Gone Fishin'

HEY!

I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!

2.27.2009

Public Spaces, Personal Privacy, and Design

My friend Chris wrote a post a while back about leaving his apartment in Tokyo one day without his iPod, and the aural assault he experienced as a result. 

It got me to thinking about the public spaces we all interact with every day, and how many of us, since the advent of the mp3 player, or perhaps even the walkman, don't rely on those spaces we utilize to provide any measure of privacy, solitude, or thinking space.  If we want those things on the street, on the bus, or at the airport, in go the earbuds.  At the same time, the advent of the public (and loud) cell-phone conversation has made those public spaces noisier, as Chris notes. There is another element- has our reliance on our own personal privacy generators made us a less polite society?  Do we shout on our phones because we expect others to supply their own white noise?

Personally, I'd like to see public spaces that provided a little bit of sanctuary.  The arm-rest on a bus or train seat, the occasional secluded park or street bench, the noise-reducing tree here or there.But those things are harder to clean, to maintain, to keep secure.  How do we strike a balance?

2.26.2009

Dan's Stimulus package CVT Road Bike II: The Ground-Up Build

Dan commented on my last stimulus bike project post that he'd be interested in exploring the "scratch" or "ground-up" build of a CVT road bike some more. So, I'm going to take a stab at it here.  He also mentioned that he could do without the rack, fenders and chain guard, so that opens up a little budget money for some other things.  In an attempt to see what we might be able to do, I headed over to the super-secret discount bike parts store and put together a shopping cart. I started with the frame, and for each part, I sorted for the cheapest compatible part and went with that.  here's what I came up with:

Remove Description Item No. Size/Color QTY. Price Total
X Nashbar Double-butted Aluminum Road Frame NB-RDBAF 52- - - -   $149.99 $149.99
X Nashbar Carbon Road Fork NS-CRF 1/8  $79.99 $79.99
X Tange LAV-82 1-1/8" Threaded Headset TN-TH8 $39.95 $39.95
X Nashbar ISIS Trekking Crankset 48/38/28 NS-CTC 175  $69.99 $69.99
X Nashbar Deluxe Alloy Stem 26.0mm NS-DS 100  $24.99 $24.99
X Nashbar 7075 Lite Road Handlebar NS-LRHB 42  $27.99 $27.99
X Nashbar Aero Brake Levers NS-ABL $19.99 $19.99
X Nashbar Jail Brake Road Calipers NS-RBCL $34.99 $34.99
X Nashbar Mechanical Disc Brake Cable and Housing Set NS-MDBC $7.99 $15.98
X Nashbar 6/7 Speed Chain NS-CCH $14.99 $14.99
X Velocity Deep V Rim VL-DVR W- - - -   $54.99 $109.98
X Nashbar Front Hi-Flange Track/Road hub NF-GHF $29.99 $29.99
X Nashbar 300mm Seatpost NS-SP3 26.8  $24.99 $24.99
X Selle Royal Freccia Men's Saddle YS-FRECM - - - -   $17.99 $17.99
X Nashbar Rim Strips NS-RS1 $1.99 $3.98
X Nashbar Cage Pedal NS-CGP $12.99 $12.99
X Nashbar ISIS Bottom Bracket NS-ISBB 68X113  $24.99 $24.99
X Nashbar Long Valve Road Tube NT-LV 700  $4.99 $9.98
X Hutchinson Equinox Wire Bead Tire YT-EQW RD- - - -   $9.99 $19.98
Subtotal: $733.72
Continue Shopping CHECKOUT




That covers all of the parts except for the CVT Hub, spokes for the front and rear wheel, and maybe some headset spacers and grease. I can't belive the cheapest 700c rims on Nashbar were Velocity Deep V's. but so goes it and they would look pretty sweet in this application anyway.   So, What's our total:

Nashbar Bits:    773.72 (I'm guessing 40 bucks on the shipping)
Nuvinci CVT:      350.00  
Spokes:                42.25 (for both wheels, I checked what I paid when I built my most recent set)
Hubub Adapter    70.00 (shipped, again an estimate)
Chain tensioner   40.00 (shipped- we might be able to get away without this, but I'm reservinf judgement for a bit there)

Total:                 1275.97

More than the Cadillac we started with, but we're now talking about a CVT road bike with hand-built Velkocity Deep-V wheels and pretty nice parts. (a carbon fork, even!)


