Tuesday, July 31, 2012

To the Ice Caves via Lake 22!

Because my blog readers (both of you), can't get enough videos of me tromping through the woods...  

I really love the Cascade Mountains! From exploring their early history as a center for mining of dish-washing powder, to finding new, yet familiar places, I can’t imagine mountains offering a better variety of rugged beauty, geological interest, verdant foliage and hospitable hiking.

I went out on Monday on a return visit to the Ice Caves of the northern Cascades. When I was last there four years ago, a massive storm the winter before had covered the trail with so much blowdown, that I was turned back! 

Given that the trail to the caves was merely one mile, not much of a challenge, I decided first to hike to a place with the rather uninspiring name: Lake Twenty-Two.

I saw some surprising things on my hike. First off this sign:


It’s a sentence fragment. I didn’t cut anything out of the photo. What is it trying to say?!

 Then, there was the pika. Remember I used this creature in one of the “name that animal” blogs? It was quite a thrill to see one in real life.
 

This guy is of the American Pika species.

Enjoy!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tour d'Joko: King Tut of Seattle Edition

I’ve already written about visiting the King Tut exhibit here in Seattle with my sister and nephews.  I posted a slideshow with that blog because it was posted at the entrance “No Video Recording”.

You don’t think a sign would keep me from recording footage now do you?   Hrrumph.  It’ll take more than a sign to stop me!

As I also noted before, the King Tut exhibit was impressive, but anti-climactic. King Tut didn’t show.

The day with the family, however, had more to it, including me guiding them to Pike’s Market infamous Gum Wall and their treating me a Puget Sound cruise to Blake Island and the somewhat cheezy “Indian” performance at Tillicum Village. 

Enjoy the Tour d’Joko: King Tut of Seattle Edition-



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spontaneously CURED by the Not-King-Tut Exhibit!

My sole sibling, my older sister Deidre, is in town this week with her husband and my nephews, doing the summer vacation thing here in the great Northwest with friends of theirs. 

I had sort of vaguely heard that King Tut was in town, but had family not come to do the tourist thing, I probably wouldn’t have gone. Yeah. At rock concert ticket prices, it’s not something I would have done otherwise.  

Thanks, Sis, for buying my ticket! The King Tut exhibit was awesome!!! Seeing up close and personal gigantic 3000 year old statues from cradle of civilization, and a whole BUNCH of them, THAT was awesome. Once in a lifetime kind of thing since I will probably never in my life get to Egypt or Mesopotamia or Greece.  

That said, there was one thing missing from the King Tut exhibit touring the USA right now, which is being billed as the LAST time EVER King Tut will come to North America, and that is, King Tut himself. See, this tour, unlike the famous one in the 1970’s that created a bit of a frenzy here in the USA and drew millions, does NOT actually include the remains of King Tut. In fact, they didn’t even bring one of the sarcophagi, burial caskets nor the infamous burial mask, seen in the picture here. The exhibit was still awesome. But you see, this awesomeness just built tension that lead to an anti-climactic end. 

Each amazing thing to look at created anticipation for that moment, like Carter back in 1922, when you would arrive in the burial chamber and gaze upon King Tut. Instead, after you see many of the impressive artifacts buried with the Boy King, you end up.. In the gift shop.  

What the heck?

  So, as I’m sure hundreds of asked before, I asked the security guard at the end of the tour, so, what the heck? No King Tut? No funeral mask?  

Oh no. The mask was damaged last time it came to the USA, so its staying in Egypt. 

  Hrrumph. I suppose it wouldn’t help sell the thing, but they should have called it “Awesome Egyptian relics! Many of Which Come From King Tut’s Tomb!”  

Now, before entering the exhibit, we were told “NO VIDEO RECORDING”, so instead of my usual video, I have instead, a SLIDESHOW of pictures I took on the tour… Enjoy!

   

I left a bit of myself behind at this exhibit. Literally. That nasty, huge mole on the side of my head that I blogged about, fearing it was cancer, simply fell off. No blood. No bump left behind. It just fell off. Don't know where it happened, don't know where that mole is now, but it's definitely near all these ancient Egyptian relics. I wonder if it had anything with all the 3000 year old religious artifacts I was surrounded by...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tour d'Joko Yellowstone Edition: The Final Episodes

In Episode 12 of the Tour d’Joko, Yellowstone Edition, I was preparing to leave the park, but could not due to the snowstorm that enveloped the park… on May 27th. The snowplows eventually cleared the road north, and off I was. 

Planning one final stop at Fort Yellowstone at the town of Mammoth, where I had hoped to see the famous Mammoth Hot Springs. Just as with Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon the day before, I skipped viewing a notable attraction because I could barely see ANYTHING, much less something that undoubted one would need to keep some distance from. Oh well. It will give me something to look forward to should I ever go back to the park.  
 
