6.29.2008

seastival 2.0, part four

Thursday

Since backpacking was a bust, T and I decided to head home a day early to give ourselves time to drive through Yellowstone National Park. I'd never been to the most popular national park in our country and T was game to go through again if, in return, we could go through Grand Teton National Park also. I thought that was a pretty good trade.

We didn't leave Missoula until about 2p, so we didn't get to the entrance to the park until about 7p, so we didn't have a ton of daylight left. We decided that we'd only do half the park, stay somewhere in West Yellowstone if we could find a room and then see the rest of the park in the morning.

Our first stop was the Mammoth Hot Springs. Weirdly, or at least according to T, there wasn't any scalding hot, boiling water spewing forth from the ground here. Like there normally is.


I can only imagine how cool it looks when water is spilling out of all of the holes in the ground, but even without it, it's still a cool, crazy, alien landscape. The Earth is an amazing, freaky place.



We saw a lot of very cool scenery on our drive through the park, trying to get to the next feature before the sun set. After looking at the map, we decided on Norris Geyser Basin—a one-mile loop through an area of multiple, small (compared to Old Faithful) water spouts.




We literally drove off into the sunset and arrived in West Yellowstone after nightfall. Because of our nervousness about finding a hotel room—T kept saying that the park would be crazy with people, but really it was fairly empty—we stopped at Westward Ho, the first one outside of the park, where we squeaked in just as she was about to close (who closes a hotel at 10p?) and got the last room she had available. For $66! This has to be the last hotel in America that still offers rooms for such a low price. And, even though T got attacked by a bat outside of our room and they didn't provide free internet, the room was still really clean and the shower was an actual shower instead of one of those low-flow-spit-on-you ones.

After we got settled in, we went out in search of the internet. Apparently West Yellowstone closes down at 10p. The only thing still open was the Dairy Queen and since they didn't have wifi, we didn't stop in. Oh well, such are the woes of traveling. So, we went back to the hotel room and watched the last bit of Vacation.

Friday

Since we knew we'd have another looooonnnnnngggggg day in the car, we figured it'd be good if we hit it pretty early, so we woke up at 6a, went to the recommended Roaming Bear Cafe for breakfast, and drove back into the park. When you enter Yellowstone, they give you a flyer that says more people are gored by buffalo than are attacked by bears. Then they constantly remind you of the danger with signs posted up all over the park. I kind of thought they were maybe over exaggerating the danger, but after seeing one come right up to the walkway around the Fountain Paint Pots, and seeing how everyone reacted, I can definitely see why it might happen. A lot. Because most people are stupid. Me included.


And, while no one was gored (dangit), that thing looked me right in the eye and let me know that it could seriously hurt me if it wanted to. I'm just happy he didn't have any friends with. It would've been West Side Story all over again. After that excitement, the Fountain Paint Pots were a little bit of a let down, but still fairly cool.


I got some really good shots to use as backgrounds anyway.



Out last stop in the park was, of course, Old Faithful. I had to see one of the most famous natural tourist attractions in our country, even though T was nervous that it'd be so crowded I'd get annoyed. It was pretty crowded, but nowhere near as bad as I'd thought it'd be.


A boiling hot, stream of water that shoots at least 50 ft into the air for about 5 minutes? I can see why it's lauded, 'cause that thing was pretty frickin' cool.


We got to see some really cool things in the park, but I would definitely like to go back and spend enough time to do some backpacking. It'd be great to see what's off the main roads a bit.

More pics up on the Flickr.

Since this post is getting extremely long, all I'll say about the Tetons is this:

I can see why people want to climb to the top of them.

More pics up on the Flickr.

6.28.2008

seastival 2.0, part three

Tuesday

We decided that we needed some urban time, so the very second we woke up in the morning, we packed our urban gear and headed into downtown Missoula. We had breakfast at Dauphine's, where our very stoned waitress took a little time getting to our table, but the food was pretty tasty so it didn't really matter that the service kind of sucked. After we gorged ourselves, we took some time and perused The Interbunny, tried to get our Readers down to manageable numbers, checked our email and uploaded a shitton of photos. Then we walked around Missoula proper and stopped at the Trailhead, the local outdoor store, so that I could buy a new headlamp, since I'd lost my favorite one sometime over Mem Day Weekend (as far as I can tell), and needed to replace it.

