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My Big Red Couch

Friday, June 24, 2005

38 Days to an Internet Famous You!

Somebody double check my math, please. Posted by Hello

Yes, that is all it took. 28 days and I have doubled my # of hits. I feel so adored. Posted by Hello

Now if I could just do something about the oddities people search for. "Butt Fuck me?" Damnit, not that it's in quotes it'll get Googled more frequently. How about "Nobel Laureate" or "Pulitzer Hopeful," those would be good. Posted by Hello


Detritus Posted by Hello

Same bottle, slightly different perspective. Textured surfaces call to me.

Red Stripe, Yellow Stripe

More (on)ArtPosted by Hello

I spotted this beer bottle in the parking lot at O'Brady's in Muldoon and it called to me to take it's picture.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A dirty bike is a well ridden bike. Rockster forground, Buell background. Maybe I will have a few moments some evening soon to wash that dirty bitch (and by dirty bitch I mean some phrases are nearly 100% guaranteed to generate more site traffic and I'm banking dirty bitch will show up in my Blogpatrol statistics :-p) Posted by Hello

More bugs up close! Splatter art or carnage? You decide Posted by Hello

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Thing

I left the thing outside when I installed the storm door.

"Jon. Where is the thing? Did you leave it outside when you put up the door? I can't get the filters and make coffee unless I have it." A few blinks and a blank stare. "Well? Where is it?" "What the fuck are you talking about? What is the thing?"


The step stool.

Live After Five - Nervis Rex

Last Thursday Jamie, Madeleine, Genevieve and my Dad, Ken, all went to Live After Five at Town Square to celebrate my Dad's 60th birthday, which is today, but we needed an excuse to drag him away from his desk for a few hours and spend some time with family.

Nervis Rex played town square and I have always loved their music. Back in the late 70's HBO had a precursor to MTV called Video Jukebox and they showed videos. One of the videos I clearly remember was the black and white (for effect; the really was color on cable TV back then) video for Madness - One Step Beyond. My Dad and I saw that video together, once, maybe twice and reinacted the grocery store scene more than a few times. I explained the Madness connection and he was hip to checking out Nervis Rex.

We listened through the remainder of the band's first set, about 45 minutes worth, while noshing on hot dogs with sauerkraut from Shirley's Hot Dog Stand. At the break we wandered to the Park Strip and there were a mess of kite fliers about. Jamie and I swapped the camera back and forth but I snapped this one.

A little bit closer to heaven... Posted by Hello

I like the nightlife. I got to boogie. - Alicia Bridges

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

More(on) Art

I don't know if anything I like is artistic but I like it. Take a look at these.

I like the long-ness of this. Posted by Hello

And I like the texture of this Posted by Hello

Ford Buggy

Almost all the local newspapers have published something about how bad the bugs are this year and why. I agree they are bad. Here's my proof.

Close-up. Posted by Hello

Artistic Buggy. Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 12, 2005

When The Other Olive Drops - Conclusion

Thank you to everyone who supported me in my quest to write in the Nightlife Column at the Anchorage Press.


I have been on my first two assignments, Texas Hold'em Poker and The Matt Lewis Band, and you can look for my contributions in the next edition of the Anchorage Press, available free at fine and not so fine establishments in and around Anchorage this coming Thursday, June 16th.

Having stated that, my blog posts may become infrequent due to the paid writing homework.

The Best Thing I Ever Wrote

When I was in 6th grade in Valdez, Alaska our teacher, Mrs. Reynolds, was on maternity leave and the school secretary, Mrs. Dodge, was assigned to take care of our class. In 6th grade it is easy to get your routine upset and, having followed Mrs. Reynolds through the majority of her pregnancy (and by majority I mean from when we noticed her showing, my guess is around 12 or 16 weeks, until she left to have the baby) we did not at all want Mrs. Dodge. I don’t know how long Mrs. Reynolds maternity leave lasted, probably 6 or 8 weeks, but we pulled plenty of grade-schooler tricks on Mrs. Dodge, culminating in the entire class dropping their books on floor at the stroke of 11:30 on her last day with us.

“I can’t take this anymore,” she screamed, or something to that effect. It was high drama to 6th graders. She stormed out of the room and we all sat there quizzically looking at each other as if to say, “What had we done that was so bad.” My cynical adult self wonders if it was all staged to teach us something bigger. I don’t think they were together enough to do that. It was 1980 after all and the world was so innocent then compared to now. After staring at each other in a silent eternity of about 5 minutes Principal James came in.

