Archive for the ‘geek’ Category

GoatsbeardI headed out west for business and pleasure at the end of July. It was both my high school and family reunions. And I also wanted to help out with mom’s house.

My middle brother is the executor and lives next door. I discovered not much had been done since January, including the food in the cupboards, which I cleaned out first. There were bugs in it, and a stick of butter was still on the counter. Then I worked on getting rid of old books, salvaging what I could. Most of them were paperbacks from the 70s which not even the used book store wanted. Going through mom’s stuff was an exercise in learning what is suddenly useless when you pass away. Stuff is just stuff that someone else has to move when you’re gone.

I think my brother and his wife are not quite processed yet, nor ready to sell the house. I made a dent in clearing some stuff out, but there is still a lot to do. I think the only thing I can do is be patient.

I went on a bike ride on a former railbed now turned into a bike path going along the Mississippi River bottomlands. Due to state budget cutbacks from Wisconsin’s wonderful Republican governor, the trail is woefully in disrepair. Along the way I stopped at an old train depot, where there has always been a honeybee colony:
Bees at the depot
There have been bees in this building since I was a kid when there wasn’t even a bike trail. I hope they stay there for a while.

On the way to meet a high school friend, I discovered the high school track where I ran the 400m, mile relay, 1600m and pole vault events was being torn up. Admittedly it was old and crumbling, but I remember being in these lanes:
high school track
The class reunion was fun, but only about 8 people showed up. It was for our 27th, which they decided to hold due to the success of the 25th. But I think we will stick to one every 5 years from now on.

On the way back home from the reunion at the Legion Hall, I stopped by the public library to try to take the Pokémon gym there. While I was preparing for battle, this hot guy in riding leathers pulls up. Turns out he was on my same Pokémon team (Mystic) and we took control of the gym together. Like many people in Western Wisconsin, he looked like Alexander Skarsgård, but in black riding leathers. He was so hot it was unsettling, even hotter because he was a Pokémon nerd too:
I walk to the park in nearby LaCrosse revealed a lot more Pokémon players getting their exercise. Hate it or not, it is getting people outside who would otherwise be indoors with their computer or game consoles.

Then I went to Minneapolis to hang out with Woolgatherer, and also go to Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota. People are still leaving tributes along the fence, some of them from as far away as New Zealand. It was quite touching:
In the tunnel that approaches the studios, someone made a Prince petroglyph amid the graffiti:
Prince Petroglyph
I think they will eventually turn it into a Prince museum.

Then I went to L.A. to hang out with Dingo. The smog wasn’t so bad this time, and I went to the La Brea Tar Pits again, and also to the The Los Angeles County Museum of Art Guillermo del Toro exhibit “At Home With Monsters.” It featured the directors influences, themes, and models from his movies:
Pan’s Labyrinth
BrettCajun joined me but we had to leave when he kept asking me to take his picture:
Kaiju Parasite
We then went to Ginger (Will) Rogers Beach in Santa Monica. I had picked out a Speedo before the trip and it recieved wide acclaim. I thought it fit nicely on a 45 year-old man:
summer speedo
I barely escaped LA because on the day of my departure, Delta’s flight computers blacked out all over the world. I was fortunate to make it as far as Raleigh, where I rented a car to drive back to DC (4 hours). But I got tired by Richmond, so I stayed in the 2nd grossest motel I’ve ever stayed in. Didn’t get much sleep, but made it back to DC in time for a phone interview, which resulted in an in-person interview next week. I also have another one for a different job as well. I have a new suit and my hair is done, so I’m ready for either interview.

Pidgey & Chris

Remember Chris from the Boys Briefs blog? Here he is trying to attract a Pidgey Pokémon with a cocktail. Nothing has changed.

Back in 1998 I was playing Pokémon Red/BlueYellow on the Gameboy. In the game you could travel to different places and catch critters, which would evolve into more powerful forms. Sort of like Dungeons & Dragons but with critters instead of swords & sorcery. You could trade your critters with other friends who had the same game. It was fun and a little addicting.

Later on Pokémon Stadium came out and you could bring your critters that you found on the Gameboy and export them to the Nintendo 64 game console, then fight them against your friends and in-game opponents. It made all your collecting efforts even more fun. Then Pokémon Snap came out on the N64, where you would travel on a golf cart safari-style and take pictures of the things you saw. Better pictures with more Pokémon in your frame got you more points. Being a birdwatcher, I loved that one too. In fact the whole Pokémon concept is merely a virtual version of birdwatching as far as I’m concerned. If you haven’t seen “The Big Year” yet, it’s a fun movie about birdwatching that will also help you understand all this Pokémon business.

