Revamp completed.

OK, go ahead and pay attention to the man behind the curtain again.

I hope you like the new version of my website. Does anyone still read blogs anyway?

I had been using the original default WordPress theme here since day one. Sure, I had tweaked it just a bit to make for a wider main column, and a few other HTML/PHP/CSS tweaks to make things work around my preferred image widths and whatnot, but it had grown old and couldn’t support a lot of new WP features and some other things I like. So here we are.

An impromptu solo mini-cannonball. (Part Three, the actual Cannonball part)

Yesterday’s drive wore me out, and after a Mexican combo plate dinner weighing my gut down, I fall into a deep slumber instantly upon laying down in bed. Unfortunately, I bolt wide awake around 4 am. Sunrise is still hours away and I want to experience some daylight for the first stretch of road. US Highway 50 west of Delta, Utah into Nevada is a mind-blowing place. The very first time I drove it was on the aforementioned Cannonball Classic with my father in 1999. It is an enormous, austere, and desolate landscape unique to the American West. LONG stretches of arrow-straight asphalt, flying off to the distant horizon. Very little flora, and almost no fauna. Mountain ranges rising as if to block your path, and then the road rises directly into them, and snake through, over and down again into the expansive basins, only to resume the arrow-flight westwards. The experience is visceral and very visual. Driving there is a challenge and an adventure. I long to do it again, which is precisely why I chose this route. I could have continued north on US 6 and Utah 36, on to Tooele (a section that remains UN-highlighted in my atlas), but US Highway 50 is beckoning me back. Night driving is unsatisfying however. When your vision is limited to only what your headlights reveal your world shrinks to that minute speck. It is just asphalt, stripes, reflectors and roadsigns. Without those wide open vistas there is nothing at all special about any road, much less US 50.

Continue reading “An impromptu solo mini-cannonball. (Part Three, the actual Cannonball part)”

An impromptu solo mini-cannonball. (Part Two, the actual Cannonball part)

So I’m alone, in Albuquerque, with a nice car and no co-driver. Our plans have gone awry, and I have a few choices of what to do next. One is to just continue on to SoCal and visit friends. I’ve already seen the Grand Canyon, so no need for that side trip. Another option is to drive straight home by the most direct route. It’s between 1200 & 1400 miles, depending upon which “direct” route I choose. But here is where I have to admit a personal quirk: I like to drive on roads I’ve never driven on. I’ve been wandering all over this continent in a car since I was a kid, and it never ceases to amaze me at the wonders one can find by taking a road you’ve never been on before.

Continue reading “An impromptu solo mini-cannonball. (Part Two, the actual Cannonball part)”

An impromptu solo mini-cannonball. (Part One)

My brain is fogged. I’ve been driving for two days straight with minimal sleep, after two previous days of driving as well. I’m only ~250 miles from my journey’s end, but I really felt the need to get out of the car.

So here I am, sitting in a Burger King somewhere west of Boise, Idaho, sipping on a cold coke zero, munching on some terrible onion rings, and scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed to just give my brain a rest. How did I get here?

Continue reading “An impromptu solo mini-cannonball. (Part One)”

Thoughts while driving home at sunset…

Late today I had some errands in Bend, and did not get back on the road home until right around sunset. It has been rainy and grey all day, but just as the sun set behind the Cascades, a break in the clouds appears in the lee of the mountains and bathes Central Oregon’s high ground and low clouds with a reddish golden glow. My route from Bend to home is the Powell Butte Highway… a highway in name only. It is a narrow two-lane through Juniper and Sage. For some odd reason tonight it is utterly devoid of vehicular traffic, save me. Back in 2010-2013 this road was my daily commute, and after decades of Seattle’s stop-and-go it was a pleasant change of pace, and most of all I relished the drives home heading into the setting sun. Tonight takes me in the opposite direction, allowing me to soak in the light reflecting from the hills, the clouds, and most interestingly, from the windows of every home on the butte, including mine. These reflections were so strong as to appear to be very bright electric lights, as if every home was wearing its Christmas best finery.

Between the light show, and the absolute absence of any other cars on the roads the whole experience begins to take on a dreamlike quality. My mind starts wondering why I am so alone. Is something happening of global importance that I am blissfully unaware of?
But still, the amazing light show keeps me enthralled as I drive. Pulling through the penultimate corner and up the steep hill going up the butte I can see the light is no longer blazing off the windows and I put my foot into the accelerator to try and get home a few seconds faster to watch the last of the dying sunset…

That’s when the full-grown Mule Deer prances onto the asphalt about 15m in front of the car.

Reverie vanishes in an instant. Full on the brakes and horn simultaneously. The deer stops(!), rotates back around and bounds back to the right. Following it with my eyes, I see the inevitable herd (there is NEVER just ONE deer!) One of them is just off the road, just outside my passenger window.

