Monday, February 20, 2006

Lubrecht Experimental Forest



I was feeling so guilty about not getting outside to exercise and have fun this weekend, that after my post yesterday I piled Allie the wonder dog and my gear into the car and headed about 45 minutes up the Blackfoot Valley for some cross country skiing at the Lubrecht Experimental Forest.
The Missoula Nordic Club has a great website which shows locations, conditions and directions to places all around the area for Nordic skiing. Lubrecht happens to be one of the few places where dogs are still allowed (I guess all that yellow snow and messing up the trails was their undoing everywhere else) and it is within easy driving distance of Missoula. They offer beginner, intermediate and difficult trails.
It was a beautiful day and the wind died down just enough to make the 3.4 mile loop (5.5km) exhilarating. I have absolutely terrible form and am slow as molasses, but I have a good time and work up a sweat every time I slap on the skinny skis. Allie had a tremendous time, running up ahead, playing in the snow, hunting for mice and voles and generally enjoying being outdoors.

The loop was a bit confusing for me, as the trails weren't quite as well marked as they could have been; at one point I thought I headed off into the wrong direction and was sure I'd be getting back to the trail head after dark. There weren't many other people and the ones I did see were mostly skate skiing and didn't stick around for a chat.

It took me about 1 hour, 45 minutes to complete the loop and I worked up a nice sweat. The loop passed through the forest, around a like, over a dam, up a nice hill and then back through the forest. Quite refreshing.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Brrrrrrrr.....

It has been an awfully strange winter in the northern Rockies. It was very cold in December, unseasonably warm in January and was spring-like just a week ago. Just last weekend I enjoyed a 'bluebird' day up at Snowbowl, with great temperatures and a bright, sunny sky. But it was -19F here two nights ago and -11 last night (at 9:00 AM this morning it was a balmy 0 degrees), causing Snowbowl to close the upper mountain (-50 wind chill) and putting a damper on outdoor activities for most people.
Today I was scheduled to travel about an hour and a half northeast of Missoula to a place called Holland Lake with my friend Phil Gardner for some cross country skiing and hiking. The lake sits in the Flathead National Forest and offers views of both the Swan and Mission mountain ranges...it is absolutely breathtaking (here is a photo). Unfortunately, the cold and wind forced us to cancel. It is very strange, as the sun is burning bright and there isn't a cloud in the sky, but the wind and temperatures can create danger, especially out on the ice, exposed, in the wilderness!
So instead I'll sit indoors and watch some more Olympic action...it's been exciting to watch so far.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cheney-gate

You know, I don't consider myself a pinko commie or bleeding heart liberal but I gotta say, I am so damned fed up with the way our country is being administered right now that I'm ready to start the no justice, no peace chant again (oops...I blew it. Yes, I did march on DC in April 1987 for peace and justice in Central America and south Africa). Our President has successfully eroded so many civil liberties that one could argue we aren't even really a democracy anymore.
And Cheney...what a lout. This business of him not letting anyone know about his shooting a fellow hunter for 24 hours and then controlling the release of information smacks of a complete disregard not only for the public but for the rule of law. But then again, the law doesn't mean much to Cheney, who consistently skirts rules and regulations for his and his fellow fat cats benefit (lets not forget the secret energy policy meetings attended by his buddies). I think it is ironic that President Bush's own memoirs talk of being open and up front with the public so they will like you when his vice President does nothing open or up front...he refuses to meet the press openly (his latest meeting with the Republican News Channels...errr....Fox news' Britt Hume was a complete joke...Britt should have just given him the blow job and been done with it)...he never meets the public and worst yet, he refuses to even admit he's human! Let's not forget it was Cheney and his lackeys who leaked Valerie Plumes name to get back at her husband. And worst of all, he and his understudies have encouraged an atmosphere of corruption in the Republican dominated Senate that is scurrilous ant best.
I can't wait to kick these SOB's and their corrupt and shameless party out of the White House.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Royalfolio