The time finally came when we had to say a sad goodbye to our friend E and send her back home to Kansas. The remaining few of us went shopping for our backpacking trip and started planning where we were gonna go for a walk in the woods. We settled on The Middle Fork Trail in the Anaconda Pintlar Wilderness, mainly because it had three lakes: Little Johnson Lake at 5.5 miles, Kelly Lake at 7.0 miles and Hidden Lake at 9.0 miles. This was advantageous because it gave us several places to stop for the night if we decided we couldn't make it the entire nine miles.

Wednesday

We got up eaaaaarrrrly and hit the road so that we could get to the trail head by 10a. By the time we started hiking, the temperature was an extremely pleasant 70ยบ, the sun was out and not one single other person was in the parking lot. That's one thing I always liked about Montana, there's rarely a huge number of people out on the trails. I definitely don't mind sharing as I think it's very important for as many people as possible to get outside and enjoy our planet—it's the only thing that's gonna save her, but sometimes it is pretty nice to have the place to yourself.


The hiking was pretty easy for the first couple of hours. Then. We ran into this:


Which was ok for a bit, but it just kept going and going and got deeper and deeper and slipperier and slipperier. We decided to head back down to a meadow we'd just passed through to eat some lunch and make a plan. In the end, we gave up and headed back down to the car. None of us had thought to bring snowshoes—I mean, it's almost July and we weren't that high up—and therefore weren't really prepared to be outside in waist deep snow.

It was cool though, 'cause we still got to car camp and drink beer, which always, always makes everything better.

More pics up on the Flickr.

Oh and I found my old headlamp. As predicted. It was in my tent and fell out as soon as I started to set it up. So, now I have two. Sweet! Anyone want to go camping?

seastival 2.0, part two


Sunday

After some much-needed caffeine and eggs, we decided to hike up to the 'L'. Missoula has two big letters engraved in the hillsides around town—an 'L' for Loyola Something Or Other High School and an 'M' for the University of Montana. Hikes up to the two letters have become popular outings for the locals, mainly because they provide excellent vistas of the town and surrounding countryside, but also because they're fairly short. Our hike was short, but really steep and really, really hot. Which some said was the perfect cure for our hangovers.


Updated to add: I totally forgot to mention the rousing game of Celebrity we played that night over the remaining beer in the keg. For some reason that is unfathomable to me, I'm fairly good at it. Even though it involves charades. And then we ended the night with a heated argument about universal health care, which is one of the things I love most about my friends: that we can get into these crazy arguments where we completely yell at each other and disagree pretty vehemently and still get up the next day and everything is as it was before.

More pics up on the Flickr.

Monday

After dropping the kids from Chicago off at the airport, the rest of us headed up to one of the most magical places in the land, Glacier National Park. Unfortunately, Mama Nature felt like she wasn't quite ready to give up on winter and the Going to the Sun Road was closed and we were only able to drive about 16 miles into the park. But we did get a nice walk out of it a short ways up Avalanche Lake Trail.


We were there at the right time of year to see the rivers and lakes full to bursting with snow melt, which is always fairly breathtaking. After taking a small walk up along this fantastic river we started to run out of daylight, so we headed back down and returned to Missoula.

More pics up on the Flickr.

seastival 2.0, part one

Friday
After a very, very long day in the car driving through western Idaho, T and I arrived in Missoula, Mont. at 11:30p, weary, exhausted and a little cranky. Or, at least I was, T seemed like she was still in a pretty good mood. Although I don't know how that could possibly be the case. We sat out back on our friends' deck drinking some beer and waiting for them to arrive, while their dog Meisja cowered in a corner, afraid to get near us and wondering what the hell we were doing. After a little while, and T channeling Diane Fossey, she decided we were maybe ok and let us pet her, then everyone arrived home from the airport.

