Archive for the ‘outdoors’ Category

I went back to Wisconsin for my 25th class reunion. It was a lot of socializing and remembering faces I hadn’t seen in a while but a lot of fun. A few of us went up the Brady’s Bluff trail at Trempealeau State Park. It was hot that day (for Wisconsin) but a great view of the upper Mississippi River. That’s Minnesota across the river:

I helped my brother a little building his new garage. I mostly held things in place and let him do the hammering and nail placement.

Then off to my family reunion. Even more faces and names I couldn’t place right away, since the last family reunion I’d been to was 20 years ago or so. Someone brought a photo album where I could see pictures of ancestors Homer had traced for me a while back. I took some hasty photos to put names to faces. Most of the males on that side had excellent mustaches, like my great-grandfather Michael:

I finally learned why my father’s dad’s nickname was “Pumpy.” We would always say “We’re going to Grampa Pumpy’s house” when he was alive. It turned out he got that name because he worked for his father’s drilling and pumping business and often ran the pump, thus the name “Pumpy.”

The week before I arrived there was another giant swarm of mayflies, which is a fairly unique occurrence in that area once a year. By the time I got to Wisconsin there were only a few swarming here and there, but you can see more of the amazing peak swarming in this article.

Then it was back to the job hunt in DC. My roommate moved out so I had to cover August rent myself, which was tough considering my last contract job ended in June. I have a few possibilities in the works, and also had a phone interview which I think went well. Although it’s a slow time in DC as many are on vacation and hiring is slow.

Hey there – it’s been a while. I’ve been hangin’ out with my beardy bros from the Washington Nationals baseball team.
bearditude
That’s Jayson Werth on the left and Bryce Harper on the right.

In June I went on a hike with a bud to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. It was where lots of ironwork machinery was made during the Civil War. Today lots of people like to go tubing in the summer:
Harper's Ferry
My latest contract ended, the work on a website migration complete. I had no jobs set up so I said “fuck it” and went to Provincetown for 9 days. Normally I’m ready to go home after about 5 days, but the plane ticket price was cheapest for that range of days and my housing was free, so I was there for quite a while. I hit the tail end of the “circuit week” theme days, and my roomates tended to not eat much during that time. But then we segued into “Bear Week” and the fridge was suddenly packed with food.

There were lots of beards. I was partial to the one on the left, for he made good quiche and wore only briefs for much of the time around the house:
Bear Week attendees
I did a lot of sunning on the beach, a nice bike ride, and lots of cocktails at the Boatslip. Bear Week was kind of crazy, and in the future should I go again I will choose a less popular week, despite the amount of fur.

My next trip at the end of July will be to head back to Wisconsin for my 25th class reunion. My brother will have a new garage built and it will be interesting to see what’s been done.

Hello again. Been workin’ hard but have adjusted to the new job, just in time for it to end by the close of June. It is a contract position, and while it’s been good revisiting web content management and managing people (I think I’m good at it!) I am told we will likely be done with the web migration by the end of June.

While I have been looking for and applying to jobs this whole time, the push begins again in earnest. Still looking for long-term/permanent public affairs/communications employment, preferably for the government, preferably for a science- natural resources- or ag-based organization. So your help is appreciated dear readers – leads are always received graciously. It has been a rocky and fruitless job situation since September 2012 and I could really use some good news and developments.

Last month I actually had a phone interview for a job I was genetically engineered for: performing public affairs work for a sage grouse conservation program in Oregon. But despite two follow-up emails I have not heard anything back from them. As I recall Portlanders avoid conflict, so bad news is probably not going to be received at all.

We have had some heavy rains in the Mid-Atlantic, and the Potomac has been swollen:flotsam and jetsam
A few weeks ago “ten million ‘real’ Americans” gathered on the National Mall to protest Obama/Benghazi/buttsex or something. I only counted about ten teabagger loons. And for the record I’m tired of hearing these people dictate who “real” Americans are. Teabaggers STFU and go home.
TenMillionMurcans
On the Saturday before Memorial Day, we went for a bike ride along the Potomac River. The shad were running, and we observed herons eating them from this platform (which I think is a flow measurement station):
Flow Station
Under a nearby bridge, me and Bubbles contemplated the meaning of ‘BE’ and the flag of the District of Columbia:
DC Flag, and BE
I celebrated Memoral Day by sleeping in, going to the gym, and another bike ride. I took a picture of John S. Logan in Logan Circle. The dude founded Memorial Day:

I’m going to a Nationals baseball game tomorrow. Sadly woofy Bryce Harper is not playing these days, but super-beardy Jayson Werth will be playing.

