Pacific sunset - Costa Rica

Pacific sunset - Costa Rica

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dogs Will Replace Your B/Girlfriend

Assumption: one day, dogs will become too cute and will replace girlfriends and boyfriends and society will crumble.

Fact: Evolution Exists


1. wolves come first. at this stage, dogs (they were wolves, not dogs) were hunters. they killed for survival. there wasn't much room in the them (nor should there have been) for cuteness and cuddliness. they couldn't very well cuddle a moose to death.
2.  at some point, wolves began to associate with humans in a way which didn't involve death and dismemberment and throat-rips. the domestication process begins. wolves gain something from humans (most likely food and shelter) and humans gain something from wolves (most likely protection). it is a symbiotic, if not amicable, relationship.
3. wolves and dogs separate. wolves still exist and they kill and maim things with their sharp, rippy teeth. dogs become camp followers and eat scraps and hump chairs (did they have chairs?). wolves now look down their vicious, less-well-fed noses at the silly dogs.
4. dogs start to have more than one function. at first, dogs simply take the place of their cousins, guarding people and sheeps and goats and things. then, people start to 'have feelings' for their dogs and they became 'companions' (it's not dissimilar to high school relationships - it's awkward at first and neither party really wants anyone else to know about it yet).
5. dogs start to become cute and functionally useless. have you seen a cocker spaniel or a maltese? what are those dogs good for other than looking cute and companionship (maybe a floor mop); they certainly can't fight off a wolf or a bear (or even a large squirrel).
6. as dogs get cuter, more people start to care about them themselves. back in the day, only rich people could afford 'cute' dogs; only the rich had enough money to afford things that didn't either go directly into their stomachs (who'd eat a cute dog??) or earn them food in some fashion. as dogs became cuter, people started to think that maybe they'd trade a meal or a plow or something to have a little bundle of cuteness to lick their face.
7. dogs provide the impetus for the industrial revolution. as dogs became cuter, more people decided that they needed, as opposed to wanted, one. because people were poor and dirty and hungry and couldn't afford them, they started the industrial revolution so that they could earn money more efficiently and afford a useless dog (as opposed to one with a function).
8. dogs clue in to the direct correlation between their cuteness and their level of comfort. dogs begin to understand that the cuter and cuddlier they are the better their lives will be. they'll be provided with better homes and food and toys to chew. people will start to spend a significant portion of their income on their dogs. dog-kind makes a conscious effort to become more 'people-friendly'.
9. dogs are now valued more than people by 40% of humans. obvious proof exists in the form of groups like PETA. a large percentage of our population cares more for their 4-legged companions than they do for their spouses (dogs are of greater benefit to society than many people).
10. as dogs continue to get cuter, they will gradually replace your b/girlfriend. dogs will continue to evolve. people will stay mean and shitty. as the dogs get cuter, their cuddliness will start to become more important than any sort of mental or physical stimulation (also, they don't talk back or make fun and they love you no matter how you treat them).

so, there you have it. as dogs get cuter and cuddlier, our race will begin to decline as reproduction rates fall. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Do What You're Told!

self info
 not much has changed. still in costa rica, though i moved a few miles to a new (old) place. it's with the same family i lived with last year, but a slightly different part of their property. the only real downsides are the following: lots of noisy ass dogs; several noisy ass chickens; i literally share a wall with either an evangelic or pentecostal church (don't really know the difference so i'm not sure which) and love to sing with the help of a sound system...and they have services 5-6 times a week. ugh.

also, i took some cool macro pictures today. damn it's cool to see something all zoomed in and shit!
this is a newly born(?)'s old shell(?) is to the left.

quick thought i had today. i thought "man, i'm not much of one to follow the rules. i'm awesome." this was quickly followed by: "i spent almost 8 years in the army. doesn't that mean i'm great at following the rules?!? i don't want to be a ruler follower. fuck. i'm a sheep." that thought was followed by this little bit of writing.

