Monday, March 31, 2008

A fine weekend with one or two small faults

We start on Saturday, when I didn't post anything. Why? Well, 'cause I was sah-lammed. Got up, drove down to Gasworks with my bike and Dad's bike (the Sekai I'm selling, if you're interested), rode up to Bothell and back (only 30 miles, not the 40 I was supposed to ride), and didn't sell it 'cause the chick who claimed her boyfriend wanted to buy it never returned my call (fault #1). From there it was home, shower, swap out the bike rack for the ski rack, load the car, and head up to lovely Glacier, WA for two days of skiing at Mt. Baker.

Here we come to fault #2: the house we rented. We've rented properties through Mt. Baker Lodging for years. Basically, they provide property services for home owners in the various communities up there, market the houses, handle cleaning and maintenance, etc. Well, the house we rented, Snowline #26, sounded great: 3 bedrooms (we had some friends coming with us), hot tub, game room, no pets allowed, pretty dang perfect. Well, it wasn't.

First off, the big problem: The hot tub didn't work. Well, that's not quite true: technically it worked - it held water, and the water wasn't frozen. But it wasn't hot. 77 degrees is not hot. So we called. They sent out a guy. He did something. It didn't help. Now, I don't know about you, but after a day of skiing I'm sore. And a nice hot hot tub feels dang good. A warm shower is fine, but it's not the same.

The second problem with ol' Snowline #26 was the layout. It's weird. You enter, the hallway makes a "T", you go up two steps to the kitchen on the right, or down another hall to the dining room / living room on the left. There's one bedroom next to the living room, the other two are up stairs...through the kitchen. Weird. And, as with many homes we've rented up there, the lighting was less than ideal.

OK, enough bitching about the lodging. How was the snow, you ask? saw the picture I texted in yesterday, so you know it was white. And deep. And, in a word, awesome. They had something like 50" last week, so there was plenty of powder. Sunday Paige and the kids hung out on the handle tow at the Heather Meadows "upper lodge", although I did steal Logan away to do a couple runs on one of the chairs (since he's in 5th grade he gets to ski there for free).

The big news of Sunday was that Maya, who has previously had a hate-hate relationship with the skiing thing, had a blast. Logan helped her get a moderate grip on the snowplow / pizza stop, a bit of turning, and a whole bunch of speed. She was in heaven.

Today was even better, with again one fault. The fault? Forgetting to put on sunscreen. Ouch. It wasn't sunny most of the fact, we woke up to several inches of snow down in the lowlands of Glacier (and 5" of new up at the ski area!). But it was sunny enough that without sunscreen my pasty redhead skin got torched, as did the girl's. But enough about that...back to the snow! There were even fewer people up there today, what with it being a Monday and all. The upper lodge was closed, and since the White Salmon handle tow is all of 100 feet long or something, Paige and Maya both bought lift tickets today and spent most of their time on Chair 7 where Logan discovered the joy of skiing through fresh, deep, powdery snow, something we don't really see up at Snoqualmie (there, when the snow is deep it tends to be heavy and stop you short).

So, all in all, in spite of the weird layout, the busted hot tub and the sunburn, a successful ski trip!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ah, snow...

Missed yesterday because I was too busy. Today's excuse? Baker!

Friday, March 28, 2008


So it's cold here in Seattle. To quote from the KOMO weather page,
Believe it or not, Minneapolis was actually warmer than Seattle today, reaching 43 degrees while Seattle only reached 42. That 42 degrees, if it holds, would set the record making this the coldest high temperature for March 28th, breaking the previous record of 43 degrees.

Mr. Moe is doing his smug dance today. Or whatever dance it is when you laugh at the people who laughed at you for moving somewhere really cold when it's colder back where you came from than where you moved. Or something.

Now, this cold isn't a bad's been snowing. Not just down here in the city, but up in the mountains where it counts. And more importantly, at Mt. Baker where we Chickens will be spending a couple days. And by "snowing" I mean "an ass-load of snow". Like to the tune of 50 inches since Sunday (as of 2:00 this afternoon). Here's their snow report:
What an incredible week it has been at Mt. Baker, with more than 50 inches of new snow falling since Sunday, and temperatures very cold for the end of March! Forecasts are calling for continued moderate snowfall today and Saturday, with possible clearing on Sunday, and freezing levels staying below 1,000 feet.

Now, all this is well and good for the skiing, but I'm also in bike training. And I need to ride 40 miles tomorrow morning. Wonder what the forecast says? Let's jump back to KOMO and find out:
Saturday will be another mix of these rain and/or snow showers, with snow most likely above 300-500 feet, but accumulations an inch or less -- kind of like today, but not as widespread. Highs will try to reach the mid 40s, but will cool during any showers. On the other hand, sunbreaks should be more plentiful than today.

