flwyd: (raven temple of moon)
Despite growing up in Boulder, I'd never seen an owl in town until Halloween of 2005 when Tam and I were waiting outside the Fox Theatre to see My Morning Jacket. An owl was chillin' across the street, probably above Albums on the Hill. We figured he might have tickets to the show, because they'd just released the album Z with this lovely cover:
[owls within owls]
The next time I saw an owl in Boulder was, IIRC, a little after midnight on November 2nd. I was standing on top of the parking garage after the annual DeVotchKa Halloween show and an owl was hangin' out atop the new condo at 15th and Pearl. Maybe he'd just seen the show, too.

This year, I didn't go to any Halloween concerts. With my troubles eating lately, three hours spent expending calories by dancing and not eating anything has seemed like a risky proposition. But early this evening, as Kelly and I were raking leaves out of the ditch in front of our house, we heard an owl hoot. We looked up to the mostly bare tree across the street and saw the telltale silhouette of an owl perched on the highest branch. Maybe he missed seeing me at the show and wanted to check in on me.

Thanks, owl. It's been a rough year, but I'm hanging in there. I'll make it to next year's show.
flwyd: (cthulhufruit citrus cephalopod)
Peaches in the summer time
Apples in the fall
If I can't have the fruit I love
I still want to eat them all
[livejournal.com profile] mollybzz, private correspondence
2014 was an apple year in Boulder.
After getting a year's worth of rain in September 2013 and a fairly snowy winter, the long-thirsty soil in Boulder County swelled with moisture. The apple trees took notice and appled up a storm.

As we poked around the yard of our new house after signing a lease at the end of May I excitedly announced that the small fruits on the two trees in back were apples, not crabapples. As the summer past I impatiently picked and consumed some very bitter, small green apples, figuring this might be a natural bitter, small green apple tree. As August turned toward Burning Man the apples grew larger, turned a lovely red, and shifted to a sweet taste.

In the weekends after Burning Man, a housemate and I gathered bins and commenced to shaking trees and picking fruits. I discovered that we had four, not two, varieties of apple hanging, though distinguishing the trunks is still a trick. As I stood in the kitchen washing and slicing apples for preservation before a game day, my friends Josh and Laura came by with an offer of cider pressed fresh the day before. Remembering that they'd brought a few jars of "forgotten" cider to a game day over the winter, I was excited to taste the latest delivery. Sweet, smooth, full bodied, and deliciously unfiltered. They then hurried off to the homebrew store to prepare the cider's future.

Half a gallon of tasty cider and a couple bushels of sliced and sauced apples would've been the extent of my apply autumn, but then [livejournal.com profile] bassist posted an entry about the fun of cider pressing with the teaser that there would be another, ahem, pressing engagement on October 11th.

I got the details and eagerly packed my big camping water container and a pair of leather gloves in the car and headed to Longmont that Saturday morning. When I arrived, the operation was in full swing. Apples were dumped on a table and the gooey and wormy ones removed from the stream. They were then passed to a repurposed sugar beet washer, cleansing the fruit and blasting out any remaining pockets of goo. The mouth of the washer opened and glistening apples tumbled out for a final quality check to remove twigs, leaves, and that one bad apple. They then rolled down a chute onto a home-made rotating blade which deposited nicely diced apple chunks into a bucket. We carried buckets to another table where the apple bits were packed into cloth-covered squares on wooden pallets. The pallets with cloth and apple (and sans squares) were then placed in a home-made press which slowly pushed the juice from the pulp. The cloths were then shaken and scraped off so we could hustle and load up another batch of pallets. The sweet juice from the press was then piped to a large milk cooler which slowly stirred it until we were ready to fill our jugs.

The next day I read up on brewing cider and made my own run to the local homebrew store. Brewing is a hobby I'd considered pursuing, but had always told myself I'd wait until I owned a house so I didn't have to move with a delicate glass jar full of mead. But cider only takes a month or two, so the gear will be empty by the time I have to pack it up.

I left the wild yeast in one gallon of cider and pasteurized five gallons and added wild ale yeast, not wanting to trust my whole initial zymurgy experience to whatever yeast is ambient along highway 66. Then I did what you spend most of the time brewing doing: wait a couple weeks. The next step is the second most time-consuming brewing activity: clean and sanitize all the things. In the middle of racking from one jug to another I discovered that I only had one gallon size, the other was smaller. So we got to try half a pint or so of the wild cider. By itself it was a little hard to drink, but when we added some of the original unfermented cider to the mix it was quite delicious.

The subsequent step is to wait for about a month. But then as I was about ready to start the bottling process a month later, I got sick with a virus. Which is definitely a bad time to handle beverages you intend to give to friends. After recovering from my stomach rebelling, my body losing too many fluids, and my brain struggling with complex activity it was Christmas time, which meant lots of family and social engagements. So after pressing on October 11th and racking on November 1st, I spent Boxing Day cleaning and sanitizing all the things, racking once again (to leave the sediment behind), and then filling 27 beer bottles and 7 larger flip-top bottles. With the long delay, my hydrometer suggests that the final brew is a strong 6.5% alcohol, and after a day of measuring and tasting, we felt quite fruity.

The wild cider remains in the jug, having stopped bubbling several weeks ago. I think I'll add some of its brethren cider which my parents had been sending on the path of vinegar. We'll call that the by-the-seat-of-the-pants jug.

Of course, my autumn apple adventure didn't end with cider. We've still got several bags of apple in the fridge and freezer. Some went to a curry apple pie for Pie Nite. I'd meant to make more apple pies for the holiday season, but my folks and my brother's new girlfriend had the pie course well-covered. And then there're the amorphous plans for cinnamon spice apple sauce.

In the back yard, I think there might still be a couple very committed and stubborn apples hanging from twigs. A week or two after the first frost burst expanded the juice and broke all the cell walls, the trees still had a dozen or two brown apples hanging as poetic symbols of fall and the lack thereof. Dozens more apples started decaying on the ground before we could collect them, slowly providing nutrients for future bumper crops of apples.
flwyd: (Akershus Castle cobblestones)
For what is likely the last time, I rode down Wagonwheel Gap to work this morning.
Eight months of tricky Driveway access have led to some pretty extreme washboarding, so I play it safe and don't get the big gravity head start I used to.
A few grasses are settling into the bare dirt wall at the property edge that September's erosive flood carved.
The dirt sections along Wagonwheel, constructed in November, were recently touched up so the ride was pretty smooth.
The curve on Lee Hill is one lane as they build up a creek wall with cement Legos. It looks like a pretty fun gig.
The Fourmile Canyon Creek bike path finally connects to Violet from Broadway again, sporting a new bridge from the developing apartment complex to the New Urbanism of "NoBo" mixed use lofts.
There's no more mud on the street near 26th and Topaz, though there's still plenty of yard and ditch work waiting.
The Iris underpass for Elmer's Two Mile has been open for months and the rushes by the creek are starting to stand up again.
A rainbow-clad Happy Thursday cruiser ride diverted just once for high water in Boulder Creek, not atypical for late June.

As I rode along creeks and ditches to our new place in Cherryvale I reflected on how well Boulder rode out the flood. Thanks to farsighted geography and diligent planing work from folks like Gilbert White, Boulder's network of trails and paths fulfilled their buffer mission. And with the help of heavy machinery and construction crews the bike paths are springing back to life like the canyon vegetation, nourished by the damp earth.