Then, it was off to Livingston, Montana, where an old high school friend of mine now resides. She was more than happy to drive me all over her little town which was quite enjoyable.
  * * *

 At an amazing little thrift store there, I picked up an antidote for the sparse and frequently infuriating radio in rural Montana and Idaho. I bought The Power of Myth, a six-cassette boxed set of Bill Moyers’ interviews with Joseph Campbell. I think it cost me $4. Nine hours of the sagacious Campbell for that low price? Has to be an all time record for dollars-per-minute-of-wisdom! You’ll hear some of Campbell as I conclude the journey…


   
Now that I’ve cataloged my 4+ hours of footage, it’s time to condense it into that ONE video left to be made, the professional-seeming one I set out to make at journey’s start.  

I hope you all have enjoyed watching this series even half as much as I've enjoyed making it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Murder? On My Boat?!?

Once again, I’ve enjoyed a bit of a resbit from the Internet. I'll catch up soon.
  Good News! I have once again been cast in a community theatre production! The troupe I’ll be playing with are the Driftwood Players, right here in the town neighboring my own in suburban Seattle. This last Monday, I auditioned for a role in their upcoming production of the stage version of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile. It was the third time I had auditioned for this theatre group.

  The first time was a bit more than two years ago, just days before the accident which changed my life. I got cast in one of the three lead roles in that play, but I could not participate due to more pressing, life-threatening issues. Ever since then, I’ve wanted very dearly to get into that theatre group, and although my second audition came to naught, this time, success! I’ve been cast in a rather minor role as Captain Montgomery McNaught, Skipper of the Lotus, the boat on which the play takes place.  

I don’t know the story of Murder on the Nile at all, but I did find this picture of McNaught on Google Images. 

  It’s funny how I almost didn’t get the part due to a really bad sequence of negligence on my part. So Monday was the audition; Monday night, I get a call from the director, inviting me to the callbacks. I remember distinctly telling him I’d be working on the night of the callbacks, but he said they’d go late and I could swing by after work at 9 PM. That meant I thought the callbacks were on Thursday.  

Wednesday night, on my day off, I get a call about 9:30 from the director asking me what my ETA was. Had I re-considered? What? Callbacks were Thursday, this was Wednesday! No, he told me, they were waiting just for me. DAMN! I’ll be there in 15 minutes!

  It was a day off. I had not showered. I threw some shoes on and began looking for my keys. Damn! Where are my keys?!?! Arrrgh!! Time is tickin! The keys should be right HERE where I always put them!! I searched and searched! I looked everywhere! Looked in refrigerator. The Trash. Under the bed. Nowhere to be found! After 20 minutes of this, I called the director and explained.

He said no problem. They has seen enough at my audition and offered me a part. YAY!!!

 Earlier that day, I had sat in the front seat of my truck after running errands and spent some time reading mail. For the first time in 20 years, I locked my keys in the ignition of my vehicle. 

Yannow, the extra $4/mo I pay to my insurance company for roadside assistance really has paid off! 

Rehearsals start next week.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Atlas Invisble Revisited

Five years ago today, I posted the video blog you'll see here. I re-post it today because I want to get back to doing this kind of thing. The day before this was made, I was going through some old papers and I happened across some lyrics to a song I had written some 12 years prior entitled "Atlas"... 

I remembered writing the song. I remembered what it was about. I remembered the person whom I had written it about, someone who from my POV, seemed to want to take the entire world upon his shoulders, at his own expense. Hence the title, Atlas. After a dozen years, I had no recollection of the actual chords to this Atlas song, so I needed to re-write them! 

 At the time, I was a loan officer for Countrywide Home Loans, and spent every third weekend being the on-site mortgage consultant for folks looking to buy a condo at a place called Marina Bay in Richmond, CA. When I left Marina Bay, I just wandered and video blogged, with the goal of finding a cool place to sit down and songwrite.

 Imagine my surprise when I found myself, by chance, on a boulevard called "Atlas Road".  

The "Invisible" part comes from the name of the techno background music, "Invisible" by Fischerspooner.

 

Friday, July 06, 2012

IS IT... CANCER?!?

Until today, I had not seen a doctor in over three years. I suppose that’s a good thing; I haven’t had any urgent medical needs in that time. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m all that well. I’m 50 pounds overweight. I get winded easily. I’m in my 40’s. Most significantly, I have lots of skin problems.

 I have both sobhoerric dermatitis and psoriasis. In fact, my psoriasis, for the last 15 years or so, has been somewhat of a bellweather for me as it pertains to my personal wellbeing. See, although psoriasis is a mysterious disease with no definitive cause and no real cure, it is generally accepted by the medical community that mental conditions like stress can aggrevate the symptoms of the disease. When you’re not right in your head, you’re not right on your skin. 

Multiple examples of this exist in my own personal history. For example, when I left my ex-wife, my psoriasis got a lot better. My legs and arms which had been covered in plaque psoriasis miraculously got a lot better when I divorced myself, literally, from a stressful situation. Ten years ago, I was able to justify a prescription for medical marijuana because it eased my stress, and therefore, my psoriasis. I don’t smoke pot any more, and I don‘t think that makes me any more stressed out. In fact, I think that weed is a temporary fix for anxiety, but as it demotivates and suppresses DOING things in life, I think it ultimately leads to conditions that INCREASE stress. 