Suddenly spring arrived. I went for a hike with friends on the Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls in Virginia. There was a gun show:

I spotted a bald eagle and a baby snapping turtle.

Later that month, we went to the National Arboretum to see the azaleas in bloom:

Bubbles and me. Photo by GURL.


This weekend, a friend with a vineyard asked us to help plant vines:
I dig alone. Photo by GURL.
I carried the vines on my head:

I did not plant the vines as the Overseer preferred, so I soon changed to watering the plants rather than planting them:

As the sun set and we completed the project, we squinted in unison:

There were cute Jack Russel terriers present:

Recent polar surges have pushed snowy owls southward in the last month. The mammals they feed on burrow in and enter a torpid state when it’s freezing out, so snowy owls are forced to fly to where they can find food. A few snowy owls have been spotted in the DC area the past few weeks, and I was finally able to see one downtown at 15th & L Streets NW:
Snowy Owl
He was there for a few hours, not 30′ above the street. He seemed unfazed by the crowds watching him. I was glad city folk got to see this unusual sighting. It’s interesting that I saw a whole parliament of snowy owls almost a year ago in Oregon.

I was on my way to the community clinic to get my nasty sinuses taken care of. I got a cold around New Year’s Eve which persisted and turned into a sinus infection and possibly bronchitis. Having no income nor health insurance, I avoided getting it taken care of as long as possible. But it got so painful and just malingering I finally broke down and went to the community clinic. Turns out the experience wasn’t so bad, nor expensive and I got some antibiotics. I’m also signed up for “Obamacare,” we’ll see how affordable that actually is. Anyway, I got a snowy owl selfie pic taken of me. I am grimacing because my molars and sinuses hurt:
Snowy Owl Selfie
It was also really cold out so that might account for some of the grimace as well.

Trimming the beard for the job interview earlier this week was somewhat of a relief. I was getting tired of the overgrown ’stache doubling as a coffee/soup strainer. That and this sinus cold I’ve had since NYE made boogers and beards problematic:

That said, I still love having a fur-bearing mammal attached to my face. I’ll admit the shorter beard looks better, but as y’all know, I like big beards and I cannot lie. It will grow back again.

The interview went well. It was a basic first-round interview at an institute of higher learning where I worked many years ago. I recognized many of the people on the 7-person interview committee, and recognized the questions since I had been on several similar committees. And by now I know how to answer them the best I can. We’ll see how it goes. There’s a few other irons in the fire, and things have picked up in the job department as I expected they would now that the holidays are over. And with the government passing some budget, more opportunities may come up as organizations become confident they can afford to hire.

My room has dried up from the flood for the most part but I think the cold snap broke the heat exchanger outside. I’m not quite sure what it is for, but it doesn’t always work now and the house seems colder than usual. Anyway my cheap-ass computer desk did get some water damage, and my renter’s insurance is paying for a replacement. I put the soaked rugs outside in the two days of rain that followed, dried them out and put some carpet freshener on them and they seem fine. They may rot later, we’ll see. But like I said before most of it is crap anyway and is no great loss.

typical DC streetscape in winterIt happened like clockwork after the daylight savings time change earlier this month. My mood dropped, it was an effort to get motivated, and I noted an increasing reluctance to go out. The temperature changes didn’t help either, but I’m aware of these mood changes this time of year and work to recognize these mood changes. I do things to go against these urges like work out, ride my bike, and make sure I get out to socialize. These things help a lot.

This has always been a challenge for me in DC. I often explain to others that our winters are like the scenes from the Sleepy Hollow animated feature and movie. It’s worth noting I didn’t feel this way this time of year in Portland. I was warned that their winters were miserable in a different way. Granted, I wasn’t working and was able to go out in the day to get some amount of UV through the cloud cover. But Portland was somewhat warmer despite being drippier with all the rain. I think the tipping point for me is the colder temperatures in DC.

The other thing comparing winters between the two cities was that I noticed that not everyone in Portland did proactive things to combat the winter blahs. Not everyone in DC does either, but considering the reputation of the winters in the Pacific Northwest, you would think more people would do things to actively combat the blahs. Anyway my conclusion from all of this is that DC doesn’t have the reputation for having horrid winter blahs, but should. It is just as bad here as in the Pacific Northwest, but not as rainy. Just cold and dark.

looking?The other way DC is much like Sleepy Hollow is that we have a lot of headless torsos running around. I mean like people not showing their faces on mobile apps like Scruff. We have far more headless horsemen in DC than in Portland. I attribute this to some sort of cultural thing having to do with remnants of Puritanism or Southern propriety. And despite being recently hailed by the New York Times as one of the gayest places in America, there are still a lot of closet cases – or maybe people who think being seen on an app is indicative of their whorishness. This wasn’t the case in Portland, where people didn’t give a shit and showed their faces.

