Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Glacier National Park!

Tomorrow morning I'm headed to Glacier National Park for a 3-day backpacking trip. A few notes from the Glacier Park Service:

  • An increasing number of backcountry hikers carry pepper spray as a possible deterrent against aggressive bears.
  • You should have a tent with a waterproof floor, rain-fly, and a no-see-um netting, and this tent should be designed to withstand strong winds. Bring plenty of extra stakes and strong cord.
  • Insect repellent is highly recommended.
  • You can count on your feet getting wet regardless of your boot type, so durability and support should be a prime concern. Many pair of socks are essential.
  • Plan to be self sufficient in any emergency. The land is vast and remote, and you cannot count on early help if you have difficulties.

Excerpts from the Glacier Park Bear Guide


Stationary frontal orientation - If a bear is standing and facing you, it is certainly not being submissive. This is an aggressive position and may signal a charge. It is likely waiting for you to withdraw.


Huffing - When a bear is tense, it may forcibly exhale a series of several sharp, rasping huffs. A mother may also huff in order to gain the attention of her young.

Woof - A startled bear may emit a single sharp exhale that lakes the harsh quality of a huff. If her cubs woof, a mother will immediately become alert to the situation.

Jaw-Popping - Females with young often emit a throaty popping sound, apparently to beckon their cubs when danger is sensed. A mother vocalizing in this manner should be considered nervous and extremely stressed. Bears other than sows also jaw-pop.

Growl, snarl, roar - Clear indication of intolerance.

Other Indicators

Yawning - Indicates tension. This behavior may results from the close proximity of another bear or human presence.

Excessive Salivation - A clear sign of tension, salivation may appear as white foam around the bear's mouth.

Charge - The vast majority of charges are ones in which the bear stops before making contact. The intensity of the charge or associated vocalizations may vary, but it is distinct in that it is an aggressive or defensive act clearly directed at another bear or human. Bears may charge immediately, as a sow fearing for her cubs, or may emit stressed or erratic behavior before charging.

There is no guaranteed lifesaving method of reacting to an aggressive bear. Some behavior patterns have proven more successful in close encounters than others. Take a calm assured posture. A firm voice and gradual departure are better than a retreat in panic. Include the nature of your surroundings in your reaction.

As a last resort, lie face down, protect your neck with your hands and arms, and don't move. This requires considerable courage, but resistance would be futile. Numerous incidents exist where a bear has sniffed and departed without serious injury.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My life is a Grey's Anatomy Soundtrack

What's to say? These songs are perfect for a rainy summer night. Really any summer night.

The Delgados - I Fought the Angels

Marion Black - Who Knows

Blue-Eyed Son - Step Away From the Cliff

of ghosts and other mythical figures

Recently someone showed me an image of Sisyphus and I recalled identifying so much with this figure that, a few years ago, it was almost he who ended up spending eternity rolling his rock up my ribs rather than the Icarus Changed who flies there now.

Early Sunday morning, I found myself in a relatively vivid dream. I was wandering down narrow, brick-lined campus corridors, showing Walker some school. But I was lost. I'd poke my head into a classroom and see people absorbed in their lives and their studies. In one small gymnasium, my friend Nappy was strenuously working out (he actually does this) in preparation for an upcoming wrestling tournament (he doesn't actually do this). In another room, my old college roommate Tom O'Brien was now student teaching en route to a tenured spot. As for me, I had no clue where I was. I eventually apologized to Walker and told him he'd be better off finding his own way.

I don't feel lost here in the real world but it feels like I'm chafing under familiar yokes--entering old feedback loops. I've felt more mortal, less in control, and more dazed than I'd like to be. I find myself looking for role models and then justifying failures that they would have overcome. The Icarus tattoo didn't make me stronger, just more aware of when I stumble. Perhaps even they are steps.

I'm the ghost of summer present. I'm looking in on everyone but I'm never there. Recently I flipped through my friend's camera. On it were various friends goofing around and hanging out at various parties. I counted the occasions and realized that through five separate nights I hadn't been to any of them. It made me question my priorities. It made me wonder what I've been doing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Preseason Thursday picks

Eagles -3 at Colts.