in the army, you are legally obliged to do what you are ordered (told) to do. these rules are laid out in the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). in the most basic sense, you literally have to do what you're are told to do by a superior officer or you may face disciplinary charges (jail, fines, demotion, etc). in my experience (and i suspect this holds the world over), if you're boss resorts to this sort of compulsion, then s/he is a shitty boss or leader. obviously, in the Army (fbi, police, large super-important corporations, etc) there are a few exceptions to this: it's a life or death decision (ie charge that line!) or you don't have all the same information (ie it's secret or time sensitive). other possibilities exist, but you get the point.

a good leader or boss (these can be different) gets people to work for him/her because they want to, not because they have to. this is the same in the civilian world as it in the military world. it's really no different. don't get me wrong, a leader can be an absolute dick and people still want to work for him because he's good at his job, gets things done, has amazing vision, etc.. (eg, steve jobs, george patton). being a dick is different than being a good leader, though, in my opinion, a great leader is also good with people; some might disagree.

so, i mostly did what i was told while in the army because i respected my bosses or at least thought they weren't incompetent. sometimes, i didn't know why i was doing what i was doing, but i found out after the fact, realizing that my boss simply didn't have time to tell me why right then.

as with all of life, you don't always have good bosses. i was pretty lucky; i did the majority of the time. when i didn't and they told me to do something that i didn't agree with, then i would either attempt to show them a better way or resist until one of our minds was changed (all within the bounds of military courtesy and discipline, of course. i never said anything like "sir, thats fucking dumb"). sometimes, i still ended up doing what i didn't want to, but that's also part of life.

so, i guess it comes back to whether or not i'm a rule follower (following rules is about the same as doing what you're told). i guess, assuming i understand and agree with the rules or don't think disobeying the rules is worth the consequences, then i am. it seldom makes sense to me to drive 20mph over the speed limit...i don't want a ticket. i seldom (if ever) break the rules just to rebel; i'm just not built that way. that being said, if i disagree with a rule, then i feel no moral compunction to follow it (i probably will anyway assuming it's not actually hurting anyone...jim crow laws of the 50's, etc). who made the rule? are they smarter or gooder or better than me? why should i do what they say? just because someone created a law, it certainly doesn't make it right (as a side note, i generally think that most of the laws in the US are not stupid...usually).

in the end, it does look like i'm a 'rule follower' and generally "do what i'm told", though maybe not for the reasons i'd first envisioned. it's easier to follow the rules and, if they are good rules or instructions (if i think they're good, that is), then i don't consider that 'following'; it's just doing what is right or what makes sense anyhow. i only break rules or disobey orders if i think it's worth it and it's usually not.

footnote: if i got any of the Army legal shit wrong, sue me. it's close.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

House Guesting - Do what you wish other's would do in your place.

self info
the town of Turrialba. a little town in rural costa rica; home to chocolate, cheese, and amazing coffee.
currently, i'm living in Turrialba, Costa Rica. it's a smallish town about 2 hours southeast of the capital city of San Jose. i have a couple of amazing friends (they also have a 5 and a 3 year old boy) who've let me crash in their house for the last 2 weeks or so (they have asked for nothing in return). i'm here trying to work on a little business, though i'm not sure how it's going to play out. gotta love the unknown...makes life a little spicier. sometimes, i wish it was less spicy. so it goes.

Being a good house guest
i realize many people have written about this before, but it's something that's been on my mind the last 6 weeks. so i'm gonna write about it.

basically, i'm homeless (obviously not in the 'i'm poor and live on the street kinda way') at the moment. i do own a home (in AK), but it's in the hands of a property manager and it's not an option (not that i'd want to live in AK right now...what a shitty winter). anyhow, over these six weeks i've stayed with various family members (primarily my little sister) and friends (primarily here in CR). what i've discovered is that i truly don't like 'crashing' for more than a few days - i can't get over the feeling that i'm imposing on someone elses life. i really dislike that feeling. that being said, the lifestyle i've chosen doesn't give me many other realistic option at the moment (assuming i want to maintain the use of things like showers, beds, kitchens, wifi, etc..)

so, these are some of the things i've learned/realized that can mitigate some my imposing-ness.