Hmm...not promising. What does Accuweather say? Mostly cloudy with showers, high 48. More importantly, the "hourly forecast calls for:
9 AM: Rain, 37
10 AM: Cloudy, 39
11 AM: Cloudy, 42
Noon: Cloudy, 44

Well, since I plan on riding from 9 to noon I guess I'll get wet, then dry out, and generally be cold. Lovely!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The wonder of th' internets

Some advice for you if you're trying to drop off the grid. Not sure if some of the items are, say, #5, "become a diplomat": somehow I think the IRS wouldn't take kindly to my suddenly declaring that I didn't have to pay taxes because the the Chicken household was an embassy of Namibia. Although the idea of a USSR passport and driver's license has a certain James Bond appeal...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Derby photos

I think I promised photos of Bout 1, Season 4 of the mighty Rat City Rollergirls, didn't I? Well, here's a link to the Picasa album:


Personally, my favorite is this one, 'cause Dr. 5ive looks like a beatnik rather than a revolutionary. And Jinx, as always, just looks cute:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wanna buy a bike?

I've got, um, 4 of them for sale...soon to be on Craigslist (maybe tomorrow), but here are the specs, from largest to smallest:
  1. Sekai Grantour 2500 10-speed, circa 1980-ish. It was my Dad's bike, a bit too big for him, really, and it's been sitting in Mom's garage since probably the mid to late '80s. As far as I can tell it's got a 62cm frame (down-tube), with a 34" stand-over height. It's a 10-speed with the classic "fingertip shifters" that were all the rage back in the day. Here's a picture:
  2. Fuji Royale 12-speed, early '80s model. I rode this in the mid to late '80s, toured the Oregon Coast and about half of England on it, but it's just too big. No idea what I was thinking back then, but clearly it wasn't "gee, if I stop fast and have to put both feet down I'm going to be in a LOT of pain". It's a 57cm frame, roughly, with a 33" standover height and a full touring setup (although the rear fender is missing):
  3. Atami Grantour 10-speed, early '80s vintage. This was my bike before I went insane and got the Fuji, and even IT is a bit too big. Man, my legs must have shrunk. It's a 52cm frame with a 31.5" standover, fingertip shifters, fenders and a rear rack. There's currently no seat, but hey, I'd be glad to pull the seat off one of the other bikes for you if that would help.
  4. And finally, the newest and smallest of the bikes is a Fuji Newest, maybe a 2005 model. It's all super-modern, 18 speeds (or maybe 21...I didn't count), those fancy-pants rapid-fire shifters on the brake levers, street-level camouflage (meaning it's gray...), etc. I bought this one off of Craigslist last month thinking it was the right size, but clearly my 18 years of mountain biking have warped my sense of size, 'cause it's way too short. The guy I bought it from billed it as a 49cm frame, but looking on the Fuji site (based purely on the frame color) I think it's really a 44. If only I could get it to breed with the Fuji Royale I might get a bike that's the right size...
Anyhow, if you're interested in any of these, let me know!

Monday, March 24, 2008


Too distracted yesterday by my broken spoke (15 miles in to a 30 mile ride...fortunately it was all in-city and I could catch a bus home so Paige didn't have to rescue me) and retouching the Derby photos to get a post up yesterday. So, uh, now we're aiming for what, Blog 363? Not sure how many I've missed...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

My ears are ringing

Why? 'cause tonight marked the start of my second-favorite sporting season (after Football, naturally): Roller Derby!

Haven't processed the photos yet (and there aren't a huge number 'cause I got there too late to get the choice trackside seat, and therefore many photos feature the shoulder of the guy in front of me), but will post a few tomorrow. Suffice it to say it was fun, it was loud, and both of the wrong teams won. Damn.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Album cover, take 3 or 4

So this one doesn't exactly follow the rules of the album cover meme, 'cause I got the band name from Tina's description of the smell of prenatal vitamins. But the album title and cover art do follow. Although admittedly I tweaked the coloring of the picture so it would look cooler...

Some advice for this Good Friday

Thanks to the Daily Telegraph and the Philipine Health Department, we now know that crucifixion is bad for you. But if you're going to do it, please bring plenty of water to make sure you stay hydrated. Oh, and don't forget to get a tetanus shot, and autoclave the nails you plan to use...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A post for Tina, the Gallivanting Monkey, on my experience as the dad of two kids

OK, so I was reading Gallivanting Monkey's latest post about weather to have a second kid or not. And in the comments section my friend (and Tina's) John commented that, and I quote,
"Exponentially more challenging, a harder challenge than you can imagine, no SERIOUSLY I'm not just being cute about that, also indescribably wonderful, also VERY VERY HARD."

