Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I've been reading a lot recently about hammock camping, and it sounds extremely cool. Instead of using a tent for camping in, you hang a hammock and use that as a shelter instead.

The hammock's completely enclosed and is lightweight and portable so it can be used almost anywhere. Once you put a tarp above it, you're protected completely from the elements and it's apparently a much more comfortable sleep than lying on the ground. Since you're not touching the ground you're not limited to flat areas free of roots and rocks or designated camping sites. All you need is two trees and you're set. Here's a set up using a tarp:

Hammock Camping
(pic courtesy of Wikipedia at the link listed above)

Very cool.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The AT

I decided this weekend to set a date for my Appalachian Trail attempt. I've been talking a lot about it for a while now and even made a half-hearted attempt a few years back. And I'm using the word "attempt" pretty loosely there, all I really did was claim I was going to do it the following spring and that's as far as anything really went. I did some preliminary planning but there wasn't any follow through with anything and it didn't happen. My typical "I need/want to do it NOW NOW NOW" thought process without actually considering the enormity of what it entailed. It didn't diminish my desire to do it though, it only delayed it a bit.

Shortly after that The Shelbster was diagnosed with diabetes and Cushing's Syndrome, and that effectively postponed the trip for the next two years. The daily shots were bad enough on her, not to mention the periods when she spent days at a time on IVs at the vet. There was no way I could abandon her for 6 months and ask someone else to care for her. She would have loved walking it with me but without her insulin and other care she wouldn't have made it far, and I had no desire to watch her die like that.

I was seriously considering an attempt next Spring but I'm thinking that the health stuff I've had happen this year is more than enough reason to reconsider and wait a bit longer (and it's a good thing that I didn't try it those years ago given my health, I probably wouldn't have survived it). There's no rush on this and I definitely don't need to push myself right now. Slow 'n steady, and all that jazz. The wait will just make me savor it all the more when it finally does happen.

So the date I set this weekend was for the Spring of 2011. It sounds like a long way away, but it's only a little over 2 years from now. One of those annoying things that life teaches is that time really does seem to move a lot quicker on this end of the candle. That old saying that youth is wasted on the young is true. Two years will disappear in a flash.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekend Randomness

Well October's halfway done and another weekend's come to an end. I didn't do anything productive on Saturday; slept in and then stayed at home all day.

This afternoon I went and got my hair cut at one of those cheap strip mall places that only charges $9 a pop. I've never seen the point in spending much more than that for my haircuts since there's not a lot involved in it. "Gimme a #4 blade on the sides and back, then scissor trim the top to blend in". It doesn't take long and it's pretty hard to mess it up.

Plus with the rate my hair's thinning, the scissor portion of it is getting somewhat less time consuming to cut. The stylist today even suggested that I might want to consider shortening it to a #3 blade all over, since that's a good look for men whose hair "is thinning out a lot around the edges like yours is." Thanks for putting it like that, I'm sure I'll hear those words echoing in my dreams. I'm ok with it thinning and have no qualms about being an old bald man one day. Really. It's just hearing it said so matter of factly like that from a complete stranger seemed to make it more real somehow.

After the trim I drove around for a few hours enjoying the clear day and found my way over to the new REI store that opened this weekend. Very cool 2-story store jam packed with outdoor gear and clothing. It was crawling with customers on both floors, but strangely no one was buying anything. They were all milling about the aisles standing in front of all the stuff I wanted to look at, but no one was in the checkout lines. I signed up for some camping gear giveaway (i.e. put my name on a mailing list for snail mail spam) and spent some time ogling the attractive people who were staffing the place but ended up not buying anything either. Very cool store though, if a bit overpriced compared to what I've seen online.

I was hoping they might have some camping hammocks either on display or at least there in the store that I could look at, but all they had were a few traditional tents and accessories. Guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and get one online and hope I like it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

TV Update

I haven't decided if I'm enjoying this season's TV story lines yet. Some of the shows I watch have been decent so far but others are leaving me a bit bored. And yeah, I realize I watch too much television. But other than the shows listed here I don't really watch anything else beyond a random show on Discovery or Sci-Fi here and there.

Amazing Race: Pretty good so far. They've picked a nice mix of couples to compete, but this show's always been a bit better than most other "reality" shows out there.

Heroes: Meh, it's boring me and I don't care for the character changes they've made. A couple twists isn't so bad, but changing every single person's personality is a bit much. My biggest peeves: Suresh was better as the bumbling scientist instead of a "Fly" ripoff; Sylar was MUCH more interesting as a villain; Peter needs to just disappear for several episodes, I'm tired of him altogether.