“Class, what you have done to Mrs. Dodge is bad, very very bad,” or something similar. “I am going to punish you collectively because you ALL did this to her. You are each going to write me a letter your actions and apologizing to Mrs. Dodge and you will not be allowed to go to lunch until you are finished. There will be no talking. There will be no more pranks. The only sound in this room will be pencils on paper.” Fascist (although I didn’t have a concept of fascism at the time). Principal James left and the acting school Secretary sat with us while we wrote.

I didn’t write. I had no idea what to write? They may have been carting Mrs. Dodge off to Harborview Medical Center for a straight jacket and some quite time but that didn’t have anything to do with any of us. We had not done anything wrong, even if we had. I was taking the moral high ground on this.

After a while Principal James came back and told us we were being dismissed for lunch. “If I could I would keep you here but Alaska State Law does not allow me to keep you from food. You will not have recess. You will eat and return.”

I walked the two blocks to my home for lunch with my Dad. I think the only times I saw my Dad when we lived in Valdez were at breakfast and at lunch. I’m sure he was around at other times but in my grade school days but I was too engrossed in cable TV or my Legos to have noticed much of either of my parents at that age.

Over canned soup, what we had most days, Chunky with, um, chunks, I explained the incident. I was 12 and had already acquired a fairly decent grasp of what was and was not acceptable to say to and in front of my parents. “I think Principal James is a jackass,” I told my Dad. “Mm, hmm,” my Dad most likely replied through a mouthful of soup. I went back to school and Dad went back to work.

My pencil and paper were waiting for me and the hot chunky soup had my blood boiling.

Dear Principal James,

I think you are a jackass. My Dad agrees with me.


Jonathan C. Lang

If I had the original I would frame it.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

PeeVee in Mosquitoville

“Bzzzt”…slap…”bzzzt”…slap…”ouch”…slap…repeat. This is how our night at Mosquitoville went. Of course we didn’t know it was called Mosquitoville until it was too late or nearly too late. We had advance warning at Nancy Lake Resort but we’re hearty Alaskans and not worried about a few pesky mosquitoes. Or are we?

Weekend numero deuce with PeeVee and we’ve entered the lottery phase of our familial existence. Jamie’s brilliant plan (and by brilliant I truly mean this was an awesome idea and any sarcasm taken is solely the interpretation of the reader and not the intent of the author; I love you Jamie and this is a great idea and I don’t want you to read anything else into it, damit) was to write the names of all the campgrounds we want to visit within one hundred miles on slips of paper and let Madeleine draw from a cup moments before we leave the house (can you feel the anticipaton?).

Madeleine drew Hatcher’s Pass and after a quick check of the internet they don’t have bathrooms at the State campground so Mad drew again. South Rolly Lake. Go figure. Deep inside Nancy Lake State Recreation Area, this is the place Jamie, via Val, has been raving about for weeks as “the best camping ever.” They had a pop-up and we’ve got a tow-behind so it’s got to be just that much better of an experience for us, right?

Mad and I had gotten the propane tanks filled earlier in the morning and Jamie had loaded up the PeeVee while we were out so we were out of the driveway and on the road a full hour ahead of last Saturday and the stress level was considerably less. I suppose it will get easier each time out. The driving was definitely easier not that I’ve got a couple hundred miles of tow-behind experience.

We rolled up the Parks Highway and into the Nancy Lake Resort & Marina parking lot just at the stroke of noon. We asked the trio of locals in lawn chairs in front of the office “how do we get to South Rolly Lake (google satellite map)?” “Let me get you a map,” the one guy replied. “Headed to Mosquitoville,” the gal said; I could tell from her laugh it wasn’t a question. The one guy came back out and showed me on the map how to get there. I thanked them all and we headed back to the highway. “Mosquitoville” Jamie and I questioned in unison? Yes. But that will come.

Train going the other way; HEP unit on the back end (photo by Jamie; cropped by Jon). Posted by Hello

Our second wrong turn came just the other side of the White’s Crossing rail overpass when we turned into the East Nancy Lake campground. I was just following the signs and I hadn’t seen the map; it’s not an excuse, it’s a reason. We rolled through, I got a look at the map, pulled a U-turn and we headed back out. Finally turning in to the right road, Nancy Lake Parkway, we made our way to the toll booth. The aged attendant, probably a camp host, happily took or money (can you say Prozac?) and tried to give me another map. She placed our overnight parking sticker in the front window of the Expedition and smiled and made small talk with Vv, who wouldn’t have any of it. We thanked her and were on our way.