Well, I had this great rebuttal comment all written out at work, but I didn't submit it for a while and apparently Blogger doesn't like that. Or is all attention-deficited or something. Anyway, it lost it and I didn't have time to re-write it. So then I came home and compared notes with Mrs. Chicken, wrote up the response and decided it was too long for a comment and to post it here instead. So, for what it's worth, here's my opinion on the difficulty of raising two kids as opposed to raising one: don't listen to John. Or, more accurately, listen to him, then listen to me, then make up your own dang mind. Here's our experience:

Having two is definitely not exponentially harder than one. Hell, it's not even linearly harder than one. Now clearly we are lucky: Logan was (and remains) a great first kid - he's smart, he self-entertains, he's secure in his place in the family, and he's generally willing to suck it up. And he was, from day one, excited to be a big brother and we had none of the sibling rivalry stuff. No stuffing the baby in a box and shipping it to Tanzania, no cutting off all her hair, heck, no complaining about having a new body in bed with Mom and Dad. I think this was a combination of who he is, how we raised him for the first 3 1/2 years of his life (co-sleeping, nursing for 2+ years, plenty of snuggling and other positive reinforcement of our love for him), and the fact that, at roughly 3 when we told him he was going to have a little sister, he could understand what was coming and work it in to his world view. It didn't hurt that he had friends in pre-school who also had little brothers or sisters.

Also lucky was the fact that they have genuine affection for each other. They are way closer than I was (or am) to either of my sisters (which isn’t surprising, since they’re 9 and 10 years older than me), and probably get along 80 to 90% of the time. Yes, they fight. Yes, she annoys him and he annoys them. But they work it out, and most of the time they get along great.

All of that leads up to my “not even linearly harder” comment. From day 1 Logan has been Maya’s entertainment. When she was a baby he played with her as a toy, kind of treating her like a stuffed animal (only without the “dragging her around the house by a leg” thing), and as she got older as a playmate. Sure, the first few time she exercised some individuality and didn’t go along with her brother’s grand schemes he’d get upset and break down, but once he realized that she wasn’t a robot things got better.

There is one drawback, at least in our family: the fact that she’s been entertained since day 1 makes Maya much less of an independent player than her brother. So on the days when he’s not around, or when he’d rather be building Legos or drawing comics or whatever, she’s often lost. Bored. Uninspired. In other words, the opposite of her brother who spent the first three and a half years of his life learning to entertain himself.

Which brings me to the final point in the whole thing: Whatever you do, don’t expect kid #2 to be another version of kid #1. If we are in any way typical, he or she will be the exact opposite in many, many ways. In our case, where Logan was quiet, Maya was loud. Where he is generally even-tempered, she can freakin' GO OFF. The list goes on and on. And it’s all good, ‘cause they complement each other well. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t find myself thinking “why does this bother her? It doesn’t bother her brother…”

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

NERDS! But in an entertaining way...

Nerdiness #1: This weekend is Norwescon, the Northwest Science Fiction Convention. It's going on, as it has since time immemorial (or at least he mid-80s), in glorious SeaTac Washington. In my geeky youth days I went a couple times but a) I wasn't old enough to drink, b) I didn't drink when it was offered (OK, I might have had a beer), and c) I neither rented a room nor hooked up with anyone. Basically I hung out with my friends, listened to some authors and/or speakers, and played games. So now it's Norwescon 31 and my friend Eric, with whom I went lo these many years ago, e-mails me to say "I'm feeling geeky...anyone want to go?" Tempting, but I have to ride the bike.

Nerdiness #2: Patrick Rothfus, author of "The Name of the Wind" (a book you should read immediately if not sooner), is supposedly going to be at Norwescon. Which makes sense, since that's his audience. And he's in town anyway on a book tour. So I'm on his Facebook page and see a link to a post in his blog, and there's this YouTube video called "The Guild". Which totally depicts the modern version of the nerd I was in High School. Or, rather, the uber-nerds I encountered in High School at conventions like Norwescon and DragonFlight (where I may or may not have encountered Steve Chicken over a hotly contested Car Wars tournament). The key difference: we holed up in Eric's basement to slay orcs and whatnot. So there was some f2f...and you couldn't play all day 'cause your Mom would still expect you to mow the lawn.

Anyhow, without further ado, here's episode 1 of "The Guild"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What a difference a day makes...

