MiniBreak: Olympic National Park

Sol Duc Falls 2

A couple of weekends ago, Prairie and I took our first minibreak in a long time, heading out with her dad to the Olympic National Park. We camped out at the Sol Duc Campground, just a few minutes away from the Sol Duc Hot Springs, where we spent a number of hours soaking in the natural hot pools. We took a number of short hikes around the campground area, and drove out to the coast to hike along Rialto Beach.

Not surprisingly, there were a lot of photos taken — the full photoset from the weekend is now up on Flickr.

Marymere Falls Trail: Prairie and Me (and a Big Tree)

EMPSFM and Muppets

Prairie and I went to the EMPSFM on Wednesday, using some free passes very kindly given to me back when I lost my job. I’d been to the EMP once before, just after I moved down to Seattle, but hadn’t ever gotten around to visiting the SFM side since it opened.

The last time I went, sometime around 2001/2002 or so, when it was just the EMP, I wasn’t entirely impressed, and came away thinking that it was neat, but more expensive than I felt it was really worth. No such worries anymore, though: I think the tickets have dropped in price a bit (I remember them being around $20 back then), and with the addition of the SFM and any special exhibits — especially the current Jim Henson’s Magical World — it’s totally worth visiting.

Finally getting to see the Science Fiction Museum was a lot of fun. Back when it was being created, I was excited enough to blog about it twice, but for one reason or another, I’d never checked it out. I’m glad I finally did, though — while not huge, they’ve packed a lot of neat stuff into that section of the museum, from old costumes and props to lots of first editions of classic literary sci-fi. In fact, one of the things I was impressed by the most was how much attention was paid to the written word — it’s not as “flashy” as film clips or movie props, but it’s such an important part that I was quite happy to see that it was celebrated, rather than neglected. They even had the entire handwritten manuscript to Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, which blew me away. It’s huge!

I’ve got a few pictures from the trip on Flickr, and below is a clip of me trying my hand at being a puppeteer for the Mudgarden Experience.

I think my puppet looks the best — not only did I know the lyrics, but I have that version of “Rainbow Connection” in my collection, so I was able to keep “Kurt” pretty synced up with the music. Fun!

Preliminary Vacation Plans

Another benefit to the “going-back-to-school” plan — Prairie and I are starting to plan a big summer vacation during the gap between summer and fall quarters. We haven’t been on a big vacation since the trip to Hawaii for H and P’s wedding a couple years ago, and haven’t even had a lot of chances for smaller weekend ‘mini-breaks‘ lately, so we’re really looking forward to this.

Details are still pretty unformed at the moment, but the basic plan is to take about 2 1/2 weeks in late August/early September to head down to California to visit the many members of Prairie’s extended family who live down that way. The basic plan is…

  • Leg one: Seattle to Ashland, to spend a few days in Ashland and see one of the plays in this year’s Shakespeare Festival (we’re leaning towards Much Ado About Nothing at the Elizabethan Stage).
  • Leg two: Ashland to San Diego via I-5. Visiting family and seeing sites (including Disneyland — while my family went to Disney World a number of times while visiting Mom’s parents in Florida, I’ve never been to Disneyland).
  • Leg three: San Diego to San Francisco, driving up along the coast. More family visiting and sightseeing.
  • Leg four: San Francisco to home, driving up along the coast.

We’re both really looking forward to this. We’re also starting to (even more vaguely) discuss next summer’s big vacation, as we’ll be on the same schedule again, and the summer of 2010 should see us in Alaska for a few weeks. We did a week in the winter about three years ago, now it’s time to show Prairie Alaska’s other (and much more comfortable) extreme.

Plans are afoot!

Thoughts on Star Trek

As briefly mentioned earlier, Prairie and I went out to see Star Trek on Friday evening, and, long story short: given the unenviable and potentially disastrous goal of reinvigorating a much-beloved but floundering and stagnant franchise that most people had written off as long past its prime, J.J. Abrams and company managed to beat the odds and pull it off with style. In the many long months leading up to the release of the film, I’d wanted it to be good, I’d hoped it would be good, and as we got closer, the many outstanding reviews gave me hope — and for once, I wasn’t let down.

