Tag Archives: what was I thinking?

An Adventure – Learning to Climb – Part The First


Today’s Music: Pink Floyd – Learning to Fly

Quick note – All Rock Face pictures copied from Mountain Project
Walking in for an opening shift at the restaurant one day, the conversation went like this:
Me (walking in): Hi Fred. Good weekend?
Fred (the bartender, doing his opening tasks): Real good. Went Rock Climbing.
Me (stopping): Sorry – what’s that again?
Fred: I went climbing up by New Paltz.
Me: You’re kidding.
Fred: No, It was great.
Me: You’re kidding.
Fred. No. At the Shawangunks
Me: You’re kidding
Fred (beginning to back away): We had a great time.
Me (bug-eyed): Wow!
Fred (smiling again) You want to go next time?

That’s all it took.

So two weeks later, we piled into Fred’s pickup and headed up to New Paltz. After a quick stop at Rock and Snow to rent my climbing gear, we hit the cliffs.

Conquering the cliff isn't the point. But it sure is fun.

Fred did an excellent job explaining the gear – Harness, shoes, carabiner, ATC (Air Traffic Controller – what your partner uses to prevent you from becoming jelly when you come off the cliff face).

Guys, the harness won't look good or feel good. The ATC will prevent unscheduled landings.

We get to the Gunks and hike up to the face. Fred gives me a “hi-how-ya-doin” on the basics of climbing, and then he shimmies up Dirty Chimney.

A nice simple shimmy up the chimney.

I follow. It’s like scrambling up a very steep hill, using your hands and feet. And you know what? It’s pretty damn cool.

So we move on to Classic – a 5.6.
(Climb difficulty is ranked as “5.x.” 5.0 – 5.1 is like Dirty Chimney – easy, some scrambling. 5.14 is the most difficult rank – like hanging upside down from a fingernail. Just one.)

It has all the elements of a classic climb, including the short roof by the climber.

Up we go. Fred climbs and places “pro” – protection. These are the bits that anchor our climbing rope to the cliff. I stand at the bottom, playing out the rope and making sure he has enough slack to move, but not so much that he’ll hit ground if he falls. He gets to the top and secures himself. It’s my turn.
I double and triple check that I’m tied in correctly. And off I go.

Here is the approach to climbing I’ve learned: Make sure your security is bulletproof. Make sure the rope anchors are bulletproof. Make sure your harness and atc are bulletproof.
Then climb like they aren’t there.
I put my hand on the face and find a spot for my foot. “Climbing” I yell up to Fred as I shift my weight, my other foot leaving the dirt floor. I’M CLIMBING!
I find little nubs of granite – think of pressing your hand down on a table dusted with sprinkles – that shouldn’t be big enough to hold a fly. But they’re big enough to support my weight as I lean into the cliff to lift my foot.
The tacky rubber on my shoes is enough to grab tiny outcroppings of rock, or even better, to do a “smear”.
A smear is splaying your fingers out against the rock, and pressing your upturned toes as hard as you can against it. Since climbing shoe rubber is very soft, it will grab the uneven surface of the rock.
If you’re on anything less than a 90 degree vertical, you should hold.
The problem is, the only way to test it is to put all your weight on it. Kind of a Pass/Fail thing. And I didn’t believe it would work until it did.
I make the first few moves with no problem. I’m about 6′ tall, so I can reach from hold to hold. I learn to extend my arms and support my weight by my skeleton as opposed to my muscles, which lets me last longer before getting tired.

I make it up, cleaning as I go. See, the rope is clipped into the protection, and I’m clipped into the rope. When my clip gets to the rope clip, I have to take the rope out. I also pull out the piece of protection that anchored the rope. That’s cleaning.
Don’t worry, the person on belaying (holding the rope in case you fall) is anchored in, and the rope anchors along the way aren’t necessary anymore.
So I make it up my first real pitch and as my big stupid grinning head pops over the small roof, Fred is grinning back at me just as hard.
“Fun, right?”, he asks nodding his head.
A loud belly laugh is my only answer.

That’s the what. The Why will be posted soon.