Some ways we could save some bucks on this would be to source parts a little more carefully, perhaps mixing in some eBay purchases and things from some other retailers. We could also hit Nashbar on one of their (very few) "20% off everything" sales, which would save us about 140 bucks.

Oops- There's one more thing:  we may have to use a cross or touring frame.  Conflicting web research suggests that the NuVinci needs 135mm dropout spacing.  Many cross frames come that way, and Surly also does a bunch of frames with patented "gnot right" spacing of 132.5mm, allowing the use of 130mm road hubs or 135 mm mountain hubs.  Just a nagging detail to sort out. Nashbar does the same 132.5 spacing, and a touring frame and fork combo is 199- which would save us a few bucks.  A cross frame and fork combo right now would add a few bucks to the build.















2.25.2009

A Stimulus Package CVT Road Bike for Dan

The source picture is from here, which is a pretty good performance review of the NuVinci. My friend Dan mused about using some stimulus money to buy this bike the other day. He expressed interest primarily in the bike's use of a Nuvinci hub, a constantly-variable transmission that uses viscous fluid to transmit power from the cog to the hub body. Way Cool. The bike is a commuter and includes fenders and a rack, as well as a full-coverage chain guard. Dan also mentioned that he'd be really interested in a Nuvinci-equipped road bike, but lamented that nobody was making one. I commented that one could be made and that I was just the guy for the job: "Nuvinci road bike? Why wait for somebody else to make one, when I can make one for you? Just order a Nuvinci hub to my address- they look like they retail for around 350 bucks as a standalone. Here: http://aebike.com/page.cfm?action=details&PageID=30&SKU=HU0104 For the price of a decent used road bike (make sure it has 36 spoke rims), the Nuvinci Hub, and new rear spokes, we could have you up and running in no time." I spent some more time thinking about it last night (I often build bikes in my head to get to sleep) and here's what I have come up with: The Cadillac A-V-T is an aluminum-framed commuter bike that uses the Nuvinci hub and includes typical commuter accouterments like fenders, a rack, and a chain guard. We can do all that, and have it be more like a traditional road bike. I'm going to run down the necessary parts and list them here. The Caddy ships free and costs $899, so I'm going to assume that's the project budget and work from there. So, one possibility would be to pick up a used road bike, cut the rear hub out of the rear wheel, lace in the Nuvinci hub, add a Hubbub adapter to the drop bar for a shifter, a chain tensioner (assuming the donor bike has vertical dropouts, which it probably will), and away we go: The Donor Bike Option: Nuvinci Hub: $350.00 (shipped) Spokes: $ 20.00 (total estimate on my part, there's this guy on Ebay and it's pretty cheap if I remember correctly). Hubbub adapter: $ 70.00 (shipped) Fenders: $ 38.00 (shipped) Rack: $ 45.00 (shiped) Chainguard: $ 40.00 (shipped) Chain tensioner: $30.00 (shipped) Used Road Bike: $326.00 (up to, to stay in the limit) OR Donor new Road Bike $326.00 (shipped, I looked at the Windsor "Wellington One on DikesDirect: The shifty bits are all crap but we'll be removing those anyway) Another option is the Wal-Mart Schwinn Varsity. Either bike would be a good candidate for decal and paint removal and Mother's Aluminum Polish. Total: $899 Boy, those bits and pieces add up quickly. You need the Hubbub to make the Nuvinci work on a drop bar bike, because the shifter is made to fit the diameter of a flat-bar bike. The fenders and all that other stuff are kind of optional, but we want to stay true to amenities offered by the "control" bike. We are also making some assumptions, namely that he rear wheel on our donor bike has the same number of spokes as the Nuvinci has holes. (The Nuvinci comes in 36 or 32 holes, so that shouldn't be a big problem). But man, we are spending almost a hundred bucks on just the rack and fenders! (I won't even go there with the chain guard- these are hideously expensive to buy as a standalone, but to be fair, I'm keeping it in the estimate). What if we found a bike that already had fenders, a rack, and a chainguard? There are a few out there, usually sold as geared or single-speed commuters. I'd love to run this conversion on a Masi Randonneur, for example. (yeah, the MSRP is 1100 on that puppy, but you could find a gently used one for less than half that and be in business!) Nuvinci Hub: $350.00 (shipped) Spokes: $ 20.00 (total estimate on my part, there's this guy on Ebay and it's pretty cheap if I remember correctly). Hubbub adapter: $ 70.00 (shipped) Chain tensioner: $30.00 (shipped) Donor (pre- commuterized) Road Bike: $454.00 (up to, to stay in the limit) Total: $899 What if we built the whole thing from the ground up? This offers the greatest opportunity for customization, but also the deepest traps when it comes to way overspending the budget. We've established pretty well that the hubs and fenders, rack and adapter would only leave us with 325 bucks, and with rims, BB, headset, etc, that will get expensive fast. Still, a Surly cross check frame kitted out with a NuVinci hub would be killer (and the horizontal drops mean we don't need the chain tensioner, the frame offer great clearance for bigger tires and fenders, etc. While i was writing this post, I got an email from Dan indicating his potential interest in the project, so we'll see where this goes. I'm convinced it can be done, and handsomely, for under the price of the Caddy bike and probably saving a few pounds as well. Wish is luck.

