Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

Apparently I've won an Award of sorts. Or had it bestowed upon me. Same thing, sort of, although this award comes with rules for accepting it.

Like linking back to the Blogger who gave it to me, being Memphis Steve from Steve's Nude Memphis. No, he's not naked, or even a nudist, just read his Blog and you'll get it. Or not.

The second rule is to share seven things about yourself, and the third is to pass the award on to 15...FIFTEEN!!?!? recently discovered Blogs. I think I'll fail that part, but first...

1. If I like you I will deliberately insult you, and the more I like you the more I will insult you. The problem is I'm socially inept so I usually cannot tell when I've gone too far, and what should be a bit of light-hearted teasing among mates often comes across as very offensive.

2. I like to walk places. I once offended my Dad when I said I needed to go into town, he offered to give me a lift, and I said I could just walk. It was only about a half hour walk into town. No big deal, to me. Dad was pretty pissed off though. When I first came to the States I got a job in the local Mall about a mile from the in-laws home (where we lived for the first year or so after we were married...does that count as Number 3? I think so. I'm going to count it.) and the mother-in-law was visibly shocked when I told her I was going to walk to the Mall.

3. After the wife and I were married we lived with her parents for about a year. I told you I was going to count it.

4. I believe in ghosts. I believe we don't see them because we've learned how to close our minds to them, and that children whose minds are still open can still perceive them. I believe that in some cases the crazy homeless people we see having conversations or arguments with thin air are crazy but their minds are no longer closed and so they're actually talking to and arguing with ghosts.

5. (a) In High School I copied an entire book on Ned Kelly for a History assignment. This was before Referencing and Bibliographies were expected. I got an A+.
5. (b) In College, when only one of the girls in our group understood a certain assignment she let four of us rewrite her essay so we could all pass. We all made sure to write it a little differently, use our own words, etc., so the Professor wouldn't suspect us of copying. When we got our grades back the girl whose assignment we copied from got a B, and everyone else got a C, except for me. I got an A. Sometimes cheaters do prosper.

6. Back in High School, I was reading the winning entries for a State-wide short story competition when I came across a very familiar story about a boy and his new bike. At home that afternoon I searched through numerous editions of Reader's Digest until I found the issue with the story about a boy and his new bike. The next day I showed my English Teacher the winning short story, along with the corresponding Reader's Digest. A few weeks later my English Teacher told me that he had learned that the student had been ordered to return his prize. I don't remember what it was. Probably money.

7. I have a genius-level IQ, which doesn't really mean anything other than I'm very good at solving logical puzzles. I do very well in maths-based tests, but anything requiring critical thinking, reading comprehension, etc., I usually fail with flying colors.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for! Or not. My nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award. Of which there most assuredly will not be 15.

1. 6 Inch Move is a Blog written by several table-top wargaming friends. I think this counts for as many extra Blogs as I need to make up my 15 :P

2. The Food In My Beard is, obviously enough, a food Blog. It's written by a guy who loves to cook for himself and his friends, and he appears to be pretty damn good at it, too. Features lots of delicious photos. Do not read while hungry.

3. Carrying A Cat By The Tail stars Spuds, a self-proclaimed "cool guy". If he actually says and does even half the stuff he says and does (and I have no reason to believe that he does not) then he is, indeed, a very cool dude.

4. A Quick Succession of Busy Nothings is written by an Aussie girl who moved from Melbourne to Canberra for work, before regaining her senses and moving back to Melbourne. That's Melbourne, Australia, not Melbourne, Florida.

The following Blogs have been classified by Blogger as Adults-only. Whatever that means.

5. Perception is Everything is written by KittyCat and is probably one of my most favorite, newly discovered Blogs.

6. Fun and Dirty Thoughts is written by a pretty hot guy named Marcus who still seems to have trouble charming the pants off his wife.

7. GoodWill (Bad Will) is written by Good Will, but sometimes he's Bad Will, and as the saying goes, when he's good he is very, very good, but when he's bad he's even better ;)

That's all, folks.

To Spruce Grove, and beyond!!!

