vinod : September 2004 Archives

Pa-nin-shula

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Hopefully everyone caught the debate tonight. Even the folks on the MaxBoxing message boards are giving Kerry a Unanimous Decision. Is anyone else getting tired of "talking points"?

I've been dabbling of late in the world of BitTorrents. Basically, while you're downloading a file you're also serving that file back out to other downloads. The more people involved in the sharing, the smoother the operation runs. I've found a great source of boxing torrents and have been enjoying all kinds of classic old fights on my Windows Media Player. I'm also anticipating being able to pull down this weekend's Ricardo Mayorga v Felix Trinidad PPV off there just minutes after the final bell. Google around and you're certain to discover movies galore to download...patience is the key to this, though.

Little People

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After a quick search, I haven't found this story or photo...but I'm hoping that my man Duce will be able to hook it up. What's up with that tiny dude that either Manny or Pedro of the Red Sox is rolling with these days?? And if you don't know what I'm talking about yet...your jaw will drop when you see this...

Brings to mind Kramer's lil' friend Mickey on Seinfeld. Usually when sitcoms start adding characters late in their runs it spells doom but not this time. David Putty was also a brilliant late-addition. Elaine asking him what's for dinner and his "Feels like an Arby's night" response is classico (just watched that episode).

Whole Lotta Nothing

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Scored a November lease today for a 50's style house that my siblings dubbed as Brady Bunch. I'm dropping the final rent check to the current jackass landlord tomorrow. I wish that it was as simple as that being my last contact with him, but I'm not 100% confident of that.

And I swear that a comedian of the quality of Carrot Top/Jay Leno is writing George Bush's "Kerry flip-flops" jokes...for example: He probably could spend 90 minutes debating himself. Chris Rock needs to throw Kerry a bone to combat this nonsense.

D'oh, a Deer!

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Anytime you venture out into the wild, you hope to catch some glimpses of wildlife. Just think about all those RVs pulling over in Yellowstone for someone to jump out, camera in hand, and get entirely too close to a moose or bison. Anyway, myself and fellow Maroons were winding down our evening with a campfire (that was rectangularly-shaped), when two deer started to take over the campsite. It was completely dark outside, so these fellas were keeping us on our toes as they just kind of milled around. I'm just glad that we didn't get in the way of their party.

Ultimately, us seeing some deer probably isn't really impressing you. But how about a headless seal pup? I was pretty amazed by this lil' guy,

X-Endorsement

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George Walker Bush can have that crook Don King. John Kerry's got the illest boxing felon on his side.

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Slum-Lords

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My current landlord has left me longing for the days of renting from K&G back in Hyde Park. For those unfamiliar with K&G...they were pretty awful people.

I called this dude today looking for some generosity to get out of a now month-to-month lease two weeks early. I know I had no legal grounding to expect any results on this, but I was more looking for a kickback for being model tenants. Sadly, I couldn't get him to budge on the matter...

Fair play, as I've done a decent bit of research and knew he wasn't obligated to oblige. Plus the guy doesn't care for me much as he's a slackjaw and I've had to harass him anytime something needs to get done. Dude lives in California making everything even more complicated. I even had to mail him a letter last month to get in touch with him about our ending lease because the jackass didn't tell us he was changing his phone number.

So we've found a great place we want to move into and have been able to negotiate an Oct. 15 start date over there. Now it's a matter of whether it's worth $647.50 in double-rent next month to wash our hands of this clown once and for all and move on. That's a lot of dough to throw in the garbage and would put a dent in my 2005 new couch/HDTV/puppy fund. But I want to say hasta la vista to this guy sooooo badly....

I'm trying to play it cool and maintain some positive karma, but I did at least discover one nice piece of tenant law for when I finally do bounce--even if your lease stipulates 30-days notice to vacate, the law says it's 20 days. I hope to catch him snoozing on the 10th of some month...