The Anne U. White trail, appropriately named for Gilbert's wife, will take longer to regrow, with work starting next year at the earliest. The absence of that trail in the weekend experience is one reason we're moving on: walking the footpaths and quiet streets of Cherryvale is a lot more refreshing than a stroll along a dusty road that still tastes of chaos. As stressful as moving is, I'm feeling pretty good about not having owned property over the past year.
flwyd: (1895 Colorado map)
Someone on a local games day list asked why rent in South Boulder is so expensive and why the roads are so wide and the yards so big. Cribbing from Boulder History Museum's timeline and 35 years of stories from my dad and others, here's some background.

Boulder's population more than trebled from 1950 to 1970, driven in part by easier access[1], good science/engineering jobs[2], and post-war suburban boom that visited most of the country. Martin Acres was the first large-scale cookie-cutter housing development in Boulder, with a lot of cheap modest houses[3].

Development of the Table Mesa subdivision (which includes Emerson) occurred in the mid-60s[4] at the base of the fancy new NCAR. With several other high-tech employers in the south part of town[5] and a booming economy, the Table Mesa neighborhood targeted well-paid professionals with families, leading to the ubiquitous 2-level with a two car garage, a porch, and a big yard.

While the Blue Line policy restricting housing development on the mountain sides was introduced in 1959 and the city started buying open space in 1967, most of Boulder's growth-restrictive policies didn't start until the 1970s. By then Boulder was one of the national centers of environmentalist culture and had begun attracting recreational and outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to environmental concerns, growth restrictions play to the advantage of existing homeowners (who are also, not coincidentally, the primary electorate). By preserving open space and limiting housing construction, market value for existing houses goes up on account of demand outpacing supply and the house having a nice view and convenient outdoor recreation.

Boulder has continued limited growth policies for the last 40 years, but has only really been concerned about soaring housing prices for the last 20 or so[6] and they've only gotten serious about density in perhaps the last 15 years. These days there seems to be wide support for dense (but not tall) housing and New Urbanism ideas like mixed use development. Yet with a greenbelt of permanent open space, transitioning to this model is slow. There aren't many places one could build a new subdivision on these principles. And even single family houses which get bought and torn down usually get replaced by a much larger, fancier single family house rather than a multi-family dwelling.

So why are rents in Boulder so high? Demand greatly exceeds supply and there are social limits to increasing supply. Why is demand so high, even at high prices? Boulder's one of the most enjoyable places in the country to live for certain sets of people, including professionals (who can often afford Boulder housing prices) and students (who can include rent in their student loans). And part of the reason that Boulder is an attractive place to live are the restrictions on growth. The construction-focused policies of Denver's suburbs has resulted in a lot of houses which are pleasant as dwellings but hasn't led to any communities as attractive as Boulder, let alone Boulder's geographic perks.

[1] My grandfather told my dad that the vote he was most proud of from his time in the Colorado Legislature was the Denver-Boulder Turnpike, which opened in 1952.
[2] NIST (then the National Bureau of Standards) and Rocky Flats were opened in the early '50s; Beech Aircraft and Ball Aerospace in the mid-late '50s; NCAR in the early 1960s.
[3] http://boulderthistory.org/timeline.asp says you could get a home loan in Martin Acres for $700 down in 1950.
[4] My dad's family moved into a brand new house on Carnegie Drive in 1963. My dad said they could've gotten a better deal elsewhere, but his mom wanted a brand new house so she wouldn't have to clean it before moving in, a luxury she'd longed for in the Army.
[5] IBM's presence on the Diagonal starting in the mid-60s is a fantastic example of "Of course everyone will drive to work."
[6] My parents paid $80,000 cash for a 4-bedroom house in 1980. In the late '90s, houses in our neighborhood were selling for $400,000.
[Bonus footnote] Boulder was a dry town from 1907 to 1967, so the British ideal of a pub in every neighborhood was illegal when most Boulder subdivisions were built.
flwyd: (spencer hot springs feet)
Yesterday was a gorgeous early fall day. It would've been a perfect afternoon to hike the Anne U. White trail. Unfortunately, it's now the Anne U. White jumble of rocks and downed trees, made inaccessible by a river channel running through the parking lot and trailhead.

At 7 pm on Wednesday, September 11th, I was at work making a hilarious meme after three unusually rainy days in Boulder. Kelly asked me to pick up Chinese food on the way home, so I called and placed an order. Listening to Soelta Gael on KGNU, I heard an emergency broadcast system announcement that the rain clouds had just passed through Boulder and were expected to camp out above the Four Mile burn area and flash floods were expected. "Whoa," I said, "I'd better bring the Chinese home to Kelly before a bunch of debris washes up on the road."

With windshield wipers on the highest setting and a pleasant smell in the car, I arrived at the base of Wagonwheel Gap Rd to find two firefighters and a truck blocking the way. I asked if I could drive up to my house, which is just past Bow Mountain Dr. They didn't want to let me in, but suggested I drive through Pine Hills to Bow Mountain where another firefighter pair might let me cross the road. That route was significantly scarier, with hairpin turns in tight fog and deepening rivulets through the dirt road. I explained to the second set of firefighters that I lived in that house right there, on top of the steep driveway, and that I was bringing dinner to my girlfriend and wasn't planning to go anywhere else that night. They let me through; Kelly made a "my hero!" boast post on Facebook.

After dinner, I spent a bunch of time reading the Internet, then started writing some code, occasionally stepping out on the porch to admire the water running down the street, highlighted by firefighters' bright lights. At midnight, the elderly couple across the street, with the creek running strong along their back yard, drove past the firefighters and over the mountain to safety. At 1 am, the power in the neighborhood went out. "Oh my," I realized, "This experience might get a lot more exciting." Without sun, electricity or Internet, I did what anyone would do: went to bed.

At 5 am on Thursday we got a reverse 911 call announcing that electricity and gas would be shut off in our area for 24 hours. At 7:30 the sun, still filtered through clouds and rain, was bright enough to get us out of bed. I surveyed the canyon from our windows and porch, expecting to see a bunch of mud and sticks on the road, perhaps preventing me from getting to work that day. Instead I discovered that an entire 10-foot section of road at the bottom of our driveway had disappeared, replaced by a rushing river and a jumble of rocks. I realized then that this would be much more of an adventure (yet staying in place) than I'd expected.

I called my manager, thankful we have some corded phones that work without electricity. "I'm letting you know that there's no longer a road at the bottom of my driveway and we have no power." "Do you want someone to come get you?" "No, let me explain: there is no road to my house." "Oh, so you're working from home?" "No, there's no power." "Oh, okay. Stay safe and take care of what you need to do." "Yes, we will. Could you please find someone to cover my oncall shift? I will not be responding to any pages for a while."

We realized that no power means no water when you're in the mountains on a well. We filled a few gallon jugs with the water left in the purification system. I filled a few more from the water container left over from Burning Man. We took advantage of the clogged gutters and continuing downpour to fill four large tubs with water for all our non-potable needs, primarily toilet flushing. We took stock of our food situation: fine. Chinese leftovers, some meat in the fridge, a table full of pretzels, ginger snaps, spam packets, dried fruit, and other non-perishable deliciousness from festival season. Not to mention a cabinet full of provisions and a freezer with slowly thawing meat, chocolate, and Tofuti Cuties. Cooking wouldn't be too much of a hassle, thanks to two camp stoves and a box of propane canisters. Also thanks to impulse Burning Man purchases we were flush with flashlights, AA, and AAA batteries. We found the pack of C batteries I'd bought when I really wanted Ds, thankful for the mistake that let us turn on the radio. Thanks to KGNU, Boulder's community radio station and the National Weather Service, we had a pretty good idea of what was going on: flooding all over Boulder County, and plenty of folks worse off than we were.

