Saturday, March 16, 2013


If you're a graphics hound, check out this moving wind diagram.  It shows the wind across the US blowing over the plains, through the mountains, and right across the little map.  Something about that reminds me of college...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Changes are Changing Me

Hey. I'm back.

Been a long time...a real long time...

Y'know, It's a good time to start letting some stuff out.  If I can get back into blogging, I know it will facilitate some much needed emotional and spiritual growth.

Lots of life lessons are being thrown at me these days.  I want to say I'm learning from them, but I know most of the time I go right on doing the things I've been doing the exact same way.  Treating people the same way...acting the same way...making the same decisions.  I reckon at least now I recognize that changes need to be made.

I'm 34 years old.  Thirty-four.  Wow.  I already feel like I'm staring down 40.  When I get there, I want to be able to look back and say, damn!  Those were the best years of my LIFE, and look what I still have in front of me.  So how many people out there in the world say that, at every point in their lives.  We all say that we want to make these positive changes so that we can one day feel like we've accomplished something.  The thing is, how do you get there?

I don't want to turn this outpouring of my feelings into pithy platitudes that I heard at some Wayne Dyer seminar.  And yeah, I actually went once.  He played this cd of whales hollerin' out while this chick sang Amazing Grace or something.  We were all s'posed to "get connected."  I'm not knocking that stuff.  I love it.  Eat it up.  Meditation.  Breathing exercises.  Yoga.  Mantras.  Reading spiritual guidance books.  But when you turn the page...when you put the book down...when the chanting stops...suddenly there it is.  The rawness of the world (sue me if that's not in the dictionary).  But to me that's it.  Everything is raw.  And jagged.  It's at that point that I want to feel that change.  That I need all those techniques to help me deal.  That's when I have to apply those changes I so desperately need to work on.

I'm starting now so I can achieve that.  Ok ok, it's not like I'm gonna throw my computer down, flip on the light, jump out of bed and start vacuuming or something.  I just want to start doing what's right.  I mean, I'm not a total shithead...I do a lot of good things.  But I wanna do more.  Do what I do better.  Like ironing!  I'm super good at that.  And no I won't; you can take yours to the cleaners because I've got enough of my own.  But no, for real, I want to actually think about someone else for once, instead of me me me.  And I know the process will be painful, but that's ok (Well, I say that now, but I'm sure there's gonna be a lotta crying and gnashing of teeth.  I'll have to invest in one of those jaw guards.)  I can also sorta immerse myself in this self-discovery process.  I don't want to be thinking about getting to some point and saying I'm done.  Saying yeah, here I am, all grown up.

God, I sit here and see what I'm saying...It seems sorta contrived.  Just a bombastic lesson in disguise, straight from a Franklin Covey program.  But ya know, I guess we all just do the best we can with what we have.  And what I have now that I didn't have in the past is a small, tiny bit of self awareness.  Just a little insight as to who I am and who I want to become.  So the best I can do is just take it a little at a time.  I want to just focus on each day...just do the


Here I am.  Such an environmentalist at heart.  But for some reason I swear I'm actually putting effort into trashing my side of the street.  Problem is, that's the one place that's the hardest to clean up.  It'd be nice if I could hire someone to do it for me, but it's my mess...I gotta fix it.

I'm facing some things right now that are "problems of my own making."  I've gotta do what I can to fix what I've done, to the best of my ability and then just sail on.  Leave that shit in my wake.

If you read this far (I'm a motormouth), lemme give you some daily motivation...Maybe getcha going today.

Who sets your limits?  How far will you go in this life?  Who will you affect?  Whose life will you change by being here on this earth?  Yeah this is a cool vid...makes me wanna jump up and go biking.  But you don't have to be an athlete to go big.  Just be there for someone.  Just give.  At least, that's what I'm shootin' for. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Danny MacAskill - "Way Back Home" - NEW street trials riding short film

And I just want to be able to hold a wheelie longer than 2 seconds.

The final forward flip...I've never seen anything like that before. It has to be incredibly difficult. He just flows with it.

