Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sad news

Few among the few who read this blog will know what this means (hey, and if you do, represent!), but Itojun (Jun-ichiro Hagino) of IPv6 fame has passed away.

A bad day for the internets...

Feed... a book by M. T. Anderson, and a damn fine one. It's possibly one of the saddest commentaries on our society I've ever read. I heard of it from Ran Prieur, who was brought to my attention by Kent Peterson.

The story is basically a dystopian vision of the future, where a completely commercialized Internet is beamed into implanted devices wired into the wearer for a continuous stream of advertising, chat and pop culture. Dulling the populace into a compliant, dull mass of consumers, the feed lures people from seeing the reality that is happening around them. You want a scary book for this Halloween? Read this, and if you have any ability to connect dots you'll be properly terrified.

Ostensibly a book for "young adults," this isn't to be missed because I found it in the Teen section of my used book store. The ideas are very, very grown up. Maybe too grown up for most of us. This was a gripping book that kept me up until I finished it, so the easy read is just a sugar coating that helps get the message into the system.

Not a really cheerful book, but that's just what the doctor ordered. I'm back to the black mood I was in before my "vacation." Seems the nice feeling I tried to bottle sank into the muck of reality and I'm frantically pawing through the mire to find it. One thing that didn't help was listening to my laptop take a header off of my desk here at work. I just hope I can get it repaired -- First Tech won't get around to looking at until Friday or Monday.

Sure it's a 5 year old laptop, but my Powerbook has been working like a champ and still does all I need it to do. I don't want another one, I've heard bad things about the new ones and I'm not ready to give up on this one. That and I can't afford another new thing; I was lucky to get the bike and now we're just about to start remodeling the bathroom. Though not as fun as a new laptop, a toilet isn't something I'm willing to go without...

Didn't bike to work this morning as I haven't been able to figure out how to carry a full crockpot of soup. We're having a pot-luck here at the office and I brought a curried squash and apple soup. I may just drive home and bike to da bar tonight if the weather holds. It's been perfect for biking, so I'm doing my best to take advantage of it. Biking does help beat the blues.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Glorious weekend

Mrs Yam and I finally found our way out of town. We took last Friday off and left for Two Harbors Thursday night. We stayed in the lighthouse! I didn't even know that was a B&B, and it was a great find. As we left the Cities, the 35W bridge traffic was snarled (big surprise, that), and I felt tense. I hadn't been able to leave for a vacation and it was beginning to show. I feared that something would stop us from this getaway. Happily, nothing did and I could feel the tension streaming away as we headed North.

We made fairly good time (the Mrs is a real leadfoot) and checked into the Lighthouse around 7:30. Dinner in town and a night of reading. I'm on a serious Terry Pratchett kick right now and I wanted to finish The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. A kids book. Yeah, right. A story like the old Grimm Fairy Tales, with the death and violence included. But, like everything I've read of his, utterly entertaining.

Friday morning we headed up to a couple of State Parks we hadn't hiked yet, Split Rock Lighthouse and George H. Crosby/Manitou. Split Rock's Hiking Club trail is fairly long, but it is relatively flat since it lies between the lake and the highway and almost half of it is on the Gitchee Gummee paved trail. Easy six miles.

Crosby, not so much. We missed the turn for highway 1 and had to backtrack since the stupid navigator was staring at his belly button lint or something. Eventually we found it. This is a State Park junkie's treat, this one. You have to take a couple of miles of dirt road to get it and when you get there, it's really rustic. Nothing's paved, there's no giftshop or ice or anything. A board that you shove your campsite reservation slip into and that's about it. The hike was really challenging for us, with plenty of roots and rocks and lots and lots of elevation changes. I'll need to look at what I get out of the GPS to see it exactly, but there was plenty of climbing. Tough, but fair. It was easily the most technical hike we've ever encountered and we are proud of ourselves that we completed it and in pretty good time. We're not experienced, but compared to our outing to Eagle Mountain several years ago, we've improved considerably.

Then to Grand Marais for the room. Ah, me lovely Mrs is a bright lady and got a room with a hot tub, just what this fat ol' boy needed after dragging his corpulent carcass up and down the hills of Lake Superior. Dinner and beers at the Gunflint Tavern and some well-deserved shut-eye. After 10 miles hiking and some Furious (Surly on the North Shore!), sleep came quickly.

Saturday, we headed backwards a bit to Cascade River to hike another challenging trail. This one sends you up Lookout Mountain and back. There seemed to have been quite a windstorm in the recent past -- trees were down all over and we must have hiked around a dozen or so that ended up blocking the trail. That made things even more interesting.

After that, we went to Judge C. R. Magney for our aerobic workout. More climbing with a bunch of stairs near the end. It's a short 1.25 mile there-and-back, but the elevation changes make it fun and the scenery is magnificent. Not that the rest of the parks are shabby...

We finished by going all the way to the Canadian border and walking the Grand Portage trail. This is a paved 1/2 miles that brings you to the Pigeon River falls, the highest in Minnesota. They've had a bunch of rain, and the falls were really glorious. This pushed our hiking total to 101 miles and for that we get patches and a free night of camping. We headed back to Grand Marais, soaked in the hot tub, had dinner and drinks at the Gunflint and went to bed. They had a costume contest and a band that sounded like Brave Combo, great mole and did I mention that the have Surly?

