to live.

Whatever. I’m not even going to bother proofing this. Typos, you’re on your own. Don’t ever accuse us of acting too professional.

April 14, 2005


I was talking to my dad the other night, trying to figure out why I’ve been feeling kinda strung out the last couple weeks. Then I suddenly realized that, well, I’ve got a lot to be strung out about. Despite what anyone might tell ya, the whole “packing it all up and moving across the country to guide trips in the wilderness at a level and degree that you’ve never been at before,” is rather stressful.

I’m no stranger to moving, and I’m no stranger to taking on new jobs in unfamiliar locales. Every time I do this, however, I forget how much sheer work and planning is involved. The paperwork along is uncanny. Part of my training includes taking a wilderness first aid course that guarantees, if I’m reading this right, to render me a physical, emotional and psychological wreck by week’s end. I’ve been signing waivers that say, basically, if my ass gets handed to me, like literally, if they have to wrap my ass up in a garbage bag and give it to me to take back home, I cannot hold them liable.

All I can say is, holy crap this is a lot of work. Holy crap I must really want to do this. And I do. I really do. Every time I do something like this, I always tell myself that it will either be the smartest or dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And you know what? Whenever I follow my heart, whenever I listen to my gut and do what it’s telling me to do, it has always turned out to be the former.

I was talking to Brian about this over lunch. Brian came back to Hood River yesterday (after being in Olympia, and after being in Hood River a few days ago to grab his car and jam down Bryce Canyon in Utah in a hunt for more sunshine) and we were chilling on the dock down by the Marina, eating real Mexican tacos from Juanita’s Marquita. As a human, after all my boundless capacities for logic and reason, it’s odd to base such huge decisions on a feeling of intuition.

It’s weird, and I should be a little bit uncomfortable and nervous about it, but the results speak for themselves. Honestly, in my two years since graduating from college, there are no significant choices that I have made that I regret. Sure, I feel like a dunce for some small things here and there. I feel like a complete idiot for not wearing a helmet while kiteboarding in Baja, and splitting my head open. I feel bad for getting Alpine banned from the Bend Distillery, after challenging Jody to wrestling matches on the snowy sidewalk outside. I wish I had tempered my enthusiasm, and hadn’t been charging so hard on the day I broke my leg snowboarding.

I feel bad for all these things and more, but I don’t regret any of it. The most bizzare thing about the last two years is how strangely everything weaves together and folds back upon itself. Everything feels so inexplicably related that it’s impossible to consider these decisions and events as distinct and independent entities. No matter how I try, everything is so tightly woven that I can’t figure out how to isolate these occurences without destroying the whole.

It’s going to sound weird, but sometimes it feels like time is just another spatial dimension. I can’t just stand up and roam around it like I can the other dimensions, but I feel like time is being manipulated all the same. The past is so tightly related to the present, is related to the future, that sometimes it feels like they share more commonalities than we think. The river metaphor works well, with currents that pull you in a particular direction, but I’m also seeing eddies where it slows down, and tributaries that you can choose to explore with a bit of effort. There’s one main river that tugs at your path, but it’s so deep and wide and full of delicious complexity that there’s still a lot of freedom in where you go.

I’m not a theist, nor am I an atheist. I don’t believe that a higher, ordered intelligence is governing the universe, but I don’t necessarily believe that there isn’t one. I consider myself a spiritual person, but I’m not sure what that means beyond the fact that it impresses religious and non-religious girls alike and keeps the conversation flowing. I do believe it is a cop-out to say that God is in everything, because you could just as well say God is in nothing and save yourself a unnecessary layer of complexity.

I’m an agnostic, plain and simple. I don’t know the answer. I don’t even know if the answer is knowable, but that doesn’t keep me from constantly searching and questioning. What I do know is that in many ways, how I look back on my life, and how I look forward into the future, sounds remarkably like fate. Now, I’ve never considered myself a fatalist, and I like to believe in the infinite capacity of free-will to remake my life and my world however I see fit.

At the same time, there are periods in my life where I have tried to do just that, and it felt like I was trying to swim upstream. My head was telling me one thing while my gut was telling me another, and when I sided with the cranium the path felt totally wrong. This happens frequently when I’m in transition from one place to another, and I’ll have a number of fits, starts and lurches in various wrong directions before settling on the right one. And again, many times the only way that I can tell which path is ‘right’ is through feeling alone.

Right now I feel like I’m headed in the right direction, and I’m really excited for this summer. I want to jump off cliffs into crisp turquoise water. I want to hear loons on a moonlit night, calling back and forth across a glassy lake. I want to lay out under the stars and massage my soar paddling arms. I want to poop in the woods.

Most of all, I want meet new people. I want to trade stories and share laughter. I want us to set out on some epic adventures and have a ripshitkickass time doing it. I want to see others, and I want to see myself, shattered and rebuilt a million times a day. I want to see, and to see through, the tears of laughter, frustration, exhaustion, sorrow and joy that come with spending a couple weeks in the wilderness with people you know, but you didn’t know you know.

I’ve spent enough time testing my mettle. It’s about time to test our mettle.

April 11, 2005

dressin’ it up all pretty-like

Well, we’ve cooked up a special treat for ya’ll tonight. You’ve all heard of our famous heroin smoothies, correct? Well, sit down and relax, and prepare yourself for the ultimate culinary experience… our methamphetimine lattes! Get yourself dialed into the full, rich taste of the Northwest today!