Saturday
About a year ago, Q asked her friend Jeff, who is a river raft guide at Paw's Up, if he'd be willing to take a bunch of her friends down the Blackfoot for her birthday. It's a testament to how great of a person Q is that he agreed for the low, low price of a case of beer. So, most of Saturday was spent getting completely sunburned in rubber boats, plus, I got to try my hand at kayaking which, I'm surprised to say, I enjoyed. A lot.

It was only one of those rubber, blow-up ones, but it was enough fun that I think I'd actually like to try the real thing. Someday. Maybe.

After we were done wearing ourselves out on the water, we ended back at the Churchmans' house for a 30th birthday rager. Seriously, Q's friends in Montana love her. They went all out with food and beer and good times. There were keg stands and BBQ'ed ribs and a pork tenderloin that I think actually made me cry at some point. This one pic sums things up pretty well.

6.19.2008

seastival 2.0

Tina has arrived.

Camping gear has been sorted.

Laundry has been washed. And dried.

Bags have been packed.

A six-mile run was undertaken. Successfully.

Beer has been drunk.

An awesome dinner has been prepared. And eaten.

House has been cleaned.

Lawn has been mowed.

Google Reader has been read.

New, fancy flip flops have been purchased.

Headlamps have been lost.

Let Seastival 2.0 begin!

Tomorrow we drive 12 hours to Missoula, Montana for river rafting and backpacking and camping madness for an entire week. And this time our friend from Newton, Kansas will be joining us. As, apparently, the mountains of Colorado are not enough to pique her interest, but the mountains of Montana hold much allure.

darwin can go suck it

I am never, ever taking the R-dog for a walk around The Ponds at 8a again. Mark my words. The first sign that that that particular time of day is not optimal for a pleasant walk around the water: we're walking up to the path that leads to the ponds and this guy pulls up in his car and unloads three miniature Doberman Pinschers, yapping at the top of their lungs, biting each other and running rampant in the street, regardless of any cars that may have happened to be driving by. Needless to say, the R-dog and I stopped and waited on the sidewalk until they'd had enough time to get far, far ahead of us.

So, we get to the ponds and I throw the tennis ball in a couple of times, like I always do and then we start going in our normal, counter clockwise direction around the smaller of The Ponds—a decision that will likely eventually lead to the downfall of mankind and doom of civilization as we know it . We're walking happily along, the R-dog carrying the ball as she likes to do, me listening to Wolf Parade's new album, At Mount Zoomer when we come upon a woman and three dogs coming our way. She had every size of dog possible—a little, Jack Russell terrier looking dog, a medium, white dog that looked like a mutt, and a large, white dog that looked like a Samoyed. Even though she didn't have any of them on a leash, I didn't think anything of it, as that's pretty normal for the ponds and I always figure that if someone doesn't leash their dog, then they can control them with voice commands. Apparently this isn't always the case.

It was seriously a prime example of pack-hunting mentality in action. And, if it hadn't been my Boo that they were hunting, it would've been pretty fascinating to watch. As it was, it was pretty terrifying for both of us. I don't even really know why they attacked. Maybe because they could sense she has a lame leg? Maybe they were just bored? Here's how it went down. Mama Bear circled around to our right and got up behind her and started nipping at her flanks. Baby Bear crouched down in hiding-in-the-grass pose and then came rushing in as soon as R-dog turned her attention to Mama Bear. Daddy Bear circled around to our left and came running into her, bowling her over and then all three of them jumped on top of her, barking and biting and snarling. All I could see was the terrified look in the R-dog's eyes as she was pinned on her back trying to kick out at the mass of teeth and fur on top of her. I waded in and started pulling dogs off and throwing them out of the way. Which I know you're not supposed to do, but I didn't really care. I picked the R-dog up off the ground and carried her out of the way, kicking at the dogs as they tried to jump up and get her, and finally the owner of the beasts came up and started pulling them away with her.

