Only a Northern Song
(12-21 December 2005)

21 December 2005
[from Oakland]
-Best news ever.  (Not the headline as much as the sub-head.)
-While sick with the flu, Em's vulnerable immune system allowed her to pick up an eye infection too.  It's been a rough couple days 'round here.  Hopefully she'll be feeling better soon, though I'm starting to feel sick myself in a way.  'Tis the season.

20 December 2005
[from Oakland]
-Em is very sick with the flu.  Flus are to Emily as sore throats are to me... she hates them more than any other malady.  She was throwing up more than Pandora, & that's saying something.  She's finally been able to get some rest, though, & is actually staying home from work which should indicate just how ill she is.
-I've decided to do some blogging awards.  I have no idea if this will become a tradition or what.  I have no idea what this will become at all.  It's something, like so many of my internet-based projects that I thought I wanted to do & a few minutes later was working on.  I can only think of 3 right now, but I reserve the right to add more in the next week or so if I feel like it...  Now I just need to come up with a good name.  How about the Blue Pyramid Blog Plaudits, or BPBP's.  Sure, that works.
-The 2005 Blue Pyramid Blog Plaudit for Emotional Honesty goes to Song In Her Sky.  This award is given to the blog that most symbolizes what I personally value about blogging, which is a sweeping openness about one's emotional realities & a fearless willingness to describe what one is thinking.  This blog has overwhelmingly been brave enough to represent the author's thoughts, feelings, ups, & downs, without any concern for the consequences.  There's another blog that would get honorable mention if I were permitted to link it or discuss it publicly, but that kinda undermines the point of the Emotional Honesty thing.
-The 2005 Blue Pyramid Blog Plaudit for Humor goes to ReadySteadyGo.  This award is given to the blog that is most likely to make one laugh in any given entry.  Despite being absent from posting for around a year, this blog came storming back with irreverent humor & vitriolic lambastes in the last seven months of the year.  I don't like funny movies, but I do enjoy funny blogs.
-The 2005 Blue Pyramid Blog Plaudit for Best New Blog goes to The Iceman Cometh.  This award goes to the blog that was started in the year of the award & demonstrates the most potential for growth, as well as establishing itself early as a quality daily read.  Honorable mention here certainly goes to a mirror backwards, citing especially the coverage of Hurricane Katrina.  But the winner has demonstrated a willingness to post frequently, & is an early contender for next year's Humor award.
-Speaking of crazy awards, somehow our crazy podcast, The Mep Report, finagled Podcast of the Week honors at  Insane-o.  Tune in next week!  They have this to say about us:  "This podcast is highly amusing, and I would bet that it has the most inellectual, high-brow discussion of cartoons and video games on the internet. It also goes into politics, fantasy sports, and life issues. Definetly tailored towards the 20s computer savvy/nerdy crowd. Hope you all enjoy."

19 December 2005
[from Oakland]
-The flight was hours late last night, but we did land in SFO before today.  Stina & Dav were nice enough to pick us up & haul us back to the Big Blue House, where I immediately was greeted by 2 of the 3 new AquaTeen HungeForce episodes.  The first one was lousy (I saw it a couple weeks back), but the last 2 were pretty solid.  Though I still feel like they've run out of ideas, & they've become cooler than they know what to do with.  So it goes.  Pandora was glad to see us again.
-So it looks like South America is becoming the new hotbed of trying socialism out & seeing if it can work.  Three cheers for Evo Morales!  I charge him, & Hugo Chavez, & all the others leading elected revolutions in South America right now, with not screwing up socialist principles.  Don't get selfish!  Don't get greedy!  Follow through on your promises to nationalize everything!  Because if they do, & the momentum they've gained continues, the planet could be in for a real political renaissance.  It's all very exciting.  Could you imagine a Native American getting elected President in this country?  Of course, it would be easier if the genocide against them hadn't been so successful.
-An interesting discussion is going on on APDAweb right now about the constant issue of whether the circuit is much worse than it used to be.  As I have always said & reiterate on page 3 of the discussion, I think this is hogwash... the circuit is consistent in terms of quality year to year, with slight hiccups here & there.  My yearning for debate is easy to rekindle, especially given that it appears BU might be deliberately trying to invite all former debaters ("dinos") to come & compete.
-& now to resolve some questions & debates that came up on the Colorado trip:  (1) The snowiest town in the USA is Valdez, Alaska.  In the contiguous 48, it's Blue Canyon, California.  Blue Canyon is only 152 miles from here, up near Tahoe & Truckee.  (2) REI was founded in Seattle.  (3) Hurricane Katrina lasted from 23-31 August of this year.  Hurricane Wilma lasted from 15-25 October of this year.
-For the first time ever, a single city has won the Top Visitor Town in back-to-back weeks.  Two weeks ago, a city became the first to win it a second time, though not back-to-back.  The Search of the Week has also been updated.