When I heard a location-based app version of this game franchise was coming out for play on your handheld device I knew it was going to be big. The company producing the game had enjoyed success with the similar Ingress app. I never played Ingress but had a few friends who did. It encourages real travel to locations to check-in and compete against other factions. It’s clear Pokémon GO borrows a lot of concepts from Ingress. But this time you not only check-in but you collect critters along the way, just like in Pokémon Red/Blue back in the day.

Busy locations have been drawing a lot of app users since the game came out. You can even plant lures that attract Pokémon to your location for easy catching. While I was fishing for Pokémon at a lure hotspot at DuPont Circle today there was a dude there cruising like it was 1998. Back in the 80s and 90s that area was a popular cruising spot where you’d also try to find your own critter to take home. But with the advent of cruising apps like Grindr and Scruff, and the shift of the gay ghettoes in the city, few find much success at DuPont Circle anymore. But just like in the 90s, this guy didn’t have a handheld device, but he also didn’t seem to know what was going on with all the people looking into their phones trying to catch Pokémon.

He was trying to look for men to hit on who weren’t there, without the aid of a handheld device. Instead there were people there trying to catch imaginary creatures that weren’t there, using a handheld device. The contrast was fascinating and sad for everyone.

Thanks for all the congrats on the new job. The first week has been mostly admin stuff and lots of forms. Forms for health insurance and nice stuff like that. It’s already clear I’m going to be a busy bee, but hopefully I’ll have time to blog more often now that my brain is clear to write about topics other than the horrors of 26 months of un-or under-employment. Blogmistress Kiri is also getting back on the bandwagon as well.

In the 80s and 90s I was never really a huge fan of Kate Bush. Her music was always in the background of my awareness despite releasing tons of music videos during that time. I liked her collaboration with Peter Gabriel and that was about it.

My Computer” was another collaboration she did with Prince in 1997 that started to pique my interest in her music a little more. It was an interesting song about being lonely despite a high download speed with your AOL dialup. The song wasn’t that catchy but I was starting to get the impression she sang about deeply personal situations and my interest grew.

Maxwell did a touching soul cover of “This Woman’s Work,” which my purist Kate Bush fan friend Doug decried as an abomination to the meaning of the song and everything Kate Bush. I liked it anyway, and looked that song up to understand what it meant. Still not clear on the meaning but the song is a testament to the human condition, or something.

Then for some reason lately I’ve been on a major Kate Bush roll. I think it was the first time I really listened to the lyrics from “Wuthering Heights” that started my fanaticism. I was like, “What the hell is this song about?” Then thanks to the Internets I was able to read the lyrics in earnest and I was like “OMFG SHE’S SINGING FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF A GHOST!” based on the novel of the same name. That’s pretty creative. After a good workout you might find me screeching out the words when there’s nobody at home. “HEATHCLIFF! IT’S ME KATHY I’VE COME HOME!”

One of her more recent releases, “Eider Falls at Lake Tahoe” is about a dog running away from home. Maybe it’s about something else but I have yet to find the deeper meanings to this one. Still, writing about a dog’s romp through the woods is pretty trippy too.

During the 2012 London Olympics closing ceremony NBC cut out “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” due to broadcast time restraints. Curse NBC for this crime. The song is about understanding the opposite sex, but presented in a sport venue the song takes on a different meaning. It might ask: do you understand the struggle and pain of sport, either victory or defeat? Kate did not perform the song live but the video montage of the athletes was a powerful interpretation of the music.

The touching video for “Moments of Pleasure” drew me in, and again I looked up the lyrics. It may have been written during a time when her cretive friends were dying during the AIDS casualties in the 90s. Makes me tear up every time. “Cloudbusting,” about a mad scientist. “Rubberband Girl” about getting back up again to recover. “The Man with the Child in His Eyes,” “Wow, “Love and Anger,” and “The Sensual World.” The list seems to grow every day for me and I’m a giddy fan.

But despite her recent series of shows in London she’s unlikely to perform in the States. I hear she doesn’t like to travel overseas, and right now it’s unlikely I have a budget that would support a trip across the pond should she perform again. I’m caught up on seeing all my favorite 80s and 90s artists live, but Kate Bush is a glaring and painful omission from this list. I’m too late to this game, but I will continue to hope she tours again soon.

