January 13, 2006


We are the doldrums of winter. At least the sun has bothered to poke through the grey for a couple seconds this past week, but sadly the weather in Minnesota has been far too warm this month. The snow is rotting away, and with it my enthusiasm.

Now, I love winter. It’s probably one of my top three favorite seasons. I just wish there was a switch where I could turn it on and off at will. Or, ideally, I wish there was a way to have both winter and 16 hours of daylight simultaneously. Lord knows this planet was able to accomplish such a thing 25,000 years ago, but I doubt anyone is eager to relinquish their backyards to the glaciers again. Nah, it was smart of ’em to retreat to the highest reaches of the highest peaks. Ya’ll just hold out right up there. We’ll call ya down when we’ve got some mountain ranges we want ground down again.

As if. The last thing this world needs is fewer mountains. I say bring on global warming, give those glaciers a good ol’ scare. We need to print bumper stickers, slap them on all the suburban assault vehicles drivin’ around. I’m just doing my part to save the mountains from the endless cycle of violence propogated by glaciers, erosion, and their bloodthirsty kin. That may be a bit long-winded for a bumper sticker. I’m sure that with a bit more thought we can come up with a slogan of some economy.

Anywho, it’s a lame time of the year. Everything feels stale. I’m tired of the interweb, and I visit bookstores just to look at the spines of all the tech books discussing languages and concepts that I will probably never understand. I work out at the Y three days a week, and I busy myself on the treadmill by pretending that with every footfall I am crushing the skull of one of my adversaries (of which there are three, all well-crushed by this point). My music collection irritates me in its utter blandness, which is ironic considering that during my past summer of wilderness guidery, I would’ve killed to hear even one song from it.

Ahh yes, summer. No matter where we are, we yearn for where we are not. No matter what we have, we yearn for what we have not. Perhaps it is worth noting that it is official, that I will indeed be guiding a 20-day backpacking trip to the backcountry of Yellowstone this coming summer. That there, that there is some pretty rugged country when you meander beyond the highway. There are grizzlies. There are valleys and rivers named after grizzlies, through which we will be hiking. The maps I have in my possession include advice on what to do when you’re hanging around with a carcass (do not hang around with a carcass).

It shall be quite the epic summer, all told, and a vast departure from our current state of absolute web nerdery. But the extremes are what we live for, and without them we might as well curl up and die in a cave or a storm drain or a cubicle. For perhaps the first time in my life I’m planning things not just days, not just months, but years in advance. In my soul there are embers that consume the body when fanned. It is upon these muttering coals that I place the kindling and timbers necessary to ignite the wildfires of existence for which I live.

Operating under the maxim that all speculations must change in a million different ways before they unfold in utterly unpredictable manners, we can offer some insight as to what the next couple years may offer. Yellowstone ’tis only the beginning of a beautiful adventure that will, perchance, be followed the next summer by thirty days in the Wind River Range, and culminate the following summer in a grand 50-day quest to the heart of Alaska.

We would love to wedge a NOLS mountaineering trip somewhere in there, but the question remains whether we wish to spend 40 days in Patagonia or 40 days the Himalayas. Fortunately, we have the unconditional financial backing of a particular organization, which was founded in October 2005 for the sole purpose of financing such great bouts of lunacy as this.

And speaking of that organization, it has spent quite a bit of its time over the last couple months learning a thing or two about its practice. Frustrated with the churlish nature of FTP, it has learned how to tarball vast directories and files, upload them to a web server, and expand them at will. In this manner the organization has already migrated two sites from one webhost to another, and it hopes to do more. Oh so much more.

The organization has also made unprecedented headway in teaching itself PHP. Included in its efforts have been a small website bootstrapping/templating system, a web form that updates a mySQL database, and a form that will upload a file to a web server. At this point the scripts offer little more than gaping security holes for the organization in question, but they are valid proof-of-concepts that nevertheless make it proud.

Additionally, the organization has spent a lot of time experimenting with such programs as WordPress, Textpattern, Movable Type and Expression Engine, as it pursues an ideal tool for providing content management to clients. In case one is interested, the organization finds that WordPress is probably the best solution, however it may side with the frightening complexity of Movable Type, given its years of experience with that particular program.

sIFR has been another pursuit of this organization, as it seeks clever ways of enhancing its typography online. Futhermore, the future will no-doubt see work with Prototype, Scripaculous and Behaviour, as the organization broadens its knowledge of AJAX and DOM manipulation.

Particular members of the organization are frequenty dismayed by the vast scope and breadth of knowledge required to work effectively in its industry, and these members would abandon all hope if not for the dramatic world undertakings that depended so unconditionally on its success. Both sides are absolutely necessary, as one feeds on the other in a relationship of mutually assured existence.

In the meantime, there is still a winter to be slogged through. We shall weather this storm by traveling to Duluth for a weekend of snowboarding, in anticipation of our trip to Utah that is still three weeks away.