Wednesday, January 18, 2006


2006 Intelligence Resolutions!!

Okay, Happy New Year from the Apex Highway! I think I need three lists - one for physical goals, one for spiritual, and one for intellectual. Let's start with the easy one first - intellectual. I haven't posted any thoughts on this in a long time, but I haven't forgotten comments I got from Idaho on the relative merits of intelligence. I still really think it can be more of a hindrance than a help in life but I'm going to keep chugging along and try to improve mine, and maybe stretch in some new ways as I work to an apex. I haven't really given this list much thought but I'm going to throw it up here for discussion, making it up as I go along. So here you are, only 18 days late, my intellectual goals for 2006! I think this is an ambitious list without being insane.
1. Read 100 Books. I just don't read as much as I like - it is a great stress relieving strategy that works, and I haven't made it a priority these last few years. I will track books read here.
2. Finish the course materials for Beginning Guitar and develop competence necessary to pass screening test for admittance to Intermediate Guitar class.
3. Build a wood strip canoe. As you can see, I am focusing on kinesthetic intelligence. I've always wanted to build one and have no good reason anymore not to do it.
4. Build a simple china cabinet for our collection of knick-knacks. We have a growing collection of priceless (to us) bits of rock, driftwood, ceramic figurines, ivory carvings and other pretties that need a home. I don't even know where to start on this one, so it's bound to be a project that will stretch my abilities.
5. Finish "the sculpture" - I have had a concept for a stone carving in my head for several years now. The concept is now going away. Sculpture instructors have been excited by the idea but think it is crazy to do for a beginner. I need to produce this piece of work to get it out of my head, and have started unsuccessfully a couple times. This will be a tough one but I have researched some techniques that will help.
6. Front to back restoration and tune-up of 1100 Virago motorcycle. May develop as a "rat bike" with all chrome blacked out. Successfully drive bike to the lower 48 and back without incident.
7. Design and execute original mother-of-all gingerbread houses with Lydia. We did not get one built this year so we need to make an amazing one next year to make up for it. We're talking gingerbread castle here . . .
8. Cook 50 successful meals from recipies I've never made before for the family.
9. Find a new and intellectually challenging job as I am stagnant where I am at currently.
10. Locate at least 200 pounds of raw cutting material suitable for making jewelry from Alaska's beaches to have for next year's goals.


2006 Reading List

As part of my intellectual apex growth this year I want to read 100 books (no reason, a nice round number). I will list books here as I finish them with a hotlink to this list along the left margin of my blog, and a hotlink on each entry to the Amazon listing for the book for further information if you're interested. For fun, I will rate each book from one to ten moose but will not bore you with the reasons for my rating.

1. Three Weeks with My Brother by Nicholas and Micah Sparks. Awesome, a must read about family. Rating: 9 Moose

2. Jarhead - A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles by Anthony Swofford. Haven't seen the movie, decent read. Rating: 7 Moose

3. Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Great little piece of fiction, an Eastern Old Man and the Sea. Rating: 8 Moose.

4. The Know-It-All : One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs. Christmas gift from my wife, this was a fun read. Rating: 8 Moose

5. The Power Of A Praying Husband by Stormie Omartian. I have found this book to be helpful and a comfort. Rating: 7 Moose

6. A Hidden Place by Robert Charles Wilson. A quick read, depression-era America combined with some sci-fi. Rating: 6 Moose

7. The Jester by James Patterson. I read this on the LA to Anchorage flight after the Mexico cruise. Perfect for . . . well, reading on an airplane . . . Rating: 6.5 Moose

8. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. This was actually pretty decent, written in a British voice with great character development. Rating: 7.5 Moose

9. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. This is a good one - makes you think, full of allegory and examines the true nature of evil. He has several other books along this same vein out now that I want to read as well. Rating: 8 Moose

10. Nova by Samuel R. Delany. I'm not a huge science fiction fan, but this was definitely a good read - the imagry is astounding. Rating: 7 Moose