Friday Foolishness – Santa Claus Edition


Today’s Music: TransSiberian Orchestra – Wizards In Winter

I’m just going to dive right in here.
Last week’s poll brought us some fun Other answers: () comments are mine.
turn the lights off and take the rubbish with you.
(Excellent advice!)
I will sell your stuff to finance an Iowa vacation to caucus.
(Vote for Bachmann! She’s got crazy eyes!)
don’t leave know, please don’t take my heart away ::pulls on leg warmers:: NM
me now,you’ll take away the biggest part of me.Wooooooo please don’t go. ~flame
(From Nicole Marie, and theflameinside. I had no idea how much ’80s nostalgia this question would bring up! Sincerest apologies to everyone!!!)

And the winners are, with a tie,
I’m building a still in your room
and of course,
BRRAAIINNNNSS!!!!

And now what you’ve been waiting for…
This weeks poll:

And to keep you busy while the votes are tallied, 2 versions of Baby It’s Cold Outside… (not sure which is more romantic…
Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald

And Miss Piggy and Rudolph Nuryev

For them’s that celebrate a holiday, a very Merry Christmas and joyous day. A festive and miraculous Hannukah, and whatever salutations for other holiday’s I don’t know…

To them’s that don’t, we’ll have a great day too. First round’s on me.

There Goes The Neighborhood…


Today’s Music: AC/DC – Long Way to the Top

I read a whole bunch of blogs. I started reading them when I started mine. There are some on food and writing, there are blogs on travel and music, there are blogs of folks just venting their spleens, or taking the mickey out of us all.
They are written by people with a similar perspective to mine, from different perspectives, the light, the right, the straight, narrow, gay, religious, what have you.

And I love every last one of them.
I think All of them are from a unique point of view, and all of them have something to say. Not that I don’t, but frequently, “Being Pointless On The Internet” is not just a tagline around here, it’s a way of life.

So imagine my shock when I was nominated for a Versatile Blogger award by 2 bloggers whose sites I enjoy a lot.

MINE!!!!! (bwahaha)

But with nifty logos come great responsibilities, and this one carries the following:
* Nominate 15 fellow bloggers.
* Inform the bloggers of their nomination.
* Share 7 random things about yourself.
* Thank the blogger who nominated you.
* Add the Versatile Blog Award logo on your blog post.

But, hey, look at that! I’ve already finished the last one on the list. Sure it’s out of order, but for those who know me, the fact that I got any of the requirements done will come as a shock.

Next, and more importantly, I’d like to direct you to the two bloggers who nominated me (yes, I’ve got the comments to prove they did):

First off, The Budget Cooking Blog. Dan McCullough not only knows how to cook, he knows how to explain a recipe. Which is kind of wasted on me, as I’m the guy who makes inedible cheese fondue soup.
Dan makes it look easy, and taste great.
And if you live in Chicago, he’ll tell you where to go for the food bargains. He’ll do this even if you don’t live in Chicago, but you’ll have to fly there so it might not be so cost effective.

The other nominator, in whose reflected glory I bask, is Pursuit of Happiness. Reading her blog is like hanging out in a good friends kitchen. I’m only sorry that I don’t have USB Scent Cannons (sharper Image, $79.95) for my PC to add those delicious cooking smells when I’m reading it.

Pick up the pace, buddy...I've got stuff to do...

I’m also supposed to send you to 15 other sites who I think are deserving of the Versatile Blogger award. There are some I won’t add on the list because they’ve already been nominated, and I don’t want them to be bombarded with these things. They lose their shine if you do that.
So here’s my list of nominees: (by the way, being nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award means you’ve won it. So Congratulations!)

Unintimidated By Convention In addition to his excellent entries, he is the keeper of the Bozo list. He also manages to keep going in the real world and prove it can be done.

Is It Possible To See It All. It’s a running commentary on Travel, Music and Canada. Now I may have said some mean things before to Canada, but his blog makes up for most of it. Go for the music, stay for the travel.

Call Me Quirky. This site is a lot of fun. A stream of consciousness, plus the sight that introduced me to the phrase Slutty McSluttums, and also to the concept of salad dressing in a hat. You can’t buy entertainment like that folks. At least not with a credit card under your real name. Or so I’ve been told.

The Flame Inside. She wrote a post that moved me, and that moved others. And sometimes, she’s really funny too. Quite versatile.