Grabbing one of the 20 warming beers in the mini-fridge, I recalled a bumper sticker I'd seen on a computer at Burning Man: Maybe partying will help. It turns out to be a pretty good motto.

We called parents to assure them we were okay and would be staying put for a few days until the river goddess's visit was over. Our landlord called; we assured him the house was fine. He asked if we wanted him to bring us anything. No, people hiking in would just make the situation worse. We've got plenty of food and water and batteries and flashlights. What we'd like you to bring, our upstairs neighbor said, is three pepperoni pizzas. We're fine; we'll band together; we can survive like this for a week. We're Burners, we do this sort of thing for fun.

Over the next three days we had a fantastic, if somewhat damp, time. We met way more neighbors than we had in a year of living there. Potlucking with the folks on either side of our house, we ate steak, halibut, vegetables, omelets, and bacon. We drank beer, wine, and mead. We played Dominion, crazy eights, and a bunch of percussion instruments from my room. After a year of random access clothing storage on top of my dresser, I folded all my T-shirts and put them in drawers. I found my copies of The Hobbit and The Cyberiad that I'm in the middle of and had been looking for since July. We packed and repacked for hike-out evacuation in 21st Century style: two changes of socks, a pair of cargo pants, a warm hat, a Ziploc with cell phones, a tangle of cords, a grocery bag with my Mac Mini and another with my hard drive.

As Thursday and Friday unfolded, we'd saunter down the driveway every hour or two to ogle the river and marvel at how much less of a road we had. There was a car stuck against a tree in the middle of the creek, having floated 200 yards downstream after falling out of a garage. There was also an electric lawnmower at the edge of the paved precipice, arriving by some great measure of cosmic luck or perhaps an uphill neighbor with a sense of humor. As water receded the gas lines were revealed, naked as they ran up the canyon.

A year ago in September there was no water in Fourmile Canyon Creek; a hike up the Anne U. White trail revealed only a few strips of mud. We had a box packed for the cat in case we had to evacuate in a hurry from a fire. Flames were no longer a concern as the soil refused any new water, forcing rainfall to flow down the slope. The minor ditch on the north side of the street–downhill from a totally separate drainage basin than Fourmile Canyon Creek–had become a creek of its own, conjoining with the canyon's main water course several feet below the end of our driveway. I remarked that if we got three feet of snow we could get some fantastic air sledding down our driveway before crunching safely into powder padding the rocks. Yet again, maybe partying will help.

On Saturday morning, the rain took a break and the skies cleared. Dozens of folks were exploring the area, sharing speculative tips on how to hike out and where it might be safe to cross the river. Our upstairs neighbors rescued two cats from a nearby evacuated house. A few guys from the power company hiked in, surveyed the lines, and before noon we had power back on. This changed the fun survivalist game quite a bit. The food in the freezer wasn't in danger. (Cold) showers, dishes, and toilet flushing were possible. Nights would be more normal, less intimate. Without much warning, our upstairs neighbors took the slight rain reprise and crossed the river with three cats and a dog, meeting up with a friend on the other side and hiking up the the road on side of the canyon.

On Sunday the 15th, as we finished camp coffee, tea, and bacon, a UTV of firefighters came down the canyon. They told us more rain was expected through Monday and Tuesday. "That's disappointing," I said, "We were planning to hike out on Monday or Tuesday." The firefighters let us know that they had some trucks parked just up the road which could evacuate us now, and that they wouldn't be coming back in the next few days. Making sure our next door neighbors (who couldn't hike out) were coming, we grabbed our backpacks, put the cat in the carrier we'd prepared with comforts and treats, and gave a big thank you to the BLM firefighter from Rifle with a pickup who drove us out through Carriage Hills, skirting the chasm near the top of the road while a crew shored it up. It was a more abrupt departure than I'd expected so there wasn't much closure; as I looked down from Lee Hill a part of me wished I was still there, enjoying the flood, the camaraderie, and the lack of chaos and responsibility from the rest of the world. It had been a fleeting glimpse of how life was not so long ago in parts of the U.S., and still is today in many parts of the world.

Returning to the connected world, we discovered that several of our friends and relatives were a bit panicked about us and considered hiking in to see if we were okay. We found this a bit amusing, since we weren't panicked about our conditions at all. We were rather glad that nobody hiked in to save us, because we wouldn't have let them hike back out: the river was pretty dangerous and we've got a hammock you can sleep in, not to mention bacon. Furthermore, we were in a far better position to assess the hiking options: we know the curves of the canyon, we know exactly where we live, and we could turn around and retreat to safety if we got to a dead end. If you're concerned about your loved ones in a natural disaster, check the people finder resources and contact the folks organizing the emergency response. Volunteer firefighters who live in your friend's neighborhood will do a much better search and rescue (or search and say hello and leave in place) operation than a pal with a backpack with some trail mix and a gallon of water.

As flood evacuees, I think we're pretty lucky. My parents live in Boulder; they greeted us with open arms and an available master bedroom. Kelly's mom isn't far away either, and her house is a good base of operations for Kelly's weekend classes. The only damage to our house up the canyon was some water that seeped into the carpet in my bedroom; the only damaged objects were empty cardboard boxes. Although our cars are stuck at the top of a driveway which ends at a chasm, we're in one of the best cities in the country for alternative transportation. Before I got my bike situation sorted out I spent a few days walking to work, a 45-minute opportunity to catch up on podcasts from August. Our evacuation expenses have been fairly minimal, too: cat food and litter, a week's worth of clothes and other immediate needs at Target, a couple hundred bucks to my parents for food and gratitude for space.

Cruising around town in the two weeks since the flood has been a bit surreal. Boulder was just the focal point of a major natural disaster, yet after two days of sun there was less visible damage than after any heavy snowstorm in March. Boulder Creek was higher and faster than I've ever seen it before and you can tell where creeks and ditches had overflowed by the red- and orange-tinged dirt residue that's been swept to the sides of the streets. Open areas along waterways are now covered in this dusty umber, a subtle surprise out of the corner of your eye when you're used to seeing a field of wilting green. Several bike paths, which almost invariably follow the water, are still under an inch of gunk.

Yet these evaporated muddy fields and closed bike paths are all part of the plan. For several decades, Boulder city government has displayed an unwavering focus on flood mitigation, pushing back hard on people who wanted to build in 100- and 500-year flood plains. Along came a thousand-year flood and the city came out in fine shape. Fewer than 10 people died in the county and most of the buildings which washed away were in the mountains or in Lyons, which hasn't had as flood-focused a zoning process.

The flood response and rescue effort also highlighted effective government at its best. The National Weather Service provided fantastic and timely information. County and local officials started disaster response on Wednesday night and were (as far as I could tell, with the radio as my only connection to the world) on top of assessment, response, and communication. Volunteer firefighters hiked through the hills to check on folks and prioritize evacuations. The federal government got involved quickly, with National Guard helicopters flying rescue missions as soon as the skies were safe, FEMA organizing crisis response, responders from other jurisdictions joining the effort, and government-supported relief organizations Red Cross and United Way setting up shelters, staging areas, and providing other social infrastructure. Road crews were quickly working hard in tough conditions and Xcel has been on the ball restoring utilities.