That title doesn't look terribly witty. I should probably stick to my day job. Not like I plan to make any money off this Blog anyway...unless I put a Paypal donation button on the side. I wonder...if I did that...would anyone actually use it??? I wouldn't do that anyway, I despise beggars because most of them don't need the money anyway, or if they do, they only need it because they're not making any attempt to actually do anything with their life. That said, I do admire the work ethic of some of downtown L.A.'s perpetually homeless folks. I pass through Union Station at approx. 5:30am and there are already beggars hitting me up for spare change.

I get off the train at Pershing Square and walk a few blocks to the office and the other morning I ran into a woman who could have been my mother. I don't mean she looked like my mum, but she was in her late 50s to 60s, quite well dressed, clean, well groomed, in other words she looked like your typical middle-class elderly woman. When she said "Excuse me" I stopped to hear her out because she did not look like your average beggar, and then she asked me for change, and I said "Sorry" to her and walked on. I had another early riser hit me up one time but as soon as I heard him say, "I live in Santa Ana..." I cut him off. "No change, buddy."

Looking at the title of this entry this was not meant to be a rant on homeless people and I'm pretty sure I've done that already. Oh, I see how I derailed myself, so, back to the actual topic.

This past weekend was supposed to be the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower. When my Mum was here this time last year we sat out in the backyard and tried to see some meteors, but we were SOL - too much ambient light - so I promised my son that next year (being now) I'd take him camping and we'd see some meteors for sure. Although apparently the ones you see are really meteorites, if I recall my High School Astronomy correctly. Meteors are in outer space, meteorites are the ones that enter Earth's atmosphere.

So it was this time of year again (isn't that a redundant saying? Isn't it always "That time of year"?) and the annual Perseid Meteor Shower was passing by so I decided the boy and I would head up into the Angeles National Forest and go camping and maybe see some meteors.

I got off work early on Friday, and after dicking around at home getting everything packed (we were going for one fucking night and it still seemed to take forever to get our shit together), plus a trip to the hardware store for a hatchet, followed by a trip to the market for a packet of hotdogs, we were finally off. Fortunately the entrance to the park is not far from home so by 4pm (or so) we were parked at Chantry Flat (in the last freaking space in the lot, at 4pm, on a Friday afternoon. Incredible!) had our packs on our backs and were heading into the wilderness.

I'd come down here a few weeks earlier with the family, and I'd planned to do the 4-mile roundtrip via Camp Hoagee, except we missed our turn off and wound up at Sturtevant Falls instead, which for a family hike was actually a much more pleasant destination than 4 miles of nowhere. I'd also been to the Falls a couple of times before but had never gone any further. Fortunately I had a map, and the trail had decent signs pointing the way, so I was pretty confident we would find the Spruce Grove campsite. However, having never been past Sturtevant Falls before I was not prepared for what was in store for the boy and me.

The boy is 11 now. He does Tae Kwon Do a couple of times a week, plays golf with me (occasionally), and lately has been taking tennis lessons once a week with his uncle. He's not fat, not at all, in fact he's in pretty good shape compared to many of his friends, but he had never been on a hike like what I had planned for us.

We hiked the 1 1/2 miles along the trail to Sturtevant Falls until we came to the Spruce Grove turn-off, and then made our first decision. Did we want to take the "Horse Trail" (so called because the packmules which supply Camp Sturtevant come that way) or did we want to take Upper Falls Trail which took us, obviously enough, above Sturtevant Falls. We went with the Upper Falls Trail and it was...interesting.

And here's a picture. Actually, here's a few. As always, you can click 'em to make 'em bigger.
This is the edge of the pool at the base of the Falls. There are people down there. We're pretty high up. Not like thousands of feet in the air, but definitely vertigo-inducing, if you're susceptible to that sort of thing.

This shot was taken pretty much from the path itself, I just leaned over a tad. There were sections of the path so narrow that you could not put both feet down side-by-side, and the drop-off at those sections was not unlike that in this picture.