Linda Vernon Humor. Lately she has opined on Pottery Barn catalogs and ’30s cookbook fiction. Really.

Upsidedown Pineapple. She doesn’t post as often as I’d like (I’d like daily please), but I find her hilarious. And she’s got a mouth like a drunken sailor.

Old Dog New Tits. She started off contemplating a breast job and went to dealing with a lung mass with a lot of honesty and humor. And naked mole rats. You can find hte mole rat entries on your own, because I ain’t gonna encourage that kind of behavior. Blech.

Elle Tea Emm. She writes great poetry.

YoYo-Dyne Propulsion Systems: Reno Division. She’s been blogging for years, and it is a wonderful collection of posts form the ordinary to the sublime covering the gamut of the human condition. (Yes, gamut.). Even if she wasn’t a fantastic blogger (which she is), she definitely deserves it just for finding this. And she knows classic movies and music!

Whitney’s Soup. Because she knows how to answer the dreaded How Are You? at work, and how to act like a grownup.

Cannabalistic Nerd. Because where else will you find this?

Magsx2. Great videos, and every friday, a stack of jokes! Just pick any post from his site – they are all wonderful, like this or this.

Goradde. He captions pictures. They.Are. Hilarious.

Ashley Jillian. She’s probably gotten this like 9 times. Or should have. Really, where else are you going to get Cat Plates!!!

Bio Scientific Editing. Why a blog that strays from the silliness? Well, because thanks to her, i know a brief history of the U.S. medical profession. And I now know how to use a
light microscope.

Top of the world, ma!

And now 7 random things about me:
– I once ran under a moving truck because I didn’t fell like waiting for it to pass.
– I can say my pencil is green in 5 languages (thanks for the Finnish translation, Kanerva!)
– I know how to correctly use both a 20 sided die and a 44 Magnum.
– I was (a long time ago in a previous life) selected as my local bars’ best drunk driver.
– My current ear piercing is the fourth time I’ve had it done. It’s also the first time it hasn’t gotten infected, the first time it was done by a pro, and the first time I got one and wasn’t drunk. (I just have one – the previous three were all allowed to close as part of the healing).
– I make Kick. Ass. Whipcream.
– I expect my last word before I depart will be Oops. And I’m really curious what the situation will be. (But I can happily wait to find out!)

So there it is. I blog. I’m Versatile. Woohoo!
For all those blogs I read but didn’t nominate, let’s just say I’m saving your sites for myself. Because you won’t respond to my comments if you get too popular. Or if you get a restraining order…

So thanks again to Dan and Sush. Despite the flippancy,I really do appreciate it.

Is he done yet? Sheesh, next time just mail the award..


Don’t worry, I won’t let this go to my head…much!

Reflections on Another Trip Around The Sun


Today’s Music: The Beatles – They Say It’s Your Birthday (will open in new window)

As the anniversary of my birth rolls around today, let’s see what we’ve learned in over 160 seasons on the planet, shall we?

– It’s not the years. It’s the mileage. (50 points to whoever places this quote first, 40 points for everyone after)

My Superhero-Surfer gear

– If I knew then what I know now, I would still have been an idiot, just one who knew more. (But I would definitely have bought Amazon stock. And sold at $395.)
– No matter what your age, naps are good.
– Naps with the woman you love are even better
– “Don’t play with your food” is always an invitation to play with your food.
– It’s good to be old enough to buy your own toys without needing permission.
– Even when it sucks, it’s good to be alive.
– Food made by your own hand is good. Food caught by your own hand is great.

from visualphotos.com

– I’ll drive, but you’d better navigate.
– Drinking at school is good. Paying attention would have been better.
– I don’t mind doing the damage, since I’m old enough to understand the consequences
– Eggs do not belong in one’s nose. But mashed potatoes in your glasses are magic
– If you’re going to do a naked bar dance, remember the story, because one day it may get you a wife. Who will be The Most Wonderful Girl In The Universe.
– Tell TMWGITU that you love her. Several times a day. Using silly adjectives to describe the size of your love.
– Washing the dishes isn’t so bad when they’re your dishes.