Pushing Daisies: Love this show. Quirky characters, weird stories, strange dialog, unusual sets and scenery, and a completely unbelievable premise to base the show on to begin with. It's practically perfect in every way.

Survivor: About what I expect from the show. I don't have many feelings about it yet either way, but it usually takes me about half the season to get involved with many characters anyway.

My Name is Earl: Watched the first 2 episodes (shown back-to-back as the season opener). Haven't seen an episode since, and haven't really missed it. It's not that I stopped liking the show, I record it every week. I just haven't had a desire to watch it.

The Office: Love it. The first couple of episodes were a bit off but the last few have been right on the mark. The best written and acted show on television today.

Grey's Anatomy: I was on the fence about this one after last season; it was getting a bit too preachy for my taste. It hasn't been too bad yet so I'll keep watching for a while. I'm enjoying the burgeoning lesbian love affair between Callie and Erica, but the whole Meredith and Derek thing is old and tiresome, it needs to be resolved soon so they can move to something else.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

12 of 12

"12 of 12" is a cool concept developed by Chad. On the 12th of every month you take 12 pictures to show how you spent your day. I've been meaning to do it for a couple of months now but always forget about it until the 13th. This month it just happened to be the day the family gathered to celebrate my Dad and Sister's birthdays so I already had a reason to snap some pics. (Their birthdays aren't the same day, we just consolidate and have a big gathering).

(Click pics to embiggen)

8:25am. Asheville, NC. My reminder to do "12 of 12" this month.

12:19pm. Black Mountain, NC. On I-40 East heading towards my parent's house for the birthday festivities.

1:11pm. Hickory, NC. Success! Arriving at their house.

1:12pm. Hickory, NC. I'm greeted by my niece, nephew, and mother at the front door.

1:14pm. Hickory, NC. Just in time for way too much mom-cooked food (it was all delicious, Ma).

3:11pm. Hickory, NC. My niece is going as "Belle" from Beauty and the Beast for Halloween this year and had to model the dress for me.

4:00pm. Hickory, NC. We spent most of the afternoon outside since it was a gorgeous Fall day. Here are the kids riding their bikes and big wheels.

5:24pm. Hickory, NC. It's become a family tradition to have balloons at every birthday gathering, and at some point before the day is over we go outside and release them into the sky and watch as they float away. I had the white one this time.

6:16pm. Hickory, NC. Mom's flowers are still looking pretty good. They probably only have a few more weeks before the cold weather gets them though.

6:23pm. Hickory, NC. Taken by my 4½ year old niece. She has a good eye for detail.

6:36pm. Hickory, NC. Sun's starting to set, almost time to go home.

7:17pm. Morganton, NC (or thereabouts). On I-40 West headed back home. Not a bad day at all.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Another Dream

I've been having this odd recurring dream for the last few weeks. I don't have it every night but it keeps popping up every few days. It happened again last night.

In it I'm walking along a dirt path about the width of a road, and there are puddles of water scattered around it. The puddles are pretty big but they're not very deep. I go from one to another and I kneel down and place my right hand in the water for a few minutes. The heat from my hand warms the water enough to purify it somehow. I usually only do one puddle per dream so it ends as I'm standing up and getting ready to move on to the next. It's a very cool dream and I always wake up feeling good after I have one.

Last night's was a tad different. I warmed a puddle and moved to the side of the path to do another, only this one's water was almost dried up and was a milky stagnant color. There was only enough water to get my fingers wet in it, and it wouldn't heat up. I'll have to try to remember it's a dream the next time it happens and see if I can look around a bit.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Max Patch

I went on a bit of an outing this morning. A friend and I drove up to Max Patch. It was my first time on a "bald" (grass-covered treeless peak) and also my first time setting foot on the Appalachian Trail, but it will not be my last.

The place is simply stunning. A complete 360° view from the top, and the morning was crystal clear and crisp and that made the view even better. It's been described as a "Sound of Music" type place and that fits it perfectly. A twirling Julie Andrews singing to the hills would not have been out of place at all.

The pics I took of the trip can be found here.

Anyone who is ever close to it should definitely take the time to stop and see it. The parking area is at the base of the bald and it's just a short walk to the top; not strenuous by any means. I can't wait to go back.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Trashy Neighbors

I seem to be attracting the worst neighbors. The younger girl who lives next to me is at it again. She's had trash piled up outside her front door for about a week now. There's so much of it this time that several bags have toppled down her steps. I haven't seen her car parked in the lot since she put it there. And the nice clean, empty dumpster is mere yards away.

At least the woman who moved in below me seems to be fairly normal and quiet. So far.