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Archive for July, 2009

99 Reasons to Drink Beer

This blog isn’t trying to emulate Cosmo, so I don’t actually need to list 99 reasons. I can get away with this because a) I’m lazy and b) I’m not smart enough to think of that many. Take what you can get, and don’t complain.

 

Reason #1 – it’s your round to buy and you’re sick of your friend’s fruity, girlie concoctions that make your tastebuds wince in pain.

Reason #8 – Olde English 800 40 ouncers are on sale.

Reason #11 – someone brought a keg to this shindig. Free beer!

Reason #22 – you are thristy for liquid gold.

Reason #29 – ’cause it’s so crisp.

Reason #44 – you are challenged to a beer pounding contest by surly Germans.

Reason #55 – the Budweiser girls are smiling and giving away their wares.

Reason #63 – the work day is over and happy hour has begun.

Reason #67 – it’s a beautiful day at the ball game, and nothing would taste better then a refreshingly cool brewsky.

Reason #76 – it’s 9:00 am and you still have a hangover.

Reason #88– one does not need a reason. One only drinks with a smile on one’s face.

Reason #92 – the bar ran out of other, less tasty liver killing options.

Reason #99 – a stately Clydesdale, galloping in slow-motion, with flowing mane and uplifting music compels you to robotically open the fridge to crack open a cold one.

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The perfect rush…a six-person river raft, pounded and dwarfed by class V white water rapids, rowed in heart-thumping unison to survive head-on the next crushing wave.

The perfect burger…red onions, dripping BBQ sauce, melted pepperjack cheese, thick medium rare beef, jalapeños, toasted bun, crunchy bacon.

The perfect pizza…pepperoni, jalapeños and pineapple.

The perfect afternoon…beach, shade, hammock, beer, book.

The perfect dog…20 inches long, sausage shaped, soft, reddish brown, big soulful eyes.

The perfect morning…sleeping in.

The perfect beer…ice cold, crisp and chugged mercilessly after a long-day of hiking, diving, skiing, or playing.

The perfect place…surrounded by evergreen trees and early morning fog, in view of a glassy mountain lake, wildflowers, a small meadow, a winding bustling creek, with the still hum of nature.

The perfect business meeting…no one showed up.

The perfect road trip…radio blaring heavy base, whizzing by the endless Pacific ocean, that circles around massive sea stacks thrusting up between tumultous waves, and mossy rain forests, heading towards a picturesque seaside town.

The perfect pit stop…Chick-fil-A.

The perfect evening…a clear sunny sky, the smell of popcorn and BBQ, a light breeze, sitting in the stands, with a lordly view of the baseball game inside the stadium and the city skyline outside.

The perfect late night after party snack…cream cheese hot dog.

The perfect bar…ten or more beers on tap, cute bartender, a football or soccer match on, comfortable stools, a long wooden bar, greasy food, ten lords a leaping, nine ladies dancing and a partridge in a pear tree.

The perfect hike…overcast, 72 degrees, strolling by a mix of forest, lakes, waterfalls and meadows, slightly uphill with a spectacular view at the top.

The perfect blog post…this.

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Editor’s note: Okay, so you were probably enticed to read this post from all that ‘skinny dipping’ in the title. Not to completely disappoint you, but no photos will be available nor was any actual nudity involved. Please continue. Or show your true colors by leaving to google ‘skinny dipping’…

 

Having spent a good deal of time exploring  and hiking around Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park over the past few months, I feel compelled to share some of the highlights of the national park.

AT with white blaze
AT with white blaze

The Appalachian Trail – spanning 2,175 total miles, from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian Trail (or the AT as it’s referred to by the serious about hiking sort)  runs through the full length of the Shenandoah. About 101 miles of trail. I’ve done a range of different hikes in the park, and most of them included chunks of the AT. The AT uses white blazes (paint on trees and rocks) to distinguish it from the blue blazes used for other park trails (for hikers only).

At Camp Hoover
Camp Hoover

Camp Hoover (or Rapidan Camp) – In 1929, President Herbert Hoover needed his very own fortress of solitude. He sent his minions out to find the perfect retreat to conduct state business while fishing and enjoying nature. The Marines built it smack dab in the middle of what would soon be the Shenandoah National Park. Camp Hoover was visited by other US presidents, but Roosevelt opened Camp David because it was not wheelchair accessible (get out your hiking boots if you want to go). The buildings that remain have been turned into a museum (the Brown House was Hoover’s residence) and showrooms in the middle of idyllic nowhere.

Dark Hollow Falls – with a nice 71 foot drop and a good climb, this is a great place for a scenic lunch and a few photos.

Matthew’s Arm campsite– Up north and slightly away from the crowds that go towards the middle of the park, this campsite had good sized sites and good shade. No showers, but then again, you do need that extra special scent to repel the bears and the mosquitoes.

Cemetery
Cemetery

Random cemetery – Until 1929, people actually lived where Shenandoah is now, but they got kicked out in favor of the National Park. There are still a few remnants of their existence, including one particular small, stone walled graveyard off Keyser Run Fire Road. A blue memorial plaque with a short poem describing their plight has been added, giving the place an even more melancholy atmosphere. 

Trillium flowers

Trillium flowers

 

Trillium flowers – Big, white flowers (kind of like daffodils) everywhere along the trail, makes for a fine afternoon walkabout.