Non-spoilery Rambling

The biggest question, of course — beyond even the redesign of the Enterprise and her big nacelles, or how well the story would mesh with established canon — was whether recasting characters that we’ve known for so many decades would even work. Could they manage to be the characters without either slavishly aping the original actors, or fall into parody? Would Kirk be Kirk without Shatner’s (not quite) inimitable delivery?

Thankfully, the answer is yes. As I’ve been thinking back over the film over the past couple days, the biggest thing that stands out to me is just how incredibly well the cast did at inhabiting the essence of the characters and their personalities without falling into the trap of mimicking the original actors. Pine, Quinto and Urban as the “holy trinity” of Kirk, Spock and McCoy likely had the toughest jobs in making us believe in them as the characters, but all three of them (along with the rest of the primary cast) managed to make me a believer.

Given that much of what was done in this film was necessary to ‘reset’ the franchise so that they could move forward from here without being trapped by canon — really, I don’t quite understand how people can be upset about the device used to reset things, as without that, we’d know the future of the characters and there wouldn’t be much long-term suspense or real sense of danger — I am really looking forward to seeing where we go from here on out.

I want to see this movie in the theater again, I want to have it at home to watch again, and I already can’t wait to see what this team can do with the sequel, when they’re free to move forward.

More thoughts under the cut, as they’re going to be more than a little spoileriffic…

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Birthday Bits

So I turn 36 on Sunday. Pretty sure I can still claim “mid-30’s” at this point, though I’m getting perilously close to the “late-30’s.”

Upcoming or recent birthday-related bits include:

  1. Prairie and I getting bikes. This has been awesome. We’re both very glad that we decided to do this for my birthday, and that we went ahead and did it early, a few weeks ago.

  2. On Sunday, I’ll be losing the ponytail and sending it off to Locks of Love. This will mark six years since I decided that if I ever wanted to have long hair again, I better start growing it out now. I shaved my head one last time on my 30th birthday, then started letting it grow, and outside of a few trims to take care of split ends, have just let my hair grow since then. As the hairline goes and the forehead grows, though, it’s time to dodge the skullet bullet and shave it all back down again.

  3. Also on Sunday, we’ll be going to the zoo to see the brand-new penguin exhibit. H, P, and N will be joining us. Penguins yay!

  4. On Friday the 8th we’re going to the 7pm showing of the new Star Trek movie. Set phasers to ‘awesome’ (I hope…advance word is looking pretty good though).

  5. At some as-yet unspecified Saturday night in mid- to late-May, I’ll be heading down to Vogue Night. It won’t really be a birthday party as much as my monthly “gotta get out and bounce” night, but if someone were to say hello and perhaps spot me a drink, I doubt I’d complain.

  6. On July 3rd we’re going to Jason Webley‘s 11-year Extravaganza concert at Seattle’s Town Hall. This is very exciting for both of us. For a number of years, Jason did two big shows a year, one in fall and one in spring, which would always be very close to either my birthday or Prairie’s (which is Nov. 3rd, exactly six months after mine). It’s been a few years since we’ve been to any of his shows, though, as he’s been playing venues more suited to his younger, more energetic crowd, and as we’d prefer to sit in the back and enjoy the show rather than getting pushed about and stepped on (not intentionally or in a mean way, just the kind of thing that happens in a club show atmosphere) by rambunctious young’uns, we’ve been less inclined to head down to his more recent Seattle-area shows. Town Hall works very well for everyone, though — the kids get to bounce around in front of the stage, and us old fogies get to sit in the back and enjoy the music and show — so we’re looking forward to this.

And that’s everything I can think of.

And, of course, the annual bit of shameless greed*: on the off chance that someone should feel all birthday present-ish, feel free to poke around at my Amazon wishlists (helpfully categorized into photography, audiovisual, literary, gadgets, and other) or just hit the PayPal button on my about page and contribute to my Nikon D700 fund. ;)

* Disclaimer: this is mostly tongue-in-cheek, the economy sucks, and I expect nothing except perhaps some rolling of eyes and gentle mocking. Hugs and/or kind words are always acceptable birthday presents. Still, you never know what might happen, and it can’t hurt to toss the idea out there, right?

We’ve got bikes!

Getting bikes has been one of the things on our “we’d really like to do that someday” list for a long time, and sometime over the past few months, we’d decided that that was going to be my birthday present this year: bikes for me and Prairie. As spring has been getting closer, we’ve been getting more excited about the plan, and so this morning, as a combination of early birthday present and consolation after getting word that I didn’t get a job I’d interviewed for last week, we went up to Target and got ourselves new toys.