It’s 6.5 miles of mostly washboard road to South Rolly Lake Campground. I thought my kidneys were going to shake out on the way there. Jamie, now better acquainted with the map, ticked off the milepost highlights as we went. Upon reaching the South Rolly Lake Campground area we took the tour (something we witnessed nearly every other camper do that came into the site for the next day). Basically it’s a big loop with two or three cut throughs. We chose a site on the Sand Pit because it looked like a good place for the kids to play, there were toilets nearby, we could see the lake and the canoe rental shop was there, just in case. There are pros and cons to everything. We were one site over from Grand Central Station with nearly everybody that came into the campground coming within engine noise distance of our site and nestled between two pools of prime mosquito breeding grounds, hence the Mosquitoville designation. But it was sunny and dry and the sand pit WAS an awesome place for the girls to play and to make some new friends.

Sandy Bottoms (photo by Jamie; cropped by Jon) Posted by Hello

The landing of the PeeVee is pretty straight forward. Back it in, un-hitch it, level it up and light the pilot lights; those are my parts of the landing anyway. The space was wide enough but there was one big boulder (that looked like a stump in my rearview) that Jamie guided me past. I got her in close enough of the first try and soon we were grounded and ready to start cooking. The sun was warm and bright and there were a few, the few, the proud, the starving, mosquitoes about, but not enough to raise any concerns.

Artistic impression of Spruce and sunlight. Jamie says, "don't take pictures of the sun. You'll burn out your retina." (photo by Jon) Posted by Hello

Jamie avoiding the camera, Vv oblivious and Mad nowhere in sight; aka in the Sand Pit (photo by Jon). Posted by Hello

Jamie and Mad went for a walking tour of the site, Vv went down for a nap although she didn’t and I was left to sit and ponder. I found a pencil but no pad so I went down for a nap, although Vv didn’t give me any rest. When the girls got back we all got up and went for a hike down to the lake. Tippecanoe is the rental place. I didn’t get a close look at the prices but the rentals started with an 8 hour interval then went to half day and full day. Jamie wanted to rent a canoe but we didn’t. I’m keeping my eye on Craigslist Anchorage for one.

Dots on the water? No, bugs! Millions and millions of bugs destined to be IN MY PeeVee (photo by Jamie; cropped by Jon) Posted by Hello

We returned to the site, Jamie started dinner and I started the fire. This fire building experience was much more pleasurable than Whittier and the inauguration of the PeeVee. We had purchased some wood earlier (on a hike to visit the local camp host; they’re everywhere) and it was crispy and ready to burn. This wood, along with the remainder mixed wood from the PeeVee and some Spruce boughs had the fire roaring in minutes. Aaaah, the joys of dry wood. First order of business, Smores.

Food of the Gods (photo by Jamie; cropped by Jon) Posted by Hello

It’s always the simplest things that make life so good. Some graham crackers, chocolate with almonds, puffed sugar, add some flames and you’ve got snack. My mouth is watering from the memories. If I were ever to be called a campfire gourmet, which isn’t a fear of mine, this would be my specialty. I did recently find a recipe online for marshmallows. Someday I will give this a try.

In the evening, camped and burnin' wood (photo by Jamie; cropped by Jon). Posted by Hello

As the evening wore on Mad headed back to the sand pit (pretty much where she spent most of her time while we were at Mosquitoville) and Jamie and I got a visit from our favorite entertainer, Boozo the Clown.

Nothing quite like a happy drunk, er, child. (photo by Jamie; cropped by Jon) Posted by Hello

Vv got a kick out of licking the last drops from a couple Alaskan Amber bottles. Jamie has the camera and voila, crime photos. Is it enough that I admit my little indiscretions on the internet? Should I turn myself in to the local constabulary? Naaaaah, I figure these will be great blackmail when she gets into high school (and trouble). She’s a fun kid and at this point in the evening she was double fisting Amber fumes and a Sponge Bob Square Pants sippy cup of water, plain AWWU water straight from the tap at home. Gotta love the little booze hound.