The weather was perfect, the trails were perfect, the company was perfect (Hi, Hon!) and the stresses of the past few weeks couldn't stand up to the blast of happiness, beauty, exhaustion and gluttony that the weekend provided. It was like my spirit was steam-cleaned and I am happy and calm like I haven't been for long, long time. I hope I can save a small kernel of this, block it off from the ghoulies and the ghosties and ugliness and look at once in while when I need a pick me up. I really cherish the time I spend up there and I hope I can remember the feeling of standing barefoot in the lake this morning.

Time for bed. The week begins anew...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Overheard last night at the liquor store

I was stocking shelves when I heard two young women discussing their plans for a party. Here's a couple of nuggets of wisdom from the mouths of babes:

  • " don't want to mix to many different kinds of booze in it, you'll have people puking all over the backyard..."
  • "...we don't need to spend money on good vodka..."
  • "...well, that's sorta the essence of wopness..."
The essence of wopness?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It's a perfect day

for walking in the park...

Sunday was a good day and I needed one. Work hasn't been going well for either Mrs. Yam or myself. Luckily, I'm still employed, but let's just say the Mortgage Industry woes have started to flow upstream and leave it at that, shall we?

Sunday, yes, yes. The Muttbutt, Mrs and I got up and went to breakfast then road-tripped south to Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park for a six mile hike. We all really needed it, especially Sheila. Poor thing has been cooped up while the Yamstress and I have been working many crazy hours. The fresh air, the exercise, the quiet -- quite a tonic.

The overcast skies of October are a favorite of ours and the trees at the park just glowed in the subdued light. There is something about about the leaves this time of year where they shine in their own subtle way. Clear skies and sun completely drown out the amber and rust lighting and that's why we like the grey skies.

The air was redolent with the sweet, moist smell of freshly fallen leaves and wet earth. There were no sounds save a gentle rustle of leaves and the cool, damp air was quite a change from the stale atmosphere of the office. I truly believe that Minnesotans are an Autumn People. Just ask one, the answer to "What's your favorite season?" is typically, "Fall." I know that's my answer...

We watched a leaf fall for what seemed like hours, long lazy arcs back and forth as it slowly settled downward only to catch a breeze and lift gently upwards again. This absolutely captivating display repeated three or four times until the breeze wandered off to play with something else.

Walking in woods, gold above and the vibrant green of the still flourishing undergrowth, was almost magical, surreal. I felt like I would stumble across a mythical sylvan creature around any turn on the trail. We'd finally found a little peace.

After the walk, we decided to wander eastward to Mississippi, so we found ourselves heading towards Wabasha on Highway 60. I really recommend this road to anyone, the valleys and streams cut into the land make for some magnificent scenery. We crossed over to Wisconsin and headed up 35 to Hudson. It was around Lake Pepin when a misty drizzle settled over the area and turning it into something from Scotland, more like Loch Pepin...

We tried to find Rush River Brewing Co. while passing through River Falls, but the light was failing and the maps and townspeople were as mystified as we about the actual location. Disheartened, we made Hudson, bought some Dogfish Head beer from a helpful fellow in a liquor store downtown and ate a little dinner and headed home.

The day ended pleasantly enough for most, save Sheila and me. I had to wash the mud out of the dog and neither of us enjoy that too much, but, so it goes. We all then headed up to an early bed. The perfect ending to a perfect day.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Mrs. vs. the Hummer

(C'mon, clean it up, guys... I mean the SUV/Land Yacht)

So Autumn has fallen up on Minnesota with a vengeance. Sunday was 85 and humid and Monday was rainy and about 55-60 degrees. Yesterday was windy, windy, windy with 30mph northerly gusts and I don't think it cleared 50 degrees. Nice weather for bikin'.

Mrs. Yam described biking home -- into the cold North wind with dust and grit flying and falling temps. She stops at a light along Nicollet and Hummer pulls along side. She imagined them looking down on her, this crazy old lady biking in this weather. I said that the driver is both stupid and weak -- unable to brave the elements in their giant, climate-controlled gas-guzzler and don't you concern yourself with them.

Rock on, baby. Rock on...

That's me Mrs.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

And then there were six

The Raleigh has found a new home and a new rider. My next door neighbor is about 17 and she doesn't have any mode of transportation. Not a good situation. So I gave her the three-speed and a lock and key that I found at the liquor store and told her to use them in good health. I hope she uses it, but she needs to ride as she found a 30 block bike ride to school a formidable distance.

All in good time I suppose.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

I'm officially an old man now...

I drank a PBR and ate chicken gizzards and livers.

I hate being on call...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Happy anibersary, Hon...

To my Darlin' Mrs Yam,

Eight years of bliss are more than I deserve.

I'm a lucky guy to have you around.

Here's to the miles, may there be many, many more.

Here's to the shows, the giggles and the crowded stove.

Here's to you and me and the wonderful way I am around you.

You make me a better person.

I love you.