Recently I moved my office into another suite, down the hall from the other two suites our medical practice occupies. It was a long drawn-out process taking about two weeks with more frustration than trauma, as I waited for phone lines to be identified and connected, paint to be rolled on and new locks installed. Overall, I can't really complain too much about the move, there are a hell of a lot worse things that can happen than a move down the hall.
As with my previous experiences in 'moving', it allowed me to take an inventory of all my *stuff* and decide what to keep, throw out, re-organize or bury for future fun. It was in the midst of this shuffle, somewhere between throwing out some 2000 resumes (from my recruiting business which is rather shelved these days)and finding a little penguin statue sent to me in 1995 by a friend from New Zealand, that I came across a brown resume (portfolio) cover purchased for me by my Mom & Dad in 1984. Although a little faded, I could still make out the gold pressed stamp of Purdue University on the cover and inside I found a resume and a certificate of thanks...both almost 20 years old (egad).
Mom & Dad purchased the portfolio as a confidence booster for me as I prepared for my senior interviews, a rather humbling and meat-market type experience I soon found out. I know of at least three other occasions when I've run across this brown beauty (embossed with the word Royalfolio on the inside cover) and every other time I've almost thrown it away but it made its way into the save for the future 'you-just-may-need-it' pile. It seems to reappear right about the time I forget I still have it and each time it has the same effect...just like looking at pictures in an old and seldom opened photo album...I sort of lose myself in time and memory. Now I'm much too young to profess that I spend all my time looking backwards, into the memories, but I will confess that I sort of enjoy these brief stopovers that tend to make me laugh and be nostalgic more than anything else.
In the case of the 'royalfolio' it brought back memories of ding letters taped to my college room door, interviews where I completely made things up ("who would you most like to eat dinner with, alive or dead, and why? - that was always such a bullshit question) or where I didn't have a chance in hell to score an offer, a suit that didn't quite fit, a bad perm (yes Mom, it DID seem like a good idea at the time) and lost chances. It also gave me pause as I thought of friends who I've long since lost along the way after vows we'd stay in touch forever, parties that were so fun I thought I would explode and that general feeling of invincibility that was not unique to me as a college senior. I thought about friends I lost in college (Waymon Robinson and Jeff Johnson), girls I pined for during that year and long after (Ela, Jill, Kathy, Ann and that beautiful dark-haired Chi O what's her name), nights at Harry's Chocolate Shop with Eddie O, Pete and the crew and music (it always seems to come back to music with me). It was a good visit down memory lane.
I'm keeping the Royalfolio on top of my desk for a bit; if nothing more, glancing at it serves as a nice diversion for a few minutes during the day. And I do so with the knowledge I will slip it in some file or drawer, where it will disappear and hide for a few years and where, when I find it again, it will provide more chances to smile and drive slowly into memory lane.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

New Additions

I've spruced up my blog with two new additions...a guest book and a calendar. They are both simple and easy to use and I'm allowing visitors to post to my calendar (at least for now). Both items have clickable icons in my sidebar.

Monday, February 06, 2006

End of An Era

Western Union, the company known for telegrams and money transfers, sent their last telegram on Jan. 27, 2006. The widespread use of e-mail and the prospect of new technology, signaled the end of an era. At the height of business in 1929, more than 200 million telegrams were sent around the world. Slightly fewer than 21,000 were sent last year.

Out of Bounds

For those of us who grew up without mountain ranges as our back yards, the idea of hiking into the back country in the middle of the winter to ski or snowbaord is not a natural one. Sure, you see this sort of thing on the TV or have the occasional friend who escapes the frozen Midwest to hit a ski resort, but the people who undertake such adventures are looked upon in great awe.
Since moving to Montana in 2002 and learning to snowboard, I've slowly learned to take on more difficult terrain and enjoy it. Saturday was no exception to this trend as I tagged along with a group of friends and they showed me all kinds of terrain I hadn't boarded before. The biggest treat of all was an end of the day journey out of bounds that involved a 25 minute hike up the mountainside through forests full of fresh snow (powder). By the time we got to the top my heart was pounding so hard I could hardly hear their instructions on what to do next; we had to traverse across the top of a small cliff area to get to the drop-in point. By the time we reached this area I had fallen, hit tree stumps, veered off course (to calls of, "you don't want to go right, don't go right") and otherwise got myself so frazzled that I was spent. All I really wanted to do was find some easy way down and get back to civilization. But the drop-in point looked to me like a wall of trees and bushes...my friends called it "manglies" and suggested I get some speed up and power through the small bushes popping up everywhere. At another time I might have accepted this challenge with a smile, unfortunately for me I was so nervous that I became hesitant, soemthing you really can't be in situations like that. So I struggled mightily just to get down the mountain. Luckily these people are all very experienced and were very patient with me; two people stayed back and watched out for me, cajoled me and gave me tips on how to get down the mountainside. Probably the most fun for me was when I was standing still, watching one of them jump off a cliff or weave thorugh the tight trees with the greatest of ease. They have some amazing skills and I was just happy to be along for the fun.
We ended the day with some wood-fired pizza and laughs...it was my first experience of the kind and hopefully not my last!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

State of the Union Funny

If you are here in the US and happened to watch the State of the Union address by GW last night you probably got a good laugh out of the hot news flash from our ever-truthful and forward-thinking Executive Branch - "We are addicted to oil" - it just doesn't get much more profound than that...