Monthly Archives: January 2006

Thu 26 Jan 06

The flights are booked. The gears are in motion and in a couple of months I’ll be in Peru. Still a long way to go in nailing down the exact details of where in Peru, but Machu Picchu is definitely on the list. I am very excited. Seems like the start of life becoming more interesting.

If all goes well Peru will be the first of two trips into the mountains this year, with a trek into the Rockies being the second more permanent trip. Mary and I decided that we have to make a move this year. Have to. It’ll be hard to leave family and everything familiar behind, but it just doesn’t make sense anymore not to live in an environment that really makes me/us happy. Since we can’t afford the ocean, mountains it is. Again, I am very excited.

Sat 21 Jan 06

You know what’s great? Not working, that’s what. Really nothing puts me in a better mood than having a day off. And today I had a day off. Normally I spend my Saturday’s with the unpleasant feeling that I have to go to work later and not sleep later and knowing that I’m going to feel miserable on Sunday. But this week I swapped out my Saturday overnight with a coworker. Hoping to make that a permanent switcheroo.

Yesterday the Great Lakes graced us with about six inches of snow. The snow, in turn, graced my trusty 323 with the inability to brake or steer while zipping home on the Beltline after work last night. With this new found inability my 323 rocketed me up over a curb, through a metal road sign (yes through, I ripped the hell out of that sign), and plowed four inches deep into the median sod.

I probably was going a little fast for the conditions (about 35 mph) and I remember thinking right before I lost control of the car that if I were smart I probably should learn something from the last mishap in poor conditions. Of course about half a second after this thought I started sliding. Lots of time to digest this accident before impact though. Tried braking, pumping the brakes, turning both directions, had time to think that well at least this is a good excuse to buy a new car, and finally just pointed my tires directly at the curb I was heading for in attempt to limit wheel damage. Hit the curb with a solid thud, bounced up and over then smashed through a two-legged metal highway sign, ripping the right leg in half, and came to a stop just past the sign.

Kind of strange. The whole experience never really bothered me. It was more of an “oh well, I guess my trip home is going to take a little longer” kind of feeling. I hopped out of my car, checked for any major damge and when I didn’t find any, proceeded to try to accelerate and reverse myself out of the pit I had gouged. No dice. Dropped the car into nuetral and tried pushing myself in both directions. Again no dice. At this point a couple of college-aged guys came running over and helped push me out (which was much easier once I noticed the underbody of my car was hung up on the remaining stump of metal sign post), which I am eternally grateful for. They waited until I was safely back on the Beltline before taking off. People are good.

I noticed two other people buried in the median on the way home and would have happily stopped the help them if I had thought for a second the my now-shaky car would be able to make it safely back onto the road if I pulled over. About halfway home I realized that I had a flat back tire and on closer inspection found a quarter-sized gash in said tire. Screw it. Drove home on my lumpy tire. Went out at about one am and changed the tire in the snow. Very peaceful. Almost made me wish I could change tires in the snow at one in the morning every night.

This morning I took my car in to Discount Tire who have a magnificent lifetime warrenty that I’ve now used to replace at least four tires for no more than seven bucks a piece and picked up a new tire. After lunch I dropped my car off at the repair shop for an estimate on the other damage (my steering was badly out of whack). Ended up just needed a wheel alignment, which while not exactly cheap, certainly beat having some vital car organ severed. All told the damage amounted to one flat tire, steering alignment corruption, and a whole bunch of paint scraped off of my car. Guess I’ll have to hold off a little longer on a new sweet ride.

Thu 12 Jan 06

Surf Report # 10

Location: Ferrysburg, MI – North Shore Beach
Time: 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Air Temp: 51° F
Water Temp: 34° F
Wind: From S 10 mph
Waves: 2-4 feet
Gear: 5/3 wetsuit, 5 mm boots, 3 mm gloves, .5 mm hood

Unbelievably nice day. Waves weren’t anything special but this was still one of the most enjoyable sessions I’ve had yet. Clear sky, sunshine, warm temps, and it helped not to be rushed by any outside obligations. The water was incredibly cold, but not the immediate overall shock you might expect. Absolutely stunning when you took a direct shot to the face though and I had to rip my hood off a couple of times when it filled up with thirty-four degree water, but otherwise I was completely comfortable everywhere except my finger tips. Of course the comfort level probably had a lot to do with my body gradually shutting down the old heat core. After an hour and a half I definitely noticed the body temperature had dropped a few degrees. Got out very mellow and happy though. Yup, January surfing in Michigan.

Thu 5 Jan 06

Today marks thirteen consecutive days without sunshine in Grand Rapids. Thirteen. Days. No sun. None. Not mostly cloudy. Not cloudy all day, but the sun peaked though for half an hour in the afternoon. Not cloudy but you can make out a little blue in the sky. None. Grey skies all day every day for two weeks. And it’s also some impressive figure like 23 of the last 24 days with zero sun. It’s been spectacularly depressing and I hate it. I really don’t want to go through another Michigan winter ever. And I think I mean it this time. Ever.

I freaked out a little last night thinking about it and spent a couple hours during the Rose Bowl trying to determine how to make a potentially ideal city a reality. I’ve narrowed my list down (after the initial idealistic rush of “we should move to a tropical paradise”) to a select half dozen locales that I think I could be happy in. And a couple frontrunners. Nothing’s ready for the grand revelation yet, but wheels are in motion (at least in my head if nothing else). Mary, for her part, is always up for some spice, so at this point the only potential roadblock is apathy. Of course I can fight that easily enough just by glancing up at the sky every day.

I just checked our local forcast and spotted a new Grand Rapids weather blurb (check out the pic below), though hey, look at the forecast. Little tiny half suns.

Wed 4 Jan 06

It’s a tough thing to catch on film. Especially when that film really isn’t film and also has a consistently annoying delay on flash of the digital camera you’re using. You know, those moments where the moment itself seems equal parts crisp/sharp and weighty/dense. Where your senses seem super-heightened, but only heightened to super-perceive that thing or feeling you happen to be focused on. Everything else is sort of blurred or muted. I get this a lot while watching my dogs. Little flashes of joy.

I think I just watched Nora have a little dog moment like that. She was sitting upright in the living room with her body pressed against the heat vent, looking very much lost in thought. Not shifting at all, just upright, level head, staring forward, lost in the warm blast of air. I called out quietly, “Nora. Hey Nora.” And she stared for another second before tilting her head, looking around a little as if trying to figure out how that sound had got into her head, and finally looking my direction. Made my day.

It’s been so fun watching her personality emerge. I’ve never seen a dog so aware of her own surroundings. She hears sounds on TV and notices music playing on my computer. When she looks at you she really looks at you, making eye contact for as long as you’re willing to hold it. A couple days ago we were running around the golf course when a plane flew overhead, prompting Nora to look up and watch it until it was out of sight. I’ve never seen a dog do that before. Hopefully it’s not just a puppy phase.

But anyway, back to my opening sentence, since I’m unable to catch any of those soul-tingling moments via the digital, here are some dog action shots.