This video took me away. Watching things like this get me thinking about all the possibilities. I know I'll never be a professional cyclist, but I'm driven right now to become the best cyclist that I can be. In other words, I'm pushing myself to my farthest point. I want it. I can't imagine the countless hours he put into practicing.

I'm seeking things right now to inspire me. It certainly helps to surround myself with positive energy, in all areas of my life.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Obama Speaking to Schoolchildren

A little commentary on Obama's upcoming speech from The Wonkette blog.  In the comments, someone says that the reason people are in an uproar is because they sent out packets for the children to work on which included a question asking the kids to list ways they can help Obama.  I think people are blowing this out of proportion.  I don't think there was much of a political angle here.  I can't believe people are going crazy over this, as if it's the Antichrist speaking to their children.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bicyclists and the Law

I think this is a hot topic for cyclists right now, and according to this article, many places are starting to consider these "stop as yield" laws.

Friday, August 28, 2009

People Watching at Walmart

I feel guilty admitting that I shop at Walmart, but in my small town, it's the cheapest and most convenient way for me to get my groceries and household items. Anyhow, Walmart is also the place where rural Alabamians come out of the woodwork. As this website shows, these curious shoppers are not unique to the South. Take a look!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Whales and Sonar

This is an excellent NYT article about whales.  It goes into extensive depth, covering sonar's effects on whales, human/whale interactions, and general whale behavior.  It's rather long, but definitely worth the read.


Ok, I'm testing out a firefox addon called Scribefire.  It's a way to blog about stuff while surfing the internet.  I'd probably blog a lot more about different things that I want to share if it wasn't a pain to login.  Maybe this will be a good solution.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I'm in Middlesboro, Kentucky right now in a motel room watching Women Behind Bars. I'm up here for my 130/190 Basic Wildland Firefighter's Course, given by the Cumberland Gap National Park Fire Module. They're a group of guys who are a mobile fire unit working mostly with prescribed fires locally and wildfires out West.

Middlesboro is in the tri-states area, where Kentucky meets Virginia meets Tennessee. It's a prelude to the eastern Blue Ridge Mtns, and there's a definite Appalachian feel to the region.
Above: The tunnel going through the Cumberland Gap. I enter in Tennessee where my motel is and come out the other side in Kentucky to attend my class.

During our lunch break yesterday, I headed off to town to the only listed bike shop, while another girl in the class (Ami) went to the other nearby town to inquire about trails at an outfitters store. We agreed to compare notes afterwards to see what information we could come up with about biking trails in the area. After listening to that bitch on my phone that's supposed to be a GPS--I think I would have done better with a sextant and compass--, I finally found the hole-in-the-wall store. I walked in to a bizarre sight: an elderly man was resting in a recliner that was probably nearly as old as he was, and the entire room was dimly lit. From what I could see, he possessed about 2 teeth (upper -- maybe 1 or 2 lower, but I wasn't doing a dental exam). He was stroking a cat that I imagined wasn't a very effective mouse catcher anymore (you starting to get the picture?). Despite the comical situation, the man was extremely nice. I probably could have stayed for a nice town history lesson, but I had to get back to work. Although he wasn't familiar with the trails, he referred me to the neighboring town to an outfitters store, which incidentally ended up being the same one I mentioned earlier.

Once class let out yesterday, Ami and I jetted to the outfitters store where we had agreed to meet Joe, the bike store owner, who was going to give us a tour of the local mountain biking trails. During the ride, I got to talk at length with him about his running, as he is an ultramarathoner. We got to the top of the hill/mountain/road and started to turn back down the access road because the weather was rapidly deteriorating. A dark bluish-purple cloud had moved in so fast we didn't notice it until the trees started bending over. It reminded me of Alabama pre-tornado weather. Within a few minutes, we were all soaked and could barely see in front of us. The mud was spraying up from my front wheel, and I had to slow way down at each corner. It was thrilling and a tad bit cathartic.