Mother of DragonsWhen everybody was talking about the shocking Game of Thrones finale I had no idea what people were talking about. And considering my geek cred, I was ashamed. Many of my nerdy kin had been talking about the series for the past few years, but while I was in DC we had cheap cable that didn’t have HBO. I’m catching up on the series but I’m way behind on True Blood as well. I’m a few episodes away from the finale, and another season is on the way. I’m officially a fan.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s an addictive series that follows the intrigues and fighting between royal families to gain control of the Iron Throne. It’s basically a violent medieval soap opera. There aren’t many overt displays of magic in the first season but by the third season arcane displays and scary monsters have started to pop up here and there and promise to become more of a factor in future episodes.

More important is the amazing cast, many of whom play woofy, bearded characters. So here is Khaleesi‘s picks for the top 5 Game of Thrones hotties who may share the Iron Throne when she brings her dragons to conquer King’s Landing:

Robb StarkRobb Stark is a pretty dreamboat with auburn highlights in his wavy hair. An obvious choice as he’s just and handsome and from a good family but I hear he’s not long for the world…

Renly BaratheonRenly Baratheon is another appropriate suitor – he looks good in a funky crown and armor, and has a nice beard. And he’s a known sword swallower too. But he lets his boyfriend shave his chest is vulnerable to shadow assassin attacks.

GrennGrenn is a ginger. That’s all Khaleesi really needs. Built like a linebacker and likes the cold. He’s loyal to his friends but a bit dim. Probably couldn’t handle the court intrigue at King’s Landing.

TormundHowabout a crazed ginger? Tormund also likes the cold and has an epic beard. But don’t go ice climbing with him. He’s a loose cannon.

That leaves us with a minor character Anguy the Archer. Good with a bow, nice beard, dreamy eyes. So far he’s still alive, but we probably won’t see much of him in future episodes but Khaleesi doesn’t care:
Anguy the Archer
In other news, no word from the Dept. of Forestry job in two weeks, which doesn’t bode well. I’ve had a ton of informational interviews and more on the way, and some strategic placement of my resumes here and there (we hope). The summer in Portland has been as fantastic as promised, with clear blue skies for weeks. I need to go camping soon while it’s nice, but have a few trips planned which I hope to share later.

This is just satire, but I really really really wish it was real:

Last weekend I went to the Mount St. Helens Ape Cave Lava Tube with some friends. It’s a popular attraction in the Mount St. Helens National Monument and the longest lava tube in the continental United States at over two miles in length. Here’s my spelunker buddies Shawn and Trevor ready to ascend at the main entrance:
Ape Cave spelunkersApe Cave headlamp
A headlamp and/or good flashlight with fresh batteries is recommended. Warm clothes, pants and a raincoat too (it’s drippy inside). From the main entrance to the caves, I recommend doing the Lower Cave first which is an easier hike and gives you an idea of whether you can handle more. You turn around and go back to the main entrance, and from there can choose to do the Upper Cave. It’s 1.5 miles underground, but a lot of scrambling over rock falls and a little climbing too. It was quite a workout but the inside of a lava flow was cool. Then you hike back to the parking area above ground. This was the exit from the Upper Cave area:
Ape Cave upper exit
The ladder out can be seen in the lower left of the image. Then it’s the same distance hike overland on the way back. A lot of the geography around the cave reminded me of Iceland, albeit with a lot more trees.

I was out in Virginia wine country again this weekend for our final Dungeons & Dragons gaming session with the geek gang. ~sob!~ While we were there we went to the Hazzard Homecoming in Rappahannock Co., VA. I got to see a few of the stars of the show from a distance and several dozen replicas of the General Lee:
Git 'er done
The entry fee was steep, but offered the opportunity to get autographs from many of the actors from the show. But the lines were long and it was hot out and I was fine with seeeing the cars, but we did see Tom Wopat from a distance. Wopat is from Wisconsin fyi, as is this rarely bearded fellow, who is apparently Mitt Romney’s running mate for President: does not support flagrant use of the Confederate flag nor Paul Ryan for Vice-President. We only support his beard.

Too cute, had to share:
Remember when Martha Stewart used to post mini-recipes in 153 characters or less on her Twitter account? She (or her assistant) don’t do that anymore but here is a collection of her adorable tweeted mini-recipes.

When we were in Tucson in April we came across some very tasty guacaole/cottage cheese dip. I’m going to try it as a nice cool summer dip, but will try replacing jalapeno with my favorite pepper in the whole world, the poblano pepper. Here are two recipie options for this dip.

All right here’s my pet peeve rant now that the hot summer months are upon us. Apparently according to some Facebook posts we are not allowed to complain about the heat because OUR TROOPS ARE SERVING IN A DESERT AND DYING OVERSEAS. For that matter, all celebrity deaths (particularly drug related) are also trivial compared to troop death.