Porfidio Cactus tequila

– Laying down at bedtime with the woman you love is the Best. Gift. Ever.
– Socks are the Worst. Gift. Ever. Unless they’re novelty socks. Or ski socks.
– It is possible to drink your own body weight. Or so I’ve been told. I can’t remember – I was pretty damn stewed at the time.
– Don’t eat lentils after drinking that much. Trust me on this.
– Read books.
– Be thankful for friends who won’t let strangers pour water on your head and take pictures while you’re drunk
– Make friends with bartenders
– Watch good movies. And bad ones too. I LOVE Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.
– Go on Road Trips. I like themes – Boston for clam chowder, Florida for U2 (k,
not a theme, but it was a great trip, and a great show.

Fender American Standard Strat


– It’s not all about the music, but it could be
– Ride a jet ski.
– Ride snow skis.
– Ride a surfboard.
– Find a way to have fun, everyday. Even if it’s just for a few minutes.

– Blog. You’ll meet some very funny, insightful and smart people.

-Have a great birthday. And if today ain’t your birthday too, just have a great day.
from cakes-you-can-bake.com

Where I’ve Been – King Kong


Today’s Music: Gorillaz – Feel Good

I SAID NO PICTURES!!!!

When my mother had her own business, the offices were in the Empire State Building. For their annual King Kong performer, they sent fliers to the tenants asking their college-aged relatives to audition.

How could I resist?

About 5 of us showed up for the audition, held in the main lobby on a late spring afternoon. There were a bunch of judges, including a B-Lister from whatever Broadway musical was big that day.

Each…actor(?) was given the head from the suit, and given 5 minutes to wow the crowd and judges.

Does this hat make me look furry?

Of the other…contestants(?), all I remember is one guy doing a soliloquy of “I Am Not A Monster”. Which could barely be heard through a 10 pound gorilla head.

When it was my turn, I was ready, baby.
I set up a street, lined with small buildings from my uncle’s model railroad. At the far end, a Barbie doll (borrowed from friend’s sister) lay in front of the Town Hall, with those shiny, plastic come-hither eyes.

I stomped my way down the lobby – roaring, thumping my chest, kicking cardboard buildings into the crowd. I was on a rampage.

Until I saw her…

Fay Wray - How could I resist?

Captivated by the mass-marketed queen, I staggered forward, clutching my furry heart. I was in a daze, as, swept up by her beauty, I knelt before her, gathering her up in my hirsute paw.

And then we danced.

Needless to say, I didn’t win.
It was a push between me and another guy. They held a tie breaker.
He won.

But he was also a counselor at a camp for the deaf and needed two weeks to do that. So I got the job for those two weeks.

I had my own office on the 86th floor. I went between the open air observatory and the enclosed one on the 101st floor.
Because the gorilla suit weighed 25 pounds, I also was told to take frequent breaks in my office.

Of all that happened in those two weeks, here are two lessons I learned that made the strongest impression:

1 – Parents – no matter how cute you think both your toddler and the Gorilla are, if the baby is screaming when you push him int the Gorilla’s arms, neither of them will look cute in the picture.

2 – You might be Lord Of The Elevator, riding up to the observatory in the very front, arm around your girl, all slouchy and cool.
But everyone will see through you when the elevator doors open at the top, revealing a tired grumpy Gorilla sticking his head in the elevator and growling. Loudly.
And from then on, you will be known thereafter as “Nervous Jumpy Guy Who Hid Behind His Girl”.

But don’t worry. The Gorilla will get spoken to by his boss for doing that.

One note – All of the above is true, and for several years, this job was listed on my resume as Tourist Relations Manager.

Where I’ve Been – Overview


Today’s Music: Huey Lewis and the News – Working For A Living

I’ve asked where I’m going. There were some interesting observations and questions, comments about being glad to see what got me to the point I’m at now. Here’s more detail on that…

Hello, Hiring Guy,
I’m looking for a job. I have one right now, but I’ve improved this place as much as I can and I’m looking for new challenges. I would be a great hire because I’m really smart and will make you look good…until I’ve made all the improvements to your company that I can and then move on…like the Lone Ranger… into the sunset (room at the Hilton).

So here’s the list of stuff I’ve done. For money. Or booze.
Stuff with an * weren’t really “formal” jobs, but I got money. Or booze.
And at the bottom, I even threw in 2 that got away. Guess which one I wish I’d taken.

