Friday, December 23, 2005

Playing with the Template

A few minor changes to the template.

Note the addition of the Centeral Great Lakes Weather grapic to the left. This makes use of an experimental National Weather Service display. They have coverage of other parts of the United States, but it looks like the finest detail is around the Great Lakes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

They're Back

We had an interesting situation on the way home this evening from picking up one of the daughters from college.

Just as we were leaving the college town, we saw what looked like a pair of tan labs crossing the road with their heads down. As soon as they got into the right hand lane, they raised their heads and they were no longer labs, but antlerless deer. The car ahead of us slammed on their brakes and slid towards them. The lead deer got out of the way, but the second deer bounced off the front bumper of the little car in front of us. The deer was knocked ass over tea kettle and landed cast. It then scrambled to its feet, fell over once and then bounded off the road on the other side. We checked the people in the little car, but other than being shook were OK. It was such an elastic collision that the air bags didn't deploy.

What fun. Sorry, no pictures.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Keeping up with the neighbors

From The Grand Rapids Press, Friday, November 25, 2005

75-year old takes on the Appalachian Trail
By Howard Meyerson (Press Outdoors Editor)

At 74 years old, Paul Foguth is like a lot of guys who hope to shoot their age playing 18 holes of golf. But that is where the comparisons end.

Foguth, who achieved his goal this last year, plans to celebrate his 75th birthday in Perrysburg, Va., next April, attempting another goal -- walking the entire 2,172 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

"I always wanted to do it one year," said Foguth, who has walked its length once already -- in segments spread out over 12 years. He finished the trail in 2001 after many trips to the 14 states along its length.

Foguth plans to depart Feb. 14, 2006, for the southern trailhead at Springer Mountain, Ga. It will be his eighth visit to its scenic vistas.

Seven times he returned there with the idea of walking the whole trail. Seven times he abandoned the idea after a week, or two, or maybe a month -- pulled home to his wife Barbara because of loneliness, a family emergency, personal tragedy or medical problems.

After seven tries, Foguth opted to start the next year where he left off. It is a common practice for many who enjoy the trail and it would take five more years for the Grandville hiker to complete it.

"I was exhilarated when I finished it in 2001," said Foguth, a retired supervisor with the City of Grand Rapids water department whose trail name is: The Bull.

"I said: 'Thank God I got it done. No more of that. That's hard work."

But the mystique of the trail has way of lingering. Foguth found himself often thinking back about his trail experience -- and often of trying once again to do a thru-hike.

Thru-hiking, the term for walking the trail's entire length in one season, is attempted by 2,000 hikers on any given year. It is a five to six month endeavor. Typically only 200 hikers finish on the peak of Mt. Katahdin in Maine, the northern end of the trail.

Going south to north is the most popular approach. Starting in Georgia in February or March means a hiker can take advantage of milder weather and cover ground while much of the northern trail is still ice and snowbound.

Even so, Foguth knows he has to be prepared for snow and ice in the Smokey Mountains. He has to be ready for the cold, rainy days, the mud on the trail and the slippery rocks, along with fog.

"I'm going to have to pace myself," said Foguth, who wrestled with prostate cancer four years ago and had serious reconstructive foot surgery two years ago.

"I may have to change my style of hiking, but the foot problem is something I think I can work around, " he said.

Foguth trains by walking 9 miles a day with a 38-pound pack. He trains on a Bow-flex as well as stair-stepper. He knows its not very mountainous here, but plans to step up his routine by adding hills over the next few months along with more weight.

"When I put a pack on 14 years ago, my legs felt like rubber," he said. "That's not the case now. I'm in better shape than then. What feels really good is that I am out training."

Twelve years on the trail taught Foguth a lot: about practical matters like food and gear, how to plan for an extended trip and how to deal with those quiet, isolated moments.

"Just when you think you've hit a hard spot, someone will show up along the trail," Foguth said. "I only missed going to mass one time in 12 years of hiking that trail.

"I'd run into someone who said, meet me here next week, or someone who would take me.

"I never carried a cell-phone before. But I will this time. I'll be 75 years old. I feel better than I ever have before, but I worry that this old body won't hold up."

Foguth's strategy is to lighten up. He's got ultra-light titanium cook ware and a lightweight multi-fuel stove. He will carry a one-person tent and a sleeping bag warm down to 0 degrees. He will camp wherever it's convenient. There are also trail shelters along the route as well as towns where a hot shower and soft bed can be had.

But the biggest change will be internal, said Foguth - a man who can be unblinkingly honest about his foibles; a man who lists himself as the primary obstacle he dealt with the first time around.

"I am a very impulsive person," said Foguth. I think that was the problem. I'd get up in the morning and feel good and then about 11 am I'd say: 'What the hell am I doing this for?' It just gets tiring and its not much fun.

"But I realize all of what goes into it now. I'm mature enough and I think I can do it.'
We frequently see him hiking around the neighborhood. Now he has his full kit on (back pack, hiking poles...) when he goes out. This is not my work. It is just too good to hide from Google.

Note that as long as MLive keeps the article up, you can access the original by clicking on the link at the top of this entry.

Want to see the rest?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Differences in Presentation

The South



The Great White North

Note that we don't have the wreaths up yet, nor the fake tree on the porch.

Update 12/09

More snow, wreaths up, but no fake tree. (We need to replace its lights.)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Yours, Mine, and Ours - Friday Night: Dinner and a Movie

Dinner at the usual place: Lasgne and Rigatoni.

Dennis Quaid is not Henry Fonda, and Rene Russo is not Lucille Ball, but this retelling appears to work. There was nothing seriously stupid in the movie to make me want to run out the theater. As usual, the children in the two families don't fit together and make a common pact to split the marriage. After the children get conditions to cause a breakup into action, they discover that they like each other and no longer want the split. This is all followed by a Hollywood Ending.

Rip Torn plays a rather worn out Coast Guard Commandant in this movie. Although Rip is still regularly making new films, this picture makes him look like forty miles of bad road and one tends to wonder about his health. Linda Hunt plays a deliciously unique housekeeper with a relaxed counterpoint to Quaid's shipshape view of how a household should be run.

New previews: The Shaggy Dog with Tim Allen (instead of Tommy Kirk) turning into a dog, due out Mar 10th. Last Holiday with Queen Latifa playing a lady given a short time to live, due out Jan 13th. And (of course) Nanny McPhee due out Jan 27th.