I feel like an idiot for not seeing them earlier. The groceries (including a dozen eggs) are remarkably intact given that they launched off the seat, off the dash, and onto the floor.

Self-medicating with a vintage Bordeaux as we speak.

Imagine what we can do!

Perhaps the finest achievement of mankind, other than the chairlift of course, is the silicon transistor & integrated circuit. When you process it at a base layer we have taught rocks how to think.

I’ll say that again: WE HAVE TAUGHT ROCKS HOW TO THINK.

Place that now smarter rock into a powered device, with input/output systems, storage, memory, and a connection to all the other thinking rocks we’ve created and the potential is truly unlimited. I get very excited when I think about all we have created and my very small role in making it all happen.

Imagine what we can do!

Then I go out into the world and look around, only to see my fellow humans using these amazing devices…

…to play solitaire.

Weather…

This week’s forecast

Everyone complains about it. Even me.

You would not know it from this site, but if you’re friends with me on Facebook, you know that I ski. A lot. My parents have been skiers, and started me very young. I actually have no memory of learning to ski. I just ski. We did the same for our two boys, who started skiing (on every visit to their grandparent’s house) soon after they could walk. My parents skied until very recently, in my father’s case into his eigthties.

Having a life-long sport is a great thing. In the 1980s I used to play hockey every Tuesday night with a bunch of old guys who had been playing every Tuesday night since the 1950s! I was a goaltender and they bent their rules to let young guys play with them, provided they were goalies. There are no old goalies. The position is very physically demanding, and sure enough I was forced to quit goaltending in my thirties when my doctor told me “if you want to be able to walk when you’re past sixty, you have to stop abusing yourself like this.” The “like this” was the damage I was doing to my knees and hips playing goal. I continued skating and participating in ice hockey as an on-ice official until I was about 40, but eventually gave it up due to just overall hockey fatigue. The “professional” Hockey I Refereed in the UK didn’t help, as it really burned me out. The travel. The cement heads. The odd mix of competance on display every game.

But skiing? I hope to ski as much as I can before I die. I love skiing. It makes my heart fly when I glide down a hill on snow. It makes me feel very much alive. Like being in love.

My life, in terms of skiing at least, got so much better when I moved to central Oregon in 2010, because it put me in very close proximity to a world-class ski area. Back home in the Seattle area, the commute to the local ski areas over time became as onerous as the commutes to work as the Puget Sound region’s population exploded in the 90s and 00’s. I quit buying season passes after the 98-99 season since I could no longer bank on being able to get up to the mountains every week. Instead we had our annual week/10 day trips to Colorado to visit the entire Goolsbee Clan. “Camp Carol” we called it, after my mom, who hosted the whole affair.

But here in Oregon? I’ve bought a season’s pass every winter without fail. In 2010-11 I only managed a dozen days on the hill due to work and family commitments. Since then I’ve upped my totals season over season where I could.

Not this year though. In November I suffered a recurrence of a herniated disc in my back. Same spot that I had in 2008. Of course the season started with a bang. Snow began falling in the mountains in September(!) and continued through until mid-November when the mountain opened almost two weeks earlier than planned. Meanwhile, I was flat on my back downing antiinflammatories and watching the conditions reports with extreme jealously.

By mid-December I was starting to feel better, but conditions suddenly took a turn for the worse. The dreaded “Pineapple Express” arrived, with warm, wet weather and even worse, the “R-word” happened up on the mountain… from base to summit! Rain does terrible things to snow. “Decimated” is a term for losing one-tenth of something. Our snowpack lost close to 90% of itself in the rain.

Thankfully, our storm cycles can normally repair that damage quickly, as it is typical to see multi-foot dumps of snow over a week or two. But not this year…

The sun came out, and a high-pressure system parked itself off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. The temps went up to late-summer averages. While it was pleasant, it wasn’t helping the ski season much.

We took a trip to visit the family in Texas over the holidays and on one of the four flights required to get there and back I caught a cold. One of those pervasive colds that hit you like a ton of bricks and linger for weeks. DayQuil & NyQuil kept me sedated and the cough suppressed, but I was pretty miserable through all of January and into February. I think I finally stopped coughing just a few days ago.

So my 2018 ski season has been limited to just five days so far. Only one had any fresh snow, and that was only about 6cm. The mountain is like going back to my hockey days, only the rink is tilted up to 36°.

It has been so warm and sunny that I finally took the snow tires off the winter beater two weeks ago. had to take a trip over the mountains to Portland recently, and drove the BMW… WITH THE TOP DOWN. I haven’t even had a fire in the wood stove since November. Too warm.

It is President’s Day Weekend as we speak, which means in terms of crowds, it is a total shitshow on the hill. So I’m staying home. But, yesterday the weather changed. Winter is back! Woke up this morning to a dusting of snow on the ground, and more in the forecast.

On the mountain:

Oh happy days!

Today I’m putting the snow tires back on the car, and as soon as the holiday weekend crowds have left, I’m going skiing!