Boy on a Bike Girl on a Bike

Prairie, being a girl who likes pink, got a Schwinn Roxie Cruiser, and as I’m not a girl and not overly fond of pink, I got a Schwinn Comfort Gridlock. Yup, both the old standard Schwinn! Obviously, neither of us are cyclists (with the capital “C” and lots of spandex), so we got exactly what we wanted: a couple of decent, sturdy cruise-along-the-Green-River-Trail bikes.

Of course, along with the bikes were helmets, bike pumps, patch kits, and a silly little pink-with-flowers horn for Prairie’s bike, plus a rear carry rack for the car so we could get them home. Not a bad haul, overall.

As soon as we got home, we took them out for a short ride along the trail. While neither of us has had a bike in years (myself around ten or so, since well before I left Anchorage for Seattle; Prairie’s closer to at least a good fifteen years since she’s had one), it’s apparently quite true that you don’t forget how to ride, as both of us were off and riding without a problem. There’s a few minor tweaks to make to ensure that both bikes are adjusted properly for us, but that won’t take much. We’re really looking forward to biking around here over the summer (and if I’m lucky enough to find a job relatively close to our apartment, that could make commuting that much easier).

New toys!

Meeting N

Last weekend, Prairie became the proud aunt of little N. After giving her some time to get used to being with her parents (and vice versa), we went over on Friday night to meet her. She’s definitely a cutie!

25 Random Things Meme

Oh, alright already. Naysayers be damned, here’s my entry into the ‘twenty-five random things about you’ meme that’s currently flying around Facebook (and, to a limited extent, creeping out into the rest of the blog world). Some of these, people will know. Others…perhaps not.

Though I’ve been ‘tagged’ to do this by a few people on Facebook, I will not be ‘tagging’ anyone else. As with all memes, if you want to do this, do it. If you don’t, don’t. I won’t be bugging you about it either way.

  1. I knew a serial killer. When I was a kid, Robert Hansen, a.k.a. the “Butcher, Baker” serial killer, lived on the same street as our church’s priest. My brother and I and Father Schmidt’s kids would go over to play with Hansen’s son. I don’t really remember this, and only found out because, while idly leafing through mom’s copy of Butcher, Baker, I saw a photo of the basement where Hansen did some of his killing and mentioned that it was a creepy looking room. Mom then glanced up at me and said quite calmly, “Yes, you never did like it down there.”

  2. I spent a number of years — nearly a decade, if I remember correctly — singing in the Alaska Children’s Choir. Actually, when I started, it was two separate organizations: the Anchorage Girls Choir, which had been in existence for a few years, and the Anchorage Boys Choir, of which I was one of the first members. A few years later the two merged into the Anchorage Girls and Boys Choir, then became the Anchorage Children’s Choir, and finally settled as the Alaska Children’s Choir.

  3. I played the violin (never terribly well, as practicing was never high on my list of things to do) from Elementary through High School. I’ve often wished that I’d gone for the cello rather than the violin, as I much prefer its tone, and might have stuck with it longer and more conscientiously.

  4. I’m starting to regret starting this post, as I’m only on item number four, and I’ve likely already typed more than most people do for their entire 25 things list.

  5. My online pseudonym, “djwudi,” is a somewhat bastardized onlineification (yes, that is a word) of “DJ Wüdi,” which for a number of years was my offline pseudonym.

  6. I was given the nickname of “Woody” as a child by Royce‘s father, who declared that I looked “like a young Woody Allen.” I started using it regularly around the end of my High School years, when I got tired of there being multiple Michaels in nearly every classroom. I didn’t return to going by Michael on a regular basis until I moved down to Seattle in 2001.

  7. As may be guessed from the “DJ” part of my pseudonym, I was once a DJ. I spent close to a decade playing for various clubs in Anchorage, the most well-known being The Lost Abbey and Gig’s Music Theatre. Both were all-ages, non-alcoholic dance clubs that catered primarily to the punklings, gothlings, ravers, and street kids running around Anchorage.

  8. “Wüdi” comes from Royce and I horsing around and creating a bastardized pseudo-Germanic form for my nickname.

