oh yeah, i forgot a rant...

... related to the Sounders game. My biggest turn-off to soccer is the utterly-frickin wussbags that writhe on the ground in fake agony when so much as the wild blows a little too hard. Makes it really hard for me to consider soccer a real sport watching that. I had to keep telling Spencer "he's faking it... yeah, he's faking it too... yep, you got it, he's faking it."

Fortunately nobody stood up and yelled "I hope he dies!" but I would have laughed at that just as I did 10 years ago against Notre Dame. Just sayin.


My first Sounders game with Spencer

Oy, I've put this off a couple days because frankly, I really don't know what to say about it. I'll start with my conclusion - I won't shell out that kind of money for a Sounders game again.

If I were one who enjoyed watching soccer, I think I would have had fun. Not quite as big of an event as the hype in this town had led me to believe, but still, quite the lively crowd, fairly knowledgeable, and a nice setting for the game. Problem is, I'm not one who likes watching soccer. Like golf and baseball, I'm a much bigger fan of playing the game than watching it.

Spencer was excited about going, he had a good time, although he liked watching the game from the club level indoors than standing in the stands. Even if we did have 20th row seats at midfield (great seats scored by me). He noted that the players stand around a lot, which is something I've coached him he can't do in soccer. I didn't have an answer for him. Thanks MLS players.

Traffic was a mess due to the construction between Quest and Safeco. Worse than a Mariners or Seahawks game, believe it or not. And boy, despite the club level not being very crowded, they had tons of people guarding every entrance to make sure someone didn't wander in who didn't have a pass. God forbid someone walks around the corridor up there without a pass. Maybe a few of those folks could have been working the long lines at the concession stands. Just sayin.

As for the game, weather was great and the two sides played to a nice 0-0 tie. Plenty of missed opportunities for both sides. And a red card for each side to boot. Not a bad game, certainly not one for the ages.

I'm not sure why I am down on the whole experience. Maybe relative to Seahawks (where the play is interesting and the crowd is abuzz), the Mariners (where the environment is fun even if the play on the field is not), or the Thunderbirds (intimate environment and constant action), it just came up short. When I factor in that I shelled out $100 for two tickets (more than I spent last year on Spencer's first Seahawks game), I think its safe to say I'm glad I took Spencer but he will be buying tickets out of his own money next time.


Catching up on last weekend

Last weekend was pretty eventful. I took Friday off and did a premium hike taking on Granite Mountain and winning. Views were amazing, the hike exhausting, and the solitude refreshing.

On Saturday I had the boys all day, and we went and saw the Seattle Thunderbirds practice. I was excited that their hockey store would be open with 25% off everything; turns out all they were selling was their crappy stuff they can't get rid of during the season. Still, the boys had fun, and we stayed there a full hour an a half, which is an hour longer than I expected them to hold out.

After that we did a quick tour of the Museum of Flight, and checked out the new control tower exhibit, which, except for the new signs, I could not distinguish from the old control tower exhibit. The museum is very hands on which the boys love.

On Sunday, we went back to the Museum of Flight to partake in a biplane ride. We shelled out more money than we probably should for a 20 minute flight from Boeing field around Elliot Bay and back. Because there were four of us we couldn't do an open seater, so we were tightly wedged into a cabin plane. The takeoff and landing made me a wee bit nervous, Garrett couldn't see because he was too short, but Spencer loved it. It was quite the experience and glad we went on it.


Wii Fit Plus

Just saw on twitter that Wii Fit Plus is due this year. Haven't read what it will be, but here's what I'm hoping: let me workout, please.

After a year of trying I've basically given up exercising on Wii Fit
for one reason: it loves to interrupt exercise and waste my time. I don't need to hear instructions over and over. I don't need feedback from a virtual trainer. I don't need to know my "score" or how I rank over time. I just want to exercise. 30 minutes of time spent on Wii Fit amounts to about 10 minutes of real exercise. Bah, I've got better things to do with my time.

A great feature would be to let me set up my routine, set up rests between them, and go! That would be a simple feature to deliver.

I do like that I've learned a little yoga, but at some point I am way beyond learning and into practicing, and the wii fit doesn't recognize that.

I love the idea of the balance board, heck, tracking my BMI automatically in the wii is worth it for that alone. Here's to getting some good exercise programs on the wii in the future, the promise is there, someone please deliver on it.


A quick trip to Mount Rainier

Quick of course is relative - for us its a two hour drive to Sunrise, the closest point for us in the Mount Rainier National Park. It sits 6400 feet up, about 40 minutes inside the park boundaries. It affords an up close and personal view of Mount Rainier, which almost doesn't seem fair that one can drive and get a better view than climbing one of the various peaks of the Cascades.

