Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our route

Here's where the wagon trains are heading starting Saturday Nov 14, 2008 morning:

View Larger Map

Plane ride east, wagons west

Tomorrow I'm finally heading back to Raleigh and seeing Sarah again. It's been WAY too long. Painfully long. 6 weeks.

Southern Oregon is beautiful. No debating that.

It's also a new world for me in terms of demographics - VERY white and strange. Strange in a way I don't yet understand enough to explain sufficiently. Best way I can is by listing things I've noticed:

  1. mansions next to trailers
  2. house trailers for sale for $17,000 on the same street as $400,000 homes - wtF?
  3. trashy places - from gross(!) grocery stores to houses that I'm surprised can be loaned on
  4. not suburbia in the southern sense. I'd gotten used to new places, shiny stores, starbucks, and construction, but not so much here. Most places were built 10 or more years ago and show it
  5. VERY Haves and REALLY don't have-nots. Metros and Bugatis sharing the road. It's as if upper middle class does not exist - only lower middle/lower income and upper class
  6. a latent "green" spirit - people here from every socio-econommic level care about the enironment and can talk about it. that's incredibly different from east coast
  7. love of wine - the layman here knows more about wine than most any southerner
  8. lots of outdoorsy people
  9. lots of guys with strange beards. Is it the mountains that makes you want to look like you're into building bombs in a shed?
  10. Chains! I had not thought of putting chains on tires since I was @8. Here its a way of winter life.
  11. hilariously boring news - no surprise, welcome to a small town
  12. LOTS AND LOTS of organic food at the grocery, and lots of bulk food items

Anyways, thats enough for now. Will be posting images this week of the drive which starts tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

sad. too sad to speak much of.

I stopped eating pork almost 2 years ago.

I LOVED German sausage and sausage in foods like wedding soup. My friends in Florida actually used to give me a hard time about how much I loved summer sausage.

That was until I moved to North Carolina.

This land of God-fearing, religious people in the Bible Belt has piglet trucks that track back and forth across the state from breeders to slaughterhouses.

These are 18 wheelers stuffed with baby piglets (like Babe) who are crammed in so tight that their legs, tails, and noses stick out the side of the trailers. I started crying one day when I looked over at the truck which was passing me and saw all the cute piglets stuffed therein.

I won't be a part of it. I won't pretend I don't know it happens. In seeing those piglets I knew I could not in good faith eat pork again.

CNN has a story up about another factory farm and abuse. Why can't American's face the truth about the meat on their tables and being served them in restaurants?

Several excerpts:
At one point on the video, an employee shouts to an investigator, "Hurt 'em! There's nobody works for PETA out here. You know who PETA is?"
"I hate them. These [expletives] deserve to be hurt. Hurt, I say!," the employee yells as he hits a sow with a metal rod. "Hurt! Hurt! Hurt! Hurt! ... Take out your frustrations on 'em." He encourages the investigator to pretend that one of the pigs scared off a voluptuous and willing 17- or 18-year-old girl, and then beat the pig for it.

"At one point in the video, workers are shown slamming piglets on the ground, a practice designed to instantly kill those baby pigs that aren't healthy enough. But on the video, the piglets are not killed instantly, and in a bloodied pile, some piglets can be seen wiggling vainly. The video also shows piglets being castrated, and having their tails cut off, without anesthesia."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Why The Dark Knight was disappointing

Because I'm too lazy to retype this, here's my reasoning (from an IM with a friend):