18 December 2005
[from Denver]
-Will's place is great fun, & even has an internal wall which used to be an external brick wall, which is one of my favorite features a house can have.  It looks like a baseball park is half the kitchen wall.  He also has a movie-theater sized screen, on which we watched "Born into Brothels" last night after coming home from the actual theater movie.  I think it was a stunningly brilliant & important idea, atrociously executed.  But enough of the point still remained I guess.  It was incoherent & random most of the time, & my only defense of the filmmakers was that they wanted total chaos to reflect the chaos of the situation they were filming.  I guess.  It seems like some basic narration would have made it capable of winning Best Picture, not just Best Documentary.
-The Watercourse is one of my new favorite restaurants.  Sweet sweet vegetarian breakfast places!

17 December 2005
[from Denver]
Happy Birthday to William Garin
-Wrapped up Aspen yesterday with some sledding finally & yet more poker in the evening, which was profoundly punctuated by a migraine.  The sledding was lots of fun & free, but interrupted briefly by something like sixty 7th-graders who were enjoying their last hour before winter break.  The sledding hill was across the street from their school.  Crazy times.
-PIRGers are really into tipping everyone.  I'd never before heard of tipping housekeeping staff or bus drivers, but they advocated both.  I wish we just had a system where everyone got paid fairly & no one needed to be randomly & arbitrarily tipped.
-Went out to dinner with Will for his birthday at a great place called Thai Basil, after a visit to The Tattered Cover, which is absolutely no match for Powell's in Portland!  I'm tired of hearing that this place is the best bookstore in the West, because while it's pretty nifty, it's got absolutely nothing on Powell's.  & where, pray tell, were all the used books?  Just not as good.  Anyway, the Thai was excellent & then we moved on to seeing "Derailed", which I was very glad to then have people to discuss it with.  I'm deciding that everyone should see this film.  But that's a selfish request.

16 December 2005
[from Aspen, Colorado]
-Played yet more poker last night, nearly tripling up again in 5-handed action.  It's really nice to win money somehow since almost every meal here costs $10-$12/plate.
-It's the last day here & I am going to have to insist on sledding.  The trip has gotten a lot more fun as time's gone on, but I can't say it's something I'd want to do every year, especially given that I have "guest" prices that are pretty steep.  Aspen is a neat town in a lot of ways, but you'd have to be made of money to really spend any significant time here.

15 December 2005
[from Aspen, Colorado]
-Had extensive and miserable dreams last night involving stealing cars & getting pulled over.  There was some strange logic in that I was only stealing cars that others had already stolen, or that were owned by car-thieves themselves.  Still doesn't exactly mesh with my actual beliefs, but I was a true believer in the dream.  I think getting pulled over by police is one of the five most frequent events in my dreams.
-Poker turned out well last night (before the dreams), with me exiting the tournament without cashing, but then shifting over to the cash-game where I nearly tripled up.  Em tripled up as well.  Most of my money was made on a ridiculous 6-player hand where four of the hands were AA, QQ, JJ, & AK.  The odds of that are not good.  I was holding the AA & took all of the money from the man with QQ, plus a couple bucks apiece off of the other two.  That pretty much made it for me.  I'm trying to discern whether those hands are more or less likely than the hand the other day where Emily would have won the fabled Oaks Card Club $15,000 jackpot, losing with A's full of 10's to A's full of Q's, with her having AT down & her opponent having AQ down.
-The dodgeball tournament was a good time, even though I wound up on pretty marginal teams.  I also didn't play that well as I was really focused on catching, which used to be my specialty, but was very difficult with the particular dodgeballs being used for this game.

14 December 2005
[from Aspen, Colorado]
-The local paper here, The Aspen Daily News, has a slogan that states "If you don't want it printed, don't let it happen."  This has also been unofficially adopted by The Mountain Ear, the tongue-in-cheek 8.5 x 11 daily that is released by the PIRG folk during this week.  I think it would be a fitting subtitle for Introspection, & perhaps the spirit of the blogosphere generally, if I dare speak for such a large & rampantly disparate community.  Sadly I know that the Daily News might not mean its motto completely seriously.  But I do.  Privacy is bunk.  Show me a world without secrets & I'll show you the safest & most trustworthy society imaginable, filled with better people than the saintliest folks of any previous age.
-Today I shot 200 freethrows, a habit I think I should be in all the time.  Really 100 is probably fine, but 200 is nice if no one else is around.  I made a paltry 137 of them, giving me a Shaq-esque 68.5%.  I am well out of the habit.  I did make 17 in a row at one point, which is pretty good, & I also made 78 of the middle 100, showing the effects of not being warmed up at first & being a little tired/bored at the end.  Em & I are using our access to the rather pretentious Aspen Club & Spa this week as a bit of a litmus test on joining a gym upon return home.  Em did some sort of body-rolling yoga this morning that she thoroughly enjoyed.  & while this Aspen Club is absolutely plush & even spoiled throughout, its basketball court has one hoop in the grave.  The ceiling tiles are half missing, creating cascades of leaks onto the in-bounds floor.  It's not pretty, while the rest of the place is about the prettiest version of a weight room, yoga room, treadmill row, etc. that you could imagine.
-No sledding yet, but there was a green chile breakfast this morning run by a New Mexican & poker night is tonight.