1. offer to cook (if you're a bad cook, prolly not a good option, though the thought may be appreciated the first time). i'm a fair cook - it's not often that someone doesn't like a good meal that they didn't have to cook or prepare.
2. clean up after yourself (and your hosts, if possible) - dishes, straightening up, the place where you're sleeping, etc..
3.  don't complain about anything in their home - take whatever happens and roll with it. complaining about anything that they live with is just gonna make you look like an ungracious shit. not good.
4. be as quiet as you can - no need for you to bang around while their sleeping, to listen to loud music (headphones, duh), etc. no noise pollution.
5. be courteous - make sure that your manners are on their best behavior.
6. leave them with a nice bottle of booze or something tasty - leaves a good last impression.
7. if you eat their food, pay for it or replace it. or both.

i'm sure there are more things to add, but these are the things that have struck me the last few weeks. most of all, just don't be a dick and things should go well.

also, stay for as little time as possible. case in point, i'm moving to new digs on saturday. they aren't super nice, but it's affordable and it's mine...i won't have the much more privacy, but i won't be freeloading any longer and that feels nice to me.

happy travels.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The AK Backcountry

Self Info
i love AK. hands down my favorite place that i've lived! i've either skied or ice climbed 15 times this month...unreal. the weather has been super nice...quite a bit of snow and not much wind; the temps have been fairly moderate also...20's.

as for the army, pretty sure i finally know when i'll be done - april 10th should begin my terminal leave and then i'll be completely done on 7jun13. sweet! so, for the next few weeks, i need to clean and turn in my equipment, finish up some medical testing, and that's about it. damn near finished!

as for my future, i still haven't completely made up my mind. part of me wants to be a guide and work part time while the other part of me doesn't want a job at all...tough to decide. mountain guide vs professional vagabond...tough decision. gotta say, having a little structure prolly wouldn't be such a bad thing for me.

Skiing over the past few weeks

so, over the past few weeks i've skied on Government Peak, Silvertip Peak, Hatch Peak, Harp Peak, Cornbiscut, and Peak 5320. It's been pretty damn stellar. the weather has been pretty amazing, the snow has been super stable, and the partners have been plentiful.

Silvertip and Girdwood
on a surpirse bluebird day keith, kaz, andy, and I bypassed turnagain (it was the first bluebird day in forever and all of anchorage was out on their boards). just past the johnson creek pass trailhead, there exists a small pullout that gives good access to silvertip peak and radiation ridge (supposedly that's what the ridge in the picture is called). we saw one other car in the parking lot (vs 20-30 at each pullout in the pass) and not a single other person out and about. so nice to have an entire mountain to yourself! anyhow, we followed the mining road out of the parking lot and then skinned through the trees off towards the ridge to the SW. their was a pretty good breakable crust for the first few hundred feet, but it turned to fluffy pow shortly thereafter. we skinned for a few hours and stopped towards the top of the trees. we'd been somewhat skeptical of the snowpack, but we didn't see anything that really led us to believe it would slide. anyhow, we decided to peel skins and head back down before we got any higher. 

the snow was amazing! creamy and deep...little rollovers and bushes and trees and things to ski around. so fun! we skied down a ways, stopping before we made it to the crust. we started to head back up, but changed our minds as the forecasted storm started to roll in and turn the light to shit. so, we skied the shit variable crust back down through the trees (variable crust is a crust on snow that isn't strong enough to support the weight of a skier, but helps keep your skis trapped underneath the snow, making it tough to turn...unless you're a good skier). anyhow, made it back to the parking lot without incident. great surprise bluebird day.
to the left is the silvertip twins...we skied through the trees directly up the ridge. the snow was awesome!
 the next great part of the day was the condo we'd rented in girdwood. we made it back around 4 and promptly started drinking...rum and ginger ale for me. we hit the hot tub for a few hours and then moved back in to have a little nap time. sadly, more folks showed up about the time i started to nod off and i didn't get my nap. this proved to be fatal to the longevity of my evening. we drank it up for several hours at the condo...more people came over. we left for the concert and the sitzmark at something like 1030 or 1100. i stumbled around in the bar for 30 minutes or so and then decided i might be better off back in bed...i think i'm lucky that i didn't end up crawling on the snow and ice all the way back. may have had just a bit to much outta the ole bottle of firewater. on the bright side, because i went down so early, i woke up sorta early and didn't feel like slitting my throat, which is fairly normal after a long night out. so, we woke up and began making a bit of french toast. yummy.

keith decided to slice the toast using a snow saw...

 a great day in the mountains and a great (if somewhat truncated) evening in girdwood...stupid booze.