2.24.2009

Whole Foods in Burlington II: Whole Foods in South Burlington behind the Windjammer?

A little more Google-Fu on the Whole Foods idea reveals these minutes of the South Burlington Planning Commission, from back in May, when they were advised that a developer was considering the possibility of a street from Patchen Road to the back of the Windjammer and wanted to know about the possibility of naming it "Whole Foods Drive." Hmm.  The press release (first-quarter earnings report, actually) I linked to yesterday said:

"In the first quarter, the Company opened five stores, including two relocations. So far in the second quarter, the Company has closed one Wild Oats store in Albuquerque, NM. The Company currently has 278 stores totaling 10.1 million square feet. The Company recently signed one new lease for a 45,000-square-foot store in Burlington, VT currently scheduled to open after fiscal year 2010."

So could it be locating in an as-yet unbuilt building?  Well, the part about "after fiscal year 2010" could mean that they were not looking to open until after June 30, 2010, which would give them more than a year to build and locate a store. A quick scan of the South Burlington Development review Board and Planning Commission meeting minutes over the last year or so doesn't show anything too suspect in that space.  It seems like a tight timeline to get something both permitted and built.  Who knows, the lease could be contingent on lots of things.

2.23.2009

Whole Foods in the Burlington Area

A press release from Whole Foods indicates that they will be opening up a store in Burlington by July.  Anybody know where it is going?

Press Release

What do people think?  Is the Burlington area already saturated with such places? Does Whole Foods offer something City Market, Healthy Living, Natural Provisions, etc, etc do not offer?

Personally, I'm still holding out for a Trader Joe's.

2.21.2009

Nice woods skiing today.
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2.20.2009

Burlington at Sunset

Well, a little before sunset, actually.  It was too cold to hang out much longer than it took to snap a few pictures of people on the ice at the boathouse. 

There's a really beautiful thing that happens, more in winter than any other time, around sunset on the lake.  The Adirondacks on the other side often have some interaction with the oncoming clouds that bear the evening's weather, and the low light of the setting sun pours through these clouds.  I'd need a longer lens to do it any sort of justice, but it you can find a place from which you can both see the lake and stay warm, it's a spectacular show that plays out almost every late afternoon in the winter. 

2.19.2009

The Trainer

Over the years, I have accumulated both a decent road bike and a fluid trainer.  With our move into the new house, I have also acquired the space to leave these things set up during the winter.  While the motivation to use the bike, trainer and space does not come as easily as the things, I have been able to start getting on the trainer with some regularity.  Here's what I have discovered so far:

1. My saddle position was all wrong last summer.  I had been compensating by getting up out of the saddle periodically.  That's hard to do on a trainer, and when a 40 minute session leaves you wondering if there will ever be any sensation there any more, you've got a setup issue.  I have lowered my saddle a bit and moved it forward about 5mm. I experimented with dropping the nose a degree or two, but have since brought the saddle back up level.
2. It feels like it is taking a little more effort to "ride" the same speeds that I go outside. I am fortunate enough to have a computer that registers my speed off the rear wheel, I don't find myself able to average the same speeds I can average on the road.
3. Riding the trainer is more boring than any kind of exercise I have ever engaged in, ever.  I'm glad to have my laptop propped in front of the bars and a healthy Netflix membership.
4. I'm getting excited, even in February, every time it gets a little warmer or a little brighter out.  I can't wait to be riding more outside.
5. You really notice little gear adjustment issues on the trainer.  If the gear you liek to train in wants to rub or hop around a little bit, you're off the bike and adjusting right then and there.
6. I'd really like to try rollers at some point.