School Daze

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I've got an 8th Grader at work who I've adopted as my geography/social studies protege--much like Jerry Seinfeld was to Kenny Bania. Anyway, this kid tells me she has a test coming up so I ask her what it's on. She's like "the teacher gave us a copy of the test" and whips out a photocopy from the textbook's teacher's manual. Basically, the kids are supposed to memorize the answers on the test and spit it out in the classroom. What the eff?!?

I will most definitely be torn when it comes time for a youngin' of my own to go to school. Shoddy public school? Prissy private school? Hippie charter school? Maladjusted home schooled? The options are frightening.

And is anyone else having troubles with ESPN.com's College Football pages crashing their Internet Explorer? I've been able to replicate the problem on numerous computers now...but I'm determined to get to the bottom of this...

Thankfully, the trashman came today to pick up the remnants of the fish fry...it's smelling like roses again around here.

Fish Fry

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I recently scored a lil' deep fryer and to celebrate fight night on Saturday put it to work. An Idaho Vandal came through with a massive filet of halibut and proceeded to slice and dice it into bite-sized cubes. They were doused in batter and fried to a golden crisp...bottom line was they were ridiculously delicious and simple. The drawback to this? My kitchen has absorbed a rather pungent smell of fish.

Anyway, myself and a room-full of other boxing fanatics watched Oscar rolling in agnozing pain after a perfect shot to the liver from Hopkins. Props to both men for sportsmanship after the fight--a definite rarity these days.

The Buckeyes are starting to emerge as the class of the Big Ten after a solid win over NC State. The Wolf Pack's coach Chuck D'amoto has done a solid job rebuilding in Raliegh but brought the discipline of FSU with him--141 penalty yards. Minnesota and Purdue look to be the Bucks likely challengers to the crown after another poor performance by the boys in Ann Arbor. And I'm looking forward to October 2 when Notre Dame will be exposed against Purdue...that will also be the day of the next OSU game against minnow Northwestern.

Back on Track

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Yowza! It's been quiet around here. The rest of the Alaska story is finally posted...I'll spare y'all the excuses for the delay.

I'll leave you with a fine quote from the notoriously thrifty millionaire boxer Bernard Hopkins (fighting De La Hoya tomorrow night): I'm doing great with my money. I have a Costco card. I also shop at Sam's Club. You have to bag it, but it's worth the savings.

Alaska - Part Deux

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After a night's sleep in a dank smoking room at the Holiday Inn-Anchorage, we were heading south on the Seward Highway. It's a pretty spectacular drive and we were fortunate to have clear blue skies to enjoy it. I kept on cruising, passing every RV in sight, save for a stop in Girdwood for a breakfast bear claw. The next stop was for food again--Yoli's Deli in Seward--for some lunch to pack on the hike. Now it was off to the true destination--the Harding Icefield Trail at Kenai Fjords National Park.

Driving up to the trailhead, I caught the first glimpse of Exit Glacier. At the trailhead, we had our first and only real encounter with Alaska's infamous bugs. Thankfully these were of the non-biting variety and just tiny flies, but annoying nonetheless. While swatting away at the flies, we laced up the boots and powered on the2-way radios. And it was off to the Harding Icefield Trail--about 8-miles round trip with a 3,000 foot vertical elevation gain. The corporate guy played the role of the Kenyan marathoner racing to the front of the pack. Us plebes remained a comfortable distance behind while maintaining communication via walkie-talkie. We also often used the radios when within arm's reach of one another...much to the apparent annoyance of other hikers.

The trail cruises parallel to Exit Glacier until you're eventually sitting above the Harding Icefield--named after Marion, Ohio's own Warren Harding, the first American President to visit Alaska. It had been a solid seven years since I was last on this trail. As a high school student I spent part of my summer working trail crew and living right on this very trail. This all brought back some sweet memories as I came upon the old campsite (helluva view, eh?) and work-project. And here's another view of the stone-retaining wall we built. It was lunchtime at the top as the corporate guy was amazed at how large the Dagwood Sandwich he ordered was--until that moment when I filled him in, he wasn't hip to the Sunday comics and Blondie. Considering the all up-hill climb to the top, it was a leisurely paced jaunt back down.