Colts don't care at all about preseason (3-16), they care about protecting Manning.

I also like under 36.5 but I like that less.

Opportunities Siezed and lost

I really shouldn't be writing this now because the list of people who want something from me today is lengthening at a disturbing rate. Quickly, shall we?

So Brett Favre will start for the Vikings. Goody. That leaves only two spots for three arms: Tarvaris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels, and John David Booty.

So who is the odd man out? JDB is cheap, and has never had a chance to show his stuff. The Vikings are likely to keep him and let him develop. Sage just signed for $3 Million guaranteed so I'm guessing the Vikes would like him to earn a little of that cash. Tarvaris on the other hand, had and lost the starting job twice for the Vikings. He at times is the goat of the NFL. But here's what really matters:

Before all this Brett business began, Tarvaris and Sage were supposedly neck and neck in the race for starter. Coach Childress decided that Sage would start the first preseason game and that Tarvaris would start the second. Then they'd both be appraised. Sage played extremely well in game 1 but the coach stuck to his word that he'd decide after game 2.

Then Brett crashed the party (late as always) and must now start preseason game 2. So... Sage looked amazing and thanks to Brett, Tarvaris won't ge his shot. It's possible that T will get some reps in Friday's game but they won't be with the first team offense so he'll never get to show what might have been. My guess is he'll be traded or cut within the week.

If Brett had decided to play for the Vikings before they signed Sage to a fatty contract, Tarvaris would still have a job. Then again, if he hadn't blown it against the Eagles last year he'd probably still have a job too. Sports: the original and still the best reality TV.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brett Favre is not insane

I have shied away from most of the Michael Vick and Brett Favre media frenzies because the sporting world is so saturated with all of that. I was literally doubting Favre's sanity after he voluntarily went through arm surgery and then walked away from millions of dollars and a juicy job with the playoff contending Minnesota Vikings. Now is reporting that Favre has inked a one year deal with the Vikings to play for them this season. Ok this proves he's not insane.

But at some point, Farve's habitual decision to wait until the midnight hour has to come under scrutiny. The phrase "Give our team the best chance to win" is as hackneyed as any in sports but it's extremely appropriate in this conversation. Is Favre the best QB the Vikings have? Technically yes but with such little time to prepare, he is hurting this team.

Brett, people always talk about you as a warrior, but the enlistment period started a long time ago. Get thee to camp, on the double!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Todays picks:

Broncos/Niners over 34

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Preseason Thursday picks

Skins +3 over Ravens

Pats +3 over Eagles

Cards/Steelers under 33

Raiders -2 over Cowboys

under 34

Torain Train Leaves Denver is reporting that the Denver Broncos have cut oft-injured 2nd year running back Ryan Torain. With so many RB signings this off-season, he appeared to be a long shot to make the team. A sprained knee last week in practice derailed "The Train" yet again and appears to have sealed his fate.

This is a huge blow for Torain and bronco fans. When he was on the field, this kid ran extremely hard. I know he has a future in the league somewhere. I also think the Broncos staff is making a mistake here. Torain should be moved to the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List, which would allow him to come back after week 6. This is what Torain did last year and he single handedly won us a game in Cleveland. As the Broncos discovered last year, you never know when you will desperately need a good running back. My hope is that he clears waivers and somehow ends up on the Broncos practice squad. Pretty unlikely though.

Talent is a dirty dirty word. Production is what's needed on the gridiron and elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Amanda and I flew to Los Angeles to surprise her dad for his 50th birthday. Here is what we did in 2.5 days. All my photos here.

11:30a: Land at LAX.
1-ish: Lunch at
Cowbows and Turbans, amazing Mexican/Indian street food
3:30p: Visit overwhelmingly large and awesome Amoeba Record store. By crappy discount cds.
5:30-7p: Happy Hour with Liz and Jeff "I'm a paralegal" at cool Edison Bar. I weigh the pros and cons of binge drinking in front of Amanda's boring friends.

