Let me introduce you to my friend Monty

I was recently reflecting on nerd stuff with Noah when I recalled seeing Monty Python and the Holy Grail for the first time. Cue the flashback noise.

My parents had decided I was now old enough to enjoy the humor of the movie and rented it on a night that my sister was staying with a friend or something. It was wonderful, and hilarious, and full of awkward silences when my parents tried to suppress their laughter as to not acknowledge the dirtier jokes. I also tried not to laugh at jokes that I thought I probably shouldn’t have understood.

Shortly after that introduction, we saw most of the Python collection, and I’ve tried hard since then not to repeat lines from the movies in public. Faux pas. My parents told me that I used to love “Flying Circus” when I was 2, though I don’t remember that. I’m sure “Holy Grail” would have been funny at 2 as well, though on a different level. You know, the hopping on one leg level.

Now I need see “Lost in La Mancha” to complete the Terry Gilliam tour.

New Job – sort of

Yesterday I started working as the Student Help Desk Coordinator, a position that Noah left so he could go expat. I’m jealous of his adventure, but for some reason I’m also excited about taking this job. Oddly enough, I researched the position 3 years ago to see if a student help desk at a community college was even feasible. Well, there were only 5 or so at the time, and with varying degrees of success. When we created the job description and posted it, my boss encouraged me to apply for it. I wasn’t that interested and declined. I had a good thing going.

Three years later – what’s different? Well, not much. In fact, I had planned on taking more classes at PSU so the increased responsibility was an odd choice. My decision to take the position was based on the advice of a friend who, like me, is not cut from management cloth. Chris said that I had to do it, and that even if I hated it, I’d learn a ton and gain invaluable experience. Ok.

Ok – I can handle that. Kind of odd how full circle I’ve come. I’ll have to write my old managers at WWU and tell them. This is exactly what I had planned on doing with my degree in Geography. At least I enjoy the work.

Portland to Coast

For some reason, Michelle signed herself up for the Portland to Coast team at work. She also signed me up. I figured it’d be a walk in the park, figuratively. Now, 36 sleepless hours later, having walked, shuttled, and water-boy’ed for the team, I’m not sure how I’m going to stand back up.

I felt pretty good until about an hour ago, when for some reason I dozed off while reading. I awoke a short time later with afternoon nap headache, and need to shake it before dinner with the in-laws.

My two walking legs were pretty tough. The first was leg 15, a 7.4 mile stretch along the lovely and serene Highway 30. I wasn’t at the hand-off in time because I didn’t change from driving to walking mode quickly enough and sprinted from the car to meet Michelle, who made quick work of the previous leg. So I started my leg without stretching or a bathroom break. Actually, the large trucks did create a nice breeze as they blew by me in the heat. I felt pretty good about the leg – I averaged 4.82 mph and passed 6 people and was only passed by 2.

Once our team finished our first half, we crashed at a small campground for a couple hours. Those in the group who had done the race before took the opportunity to actually sleep. I showered and read. Michelle read and we complained about our blisters together before mole-skinning up.

The second half was a little easier – Michelle led off with a ~ 4 mile leg in the dark. The temperature had dropped considerably and the Natal area was quite lovely in the transition from evening to dusk and finally into darkness. It’s nice to see stars, but as Michelle put it – looking at them messes up your stride.

My second leg was 29, a 4 mile climb over a summit then 2 miles back down towards the coast. The temperature was perfect, it was dark, and I kicked ass. I passed 16 people and was only passed by 2 walkers (and 2 runners, but they don’t count) just as I was reaching the summit. They must have been freakin’ animals because was keeping a 4.6 mph pace, which I am reminded of each time I move. It was a total buzz and easily kept me going through the last of our team’s legs and down to Seaside, where we crashed in a parking lot until we were kicked out. Several people had reported a guy in a sleeping bag in the lot and thought he might be a vagrant. Nope, just an attorney.

When the second half of our team came in just after 1, I was pleased to find we’d managed to finish ahead of the only team I recognized from our starting position and had thus become my nemesis. I don’t think anyone on the team cared, but we’d been behind them since the first leg, and I blew by them on the hill climb. It was satisfying to pass the 50+ year old woman.

Seriously – walking with all these people was very humbling. I was clearly an amateur compared to most of these people, and having someone your grandparents’ age blast by you is a completely new way of getting schooled. It was fun too, and my team, may they all get some real sleep tonight, was awesome and really trucked. I’m already considering doing it next year – but that might be the sheer exhaustion talking.

Katydid chiriping

Katydid on the curtain rod
Last night we were sitting in bed reading when something started chirping. not like electrical chirping, but like cricket chirping. We both looked at each other puzzled – it was clearly in the room, but what could it be?

