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Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Am I just drunk, or is there something wrong with this headline?


Friday, August 01, 2008




Friday, July 11, 2008


Hi there! My name is Mark, and welcome to Mark's Used Thoughts Emporium!

'ts been awhile.

In case you haven't been paying attention, the Americans have been tearing up the Tour de France (so far). By "Americans," I mean the two teams sponsored by American companies--not many of their riders are actually from the U.S. Though it looks like they won't have a finisher in the top 4-5 for today's stage. I guess this is day 7.

I want a road bike. Actually, I want a lightish touring bike that I could use for commuting, touring, and just plain riding. My "commute" is not so daunting that my old Trek hardtail can't handle it--1.25 miles either way, with a decent climb--but it would be more enjoyable with a smoother bike. I did add old school clips to my pedals, and added a used, but higher quality saddle. I think I will upgrade to a new saddle soon. But still, I want a touring bike.

Either of these would do nicely:

Raleigh Sojourn:

Suggested retail: $1,099

Jamis Aurora Elite:

Suggested retail: $1,350.

The Jamis has more upscale components (Ultegra and 105, vs. Deore/Tiagra/Sora for the Raleigh), and it's lighter and has a carbon fork and a better wheelset. But, the Raleigh has disc brakes, better gearing for this part of the country, is slightly cheaper, and it looks awesome with the leather saddle and bar wraps. Jamis also has a more entry-level version of the Aurora that goes for about $900 that has components similar to the Raleigh, so that's another option. I could always upgrade components later if I got serious about it.

I just need to find $1,300 lying around somewhere. We are having a garage sale tomorrow, but I doubt if it will net that much. It will probably wait until next spring, at least, because before long, the snow will be flying again, anyway.

I need to go fishing again. Last time out I got skunked, but have been consistently catching decent rainbows and brookies prior to that. I think I'll try the Little Laramie River this time. It should finally be down enough to be fishable.

Happy Friday.


Thursday, April 24, 2008


What crisis? The global food shortage? The global warming that is contributing to this shortage? The war in Iraq? Syria, Iran, or North Korea with nuclear weapons?

No, I am, of course, talking about HIGH GAS PRICES. Holy shit! We are now paying almost 75% of what Europe pays for gas. This is an outrage! We're goddamn Americans! It's our God-given right to have cheap gasoline so that we can drive vehicles as big as we want as much as we want without sacrificing anything important, like satellite TV, jet skis, and trampolines for our kids.

[Author's Note #1: In case you think you have mis-clicked and wound up on Bikesquatch's blog, let me assure you, you are in the correct place. It just looks like a Todd post.]

[Resume post, sans satire]

This particular video is the most ridiculous fucking thing I have seen in quite some time: http://www.yahoo.com/s/865277. It is both funny, and terribly sad, that the reporter is acting like she's reporting on some enormous catastrophe of biblical proportions and is wearing her appropriate distressed/sad face (should "biblical" be capitalized? I don't want to be disrespectful). You know that Saturday Night Live sketch where Andy Samberg suddenly runs into the frame and punches someone about to take a bite of food? I really, really wish that he would have been present in this video.

Seriously, America. It's not like you weren't warned since 5th grade that oil was not an unlimited resource. And you're seriously not feeding your kids breakfast so you can afford gas for your Yukon? Yeah. That's called abuse, and if it's true, you should be shot and your children should be turned over to someone more responsible, like the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Honestly, I bet (and hope) that this is just hyperbole, and these people think that by whining and exaggerating about all of their "sacrifices" they might summon the merciful Gods of cheap gas who will again enable their gross overconsumption. But, it could well be that some people are actually not feeding their kids so they can feed their cars. They're probably more willing to forgo breakfasts for their kids than forgo having digital cable with 145 channels.

And the guy that said he was not going to church as often because it's 30-40 miles away and gas is too expensive.... Good excuse--does your wife actually believe that? Because, you know what? This is America--you can't throw a rock without it ricocheting off of three churches and landing in the parking lot of another. There's probably one on the same block where this guy lives that is 99% the same as the one he's driving to. Each protestant church I've ever been to (at least 10 that I can think of off the top of my head) was nearly identical to all the others, in terms of message. The only real difference is the preacher talks a little louder in some than in others. Oh. And some of them hate gay people more than the others. I think there is just something in American culture that says that everything that's important and everything you need is a 40 minute car trip away. Anything closer than that is tacky.

Speaking of religion and gas prices, I heard a story about folks are being urged to "Pray at the Pump" for lower gas prices. It's not that ridiculous. I think God cares exactly as much about how much you're paying for gas as he cares about the outcome of sporting events.

It's about time for stupid people to start forwarding emails about boycotting this or that gas station (..or have they already been doing this? I haven't gotten one in awhile. Maybe because I've put most of my aunts in my "Block Sender" list for their egregious violations of internets etiquette.).