There is a gap in logic here somewhere. I acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices our troops make overseas, but I’m also allowed to complain about the heat. It’s all I do from June through August in DC after all – what else would I talk about? For that matter when Whitney Houston died a fellow blogger posted some text on Facebook about how sad it was that anyone had the audacity to acknowledge Whitney Houston’s death when we have troops dying overseas. Because apparently we are not allowed to express anything or speak on anything as long as we have troops serving and dying overseas. Plus a person’s struggles with addiction somehow make their deaths less valid than anyone else’s death – PARTICULARLY OUR TROOPS OVERSEAS. For those of you who have had friends who have died after a struggle with an addiction, you know it’s no more or less painful than other deaths. And when you see a celebrity who has passed in a similar way, it hits home a little harder due your personal experience with a friend’s parting. Especially when you tried hard to help them, like I’m sure Whitney’s loved ones tried to do too.

So here are the facts:

  • I am allowed to mourn whoever the fuck I want. I am allowed to complain about whatever I want.
  • Regardless of how pathetic someone’s death was, I reserve the right to acknowlege their impact on myself, m generation or culture. During middle and high school Whitney was THE SHIT and everyone was crimping their hair.
  • No one has touched the epic 1991 performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” since Whitney did it. No. One. And her injection of soul into an American performance classic made it truly American.

Whitney didn’t serve or die in a blistering desert overseas, but she’s still an American and contributed to what America is today despite the sad details of her parting.

I’ve been selected for jury duty in the DC courts for 8am Monday. I have my Princess Leia costume ready:

I went to see Xanadu: the musical (again) on Saturday at the Signature Theatre in Shirlington, Virginia. I’m a bit biased towards the story but I’ll have to say it was a lot of fun. Can’t get enough Xanadu, ever. If you liked any of the songs from the movie I think you’ll enjoy the show.

Rosa'sMe, Bubbles and Gurl had a good trip to Arizona, including visits in Tucson at Homer and staying over in Bisbee with Cobban and Ray. I’ve decided to change Bubbles’ blog name to “Sweetwater” after the sewage treatment facility of the same name. He had apparently been drinking some kind of healthy algae-based health drink that made him poot algae-smelling farts the whole weekend of the trip.

Or maybe it was the good salsa at Rosa’s and El Charro. We ate a lot of good Mexican food along the way and it’s rich, fresh flavors make DC’s Mexican and El Salvadoran fare pale in comparison.

Various photos shown are mostly by Gurl, Sweetwater, Patrick and Homer. I didn’t take many myself as they all had great cameras and I had photos of most of the same taken over the various years I had visited the area. My full collection of photos from the trip is here.

When we arrived we were all a bit tired due to the early flight, but that gave us time to visit the Tucson Presidio (below), much of which was designed by Homer! Here’s me ordering ghosts around by cell phone:
Tucson Presidio
Later that day we joined Homer for dinner at Rosa’s (top pic), the best Mexican restaurant in Tucson, with rich salsa that will keep you drooling for another visit.

With enough time to spare to catch the sunset, we drove over Gates Pass for Bubbles and Sweetwater’s first visit to the saguaro forest. This is me, Gurl and Sweetwater at the Gates Pass overlook:
Gates Pass Overlook
The next day we returned to visit the saguaros in earnest by hiking up a bit of King’s Canyon trail amongst the cacti and did some birding:
Kings Canyon
While posing for one photo near the cholla cactus, there was apparently a troll hiding behind the ocotillo bush!
Cholla troll
The views were spectacular:
King's Canyon trail overlook
After that I took the dehydrated crew for a snack and romp through the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. I liked their cactus garden, where I took this picture of an agave plant in bloom:

Agave, filtered

As we left the museum I made a new javelina friend:

javelina date

I wasn’t too crazy about stopping in Tombstone, as Homer had warned me it was a tourist trap, but the historic but not too accurate Boot Hill Cemetery was kind of fun.
Boot Hill marker
Tombstone was a somewhat restored but mostly touristified attraction, but there was great attention to facial hair amongst the historical actors in the town, which made visiting it better. I always thought Kurt Russel’s ‘stache in the movie “Tombstone” was hot:
Kurt Russel's awesome 'stache in "Tombstone."
After that we stopped by the Ramsey Canyon Preserve hoping to see hummingbirds at the feeders they have set up there. The naturalists said there “weren’t many” but we saw plenty, including this new species drinking sugar water from the feeders:
Ramsey Canyon snack
After that we made it to Cobban and Ray’s place out in the middle of the desert. The desert there looks different, with fewer cacti but more grasses, with a great view of the mountains. Inside there were drinks and karaoke:
Cobban had Prince’s “Pussy Control” on his pimped-out karaoke garage, and I sang it and learned that it is hard to rap an entire song. Then I tried Stevie Nick’s “Edge of Seventeen,” which practically blew out my vocal cords. I had more respect of both artists when I was done, and less respect from my friends I would assume.