Here, a day late and a dollar short, is the post I meant to write yesterday...
So I rode both Sunday and Monday, my first moderately serious back-to-back training days. The schedule said 40 miles Saturday and Sunday, but with Paige's birthday madness and my need to watch the kids, Saturday was a no-go. So I figured "Hey, I could drive up to Mom's house on Sunday, check the fit on my old road bikes, then ride home. Then Monday after work I could ride back over there, get the car, and go home!" Genius, right? Well, sort of...


The first problem is that it's not 40 miles from Mom's to my house. It's like 33 or so. But hey, I'm off the training plan anyway, and that's farther than I've ridden so far, so what the heck. The second problem is that I waste a bunch of time and don't get out of the house until 11:10. I'd been aiming for 10:30. Crap. I have to be home by 3:30 so Paige can take Maya to a Girl Scout Cookie site-sale and not have to drag Logan along. "Hmm," I thought, "guess I'll have to push it a bit."

I make it to Mom's in good time (around noon, I think), clean out her roof drains, try out the bikes (both too tall...did my legs shrink, or did I just not care if I racked myself on the cross-bar when I was in High School?), chat with Mom, and hit the road. The first two miles from Mom's house are great: Pretty much straight down hill, not a lot of work, and a chance to get up some serious speed. Being 41 and careful, rather than 18 and nuts like I was the last time I rode this hill, I only topped out at around 35. Still a rush, but not completely out of control. From the foot of the hill I headed west to catch the Lake Washington Loop bike trail, rolling up and down minor hills from Coal Creek to Renton. In Renton things got a bit sketchy, since I wasn't exactly sure what the route was (and, apparently, delivery trucks don't like bikes in Renton 'cause they all honked at me). Eventually I found my way to Rainier Avenue and headed north toward Seward Park.

To this point I'd been making pretty good time, averaging around 15mph on the flats and down hills. Rainier is a bit more hilly, but I still kept the pace up, although I did slow to a pseudo-crawl on the last climb before the drop back to the lake at Seward Park. From there it was flat and smooth up the lake to Leshi (with a brief pit stop at the 20-mile mark), and I was able to keep up the pace. But all things must come to an end, and the nice flat Lakeshore Drive (Lakeview? One of those...) ends and it's time to climb. I chose to go up Madrona, which is long and moderately steep, but also straight. I gear down to the "not quite granny gear" (because my rear deraileur is mis-adjusted and won't stay in the lowest climbing gear) and crank away. And sweat. Lots and lots of sweat.

I finally reach the top of the hill, coast down through a neighborhood or two, and make it to the Arboretum. Which provides another great downhill run, although not as long or as steep as the descent from Mom's so I only hit 27 or so. Still, I'm making good time and cranking away. Across the Montlake bridge, down the Burke Gilman trail to Fremont, then north and up the hill home. I make it there around 3:20, pound some water, take a shower, and collapse in a heap on the couch. Whew!


I wake up Monday still exhausted. Not a good sign. And my quads hurt a lot. Not as bad as the day after the one spinning class I've ever taken in my life (which resulted in charley horses so massive I had to take a day off of work because I couldn't go down the stairs...), but still pretty bad. But I shower, gear up, eat, and hit the road. Not to ride in, mind you, just to the bus...which goes well - the legs don't seem to mind riding as much as they do walking. Weird.

I spend most of Monday at work fluctuating between "oh my God I'm tired" and "wow, my legs really hurt." Neither of which is giving me much hope of making it to Mom's in one piece. So I begin revising the plan. First to go: the full route. My initial plan was to ride to Fremont from downtown, then basically repeat Sunday's route in reverse: University, Arboretum, Seward Park, Renton, Coal Creek, then up the hill. I figured this would be 30 miles or so. But 30 miles mid-day and 30 miles chasing darkness are two different things, and I don't think I can safely leave work at 2:30 or whatever. So I opt to cut off the north loop. I'll just head to I-90, ride through the tunnel, then pick up the lake route from there. That'll be more like 25 miles.

Then the afternoon goes on and it's clear I won't get out at 3:30 or 4 either, so I cut out Renton altogether and in the end just do the straight I-90 shot across Mercer Island, then ride down to Coal Creek before beginning the loooong slog up hill. And long it is. Looking at the distance chart you can see that the speed drops like a rock as the elevation starts to climb. And looking at the time-series chart, it appears that the last 2.5 miles took about as long as the first 10, if not longer. Yowch. Definitely not an easy ascent, and I doubt I would have been much faster with fresh legs. Don't remember the hill being that long or that steep when I was a kid...must have grown since then.

The Graphic Evidence

Here's the distance chart for Sunday: High speed (blue, left scale), net altitude drop (green, right scale)...

Then there's Monday (same color/scale scheme, shorter distance), distance and time series:

Gotta love that speed drop at the end...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Best laid plans...