Back at the car, we began the quest for accommodation. The bug situation turned us off of the camping idea. After doing a cost-benefit analysis of a hostel and bed & breakfast, we went the yuppie route after one to be unnamed member of the party proclaimed "money is no option." We gorged ourselves at the Salmon Bake Restaurant which hyped itself as having cheap beer and lousy food. Neither was the case.

On day two in Seward, we dropped some dough to board a boat and check out the fjords portion of Kenai Fjords. It was an 8-hour trip, but as far as really touristy things go, this was pretty sweet and worth the benjamin. Sadly it was at about this time that my digital camera began to sputter out on me. So I have no visual proof of seeing breaching humpback whales and orcas. Not to mention the diving puffins and barking sea lions. But I can tell you that it was sweet. The final stop before returning to shore was Holgate Glacier. The boat idles here for twenty minutes while everyone aboard crosses their fingers to see the glacier calve (i.e. a chunk of ice fall off). We lucked out and an enormous piece of the face plummeted into the water. Brilliant!

Back on land, we hit up the Harbor Street Creamery for what proved to be a spectacular peanut butter milkshake. Our time in Seward and Kenai Fjords was numbered. It was back on the road to Anchorage for our flights home. Along the way, the radio was tuned to Girdwood Community Radio. Soon on the air were the Nervis Rex, a local ska band. Just imagine a really bad version of Offspring and you've got the idea. The stoner DJ was soon on the mic complaining of stolen bicycles in town. Just a hilarious rant followed by a timely announcement for an upcoming Girdwood Land Use Committee Meeting. I soon after pulled off the road in a vain attempt to immortalize the final sunset of the adventure...here is the result of my final picture. Ansel I am not.

Hey, Bear!

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My Anchorage to Seattle flight was a full one and I found myself in the 40th row--that put me on the plane at about 12:25am. I was in a middle seat next to an extremely wide woman who couldn't even put the arm rest between us down. Ugh...it was late and I was exhausted so I thought it would be easy enough to sleep through the discomfort. The punishment continued as mechanical issues kept us on the plane until a delayed takeoff...of 4:00am. Ugh.

Ultimately, that's all just a blip on the radar. In addition to the fat lady on the plane, over the course of the journey I rubbed shoulders with other animals such as: brown bears, ptarmagins, arctic ground squirrels, caribou, humpback and orca whales, puffins, sea lions, otters, and even a few elusive wolves.

It was near midnight last Thursday by the time I had the keys to my rental Neon in hand. After an exhaustive search, we found a 24-hour Taco Bell for a foul midnight snack. George Bush's nomination acceptance speech lulled us to sleep as we spent the next 5-hours at the Days Inn before awakening for the 230-mile drive to Denali. The corporate guy in the group managed to explode a breakfast burrito in the gas station microwave. Absent another b'fast burrito, he deemed a microwave beef chimichanga a suitable substitute. The nanny had a Mocha Frappucino and a Red Bull. I went with a Hostess 8-pack of chocolate mini-donuts. Luckily, we made up for the subpar morning eats with some killer halibut for lunch at a restaurant near the park's entrance.

Denali's backcountry is pretty unique compared to your average park. There are no private vehicles allowed inside the park and there are no maintained hiking trails. The park is divided into 43-units with quotas for how many people can camp in each on a given night. Due to our late start, we were facing a sort of sloppy seconds as everything is first-come and first-served. After much debate, we settled on Unit 8--Polychrome Pass. The park ranger issued us our BRFC (Bear Resistant Food Container, if you're not in the know) and we hopped on a 3:30pm Camper Bus to take us out into the depths of Denali. It was on this 3-hour bus ride we met Benny and Jenny from Tejas. They were a pretty ordinary couple, but for whatever reason, we found ourselves talking about them the rest of the trip as if we've known them for years.