My Resume (and other stuff I’ve been paid to do)

Babysitter
Hey, all you parents out there, remember when you got paid to watch kids?

*Sang for some older folks for quarters for video games

High School General Store
Hey, it kept me out of the cafeteria.

Gas Jerk
Like a soda jerk, but I pulled the gas pump handles. Actually, it’s the boss who was a jerk. Dare I say Bozo?
And the smell does Not. Come. Out.

*Bar Back
This wasn’t a formal hire.
But as I was always broke, my friends (the bartenders) let me drink free in exchange for bringing up a few cases of beer at the end of the night

*Stuck a pickle in my nose for 3 minutes
It covered my breakfast tab. Don’t judge me.

Movie Theater Usher/Concessions
Eating that much popcorn isn’t good for anyone. But it really tastes good. And I got to see movies as often as I wanted!

King Kong
Coolest. Job. Ever.

Pouring Concrete
Best. Job. Ever.

*Poker on a road trip.
Paid for my food for the trip

Deli Man in a Supermarket
There are some odd meats at the deli counter. And the people that order them look like the people that would order them.

Waiter
All the food you can eat…

Line Cook
…Until you find out what’s in it…

Restaurant Manager
…and learn that waiters (including me) suck…

Restaurant Project Manager
…and then you get to build a restaurant

Cook in a private club
Chef used to say that we cooked for the people who ran the world.
This is the only job I’ve ever had where I was so far out of my league, I felt bad about it.

NOC Engineer
The boredom was spectacular…

Professional Services Engineer
…until I changed departments

IT Administrator
I work on ‘puters…

The ones that got away:

General Manager
Of a start up “Boston Chicken” type operation in Westchester.
I’m telling you now, I was too young, and I was too inexperienced
But I’d have done a hell of a job.

Attendant at a MiniGolf/Arcade/Sailing lake in Montauk.
The one that got away.
This is a great story (I think) and will be it’s own post as I work my way through them.

Future:
Lotto Millionaire (????)

So I’ll start next week.
Oh, and I’ll need Tuesday off.
And a raise.

Sincerely,
El Guapo

Now where am I going? – Physical edition


Today’s Music: Stray Cats

I can get within 5 miles of my target on a 500 mile trip. It’s that last mile that kills me.
But I’ve gotten smarter. I have a GPS for the car. I have maps. And I have a compass.
Actually, I own several compasses. I have analog ones, digital ones. I have GPS, I have them bundled in other tools.
When making screened t-shirts was on my list of things to do, the front logo was a compass.

It came with the car!

I love my compi (plural). When I’m on a car trip, I take note of where I’m going, and never fail to laugh during the large east/west section of I-95 North/South. It makes me feel kind of smug that I, outdoor adventurer, have a better idea of my bearings than the guys that built a road from Florida to Maine, but couldn’t even get the orientation of the road correct.

But sometimes I’m on foot.

Fits in my pocket!

For that, I have this little gem. It came with a carabiner! It has a little Canadian flag as a souvenir of where I bought it!
It worked for two whole weeks!
But the key ring on the other end holds all my keys, so I keep it even though the compass doesn’t work anymore and is not worth the effort to recharge and recalibrate. Besides, I have an Android.

It's on my phone!

With a compass App! It’s pretty accurate. It also has other features, and with the phone’s GPS, I can keep a record of my path and (more importantly) find my way back out.

Which has been really helpful sometimes. When I remember to turn it on.

Though, there are times when electronics are just persnickety.

I could have been an arm model


So I can align my watch with the sun and adjust the bearing dial to find general direction. Doesn’t work as well at night though…

Of course, sometimes I’m not tramping about on roads or through the woods. Sometimes I’m doing it underwater.

I could have been a hand model

Sadly, I have no idea how to use this underwater. But it’s really cool. And is my second favorite compass I own, behind…

My wife (the most wonderful girl in the universe) gave me this, one of the first gifts I ever got from her. It means more to me than a lot of other things I own, because for me, it’s a perfect gift. It’s small, it is elegant and it works.
I love this little box compass.

So there’s really no reason for me to get lost in the world anymore.

Next time we’ll do the Metaphysical Edition…