Coming Up for Air
(3-12 September 2005)

12 September 2005
-We didn't freeze to death last night at all, though the 14 hours in the tent during the hours of darkness & the first couple hours of light were pretty miserable.  We didn't have much soft for our heads & we were terrified of leaving the tent in the sub-freezing temperatures that we just hadn't prepared for.  We were at 8,000+ feet when we'd really been thinking we'd top out at 4,000, so the whole thing was a little thrown together at the end.  But it worked out, we survived the night, & the morning was fantastic.  It took us very little time to hike out as it was mostly downhill, but the hike was very pleasant.  We walked around the lake before that & warmed up a little.  Coming back home, we stopped in Sonora again & Emily argued me out of a return to the Miner's Shack, & we discovered an equally good restaurant on the same block!  This one was Garcia's Taqueria, & has (I kid you not) a breakfast burrito menu.  Most of them are vegetarian.  They also had chile relleno burritos & vegan burritos, making it the best Taqueria ever.  I was ready to move to Sonora by the end of this trip.  It's like a very small Flagstaff.  Finally, we came home exhausted, but having enjoyed the trip greatly.
-Looks like there's going to be a lot more camping in our future, though we're going to aim for warmer weather all around.  Hopefully this does not mean putting off camping till next spring so much as finding warmer places that might be a little closer as well.

11 September 2005
[from the Emigrant Wilderness, Stanislaus National Forest]
-Finally, Em & I are camping!  Began the day early, had an amazing breakfast in Sonora at the foot of the National Forest at this place called the Miner's Shack.  It was a classic diner/breakfast place nestled in a Frontier-style atmosphere (even some John Wayne pictures).  They have 40 kinds of omelette on their menu.  & the hashbrowns... amazing.  So that was fantastic, & launched a great day of hiking into the woods.  The ranger at the entrance to the Forest was very helpful & set us up with a nice 4-mile-each-way hike to Bear Lake, which is high & cold, but should be beautiful as well.
-It's been too long since I've done this.  This lake is perfect & pristine & as it's Sunday night, we're about the only people up here despite passing 5-6 pairs of people on their way down the mountain.
-I think we might freeze to death tonight.

10 September 2005
-I've been forgetting to mention that Zimmy is back with a third blog!  While I make profuse fun of the fact that people feel the need to constantly change their blog address or redefine it, I still enjoy reading whichever one is being currently updated.  & boy, is this one being updated!  Enjoy.
-Didn't end up going camping today, but made all the preparations for an early departure tomorrow.  We'll be back late Monday, so I guess I don't have to worry about putting up the Duck and Cover a day in advance or anything like that.  Had a lot of fun hanging out & reliving the old times tonight, including a retrospective e-mail session which included the Scheffres 2nd dialogue by Gris circa early 1999, the response Broome Street dialogue by me circa the same time, & the fabled 80,000! e-mail by Jake, circa 2000.  When I tried to read this last one aloud the other day, I actually ended up rolling on the ground (literally) in side-splitting pain.

9 September 2005
-After having wrestled with their e-mail support for the better part of two weeks, I finally broke down & called Skipjack's telephone support.  This is the site that I have doing the e-commerce for RMI.  Turns out that, contrary to what they say on their site, they use proprietary payment gateways & shut everyone else out, so I won't be able to make them (& the data I've been inputting for weeks) communicate with the account that RMI has.  This is very bad.  If you're out there, you should know that Skipjack's StoreSense will force you to use their payment processors!  So now I'm faced with re-entering all the data into someone else's system.  It's a shame, too, because I really like their product otherwise.
-Follow up to that last part... it looks like the data might be able to be imported & exported, so all is not lost.  & a guy's supposed to call me about a full refund, though that's not likely to really take place until Monday.
-Here's the thing with poker.  I know that I have the tools to be a solid player.  I know that I have a strategy that is as good as I can have, & will consistently succeed when applied with discipline.  I've cashed in the last two big $11 tourneys I've played after re-evaluating why I was slumping (with Russ' help) & realizing that I have meandered away from the proper system.  If you're going to do well in poker, you have to be systematic.  Upon restoring the system, I turn a big slump into two of the better performances I've had.  I just need to remind myself, to come back to it time & again, that I have the proper mindset to play effective poker.  I just need to make sure I use it... EVERY time I play.