And then there were sights like this cave. At least I think it's a cave. We didn't go in there, or even stop to take a closer look; we were in a race with the sun. I knew we were close when I smelled smoke from a campfire, then we crested a hill and although the scenery didn't change, it opened up a little, and the sight that greeted us was very welcoming.

Several of the camp spots were already occupied but the one closest to where we came in was free so we quickly claimed it. For a campground 4 miles into the forest it was actually quite decent. Each site had a cleared area to pitch your tent; a picnic table with bench seats; and two fire places, one a fire pit with a hinged grate (which could be swung onto the fire, or lifted out of the way), and the second an almost enclosed fire place (with a chimney) and a flat piece of griddle-like iron on top.

Dinner that night was beans with hot dogs, grilled the traditional way on a forked stick. The dogs, that is; the beans were heated up in a frying pan that I carried in my pack, along with the tins of beans, hot dogs, bowls, etc. The boy carried his pack but he just had a few bottles of water, his sleeping bag & sleeping mat, spare socks and a warm sweater. I had the same in my pack, too, but I also had the tent. I planned to weigh my pack before we set out, but I forgot, and that's probably a good thing. I know the military do crazy hikes with 60-100 lbs packs but they train for that shit AND they get paid to do it. I was doing this for fun...sort of.

Baked beans and grilled hot dogs. After a 2 1/2-hour hike that simple fare tasted unbe-fucking-lieavable! It was seriously good. The boy ate 1 1/2 dogs and not quite a full tin of beans. I added the remnants of his beans to my own tin along with 2 1/2 dogs. After the dishes were done (washed in the nearby & apparently freezing cold stream) we lay down next to the fire, stared up at the sky, and looked for meteors, while silently berating the City-boys in the next site over who insisted on shining their super bright flashlight all over the place. We lay there looking up at the night sky and saw lots of stars but no meteors.

"Want to keep looking, or go to bed?" I asked the boy.

"Keep looking," he replied. So we did.

A while later I repeated my question and this time he chose "Bed". Not surprisingly. I'm sure even without the food his pack was still pretty heavy. For the next few hours I tossed & turned, dozed off & woke up, until some time after midnight when I finally managed to stay asleep until 6am.

Wanting to get going before it got too hot I woke the boy up, and 45 minutes later we had the tent packed up, had eaten breakfast (granola bars), and were on our way. The return journey was not back out the way we came but further in, past Camp Sturtevant, up Mt. Zion, down the other side, through Camp Hoagee and on to Chantry Flat, being a total distance of approximately 5 1/2 miles.

Again the boy did amazingly well and we were back at the car by 9:30am.

"Want to do something like this again?" I asked him.

"Maybe," he said, "but not quite as long."

I know how you feel, son ;)

Wii Fit

Not really a review. I did that already.

The long face the animated Balance Board has each time I tell it "No, I don't want to hear one of your Fitness Tips" still amuses me.

We have carpeted floors in the new place. Wii Fits aren't entirely that accurate on carpet.

It came with four little rubber extensions (for the feet) for when it's to be used on carpeted floors, but even with them I still don't believe it's as accurate as it would be on a solid wood floor.

I have a piece of chipboard that is just a shade bigger than the Balance Board, although all that does is distribute the weight load over a greater surface area. The carpet still depresses beneath the chipboard so any measurements still have to be taken with a grain of salt.

I deliberately did a Body Test without the chipboard, and without the feet extensions, and I "weighed" 15 pounds lighter than what I know I am. Think the Balance Board with the long face is funny? I found it's flabbergasted reaction to me losing 15 pounds in one day highly amusing.

I'm 41 years old (42 in 2 weeks time), I'm 5'11, 182 lbs (or so), with approx. 15% Body Fat. I am NOT overweight so Fuck You, Wii Fit! Don't go telling me "That's overweight" in your little condescending tone when I take a Body Test.

Having "lost" 15 pounds the Wii Fit now has me in the Normal Range for the archaic BMI and so my Mii has a slender body. Well, not slender, per se, but he's not rotund anymore either.

I'm still working out but I'm not going to take any more Body Tests. My new test is to look in the mirror. Yeah, I'm looking good, but I could look better. That's my Body Test.