11. Having Our Say by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany. This book was a hoot! Very quick read and a glimpse into the golden age of Harlem and some wonderful wisdom on how to grow old. Rating: 8 Moose

12. Walking the Bible - A Journey By Land Through The Five Books Of Moses by Bruce Feiler. This book was excellent but took me awhile to get through. The author does a better job describing lighting and geological features than anyone I've read. A little daunting at 450 fact filled pages, but worth the time - and my understanding of that period in the Bible rose exponentially. Rating: 9 Moose

13. God At The Edge - Searching for the Divine in Uncomfortable and Unexpected Places by Niles Elliot Goldstein. This book was both better and worse than I expected. Very good historical resource covering religious figures through the ages that ventured into the darker dimensions of spiritual life. Very even handed writing told from a Jewish perspective. Rating: 6 Moose as a reading experience, 7 Moose as a research source.


Okay, So THIS Is A Snowman

A few posts ago, I mentioned we had gone to see a large snowman in east Anchorage that was drawing a lot of media attention. Well, I opened the paper this morning to an article about THIS monstrosity - the world record snowman built in Bethel, Maine in 1999. Those are 10 foot fir trees for arms and the scarf is 120 feet long. You can read all about this marvel here.

Sorry I haven't been posting much, I have been sick (even to the point of taking time off from work!!). I expect to be back in the swing of things and back on the road to the apex by this weekend.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Mount Augustine Update

Here is a picture of the ash plume from two hours ago. There is an ash fallout warning for the Kenai Peninsula but it is supposed to stay south of Anchorage at this time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006



At a little after 4 AM this morning Mount Augustine erupted and send an ash cloud 30,000 feet into the air. It looks like the ash cloud is going to stay to the east of Anchorage so hopefully the impact where I live will be minimal. As you know, volcanic ash clouds have had some pretty negative consequences in Alaska - not only do they clog air filters and ruin machinery, there was an instance about ten years ago of an airliner flying through an ash cloud and losing power. The pilot was able to do an emergency restart but only after the plance full of passengers had plummeted from 26,000 feet to less than 3,000, and the engines were a complete loss and had to be replaced before the plane was put back into service. You can read about the latest activity and track the ash cloud here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006



To celebrate the last day of the year, some of us went on a hunt to find the fabled Snowzilla. I have to say, it was worth the journey, and along the way we saw some other wondrous sights - a bright purple house trailer, a man who looked just like Santa in the off-season (and seemed to have the ability to warp around the neighborhood awfully quickly), and the house directly across from Snowzilla which simply has to be seen to be believed.

You can read about Snowzilla here and here. It's a heart-warming story of a whole neighborhood getting together to make something great; little kids hauling snow from their yards on sleds for Billy Powers to build his vision (as Mr. Powers' yard is very small - as are all the yards in the neighborhood - it took a lot of hauling to make the project happen).

I'll try to get copies of the pictures with us in them and post them later on. I plan on making another trip to see Snowzilla with the girls this week. The picture truly does not do it justice - you have to be there for the full effect!

Sometime this week I am going to post a list of apex related goals for the coming year. A wise young lady told me the key to achieving a goal is to put it up where you can see it! I'm back on my bike and on the move to the east coast - I had a great workout tonight and set a personal best for time and distance.


Happy New Year!

This is a cute photoshopped image that kind of sums of the last couple weeks, the idea that "If you're overwhelmed and out of your league, just keep your mouth shut and pretend you belong there". That was pretty much me over the holidays.

Unless my son and his girlfriend are playing the most elaborate hoax known to man I recently found out I am going to be a grandfather in 2006. That was a milestone along the road to the apex I was hoping was still a ways off, but Trevor really loves her, and she is a fantastic young lady. Welcome to the family Meagan . . . . and Trevor, I know you are going to be an amazing father.

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