Over two weeks, a crew established a replacement road for the sections of Wagonwheel Gap Road that had transformed into Wagonwheel Chasm. It's not paved, and it's one-lane in several sections. It also, unfortunately, leaves a large gap at the bottom of our driveway, so our cars are still camping out, wondering when partying will help. Our house is one of the few in the county without gas, though they expect to be ready to turn on the pilot light this week. It will be a week or so until our carpet can be replaced–you won't be surprised to learn that there's a backlog of carpet orders in Colorado. In the mean time, I'm boxing up all my books and moving all the ends and quite odds from my bedroom into the living room. It's a bit like moving, with the object placement rejiggering and the "I probably don't need most of what's in this box but I don't have time to go through it" sighs and the "where am I living" angst and the "I have other things I'd rather do with my spare time." Other things like hiking the trail. I'll miss out on so many great colors of leaves and crisp breaths of air. I'm glad I was present for this experience, though. It's rare in our modern world to see up close the dangerous power of water, the abysmal and how it handles the obstruction of a mountain keeping still. We got to watch local geography be made.
flwyd: (smoochie sunset)
I didn't get a shot of the big plume of red and gray smoke from the Flagstaff fire this afternoon, but I got some epic photos of the smoky sunset tonight.

The fire started from a lightning strike in really dry Colorado vegetation. It'd be nice if thunderstorms would do more of the stormy part and less of the thunder part. I'm safe, but folks a mile or two away are on pre-evacuation notice.

June's usually the wet month. July and August may suck even worse…
flwyd: (charbonneau ghost car)
I just submitted my spark idea for Ignite Boulder 17:
Growth, Decay, and Balance: Success in a Finite World – When the economy stops growing we call it a crisis, but when flowers stop growing we call it a winter. Using our social capital, we can be resilient and sustainable in a world of ups and downs.
This event will be Wednesday, November 30th at the Boulder Theater. Spark voting will be soon, and I'll let you know when it's up. If you're new to the party, here's what I did last time.
flwyd: (carmen sandiego)
Boulderites: be on the lookout for a banjo (or a funny-looking black case). From my dad:
Hello, my Friends

My banjo was stolen Friday night from the backseat of my car! I know it's unlikely that any of you will see it, but with your interest in music, anything is possible, and my heart is breaking at the thought of being without my constant companion and muse-partner of the last 40 years. I played it on mountaintops and seacoasts, in forests and prairies, in churches and cabins and concert halls, on ships and trains and hayrides, for young square dancers and very old ladies, for mourners at funerals and for drunks in Irish pubs, for my dying friends and for my newborn children, on couches, stages, radio and TV. All along, of course, I mostly played for myself and for the music.

It's a Gibson Mastertone 5-string, specifically a 1926 Ball-bearing, converted from tenor to 5-string about 1970 at GTR in Nashville. It has a mahogany resonator and neck, with Hearts and Flowers inlay pattern on the ebony fingerboard. The finish is worn on the resonator and peghead, and there is considerable wear on the first few frets. It has an unusual five-finger tailpiece, and the bridge has the initials RW on it. The frosting on the head is worn enough that you can see into the inside. Stamped in the wood on the inside of the shell (have to take the resonator off to see it) is the number 522643600. It was in a black hardshell case with no stickers or decorations, some wear in the handle. Blue plush inside.

Again, I don't expect any of you to find it, but one never knows, and if you could spread the word wherever and whenever you happen to think of it, it can't hurt. I am contacting the police and music stores and pawn shops, but it is a huge and daunting task. I've emailed Banjo Hangout's website, and Banjo NewsLetter, and I'm contacting you and all my friends, mostly just to share my grief with you. If you have any suggestions for me to help me in my search, please let me know, either by email or at 303.442.3939.


Thanks to all of you for your good wishes, your prayers, your influence with the universe, and most of all for your love and friendship.
Fergus
flwyd: (copán ruinas stone face)
This Saturday and Sunday. 1925 Orchard Ave, Boulder, CO 80304. 10 am to 4 pm. (Yeah, we're late risers. If you like to yard sale shop early in the morning, have your circuit end at our house. There'll be a lot to look through.)

This yard sale is, in fact, once in a lifetime. The Stone family has lived in this house since 1980 and have never had a yard sale. We've inherited several old ladies worth of stuff and not had a yard sale. But we've realized that paying $200 a month for a storage unit is not a good way to deal with things you don't use, so we're getting rid of incredible amounts of incredible stuff at low prices!

What kind of stuff?
  • Books! Kids books, literature, art books, puzzle books, science books, child development books. 50 cents to a dollar for most. If you like to read to yourself or your kids, definitely stop by. We're a very bookish family.
  • CDs for $1. VHS movies for 25 cents. Vinyl records for 25 cents to a dollar.
  • Art (drawings and paintings by my brother, who's got a degree in painting) and art supplies
  • Instruments (cornet: $10, trumpet: $20, a guitar in need of repair: $1)
  • Clothes (mostly for women in the 5' to 5'6" zone, including some old stuff that could be steampunkified; $3-$10)
  • Furniture (desk, chairs, lamps, etc.; very cheap)
  • Antique objects
  • Old Apple computers (G4 tower, LC II, Apple ][ C)
  • Toys and sports equipment. 1960s era skis!

Who knows what else? There are a bunch of boxes we haven't used in a long time…

Craigslist posting here

Only In Boulder

Friday, February 19th, 2010 11:42 pm
flwyd: (Akershus Castle cobblestones)
I just rode my bike across town in the snow at 11 PM with a laptop and two grocery bags of tea.

Apparently I'm one of THOSE people.

2009 Photographs

Thursday, January 28th, 2010 10:15 pm
flwyd: (Trevor shadow self portrait)
Since I got a SLR camera a year and a half ago, I've taken a lot more pictures, many of them not particularly good. I (try to) care about the attention span of my digital followers, so I committed to selecting only a representative sample of interesting photos to post on the web. This year, I've tended to let a big pile of pictures accumulate before I devote the time to compose albums, leading to multi-month delays. But lo, I've examined, selected, and posted the remainder of 2009!