In the last year or so, my psoriasis has gotten a lot worse. Here is my skin telling me what my conscious mind tries hard to deny: something ain’t quite right in my life. As for what that is, I’ll deal with in future blogging; this blog is a rant about doctors.  

I HAVE AN ANGRY MOLE (I NEED TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE ALLCAPS. MY “SHIFT” BUTTON IS HAS JUST NOW STUCK ON MY KEYBOARD, AND I CAN’T GET IT UNSTUCK). IT’S A MOLE I’VE HAD MY WHOLE LIFE, AND IT WAS JUST AN ORDINARY MOLE ON MY TEMPLE. ABOUT A YEAR AGO, IT STARTED GROWING. UNFORTUNATELY, IT’S RIGHT IN A SPOT WHERE IT IS PRONE TO GETTING HIT BY MY EYEGLASSES WHEN I PUT THEM ON. IN THE LAST COUPLE MONTHS, THIS MOLE HAS EXPLODED AND BECOME A REAL NASTY PROBLEM. WHAT WAS JUST AN ORDINARY MOLE IS NOW 3/4TH’S OF AN INCH IN DIAMETER AND 3/8TH’S OF AN INCH DEEP. I LOOKED ON WEBMD FOR PICTURES OF SKIN CANCER AND MY ANGRY MOLE LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THE PICTURES THEY SHOW THERE! OMFG!! I HAVE SKIN CANCER!!! GOTTA GO TO A DOCTOR!!!! 

 SO TODAY I WENT. $45 CO-PAY JUST TO TALK TO A DOCTOR. WTF? FORTY FIVE BUCKS MAY NOT BE A LOT AS COMPARED TO THE VALUE OF MY LIFE, BUT HOW SHITTY INSURANCE IS THESE DAYS AS COMPARED TO WHAT IT WAS IN DECADES PAST IS PARY OF WHY I HAVE NOT SEEN A DOCTOR IN 3 YEARS. THINGS ARE REALLY TIGHT IN JOKOLONDOLAND THESE DAYS, AND $45 IS A WEEK’S WORTH OF GROCERIES. I SPEND THIS MONEY, AND I DON’T EVEN GET A DOCTOR. INSTEAD, I AM SEEN BY A LICENSED NURSE PRACTITIONER. OKAY, I’M SURE LNP’S ARE CAPABLE OF DEALING WITH ALL KINDS OF THINGS, BUT WHEN I’M WORRYING ABOUT THE “BIG C”, THAT’S DIFFERENT. 

 AS IT TURNS OUT, ALL MY $45 COPAY BOUGHT ME TODAY WAS A SLIP OF PAPER TO TALK TO A DERMATOLOGIST. DAMMIT, I COULDA SAID THAT FROM THE BEGINNING! I AM MISTER NASTY SKIN! I DID NOT NEED A REFERRAL TO SEE A SPECIALIST! `

I DID, AT LEAST, GET SOME CONSOLATION. MY LNP WAS VERY FORTHRIGHT IN EXPLAINING THAT ANY MOLE-RELATED PROBLEMS ON THE FACE AUTOMATICALLY GET REFERRED TO A DERMATOLOGIST DUE TO THE RISK OF SCARRING, SHE DID AT LEAST TELL ME THIS AFTER EXAMINING MY ANGRY MOLE: 

 “THERE’S NOTHING THERE THAT SCREAMS OUT MALIGNANT SKIN CANCER” 

WHHHEW… THAT’S SOMETHING AT LEAST. 

 I’LL UPDATE YOU FURTHER NEXT WEEK WHEN I SEE THE DERMATOLOGIST AND FIGURE OUT IF I CAN GET MY KEYBOARD OFF CAPSLOCK.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

NAME THOSE TRACKS! Yellowstone 12

Yellowstone Episode 12 takes us into my last day at the park. I was ready to leave, but found myself snowbound early that morning as the road to the north gate of the park had yet to be plowed. Six inches of snow had fallen overnight.
Here I write, on the 4th of July, as the rest of the country is enduring the hottest summer on record (it’s still 55 degrees and cloudy here in Seattle), maybe these snowy images from a mere 5 weeks ago will cool you down.
I appreciate a lot of different kinds of music from lots of different decades, but I think the music that came out during the late 80’s & early 90’s has had the most impact on me. The music that emerges when you’re in the 18 to 21 years of age range is the music of “your time.” It’s strange to think that the Nothing’s Shocking album is now almost 25 years old… The haunting melody of “Summertime Rolls” was perfect for the eerie solitude of my return to the Norris Geyser Basin. There’s also a certain irony to video content versus the lyrics… 

 
So… Can you name that animal? I know it might have been hard to judge scale on the video, so I’ll just add that the tracks were about the same size as those of from a medium sized dog.