8 September 2005
-Created a Media section with a reprint of yesterday's Star-Telegram article.  So if you were having trouble with the login stuff on their site, now you can read the whole thing with ease.  Hopefully this is only the beginning, though I don't know how many people will want to do articles on online quizzes.
-I've also added the Top Visitor Town, which is a very random feature that I thought would be fun.  I'm taking the IP addresses of the top visitor each week, finding out what town they're from, & posting it on the page.  Just some more fun with traffic.
-Just for the record folks, I cannot say enough good about Microsoft Picture It! Photo 7.0.  This program came with my computer at some point, but I never really discovered its full potential until the past few days, doing a variety of photos for my job with RMI.  Holy cow!  Had I had a full understanding of this program even as recently as when I did the Animal Quiz, the images would be so much better.  As it is, I am quite tempted to go back & redo all the images from the State Quiz & Animal Quiz with this program.  It's super low-priority between my job & my other webpage projects, but it's definitely not an idea I can rule out.  There are so many lousy computer programs that it's really nice to find one that's extremely helpful.

7 September 2005
Happy Birthday to Beth Mandel
-The article is out!  It's even the headline for today's Living section in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram!  I'm very excited to read it, but I just heard & I haven't even had time for an official reaction yet.  By the way, if you want to read it & need a login, Em tipped me off about a site called Bug Me Not, where they'll give you an already-established log-in so you can read without a new sign-up.
-After reading it, I'm pretty much ecstatic about the article.  While the BP doesn't get mentioned till about halfway through the article, it's just about the whole 2nd half of the article.  & it's a nice long article.  Already I'm starting to see traffic spikes & a feedback form or two from the Fort Worth area.  I'm very excited that the upcoming Trains & Railroads Quiz is mentioned, as well as my quote at the bottom of the article about why people like online quizzes.  Woo!
-I can't believe I just watched a whole game where Ryan Franklin & Matt Thornton held a lead, only to have Eddie Guardado & Jeff Nelson blow it.  It was opposite day at the Coliseum.  'Twas an extremely exciting & fun game, with good friends & the right price, & we still won the series, but an 8-7 loss after a 7-3 ninth inning lead was tragic.

6 September 2005
Happy Birthday to Russ Gooberman
-Drew & I have such profoundly similar experiences in some arenas.  As we concluded after a lengthy conversation about them, it's hard to say that we're glad we have them (perhaps akin to being glad that someone else has Hodgkin's disease), but it still provides uncanny camaraderie.  & that makes it all a little easier.  Exit Drew, by the way.
-What a game!  It was Mark Kotsay bobblehead night at the Coliseum & said center-fielder bobbled two balls in the seventh inning, helping the M's to score 2 runs to win by a score of 3-2.  So very fitting.  The game was within one run or less for its entirety & thus was exciting wire-to-wire.  The M's improved to 2-4 in front of me this year, & will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon.  I may have to bring my broom, & I'll be bringing Gris & probably several others as well (I went by myself tonight).  Additionally, a foul ball actually made it up to the View Level upper deck, in my section, though it never got into the seats but landed right on the walkway there.  At least one foul also went precisely where Zimmy & I were yesterday, but so it goes.  It ended up being a very under-publicized fireworks night as well, but it was so cold that I bolted right away, & still wound up seeing most of them from the school bus they shuttled us to BART in since the fireworks were landing on the BART bridge.  A very satisfying baseball experience all-around.  This series is really helping to make up for a rotten season.  Even Pineiro pitched well!  Sadly, Moyer got bumped for tomorrow, so instead of our ace (Felix hasn't quite taken that title yet), it'll be... you guessed it... Ryan Franklin.  I guess I shouldn't bring my broom after all.
-Time for another Hurricane Katrina roundup, I suppose, because there have been some really amazing bits of information coming in from here & there.  & I'll spare you all another rant about the fact that more money has been donated to this than to disaster relief for a tsunami that killed 25 times as many even poorer people.  Nationalism & the accident of birth make me sick to my stomach.  Anyway.  You know that rapidly becoming famous picture of a woman buried under a tarp amongst bricks on a sidewalk with the phrase "Here lies Vera... God help us"?  It's apparently in front of Ariel's house, as she posted about yesterday.  As she goes on to discuss, if we thought New Orleans was haunted before, it's going to be awful now.  She also reports (not on her webpage) that there was a 2001 government report on national security claiming that the three biggest threats to the USA were a terrorist attack in New York City, a hurricane in New Orleans, & an earthquake in San Francisco.  For clairvoyant people, these security folks don't seem to be terribly effective at making anything better.  Also, I guess it's time to batten down the hatches 'round here.  Finally in the roundup, Helen reports that Castro has offered to send over 1,500 doctors to New Orleans & surrounding regions to assist the relief effort.  The US is tacitly refusing thus far.  I can only imagine what big-money healthcare would have to say about having socialist medicine imported!  Too bad that's exactly what's needed, & not just in New Orleans.
-Also, there's a big set of Duck and Covers coming up on the hurricane, but they don't debut till the 9th.  This was what I was always a little worried about with having a current events cartoon that I write many days in advance.  But starting to bump things where the date is pre-written seems problematic to me.  I don't think anyone will have forgotten about the hurricane on Friday, & maybe it will be good to have some distance between it since I'm trying to crack some jokes involving the hurricane.  Granted, most of them are at the expense of the Bush administration.