My photographic highlights of last year:
  • January started with a snowshoe trek and had a few more good shots, both frozen and thawed.
  • February had a few good pictures from city park walks, plus a bunch of pictures from the U.S. olympic curling trials.
  • March was mostly about finishing up at work, but I took a few nice fire spinning pictures and some shots around Confluence park before the show began.
  • April through June were dominated by a trip to Guanduras with [livejournal.com profile] mollybzz. I returned with nearly 3000 pictures, but pared it down to 475 I wanted to share with the world. Molly's selections (pre-camera death at Travesía) are on her Guanduras page.
  • I did take a few good pictures in April and June that I was in Colorado.
  • July featured trips to Dreamtime, Yellowstone and Glacier.
  • August has a few nice pictures of fire spinning and jumping before my tripod got knocked over, cracking the filter on my lens (fortunately it's a pretty cheap part with cheap repairs). I also took some nice pictures at the last Dragonfest held at Wellington Lake.
  • Burning Man wasn't a big picture-taking experience for me. I spent a lot of time at the temple and took a few nice pictures of art. I was pleased to see someone did a Playa-worthy to-scale solar system, though the un-Playa-worthy version Michelle, Zane, and I did was more educational.
  • In September I learned an important protip: If your camera's been sitting in the cold desert night air, don't dance right next to the giant hot fire: you might get condensation in your lens and be unable to take a crisp photo. I played around with the new involuntary soft focus effect and got some nice pictures of people and things.
  • October is a perfect time to have a soft focus lens, lots of light, and colorful trees, bushes, flowers, and street signs.
  • I spent much of November inside, but I took the occasional interesting picture on a few walks.
  • I started December at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA. I visited [livejournal.com profile] mollybzz in Mendocino County and we wandered around her ancestral woodlands, chatting about life, gathering mushrooms, admiring trees, exploring a sinkhole, standing on the seashore, and dealing with unexpected interpersonal drama.
flwyd: (Trevor baby stare)
More interview questions, this time from [livejournal.com profile] 477150n.
1. What do you think made Kaleigh such a good mentor for your high school group?
Background: Kaleigh was the first "tech maven" at New Vista High School. Under her guidance, and continuing under later leaders, students (AKA The Admins) were responsible for the school IT and AV work.

Kaleigh put a lot of trust and power in The Admins to make good technical decisions and handle administrative power responsibly. She would gently reign us in if we started going out of bounds and she made sure each of us were learning and growing. Very few high school students get the amount of responsibility and hands-on sysadmin experience that Kaleigh and New Vista afforded us; I know a few years after I graduated, student admins had a lot less power. I think some of the freedom we got from Kaleigh was because she had some personal issues she was dealing with, so we were often left without an adult in charge, but everybody was impressed with the results from The Admins.

2. How do you answer people when they say something like, "Wow, I've never met anyone who actually grew up here! What was it like to grow up in Boulder?"
I think of many visits to the Boulder Public Library, seeing interesting people (like a guy dressed as Yoda) on the mall, and spending a lot of time in parks. My preschool had a garden and a rooster, my elementary school had regular field trips to the planetarium and nature trails, and my high school let students design their own paths to graduation. I think the main advantages to kids growing up in Boulder are the wealth of educational opportunities and the freedom for personal expression.
3. What rituals are important to your day-to-day life?
The eight months I took of from work were an interesting opportunity to step back from daily ritual and see what patterns I naturally fall in to. While traveling, Molly and I often had a daily self-care ritual, eating in the dark, brushing teeth under the sky, checking in with each other on emotions and plans. Back at home, I found that without a ritual structure, I spent a lot of time on the Internet (a lot of it was job search related, a lot was reading interesting stuff, none of it was particularly structured) and not a lot of time hiking. The ritual of weekly or monthly social events -- game days, drum circles, cruiser bike rides -- keeps me from spending too much time computing. Now that I'm employed and once I get a place to live, I need to make sure to work out rituals that ensure exercise, fun, and fascination.
4. If it were up to you, how would you arrange the laws about marriage/civil union (broadly defined)?
From a legal standpoint, I think marriage should be generalized to the concept of a "family unit" providing for things like shared financial responsibility, power of attorney and joint tax returns. It should be open to any set of people who live together (or plan to start doing so right away), including straight couples, gay couples, polyamorous groups, siblings, best friends, etc. I think the process for attaining family unit status should emphasize the rights and responsibilities entailed -- a lot of people who get married don't understand the full ramifications. When you get divorced, both parties have to list their assets and incomes, decide how to split property and handle current responsibilities; it seems like making people figure this out before they get married would be a good idea too.

Moving from hetero-only marriage to gender-doesn't-matter marriage is a process full of political challenges, but not many legal ones; only a few words of law have to change, a few forms need wording tweaks, and Bob and Bob are your uncles. Expanding further to the "family unit" idea requires a little more work. Should there be a limit to the number of parties? I think it's important for a triad to have the same rights as a couple and four sisters living in a house should have just as easy a time with joint ownership and taxes as a couple and their two kids, but would FLDS-like setups lead to abuse? I.e., benefits like tax reduction shouldn't be granted in linear proportion to the number of people involved. Of course, if every person in the current family unit had to approve new additions, prior wives would have a veto on new ones if they felt the husband wasn't caring enough for the wives he already had.

On the casual and religious side of things, I think social groups should develop whatever traditions they like. If your church doesn't want to recognize polygamy, gay marriage, divorce, or interracial marriage, that's fine and your members are free to follow those rules if they want. Socially, adults should be allowed to set up whatever romantic and living situations they want, regardless of whether they apply for legal status or not.

Bonus: The gay marriage argument flowchart.

5. How does constant internet access change people's creative process?
If you have a clever idea like a pun or a band name, you can quickly find out if anybody else has thought of it. You can easily connect with people around the world with similar interests, letting creative collaboration happen regardless of geography; literary movements tied to a location (like Paris a hundred years ago) seems a very pre-Internet concept. In some situations, constant 'net access might be a detractor to creativity; given easy access to everything, people won't have to seek creative solutions.

If you'd like to participate in the shower meme, ask me for five questions in the comments. Answer them in your journal and invite others to solicit questions from you.

RIP Barts CD Cellar

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 09:32 pm
flwyd: (pentacle disc)
I'm very sad to learn that Barts CD Cellar is closing. This leaves Albums on the Hill, which doesn't have much space, as the only recorded music store in Boulder. The Denver area still has the fine Twist and Shout and Black and Read which both sell non-music items ranging from T-shirts and novelty gifts to RPGs and used porn. Now that I work in Boulder, I'll have to concoct more convoluted excuses for why I just happened to be driving by Black and Read with eighty bucks I absolutely had to spend right then. Denver's also got some smaller music stores, some local and some chain, of varying quality.

Aside from travel, I've probably done more discretionary spending on used CDs than anything else. There were semesters in college where after I paid my university bill (covering tuition, housing, and food), I spent more money on used CDs than everything else combined. I haven't bought any CDs since March because I don't have a good place to put them, but I'd better head to Barts this week to get good deals on stuff that won't be there if I procrastinated.

I don't know which hurt Barts more: Internet music sales or recession economy. For all that's great about the Internet, I love buying used CDs in funky local establishments a lot more than on my computer. The fact that selection is limited means I won't spend too much money buying everything I can think of. The search process means I find something interesting and get really excited, a much bigger "I'm Feeling Lucky!" experience than typing a few words into iTunes. Plus, CDs are a more robust storage mechanism. I'd have been really bummed if I'd lost thousands of dollars when I dropped my hard drive on the floor, but if I drop one of my boxes while moving stuff out of storage, I'll probably just crack a few jewel cases. Sure, CDs can get scratched and otherwise damaged, but that's only losing eight bucks at a time.

Update 9/28/2010: Apparently Bart is back in business on a small scale. Bart's Music Shack is at 236 Pearl St. And the focus is people like me who love finding an interesting used CD that they wouldn't have thought to download.
flwyd: (spiral stone)
Hey kids, it's time once again for the shower meme! [livejournal.com profile] vvvexation asked me the following five questions. If you'd like me to ask you five questions that you'll then post (soliciting interviewees as well), leave a comment on this post.
1. What's your favorite Hitchcock film?
Alfred Hitchcock has an impressive résumé of outstanding films, but Rear Window is my favorite. Like many of his films, it's got great acting, psychological inquiry, shot composition, and suspense building. Rear Window goes beyond the others as a technical masterpiece of storytelling and storyboarding, setting the entire movie in a single room, focused through the titular rear window into an apartment courtyard. While North By Northwest, Psycho, Vertigo, and The Birds are more typically Hitchcockian, I smile the most when I think back to Rear Window.
2. What programming language are you digging the most these days?
I like to say that my favorite programming language is the one that's best suited to the task at hand. I really like Ruby's way of thinking, mixing Perl convenience with Smalltalk object orientation, functional programming encouragement, and enough ninjutsu to make execution painless... or very painful. I've felt a bit let down in Ruby's API offerings on topics that aren't related to Rails; things I want to build on seem half baked.