Luckily, the R-dog doesn't seem to be injured. I couldn't find any blood on her anywhere and she wasn't limping any worse than normal on our return home and 30 seconds later she was done trembling and ready to swim again. We've always been a little wary of little dogs because whenever we come upon one they always seem to want to attack her. This happens a few times a month, at least, but usually it just involves running up to her, barking and snapping at her flanks. Usually they go away when I stomp and yell at them. After today, I'm gonna start carrying a baseball bat with me—watch out annoying little dogs, for I will not hesitate to hit you with it.

6.18.2008

it's wednesday. oh, yes. it is.

I've actually had a ton of work to do lately. I've been so busy that I haven't even had time to go to the gym, and I couldn't even fit in a run until last night. So, I ran like 8 miles or something ridiculous trying to burn off all the calories I've eaten over the last seven days. Then I came home and ate salad and a cantaloupe that was as big as my head. But don't feel too badly for me, because I had Quizno's for lunch. Because I've been trying to eat all the food in my house before I leave on Friday for a weeklong fun-in-the-mountains-of-Montana trip. I know. I live in a state with mountains, and yet I'm going on vacation to another state that has different mountains. You'd think I'd go to the beach or something for a change of pace or something like that. But the key word is different. I'm panicking a little thinking of all of the stuff I need to get done before I leave. Clean, mow, figure out what I need to buy to restock my camping gear which I should've done after my camping trip on Mem Day weekend, but haven't really had the motivation to do it. Procrastination is a terrible, insidious evil my friends. I also downloaded a bunch of new music last night—trying to use my downloads before they expire while I'm gone on vacation. Because I don't think Montana has the internet yet. I didn't even take the time to preview, just picked some albums in my queue and hit 'download'. Here's hoping they don't suck. Here's what I am excited about:

1. Wolf Parade | At Mount Zoomer
2. Santogold | Santogold
3. Centro-Matic and South San Gabriel | Dual Hawks
4. Coldplay | La Vida Death and All His Friends (or something like that)

Yes. You read it right. I'm excited about Coldplay. And I feel mostly secure enough in myself to admit it out loud.

Oh and then there was this:

The Bostonites call him 'P-Squared'. Which is totally awesome. Eat it Kobe Bryant. Ok. I'm off to work some more. The money will sure be nice, but man, working is sort of for the birds. It's too bad I still need to eat.

6.15.2008

down time

Since I haven't been reading all that much lately, I've been filling my time with DVDs. Here're my awesome, totally spot on thoughts on a few I've seen recently.

3:10 to Yuma This movie couldn't be bad just because it had Christian Bale in it. Seriously, has that guy ever done a bad movie? I usually am not a huge fan of the Western. I know, it's anti-male and anti-American for me to admit that out loud. In public. But it's true. Well, I guess there are some Westerns I've liked. Unforgiven. The Man from Snowy River. This year's NBA Championship. But the storyline in this one kept me really engaged and I kind of forgot I was even watching a Western. It was fairly predictable, yes, once it got going, but still, interesting. And the actors made me really empathize with the characters. Which, when it comes down to it, is all you can really ask of a movie.

I am Legend I usually also like Will Smith movies, but all I really have to say about this one is that it was better than I thought it was going to be. The scene where the dog died actually kind of made me sad. A little bit. At least I didn't laugh out loud. Like I usually do. The CGI zombies were completely ridiculous though. And the super cheesy ending made me want to claw out my eyeballs and ruined any good feelings that I had about it. However, I am excited to see the new Will Smith movie where he plays the down and out super hero—Hancock.

There Will Be Blood Holy shit! Intense. And I definitely did not see the end coming. Daniel Day Lewis is amazing. I know it was a fictional Upton Sinclair novel, but if that was based in even a little bit of truth that was one f'ed up dude.

Wristcutters: A Love Story A story about the special afterlife (i.e. hell) reserved for suicides where 'everything is just like here, only worse'? Sign me up. Awesome. This was definitely the best movie I've seen in a while. Quirky. Funny. Really great story. And then the cop-out ending shot it all to shit. If only it hadn't been for that last second. I have to think that the producers made him do it, probably to cut costs or something equally asinine, because it really didn't fit with the rest of the movie.