Man, I had plans for a fabulous post tonight, rife with charts and graphs and, perhaps, lots of laughs. But I'm tired and don't want to. So it will have to wait for tomorrow. Suffice it to say I biked yesterday and today with very different results. But you'll have to wait until tomorrow for the evidence.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Chickens on the radio

In case you missed it, John "Little Jackie Chicken" Moe, who in addition to being the now former singer of Chicken Starship is also a reporter on public radio's "Weekend America". John, as was recapped on his blog, has moved from Seattle to St. Paul to be closer to all things Public and Radio, and is doing a series about the move. The first installment, his farewell to the band, aired yesterday. But if you missed it, here it is!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sparky!

Today is Mrs. Sparky Chicken's birthday! So send her an e-mail and wish her a happy one. Or just comment here and I'll pass it on...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Any tent suggestions?

On the off chance any of the small handful of people that read this knows anything about backpacking tents, I'm looking for a recommendation. As I mentioned in the camping recap post on Monday, Logan's now a boy scout and will be doing some camping (almost said "more", but that would imply that there had been some previously). And I'm planning on going with him, 'cause it's fun.

So the dilemma is we've only got one tent, the old early '80s Eureka Timberline that I used back in the day. Well, it's a fine tent, and new poles are on order so setting it up will get easier. But that doesn't solve the dilemma of who sleeps in what tent when we're both on an outing. 'cause the Scouts are supposed to be pseudo self-sufficient on these outings, with the adults camping slightly away from them. So we need two tents.

Add to that the fact that tent construction has improved since 1981 or whenever the Timberline was purchased, and with the wonders of second- and third-world production the prices are relatively cheap. So we come to the ultimate question: any recommendations for a decent, affordable moderately lightweight tent? I'm thinking 2 person rating, 'cause I like to spread out, and it would let the boy take it if I weren't going (what, you didn't think I'd give him the new equipment, did you?), but still be light enough for me to carry solo without weighing me down too much.

Right now I'm looking at the Cabelas XPG, but the only reviews I can find are on the Cabelas web site, and that makes me suspect...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Breakfast for dinner

Man I love that. And no, not the old bachelor standby of a bowl of cereal, I'm talking actual cooked breakfast. We used to have waffles for dinner on Sundays when I was a kid (at least that's how I remember it...), and for a while we continued the tradition. Then we kind of slacked off, and now it's more of a treat than a standard piece of the dinner repertoire.

So tonight I come home, soaking wet because I rode my bike and it was (surprise surprise) raining like hell, to word from Maya Chicken that "we're having little pancakes!" A statement which Paige corrects to "no, we're having Little Itty Bitty Alan Greenspan." Which was the name Tina (I think it was Tina...) entered in the "Name the Big Puffy Pancake" contest at John's house about, oh, 10 years ago.

We're pretty sure they're actually called Dutch Babies, but we like the Greenspan name better.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thank you, Mary Anne!

What with all the Elliot "you can stop calling me Elliot Ness" Spitzer stuff in the news, the tale of Dawn "Mary Anne from Gilligan's Island" Wells getting pulled over with a bunch of pot kind of slipped through the cracks. Which is too bad, 'cause it's a much more entertaining story.

First off, the Spitzer thing is right out of Greek theater. What's the saying, Hubris ahtay nemasis? (sorry...never took Greek so I don't know how to spell "ahtay" and went phonetic on it...) A fancy way of saying "pride comes before the fall". We all secretly hoped that he'd screw up somehow, and it's nicely poetic that he gets hoist on the petard that he created (I should probably find out what a "petard" is so I know if I'm completely butchering that metaphor...should, but won't).

Ms. Wells, on the other hand, is one of the great all-American sex symbols of my youth, 'cause really, Ginger was way too unatainable. Mary Anne, though, you thought you might have a chance with. And now that we know she's a big ol' (alleged) stoner the whole coconut cream pie thing makes hella more sense.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Why I don't drive a Rally car

'cause then I'd be on a video like this...


Yeah, I know, I've used that headline before. But this time it's about me, not some dude losing an arm.

So as I may have mentioned before, by brother-in-law roped me in to riding the STP this summer, which means I need to get my butt in shape. And my legs, arms, back, neck, etc. And a great way to do this is to do the ol' bike commute. Good for me, good for the environment, blah blah blah.

Today was the first bike commute of the year, and I wanted to break it in easy. So rather than riding both ways I loaded the bike on the bus in the morning (which was great, since it was like 40 and raining out...), then rode home this evening. Which is where the "ouch" comes in.