I had planned to campout at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (where I'm doing my training), but I'm kinda a fair-weather camper, so I bagged it in after the ride & headed for a motel. I was glad to be able to warm up, and I also was able to utilize the tub to wash my new 29er. Can't have it staying dirty for too long! I seriously love riding that thing. The only problems I'm having is getting my shocks dialed in. For one thing, the rear shock on-the-fly lockout is not working, so I'm going to have to see about fixing that. Everything else seems to be in working order. The XTR gruppo is smooth, and it's nice to have precise shifting when I want it.

As far as the quality of 'singletrack', the trails around here are surprisingly disappointing. On top of that, there doesn't seem to be any sort of bicycling community. I was shocked about the lack of cycling here, because it seems like such a prime area. I'm going to investigate the surrounding areas to see if there is a local group of riders somewhere nearby. Very weird.

Meanwhile, the weather has been spectacular. The cloud to ground lightning has been like a theater for the gods. It prevented me from getting a run in with the bike shop guy & his friends today, but hopefully it will clear up by this weekend. My plan is to stay in the area or maybe somewhere in Tennessee since I'm already up here.

Last week was equally exciting. On Monday the 8th, I flew out to Seattle to meet up with Meegan, a good friend of mine who was graduating from the University of Washington. I was excited about going out there since the last time I went was the disaster of a climbing trip to Vancouver (which I don't think I ever blogged about because it was so emotionally taxing. Basically, I took a trip to Vancouver and Squammish, one of North America's climbing meccas to boulder and climb for a week with 3 friends last summer. Although we managed to salvage some fun out of the deal & I got some good climbing in, it really turned out to be a bad trip). I was looking to reclaim the area as a place of enjoyment rather than bad memories. I also wanted to visit some of the places where I had lived when I was stationed on Whidbey Island & see some of the folks I hadn't seen since I got out of the Navy.

I spent the first couple of days hanging out with Meegs and cruising around the Queen Anne and Capitol Hill districts. Love it! I had a great time. It was nice to be around an eclectic crowd that was more liberal and open than what I normally see in Alabama. If a gay couple walks down the street holding hands there, for example, they don't get gawked at like they do around where I live. It's awesome to have some quality coffee, too. There are over 420 Starbucks in Seattle! And there's still enough coffee that you could get a cup on practically every block withOUT having to be a Starbucks whore.

Above: Deception Pass Bridge, connecting Whidbey Island with the mainland.

During the middle of the week, I drove up to Whidbey & stayed a couple of nights on the island. I even went for a run on the base trail that I used to run every day.

Thursday I went back to Seattle, and that's when the Corcoran family came to town. Man, they are a hoot. I am now officially a part of the fam. We had a great time, going to Pike's Market, seeing Meegan graduate, and just hanging out and laughing.

We took a Duck tour (those old amphibious boats that were used in WWII) which was a blast. The boat part of it took us out to Lake Union, which is at the heart of Seattle. These floating houses in this picture are not houseboats. You can't move them. However, they sell for right around a million, and that's for about 1500 to 2000 square feet. The picture below shows a tiny light blue floating house with a grey roof. This beauty is 250 square feet, and recently sold for $150,000.

The Corcoran Clan has adopted me as part of their fam.

I was reluctant to go back home, but I knew I had to.

I flew out early Sunday morning, getting up at 4:30 a.m. Pacific Time. I landed in Huntsville at 3 p.m. Central. After waiting 30 minutes for my luggage (slowest airport ever!), I spent a couple of hours with my mom, eating and visiting. By the time I drove my car over to Fort Payne to pick up the government vehicle to drive to Kentucky for my week of fire training, it was about 6:30 p.m. I limped on into Middlesboro, Kentucky at nearly 2 in the morning. Can we say exhausted?. I've been here since, doing my training & getting excited all over again about another adventure in a new place.

I'm hoping the rain will pass tomorrow so I can pitch my tent!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Work and Life...or just...LIFE.