2.18.2009

25 Things About Me

There's been this thing going around on Facebook for the last few weeks, and I've been tagged at least twice.  Since this blog posts to Facebook anyway, I'll do my 25  Things right here and avoid having to tag anybody else. Of course, there are far more than 25 things about me right here on the blog, so this post would be more accurately titled "25 Things About Me that are Interesting Enough to Put into a List But do not Merit Their Own Individual Blog Posts."  Actually, that's not true either.  Some of these things have merited some sort of blog post, so I have linked where appropriate.

1. When I grind pepper, I always turn the grinder in multiples of seven.  Food superstition, I guess.
2. I was born with bent or twisted tibiae, so my feet were turned in.  I slept with a brace that looked like shoes bolted to a board, had orthopedic shoes, and worked really hard to walk with my feet pointed out.  I don't notice any problems today, other than rolling an ankle while running now and then.
3. I own diatonic harmonicas in twelve keys as well as a chromatic harmonica.  I haven't played them in awhile but hope to soon.
4. I don't have a television.  I try really hard to not be one of those annoying people without a television, but sometimes I can't help but mention how nice it is not to have one.
5. I used to have really big speakers in the back of my car in high school and college.  They were wired to switches I mounted in my dashboard.  We referred to these as "coolness switches."
6.  I am on and off runner.  When I start running after lapsing out of running for a while, I usually run the same seven-week pattern of runs to build mileage. I run six days a week and the mileage looks like this: 444444R, 444446R, 444646R, 464646R, 464648R, 464848R, 4648410R.
7. With unlimited resources, I would probably own a huge music library.  I love going to music stores and previewing discs, and would probably buy about 3/4 of what I listen to, given the chance.
8. I spent a semester in Copenhagen during my junior year of college.  Living in a city that was so perfectly geared to bikes and pedestrians that also had an excellent public transit system was part of that experience that I didn't think much about at the time. I have come to understand that being there was probably the catalyzing event that has led me to working in land use planning today.
9. I was class president my senior year in high school.
10. I like remixes and mashups, and often own music in those forms without owning the original albums.
11. I love to cook.  I'm a big fan of pizzas and breads, roasts and stews, and anything that requires some special gadget to do correctly. I wish I was better with vegetables, which is where I am the most conservative.
12. I have skied since I was three years old, raced in high school and taught lessons in Vermont and Montana. I miss teaching because I really like working with kids, and don't get to do so at all in my day job. 
13. I could not be happier about living in Vermont again.  Although I could have stayed in Missoula for awhile longer, I love being around so many friends.  Living on the Cape after college felt like an isolation tank where my then-girlfriend-now-wife Kate and I felt like we were the only ones under the age of 55 on the whole peninsula.
14.  My wife and I have shared a single car for the last couple of years.
15. I like primitive photography, and have a well-modified Holga that I haven't used in awhile, but I've always really liked the pictures I get with it. Now that I have a house with a basement and a sink in the basement, I hope to set up a darkroom at some point.
16. I don't like horror movies at all, and I also refuse to watch movies where the boat sinks.
17. After much encouragement from Kate, I have been doing yoga a few times a week.  My hamstrings, hips and calves are horribly tight from years of running without really ever stretching, but the yoga is already helping.
18. Although I like going out, but I like having friends over even more.
19. I used a big huge skateboard to get around during college 10 years ago.  It had "all-terrain" wheels that looked like they came off of a Tonka truck.
20. I believe in true love and love at first sight.
21. I own five bicycles and two unicycles.  I ride three of the bikes and one of the unicycles pretty regularly.
22. I love reading and writing poetry, but can't stand self indulgent writing workshops, slam poetry or street poetry. 
23. I'm addicted to Google Earth and a bit of a GIS nerd to boot.  I love looking at old maps, new maps, maps of places I've been before and places I'll probably never get to.  Sometimes I'll zoom Earth in and just start the map moving, leave it running in the background for an hour or so, and come back to see where I've ended up.
24. I can't stand slow walkers who block the path, sidewalk, or aisle at the store. That goes double for cart-leaners and shufflers at Costco.
25. I love a good snowstorm.

2.06.2009

Shoveling

Last week I updated my Facebook status to note that I was happy to have a driveway to shovel.  That sounds pretty stupid, or maybe naive, but it's true. As a new homeowner, I'm finding small pleasures in all sorts of tasks and chores, because I'm finally doing them for myself.  It's that whole "pride in ownership" thing, I guess.  I have to admit that I have more motivation to take care of my surroundings now that I own them, compared to when I rented.