5 September 2005
-I forgot to mention that the night before last (on the way home from Tracy on the night of the 3rd) marked the 3rd time in my life that I was pulled over.  It was the best & easiest of the three.  We turned the wrong way coming out of a gas station & realized we were heading away from the freeway.  So I took the first available U-turn before some police lights that looked like an accident.  Apparently it was a checkpoint for drunk driving & my U-turn right before it was probable cause.  They threw on the lights almost immediately, but I don't think it took them very long to realize that I was not trying to avoid the checkpoint.  They didn't even ask for my registration, or ask me to do any sobriety tests.  I think it would be amusing to see the results of a breathalyzer test on me.  Regardless, it was the smoothest pull-over ever.
-Everyone should go see "The Constant Gardener".  Em & I saw it with Drew & Becky at the Grand Lake on the big screen, but whatever confines you have to see it in, you should.  Though I suspect you'll feel a wee bit guilty & overwrought afterwards.
-Timing is a funny funny thing.  I do regret things unsaid previously, because they'll be harder to say now.  But the most I can say is the truth, & I will.
-Is it me, or do the Duck and Cover strips look a lot more clear since I switched the formats a couple days back?  Maybe I should re-do all the scans of the old ones...
-The M's game with Zimmy was absolutely amazing.  We were in section 110, row 4, which is the closest I've been to a major league game by incredible leaps & bounds.  We were just beyond first base, but four rows back.  It was a whole new angle on watching baseball, & I couldn't (& still can't) stop raving about the seats.  Meanwhile, the M's blanked the A's 2-0 on stellar pitching from Felix Hernandez & timely hitting from some unlikely new Mariners.  Just a fabulous all-around game, & I finally got to see the M's win in the Coliseum after they'd dropped the last 4 I'd seen this season.  & Felix was up to the hype of the 19-year-old future of the Seattle staff.  I couldn't imagine a much better ballgame to be seeing so close.  Thank you Zimmy!

4 September 2005
-Drove back late last night & promptly crashed.  Hopefully my emerging headache is not a sign of something larger.
-Search of the Week this week is mostly about confusion.  Later today, I'm almost certain to launch my 101 in 1,001, though my preliminary list is looking mighty ambitious to say the least.  I've gotta remember that these are things to do once every 10 days.
-Even though he's out here, even Drew is not safe from Italics Purgatory.  He will, however, someday search for & find this entry.

3 September 2005
[from Tracy, California]
-Came out this way late last night & got a good look at the cavernous new digs of the family Garin IV.  There just weren't enough jokes to make yesterday about the height of the ceiling in the entry way.  Truly amazing.  I think they should build a stage & a movie theater all at once, but I don't know if they could sell enough tickets.  There'd be plenty of seating.
-Ended up BARTing back to Oakland & then out again to take an extra ticket to the A's-Yanks battle at the Coliseum.  It was an ugly game with a 6-run Yankee 7th inning, but we were in the West Side Club, which is the restaurant in the stadium with a perfect view of the 1st-base side of the field.  I'd never thought I'd ever be sitting there, so it was a nice surprise to dine for 6 innings despite watching the Yankees drub someone.  Hopefully the A's will keep losing later in the week, however.
-Hey hey, the gang's all here!  Yep, that means 15 people still.
-Who puts chicken in a chile relleno?  It's a good thing I wasn't hungry, because I didn't really end up eating.

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