So I'm sitting at the intersection of 8th Avenue and Westlake down by Lake Union, trying to cross Westlake to continue my ride north. Problem is, there's no light there. And there's a lot of traffic. Well, finally an opening in the traffic appears and I stomp on it. Problem is, I'm in the wrong gear. Waaaaaay too high a gear. So the crank moves slowly, and isn't where I think it's going to be when I stomp down with the right foot to get things going faster. So I hit the pedal with my toe rather than with the ball of the foot, and since I use SPD clipless pedals I sail right off the thing and stamp the ground instead.

But not just the ground, no, that would be too easy! My leg's momentum is forward...I'm expecting to hit the pedal and keep rolling in a circle...and my left foot is on the when I slip off the pedal there's no pressure keeping the crank going around and, naturally, it backs up. Right in to my shin.

Now, at this point, I'm thinking "ouch." I'm also thinking "I'm half way in to the first lane of a busy road and there are cars coming...crap!" So I stomp again, a bit more carefully this time, and make it safely across, swearing at myself and gravity.

Luckily I was wearing tights, so I didn't see the extent of the damage to my leg. It hurt, but I've had similar scrapes before and know that half of the battle is ignoring it. And it's much easier to ignore a wound if it's not bleeding at you. And besides, the tights are, well, tight and so provided a nice compression bandage. And they kept chunks of skin from jamming up my cleat...

Anyhow, it stopped hurting after a few hundred yards, and didn't start hurting again until I got home and had to take off the tights to find...a pretty minor scrape, actually. Probably got some protection from the tights, 'cause it's not as long or deep as I might have expected. It also, thankfully, didn't glue itself to the tights when it scabbed up, so I've got that going for me.

I'll take tomorrow off anyway, though, and let it rest. Then Thursday is the slightly bigger test, riding both ways - in the dark in the morning, no less!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Camping recap

Well, what with all that book meme nonsense yesterday I slacked off on the recap of the boy's first step to adulthood (or at least adolescence), so here it is. At least, here's the recap of a) the part I witnessed, and b) the parts he's told me.

First, the location: they stayed at the Bowman Bay campground at Deception Pass State Park up where Whidbey Island almost touches the mainland. The weather was totally cooperative, with the rain falling over by the foothills and not on the sound. I'd been to the park, but never to this side - and I think we'll have to go back 'cause it's dang purty:

This part of the park has an interpretive center that focuses on the fine men and women of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the sister org. of the PWA that focused on parks and conservation rather than building sweet bridges. But based on the statue they were in good shape and knew how to use an axe:

Anyhow, after a brief stint on the beach, it was time to set up camp, and I got a great deal of enjoyment watching the troop's Senior Patrol Leader (who, at around 15, is half the age of the tent) try to set up this tent that had no flexible poles and no relation to the now standard dome. But they got it up, with a little help from me and a lot of grunting (apparently one of the things the CCC did when they built the camp ground was pack as much rock and gravel in to the tent sites...)

And lastly, before I drove off and left him with the Scouts, I took this shot of some kayakers out enjoying the bay, thinking Bonnie would enjoy it. Didn't switch lenses, though, so you can't really see what they're paddling.

As for the aftermath, he seemed to have had a good time, although as expected he didn't eat much. Why? Well, because while the chicken looked good, they then "put this stuffing on it" ("why not scrape the stuffing off like you do at home?" I asked...and got no response). He had some lunch left over that he ate at dinner, but breakfast was basically hot chocolate because he didn't take to fried spam in a bun. Silly boy...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Meme time

I've officially been tagged with the "123 book meme" by Ms. Frogma. And apparently if I ignore the tag I'll have bad luck for 10 years or something. And since I don't have anything else to write about today (well, not this afternoon, anyway...) I'll play along.

These were the instructions:

1. Pick up the nearest book.

2. Open it at page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence/ phrase.

4. Blog the next four sentences/ phrases together with these instructions.

5. Don't you dare dig your shelves for that very special or intellectual book.

6. Pass it forward to six friends

So, let's see...the nearest book at this moment is the 1978 classic "Kiss" by John Swenson who, if we are to beleve the cover, is "the greatest rock show on earth". Not to be confused with the Most Important Rock and Roll Band in the world, which as you know is Chicken Starship. Anyhow, the book is from the "Headliners" series, and was a parting gift from John Moe, mailed the day he left town to move to St. Paul.

So, opening to page 123 and following the instructions we find...a picture of the band rocking out. Hmm. This is a 123 falls near the end of a set of grainy black-and-white photos. So I have to either roll forward to pae 129 or roll back to 105. I'm going to opt for the "go to the closest number" and round up:

"Kiss is a band that's easy to hate," wrote Steven Gaines in the February 2, 175 New York Sunday News. "At other times in the show the band members toss themselves around like madmen in a padded cell...Gene's bloody spout is the goriest moment I've ever seen on any stage, and it has the distasteful sharp edge to it that Alice Cooper never came close to."