  9. In my teen years, I went through a brief period of light shoplifting. The items my itchy little fingers went after? Books. The ones I can remember now were a leatherbound, gilt edged edition of a Batman graphic novel, and a selection of paperbacks from the Erotica section that onetime Alaskan bookseller The Book Cache used to have conveniently close to the door. Most were by the surprisingly busy author Anonymous, though I did at one point end up with a copy of John Cleland’s Fanny Hill. All of these ill-gotten goods are either lost, stolen, or somewhere at my parents’ house, as they’re not on my current bookshelves.

  10. I spent something over a decade more or less avoiding television. I would probably still be a snobby “Kill your TV” evangelist were it not for Prairie, who has managed convince me that while yes, the commercials do have an unfortunate tendency to make you want to claw your eyes out, some of the shows are actually quite enjoyable to watch.

  11. If I could ditch all of my pants and stick completely with a selection of Utilikilts, I would. Unfortunately, neither my job nor the lack of insulation on my skinny bod will allow me to do so, so while at work and during chilly months, I put up with wearing pants.

  12. I’m running out of time to get this finished before Prairie gets home.

  13. I’m a person of habit, at times very likely bordering on slight OCD. I had not noticed this until Prairie started pointing out all the things I do just so every time, from how I make my lunches in the morning to how I lace and tie my boots. Now it’s a combination of amusing and annoying when I catch myself.

  14. One of the areas where my anal retentiveness is most evident is my iTunes library. At the moment, my library is about as organized as I can realistically manage it. There are areas where I’d like it to be more organized — the ‘Composer’ metadata field, for instance, is in absolutely horrid shape, generally speaking — but I can control the impulse to keep tweaking. Maybe.

  15. I was once told by a group of girls at one of the clubs I was DJing at that I “did good things for the Macarena” when I came out to dance to it. During the height of the songs popularity I’d put it on (hey, I was getting requests…and besides, I have a weakness for “bubblegum” pop, no matter what the era), hop out of the DJ booth, and do the dance. Of course, the dance itself is really simple, so to really have fun with it, you need a few improvisations and embellishments, a bit more sway in the hips…. Apparently whatever I did was worth doing, because this group would stop dancing and gather to watch every time. Good for the ego, no matter how silly it was.

  16. As expected, I ran out of time midway through the preceding paragraph. It’s now twelve hours later, and we’ll see if I can finish this before I have to head off to work.

  17. I am constitutionally incapable of saying something in five words when it can be said in fifty…or fifty, when it can be said in five hundred. It’s a trait that I share with Dad. Before I settled on naming my blog ‘Eclecticism,’ it spent about a year or so titled ‘The Long Letter’, after a quote attributed to Pascal: “Please excuse such a long letter — I didn’t have time to write a short one.”

  18. While I tend to identify as (a somewhat lazy) Episcopalian and liberal Democrat, my socio-political-religious views can in many ways be summed up by the Wiccan credo that has always stuck in my mind as, “An’ it harm none, do as ye will.” Do what you want with whom you want for however many twinkies you want…as long as you’re not bugging anyone else in the process. If everyone involved is all cool and copacetic, great! More power to you. But the moment you’re involving someone against their will (and this is a pretty broad category, from secondhand smoke or overly loud music all the way to emotional or physical assault), that’s not cool.

  19. I haven’t even quite made it to number twenty, and I’m running out of interesting stuff to put in here.

  20. No matter how silly I know it is, I’ve always been a little bummed that I was never able to parlay my 15 minutes of fame into some form of job running around as one of the Seattle technorati. I’m not even sure what kind of job that would be or how I could have done it, but it would’ve been nice if my notoriety had actually led to something better, instead of just being an extended blip of insanity and then fading back into obscurity.

  21. Wall calendars are useless to me. The calendar currently on the wall of my office is currently displaying October of 2008, and the only reason it even got changed to that month (back when that was the month) was because Prairie did it for me.

  22. Somewhat related to the last point, I’m often incredibly absent minded. I tend to find it obnoxious and occasionally slightly depressing; Prairie, while not immune to being sometimes inconvenienced and annoyed by it, overall (rather amazingly) manages to find it amusing and a little charming — kind of an “absent minded professor” thing. I just consider myself lucky that she sees it that way.

