Glacial

The team were four. Three friends and their guide. The goal? Climb the insurmountable: a glacial drift so spontaneous in its appearance that hushed rumors passed speculating dark arts and mischievous doings behind its sudden rise. In just 12 hours it had appeared. In those short 12 hours it had already entered local lore, feared and respected by the village. The allure of this challenge is one no true adventurer could resist. Like an unmastered wave, a cavern unexplored, or rapids unridden, the peak called to them.

The guide didn’t bother with air tanks, but the three friends knew not to trust their bodies alone. They weren’t accustomed to exertion at these altitudes. The morning of their departure they packed their packs, hugged those dear to them, and per local tradition raised one flag each in the town center symbolizing their part in the elation and pride of the community.

The village cheered their heroes off as the snow billowed in frightful gusts.

Ice scape

With snow up to their waists, the team trudged upward and onward. The peak rose unmeasurably tall before them. Every single step brought them further from Earth and closer to heaven. The wind howled relentlessly. The cold gripped them to their core.

The village at the base of the terrible peak waited with baited breath for the return of the adventurers. The pubs were full but the steins empty as the patrons respectfully waited for their ambassadors to return with stories of victory and tales of great feats.

The steins remained empty that night.

As morning dawned without word from the exploration, the locals saw that the peak had risen to twice its previous height. It’s shadow cast long across the village. The sun fell and rose again. and again. Still no sign of the team.

With the solemn village people surrounding, the loved ones of those lost grimly lowered the flags in the town center to half mast. One pair of empty shoes, as per local tradition, was laid at the base of each flag.

Months passed. The flags were taken down, the shoes placed in the catacombs of the church. And then one day, a picture found its way around. There stood the four. Beaming at the summit.

Victory

No one knows where the picture came from, how it was developed, or who took it. And while the village was too wise to let hope return, the ale ran out before the kerosene that night.

The team, though fallen, had triumphed.

The Cheese Files Vol VI

Red Dragon is a Y Fenni cheese.

A who now what?

Y Fenni. It’s Welsh. And it’s mustardy.

RedDragon

The Welsh blend a softish cheddar with some ale and plenty of mustard seed to make Red Dragon. The result is slightly creamy with a comfortable kick. The cheese’s name comes from the Red Dragon that graces the Welsh flag.

Prior to this one, I’d never even heard of Y Fenni. Y Fenni is the Welsh name for the town of Abergavenny in SE Wales. The cheese is great cut thin by itself and just as great served on crackers. Eating a big chunk is a little overwhelming, because it is a little bit strong. But certainly not unbearable. It’s mustardiness also led us to try it on a ham and egg breakfast sandwich, though in my mind it fell a little bit short in this application.

Let’s rate it:

Taste: 2.5/4
Price: $ Not bad.
Independence: Versatile – good alone or paired

Dataless

Recently, I was brain-stem deep in a game of Candy Crush. My eyes itched from staring at an iphone screen. My dreams for the previous two nights had included switching jelly beans with werther’s originals in order to blow up frosting to free gummy bears from some other-worldy chocolate centipede thing. I needed to stop.

Back when I was working in Ohio for weeks and weeks at a time, I became friends with a guy who practiced a “no electronics February” with his family. No TV, no video games, no laptops, no cell phones. Nothing.

This February, Jen and I are going to try.

That said, our goal is not based in a post-modern belief that there is truth to living in simplicity. No, most electronics are totally awesome it’s just some that are completely life-draining (I’m looking at you Candy Crush). So we’re setting up some ground rules so that we take advantage of the benefits but limit our exposure to time wasters.

Cell phones:
Cell phones can be used as communication tools: phone calls, FaceTimes, texts, or emails.
Apps can be used only if the supplement some other activity. For example: logging our exercise or looking up a recipe

Television:
Our TV will be unplugged for all of February

Laptops:
All the same rules as cell phones
Laptops can be used for work
Laptops can further be used for errands like paying bills or ordering a water filter off Amazon

Lastly: all of my personal usage will be logged. I will report back in March with the details

Since I won’t be going online to update my website, I’ll be prepping a bunch of posts in advance. These posts will show up a couple times a week for the next four weeks. Also, I will be keeping a legit diary which I will share come March.

The countdown is on: 5 days until

Painting #2

I am proud to announce the completion of my second painting!

Painting2
ta-da!

This one was inspired by a Graham Gercken piece. Check out his original here.

I really like his style. It’s colorful and vibrant with nicely textured strokes. I’m not sure what I’m going to try next – perhaps I’ll try something original.

The Age of Age

Scientists are furiously working to try and figure out how to hack aging. Yesterday on the ride home from work I was chatting with Sander and we mused about what might happen if Scientists succeeded. Let’s presume it was pretty instant success. For example, they discover that with a small amount of gene therapy life could easily be extended to 250years with scalable health.

Things would get weird. Fast.

Class wars for treatment prioritization on the short term
Political craziness as long-term problems suddenly effect everybody
Workforce migration as people re-evaluate their jobs and the retired re-apply
Overpopulation concerns and strange family dynamics, great^8 grandparents?
A widening of the wealth gap as the market leaders lead longer
Punishment re-evaluation
Driving adjustments
Le Creuset’s lifetime warranty speculation

It’s fun thinking of how things might get weird.

New Year Re-Solution

I’ve been playing guitar now for about 15 years and been taking serious lessons for about 5. This year I hope to push my music theory knowledge and I think I’ve discovered the key!

In October of 2014 I decided to come up with a solution for my unfortunate habit of practicing guitar without intent. My guitar teacher is strict with his studying: “If you’re playing guitar, you’re not practicing guitar.” The difference between playing and practicing being casual enjoyment vs. progression. My solution in October was geeking out. I made a spreadsheet to keep track of my practicing, and for the most part I was able to keep on task for the last quarter of 2014.

For the New Year, I revamped my method further and adjusted my spreadsheet to log my progress through four different areas:

1. Scales – 15 minutes going through Major, Minor and the modes. These are done with two cycles of 12 where I step through the circle of fifths, one key per day alternating between starting C on the sixth and fifth string
2. Etudes – Three Allen Hanlon etudes per day, tracking tempo and switching etudes only upon clean performance at a reasonable tempo (different per etude).
3. Jazz Study – Mark Levine’s Jazz Theory book. Mastery of one page per day
4. Song Analysis – Fakebook, one page per day chord analysis

This series takes between 45-60minutes.

If I can keep this up for all of 2015, I will complete both the jazz theory book and the Fakebook (both of which have approximately 350pages). My hope? To be able to immediately find key transitions and be able to identify and nail modes for soloing (or even just scale arpeggios) at 160bpm.

Peaky Blinders

A week ago Jen and I started watching the Netflix original show Peaky Blinders. Huh? You ask? What on Earth is Persnickety Biscuits? Well, good friend, Pesky Blunders is a 1920’s mob story with character depth, excellent music, and a fast moving plot. I am entirely convinced that if this show was named with some title more memorable than Pasty Blithers than the world would be very much aware of its stunning execution.

In full disclosure, not everyone loves Peachy Balloons. Sander was turned off by the parallel plots and the accents, which at times feel like they need subtitles. That said, if you have Netflix and you like dramatic crime, put Party Bingers on your short list. At the time of this post there are 12 episodes online, each about an hour long.

Let me know what you think!