We did some burning out at Russell Cave a few weeks ago, and I was able to get a good amount of overtime in. I spent most of the second day out there tending a maintenance fire, which was my first experience with using a drip torch. By the end of the day I was covered in soot. After I worked with the fire, I went out to where our Fire Effects Monitoring Team was laying out a new plot. The area in the forest where they were working did not have an empty space that wasn't covered with poison ivy. I didn't think I was allergic, but I found some areas on my arms later on that have made me rethink that theory.

The guy that I was doing the burn with was David, who is one of the Park Rangers. He's a super nice guy, and I really enjoyed spending the day with him. He's from Bridgeport, and his family still lives right around the corner. For lunch, his mom & dad came out and actually brought us lunch. We talked about going out fishing with David & his dad, because they are the local experts. I was looking forward to going. So the next weekend, David emailed me to ask if I'd like to go with them. I was busy with other stuff, and I declined, thinking I could go another time. I really regret not going...Tragically, his father was killed that weekend in a freak car accident. He was on his way to church with his wife and had forgotten his hearing aids, so he turned around to get them. He ended up pulling out in front of someone that barreled right into the side of the car, killing him instantly and injuring his wife. I didn't know them other than the lunch I shared with them on that Friday, but it was so sad. Everyone at work went to the funeral that following Friday, and we were all in uniform. I was glad that we were able to support David as a unit. It was amazing how many people were at his funeral! That man had really made an impact. He was a veteran & got the proper military burial. It was definitely moving.

The funeral made me think about a lot of things. How much of a difference one person can short our lives are...It made me realize that at the end of my life, I want to be able to say, "yeah, I made a difference. I impacted someone in a positive way. I did the best I could to live a good life & help people." He did a lot of missionary work, and there were people from Africa that came to his funeral because he had apparently done a lot of work over there to help impoverished and under-privileged people. He was just a good person.

I want to be like that. I'm not religious or anything like that, but what I'm saying is I want to make an impact. I want to make a difference. I want my life to mean something because I helped someone. Not for me...but for them. Talking with those people from Kenya...I realized that they had a great life because of this one person who had made a difference.

I think I'd like to start volunteering. I'm not sure where or how. I used to do quite a bit of volunteer work while I was in the Navy, but since I've been out, I haven't done a thing. It's time I found something to spend some of my energy on.

On a lighter note...on the way back to Fort Payne, Mary noticed an inchworm on the radio antenna. I insisted she pull over so I could rescue the little guy. As hard as he was hanging on for dear life, I figured he deserved a fair chance!

Friday, May 1, 2009


Well, the past couple of weeks have been insane for me. First off, I had a major term paper due, as well as my finals to take. The paper was no joke. I guess I shouldn't have waited until the end of the semester to do it, but I think I work better under pressure. hahaha It came out pretty good, and I did good on my finals, too, so it all worked out. I'm so glad to be done with all of that now.

After that, I was washing my mountain bike when I discovered a hole in the frame. I was completely shocked, especially since I had raced it at Tsali recently (where I had a blast, by the way). During the race I had some chain suck issues that kept the chain rubbing up against the bike. There's a longer story here, but I'm not going to get into it. Nevertheless, there's a hole in the bottom part of the frame near where the big ring comes close. I was sick because that was my only mountain bike, as my other one is still in parts. I'm looking at ordering another frame, but a replacement Trek 9.8 is gonna be way more than I was wanting to spend this time of year. I have a few options, though. For one, I hear there's a re-wrapping company out of Cali that may be able to repair the carbon. Another option, or in addition to getting it fixed, is to look into a Haro frame, which I hear is the same carbon-fiber but way cheaper. My final option, and one that a friend is raving over because he just got one, is to get a titanium Motobecane from BikesDirect. I'll have to do some more research first, though. I really liked my Trek... :(

Incidentally, I finally gave up on the bike build; at least, doing it myself. After a few wasted weekends trying to put the thing together with friends, I took it to the local bike shop & asked him to put it together. It's a good thing too, because apparently I ordered a bunch of wrong parts (major parts, like the shifters, wheels, and front deraileur -- all wrong sizes). That's got me a little stressed because I'm not sure I can send back some of the parts this late in the game. I may have to sell them on ebay or something. I am glad, however, to have someone else that knows what they're doing putting it together. Maybe later down the line I'll get into bike building, but I just don't have the time nor do I have the patience to do it now. I'd much rather just ride the dang thing.