8:00p: Dinner with Amanda's blunt but really cool friend in "the Gayborhood."

10:30p: Go to PopStarz nightclub.
11:30p: Go to Fiesta Bar. Meet small gay friend and large woman with recent boob job.
1:00a: Back to PopStarz. "Meet me at the Hotel" now permanently stuck in my head.
2:00a: Grudgingly drive 20 minutes to a taco truck, eat yummy tacos. Avoid food meltdown.
2:45: Drive to Jenn's house. So happy to sleep.

Awkward breakfast w/Jenn and "I'm too sexy for my job" waiter. I contemplate LA and exploitation of would be actors.

Drive to Murrieta, surprise family. Prepare for birthday party.

I meet Amanda's large and diverse family. Highlights include bonding with Amanda's brother over UFC fight, taking tequila shots with Dad, learning of the existence of "Doggles," and most importantly, getting to meet all of the people who helped raise Amanda and influence the awesome person she is today.
9:30p: Escape party. Drinks/dessert in Temecula
11:30p: Work on school project.
Sleep in Murrieta

Drive back to LA
11:30 Lunch with fun, dorky academic couple at Porto's a busy Cuban bakery.

From City of Angels
2:30: Getty Museum. We stretch.
5:00p: Drive to 3rd St. Promenade and Santa Monica Pier
6:30p:Walk to Venice Beach. Play on the rings. Fall off said rings. Stumble upon crazy bohemian drum circle.
10:00p: Ice cream cookie sandwiches at Diddy Riese in Westwood.
11:00p: Drive to Aunt Margie's. Watch Weeds. Sleep.

If this trip were a poetry slam the words great, exhausting, diverse, and caloric would fit in there somewhere. :)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

We talkin bout practice?

I lust for preseason football more than most. Finally, we start hearing less about baseball, NASCAR, and other "sports" and more about what really matters: football. But here's the thing: Unless you read individual practice reports such as this one, preaseason football doesn't offer much to the casual fan. However, if that four hour baseball game can't hold your interest, here are a few things to know about preseason football:

1. If you catch any preseason games, know when the starters are playing against starters. NFL players shrink from 2400 to 15oo before the season starts. Everyone looks good against guys who will be selling cell phones in a few weeks.

2. Holdouts matter. Rookies don't care because they want to get paid but NFL schemes and responsibilities are so complicated that even rookies who report to training camps on time struggle to learn everything. Cutting "class" time and conditioning in half means that rookie holdouts are both less effective in their first year and more likely to get injured. Chris "Beanie" Wells can now ask his agent to "Show me the knee brace!"

3. Pray for your favorite players. Every year, coaches face the age old dilemma: If they don't force their players to hit each other, they won't be ready for the regular season violence. If they do force them to "go to the ground," friendly fire casualties become inevitable. Stewart Bradley, one of my favorite players, is already out for the season.

4. Preseason interviews are worthless. I tend to think most football interviews are worthless but never moreso than in the preseason. What's to say? "Guys looked good in practice but they have more to learn?" "As a team we are not focused on what happened last year?" "We are really coming together as a team?" Everyone's undefeated in August.

5. The fourth quarter is still the most exciting. You won't see any of your old favorites playing in the fourth quarter of a preaseason game but you may find some new ones. This is where Joe the Undrafted Football Player literally has his 15 minutes to earn his way onto an NFL roster. As head coach Raheem Morris might put it, "30 dogs, eight bones."

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Miss Meow!


Last night I begged my parents to get a cat. No I'm not 14. Ever since the two cats we grew up with passed away, the house has never quite felt the same without a furry, cuddly, creature to curl up with.

Enter Miss Meow, a seven year-old long haired cat, who needs a new place to live. Currently she lives with Amanda's friend and Amanda's friend's mean cat.

My parents have agreed to foster Miss Meow for 3 months and see how it goes. Photos coming soon.