 

 

Stony Man Summit – One of the highest points in the Shenandoah (4010 ft elevation), this affords a startlingly, panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. The rock formations are impressive and a good place to practice not falling off of a high cliff.

Bears! – Yes, there are bears. Black bears, to be precise. One was ambling along about 10 yards from the trail, not really caring about the nearby hikers (must have already snacked on a park ranger). No one was mauled. Yet.

Little Devil Stairs – Don’t let the ‘little’ fool you. This trail is all devil, all the time. Climbing about 1500 feet in a short distance this trail, weaving over (but not under) the churning and falling stream many many times, will kick your butt. It doesn’t help  when it starts to pour down rain when you get to the top. The angry rattlesnake waiting to lunge at your ankle is also unnecessary.

South River Falls – Another waterfall (83 feet) to add to your photo collection. Or not.

White Oak Canyon swimming hole
Swimming hole

White Oak Canyon Trail – descending a ridiculous amount (3,200+ feet), past a series of huge waterfalls,  we finished at the bottom waterfall for a crisp, frigid dip in a  nice deep swimming hole. Standing under the cascading waterfalls, you could get a bit of a water massage. Speaking of which…

 

 

Skinny dipping world record (July 11, 2009)– an attempt to set the Guinness world record for most skinny dippers at one time happened (I suppose) on July 11, 2009 at 3pm. Was it successful? No idea. While ‘dipping’ in the swimming hole on White Oaks Canyon trail, one of the hike leaders suggested we participate in the ‘skinny’ portion at 3pm. No one took him up on the offer. Besides, the water wasn’t going to do the guys any favors.

 

 

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Back in 1998, the American Film Institute (AFI) released their list of America’s 100 Greatest Movies.

At that time I decided I would attempt to watch all of these great movies. I already had a bit of a head start, because a few years before I had taken up watching the Oscar winners for Best Picture. There is a good amount of overlap. So, over the course of the next 2-3 years I watched a good chunk of the 100 Greatest Movies, but my interest waned after awhile, and my task was left incomplete (on both fronts).

Fast forward to 2008, when AFI released a 10th Anniversary Edition of America’s 100 Greatest Movies, updating the original list with new rankings and 23 new movies (goodbye to the 23 that dropped off). It seems the only thing that didn’t change on the new list was Citizen Cane still at #1.

To me the AFI list now comprises 123 movies (100 original + 23 new). I’ve decided to take up the task again and finish watching all these movies. Only 25 to go. But in the meantime, here are some handy lists.

Five to watch first

  • The Godfather Part 1 – (New rank = 2, Old rank = 3)
  • Pulp Fiction – (New rank = 94, Old rank = 95)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark – (New rank = 66, Old rank = 60)
  • Casablanca – (New rank = 3, Old rank = 2)
  • Schindler’s List – (New rank = 9, Old rank = 8 )

Five originals that should not have dropped off

  •  See ya suckas!

Five excellent new additions

  • The Shawshank Redemption – (New rank = 72, Old rank = N/A)
  • Toy Story – (New rank = 99, Old rank = N/A)
  • Saving Private Ryan – (New rank = 71, Old rank = N/A)
  • Spartacus – (New rank = 81, Old rank = N/A)
  • The Sixth Sense – (New rank = 89, Old rank = N/A)

Random stats on 123 greatest movies

  • Decade with the most movies – 1st place: the 1970’s (22 movies); 2nd place: a tie between the 1950’s and the 1960’s (21 movies each).
  • Decade that added the most movies in the new rankings – the 1990’s (5 new movies for a total of 13)
  • Harrison Ford sightings5 movies
  • Katharine Hepburn sightings4 movies
  • Biggest jump in rankings84 spots, The Searchers (New rank = 12, Old rank = 96)
  • Biggest fall in rankings48 spots, The African Queen (New rank = 65, Old rank = 17)
  • Highest ranked new entryThe General (say what?) (New rank = 18, Old rank = N/A)
  • Biggest plummet off the list61 spots, Doctor Zhivago (New rank = N/A, Old rank = 39) 
  • Best year1939 (5 movies)

You’ve been told.

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“No one cares about you. Almost no one even knows you exist.”– Seth Godin, “Who’s There?”

On that somber note, let’s first establish that neither of my grandmothers like cats. They are dog people, through and through. Just like me.

The reason I bring up the term ‘cat blog’, is that it’s been used by the author above to describe blogs about YOU. When you share and blog about details of your life, what you ate, where you went, what your cat did yesterday, etc.  That’s considered a ‘cat blog’. As opposed to a second category of blogs that are for sharing ‘ideas’ with the audience or providing them a service.

This blog is probably closer to the ‘cat blog’ realm, though I’d argue I occasionally dip into the sharing ‘ideas’ realm (as lame as they are). Before we continue, I’m dismissing the name and changing it to ‘dog blog’, because cats drool and dogs rule. And the reason I’m pontificating now is because today there can be no doubt about the fact that this particular post is all about the ‘dog blog’…

My dog’s photo was featured in the July 2009 DC Hill Rag’s (a monthly publication) Annual Pet Photo Contest! High Five! Kuma is cuter than those others dogs! Long live the wiener dog!

I know no one really cares (with all the tragedy happening on this planet), but after all this is my blog and I’ll write about whatever dog I so choose.

Was it good for you?

Winning wiener photo

Winning wiener photo

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