I really wanted to like Scala, but the "tutorial" I read spent a lot more time showing off cool programming modalities and not enough time showing the reader how to do basic stuff like manipulate collections. So when I encountered the section on right-associative operators and list folding, I stomped off in a huff. I suspect this is more a problem with the documentation than the language itself, so I'm willing to give it another try at some point.

I like some ideas in Google's new Go language. I'm interested to see what folks start doing with that. I'm also interested in Haskell, but its syntax is obtuse to the untrained eye. I'd like to go on a few dates with it and see if we're compatible.

3. What species of animal would you modify, given the chance?
What sort of modifications are we talking about? I like to modify chickens by removing parts of their carcass and subjecting them to heat...

Assuming you mean changes to a species' core DNA, I'd like to debug a few human body problems. For one, our backs are pretty fragile, especially when we do a lot of sitting. For another, some of our social instincts are better suited to small groups and tribes and show flaws in urban settings.

It would also be nice to modify certain types of mosquitoes so they don't act as vectors for malaria. While we're at it, we might want to tweak some megafauna to adapt to human-introduced environment change, though I'm not sure what changes you could make to an elephant to survive habitat and food source loss and still call it an elephant.

4. What would you miss most if you moved away from Boulder?
It would probably depend on where I moved. If I moved to San Francisco, there would still be plenty of smart and creative people. If I moved to Norway, there'd still be plenty of mountainous outdoor activity. If I moved to New Mexico there'd still be plenty of sun and nice weather. If I moved to Hong Kong, there'd still be plenty of interesting world cuisine.

What I missed about Boulder when I was living in the Denver suburbs was bikeability. I learned that I'm not very good at motivating myself for recreational bike rides, but when I can ride across town in half an hour, I'm a lot more liable to hop on a bike than drive my car. Plus, there's a weekly excuse to ride around town and bring smiles to peoples' faces. I also missed the college town/intellectual atmosphere. In college, I would plan my semester's social calendar around the International Film Series on campus, but in the past five years I've watched very few movies. So I'm excited to be back around IFS, CWA, and people who work for CU, NCAR, NIST, and other exciting abbreviated entities.

5. If you were asked to design a monument, what would it look like and who or what would it be a monument to?
The most powerful monument I've ever visited is the temple at Burning Man. It combines beautiful craftwork with powerful statements to build a place which simultaneously provides solitude and community and supports grief and joy. It's typically focused on people who have passed from this life, but it's open enough to allow all kinds of release.

I think it would be interesting to apply the same sense of beauty and community involvement to a living monument of changed places. With a key theme of natural areas destroyed by human development, it could feature maps, images, stories, and facts about the way parts of the world used to be and how they're changing today. Participants could add their own memories of visiting a place and stories passed down when their grandparents moved from the old country. People could expand the idea of changed places to talk about the culture of their old neighborhood, the house they grew up in, and BBSes back in the good ol' days of online communication.

I think such a monument should have an interactive component shared over the Internet. People who can't attend in person can submit their stories and pictures. Periodically, someone would create a video tour, exploring some of the many contributions. People could contribute their stories in audio and video, adding oral history to visual and architectural homages.

You can read my previous answers to shower meme interviews. You can participate by requesting five questions in the comments to this entry.

Happy Thursday!

Thursday, August 20th, 2009 11:50 pm
flwyd: (Vigelandsparken heels over head)
I'd forgotten how fun it is to ride around in circles. (Apparently I also forgot how to get into the mood for blogging.)

I got back from Guanduras two months ago (wow!). Since then, I've had some fun out-of-town adventures, but the time I've spent at home has consisted mostly of recovering from being somewhere, preparing to be somewhere, and dicking around on the Internet. While I enjoy all of those things, I didn't feel like I was being as awesome as I could.

This past weekend, I went out garage saleing looking for a cheap cruiser with a basket I can take to Burning Man. Instead, I found a custom-built in-tune 7-speed town bike with three baskets, bright yellow mud guards, and an orange flap with Chinese characters for pain and pleasure. At $150, I realized I could get a lot more value out of it than I'd gotten out of my mountain bike lately. Not only would it be a good bike for Burning Man, it would encourage me to take it to the store instead of driving.

Since this purchase, I've spent several hours fixing bikes. First I used a vise to bend back the fork I bent getting the new bike home (oops). Then I installed a replacement front derailleur for my mountain bike. Then I tried to patch [livejournal.com profile] mollybzz's tire before discovering self-patching goo tubes won't hold a patch. Then I tried to true my mountain bike's back wheel in place without much luck. Then I joined Community Cycles so I could use their truing device and get reminded what I was doing. Then I spent a long time tweaking the brake position and shifter tension for my mountain bike's front gears and lubed my chain (I think it still shows signs of Burning Man '04). Then I installed a new tube on [livejournal.com profile] mollybzz's bike, lubed the shifters, and adjusted the gear tension. *whew*

While going through old Burning Man mailing list posts this week, I saw a couple references to the Happy Thursday cruiser ride. I'd heard they stopped riding a few years ago due to excessive chaos and police concerns about violating traffic laws. It's going again, but they're being cagey about the location. Poking around a bit, I found the Happy Thursday twitter page, which announced a goths vs. vampires theme and a location of "EGF." I racked my brain for a few minutes thinking though Boulder locations that would have those initials before Eben G. Fine Park popped into my mind. Of course!

The last time I rode with Happy Thursday, everybody was decked out in kitsch and glam and gay with some impressive custom cycle and decoration jobs. I haven't had time to put together a crazy lighting scheme for my bike yet (a safety feature at Burning Man), but I figured I'd take my new cruiseresque bike out for a spin. I wasn't sure when the ride started, so I showed up at 7 and sat by the creek for awhile (another Boulder activity I forgot I missed). Around 7:30, cruisers started arriving, including one with a sound system on the back. (Mobile tunes are key to a successful cruiser ride.) Some folks had some potluck food, pens for drawing moustaches, and name tags for declaring what sort of snob you are. I decided to be a code snob, beard snob, blog snob, and snob snob :-) With folks drinking PBR and Key Light while listening to an upbeat party mix and tight-rope walking on webbing straps it didn't seem much like a goths vs. vampires theme, but whatever.

We biked around down town, periodically stopping to ride around in circles in parking lots and socialize on top of parking garages. As we passed amused diners, we cheered out "Happy Thursday!" Boulderites responded in kind 'cause they know what's up; folks from out of town (dropping their kids off at college, perhaps) gave some bemused looks. After an hour and a half or so, the small group that remained reached the ride's terminus and played glow-in-the-dark frisbee in a daycare playground. Just as it was splitting up and the leaders heading to a bar, another Happy Thursday group rolled up the block and ascended the parking garage. With red corsets, black fairy wings, white makeup, and long capes, and Sisters of Mercy on the bike stereo we'd found the goths vs. vampires version of the ride. I heard there was a third group riding around somewhere, perhaps with a different costume theme. I suppose that's one way to keep it from getting too big -- tell different people different starting times.