 Hatch Peak
 the following monday bill, heather, ross, andy, and i decided to check out hatcher pass. the weather in the valley wasn't great b/c of the low hanging clouds, but we were optimistic that it would be better at a higher elevation. as it turned out, our optimistic hopes paid off. we parked at the base of marmot, walked across the road, and skinned up the NE ridge of Hatch Peak. it took a few hours, but we made the was a new peak for me and the highest i'd been in the talkeetna mountains...gorgeous view back across the valley. just unreal. anyhow, we skied down the east face and had a bite of food. after nourishment, we skinned back up for another run on the amazing snow...pretty damn nice. finished the run with a quick booter up to the road followed by a damn tasty beer in the parking lot.

the crew skinning up the corniced ridge to hatch peak summit. another gorgeous day! also, the snow was stellar!

looking back across the Mat valley...just amazing.

Peak 5320
Bill, Andy, and I decided that we'd shoot for an unclimbed and unskied (by us) objective. we chose peak 5320 in ram/falling water valley. we met at jitters at 9 or so and then proceeded to the ram valley parking lot. sadly, access to the valley is longer than it should be because private property gets in the way...lame. at least there is still a trail. whatevs.

we walked through the woods for a ways and then put our skis on when we broke free of the trees. we'd only been skinning for a few minutes when were interrupted by a couple of moose. we backpedaled a bit and picked a way around...stupid giants mammals. we continued up falling water valley, gaining a view of our objective as the valley curved to the right. at some point during the skin, we decided to ski up a smaller peak on the way to our objective. half way up that peak, we found every damn rock in the park. stupid rocks. we figured that the higher we got the fewer problems we would have. sadly, this didn't really prove to be true.

we made the smaller peak and then skied down the north side into the gully separating the two peaks. this was the best snow we found all day...stupid rocks. so, we made it into the drainage separating the peaks and then skinned up the other side, finally making the summit. once there, we chilled for a bit and then began picking our way down. we finally chose what we thought was the correct couloir and started our descent. all in all, it was a sweet route and would've been an amazing ski if not for the shitty damn rocks. so, our sweet route turned into a bit of torture as i rode over and over and over rocks, eventually putting about 20 core shots in my skis. anyhow, we skied back to the valley floor and then began making our way back towards the car. this time though, we cheated and skied the private road all the way back to the saved at least 45 minutes. so much better. we finished that 7 hour, 8 mile day with several beers and a bite to eat at the eagle river ale house. awesome damn day!

here's our route from the car, up both peaks, the rocky descent and then the way back down. great damn day.
our line of descent off of peak 5320...while the snow looks amazing, it only just covered a bazillion rocks. totally thrashed my skis! at least it was gorgeous.
stupid damn core shots...i hadn't had a single one before this day...

alaska is an amazing damn place. the skiing is amazing (except for in ram valley simply because there isn't enough snow) and the weather has been great!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Wandering Around

Self Info

other than the cold i have and the 3 different medications and wine i took to combat said bug (it's making me a bit silly), all is well with me. I'm back in Alaska, safe and sound after my five week vacation...3 weeks in Argentina and two weeks in Dallas. i returned almost a week ago. the snow around anchorage is still awful, though it's great down in alyeska and in turnagain pass (back country conditions are still pretty damn dangerous). i go in to work for a few minutes every morning and leave. i've been working on organizing my life prior to taking a massive timeout from the real world. i often think that extensive planning and research for a haphazard, hippy-esque road trip goes against the spirit of the thing...oh well. how do you plan to be free??

i have about 3 months until my terminal leave begins and very little work to do in the meantime...VA appointments, turning in all of my equipment, and clearing post. when i'm not doing those things, i'll be planning my trip or skiing or climbing or selling something on ebay or painting the inside of my house or turning my truck into a roadtrippin beast and that's just some of the things i'm going to do. taking an extended vacation is so much work! ugh...

whatev's...i'll write more from now on.