I think there were just as many open relationships in Portland as there are in DC. But again they were simply honest about their open status in Portland, which was very refreshing. In DC relationship statuses in online profiles are often left blank, where I simply assume they are in a relationship, open, and they think they are being sneaky about it. I much prefer to be fully disclosed on someone’s relationship status, then we can both go from there with all cards on the table. I don’t care if you’re an online whore or in an open relationship, I just want to be informed that you have a boyfriend. It helps interactions go much smoother. And believe me gurl, if you think I won’t find out you have a boyfriend at home, think again. My agents are everywhere.

Good news: while things are still rolling for a permanent job, I secured a short-term contracting gig that could possibly turn into a very lucrative long-term gig. It’s helping to write a proposal to assist as a contractor with the agency I formerly worked for. It’s the next best thing to actually getting right back with my former workplace. So right now it’s just helping to write a proposal as a “subject matter expert.” It’s nice to be recognized for my expertise after a year and a month of esteem-crushing joblessness. The irony is that they found me and actively recruited me without me having contacted them at all. This is after applying to 100+ jobs and networking my ass off for a year. I can’t complain, I guess this is how things work out. Now to turn on my UV lamp and get my happy self to work on Monday.

I’m mostly settled in to my new place and have started the job search in earnest. There are already a wealth of job opportunities to apply to, sometimes one each day that I’m genuinely interested in and qualified for. And networking has been off the hook as well, although the shutdown had slowed things down a bit. We’re also approaching the period where not a lot of government work gets done (late November though early January) which concerns me. So I’m focusing more on the nonprofit sector rather than federal employment, even though the latter is what I’d like to return to.

The neighborhood has changed radically in the year I’ve been away. Some blocks are completely unrecognizable. Tons of new restaurants and office buildings with more construction on the way. The crane is the state bird of the District of Columbia.

Between running around getting stuff for the house and meeting up with people to reacquaint and network, I haven’t had a minute to get on my bike for a good ride. I did manage to get out to the Shenandoah National Park to hike Old Rag Mountain with a group of new and old friends. It was a gloomy grey day but the fall colors were in full effect, and the hike was challenging with good views all around:
Dark Shenandoah 3
Anywhere Goes Guys
Old Rag Hikers
I have a temp gig with an old blogger friend in Baltimore on Friday and Monday. The pay is pretty good and the boss is a hoot.

Hello from Holmen, Wisconsin! This time it only took three days to get here from Portland because I was a cruel slave driver, waking up at 7 every day and covering far more than I did on the way to Portland. We didn’t stop much for anything, and drove like the devil was at our backs. Well, that storm in Portland was behind us and turns out it was pretty bad. Anyway, here are some travel pics in no particular order:
Prairie Dog
The prairie dogs near the Badlands were unaffected by the government shutdown. Begging for handouts like the entitled Americans they are.

When we crossed the continental divide, it had already snowed quite a bit. Winter Is Coming:
Winter Is Coming
These black angus cattle near Sheridan, Wyoming were lowing in the fields:
Black Angus Cattle
Here’s me being an anti-Obama, deregulatin’, rootin’-tootin’ Ummerican Live Free Or Die Tebagger near the Black Hills around Sturgis, South Dakota the day the government shut down on October 1st:
guvurnmint shutdown!
The windmills of southern Minnesota are a socialist plot to take away your freedoms and put you in FEMA death camps:

My landlord in DC tells me my place is ready. I’m eager to get there.

Weather was crazy here today, making the truck loading a wet business. Seems like some sort of tropical storm remnant that knocked out the power for a few hours today. But the truck is ready:
Oh what a bad machine.
All the nasty blobs on the radar are right along my route. Fortunately it’s kind of a warm rain, and I don’t see any icy conditions on the way over the mountains:
Sept. 29, 2013 weather
That’s about all I got to say. It’s gonna be a long drive. A couple days in Wisconsin with the family if we get there in good time. To keep you busy, here’s woofy Ben Cohen dancing. He’s a little stiff in the waist but can jump and I’m sure he can lift: