Thursday, November 30, 2006

The four seasons

Even though winter is officially about three weeks away, it is very wintry here in Bend of late. It is so great to have snow on a regular basis. The changing of the seasons brings with it so many other great changes. I've been particularly enjoying the seasonal change to dark beer. Being back in the land of good beer (in SD a "good" beer is often considered a domestic light beer with a shot or two of tomato juice mixed in, thus making it a "red beer"), provides so many different choices. I sampled a beer from Cascade Lakes Brewery called Santa's Little Helper, and one from McMenamin's called Kris Kringle. This is an great trend, combining two of my favorite things...Christmas and good beer. Plus, the word has gotten around work that I can tune a mean pair of skis, and I take payment in six packs. So with a few covert deliveries, and well-timed use of the shop's equipment, I will be able to keep the fridge well stocked. The first payment? A sixer of Jubelale. This year's recipes is better that last's, the yearly art work on the label is decent too. Bottom's up.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Disturbing Trend?

At Mt. Bachelor, the lift tickets are credit card sized pieces of thick weather-proof paper. Embedded in them is something that trips a sensor at the entry to the lift line. This sensor then activates a gate that you move through, thus removing the need for employees to physically check the validity of guests' passes. This system is supposed to save the resort money and streamline the life lines. Since Mt. Bachelor Inc. is cheap and unorganized, many employees do not have their employee passes yet (basically the only reason to work there). To alleviate this, the cashiers give employees such as myself senior, 70+, passes to use for the day. Theoretically, you can carry your pass in your left jacket pocket and still trip the sensor. Unfortunately for me, the pass issued to me today did not seem to trip the sensors at the entry gate as well as it should. So, having my pass in my left jacket pocket, I had to engage in some risque hip grinding with the sensors in order to get them to open the gate. If the sensor and I were on the dance floor I would either be scoring some major points or getting a slap in the face. Even though it was inconvenient, the hip rubbing while on a board made for some good entertainment. So this is the second time in the last few months that I have unintentionally gotten friendly with an inanimate object. At least I wasn't in a Smokey the Bear costume this time.

The snow was fantastic, knee deep and dry. I knew it was a good day when my goggle straps froze to my sideburns. There were many great runs and a few good crashes. I got applause and hoots and hollers from the lift for one.

I also got a job offer from the snowboard shop that kept yanking me around a couple weeks ago. So now instead of having the problem of being unemployed I have the problem of having one too many job opportunities. Better than too few, I guess.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

To tip or not to tip

I have deplored the recent growth of "tip jars" at various establishments. I have no problem tipping generously for good service. But I limited my definition of "service" to include only the traditional services one would receive at a sit down restaurant, a bar, or perhaps when getting a haircut. I figured that I had to be sitting and relaxing while someone served me in order to warrant a tip. In other words, why should I tip at the typical coffee joint, for instance, when I have to stand at the counter, find a seat, and then go back up and get my coffee when it is ready. The customer is doing most of the "serving." This being said, I still do tip occasionally at coffee joints etc... when there is good reason to (or maybe it is just that I allow myself to be guilted into it by the tip jar sitting prominently right in front of me).

The reason I bring this up, is that my boss at work has put a tip jar next to the cash register in the shop. The jar is actually a plastic Mt. Bachelor coffee cup on which he has written "Tips - so you don't fall down." I guess that people are supposed to read that and tip me so that I don't purposely mess up their skis or boards thus causing them to fall down. I have greatly appreciated the little extra money the tip jar provides. I can now justify eating out occasionally or spending that few extra dollars here and there. But am I really providing a service that I am not already getting paid for? Am I contributing to a trend I deplore? I probably am, and I should tell myself to "shut up and do your job without whining about tips" just like I always thought about employees at establishments sporting unwarranted tip jars. But for now, I am enjoying the extra cash (let's here it for greed), and in my own little world sticking it to the management of the mountain, who is responsible for my lowly compensation.
Maybe tips should be proportional to the creativity displayed on the tip jar itself.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkey Day

The spread turned out quite nice. I've never appreciated how good real stuffing is. This year was the first that I attempted to stuff the turkey. It turned out great, stuffing rules.
The after dinner festivities included watching The Day After Tomorrow with Dennis Quiad. This is probably the worst movie I have seen in a long time. This is really saying something since I am very easily entertained, and not very critical when it comes to movies. The lesson of the movie...stop global warming or the entire northern hemisphere will be engulfed in hurricane-like Arctic storms that can cause "the temperature to drop ten degrees a second!" Wow, that would suck. Assuming a starting temperature of sixty degrees, absolute zero would be reached in 51.967 seconds. Shit, that's cold.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Drunken Cooking III

I've heard of the joys of drunken blogging, and now I can enjoy them too. I am celebrating Thanksgiving today with my brother, Brian, and his friends Jasper and Sam. There has been lots of cooking, drinking, and tom foolery - especially with the resident labrador Charlie. Our first round of car bombs was finished by 9:10, the second by 9:45. Now, the turkey is in the oven, the music is playing, and plans are being made for squash, green bean casserole (we were inspired by Austin's casserole last year), pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, and cranberries. We even stuffed the turkey for real this time. Yum. Happy Thanksgiving!
Me climbing yesterday at Smith Rock
This pic is from last year, but it is being repeated today, only in a new location.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dead End Jobs Have Their Benefit

Given the qualifications one must posses to work at Mt. Bachelor (see last blog post) it shouldn't have surprised me that the motivation of the employees and quality of work that they do is less than stellar. Example: today a young guy that I work with brought his board in to work to tune it up. He was excited to do this since tuning your own equipment during slow hours is a perk of working in the shop. So he got a few minimal instructions from the head shop guy and went about grinding the base of his snowboard on the base grinder (think huge belt sander turned up-side-down). Unfortunately for his board, he was a little too excited and proceeded to grind the base completely off his board and expose the wood core, thus ruining the board. For those of you not up on snowboard construction, think of it as getting only one set of tires for the life your car and then peeling out until they blew, making your car unusable. This is just one example of many that demonstrate the promise of Central Oregon's young adults. The upshot is I look like a freakin' genius. By simply not being a total dumb-ass while making even the slightest attempt to stay busy I am perceived as a model employee. Let's hear it for low standards.

To give said employees credit, they know where all the dives in Bend are to get cheap drinks. At the last place I visited I had the choice of PBR on tap, in 16oz tall boys, or High Life on tap. A drunk middle aged female redneck poked me in the butt with her pool cue, then I left.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Working in Coal Mine...

...but for a fraction of what coal miners make. I finally found a job in anticlimatic fashion. I decided to stop by and talk to someone about jobs when I was at the mountain on Tuesday. I was hired on the spot simply because I agreed to take a drug test. Apparently the bar is not set too high at Mt. Bachelor. Last year everyone who passed the drug test was hired. I feel great to be included in such an exclusive group. My new job will be tuning skis and snowboards. I enjoy this work, but can't help being depressed about being paid $8/hr. I am pretty sure I made that much in high school. The remedy...remember why I came here (to snowboard not make money), and stick it to the mountain any way I can (give everyone I know free tuneups whenever I can).

Through the process of looking for a job I have come to a conclusion similar to my conviction that most people's IQ decreases substantially when they get behind the wheel of a car (I am also prone to this at times). My new conclusion is that there is a certain percentage of the population that when given the power and responsibility to hire people consciously or unconsciously turn up there ass-hole meter. Why is it so hard for people to call back and simply say "we don't need any new employees at this time?" The amount of time and stress this simple phrase could have saved me is immense.

One more rant: Not only have I been very pissed off at Wells Fargo of late due to their handling of some large deposits I made, they now put commercials for their various services into the scripts for their automated phone systems. So not only does it require speaking to several different people to change your address on different accounts or services they provide, but now you have to sit through their self-promotion. Up yours Wells Fargo.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Snow Day

This morning as I was putting on my long johns for a trip to the mountain I began to wonder how the name "John" became associated with the men's privy and thermal underwear. Are women's thermals called "long Janes?" Have any of you guys ever heard a woman say "I'm going to the Jane?" And women, have any of you ever uttered said phrase?

Once I pulled myself from deep though I made the trip to the mountain. The snow is hip deep at least, but fortunately I had snowshoes. A friend, Wil, and I hiked to the top of Cinder Cone and rode down. The hike is about 45 minutes - a small price to pay for the first fresh tracks of the season. I even had to put the truck in four wheel drive to bust through a few big drifts in the parking lot on the way out.

On the downside, the state of SD said I didn't make enough money last year to qualify for unemployment this year. Bastards. I thought the fact that I haven't been making much money at any point in my life while still dutifully plugging away at some job would help my case. Apparently not. South Dakota, you disappoint me, but at least I'm not from North Dakota.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Snow and the various levels of Hell

My trip to Eugene was a great time. I'm looking forward to the next one. And on the way home to Bend, I was reminded of the other reason why I moved to Central Oregon...SNOW. Santiam pass was loading up and the snow was starting to stick to the roads much to my delight. I am just waiting to have to put the chains on the truck and drive around in some conditions that no one in their right mind should be out in.
On another note, I had the unique experience of taking in a Gwar show last night. They claim to be "mortals from hell sent to destroy the human race." Man was I unprepared for the blood-spurting, Satan-fighting, hand-job-giving antics of the members of the band. Each member of the band wore incredible costumes that combined lots of scary stuff - namely horns, spikes, and over sized versions of the male anatomy that no one really wants to see. The weirdest part was that these costumes were so elaborate that appendages could be ripped or sliced off (there was sword fighting) and they would spurt lots of fake blood or other appropriate bodily fluids out of them. It was an impressive show of puppeteering, especially when the ten foot tall mutated T-rex ate the ten foot tall Satan. The whole show depicted visually (I couldn't understand a word they sung) the band's decent into hell. On the way down they managed to kill George Bush and the Pope just for good measure. Check out their website, it's a trip. I was glad I went, so now I can say "I've been to a Gwar show" and gain some street cred in the Goth scene.Those poor-poor people in the first few rows. I think Gwar is best appreciated from the balcony with a beer in hand.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A quick thought