Simmons, however, defended the band in his comments to Gaines. "All these critics come and see us and give us bad reviews," he said, "but what they don't say is how much our fans like us."

Well, that's certainly true. And it's good to be reminded that Gene has always had a very healthy ego...

I'm going to modify step 6, since I don't have that many friends who blog, and since one of them tagged me I will tag the other two, Tina and John. John mainly because he gave me the dang book and has so much else going on in his life that he needs a break like this. And Tina to give her something to distract her from the whole election thing.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

To the guy next to me at the Alanis Morisette show tonight:

Hey, man, I'm glad you're such a huge Alanis fan. She definitely rocks. Great voice. Good hooks in the songs.

And I'm really glad you've taken the time to listen to all her albums and memorize all the lyrics.

But seriously...your voice sucks donkey. You have no sense of pitch and couldn't carry a tune if I put it in your backpack and stapled it to your shoulders. You've got the volume thing down, though, and that taxi whistle is ear-splittingly impressive, so perhaps a career in professional sports fandom is in order.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The dawn of a new era

Young Logan Chicken takes a bold step tomorrow...he's off on his first Scout camp-out without Dad. Well, I'll be there for some of it...I'll drive him and whoever else up (to Deception Pass State Park), and I'll hang out through Lunch. But then, some time around 1 or so, I'll hop in the car and split, leaving him alone in the wilderness. Only not really, 'cause he'll be surrounded by other Boy Scouts. But kind of, since none of his buddies are going and so the only person he really knows is Nick, who is like a Freshman in High School.

So, why am I abandoning him like this? 'cause I've got tickets to Alanis Morisette, that's why. And really, isn't that more important than the boy's first camp-out?

Actually, while that sounds calous, and while I'd love to stay and spend the weekend up there, in a way it's good 'cause a large part of the Boy Scout thing is teaching independence and self reliance. And that's hard to do when Dad's there, and it's hard for Dad to let go. I still remember my first trip with the Boy Scouts - although it involved actual hiking, rather than just car camping...we left Bellevue on a damp Saturday morning (I think...might have been Friday afternoon) and drove out I-90 a ways, parked, and hiked the whopping 2 miles up to Talapus Lake.

My main memory of that trip were the tents - Troop 638 at the time had tents that were really more of a rain fly...two poles - a tall one in front and a short one in the back - with a couple ropes and a bunch of plastic pegs. If you set it up correctly the bottom of the "tent" ended about 3 inches off the ground. You slept on your ground cloth and hoped that none of it was sticking out under the edge of the tent. They worked fine if you did it right, but if you were on a hill, or it was windy, you were going to get damp. They also didn't keep the critters out, as the guy I was sharing a tent with found out when a chipmunk came in, ate through his pack, and ate a good chunk of his candy bar.

I also remember the poncho. That was the first time I'd worn a rain poncho, and since Dad liked to buy things I could grow into it was huge (well, to his credit it was supposed to be big enough to cover me AND the backpack). We looked like bats wandering around the camp site under the dripping trees.

And I remember that that was when I learned that if you're standing around a camp fire and the smoke is blowing in your face, if you say "I hate rabbits" it makes the smoke go away. Or it's supposed never really worked for me. Wonder if that tradition continues? I guess I'll find out on Sunday when I drive back up to pick the boy up!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Any ideas how I get a new gig?

Not a full-time thing or's the story: The Seattle PI, the paper I've read since I was a kid, has no TV reporter. They had one for a long time who was great, then he decided to become a Sports reporter or sports columnist or something. Well, that clearly didn't last, 'cause he's no where on the site now.

He was replaced by Melanie McFarland, the "TV Gal", who was also great, but she has since left to work for IMDB or someone. And she's been replaced by, well, a series of syndicated columnists.

Now, there are few things I enjoy more than TV. A diet coke on a hot day, possibly. Sleep. A roast beef and cheddar sandwich on a baguette from the Three Girls Bakery. But I do loves me some TV. But the question is, how do I turn that love of TV in to a paying gig?

Again, I don't want to do it full time...for one thing, I don't think the newspaper industry pays well enough for that. But maybe a freelance column a week? Heck, I do "Scott Chicken's TV Party" on Indy Radio every freaking weekday (except when I'm too tired to record it...), and transposed that into a Blog for a while, so how hard could it be?

Anyhow, if you've got any ins at the PI, let me know!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Quinine, anyone?