Smokey PeeVee (photo by Jamie; cropped by Jon) Posted by Hello

After we put Vv to bed Jamie wandered off to get some pictures, the sun was just right, and I was left to my own devices around camp. I wandered over towards the Expedition to make sure Mad was still in the sand pit and I found a sleeping bag zipper laying in the weeds. Being the kind and gentle camper I am I picked up this detritus and threw it on the fire (well, I’ve got to have something to burn, er, play with while Jamie’s out). I didn’t know a zipper would burn like that but it went slowly, taking about a half hour to burn from one end to the other end of it’s six foot or so length.

Burn baby burn. The "good" photo of this will be on one of Jamie's blogs soon (photo by Jamie, cropped by Jon) Posted by Hello

Jamie got Mad coaxed back to camp and threw a few burgers on the firepit grill. Other than a couple zipper teeth on the back of mine (I think it was somebody’s revenge that got those only on my piece) they were mighty tasty or as Jamie put it, “those were some really good burgers.” My only complaint, the PeeVee has yet to be stocked with condiments and if that’s my only complaint then we’re doing good.

Mad goes to bed and, Aaaah, bliss again as I finally get the chance to enjoy some peace and quit with Jamie. Then Blurry the Squirrel shows up to raid the Doritos.

And he hadn't even been drinking (photo by Jamie; cropped by Jon). Posted by Hello

We let him eat his fill; or rather he took what he wanted in spite of us.

We let the fire die down and by the time Jamie and I decided to retire the mosquito situation was like the entire 96 minutes of Night of the Living Dead. The PeeVee was absolutely FULL of mosquitoes. I guess my rants, nay shouts, all day long along the lines of “keep the door closed” just didn’t do the trick. But they weren’t biting yet. It wasn’t until about 5:30, you know, you’re at that “I’ve been doing some serious sleeping for several hours now so don’t bug me” stage, when they started to attack.

“Bzzzt”…slap…”bzzzt”…slap…”ouch”…slap…repeat, but you’ve already heard that. I swear, there were probably fewer bugs outside the PeeVee at that point than there were inside and there was little we could do. Prior to getting into bed Jamie and I tossed back and forth the idea of brining the mosquito coil in with us. Next time, if there is a next time, we’re bringing incense. The worst of it for me is that I’m pretty hot blooded, as in almost always too hot, and I had to stay inside the sleeping bag and under my pillow to keep from being eaten alive. We were all up and swatting at bugs as a family by 8:30. Aaaah, the memories.

We hitched up shortly after 9 and were on the road before 9:30 and here I am barely 12 hours later bloggin’ it all up for you.

We will be taking a few weeks off from The PeeVee Chronicles. With the Alaska Run for Women and WOW Pink Ribbon Ride both this coming Saturday and the Stephen Wales Memorial Run on Sunday we will be on our motorcycles most of the weekend and won’t have a chance to get out but I should be writing about all of that, just not the PeeVee.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

PV aka PeeVee aka Portable Village

We’ve got a new vacation home and this one’s got wheels under it. During the past week we committed to (we ought to be committed) and purchased our daycare lady Lana’s tow behind camper trailer. It’s either the VOW (village on wheels) or the PV (Portable Village). Yeah, there is only one family living in it and, yeah, we’re all related the right ways but we’re still a village and if PeeVee is a portable village that makes us the Village People :-D

The price was right (read as “we had the money burning a hole in our familial pocket) and we couldn’t resist. Jamie has fond memories of motorslumming when she was young (even though she hated it at the time) and I’m a sucker for the great outdoors (by professional circumstance) so we’ve decided to subject our offspring to the same torture she was brought up with, mwa ha ha ha haaaaaaa!

I picked PeeVee up Thursday evening after work and Ben, Lana’s husband, helped me hook everything up and make sure all the lights were working properly. This particular 1971 KIT Sportsmaster lost it’s “new car smell” at least two decades ago but I was excited and didn’t hear half of what Ben told me about the pilot lighting procedures, the electrics and the water system I just wanted to get on the road and get camping, but that wasn’t to be for a few days.

I towed PeeVee home, leveled her up and Jamie got to setting up house (mopping, vacuuming, installing dishes and pans, etc.) She sat through three nights while we resisted sleeping out there. She sat through the admiration of the invitees to our 8th Annual Croquette Invitational Tournament (none of whom were invited in to look around, just admire her shiny, er, dull exterior).

Sunday morning, T-day (T for travel) finally came and the tension in our household was unbearable. Madeleine was being bratty because she was excited which stressed out Jamie who stressed me out and Genevieve, well Genevieve didn’t know what the hell was going on, just that something was up.

