I survived my first Marillion Weekend. Not only did I survive, but I thrived to the point where I'm already looking forward to the next one in 2015.

Didn't get the job in Amsterdam, but I have some good feedback from the interview and have a plan and will be ready for the next attempt in 2014.

Came back to work to find that my password had expired. No problem except I can't change it unless I connect via VPN and you can't connect to VPN when your password has expired. This isn't the first time I've been bitten by IT not thinking through their process for remote users. Sigh.

Totally going to start writing up my stories from travel and music events and going to publish them as blog posts. People like my stories and why not have them written down. Who knows, maybe I'll get enough ad revenue to buy a CD or two a year.
This morning someone said to me, "because you're not REALLY a dirty old man, you're an awesome person who just happens to like sexy things." Once again I have to wonder why people think I'm awesome. I have my fair share of faults and don't feel like I've done anything spectacular. Really, what have I done that's special? I travel and attend music festivals in other countries. I know several other people who do that. My career is stagnant but I do earn a good salary, so that's something I suppose, but again I know others who make as much or more than I do. Don't get me wrong, I think I'm pretty awesome, but why do other people?

After a lot of contemplation I think I have an idea. It seems to stem from the fact that I try to be decent to everyone around me. Everyone deserves to be treated like a person no matter their sexuality, gender, race or religion. I'm friendly to those around me and strike up conversations. I give hugs freely and will gladly return one. Basically I try to live by Wheaton's Law.

Is that what makes me awesome? That actually makes me a little sad. Just being a decent person raises me into a level considered awesome? It must have something to do with it because all of my friends are like me and I consider them awesome. Are we that rare? Rare enough that not being a dick makes us awesome? This shouldn't be the way, we shouldn't be awesome for just being decent. Though it is hard to be awesome and a dick at the same time.

My friends are awesome. Some make fantastic clothing. Others are crafty and creative. One builds amazing devices and machines. More than a few are outstanding musicians. Me? I'm just a kid from Kansas City.
I've had a few people comment that they would love to receive a letter from my challenge but not to bother because they wouldn't write back. That isn't required. Sure, I would love a reply but the point is for me to write letters and just writing them to myself wouldn't be nearly as much fun. Also, this is open to anyone in any location. So it's not too late to comment on the original post if you want in on the action.

But why do it? Why hand write letters to people who might not reply? There are many reasons but the main ones are I want to do something crafty and making mail art is the route I've chosen to go. I spend most of my day staring at a computer screen for my job and found I was spending my time at home doing the same thing. So my letter writing and mail art hobbies will all be manual. From the address book, to the letters, to me walking to the mail box to post them. I will ask for recipients and journal my progress online but that's it. We're going old school baby.
I'm doing the Month of Letters challenge this February. I will mail out a hand written letter to someone every mail day in the month of February. If you would like to be on my recipient list let me know and if I don't have your postal address please include it. I've screened comments so that only I will be able to see them.
Well I guess people still read this and I think it would be nice to post some longer thoughts I've had here instead of on Facebook. Plus I like the fact that I can filter stuff out easier. So I'm staying.

Hello?

Jan. 29th, 2013 10:48 am
Is anyone still reading this? Should I keep it up or delete it like I'm tempted to do?
hollyking: (ahead full)

Holy shit! I'm going to the Hague, by way of Amsterdam!

My friend Frans talked me into this crazy trip where we're flying to Amsterdam, taking the train to the Hague and spending a week at his brothers' place. We'll be seeing Nik Kershaw and Marillion on two different days and probably seeing what other kind of trouble we can get into while we're there.

Go me!

New Ink

Oct. 10th, 2011 05:31 pm

Thanks to the wonderful Mo I have the artwork for my next two tattoos. There was originally going to be one but a flash of inspiration between us led to the creation of two. Now I need to find the artist to ink my body. [livejournal.com profile] dakotaluna and [livejournal.com profile] dagard, and anyone else who has suggestions, where should I go? Who should I see?

I promised to write about my adventure yesterday and so I am…

A few days ago my brother, [livejournal.com profile] ragnorokt, was invited to attend a housewarming for a fellow home brewer in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. He asked if I would like to come along and having no objections I agreed. If you haven’t been lucky enough to have home brewers for friends or family let me tell you it’s a wonderful thing. They always brew more than they can drink and it’s up to folks like me to help them drink it all. Being a fan of beer I figured I would get to try some great brews and get some food.

We, my brother and I, are planning a trip to Germany and we thought it would be a good idea to stop by Rick Steves' travel store.  After all it’s not far from the ferry terminal in Edmonds, so after a bit of shopping we could hop on the ferry and make our way to the island.  Those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest might have noticed a slight flaw in my plan already, but hold for the fullness of my tale and don’t give it away to the others.