New Ink!
so, i got a new tattoo.

if you aren't aware, the quote is taken from a poem penned by J.R.R. Tolkien. In the story, the poem is actually written by Bilbo and recited in The Fellowship of the Ring concerning Aragorn:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring; 
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

I briefly considered getting the whole poem, but quickly dismissed the idea. while i like the idea, it was much to long to fit the idea of the tattoo i wanted and the theme didn't match well. i don't own a broken sword and i'm certainly not a crownless king. the remainder of the poem simply does match the intent of my idea, so i'm choosing to ignore it ;).

also, the astute among you may notice that the writing on my leg doesn't match the second line of the poem. while it's obviously directly inspired by LOTR, it's in the spirit rather than a direct imitation (i'm not sure that rationalization holds any water considering all i did was remove a word ;)).to be honest, i prefer the version that i chose; i think it's cleaner and simpler, though i'm not sure that it is as grammatically pleasing (J.R.R was nothing if not a grammar expert). additionally, adding another five letter word would've made the tattoo much larger and, as it is, it takes up 2/3's of my calf.  i love it the way it is.

i chose to get this b/c i think it kinda sums up my recent (over the last few years) thinking and what i plan to do over the next couple of years...i'm going to wander the earth! just because i will appear to be wandering aimlessly from place to place, playing outside and hanging with new people, it doesn't mean that i don't know what i'm up to. i won't wear a sweet woolen cloak or carry a big, pointy sword, but i will have a backpack and a loose idea of where i'm going, with the route somewhat up in the air. the journey will be as important, if not more, than the destination. i'll visit foreign countries and new continents, i'll meet new people and chow on new food...experience alien cultures and learn new customs. it's gonna be pretty damn awesome.

right now, i figure i'll travel for about two years...a year in the states and then a year overseas. i plan on spending my stateside time in the western part of the country...climbing and hiking and camping and mountain biking (i need a new mountain bike). when i head overseas, i plan to go back to south america and europe as well as africa and new zealand. after the two years are up (or maybe before depending on how much i enjoy the vagabond life), i'll prolly head back to grad school...maybe. ugh. whatevs.

no matter what i end up doing, i figure that, as long as i'm enjoying myself, then it doesn't matter a lick. i' wander and i'll wonder and i'll explore this big ass world. i'll learn and enjoy and grow. i may or may not rejoin the 'real world' :).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Back In Alaska

So, it's been a while. things are going well here. finally back in AK...been here about a month now. i've skied, hiked, ice climbed, rock climbed, and camped (read: got drank, cut down things and burned them). i've been to several parties and gone out on the town a couple of times. made some new friends and lost touch with some others. pretty standard radness.

i've not consumed nearly as much alcohol as i expected i would and it's been pretty nice having my little adventures without a hangover (i fuckin hate hangovers). i think part of the reason is i'm still kinda training for my aconcagua trip (it's less structured training and more eating sorta healthy, not drinking all that much (lots of calories and anti-motivation), and hiking and running and gyming and skiing and climbing). oh well...i fully expect to drink my face off after successfully summiting Aconcagua (argentina makes tasty wine and beef) and then arriving in dallas (i'm sure taylor will be thrilled that ryan has a new playmate...) and then heading back to cold and dark AK in the january. 

i leave for south america in about 15 days...i'm pretty damn stoked! kinda nervous, but in a good way. i don't have any doubt that i'll make it to the top (come hell, highwater, or forced MEDEVAC), but i'm nervous b/c i have no idea how difficult it'll be. i've never been above 14,000 ft and i have no idea how my body will react...sometimes genetics and DNA just kick your ass...i'm optimistic though. i currently possess most of the gear that i will need to take with me and have a comprehensive packing list, including the other stuff i need to purchase. so soon!!!