As I was wandering around campus today listening to the Life Aquatic soundtrack I remembered a train of thought I had about academia over the last couple of years. The two college campuses that I have spent time on felt like a haven from the outside world to me. The simple lack of auto traffic, the park-like setting, and the regard for knowledge that the outside world doesn't always have are just three of the conditions that contribute to this haven-like status atmosphere. In fact, it is not a bad place to escape from reality in a way. This is probably one reason that I like being in school. Here's to hoping that the potential work I do with National Park Service has a similar feel to it.

My Town

I made the trip from Bend to Eugene on Tuesday to visit the members of the history posse that still remain in the rainy Willamette Valley. Being back in Eugene, strolling around on campus, and especially chillin' with the crew has been great. My brief two years in Academia treated me well, but I may never be back. It's too bad that Eugene isn't closer to the ski hill. The addition of a mountain/ski bum scene would be a killer combination with the vibe that Eugene already has.

This visit's activities have included some pool playing, some beer drinking, some tattooing (for my host Fernando, not me), a late night McRib (a lapse in judgement produced by the beer), some good reminiscing, and good company.

On a side note, I created my first ever playlist on my Ipod for the drive. A pinch of Willie, a little Jack White, some Built to Spill, a dash of Manu Chao and Rage Against the Machine, and even a little Montgomery Gentry equal a good drive. I recommend the "Life Aquatic" soundtrack for strolling around campuses. You get David Bowie in English and Portuguese.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

One more reason to vote

I have to add one more reason to Kungfuramone's excellent list of reasons to vote.
1. Pick someone that votes the opposite of what you do and then classify your vote as a "cancellation" vote. For instance, I am always especially motivated to vote so that I can cancel out my dad's vote. I get special satisfaction from this because he is one of those people that you cannot persuade, sway, or enlighten once he has made up his mind. So in effect, his vote for the Republicans is cancelled by my vote for the Dem's, ha ha ha (maniacal laughter as I mark my ballot). There are plenty of people out there whose vote needs a good cancelling - whose will it be?

Disclaimer - I really like my dad - I just don't talk to him about politics.

Monday, November 06, 2006

To do list

My once long to do list is getting shorter and the remaining items are quaking in fear. Unfortunately getting a job is not among the threatened items, as I was told yet again by my favorite board shop in Bend "We need to hire someone, but it's really busy so we'll get back to you in a few days." Maybe I'm just not business-savvy enough, but it would seem to me that hiring new people before it gets even busier would be the way to go. I'm not too worried though, as the lack of a job will allow me to possibly make a trip to Eugene.

On a better note, I got moved in.The bachelor pad is officially open for business. No, Chris, I have no plants, so that status is fully justified. As you can see, there is a lot of space, so if any of you non-random-strangers reading my blog care to drop by I can provide a patch of floor to sleep on.

Bonuses of the new place
1. sliding glass door leading to a small deck.
2. my own bathroom (the tub was so big I felt compelled to include a picture of it)
3. a dog named Charlie

Downsides of the new place
1. the dog named Charlie has made a habit of coming into my room to stare at me. For some reason I can't relax or sit down when she is doing that (never mind that I have no chairs...I have the ultimate piece of furniture/maritime safety device - an inflatable bed).
2. carpet in the bathroom - honestly, who ever thought carpet in a bathroom was a good idea. It is like having a giant sponge on your floor.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the non-drunken, blog version of my thoughts on voting.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Today is the day...moving in.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Burning my Mouth on South Dakota's Teat

My current unemployed status has its rewards. I've finally created my own blog. With plenty of great models to emulate (see blog list), I guess it was just a matter of finding the time. I have a nice sense of achievement going for me right now as well as a burned mouth. It seems that in my excitement to create a blog I took a swallow of latte that was just a bit too hot. This is just a small price to pay for achieving what I have meant to do since last March. Stay tuned, good things are sure to come... I will surely have more spare time. All I have to do is move, unpack, find a job, forward my mail, pay my bills, drink beer etc... My blog is more important than most of that right? After all, I'm nursing off the government's teat. South Dakota has low unemployment payments, but they at least take the pressure off of finding a job pronto.