And there you have it kids. Completely worthless movie reviews in 100 words or less.

this too is still possible

Dylan and I were talking the other day how, quite possibly, the internet has destroyed our brains or at least eroded our ability to concentrate on anything longer than, oh say, ten words. I mean, when I come across a blog post that is more than a couple of paragraphs long I find myself skimming or even avoiding it altogether. I'm not sure if this is a result of feeling like I just don't have time to read anything too long, or if I just can't keep my attention span focused for as long as it would take to read those two paragraphs.

For much of my adult life, and even a large chunk of my childhood (yes, I was sad and pathetic even back then) I was an avid reader, often choosing to do that over other activities, and always had a book with me no matter where I went. For some reason, it's been a while, probably a couple of months, since I've sat down and actually read a book. I've tried with three or four different books, but nothing has drawn me in enough for me to want to sit for hours and just read. I would find myself reading a couple of pages and then putting it down without really giving it time to soak in. I don't know if this is my fault, or if I just chose books that were hard to get into, or what, and it was honestly disturbing me. But, I'm happy to report that I just finished a novel. And it only took me about three days. Granted Mark Childress is pretty light fare compared to Dostoevsky, but still, I feel pretty happy that I can actually sit and read (that's pretty much all I did today) and even enjoy it.

As a side note, the kids have coined the term 'sexting' for flirting via text message. I love it.

hot damn

It's done finally. For the most part. I need to get rid of the tufts of grass still sticking up, so that everything looks consistent, but the stones are all put in. I have a lot of stones left over that I need to decide what to do with, but I think I'm gonna wait a while so that I can forget the pain of digging all of those holes before putting any more in. Thanks again to Doug and Dylan for sharing some of the misery with me.


The bad news is my grass planting didn't end up taking as well as I'd wanted it to. It's been just sunny enough without any days of rain that a lot of the new grass is starting to shrivel up and die, regardless of how much I water it. Oh well, I tried. And it still looks better than it did. Maybe in the fall I'll throw some more seed down just to see what happens.

6.08.2008

of holes and bolted climbs

I've had a busy couple of days. On Friday, Doug and Dylan came over to help me dig holes in my back yard. After about three hours and nine beers (total, not apiece), we got about 2/3s of the way through the patio. Maybe I'll actually have it finished by the end of the month.

Then, yesterday a few of us decided to go scale some crags. We picked Ironsides in the Ironclads area off of Highway 7 about halfway between Lyons and Estes Park.

Doug recruited Dylan to help him get his first ever multipitch out of the way—Alloy Madness, 5.10d. And Clare and Dennis started off on a wet, dirty crack—Port Side, 5.6— that didn't make Clare all that happy, but she eventually got it nailed.

I waited my turn, and eventually got my first lead of the year under my belt—Gypsies in the Palace, 5.8. After a lot of whining, and some serious consideration of coming down about halfway through, I finally persevered and got the damn thing done. I feel a lot better just having it over with without any serious injury, or you know, death. I don't know why I can't get out of my head on lead, because that was some seriously easy climbing and I had a hard time believing I could do it.

Then I ran up the bottom half of the TR that Doug and Dylan had set up on Alloy Madness, 5.10d, and even made the first few moves on the top half of the 10d part before my forearms gave out. I seriously need to not do anything at all the day before I go climbing. Or start climbing more to build up my endurance. I poop out way too quickly these days.

But it was still a pretty great day to be outside. A little chilly, but very tolerable and, quite possibly, the perfect temps for some climbing. We finished the day off with a most delicious dinner of Mexican fare at Cilantro Mary in Lyons.

Today should be filled with digging more holes in the back yard, but it rained last night and the ground's all muddy and so I might use it as an excuse to sit on my butt and watch movies all day. I'm sure you'll hear all about it later.

More pics up on my Flickr page. For those of you who care about such things.