So the bike issue has halted my riding for the past few weeks on the mountain bike. I've been getting out on the road bike, which is actually going to be good since I'll be doing the Cheaha Challenge Century that my bike club sponsors on Sunday. It's going to kick my butt, but this ride is special to me. It was last year that I first rode the Challenge, and it was my first organized ride on a road bike ever.

Another thing that happened recently is someone has been harassing my grandmother. Namely, they've been coming up to the back porch and ringing the doorbell at odd hours in the night. The first night it happened was a week ago Thursday. She called the cops, but they never found anything or anyone. The second night it happened was Saturday night, and I happened to be there staying the night, as was my mother who was in town for a visit. About 4:30 in the morning, the doorbell started ringing. I got on the phone with 911 while they dispatched the police. I was in the living room looking out the backdoor. It's glass, but there's blinds hanging, so with the flood lights on outside, you can just make out the shadows. While I was on the phone with 911, I saw a figure walk up to the door and then we heard it ring again. That really got my adrenaline flowing! The 911 operator wasn't making it any easier, because she started freaking out too, saying, "I heard it, I heard it! Oh my God!" So here's three women running around the house, my mom with a gun, scared half to death and another woman on the phone scared for us. Looking back it was almost comical. Of course, the police came out again. I think they sent some guy from high school. Anyhow, he looked around but didn't find anything. He ends up leaving and we go back to bed (not back to sleep though). As soon as we get the lights off, the doorbell rings again. These people have balls! We call the police again, and they ended up staying with us until the sun came up. Come to find out later, my grandmother's neighbor had dogs that started going crazy just a little before all this happened. Since my grandmother lives way out in the boonies, we think that whoever it is walked through the woods and just hid back there when the cops came.

With all of that happening, I have decided to get a gun for protection. I never have been a big fan of guns and really never wanted one for myself. That's not to say I don't know how to fire one; I was awarded an Expert Pistol Medal in the Navy, which is the highest you can get. I just never wanted to have one. I have changed my mind and have started to look around for one. I stayed another night at my grandmother's house to give her some company, and I didn't feel safe until I put my grandfather's pistol on the bedside table before I fell asleep.

The next day after all that drama, I decided to catch up on some things with email. Grades for my students were due the next week, so I figured I'd get those turned into the professor. I went to turn my laptop on, and all I could get was a BSOD that said "Unmountable Boot Drive." My heart sank. I tried various things to no avail. I thought, no big deal, I've got a backup copy online that I can access the next day. Monday rolled around, and I quickly discovered that my backup copy was corrupt! Who else does all this crap happen to, tell me!?! So I began making arrangements to take my computer in to a repair shop in order to get those grades off. I mean, we're talking over 100 students that will by default have to get A's if I don't recover the grades they actually made...not to mention, I will lose my job as a student teacher. Meanwhile, I had asked the computer gal at my other job with the Ntl Park Svc to look into recovering the online file. As I was driving off to the computer shop, she calls saying that she managed to recover the file. Thank the baby Jesus! I was saved again.

Later that day, I made the decision to just get a new computer all-together. I'm tired of having all these near misses with my old one. I found a great deal at Best Buy, and I got a 3 year extended warranty that covers just about everything. I'm extremely pleased with it, and it's just in time since summer semester starts Monday. It is funny to note, however, that after I got home, unpacked & turned on my new laptop, I thought I'd give the old one another try. I used a boot disk and, voila! it worked. I managed to get all my data off. Now I can reformat it and use it as a backup computer.

Whew! It's been crazy, like I said. Other than that, I got some sweet overtime this week at the Park. I had a great time too. I must say there's something to really busting your ass at work. It's so satisfying. It's been some hard physical labor and I got to work with fire a little bit, learning how to use a drip-torch. Once I get red-carded I can go fight fires out West with some of the crews. I hear you work like a dog, but the pay is great and they tell me it's really a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it.