Seattle Biomedical Research Institute is looking for volunteers who don't mind a little malaria. And they'll pay you for it, and put you up in a hotel while you get the shakes. Not to mention the headache, nausea, sweating, and weakness. But hey, did I mention you're getting paid and put up in a hotel? Sweet!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Kittie hats?

Who knew? Here I had lived my life thinking that, since they're generally covered with fur, cats didn't nead the kind of headwear that bald guys like me must wear in the winter. How wrong I was...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Small town news...

Back in college I worked for KTEL Radio in mighty Walla Walla. KTEL was a country station, spinning authentic 45s of the greatest Country hits of the mid-80s and earlier (not being a country fan I stuck to the standard hit rotation and routinely threw in Ray Stevens, Jerry Reed, and cross-over acts like the Eagles and CCR). As the youngest member of the air staff by far (I was all of 19 at the time) I also drew the crappiest shift: 6 to noon Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Part of the weekend routine was to stop off at the Police station on the way in and pick up the overnight Police Blotter. Then once I got to the station I'd call the two local hospitals and find out who, if anyone, croaked over night. These would then go, along with various national news stories torn (literally) off the AP wire printer, in to the morning's 10-minute news casts, also known as the most terrifying part of my morning.
Why terrifying, you ask? Well, the average listener of KTEL was, as far as I could tell, 80 years old and awake at 5:30 listening to KTEL to find out how many of their friends were still alive. So the "Weekend Deathwatch", as I came to call it, was high-pressure. Because 19-year-olds don't know how to pronounce everyone's names. And when they get Aunt Millie Sasperilly's name wrong, Ida Mae Sasperilly will call in and complain. But don't think that the Police Blotter part was any easier...I got reamed once for saying that "a car hit a bicycle at the corner of 2nd and Alder..." because clearly I, a bike rider, was assigning blame to the car. Far better to say "a car and a bicycle collided..."
Anyhow, now that I do a canned, voice-tracked radio show that airs 200 miles from my house, I'm far better at reading AP news stories (although thanks to the Internets I no longer have to tear anything...). But I do miss the police blotter. Which is why I was happy to stumble across this, from the Flathead Beacon. Nothing like small-town crimes...a few choice entries:
8:41 a.m. A cat crawled under a Willow Glen resident's porch after a car hit it.

4:54 p.m. A 14-year-old girl needed counseling by deputies after she threw a fit and threw her food all over the kitchen floor.

5:14 p.m. Two Coram residents got into a fight over a saw.

6:10 p.m. A woman called in because her 16-year-daughter was threatening to remove her nose ring. (I'm not sure if this means the girl was going to pull out Mom's nose ring or her own...)

Holy crap!

I am definitely glad I wasn't on this flight...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Not sure what this is an ad for, but it's cool...

And yes, I'm aware that I was going to post a "final show" recap, but I haven't gotten around to it. Too much biking and beer today and now I'm spent. Spent, I tell you!

So instead, here's this ad for something. Hair product, I think...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

And one other thing...

Jill Homer (she of the "Jill's Subarctic Snow Biking Blog" link over on the right) finished the Iditerod Trail Invitational this afternoon at 4:20 Alaska time with a total time of 6 days 2 hours 20 minutes. Her report from Nikolai, the checkpoint before the 50-mile push to the end is here...I think this paragraph sums it up well:
Cold weather has been a struggle. I bivied just below Rainy Pass one night as I pushed my bike through the knee-deep snow for 45 miles. My thermometer bottomed out at 20 below. I bivied again last night at Sullivan Creek when I kept literally falling asleep and falling off my bike. I woke up after three hours and set out to pack up, but it was so, so cold. Everything was frozen solid. My chemical warmers had turned to ice bricks and I couldn't make them go. I crawled back into my bag and waited another couple hours before attempting again. Again, couldn't quite handle the cold. I finally just decided to wait until daylight and stayed in my bag until 10 a.m., but didn't sleep much. I woke up to a 35 mph headwind and single digit temperatures. Ground blizzards were out of this world. Again, glacial pace.

I can't even imagine what that must be like. And here I was thinking I was all cool for having run a marathon!

The show recap will have to wait...

Too much going on today to write it up, the thumb still hurts when I hit the space bar, and I'm tired. Yeah, yeah, excuses excuses. But you do have to admire this sweet photo my brother-in-law Tim took of us...looks like we're beaming down from the Chicken Starship. Which we were...
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Getting by on a technicality...

Since I haven't been to bed yet I'm not counting this as missing Friday...I have an excuse, honest. I was playing rocky roll music with the band for the last time. Well, the last time for a while, anyway...More details tomorrow. And some pictures as well.