6.06.2008

Oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god

The [Cherry] Ride mentioned the other day that he was in search of a Summer Jam and so I started wondering when I was going to find mine. Then I downloaded the sophomore effort from Frightened Rabbit, The Midnight Organ Fight and I think I may have found it. I've been struggling a little bit, trying to choose because the entire album if f'ing fantastic, but I think I've finally narrowed it down to 'Keep Yourself Warm'.

The lyrics may be a little dark for a true Summer Jam, but I'm in a dark kind of mood lately, so it fits. And even though the lyrics are dark, the melody rocks it hard, so it will be good to jam to.

A note to Frightened Rabbit: not that you probably will, but if you see this and you want me to remove it, don't hesitate to ask, and I will remove it promptly. You're just so good I feel the need to share.

the sea is an amazing and mysterious place y'all

a herd of cownose manta rays shot by this guy

truth=bomb.com


I hate Shaquille O'Neal. Like, hate, hate. Almost as much as I hate the falseness of the NBA. But this quote from him about my boy Paul Pierce is pretty awesome.

"My name is Shaquille O'Neal and Paul Pierce is the motherfucking truth. Quote me on that and don't take nothing out. I knew he could play, but I didn't know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is the truth."
This year, I've actually been paying attention to the NBA championship a little, solely because I want Pierce—I mean, the Celtics—to whomp all over the Lakers.

6.05.2008

now that we're down to brass tacks, i find myself able to pay attention to politics again

From Daily Kos:

Clinton to End Bid and Endorse Obama

By ADAM NAGOURNEY and JEFF ZELENY

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will endorse Senator Barack Obama on Saturday, bringing a close to her 17-month campaign for the White House, aides said. Her decision came after Democrats urged her Wednesday to leave the race and allow the party to coalesce around Mr. Obama.

Howard Wolfson, one of Mrs. Clinton’s chief strategists, and other aides said she would express support for Mr. Obama and party unity at an event in Washington that day. One adviser said Mrs. Clinton would concede defeat, congratulate Mr. Obama and proclaim him the party’s nominee, while pledging to do what was needed to assure his victory in November.

Her decision came after a day of conversations with supporters on Capitol Hill about her future now that Mr. Obama had clinched the nomination. Mrs. Clinton had, in a speech after Tuesday night’s primaries, suggested she wanted to wait before deciding about her future, but in conversations Wednesday, her aides said, she was urged to step aside.

"We pledged to support her to the end," Representative Charles B. Rangel, a New York Democrat who has been a patron of Mrs. Clinton since she first ran for the Senate, said in an interview. "Our problem is not being able to determine when the hell the end is."


My question is, why does she have to be 'urged to leave the race' by members of her party? This is what I mean by selfishness. Have you ever seen anyone lose so ungracefully? And what do you mean, you don't know when the 'end is'? Um. The last I saw, Obama got the required number of pledged delegates. Clinton did not. Isn't that all that's needed to signal the end? I read another report that said Hillary was still asking for campaign contributions to help make up the millions in dollars taken from her personal coffers to fund her race. Jesus.

6.04.2008

stuff i done did

) Watched 'Lars and the Real Girl.' I've been sort of in love with Ryan Gosling ever since 'Half Nelson', so I may be a bit biased, but I really liked this film. I thought he did a great job of portraying this man who was so f'ed up by his childhood that he felt actual, physical pain whenever another person touched him and, therefore, couldn't find love with an actual human being. What was a little unbelievable was that no one in the entire town ever slipped up when talking about Bianca and that there were no rednecks to torment him endlessly about being a nut job. I guess Canada isn't like America after all.

) I finally got all of the ugly, raised, gardening beds removed from the back yard. Now it looks a little like a nuclear wasteground. And the beds are leaning up against the fence until I can get rid of them. Which makes the back yard look like Sampson and Sons. One bonus is that the R-dog has decided that the dirt area is now her personal toilet, which makes it much easier to pick up her poo. She's gonna be so confused once I finally fill it up with rocks.