I say "I have to admit" because I have been such a defender of "renters" over the years.  I've been to enough public meetings, read enough articles and letters to the editor about proposed developments, and talked to enough "concerned citizens" to know that "renters" are the bogeyman of urban planning- and the primary argument against allowing greater density in neighborhoods. 

In Missoula, the debate over density was often raised in the context of: "if we have more density in our neighborhoods, we will have more renters, and if we have more renters in a neighborhood, they will force the remaining owners out, and then it will be a ghetto."  No, really, that was how the logic went.  The opponents of "density" (often owners of large historic homes on tony places like the University District) said things about "renters" that have been said about members of many minority groups over the years, but that can no longer be said about those groups if one wants to maintain one's status as politically enlightened.  I listened to retired professors and professionals expound on "urban decay" as if a proposal to allow single accessory dwelling units was the road to an immediate conversion of their neighborhood to one of the worse parts of Detroit.

And always at the core, were those awful, filthy renters (spoken in a sneering tone.)  Of course, what was really meant by renters was poor people, or nonwhite people, or young people, or people who didn't drive brand new cars. "Those people," one opponent of a proposed project said, "Those people's children will be playing on our playground."

And through those interactions, on Cape Cod, in Missoula, and even in Burlington, I had always sat silent in the corner, a renter, one of those people.  One of those people got up and went to work every day.  One of those people who shoveled his sidewalk and brought in his recycling bin instead of leaving it on the curb for weeks.  One of those people who didn't blast his stereo late at at night. A renter.  Let's not forget too, that even in a neighborhood full of renters, somebody owns those properties and somebody has the responsibility to maintain them.  Where was the outrage at the landlords who didn't maintain their properties?  Even though matters of decay were often their responsibility, I rarely heard those professionals and owners mention landlords as culprits.  Because after all, many of them were landlords with income properties, but none of them were renters themselves.  Much easier to scapegoat a group of people you know you aren't sitting next to at a City council meeting.

We (collectively) talk a lot about affordable housing, and we always talk a big game about how we want that housing to be ownership housing, because of all the supposed benefits of ownership. People take better care of where they live when they own it. That sounds so simple.  But, as half of a couple of young, white, middle class educated professionals who just went through the rigmarole of buying a house, I can safely say that there are plenty of people who are just not going to get over the financial hump (or the career stability hump) necessary to break into ownership.  The solution in my mind is clean, well-designed and extremely livable rental housing, with the regulatory framework (both in terms of how it is built and how it is managed) to achieve it.  

My mother-in law gave us a real estate book recently that was mostly about how to purchase, renovate, and rent out income properties.  There were lots of good ideas in there, but the overarching tone of the book was exactly what I am talking about when it comes to how we need to regulate the management of rental properties:  The book said that any action a property owner takes on an income property may have only one motive: profit. At face value, that makes pretty good sense, but the author goes on to describe how to do structural things to make walls look square, even if they aren't, and other ways to obscure the decay of a poorly maintained property with cheap wallboard and paint.

That's all well and good for maximizing profit today, but it is counterproductive to the future value of the neighborhood and the overall value of the built environment.  And tenants notice that kind of stuff, even if they aren't experts in remodeling themselves.  They live with with and in those cheap cover up remodels (or worse, in units that have had nothing done to them yet charge the same price), and the daily stresses of doing so (dripping faucets, loud bathroom fans, mold, disintegrating cheap particle board counters, peeling linoleum to trip over, drafty windows, closets that smell like cat pee, cabinets whose doors don't close properly, toilets that run, etc) add up.

So too with the outside of these places. In our last rental, we never knew if we would have a place to park when we got home from work because our downstairs neighbors had decided to have visitors, extra roommates and their vehicles over all the time.  if one of them took our space, we might have to park in somebody else's space and worry about getting that knock on the door at midnight when they came home.  We might get "parked in" when one of our neighbors came home and had nowhere else to park.  That's a pretty good psychic drag day in and day out, when all it would take is the landlord working to resolve the issue with some rule enforcement.  Would that maximize profits today, tomorrow, or even next year?  No way.  So it doesn't get done, and 10 individuals living in that building experience a drag on their productivity, creativity and energy because they are all worrying about the stupid parking.  What about when a landlord fails to have the walks around a building shoveled in a timely manner, and 10 people go to work 20 mornings out of the year with wet pantlegs and feet because of that failure? Who pays for that?  We all do, and nobody has a profit motive to fix it. (My solution was to suck it up and shovel, and not worry too much about the free-ridership of my fellow tenants, but you get the idea.)