Oh yeah – the night before we’d found a katydid crammed between the window molding and the crown molding. Tonight he was actually perched on the curtain rod and putting his one leg to its best. Kind of weird, but the noise was a reminder of how creepy it would feel to have a katydid land on your face during the night. So I put him out the window. Oddly enough, my mom had done the same thing just a night or two before which I think is how he lost his leg. I expect him to return tonight.

Buried Treasure

Jumpin' Jeep
Yesterday I cleaned out the crawl space under the house. The previous owner had left a pile of miscellaneous wood (termite fodder) and a structural guy would need to have access to the SE corner to patch some erosion. Our original home inspector mentioned the wood as well as an abundance of broken glass under the vapor barrier. Call me a sucker for personal safety, but I figured I should remove some of the glass to make movement in the already cramped and spiderwebby basement a little less mortally wounding.

Sure enough, like many old houses, the crawl space had been used as a trash heap. The contents included a lot of glass ( light bulbs, bottles, windows, etc) and a few metallic items. The coolest finds:

  1. an unbroken Lucky Lager bottle with a Best By date of June 24th of 1953
  2. a G&W two star blended whiskey bottle
  3. a Jumpin’ Jeep windup toy (pictured above)
  4. a wooden jeep

I’m sure there’s more glass down there, but I did as much as I could find easily. There’s a large earthen mound which I assume is the bulk of the heap, but I’m afraid to disturb it. It could also be a grave. That would put a damper on the new house thing because you don’t know if it means the place is haunted, or if you do dig it up whether or not that will cause the haunting to start. Ah – the challenges of home ownership.

40 Mile Loop, Part 1

As a sort of penance for failing to turn in my field journal (and then loosing or recycling it during our move), Mike Houck has allowed me to make up the difference with a little make-up work. The deal we made was that I get to keep my grade if I ride and blog about the 40 mile loop (with pictures). He figured it would be fitting since I showed him two previous postings related to the class, and I can only guess the PR section of his brain thought this would be an appropriate replacement. I could have recreated the field notes in excellent detail in roughly an hour, but I figured this would a great motivation to actually ride the trail (in sections) this summer. Today I did the North Portland stretch out to Kelley Point.

Unfortunately, much of the 23 mile ride wasn’t actually on the loop, and large sections of the loop are still incomplete. Imagine my surprise, for example, when I reached a sign out by Kelley Point that said “40 mile loop – End.” Call me crazy, but I thought loops didn’t have “ends,” but rather looped around forever.

I rode out to the NoPo section of the trail by the Portland International Speedway on Interstate Ave. The trail starts in an industrial area along the Columbia Slough and pretty much stays in one for the entire stretch out to the point. There is a brief break near the Smith/Bybee Lakes Wildlife Refuge, but you’re still next to train tracks. I only saw one other biker on the trail at 10am on a Saturday, which was a bit of a surprise. The refuge was also deserted (of birds) though a few families were out walking.

Once I reached Kelley Point, I rode out to see it and was pleased to find another place where Barley might be able to get some swimming in. As I started back, I encountered the “end” of the trail and decided to follow Lombard or Marine Dr south and hopefully around to the St. Johns Bridge. Sadly, there were detours and I got lost as a result of losing my map. At one point I smelled what I thought were bad deli sandwiches, which I then figured out was because I was smelling pickles. Sure enough, a little bit later I passed a big food factory. By the time I made it back into a somewhat recognizable section of street names, I was beat, it was hot, and I was hungry.

I’ve got more to do now – including replacing the map. Maybe I can find it on the Internet somewhere.

Poor Grammar among cement works 90 years ago

Street name type
click for larger image

On one of my morning walks with Barley, I noticed a problem. The street names in the curbs on the corner of NE 23rd Ave and Emerson St didn’t all match. Three of the 4 corners list the named street as Surman St instead of Emerson. Was it a typo? Or was the street name changed from Surman during some brief period of anti-anglo sentiment? My final guess is that the concrete worker simply mis-heard the original street name Emerson as Surman and didn’t realize his mistake until the last corner. Either that, or someone else pointed it out. I’m sure the dope-slap was in use at the time (roughly 1911) and the person responsible got three of them.

Or more. One block up on the NE 23rd and Sumner St., another typo appeared. Someone had misspelled the street name as Somner on just this block. Oh, and the street was just East 23rd at the time of pouring.

One thing is clear from all this. Well, actually there are at least two of three things that are clear:

  1. Living in an old neighborhood is awesome
  2. whoever paved on NE 23rd nearly 90 years ago probably ended up in a different line of work
  3. I’m a total nerd