Today I've been catching up with emails, phone calls, and everything else I've neglected for the past few weeks. Tonight is the pasta dinner before the crit tomorrow hosted by the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Club. Frankie Andreau and a bunch of other pros are supposed to be there, and I have the task of 'escorting' him around, along with another gal. What does that entail? I guess I'll find out. Should be fun regardless.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Recycle Old Magazines

This is kinda cool. Over at, they've given instructions on how to use old magazines to make a small stand, such as for a plant. Innovative.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Break Came & Went

It's over now. I don't feel like I accomplished much, but it was nice to have a few extra days off. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, so I was able to get out and do a little bit of riding.

I did my first road race on March 8th at Camp Sumatanga in Steele, Alabama. I was in the beginner's bracket (C), and it nearly kicked my ass. My goal was to keep up with the main group for the duration of the 32 mile ride. We made 3 laps along a road that was pretty hilly in some places. I almost got dropped twice, but through the encouragement of some other riders, I bridged the gap & came back. I found myself surging up hills, but then would blow up at the top, or even just before. Lesson learned here was to hold back & ride on someone's wheel. Also, I was wasting energy charging up the hills. I do think that my style is going to be more of a climber than a sprinter, though, because I don't mind the hills so much as the sprint at the end. About 400 yards from the end, the peloton took off & left me in the dust. I had nothing. It was all fun though, and it was just a training race, so it was good to get out there.

Here's the Mellow Mushroom Racing guys that came to Sumatanga. L to R - Me, Ian, Curtis, & Preston.

My second road race was in Guntersville on March 15th. It, too, was a training race. I did a whole lot better that time. I conserved my energy, but I seemed to still have enough to pull a few good times. Some folks didn't pull at all, so I was glad I was able to do that. I also stayed up front with the pack. At first when I would move to the back after pulling, I went all the way to the back. I quit doing that real quick, though, because whenever those guys would fall back, it was hell getting back. So I started to find an in somewhere in between. This put me in rotation for pulling more frequently, but it was worth it to be able to stay up front. About 300 or 400 yards from the finish, I saw the finish & got excited. So I went for it, and began sprinting. It was too early, because about 40 to 50 yards from the end, I was passed by about 5 people. I was so glad that I had improved, though, and I actually beat a few people out that had been in the peloton. As long as I keep improving & keep training, I'm happy. day a little while ago I went to visit my grandmother. I was on the couch when I heard a noise coming from the fireplace. The cat kept going over there and pawing at the glass. Finally, I realized what was going on - there was a squirrel that was trapped inside. I guess he had been there for awhile, because he didn't move much when the cat was trying to get at him. I called a neighbor, and we forced the squirrel to run out. He ran straight to the door, and then off the back porch, flying in the air. He immediately ran up a tree, so he's ok, but it was funny nonetheless.

This weekend I spent with Laura in Birmingham. I went to one of her indoor soccer games, where I caught a funny picture when Todd went for a goal.

On Saturday, I went to watch her play a game of tennis. She's really good. I'm hoping to learn how to play from her, since she played collegiate tennis & now is a coach.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Workshop in Cleveland, Tennessee

I've been up here just about 20 miles north of Chattanooga since Monday for a workshop hosted by the US Forest Service for my job as a Forestry Technician with the National Park Service. It's all been computer-based training, and I've gotta say that it's been incredibly boring! I was really excited about going on my first real business trip out of town until I actually got up here. Thing is, I got to thinking about it, and I've been on some 'business trips' with the Navy before. I flew into San Diego for a 5 week GCCS-M training. I actually had a whole lotta fun on that trip, and I can't believe I almost forgot about it! I miss San Diego. While I was actually living there in late 2002, the weather was absolutely perfect. Maybe one day I'll go back. I've got to say that I'm glad to be done with the training. I even managed to get some of my student's papers graded, which takes a big stress off of me. Now I've just got to study tomorrow & I should be able to have the weekend free to just hang ten.