Expedition and PeeVee on Shamrock Street! Posted by Hello

We started getting ready, with no particular time table, around 8am and we were on the road by 10am. Not too bad for our first time out. Jamie wanted to go somewhere that was far enough away that we couldn’t just “run to the store” if we needed anything. I wanted to go somewhere close yet strangely exotic. Whittier! What were you expecting?

Whittier (a completely different and totally officious link) is AN end of the road (or the beginning depending on your perspective). Alaska has MANY ends of the road. Jamie didn’t like the idea of Whittier. “Why Whittier?” “It’s far enough away to meet your criteria and we really can’t get to a big store if we need anything (which it turned out we didn’t need anything huge, thankfully, but we weren’t without our close calls: propane, tools, rain gear).”

I don’t want to get too historical but here’s a cool little piece on Whittier and the 1964 earthquake.

Finally on the road (with one quick stop for gas) Jamie was instantly freaked out by the feel of the thing pushing the company Expedition around. It takes some getting used to but after the first 50 miles I felt like a pro (although I am looking into a set of sway bars; thanks for the suggestion Papa). When we left Anchorage it was cloudy with sunny breaks.

As we neared Portage it started to drizzle, then full-on rain and I was racing the clock as we got closer. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is one way; outbound from Whittier at the top of hour and inbound to Whittier at the bottom of the hour. It was 12:26 when we turned onto the Portage/Whittier road and the car in front of me was doing 10 mph below the speed limit. This was my first experience passing with a trailer. I got by ok and didn’t even speed. Much. We pulled up to the toll booth with moments to spare and, well, there’s a funny story I promised not to tell but sufficeth to say, Toll Booth Girl, you rock!

The Whittier tunnel was constructed sometime around WWII (before, after, it makes no difference to me; I wasn’t there). It had been constructed for the Alaska Railroad and other than hi-rail equipment (including a special Ambulance) was only used by the railroad. A few years back, let’s say 1995, somebody got the bright idea to share the tunnel by paving the floor and making it a highway when the railroad wasn’t using it. Definitely Alaskan, not a bad idea and quite well executed.

Going through the tunnel was a first for Mad. We got about 50 yards into it and she said something along the lines of “this is it.” “Yup,” Jamie and I said in unison. The Whittier side of the tunnel was rain. Typical Alaskan rain. Not rushing out of the sky to get to the ground and cause trouble, like the rain in California, but coming down and taking it’s time to do it but making sure it gets everything wet in a big way Alaskan rain.

I’ve been to Whittier many times, most recently on motorcycles the day the tunnel opened several years ago. Whittier used to be a dusty muddy town and the only paving I had ever seen there (and I’ve been going there since the mid 1970’s) was new on my last trip in 2000. Whittier today is all pavement, sidewalks and fences (the railroad has got to keep control of its property somehow). It’s all paved now. I was in awe.

We did a quick tour, which is really quick in Whittier, and went hunting for the campground. We picked our spot, close to trees but fairly level and a view of, well, it’s Alaska, everything is a view.

After leveling up the PeeVee in the rain (while the girls waited with Vv’s poopy diaper in the Expedition) we began to set up camp. Nothing much, of our random packing up job, had shifted but Jamie did have a few choice words about what we had done. I tried to fire up the gas items (heater, stove and refrigerator) but it was raining and my patience was shot. I needed a beer or a martini or something and a few less drops of liquid sunshine before I took on that task again.

After a few moments of sitting (er, maybe it was a nap I took in the Expedition) and a break in the rain we decided on a walking tour of the waterfront. The highlight being this panorama of Passage Canal,

Also available at www.JamieStoleMyFreakinPicture.org Posted by Hello

the walk through the pedestrian tunnel below the rail yard,

Mad, Jamie and Vv staying out of the rain-ish Posted by Hello

and this family (minus me) portrait.

(some of the) Family Portrait (the best parts anyway) Posted by Hello

and the loop brought us back to base camp. The site already had a fire pit built up so all that was left to do was set up the porta-loungers, light up a Presto log and let the Smores begin.

Ahhh, trailer sweet trailer. It could be a postcard if Jamie were smilin' and wavin' from the doorway and Vv was throwing small critters upon the fire. Posted by Hello

This is my bliss.

Mmmmmmm, fire! Posted by Hello

And there's more too (Smores, fighting to keep the fire going, pouting child, 4am child, etc.) but the memory fades. I'll be sure to make some new memories this coming weekend to share with you soon.


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