Shortly after seeing a grizzly cub running up the hillside, bus driver Chuck pulled the bus over and we were suddenly on our own in the wilderness of Unit 8. We cruised down a drainage ditch and skipped over braids of the slow running/almost dry East Fork River. Walking on untouched tundra is pretty slow going. In the end we were averaging just a shade over 1.25 mph with our packs on. The sun was quickly approaching the horizon and the temperature dropping in the process so we pitched the tents and started to settle in. I sparked up the backpacking stove to cook up some cheddar and potato soup--which proved to be a nice warm meal but a complete headache come dishwashing time. Before I was able to get a cup of hot cocoa, the nanny kicked a clump of dirt into the pot and dashed my chocolaty dreams. We ran into all kinds of problems getting all of our "smellables" in our government issued BRFC, but we flexed our liberal arts educations and improvised the best we could.

On the snowy open tundra, the temperature slipped below the 20-degree mark as we huddled into one tent. At this point we were all just trying to get the feeling in our hands and feet back to normal. Throughout the night, my feet constantly fluctuated between toasty and numb...quite annoying. We all wondered out loud how Benny and Jenny might have been coping. Alas, morning came and we were quick to get our show on the road and warm up. We were delighted to retrieve all of our cookware and the BRFC without a hint of them being fiddled with by Yogi Bear (they were kept 100-plus yards away from our tents). No time for sod-filled Swiss Miss, we scarfed down some Cliff Bars and started cruising back to the main road where we would thumb down another green Denali bus.

Eric the bus driver was a dry, straight-talking, completely matter of fact kind of guy. He rocked! The bus we caught was filled with about 10 non-camping tourists who caught this bus at 6:30am from the Park HQ. Our new bus-mates told us how they watched grizzly bears taking a morning jog on the park road right in front of the bus and better yet, saw a pack of wolves dining on a caribou just a stones throw away. Eric's description to us of witnessing the wolve's feasting was a stoic, "it was sweet". This bus seemed like good luck so we made the loop and rode back with them to Park HQ. Earlier on our hike back to the road, I was rambling to the crew about how much I wanted to see a wolf in the wild. Eric's magic bus made that happen. First we caught a glimpse of the caribou carcas. Then a quick scan with the binoculars found two wolves in the distance still loitering around. I don't know how this happened, but before we knew it, there were private vehicles pulling up to the scene with professional photographers hopping out and setting up their tripods. This scrawny black wolf was itching to grab another bite of his caribou but was no doubt terrified of the sudden peanut gallery that developed. Regardless, I was thrilled to see those bad boys.

A few hours later, we were back in the parking lot loading up the Neon. Good times. Along the way back to Anchorage, we hit up Angela's Heaven in the village of Trapper Creek where we gorged ourselves with delights such as reindeer sausage pizza. The place was run by a German woman who moved to this town of 300 several years back. Not a one of the businesses we patroned during our trip were the products of Alaskans--either Euros or lower-48ers were the entrepreneuers. Anyway, after cleaning ourselves up in our smoking room at the Holiday Inn, we ended up eating even more delicious pizza late night in Anchorage at the Moose's Tooth. The next morning we would be off to Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park. More on that tomorrow...

Alaska, Ho!

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I'm off to Alaska tonight with a few other clowns. First stop is Denali where we're currently looking at a low in the 20s. Brrrrrrrr. And if we aren't consumed by a Grizzly, we move south to Kenai Fjords.

The digital camera is packed...and I'm confident there will be a photo-op or two along the way. I'll have nothing new here until Tuesday...but the next update should be pretty solid.

And I'll be watching the Ohio State v Cincinnati game on Tivo as soon as I get back--so no spoilers, in the meantime please...

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