The next day we went to Bisbee. Apparently Cobban hadn’t been there in a while and everyone we met knew him and wanted to chat with him. I found a cute taco nook and took pictures during those times:
Bisbee taco nook
We headed back to Tucson for drinks at Patrick’s, then out on the town for a bit. Homer was a bit hungover from the night before in Bisbee, but I think he needed to cut loose, and as you can see, he had:
visitors from beyond the fly over
The next day we hiked up a hill near Homer’s house so we could see neolithic rock art. Homer’s spotting skills for this stuff is excellent, and I wasn’t able to show the others where it was without his guiding skills. I like this spiral, and the neolithic Celts drew the same stuff on rocks in Ireland. Was there a connection?
Rock Art
On the walk back I did see some art I understood: MADONNA!!! So I struck a pose in front of her shrine:
After that we stopped at Sweetwater Wetlands for some birdwatching. Over the whole trip Gurl and Sweetwater got a lot of birdwatching in, and several significant species were seen, so I think they can test out of Birding 101 and 202 by now:
Sweetwater Birders
After some lunch we headed out to the San Xavier Mission, where a lot of work had been completed since I’d been there before. An interesting site, and I liked their cactus garden too:
San Xavier Mission
Then dinner at Homer’s with mummy, which was delightful.

It’s no surprise that there are closeted folk in Washington, D.C., although I find for the most part most of the gays are out of the closet here – at least in this safety bubble of our urban environment. I suspect not all of them are out to their families – which is the important part that helps make a difference. But tonight at our biweekly Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) gaming session I heard about one closet case that takes the cake.

We suspected one former player from our group wasn’t 100% comfortable talking about being a gamer amongst mixed company – particularly in social settings like at happy hour in a bar. Apparently the social stigma of rolling the d20 is still too much to bear in 2012. We couldn’t prove it but certain interactions were awkward after he left the group. I mean who wouldn’t want to brag about our assault on the Vault of the Drow at Cobalt or JRs? And we made it through the Temple of Elemental Evil in record time – why not talk about it over a beer at Nellie’s or over cocktails at Town? Good times, good times…

Legion of DoomBut one of our long-time gamers was talking with another former member who had to leave due to higher ed schoolwork and whatnot and eventually joined another group. We had heard of other gay DnD groups in the city occasionally over the years. When asked who his new *DM was he said he could not say because his DMs partner didn’t want it known that he played Dungeons and Dragons. They are out as a gay couple, but not open about their role playing hobby.

So there you have it, closeted Dungeons and Dragons players. I find it hard to believe and am sending out gossip feelers to confirm this as I find it unbelievable that the stigma of being a gamer is actually worse for some than being gay. But apparently in the clean-cut white collar environment of DC some things are best kept secret. Like rollin’ the d20 and cuttin’ down orcs every other Sunday night.

Our group has decided we’re more like the SuperFriends gaming in the Hall of Justice, and that other group are The Others, or possibly the Legion of Doom. For every one of us there is an arch enemy in the other group. Mine would be the closeted DM.

It strikes me as odd because the twentysomething gays these days are all about being nerdy and geeky, freely admitting they love comics and sci-fi and all that. There is no longer such a set mold for “the gay lifestyle” and the younger gays are freer to choose what hobbies they like. Perhaps the closeted DM and/or his partner are closer to my age and feel compelled to present a certain type of image.

Regardless, tonight our gaming party defeated two slaadi and a troop of bullywugs, then came up against an otyugh guarded by two shambling mounds. As the DM I rolled a few critical hits but failed to stop the party on their quest. We’re currently playing in the Dark Sun campaign setting, which is sort of like Mad Max with magic, with a little John Carter thrown in for good measure. The party consists of a human templar, dragonborn battlemind, goliath druid, halfling sorcerer, half-elf bard, and a mul gladiator. If some of these races or classes sound unfamiliar, there’s been a lot of expansion in the new (4th) edition of Dungeons and Dragons increasing the options for players. Thankfully no one is playing a drow. They’re a pain in the ass.

* “DM” stands for Dungeon Master, or gaming facilitator much like the Banker role in Monopoly.