i'm still working on the get-out-of-the-army-process. i received official approval for my release from active duty and it'll be effective on 7JUN2013. some of the other appts and stuff have started. it's kinda funny though, as many don't apply to me at all b/c i'll not be working for quite some time. it's cool though...lets me legitimately get out of work on a fairly regular basis. 

i've been diggin some new music...Blunderbuss by Jack White, the Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, Fun. (so good), Catfish Haven (pretty sweet southern bluesy rock), and some other goodness. 

all in all, i'm pretty thrilled to be home.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Run home barry, run home

Self Info
12 hours to go. that's all i have until i leave Afghanistan. hopefully forever, though i'm not adverse to returning in 30 years if tourism supplants terrorism.

i'm well as can be. been smiling for days. no real work to do, though i continue to sit in my same chair in front of the same computers...ensuring the new guys don't step on their cranks to badly. i could probably get away with not sitting in the TOC, but i don't have anywhere better to go and it's the right thing to do. at least i have free internet and air conditioning and all that.

my flight leaves tomorrow at noonish and i'll be on it in a dramamine induced stupor, come hell, highwater, or VBIEDs. fuck this place. i'll have several days (about 5) in Kyrgyzstan and then i'll have a 10 hour flight back to AK. yes!

i've continued my gym routine...still doing a crossfit-esque routine, though it focuses a bit more on work over time rather than pure speed. it works pretty well. i continue to get stronger and faster...what more is there?

The Future
i fly out for s. america on 1DEC12 with plans to climb Aconcagua, the highest peak in s. america, making it one of the seven summits and the highest peak outside of the himalayas. i'm headed down with at least one dude from work, though several others have mentioned that they want to join in. i doubt they will.

i'll arrive on the afternoon of the 2nd. spend the day in mendoza and start running errands - food, permits, etc. should catch a bus to the base of aconcagua on the 3rd. start walking in that day or the next...not entirely sure. gladly, we've procured some ass's to carry our stuff for us. should make it easier. once we start walking in, the goal is to be done in 10 days, though it could be shorter or longer depending on the weather. we hope to complete the slightly technical, Polish Route, though we've plans for easier options if we find that we are unequal to the task. have to see what happens. my flight to dallas is on the 22nd and i'll arrive the morning of the 23rd. it'll be great to see the family and chill for a couple of weeks. no plans once i arrive there. stay in texas until 6jan13.

once home, i'll begin th process of leaving the army. pretty thrilling. there are lots of appts and meetings and physicals and whatnot. should take about 3 months. while that is going on, i'll have very little work to do which should leave me plenty of free time to ski, climb, fuckoff, and plan my future. my last day should be around the first of april, when my terminal leave (paid vacation) begins - full pay and insurance. i figure i'll spend 6 weeks or so trying to climb the cassin ridge and maybe a few random bits in the alaska range. that takes me out until june (my real last day in the army should be 7jun13). what to do then?

one delimma is my house and it's not really a problem. i need to figure out what to do with it. i know i plan to lease/rent it, but when? i know i'm planning to sell most of my stuff over the spring and winter (minus some outdoor gear, nice clothes, books, and some electronics). i suspect i'll try to rent out the place in june. once that's done, i'll head out towards the lower 48. my next major event is Burning Man, which is late august in nevada. so, where to go between june and august? i'm not adverse to spending some time in canada...squamish or pretty much anywhere in BC. moab area? the pac northwest (us version)? yosemite? i could drive over to kentucky and stay in the red river gorge for awhile, really focus on climbing. i dunno.

what about the winter? south texas, arizona, new mexico? somewhere warmish? or do i go back north and ski/climb? wyoming, idaho, colorado, cali? many options.

also, i need to prep my truck. hopefully won't be too expensive. also, i want to get GRE/GMAT study guides so i can attempt to be productive whilst vagabonding.

fortunately, i've a year to figure it out. for now, this is what i've got:

april-jun 13 - denali; alaska range
jun-august 13 - rent house; head towards nevada
late august 13 - burning man
sept 13 - ?? - i need to prioritize