It’s bike-riding time

It’s bike-riding time

Finally, with the cooler weather and fading Monsoon season, bike-riding time has come to Phoenix. And none too soon. Making-of video Also on Relatively Average: Phoenix DinoCon Hanging out with the full moon Dinosaur...
Hanging out with the full moon

Hanging out with the full moon

The neighbors oleanders rise like kelp into the ocean of night sky behind over our back yard.   Last night, at the end of a very long day that began with a five and a half mile hike around the neighborhood and ended with replacing the bumpers on my car, after I got the dogs kenneled for the night and the house cleaned up, I decided that it was one of those rare nights when it was cool enough to sit outside and enjoy the night. The fact is, it wasn’t. It was still in the high nineties, and because this is our monsoon season, the humidity was at an uncomfortable level. But if I sat just right, and the breeze hit our yard at just the right angle, it was tolerable. Lighting up the last cigar I have at home, left over from the fishing trip my father and I took in July, I sat in the Adirondack chair on the back patio with my feet in the grass, watching the not-quite-supermoon-yet full moon float by over the neighbors oleander trees. The way they swayed together in the breeze it was easy to imagine they were kelp, dancing in unison to the silent music of an ocean current, reaching for the surface. I sat there for a long time, just sitting alone in the quiet darkness, thinking about life and work and some friends I hadn’t thought about in years; letting my mind wander isn’t something I give it much opportunity to do. That’s one of the things I really enjoy about cigars: I’m not much of a smoker, so...
Phoenix DinoCon

Phoenix DinoCon

Today I’m volunteering at the 2014 Phoenix DinoCon, a fan convention for folks who like dinosaurs, and yeah…I’m a little bit excited.     Having never really been into ComiCon or any of the other myriad of conventions out there, this will be my first time into that arena. I’ll be working the registration table, so I’ll get a chance to see everyone who comes through the door face-to-face, which should be fun. I suppose people will be there in costume, so that will be something to see, although with the temperature upwards of 100° and humid, and not to mention the chance of the seasonal monsoon storm, I doubt there will be many people dressed up. Either way, I’m looking forward to it. I may post the behind the scenes video of the “today” image above but it would be pretty short, and not to mention dark, so it might not make for a great clip.  Sunday edit – I was right…this doesn’t make for very compelling footage. But since it’s available, why not. You can see at the end where I experimented with getting more text on the image before finally deciding to leave it alone. No sense overcomplicating an image that was only going into a tweet, anyway. Also on Relatively Average: Another portrait attempt Good Night, Robin Williams Hanging out with the full...
Sedona, the long way

Sedona, the long way

Going through some photos the other day, I found some from a few years ago that I had always been meaning to write about. This weekend I finally found the time. In October 2012, an old friend who had moved out of Arizona came back for a visit. On his list of “have-to-dos” was visiting Sedona. He used to hike Sedona frequently when he lived here, and because there’s nothing like it in southwestern Ohio where he moved, he needed to get his fix. Most travelers coming from Phoenix will drive up Interstate 17, traipse through the congested but picturesque Village of Oak Creek, and hit Sedona from the south side, but we decided to take a more scenic route, a road called Schnebly Hill Road. All along the first couple of miles, there are signs stating that the road isn’t maintained, but besides a few larger rocks we had to steer around, the road was relatively smooth and made for a pleasant drive. Our ride for the day was my 1983 BMW 533, jokingly referred to as “The Panzer.” Although sturdy, its hardly an all-terrain vehicle. Goaded by the views, however, we pushed forward. Having multiple “should we turn around?” moments at every wide spot in the road, all ending with “let’s try one more section,” eventually, as usually happens, we ran out of spaces to turn around. With little more space than a single-lane road, we began our descent down worse terrain than I’ve driven in a very long time. And never in a thirty-year-old sedan. Grinding downhill in first gear, passing the only other traffic on...
Arizona Backyard Brew & Boil

Arizona Backyard Brew & Boil

I recently had the opportunity to design a logo for and then attend an awesome event that I never even knew existed…the annual Arizona Backyard Brew & Boil. For a first-timer, this event is a little difficult to describe, other than to say it’s one big yard party. Given a collection of previous years’ logos and a “go nuts” directive, the only real constraints were that it needed to fit in a 3-inch square and work in one color, as it will be used on the beer glasses. Incorporating as many of the cajun party elements I could from previous designs, it seemed like wrapping them in the outline of the state of Arizona (which is almost a square anyway) was the way to go. Varying sizes of custom type contributed to the free-for-all attitude I was going for. Even though the logo design was out of the way, I still had no idea what the event was really about. What it is: a back yard in a swanky suburb in downtown Phoenix, transformed for a day into a cajun food and music fest, complete with a real crawfish boil. A giant cauldron of live crawfish are boiled with corn on the cob, garlic, sausage, potatoes, and who knows what else, then strained and poured onto tables set up around the yard. Attendees jump in, elbow to elbow, vying for position, suckin’ dem heads and pinching’ dem tails, with juices and butter and sometimes the less-than-appetizing insides of the crawfish dribbling down chins and forearms, while another batch of ingredients are loaded into the cauldron. This is done without changing...
Disc golf practice basket

Disc golf practice basket

Even though I have other more pressing welding projects , I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a practice basket for my back yard. Sure, I could buy a freestanding practice unit, but we have a relatively small back yard, so it wouldn’t really be used to its fullest potential. Not to mention, I couldn’t find one for less than $150, and as enjoyable as I find the game, I’m not willing to invest that kind of coin in it. So, tapping into my newfound welding obsession, I decided to build my own basket. Building it myself meant that I could modify it in such way that it could be hung on the wall in our back yard, as opposed to being on a stand. Not only does this give me the most flexibility as far as maximizing potential throwing distance, but it keeps it up and away from the dogs, who are constantly running around back there. Using some extra metal that I had in the garage, I fired up the little Millermatic 135 that I picked up off Craigslist a few weeks earlier, and went to work. Luckily, already had a length of chain that would be perfect for the project, so all I had to was put the pieces together. By the end of the weekend, I had a rough working version of the basket installed on the back wall: After tweaking the frame a little bit, the time came for final prep work and paint, and now it’s there any time I want to practice at home. Also on Relatively Average: State of Arizona Wall...