[Author's Note # 2: The gas price story was just what set me off. There have been so many things, though, over the past few weeks that have made me so mad that it's finally come to a head. The culmination of all of this anger is that I will now no longer be referring to the inhabitants of this country as "Americans," but will henceforth refer to them collectively as "Dumbass."]

But don't worry, Dumbass. I'm here to help. I have a scam that will enable you to reduce your gas costs to miniscule amounts IMMEDIATELY. No praying involved. And it is the only method that will actually make any real and lasting difference in gas costs.

The scam goes like this:

Option 1. You walk.

For those of you who don't like that option, there is Option 2.

Option 2. You get a bike, and you fucking ride it.

Of course, I'm exaggerating by saying this is the only way to do it. You could also take the bus, the train, the subway, etc., if you live in a place so endowed. "But," you may be saying, "only poor people ride the bus." Guess what: you're poor people, Dumbass, or at least 99% of you are.

Since I dropped off the Uhaul after moving to my new house at the end of February, I have driven my truck exactly one time, and have purchased exactly $0 worth of gas for it. From the full parking lot outside my office window, I can see that most folks in this town are driving to the University, which is unfortunate, since probably 90% or more of the people that work here or go to school here live within 2 miles of the University. This town is also pancake-flat, for the most part, so almost anyone should be able to handle walking or biking a mile or two with no problem.

I know not everyone lives within 2 miles of where they work. But you know what? They could be. With a relatively limited set of exceptions, most of us make a choice about where we live. Many of us decide that it's worth it to live 40 miles from where we work, so we can get a 4,000 square foot home $10,000 cheaper than what we'd pay closer to work. Well, Dumbass, I'm here today to tell you that it may be time to re-evaluate that decision. There is never going to be any more oil on earth than there is right now. It's only going to get worse, and I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you that there is no magic bullet, nor will there ever be--no consequence-free behemoth of an SUV that runs on good vibes or prayers. There are some tough roads ahead, we will soon arrive at a place past which cars can no longer travel.

So, Dumbass, I wish you the best of luck. I'm pulling for you, I really am.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007



You have to love a guy that can play like this, but writes songs mostly about trailer park life. So many great guitar players (e.g. Don Ross, Yngwie Mamlsteen, etc) write really elaborate songs that elaborately suck.

I like the dumbass in the front trying to clap along in this video.


Sunday, October 07, 2007


[Moves to Laramie]


Thursday, August 30, 2007


Hey! What? Uh.

OK. Moving to Laramie sometime around the second week of October. And good riddance to Kansas. Headin' to Laramie this weekend to look for housing. Not really looking forward to the actual looking part. Housing is pretty expensive, for a state with a population density almost the same as the moon. S'weird. Guess I'm not the only person who thinks it's a nice place...

I poop more than I used to. Volume-wise, and frequency-wise. Sign of impending oldness? I have 1 month left (about) until I turn 30. Don't really care, it's just a little surprising.

Anyone heard the new Mekons album? Me neither.

What else is new?

Herbert Kornfield died. Apparently. You either know who that is, or you don't.

#1 thing I never expected to hear myself say in 2007: "I miss the single ply toilet paper."

I saw where there is going to be a "Harold and Kumar, Part 2." Sweet.

I have not only given up on repairing the 1979 Honda Hobbit, I am also giving up on trying to part it out, and on trying to sell it. I have had 3 offers of $0 just today. So, all in all, it will be worth the trip Chris S. and I made down a steep, overgrown slope in the middle of the projects to get it.

I did see an ad for a Honda CB350 today. $100. Those are the best. I need one. This particular one didn't run, but apparently had all of the parts and stuff.

One of my recent hobbies is perusing the "Free" section of Craigslist. There are always some real gems there. Here is my favorite recent one:


"You're giving away part of a real big head of cabbage?!?! For free!?!?"

I have like a 7 hour drive ahead of me tomorrow. I am actually looking forward to it.


Sunday, August 26, 2007


Some of you know all of this, some of you don't. Here it is:

On Friday, I gave notice at my job. We talked to a realtor on Friday, and have aready had one showing of our house (this morning). What happened? About 3 weeks ago (maybe a little more), I got an email from a friend (and former boss) in Laramie. He was forwarding a message from another office that is within the University of Wyoming--essentially, it was an unofficial posting for a GIS position with that office. I submitted a resume, and after some waiting due to summer down time and field work, got an offer early this week. After some negotiating, we struck a bargain, and I got an official offer letter on Friday. I bet I have checked their "jobs" page 50 times over the past 3 years, just waiting for this very job to come open, so I feel very fortunate to have had the inside track on this opening from the get-go.