[12:49] leetanker: you didnt like the dark knight?
[12:49] leetanker: WAH?
[12:49] leetanker: ARE YOU MAD?
[12:49] reallygreengiant: yeah I am. squandered.
[12:49] leetanker: i havent seen it yet, but i hear it rules
[12:50] reallygreengiant: 1) not enough of the Joker at the end
[12:50] reallygreengiant: 2) 3 villains - story moved too fast
[12:50] reallygreengiant: 3) why have stupid CSI scenes??
[12:51] reallygreengiant: 4) Why spend so much time on cellhpone/sonar tricks instead of us just watching batman do it??
[12:51] reallygreengiant: 5) Where was Batman's sadness at his loss??
[12:51] reallygreengiant: all in all, they did too much and should have focused on Joker v. Batman
[12:51] reallygreengiant: VERY disappointing
[12:51] leetanker: considering we arent going to see the joker again...
[12:51] reallygreengiant: and I am the only person in America who thinks this apparently
[12:51] reallygreengiant: lol
[12:52] leetanker: i hear ledger is gonna win an oscar for that
[12:52] reallygreengiant: joker was awesome, but not oscar worth - shit - he wasnt on camera enough!
[12:52] reallygreengiant: he might have been on camera a total of 30 mins
[12:52] leetanker: the guy died
[12:52] reallygreengiant: during shooting, I thought it was in pos production
[12:52] leetanker: cause he was so freaking wierded out by it
[12:52] leetanker: yeah, it was
[12:53] reallygreengiant: he died mixing too many presciprtion drugs. woops. sucks.
[12:53] leetanker: yeah, i blame the joker
[12:53] reallygreengiant: that's the tradegy - he was great, but they didnt utilize him enough!!!
[12:53] reallygreengiant: he wasn't on camera the last 30 mins

The recap and reasoning for my extreme disappointment in The Dark Knight:
1) not enough of the Joker at the end - not enough Joker at all
2) 3 villains - story moved too fast
3) why have stupid CSI scenes??
4) Why spend so much time on cellhpone/sonar tricks instead of us just watching batman do it?? We know Batman is full of cool tricks and can assume that stuff.
5) Where was Batman's sadness at his loss?? He mourned for 30 seconds

Main point: Heath was great - so why not focus on Batman vs Joker and let Heath get some screen time! Shame on you Chris Nolan. Do one story and do it superbly, and leave out Two Face, Scarecrow, and the CSI.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Kart's as good as the old days

This generation's Mario Kart is every bit as good as the N64 benchmark. As soon as I stop playing it I'll write more...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Two days to Kart time

Cannot wait for Sunday and Mario Kart, Wii-style. I've been a fan since the N64 and the new version will be solid, no doubt.

Friday, March 28, 2008

GTA IV and music sales

My God this is cool. In game advertising done right, with consumer input and using the consumer's (gamer's) own interest to drive sales. THIS IS ONLINE SALES done right. Rockstar is a real trendsetter, as always. Hopefully the internet connectivity won't let this down.

Yahoo! is reporting that Rockstar and Amazon are teaming up to offer ZiT, a music download service specifically created for Grand Theft Auto IV.

In a partnership bound to shake, rattle and roll both the music biz and interactive entertainment, Rockstar Games and Amazon have teamed up to create an ambitious new model for digital music distribution. Built exclusively for the upcoming video game blockbuster Grand Theft Auto IV, it allows players to buy real-world MP3s of tracks heard over the game's numerous radio stations in a very seamless manner. (Initially, this service will only be available in the U.S.)

Advertised throughout Liberty City, the cheekily-named "ZiT" technology is built into the game's mobile phone interface system. As players cruise around the world listening to the in-game radio, they can at any point 'mark' a song by opening their phone and dialing the number ZIT-555-0100. Gamers will then receive a text message with the song and artist names, and if they're registered at the forthcoming Rockstar Games Social Club community site, they'll find an e-mail waiting in their inbox with a direct link to a custom playlist on All songs tagged "ZiT" will be stored here, available for preview and purchase at Amazon's going rate of $.89-$.99 per track. Best of all, those MP3s are free of the Digital Rights Management (DRM) limitations imposed on files downloaded through Apple's iTunes store and thus can be imported into any computer or digital device with no constraints.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Next-Gen's fantastic review of Feb NPD numbers

Was bored out of my gourd today in a meeting one part in which I had no part and took the time to read through this fine piece of business analysis at Next-Gen concerning current and future sales trends in the console business. I was enraptured and completely fascinated. As a old gamer and an admitted dork over the gaming industry (see my Gygax post for proof) it was great to read some real business numbers and analysis on how the big three are planning their year and what challenges they will face.