Weather was beautiful today, but hot. We didn't do much hiking, we will save that for a cooler day.

This is at a vista about 5 miles out from Sunrise.

You could see Mount Saint Helens today; you can always recognize it due to its flat top.

A close up of where a huge amount of snow has broken off. Making me rethink that I want to summit Rainier someday.


Amazon Fresh on Snoqualmie Ridge

Woot! Just learned that Amazon will start delivering Amazon Fresh to the Ridge starting Tuesday. Boo ya! I like the new grocery store on the ridge, but they don't do everything, and their prices on some things are pretty high. Competition will be good.


Success with the Orion

At some level I have to call this a success. I set out today to try my hand at using my Orion "cooker" as a smoker, something that everyone on the Interwebs says can't be done. I didn't have high hopes, and used a small, cheap piece of 3.5 pound pork shoulder to give it a try today.

After a generous rub on the pork and stuffing it with as much garlic as I possibly could, I lined the bottom inside of the Orion with some large mesquite wood chips, ensuring that the wood was in contact with the walls of the cooker. I actually wedged them between the walls and the drip pan, keeping them in place. I also stacked them a couple high where I could, convinced that I couldn't get enough smoke anyway to do the trick. Note that I did not soak the chips in anything - I left them dry, knowing the cooker generates enough moisture on its own.

After putting the shoulder on the top rack and sealing it up, I used less charcoal than it normally calls for, and to compensate I cooked it longer (5 hours instead of 3). The result? A wonderful, black, fall-apart-in-your-hands hunk of meat rich with smoky mesquite flavor. In fact, I think it's a little too smoky. Looking forward to how it tastes with a generous helping of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce during tonight's neighborhood gathering.

Now, I'm not going to argue that this is smoked to perfection. I'd certainly rather have a real smoker to do the trick. However, I challenge the blogosphere that claims you can't get any smoke out of the Orion. And, I still say with the Orion that most of the time I'd rather have 95% flavor in a third of the time (and a tenth of the work). Today was actually an exception - I did have the time to attend to a full bbq, and I wished I had a real smoker. Sigh.

Next time, I would probably do the following:

  • soak some of the wood chips a little. A little steam won't hurt. But, need to have enough dry ones to create the smoke.
  • find smaller wood chips. Chunks of wood really don't help when trying to wedge between the drip pan and the outer wall.
  • sprinkle the wood chips with some seasoning. I think the chips will get hot enough to do the trick for this.

Bon Apetit to moi.

Geocaching.com iPhone app review

I don't yet have my own iPhone, I will be getting that in August. But since my wife has had hers (December) I've found more and more reasons to use it. The best one just might be geocaching.com's application.

The iPhone 3G has a built-in GPS receiver (GPSr), which I don't believe the first gen iPhone does (don't quote me on that). I certainly wouldn't use it to geocache, but it's accurate enough for car navigation or location-based services. The geocaching app can use the GPSr to find nearby caches. It will list them out by name and distance; clicking on one will give you more detail - size, description, logs, and hints. In other words, all standard fare you get on the website or as part of your .gpx downloads. You can also use the app to navigate to the cache, which will bring up a map (you can set whether you use Google Maps or Bing maps, for example) showing both your current location and the cache location. Or you can bring up a compass view - showing you direction and distance to where the cache is.

But the best feature, in my estimation, is that you can record your cache logs right from the phone. These are called field notes, and you can record found it/didn't find its and record a log. These are then submitted to your geocaching.com account to your field notes section. They don't post directly to the cache listing - you have to do that from the website. Not sure why they force another step, but still better than trying to figure out all the caches you found when, say, you're on vacation for a week and find a couple dozen.

The app also allows you to save cache descriptions for offline use. And this is a really nice feature of the app - it recognizes that people doing serious geocaching are probably not within distance of a cell phone network or Wifi, so the app is offline-friendly. You can't search while disconnected; however, you can still submit field notes (they are stored locally until you connect again).

This app will set you back $10. Considering you'll never had to download pocket queries again, it is a no-brainer companion to your geocaching toolkit.

The $25,000 question is whether you could realistically use only your iPhone for geocaching (assuming you pretty much do urban caches), and I think it would be a challenge. The GPS is just not accurate enough on the iPhone. But damn is it nice having a device able to pull down any nearby caches you want no matter where you are.

Happy Birthday America!

What a great country we still live in to enjoy the freedoms we do. I just wish the more people understood that with freedom comes responsibility.

Going to try to make some pulled pork for this evening's grill out, and also going to make sure all the kids go to bed tonight with all their fingers. Other than that, a relaxing day with the kids.