The position will initially be a GIS Specialist position, but hopefully will evolve into a research associate level position, where I'm writing proposals for my own programs and projects. There's also a strong possibility that I could use some of my work projects (or perhaps some of my "leftover" thesis work) to create a PhD project, and they are very supportive of that. I'd consider that to be pretty much in line with my long-term career aspirations, and, due to some recent events at my office, don't feel very secure where I am, so we decided to take the plunge. I am so pleased to be moving back to Laramie, and getting the fuck out of Kansas. This state is just plain weird, and not in a fun way. After living here 2 years, I've concluded that living in Kansas makes you fat and stupid. It's time to leave.

So the past few days has been a flurry of "decluttering" and other things to get the house ready to show, as well as lots of internet searching for housing in Laramie. It sure is expensive there (about 20-30% more than here), so we will probably be stuck renting a smaller place initially, and saving money for a down payment. We lucked out in the fact that our home value rose around 9% the first year we lived in this house, so we are hopeful we'll get enough out of it to cover realty fees, closing costs, prorated property taxes, etc. If we can "break even" after only 2 years of living here, and get our house sold in a reasonable amount of time, I will feel fortunate. I hope it is a good sign, and not just false hope, that we had a looker already. We've also noticed several people driving by very slowly, even stopping and staring, so there is at least some interest.

My last day of work will be September 28, then my friends, Bret & Megan, are getting married October 6, so we plan to be in Laramie by mid-October. I can't wait. Of course, by then, the weather will be pleasant here, there will be a good crop of hot peppers in the garden, and it will be hard to leave our nice (and clean) house, but it will be worth it.

I think that's it....


Thursday, July 05, 2007


OK..some stuff has happened lately. Most of you already know this.

1) My wife and I had a baby. It's a boy. Henry Leopold. 8 lbs., 7 oz. He is 3.2857 weeks old. He sleeps, eats, and poops like a champ.

2) My job outlook is uncertain. Across the board, my company is low on work on-the-books. They basically laid off one guy, starting tomorrow. There's a possibility our whole office will fold. My boss said that given my situation (new dad, and stuff), he recommends I have a "backup plan." So, if you know of anyone looking for a guy with a GIS/Ecology background, lemme know. I am re-pondering going back to school for a PhD and stuff. I am thinking of the kinds of research work I could be doing, and how it would beat the pants of the stormwater management stuff I have been working on so much, lately. I also have plans to met with a few folks about possible jobs--engineering and planning companies. Mostly as a stopgap, if things fall apart here. I DO NOT want to commute 30-50 minutes each way, every day, to work at a huge engineering firm. I am looking for job postings in the following locations, basically in this order of preference:

1. A 40-mile radius area surrounding Eudora (not that I love this area--I'm just not ready to relocate yet)
2. Wyoming (top choice, if moving were no object--close to family, but spectactular, from an outdoor recreation potential perspective)
3. Idaho (like Wyoming, but more so, but farther from family, but close to Abbie)
4. Montana (like Wyoming, but more so, but farther from family)
5. Western Nebraska (cheap land/housing, family roots, no humidity, sparse)
6. South Dakota (sparse, nice landscape, etc.)
7. Western North Dakota (see South Dakota)
8. Central Missouri (good gardening potential, cheap land/housing)
9. Western Kansas (see Western Nebraska)
10. Utah (close--relatively speaking, to Peter, and beautiful, and sparse)
11. Northern Minnesota (Lakes! Fishing! Cool climate! Progressive people!)
12. Northern Wisconsin (See Minnesota)
13. Northern Michigan (See Minnesota)
14. Northern Iowa (See Minnesota, minus the lakes)
15. Canada (Like Northern Minnesota, but more so. But: Far away. Citizenship issues, and stuff.)
16. The Northeast U.S. (See Canada, without the citizenship issues)

I would probably consider any of locations 2-14 to "permanent" moves, in that they are all places I could see buying some land, building a house, planting some fruit trees, and staying til I croak.

Other possibles--portions of NE, KS, MN, WI, MI, ND, MO not named above, Illinois, Indiana (G-Had!), Colorado, Arizona (Flagstaff, basically), Alaska. These are all non-permanent, probably.

Long shots--Scandanavia, Kentucky, West Texas, New Mexico

I should just do a GIS site suitability analysis to figure out where I want to live, but it would probably give me the same list & prioritization as above.


Google Desktop just sent me an alert that I have received an email in my Gmail account. It's a message I actually received December 11. Super useful.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007


The headboard and footboard are DONE. Completely:

I didn't do a very good job matching the grain on the plugs that hide the screws attaching the caps to the headboard and footboard, but maybe it's sort of like the people that leave layout lines penciled on completed dovetails--to highlight the work that went into it:

The final coat of finish is now curing on the sides:

I used something called "Tried and True." It is basically a linseed oil/beeswax mix. It sure is easy to apply. Hopefully it holds up pretty well.

The next pictures I post should be of a done crib in a done baby's room...


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