I own a Wii but covet a 360, perhaps a PS3. With Grand Theft Auto IV coming out end of April I'll be watching closely to see if Sony or MS will come out with a new console SKU to promote themselves before this important release. I will end up buying one, but there are pros and cons of both - PS3 in potential and the blu-ray drive, 360 in current ability (game base), DLC for GTAIV, and the ability to be mp3 streaming from my home server.

I'd better start saving now...Sarah won't be happy...and not to mention that Mario Kart Wii is coming out the same week - I don't know how I'll manage it all with my personal accountant :)

Cheers to The Economist

If ever I could be any more proud of my adopted publication, it would be after reading their obit on Gary Gygax. First, if anyone knows me they know how much I gush about the quality of this paper.

But in this case they prove once again that they are the foremost newspaper/magazine being dolled out to eager subscribers.

Gary Gygax did have a HUGE impact on me and still does. I love the game he created and that does make me a certified, die-carrying nerd.

But this paragraph pefectly sets the context of a man few outside of DND had heard of:
His influence extends even to people who have never conjured a fireball in anger. Today's world is a nerd's world, and Mr Gygax did much to shape it. Blockbuster fantasy films like “The Lord of the Rings” are produced and directed by people who grew up with the game. Computer games are part of mainstream culture; “World of Warcraft”, an internet-based D&D clone, boasts 10m subscribers. Many of the people who built the internet (and their fortunes) spent their childhoods playing the game. The entry for D&D on Wikipedia is twice the length of the article on Proust
Rest in peace Gary - you were the grandfather millions of us wish we had. Thanks for the thousands of hours we had (and will continue to have). PS - anyone know a good gamer group in NE Raleigh???

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Guitar Hero and humility

33 next week. Crow eating this week.

Bought a Wii a while back but just recently got Guitar Hero III with all the 80s metal I love. Dude - there's even Slayer and Maiden on there. It was a no brainer for me. I had played it at my buddy's house couple of weeks back and thought I was a budding rockstar judging by my fairly decent ability at it on my first time.

Well now I watch Sarah's brother (who's staying with us while he finishes this semester online) play it on Hard - and yeah...I would rather everyone leave for a while so I can play with my toys...don't you guys need to take a walk?

It's one thing to rock out in front of others.

But getting booed off stage while trying to play my glory days teenage rock song isn't so good for the inner hero.

Practice Daniel-san. Practice.

ok, almost 3 weeks later and coffee ain't all that great

Maybe I'm turning British, but had my first cup of joe this morning in three weeks.

Survey says: "meh."

It's like using a sledgehammer to put a pin nail into a wall.

Where's the subtle flavors that great chai has??

Ok, so two years ago it was no pork for breakfast, now its no coffee. At this rate I'll be handing my Man Club card in soon.

That's ok though, if I keep it up I'll probably outlive the other members...

why home improvements will drive me to insanity

Ok, it's time to be honest. I should really reconsider doing my own home improvements.

Not because I do something sitcom worthy like knock a wall out by accident. It's because I'm my own, very personal, very picky, very precise and very grumpy critic.

We bought this Raleigh house with its horrible white carpet under the rock-solid stipulation that it had to go. Everything else about the house we loved - carpet however is not something Sarah and I can stand any longer after living in the 110 year old home in Winston with wall-to-wall ancient hardwoods.

So I'm working with Capital Hardwood Flooring in Raleigh, who so far have been really great - they're picking up the wood I ordered online from Washington state and are going to deliver it and install for a great price. Roger's a great guy.

But I've decided I want the studio (formerly known as "bonus room") to be rid of the equal-to-carpet-godawful popcorn ceiling gone. Good news: I got a great new tool ($15) for removing the popcorn - a pole scraper with a bag attachment that saves a lot of the mess. Bad news - I'm a total freak about getting the ceiling perfectly clean and smooth.