Freshman environmental studies classes beat the idea of the tragedy of the commons into their students.  The collective energy and functionality of a population of people is a commons. That commons is robbed when a landlord fails to maintain a property.  Nobody has a profit motive to fix the problem.  We cannot live in a fantasy world where we just assume that everybody will own a home someday.  There will always be renters, and most of them will get up and participate in society every day. When that participation is hampered by living in a crappy apartment that nobody has a profit motive to fix, we all bear that cost.  That's where the discomfort with "renters" comes from, in my opinion.  And the solution lies in the same profit motive.  How can we give people who don't own their home a profit motive to maintain it? How can we give people who own a home but don't live in it a profit motive to keep it up to a humane standard?

I'm about to suggest some things that there have probably been volumes written on, so forgive my naivete:

1. Regulate: Force Landlords to take better care of their properties so that they aren't using that commons so much.  This has been done to a degree in terms of safety, heating, etc, but certainly some places have higher standards and inspection requirements for rental units than the base rules enforced by HUD.

2. Equity:  Allow tenants to pay into a fund that pays for upgrades to their property.  Keep track of what upgrades are performed and how they affect property value, and enter into an agreement with tenants who invest in the property regarding what sort of return they can get on those investments (perhaps at least what they put in but more if the value of the property rises?)

3. Micro-ownership: Instead of renting to tenants, find a way the operate less expensive properties as a condominium.  Allow tenants to purchase the right to live in a condo on a monthly basis as well as some share in the equity, so they can sell that share back when the time comes to move. This means developing micro-financing and ways of reducing transaction costs. 

I'm sure there are other good ideas out there.  We are an increasingly mobile society for whom the 30-year mortgage (both in price and transaction costs) may not be compatible with the number of career and location changes we are likely to make in our lives.  We are allowing landlords to make significant profits while allowing properties to decay.  We are forcing external costs on to tenants for lack of a profit motive.  I'm happy to be looking at my experiences as a renter from the other side, and I'm happy to have a driveway to shovel, because it's my driveway, and when I shovel it, i know I'll come home and be able to park my car there.  My employer is happy because I don't waste any mental energy worrying if I'll have a place to park every night. Everybody wins, but the path here was not easy, and lots of things could have made it impossible.  There's got to be a beter way. 
  

2.05.2009

Montana: Why did we go west?

I've been thinking a lot lately about why we went west three and a half years ago.  First, I guess I should say that it's really about why I wanted to go west, and then the fact that I convinced Kate to go with me.   Going somewhere west of Vermont has probably been in my mind since I was old enough to see the Adirondacks across Lake Champlain from the top of Monkton Ridge.  Flash forward to the summer before my senior year in high school, and i wonder out loud to my mother about taking a year off between college to ski instruct somewhere "out west."

"You mean you just want to do nothing and be nothing?" She said. 

That wasn't how I saw it, but the fear and seriousness in her voice made an impression.   College it was, and a move east, all the way to Cape Cod afterward.  I spent a lot of time on the Cape wishing I was back in Vermont, and the opportunity to attend Vermont Law School made that a reality.  I'd be lying if I said the chance to return to my home state wasn't a factor in the decision to go there.  I've written before about leaving law school, but not so much about why I got focused on going west and Montana.  Suffice to say that law school was such an immersive experience, it really felt like a decision to leave had to be a decision to leave the region as well.  

I hadn't been thinking about being west so much as going west, but once you get where you are going, you have to be there. Does that make sense? 

Kate and I were married that summer, we worked temp jobs, Fall came, we got back from the honeymoon and there we were, living with her parents.  I felt stir crazy and alone as the date of the start of the new semester approached.  Against her own desires, Kate made arrangements for an apartment in Missoula.  The way I looked at it, we had reached a critical point in our lives. We were married, had no real jobs, no big commitments, and no other chance to realize this nebulous dream.  Why Missoula, Montana? Ben was there, in school.  He had taken some stunning pictures of the place and regaled us with his stories of the hiking and wildlife he had already experienced. He was the only person we really knew west of the Mississippi.

That's it. It was west, Ben was there, we didn't have any other commitments.  Oh, and I had an overwhelming feeling that the opportunity to "throw ourselves out there" wouldn't come along again.  But again, once you get "thrown," you have to address the situation you've thrown yourself into.  Basically, that's when this whole blog started.

2.01.2009

Calzone explosion.
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