That was the most pure fun I've had in quite a while. There's a thrill I get on an easy bike ride, even if it's just around in circles, and being in a crowd of people having a similar good time amplifies the effect. Riding back home, I was a little more pressed for breath than when I biked to school every day, but I still came home feeling super energized. Heck, I had enough energy to write my first blog post of the month!
flwyd: (Trevor glowing grad macky auditorium)
Last week was my favorite week in Boulder: Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado. I missed several interesting panels due to sleeping in until 10 AM and because I had to finish moving out of my apartment, but I managed to make it to a dozen or so. I took notes at some panels, at others I just listened. The latter were often more enjoyable, but correlation is not causation. Questioning parentheticals indicate places where my notes and my week-older brain don't connect.
KEYNOTE: Twenty-first Century International Relations - Chuck Hagel (former U.S. Senator from Nebraska)
A former Senator, Chuck Hagel is pretty boring. I remember him opening with a few lighthearted remarks about the CU-Nebraska football rivalry. I have vague recollections of notes about U.S./Russian relations, the Middle East, and the financial crisis. At least I was able to enjoy the morning sun on the Macky porch.
Energy Conservation is a Waste of Time )
Winning Islamic Hearts and Minds )
Yes, The UN Can! )
Cyborgs: Aliens Among Us )
ARIA - Words and Rhythm: Rony Barrak
Rony is a fantastic darbouka (= dumbek = Arabic tabla) player from Lebanon. He mixed discussion and question answering with playing. There were a lot of heads in the way, but I saw some hand techniques I hadn't seen in my hippy pagan drum circles. I tracked him down later and learned that the main move I was seeing was to have the thumb in front of the palm and then strike the head with the thumb followed by loose fingertips. The event was billed as bilingual in English and Arabic and he began by introducing himself in Arabic, but only one question was asked in Arabic and he answered in English.
How the Spirit Moves Me )
Climate Threat to the Planet: Implications for Intergenerational and Environmental Justice )
ARTFUL DUET - Rhythm: Rony Barrak and Shodokeh.
Middle Eastern drumming meets a human beat box. This was the most fun panel I attended. Rony started by saying he felt uncomfortable because Shodokeh was there, so he pulled on a CU hoodie and put on a backwards baseball hat. The PA system cut out as they started performing, but I could still hear in the back. They took turns leading, playing back and forth with intricate rhythms. At one point, they switched and Rony took the beat box role (he can do a drum kit, but doesn't have the full range) while Shodokeh played around on the drum. Rony also played a coffee mug and some clay flower pots. At the end, they got the audience into a human percussion piece, with one group snapping, one group stomping, one group clapping, and one group doing a vocal high hat.
Comedy: A Laughing Matter: Rony Barrak, Robert George, Andy Ihnatko, Terry McNally
I didn't take notes, so I don't remember Rony and Terry's parts very well. Robert George (black Republican stand-up comedian, columnist, New York Post editorial page editor):
  • Some comics have worried that Obama is too hard to poke fun at because he sets himself up as very serious, compared to Clinton and Bush. Robert's found that Obama works well as a setup to a punchline. For instance:
  • Some racial stereotypes are getting reversed. All of Obama's white cabinet appointees seem to file their taxes on colored people time.
  • Some stereotypes remain. Would the media be so obsessed about the size of any other president's stimulus package?
  • Maybe Barack will replace the N-word. "Baracka, please!" "Word up, my baracka!" And white people trying to be hip will call each other "Caracka!"
Andy Ihnatko (tech columnist and über-geek):
  • Comedy that spreads easily because we can repeat it (think Bill Cosby and George Carlin) and comedy that is hard to convince other people to listen to because delivery is so important. In the latter category, he mentioned a couple modern comics and the old team of Bob and Ray.
  • He couldn't figure out why he doesn't like Family Guy but loves Monty Python's Flying Circus, even though they have very similar elements.
  • Rather than trying to be a comedian, he uses comedy for his own purposes. Usually starts a column off with a joke to grab the reader's attention, because the actual subject of a tech column can sound pretty boring.
  • Noted that your two color choices for the Microsoft Zune are black and "diarrhea brown."

The Global Society: What the Economic Crisis Has Taught Us )
ARTFUL DUET - Baltimore Beatboxer Meets Reno Cowboy Poet: Shodokeh, Hal Cannon
A mix of questions and performance, the two were unsure how things would work out. It's harder for a beatbox to improv with folk singing and guitar than with Middle Eastern drums, but it was still fun and interesting. Shodokeh made lifting-a-needle-from-vinyl sounds to playfully tell a woman to stop suggesting they skip questions and just play.
Molly Ivins Freedom Fightin' Memorial Plenary - 1968-2008 How Barack Obama Completed the Unfinished Journey of Robert Kennedy: David Bender.
Bender is the host of Air America's "Politically Direct" show. He dropped out of 7th grade to work on Robert F. Kennedy's presidential campaign.
  • He started by quoting Molly Ivins: "Obama is the only Democrat with any Elvis in him."
  • Obama also completes the journey of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Eugene McCarthy.
  • He also invoked influential assassinated progressive leaders Al Lowenstein and Harvey Milk.
  • Many people's political journey ended with the RFK assassination and didn't begin again until Obama.
  • Al Loweinstein said "Bobby Kennedy's loss was the only one that gets harder over time."
  • David was an advisor to Ted Kennedy on gay and lesbian issues in 1980. Ted started on shaky footing, saying "I support the rights of everyone who has a sexual orientation." He got better over time.
  • While looking for a transcript of RFK's speech after MLK was assassinated, David found this YouTube montage and felt that showing it would be better than anything he could say about Bobby Kennedy. It's very moving: take six minutes and watch it.

Cinema Interruptus: "Chop Shop:" Ramin Bahrani, Roger Ebert, Jim Emerson
Due to health issues, a few years ago, Roger Ebert had to take a leave of absence from the CWA after 38 years of analyzing movies a shot at a time. He returned this year, though he can no longer speak. He made a few announcements through his new voice synthesizer (dubbed Sir Lawrence for the booming British accent), but most of his participation was in the form of notes passed to Jim Emerson, fellow film critic, who's taken up the Cinema Interruptus mantle. For the first time, the director of the film (Ramin Bahrani) participated in the analysis. This provided a lot of interesting insights like how many takes a shot took, how a purse-snatching scene was filmed in a live crowd and most folks didn't do anything (one guy tried to chase the kid down, squirting him with a water bottle), and whether an insight into the plot was placed intentional or inferred by the audience.

Cinema Interruptus was curtailed to three days instead of the usual four, but with Roger unable to speak, things went quicker than I remember. I missed the first day, but got a lot out of the remaining two days. I recommend the movie; it's about a brother and sister trying to get by in an industrial neighborhood in Queens. It's got sad parts, it's got sweet parts, it all feels real. It's got a very beautiful ending.

flwyd: (xkcd don quixote)
My last day of work was April 3rd. I spent most of it answering last minute questions and helping my manager prepare a presentation on the progress made on my project. Several people sent me a "Thanks and goodbye" email, but by the time I had a chance to read them, my domain account had been disabled and I couldn't see what they'd said.