The travel store did not disappoint and while I didn’t learn much about Germany, the staff helped me get an idea of what sort of questions I need to answer for the trip.  As we left I noticed we had a few minutes to make the ferry in Edmonds.  So we rushed a bit and zipped aboard the boat with about a minute to spare.  We weren’t the last car on the the ferry but it was close.  I was actually feeling pretty good about myself as we made the crossing.  It was a beautiful sunny day as we drove along the road and I was having a good time until we passed a sign for Port Townsend.  Port Townsend?  I don’t remember PT being on Whidbey Island.  Nope, it is on the Olympic Peninsula and we had neatly made the wrong ferry.  Gah!  So much for being smug and ahead of the game.

This required a bit of consideration so [livejournal.com profile] ragnorokt and I pulled over and checked our maps.  We could turn around, take the ferry back to Edmonds, drive up to Mukilteo, take the ferry there to Whidbey and continue on our journey.  Our other option was to continue on to Port Townsend and take another ferry there across to Keystone, which is on the island, and make our way to the party.  As I mentioned it was a nice day so we chose the second option and drove on.  From prior experience I knew that the Port Townsend/Keystone ferry is small and it can fill up.  My brother got on his phone and tried to make us a reservation, but the web page wasn’t working.  So he got on the phone and worked on getting a reservation.  He was told that if we could make the next ferry there was plenty of room and we wouldn’t have a problem.  As we pulled in to the terminal I asked the woman taking the fares if this boat actually went to Whidbey.  She said yes, and then mentioned we took the wrong boat earlier.  “You must have taken the Edmonds/Kingston ferry,” she said.  I replied that we had to which she replied, “You want the Mukilteo/Clinton ferry.”  Thanks, this was information I could have used an hour ago…  We had a pleasant crossing and then drove up to Oak Harbor without further incident. 

Arriving at the housewarming a bit behind our planned time we joined the festivities in progress.  M & J have a nice home and there was plenty of homebrew to sample.  I wasted no time doing my part to relieve M of his overabundance of full bottles and replace them with empties so he would be able to pursue his hobby and fill them again.  I’m nice like that you know.

Drinking and conversing with the other guests was going well and I was in a good place.  Then I met J & T, a couple who are realtors on Whidbey Island.  We were talking about music and they mentioned going to a shanty concert the night before.  They were trying to tell me about a band they heard and I realized it was Pint and Dale, a local group.  We kept talking about music and were hitting it off when T asked me if I would like to go with them to the second night of the concerts.  Checking with my brother, who gave the ok to leave him at the party, I left with J & T and headed out to the show.

Riding along in the back of their car I realized that I had stepped into a classic horror movie setup.  I’m on an island, it’s dark outside and I’m riding along with a couple of people I met not an hour earlier.  It was quite a thrilling ride.  Was I going to listen to music or was I going to be cleansed in the finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and sealed in a treble milk chocolate envelope, and lovingly frosted with glucose before being fed to Constable Parrot.  As you can see I ended up listening to music as I am still here to tell this tale.

The show started off with the Shifty Sailors, a Whidbey Island group.  They sang songs about whales and whaling.  They were good and very entertaining.  I really liked a couple of the songs and I hope they were on one of the CDs I bought.  During their performance T leaned over to me and asked “What are the odds that you would go to a party and end up at a concert with a couple of strangers?”  Pretty high I guess, as I was sitting next to her at the show.  The next performer was a gentleman named J.W. Sparrow.  There was one great song he sang about a Japanese fishing vessel that had drifted around the ocean for a couple of years before being recovered here.  I will have to find a CD of his with the song so I can research the story more.  Next was the previously mentioned Pint & Dale, a favorite of mine for a few years now.  They did not disappoint in concert and I’m very happy to have seen them.  Finally we had Broadside & Cabin Boys a fun group that I enjoyed.  For some reason they had to shut down the venue at 10pm so all of the groups got back up and performed one last song together.  Then everyone put up their chairs to lend a hand with the cleanup.

J, T and I headed back to the car to head back to the party.  I had left my coat at the party because it wasn’t cold but coming out of the concert it was chilly.  Let me say that finding out that the back seats were also heated was a nice thing.  A nice thing that I enjoyed quite a bit on the drive back.  Back at the party I met up with my brother who had messaged me a few times, but the show was outside of the service area so I wasn’t receiving his messages until then.  It was now about 11pm and I had missed most of the food and the mead tasting, but I didn’t mind.  I scrounged a bit of dinner from the leftovers and talked with other folks at the party while making sure I was sober to drive.

We finally left Oak Harbor about midnight and instead of taking our chances with the Washington State Ferry System again we drove through Deception Pass and made our way back south on I-5.  We finally got home around 2:30am where I thankfully sank into bed and tried to sleep with memories of this day, ferry boats, shanty songs and good beer in my head.  It was…  Quite an evening.