13 December 2005
[from Aspen, Colorado]
-So things picked up a bit last night with a board-game night that included Risk.  That was the first really unmitigated positive thing this trip so far.
-Good news this morning:  It's snowing!  Abominable news this morning:  Sore throat.
-About to hit rock-bottom here.  Have a sore throat that's only getting worse from trudging through the snow moving condos (they told us pretty late in the game to boot) & on the way for that move, I broke my venerable suitcase that's been with me throughout college & a little bit before.  Already it had several zippers broken, including one that was stuck together permanently, forcing me to rip through part of the inner lining to still use it.  But today, the entire handle that enables its rolling ability broke off, making the bag all but useless.  This did not come at a good moment for me.  & why am I utterly incapable of staying well on a trip like this?
-Well I got some rest & some Emergen-C & then Em & I wandered into one of my new all-time favorite movie theaters, the Isis in downtown Aspen (100% Egyptian theme) to watch Narnia & then came back for "Syriana" after a quick meal.  The latter was difficult enough to follow without having come in 10 minutes late, which we did as we were trying to eat & come back.  Actually, seeing the first 10 minutes might have tied it all together nicely, but as it was I still enjoyed it, especially with its ominous mood.  The former was simply a phenomenal rendition of the book, & rekindled my deep love for the Narnia series all over again.  While age has brought me the wisdom to dislike some of the overt Christian symbolism & certainly the advocacy of violence in the Narnia series, I will still always tingle at these plots & characters because of the role they played in the early development of my imagination & love of reading.  Narnia was literal magic for my childhood, & it's really stunning how much of the plot & even precise lines I could recall from memory from almost 2 decades ago.  I just can't wait for the next 6 movies... especially "The Silver Chair" & "The Last Battle", whose plots have not lost as much in significance & meaning for me as the other 5 books & perhaps the series in general.  Em, lacking the deep link to Narnia from childhood, didn't really enjoy the movie.  So I think it will all depend on that for you.
-Suffice it to say that I've been feeling better after a disastrous start to the day.  We wrapped it up with a lengthy session of the game Taboo with Dan & Yana & friends.  I may actually have beaten back my sore throat, though I will certainly curse this statement tomorrow morn if I wake up with a hint of it.  Otherwise, I will have to celebrate with a nice long sledding session in the hopefully still-falling snow that will almost certainly make me sick.  If fatalism is justified, is it still fatalism?

12 December 2005
[from Aspen, Colorado]
-Looks like I made a last-second decision that will cost me the Fantasy Football playoffs.  So it goes.  Going 10-3 in the regular season was ridiculous given my general knowledge of football.
-I'm so glad to have internet access here on this trip.  Not only have I started to get in deep enough with some work stuff that I'd be well behind on it without access, but I feel that the updates on this page are fresher & definitely offer more depth.  There's something about small scraps of paper that makes for shorter entries, & often details will slip by when I'm not sitting with computer time at the end of a day.  I'm starting to wonder what the longest reasonable stretch of time without internet access that I could go would be.  Yellowstone felt like the furthest reach of it in some ways.  Which saddens me, a bit, since I really should be able to not rely on these machines & on something that didn't even exist in earnest a decade ago.  I'm sure for some far-reaching or significant trip, I could go for a couple weeks, but I know I'd miss it a lot.
-So many of my friends talking about the BoSox' latest moves reminded me that I hadn't checked to see what horrors Bill Bavasi has cooked up so far for the M's in the off-season.  So far, so bad, though not abysmal.  We just let go of Yorvit Torrealba, who we picked up in a mutually-beneficial trade with SF last year, trading him for... a player to be named later.  Which reminds me to wonder what player Minnesota will give us for Bret Boone from last year.  Moyer's coming back, which is nifty, & I also got to see the fun-fact trivia that we got him from Boston in a straight-up trade for... Darren Bragg.  So all of you Sox fans can brag all you want about Heathcliff Slocumb for Varitek & Lowe, but the anchor of our staff came in for... Darren Bragg.  Yeah.  Just imagine having Moyer to throw behind Pedro in the old days... that's the kind of stuff that would throw batters into month-long slumps.  Small victories in the M's front office, I'm telling you, small victories.
-Okay, I really should go get some sleep for the tourney later today...
-The tourney turned out to be almost a total bust, as I was mostly benched as the "coach" of our team was some guy who hasn't been on the courts all weekend.  He had no idea what the quality of players was, so he went with who he knew.  Our team paid the price too, losing in the final.  It could've been worse, & I got some good playing time including a couple boards & an assist, but it was still crushingly disappointing overall.  Afterwards I got in some actual playing time with more pickup 3-on-3 ball.

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