I have a mantra I tell myself in home improvements: "prefection is abstration." But about 20 years on, I still don't really live it. I obsess completely and wholeheartedly about getting these kinds of projects done perfectly - typically leading to me undoing and redoing projects until I am completely satisfied that they are "perfect." This also leads to about four times the amount of work most normal people would put into it, and definitely twice the consternation and consideration, and triple the worrying about it. I find myself wanting to sneak up in the middle of the night to take another review of my work before I'm done. It's a sickness. Sarah just sighs and tries to comfort and dissuade my closet OCD alter-ego, but typical for me I don't listen. I'm driven to make it perfect to my own eye.

Funny thing is, no one ever notices that I took the extra step to do it right.

But then, that really doesn't matter to me anyways I guess. No one else sees that the far corner, if you stand directly under it and look just right with the lights shining on it - there's still a lil bit of unsmooth spackle...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

swore off coffee

Swore off coffee on Valentine's day. It's been a long week and a half! I had an afternoon headache for a good 7 days but I'm finally through with them. I'm drinking hot tea now. Not too bad.

But going to a cool coffee shop ain't the same when you order a green tea and the whole menu makes you crave a good joe with hot milk. damn. coffee, it's sad to see you go.

what I've been reading

I've recently finished reading Steve Ross' book. He's become my guru. His book, Happy Yoga is something any yoga student and teacher could learn from. His key point of enjoying yoga, smiling and being happy while doing it, is something that is quickly and easily lost in so many classes I've taken. Teachers who lean too heavily on the physicality of yoga miss the other 80% - the spiritual, deep practice of listening and learning from your body while simultaneously enlightening yourself and coming close (in my estimation) to God.

Another great book I've read recently is No More Bull by Howard F. Lyman. It has, along with Ross' book, pushed me 90% of the way to vegetarianism. I'll probably take the 10% step soon, because suddenly when I see catfish at a fish markets I imagine them scooped up, terrified, in nets - only to die breathless while being filleted alive. Starts taking the enjoyment out of what you're eating when you identify with its slaughter.

I have completely sworn off beef because of the Lyman book though. He paints a clear picture of the dirtiness of american beef and how likely we are, as a society, to find at some point in the future that CJD, Alzheimers, and other brain wasting diseases are prevalent in our beef supply.

And finally, anyone who eats pork is either delusional, heartless, or blind to what pork in doing to our environment. When we lived in Winston-Salem on three occasions I got jammed next to piglet delivery trucks. You see little pink curled tails sticking out of the sides of the trailer, little piglet hooves sticking out, and can see them with cute snouts trying to gasp air above one another.

For anyone who does not know unfortunately North Carolina is a major world exporter of pork and we should consider it our singular shame. These piglets are crammed into huge 18-wheeler trailers with no room to turn around and hauled across the state to the fattening farms. Once there they endured not-short-enough life of hell (torture) and are slaughtered gruesomely. It's an embarrassment to civilization that we silently condone it. It's humiliating to me that no one cares in this state. Tar Heel, NC is the world's largest pork factory in the world. It's a concentration camp for animals. Someday hopefully people will wake up to this.

yoga this am

GREAT yoga class this morning at Yogasana in Raleigh. It was our second class there and Carson's class this morning was especially good. Good enough that I actually was too dizzy in a couple of places to close my eyes during a slow period.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Yoga and cultivating your own garden

Sarah went to Florida just after NYE and I took that alone time to convsider myself. I decided dedicating myself more to yoga would improve me, and so started doing Steve Ross' Inhale yoga that I set the DVR to record. The guy's incredible - he puts together a perfect 40min class that involves just enough spiritual and physical work to make you feel like you've actually accomplished something.

I'm dedicating myself to it, and the more I do yoga the better I've felt. Hopefully these pages will chronicle my enlightenment in this area.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Have had a headache now for about two weeks off and on. Makes me wonder about all the work and stress I'm involved in right now.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

26,000 breaths a day

We take approximately 26,000 breaths a day. How many of those are you aware of?

-Steve Ross