Yesterday I went to Priest Point Park down in Olympia to participate in Cascade Orienteering Club's O' Series #5 orienteering event. (What is orienteering?) My brother came with me and here's an overview of our day. The event started at 10am but we had a few things we wanted to pick up as the weather called for cold, rain and possibly snow. So we left the house at 8am to stop by storage and grab some of the colder weather gear. Then we headed down I-5 to make our way to the event.

It was easy to find the starting area as the COC had placed many helpful signs to guide us along the way. They could have used a few starting area pointing to the registration table and which line we needed to use for registration. There was a public event and a Washington Interscholastic Orienteering League event. The first registration person kept asking us questions using terminology that I didn't understand. Once I explained we were complete beginners she pointed us to the other table who quickly got us registered and then setup with an "e-punch," which is an electronic gadget to record each point we find.

Next we asked around to find the person who was giving out beginner instructions. We found Patrick who gave us the rundown of the how to run the course, how to read the map and how to use a compass. On his recommendation we switched from Course #1 to Course #3 as the #1 course was short and setup for elementary school children. In the end I think his suggestion was a good one as the course we ran wasn't too challenging but did test our skills in a few places but wasn't so hard as to be frustrating. In fact the only real problem on with the course was some of the elevation gain for this out of shape hiker.

After our instruction we headed for the starting gate, got in line and when it was our turn to start headed out and punched in at the starting marker. The first marker was easy to find as it happened to be in plain sight and I found it when using the restroom before starting the course. The next two went pretty quickly. We got turned around and it took a bit to find point #4. Point #5 was another quick one. I misread a bit of the map (more on that later) and we took a bit to find point #6. Point #7 was a challenge because we both struggled with the elevation drop and gain in the ravine we had to pass across to get to it. We missed the point and I had to backtrack a bit to find it, hidden under some greenery. Point #8 was hidden out of sight and well off the trail. [livejournal.com profile] ragnorokt found it by being smart and noticing some trampled leaves that led off the trail. Points #9, #10, #11 and #12 weren't too much trouble though there was a long distance between #9 and #10.

Point #13 was literally my downfall. Twice. First we I was making my way down a steep trail and I started to feel my boot slip on the ground. With that warning I just laid back and slid down the hill instead of trying to save myself from the fall and hurting myself. I ended up covered in mud but uninjured. I had gotten pretty good at reading the clues on the map and had a good idea where the marker was hidden. As I stepped over what I thought was few branches and leaves my foot caught on what was the remains of a wall and I fell forward into the ruin and wrenched my ankle, back and landed pretty hard on my hip. Still there was the checkpoint so I tagged it and made my way back up the trail. During this adventure [livejournal.com profile] ragnorokt had found a different way to the marker and didn't fall where I had.

The final marker (#14) was another easy find and just a short distance from the finish line. So I tagged the stop marker and then we went through the registration booth where our results were read from the e-punch and we were presented with a printout that showed our course time and that we finished in 6th place out of eight. However the course is timed from your start to your finish so the final result showing us in 8th place out of 10 with the last two being disqualified as they didn't complete the course. I'm happy with the result as while I might have been last I did finish the course.

In the end I had a lot of fun and will be going out again. I learned a few key things and here they are for you all:

  • Don't panic. Orienteering was a fun walk in the woods and we only used the compass a couple of times to orient the map to the landscape.
  • Bring a map key. The basic map uses all the familiar symbols for the terrain but uses a specific set of symbols to finding the checkpoints which weren't included on the map. I'm sure once I have a few events under my belt I won't need it but for now it would help.
  • The map scale is much smaller (?) than I'm used to reading. The map was a 1:7,500 scale with contours every five meters. As such we walked farther than we should have a few times as I didn't realize we had reached the turn until we had passed it.

Finally I need to get some better trail gear for the colder weather. My coat, while warm enough was very bulky and during part of the course I was so hot I removed it. That hindered me as it wouldn't fit in my pack and kept getting in my way. I know what I need and now that I know I'll use it I need to go out and buy some.

Separation

Jan. 6th, 2011 09:18 am

As [livejournal.com profile] hollyqueen posted:

Wren and I have decided to separate. We are doing our best to keep it amicable and avoid the use of lawyers. We still love each other, but it just isn’t working.

Yesterday and today I didn't hike as such. What I did do was walk around Fry's and Safeway yesterday, and the downtown REI today. Damn that place is huge. I got everything on my list and more because a lot of stuff was on sale and if I was going to get it anyway I might as well save some money. Right?

Tomorrow I'll be back to walking the trails around the office but I picked up some maps at REI today so I can pick out a trail or two to hit on the weekends. I also picked up a compass and whistle for the Cascade Orienteering Club meet on Saturday. (I also picked up some wool hiking socks, a hat, gloves, first aid kit and a key holder to keep all the small things like flashlight, whistle, mini multi-tool and laser pointer.