) I have two large, awesome trees in my front yard. The woman that owned the house before me apparently liked for her plants to be up off the ground a bit, because she put beds around the trees also. And then didn't plant anything in them. Apparently. Both trees used to look like this:

And now, one of them looks like this:

Can I tell you how hard it was to remove the one bed? I had to borrow a hand saw from a friend and cut the damn thing down into pieces. And there was a shitton of dirt in there. Which is now in the back yard nuclear waste area. I don't think I have the energy to do the other one just now. Also, as you can see, The Great Grass Growing Experiment of Ought 8 had mixed results. For some reason the front yard didn't really take all that well. It was at best, spotty. But the backyard. Instead of being mostly dirt with a few tufts of grass poking up (much like a guy with recent hair transplants), it now looks like this:

Over pretty much the entire thing. And even the still-bare spots have some baby grass poking up, so maybe a little more water will help them fill out too. All of which means, I'm gonna try again in the front yard to see if I can get the seed to stick so that I don't have to go through the hell of sodding, but overall, I'm fairly pleased with the results. I guess I only have Mama Nature to thank as we've had an unusually rainy spring this year. Dylan says that I'm truly domestic now that I've planted grass. And worried about it growing. I'm still not sure how to take his assessment.

) Watched 'Before the Devil Knows You're Dead'. Outstanding! Seriously. I'm of the belief that Phillip Seymour Hoffman is the best actor on the planet and he didn't disappoint this time around either. The rest of the cast performed admirably also—even Ethan Hawke didn't inspire the urge for violence against his smug, smarmy, still-trying-to-look-20-even-though-i'm-totally-forty, wrinkled, puffy face. Like he normally does. (Lay off the booze Ethan, it's not treating you well.) The writing and direction were also pretty superb, even though I did get a little tired of the 'get-ready-for-flashback' effect they used throughout.

) And, finally, drumroll please, I started putting in a flagstone patio. Know what's harder than you think it would be? Putting in a flagstone patio. The dirt area I showed you before used to be full of raised beds (as previously noted) and a curious mixture of flagstone and mulch. When I removed the beds, I needed to do something with the flagstone, so I thought, like most rational people, flagstone patio. Unlike most rational people, I decided that I like the way the grass looks poking up through the stones, so I'm trying to leave as much there as possible. Which means digging individual holes for each stone, instead of one big hole for all of them. The advantage is that if I decide I don't like it later, I can remove all of the stones and plant something there instead. The disadvantage is digging millions of individual holes. After all of my grass planting stress, it's rather trying on my psyche to dig up the perfectly good grass that was there, but I'm slowly getting over it.

Alright, now I'm gonna go back to being even more boring than usual. Let me know if you want to come dig holes.

dear, sweet mary mother of god


I can't believe it's over. Finally, over. Well, ok, not really because Clinton has still NOT conceded. The one thing this long primary has taught me is that the Clintons are void of class. With all of Bill's vitriol and all of Hillary's selfishness it's extremely difficult to remember the halcyon days of Bill's first term as President. Which is disappointing to say the least.

But, let's not focus on that, let's instead try to focus on the fact that for the first time in our nation's history a woman and an African-American man ran for the highest office in America. And, not only did people not hold race or gender against them (for the most part), but the Democratic Party registered a record number of new members. Whether that's because people are really, really tired of the Republicans being in charge, or they were really, really excited to be a part of history and seeing a possible change in the way we are governed is sort of a moot point.

In Barack's own words:

I want to thank every American who stood with us over the course of this campaign - through the good days and the bad; from the snows of Cedar Rapids to the sunshine of Sioux Falls. And tonight I also want to thank the men and woman who took this journey with me as fellow candidates for President.

At this defining moment for our nation, we should be proud that our party put forth one of the most talented, qualified field of individuals ever to run for this office. I have not just competed with them as rivals, I have learned from them as friends, as public servants, and as patriots who love America and are willing to work tirelessly to make this country better. They are leaders of this party, and leaders that America will turn to for years to come.

It's difficult to believe that we only have 6 more months of W's tyranny. Well, unless McCain wins the nomination, which if there is any small amount of justice in the world, will not happen.