  23. I find that getting out and “going bouncing” — socializing and dancing at one of the local goth/industrial clubs — is just as important to me as quiet alone time is for recharging and keeping me on an even keel. As nice as quiet nights at home are, I need to get out and go bounce around for a while every so often or I get a little stir crazy. Mom once told me about an alternative description of ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ that believe comes into play here: while I’m in many ways the classic introvert, this tendency to use social occasions to ‘recharge’ gives me some definite extrovert tendencies.

  24. Again, somewhat related to the last point: while I was too shy to express it much during my high school years, once I came out of my shell in my very late teens and early twenties, it became obvious that I was a shameless and incorrigible flirt. This has shown no signs of letting up to this day.

  25. In a way, I have Royce to thank for my meeting Prairie. Many years ago, he and Jana Herd combined every abnormal fetish, -philia, and -phobia they could come up with into one single phobia: “Pseudocoitoxenohematomysonecropyrobestio-acroclaustro-ochlohydrophobia: The fear of being forced to pretend to have sex with the unfamiliar bloody infected corpse of a flaming animal at 15,000 feet in a small crowded wading pool.” This has provided entertainment for me for years.

    During late ’90’s and early 2000’s, I spent a lot of time in the Yahoo! chat rooms, and one of the chat names I used was a version of the above phobia, edited down to fit the Yahoo! profile name length limitations: pyropedonecrobestiality. One day in 2001 after moving to Seattle, while I was hanging out in the Seattle chat rooms under that name, Prairie saw me, and decided that anyone who’d come up with a name like that had to have a sense of humor and at least two brain cells to rub together, and she said hello. A friendship was formed, and things progressed from there.

    So: I owe my relationship to publicly professing an urge to copulate with the dead, flaming corpses of young animals (and I bet that that’s a phrase you never expected to read) — which itself traces back to Royce.

Okay. I’m done. Uff-da.


First off, the good news: we’re not being affected by the current weather craziness hitting the northwest. While we’re near the Green River, which is pretty high at the moment — the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service has one checkpoint on the Green River, near Aburn (just south of us), which shows it at ‘Action Stage’ but already crested and predicted to drop (check other NW area rivers here — it doesn’t look like it’ll be flooding in our area.

That said, this is nuts! This stormpocalypse hit us in two stages: first the snowpocalypse, and now the floodpocalypse (yes, the nomenclature is silly, but that’s part of the fun). I’ve been watching #waflood on Twitter, and it’s been fascinating watching all the updates appear.

It’s also neat seeing just who all is involved with this method of awareness and communication. In addition to all the “normal people” giving updates, the Washington State Department of Transportation is using WSDOT and @terpening (as well as their Flickr account, the city of Bellingham, FEMA (a far cry from Katrina!), the Red Cross, King County, and probably plenty of other official organizations are joining in. Lots of good information coming out…even when the information isn’t good:

Washington Transportation Secretary Paula
Hammond says Interstate 5 at Chehalis could be closed for four

The Transportation Department is monitoring the flooding. The DOT says I-5 is closed from US 12, milepost 68, to Grand Mound, milepost 88 in Lewis County due to the rising water in Dillenbaugh Creek south of Chehalis.

Hammond says the flooding is similar to the December 2007 flood that caused a four-day blockage on the main north-south route in Western Washington.

Hammond says when the Chehalis River crests Thursday night,
officials expect water to be 10 feet deep over the highway. After
the water starts falling, crews plan to use pumps and breach a levy
to help the water drain out.

Hammond says about 10,000 trucks a day travel I-5 and the
financial impact of the closure on freight movement is about $4
million a day. That’s made worse by the closure of the three major
Cascade passes.

In fact, according to an early morning WSDOT tweet, “There are no north south routes available between Seattle and Portland, or east west routes from Western WA to Spokane at this time #waflood”. Unless you want to go to Canada, Seattle and its surrounding metro area is essentially completely cut off!

Crazy stuff, and I’m counting myself quite glad to not be directly impacted by any of this — though it came close, as Prairie’s dad sent us a shot of the Lewis River just outside his house in Woodland (in southern Washington, just north of Vancouver, which is just north of Portland).

Lewis River Flooding

The river holding, the rising has slowed, four feet to the top of the bank, then four feet to the main floor. Am watching close, a fireman rang the door bell, said be ready to evacuate, have been planning but have taken no action, hope that I don’t have to scramble.

It sounds like the river didn’t get quite high enough for evacuation, but that’s pretty close!

So…what’s going to be Stormpocalypse Part III?