Here is a sign I encountered on my lunch break hike today. It explains how the area was replanted in the 80s to restore the natural habitat. Between yesterday and today I've hiked the perimeter of the island where my office is located. I should start packing my lunch and finding other trails close by to hike. I know there are quite a few more in Mercer Slough that I haven't covered yet. I bet there are more around Bellevue too.

MyTracks is a great app that logs my hikes and provides some basic information such as average speed, total time, altitude gain and distance covered. The problem is I'm pretty positive I didn't walk through the water and I'm not 23 meters below sea level! Not that I really need much accuracy for this application.

Health note: Today I wore my hiking boots and my feel feel much better than they did after yesterdays hike. My ankles are still an issue but it's not so bad I can't keep going.



Reserved Parking?
Originally uploaded by hollyking
This bench is a good 1/4 of a mile from any driveway or parking lot. So why is there a reserved parking sign on it? Someone in the complex has a sense of humor and for once it was't me.
hollyking: (ahead full)

I posted about hiking earlier and during my lunch I decided it was too nice a day not to go outside and enjoy the weather. Yes, I know a lot of people don't like our current temperatures but I find 30F to be very refreshing and the sun was shining. I had a great time during the walk though I had a couple of problems with trails vanishing on me. My office is part of a complex located in the Mercer Slough. That's a fancy name for saying I work in a cold-water swamp. They have built trails and recently they were given a bit of maintenance and are quite walkable. Mostly.

If the map shows up below, you can see how I started at the green dot and walked south then west a bit. The reason is that the trail ended where the maintenance stopped. You can see some photos I took on my Flickr.

I have a few goals for 2011 which mostly consists of exploring some interests I've had for a while and restarting some I haven't enjoyed for a long time. My desires revolve around getting outside more and learning older skills that I think I would enjoy. What I want to explore in 2011 is:

Hiking - I hiked a lot until the early '90s when work and a sick spouse stopped me from going out. Well I want to do that again. Sadly my ankles give me lots of trouble when walking but I'm going to see my doctor and a physical therapist and see what we can do to fix that. It might as simple as walking to build up their strength again. This would include city walks, volksmarching and trail hikes in the Puget Sound area.

Orienteering - As a Boy Scout I did my share of orienteering. There is some activity in the area and I'm planning on attending my first meet on January 8th. I'll have the same walking trouble but I hope it isn't a permanent problem. I need to pick up a compass and a whistle but I'm sure REI will have more than I need. Do any of you have a book you would recommend on the subject?

Celestial Navigation - I've always been fascinated by navigating by using the stars. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] gfish's offer I will be learning how to do just that. I've ordered new editions of the almanac and a few other books from the US Naval Observatory and will start saving up for my own sextant.

Slide Rule - A co-worker gave me a slide rule with the note, "All of us geeks need at least one. I definitely don't need 5! Now you have one." Now I need to learn how to use it. I've found a few books at the Seattle Public Library about it but I would love to hear about any recommendations you might have.

That's enough for now. With classes I think that's enough to keep me busy for the year. I might have to give up on some gaming to fit everything in, though I don't think that's a major loss. I have already cut my TV watching down to a minimum and don't really miss it.

My paid LJ account is about to expire. Do I sign up for another year? I don't post as much here and most of my friends have moved on to other places. There are still a few folks here though and I think it is a good place to post about non-technical stuff and save my other blog for the technical posts. Hmmm...

What would I post here? Probably stuff about baking and making clothing. Two interests I keep and want to talk about. I have 11 days to decide. I guess it's something to think about in the coming days.

[livejournal.com profile] cheesentoast and I are going to try and make me some clothes. To that end I need to figure out something about fabric. I've looked in a few places but it seems to be filled with stuff that's good for quilting but not clothing.

Where do you go to by fabric to make your clothing?

Map Ho!

Dec. 20th, 2010 08:39 am

[livejournal.com profile] gfish posted about map reading and it started me thinking. Thanks to my days as a Boy Scout and hiking I can read a map to determine my location and plan a route based on the the terrain information. It's been a long time since I've had to do that. The main map reading I did in the past few years was to find a route somewhere in Portland or Seattle using a Thomas guide. Though since I picked up an Android phone I haven't even done that. While I'm driving it's just so much easier and safer to drop the phone on the dash and let it guide me so I'm watching the road and not looking down at a map.

I like reading maps. I enjoy figuring out how to get from one point to another on my own. I have a compass rose tattoo for a reason, you see. So what to do? Why we go buy a map, grab our compass and go out orienteering. Or at least we will once we get past the holidays. It's going to be tough between work and school but I plan on two to three excursions each month. Hiking is good for me too so there's another reason to go.

I would like to learn celestial navigation and how to use a sextant too. I need to start researching the subject and finding some good references.

I have never missed Ranj so much as I do right now...

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