Well no, not quite. But it might help. At request, we’ve created a desktop wallpaper gallery, chock full of images to get ya’ll stoked on the forthcoming seasons. Dive in.

On the technical end of things, we’ve done some pretty cool stuff as well. In an attempt to stem the tide of bandwidth theft that is inevitable when one uploads high-quality images, we’ve cooked up an .htaccess file to limit outside banditry.

Also, the preview image for each background pops up in its own window! This doesn’t sound like an accomplishment, but the way we’re passing in this functionality is incredibly clean. For not being much of a programmer I’m incredibly obsessive about using clean and elegant code, and I finally found a technique that lets me create popup windows without torturing my HTML to oblivion. All it took was an extra class added to the hyperlink, and I’m okay with that. I’m so totally down with the philosophy of separating presentation and content, that it’s time to start abstracting functionality as well.

Anyway, go check it out. My hands are killing me.

April 9, 2005

What does your soul look like?

Not dead, not yet. I spent the weekend down in Bend shreddin’ the mountain, drinking cheap beer and catching up with old friends. It was my first time visiting Bend since moving to Hood River in January, and I was surprised by how much of my heart and soul are intertwined in that town.

On my way down from Redmond, as Awbrey Butte loomed into view, my chest got all tight and I was flooded with a confusing torrent of emotions and memories, encapsulating the wide open spaces of 2004, the entire span of which I spent living in Bend. Duluth is the only other town on the planet that does this to me, only with Duluth the experience is magnified a hundred times. When I pull over that last hill and finally see Lake Superior and the entire town unfolding before me, I just about lose control. The emotional rush is so potent that if you could extract it, a single drop would burn clear through to the center of the earth.

Arriving in Bend wasn’t that strong, but I was completely unprepared for how strong it was. I could totally see myself living there in the future, if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s so damn expensive. It’s really frustrating, because it seems like every decent place to live in this country costs a right nut (and half of the left) to live there. I mean, most stuff isn’t too expensive. Your water bill is kinda high, but other utilities are fairly priced, groceries are okay, and dining out is reasonable.

But damn, anything real estate out here is outta sight. I don’t care if you’re looking at houses in Bend or Hood River or Portland or Seattle or San Francisco, there is nothing available that you could consider to be fairly priced. Even in the short time I’ve been out here, I’ve seen average rental costs in Hood River increase by about $100 a month.

There is a house for sale on 12th Street in Hood River, a 1,500 square-foot bungalow with hardwood floors, a tiny yard and no garage. The house is really close to downtown, and across the street from a playground, but 12th Street isn’t an ideal street, being a busy throughfare for people on their way to the Heights area.

For this particular house, this tiny two-story deal with no garage and hardly a yard, they are asking a mere $320,000. At that price, if they were to cover every inch of the floorplan with $20 bills, they would still have money left over.

Anyways. That being said, I could totally dig living in Bend, if that dusty dirt wasn’t so damned expensive. The town has everything I could possibly need within twenty minutes, from mountain biking to climbing to canoeing to snowboarding. Bend does lack windsurfing and kiteboarding, however, and that’s definitely a score against it.

But the snowboarding, man, the snowboarding on Friday was absolutely epic. It had snowed all that night, and it was actually snowing in Bend when we hit the road that morning. There was 8 – 12 inches of the fresh stuff, and it kept storming until the afternoon. The mountain was nearly deserted so Shane, Adam and I shot line after line of fresh stuff. We traversed off Northwest way over into the western bowls, and blasted some huge, wide-open terrain in the trees.

Closer to home I was popping 180’s off everything I could find, and launched a beautiful backside off Triple Nipple, with slow rotation and everything. I also stomped the entire flat-down-flat rail, and pulled some fast and reckless lines through the trees, with some close calls that almost had me pickin’ splinters out of my teeth. Our bodies were thoroughly chewed up when we finally decided to call it a day, and we jammed back into town to grab some grub at Super Burrito.

All in all that town has some amazing things going for it, the best being all the people and friends I’ve met down there. Though I spent only a short day in Bend, I managed to catch up with my old roommates Shane and Erin, my friends Erik and Fish from the Lava House Alliance, and all the folks from Alpine. It was late Friday afternoon when I showed up at the office, so we closed down the shop and went for a walk down to the market. Jody grabbed a Redbull, Morgan grabbed a Sparks and Jim grabbed a six-pack of PBR tallboys. At the register, Jim said something that totally renewed his position as my personal hero.

“Could we get some small paper bags, too? The kind you drink out of and walk down the sidewalk with.”

I think it’s no question that we’re the classiest web design agency in existence. That night I met Erik and Fish at the Bend Brewing Company, and as Erik and I waxed poetic about the cowboy mentality, we came up with the slogan for my web design shop, should I decide to jump the wall and create one myself:

“Because we’re the experts. And we’re probably drunk.”

The night wore on and the words became ever more insightful. As Fish tried to figure out how Erik was going to make a tail for his Big Bad Wolf costume, someone mentioned the use of “thin strips of pudding.” Well. Once we plunged into the English accents and uttered that a few times, it was all over. We finished our brews while repeating every line from Invader Zim and Napoleon Dynamite that we could remember.

“I’m dancin’ like a monkey!”