I picked up [livejournal.com profile] mollybzz as she arrived from Sam Clam's Disco and returned to work for pies, beer, and several hours of game playing. Hungry Hungry Hippos was a big hit among adults, but made it hard to explain Bang! to the other side of the room. My manager told the story of when I arrived for my first day of work and the hardware director said "Hey, there's a homeless guy looking for you." A coworker gave me a beanie with a propeller, which was pretty entertaining.

I'd set up a "final walk-through" meeting with my landlord for 2pm on Sunday. Come 1pm there was still an impressively large amount of crap still in my apartment, so I rescheduled, took a few more loads to storage, and set off for game day in Boulder, pawning off a stick of butter, a can of spam, a can of imitation prok, and preserved duck eggs on the hosts. My parents provided a tasty dinner and a new mattress. A long but not fully refreshing night followed.

Last week consisted of Conference on World Affairs panels, moving stuff from my apartment to storage, running into old friends, and sleeping until 10 AM. It was like being in college again, but without the homework. Such fun! I miss being at work a bit, but walking around town in the middle of the day is a pleasure I haven't had enough of in the last five years.

I leave for Guanduras (or possibly Guanduraugua) in four days. I need to get a backup battery and extra CF card for my camera, do a test packing, pay my KGNU pledge, deal with random crap I brought back to the house, see Watchmen, write my notes from CWA, upload pictures from the last few months, get my second Hep B shot... oh, and come up with something resembling a travel plan.

I'll post from the road when I can, but you'll have to wait until late June for pictures. I hope you all have a wonderful spring!

Boulder Barbers?

Friday, April 10th, 2009 11:00 pm
flwyd: (Trevor glowing grad macky auditorium)
Dear Lazyweb (or at least the 2+ bearded Boulderites on my friendslist):

Supposing someone wanted to trim a beard before trekking through the jungle. Where in Boulder would one pursue such a modification?
flwyd: (red succulent)
I just won a pair of tickets to see Squirrel Nut Zippers at the Boulder Theater tomorrow (Wednesday) night. Since I was planning to go on my own, does anyone want the other ticket? (It's not sold out yet, so if you want to bring a friend one of you can get in free...) Show starts at 8 with an opening band.

In case you don't recall, Squirrel Nut Zippers were the best (most interesting arrangements, best compositions) band in the swing revival craze of the late 1990s. There are few albums I enjoy more than their Perennial Favorites. I'll probably dress up with a top hat and a cane or something. Since it's a fun band in Boulder, you can dress in anything from jeans to a circus costume :-)
flwyd: (Trevor shadow self portrait)
Image:MMJZ.jpgI lived in Boulder for 24 years and never saw an owl in town.

On October 31st, 2005, Tam and I saw My Morning Jacket at the Fox Theatre in Boulder. While waiting for the doors to open, we looked across the street and saw an owl on top of a building. The band was touring for their new album Z which features owls on the cover. They had a few stuffed owls on stage, too.

This year, DeVotchKa played at the Boulder Theater on Halloween and Day of the Dead. I wanted to go to the former, but tickets were sold out, so I went tonight. After the show, I stood outside the parking garage for a minute to enjoy the warm night air. Suddenly, an owl swooped down and landed on top of the building across the street. It sat for a minute or two before flying away.

WHO were you this year?
flwyd: (transparent ribbon for government accoun)
The first election in which I participated, when I was just 18, featured twenty candidates for six city council seats. I spent about a day going through the excellent interviews by the Boulder Weekly, comparing their endorsements with the Daily Camera's, and generally considering what sort of city government my home town should have.

Boulder's a unique place. It's got an independent daily paper (with focus weighted to the University), a daily paper owned by a national chain, and (at the time) two independent weekly papers. I now live in Lakewood, the fourth largest city in the state, but its media situation is not nearly as meaty. There's a weekly paper with Lakewood in its name, but I think most of the stories are shared by papers in other suburbs. As part of the metro area, we can look to the major Denver papers (Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, published by a single company). Unfortunately, the endorsements editorial for Lakewood contained at most two sentences for any city council ward seat and their mayoral endorsement rested on a comparison to a football team. So much for hard-hitting journalism.

Fortunately, modern technology being what it is, I can watch the LWV mayoral forum on my computer at midnight while making a sandwich naked. Three-time candidate Linda Delay is working without notes and has something of a note-quite-with-the-program feel. Bob Murphy clearly has experience in city government, he's probably averaging at least two or three buzzwords or technical government terms per sentence. Rita Bertolli also has the vocab down, but with a fight-for-the-little-guy attitude compared to Murphy's "I'll keep up the good job I've been doing."

Bertolli had some entertaining turns of phrase. "Shove down our necks." "Cervic-minded." "If there was a solution to transit, Los Angeles would have found it long ago."

But the winner is is Murphy's answer to the final question: "[My vision for Lakewood is] a place where we can live, work, play, recreate, shop and dine all without leaving our cars in many cases." I think recreation and dining without leaving a car is the transit solution Los Angeles found.
flwyd: (inner maiden animated no words)
I depart for Dragonfest tomorrow early afternoon. I'll be back (but tired) on Sunday afternoon, and will be out of touch in the mean time. I'll probably check my email tomorrow morning and hopefully won't misclassify any important messages as spam when I get back.

Recently...

On Thursday I ran into Boulder's Bicycle Freak Parade (AKA Happy Thursday) as they were circling the Buffalo outside Folsom Field. The crowd was full of guys in drag, bikes with crazy lights, and other absurdities. A guy had a pink flamingo in a pink boa attached to his helmet, another guy had a stereo system on a trailer behind his bike playing stuff like YMCA and Wild Thing. There were some pretty funky bikes, including a tricycle with two large chariot wheels under a bench where two people sat side-by-side and pedaled, turning the back bicycle wheel with a crank. Most folks had a horn or a bell. The best I could muster was turning my headlamp to red and pointing it at my face while ringing my bell. It was one of the few occasions I've been one of the most normal looking people in a crowd of people. Calling lots of attention to ourselves, we rode around campus, the Hill, and downtown before folks dispersed at Connor O'Niels. It was quite definitely the most gay thing I've done in a while.

Next time I meet up with them I should be on a unicycle. With several false starts, I'm able to mount and ride my unicycle for a couple blocks now. I'm taking it to DFest so I can do one-wheeled heraldry rounds.

After a bunch of Internet research I couldn't find much of a compelling reason to prefer one brand over another in a similar-featured camera. I went to Mike's Camera and talked to a sales clerk, who hooked me up with a Pentax Optio 33L. It's 3 megapixels, 3x optical zoom, and compact flash (which I think I prefer). It's one downside is it lacks an optical viewfinder, but the LCD panel has serious swivel action, and I can probably take steadier pictures without my nose next to the camera. I also got AA batteries and a recharger, 128MB of CF memory, and a carrying case, totalling $446 even with tax. I'm glad I went to Mike's because (a) I got to talk to someone who could explain the subtle differences between similar models, (b) I didn't have to deal with shipping and hence (c) I can take it to Dragonfest and, (d) if I don't like it, I can exchange it in a week for a similar camera (assuming I can keep it in mint while camping). Since (e) the price was competitive with online vendors, I didn't spend too much and (f) felt good about supporting local independent business, keeping money within the Boulder economy.

It seems I indirectly paid for pizza. If that's one of the ingredients of Cat and Girl, I'm down with it.
The end.
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