Monday, October 31, 2005

Fuera Bush

I was browsing the articles of CNN online and came across this one about the Summit of Americas being held in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Argentines hate Bush, that's for sure. On a train from Buenos Aires to Tigre, I saw a stencilled graffiti that had a picture of Bush, and beneath it was "International Terrorist".

I'm curious as to what chaos will be created by people protesting Bush or the Summit. I've learned first hand that South Americans love to protest. Heck, it's the way things are done.

Here's an image of a graffiti mural from Resistencia, a small, tranquil town in the Chaco province in Argentina. I came across this mural back in August of this year. Note the woman holding the bandera saying "Fuera Bush de Argentina".

Happy Halloween! or not!

Today's Halloween. I completely forgot about it this morning, until I was like..wait, I was going to dress up and go to work! I found my old gold shiney stretchy pants of the clubbing days of old (gawd, what was I thinking when I bought these?), black shiney halter, and of course, the afro.

When I got to work, I borrowed the gold herringbone chains that look like they've been in the shop since the 70's (I kid you not), and put them on -- one as a necklace, and one as a belt.

Sarah arrived, and she looked hot! She dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood, and did an awesome job at assembling the outfit on her own. Of course, the boys, Charles, Aaron, and I'll count Jon, too, didn't dress up.


Sarah and me at the shop

Daylight savings was yesterday, which meant that I'd arrive home at dark. I was hoping not to miss any trick or treaters, since Sean and I bought tons and tons of candy, and I'm not talking about the kiddie mix either, we got the good stuff.


Look at all the candy we had.

Sadly to say, we had 0, that's zero, trick or treaters. For sure, I'd think we'd at least have the neighbor kids and the kids that we knew in the neighborhood. What's up with that? Did everyone make their kids trick or treat during the daylight hours, when everyone's at work? Come on people! Oh well. Looks like I'll be bringing some candy to work, and Sean and I will have plenty of sweets to munch on...at least it's the good candy ;)

Here's another picture of me from Halloween night..had to take the fro off (had my hair tied in 3 small buns all day), and ended up with a semi-fro...with fake mole, gold glitter eye shadow and all...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pukey pumpkin

Someone got sick on my porch...must have had one too many beers...



Tonight, Sarah, my coworker, had a pumpkin carving party at her house after work. I was originally going to carve a really cool fairy, but it was more of a "time permitting" situation. The fairy is pretty intricate, and I'm not exactly the best pumpkin carver in the world. So I decided to make a pukey pumpkin.

I think I'll save the cute and sweet fairy for Sunday when I get back home from Houston. Yeah, Houston for the weekend -- obligatory family gathering since Alyssa's in town!

Yay, polartec remnants!

Well, as you may or may not know, I'm into sewing. I really like making cheap gear...you know, because everything from REI or the like, anything "Polartec", is expensive, and is usually to big for me.

So about a month ago, I put in an order to Malden Mills for the 17+ total yards of remnant fabrics. I did this to kind of check out what they had, and for $45 (that's $2.65 a yard), I figured, hey, it's worth the gamble. Plus, beats buying the fabric by the yard from them for anywhere from $7.49 to $29.99 a yard!!!

I just took a brief look through the bag, almost as tall as I am, that I arrived on my porch today. There are large pieces in there, around 1-3 yards. And some fun, fancy fleece fabrics. I haven't looked that closely to see what is what, but it seems like a pretty good buy.


Bonnie is inspecting my Malden Mills purchase.

My plan is to knit a wooly hat, and line it with Polartec fleece for my Kilimanjaro climb. Well, first, I have to learn to knit a wooly hat...If I don't learn soon, heck, I'll just make a double layered hat out of the fleece.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Flashback...Ecuador

Chugchilan, Ecuador


How many gringos can you pack in the bed of the truck? Posted by Picasa

July 5, 2004
A group of 10 of us at the Black Sheep Inn decided that we were going to do the Laguna Quilotoa hike. On the trip was the family from Montreal: Patrick, Marie, Louis, Ophelie, and Emilie; Jen and Tony; a couple from Quebec City - Serge and Dominique, and me.

We all stuffed into the bed of a small pick up truck..it was a tight squeeze! The truck brought us to another truck that would take 5 of us. Since the family was already 5 people, we let them have the pick up truck.

The rest of us got on a truck used to haul stuff. It had wooden sides. We all stood up during the ride, and it was one hell of a bumpy ride!! First of all, the driver had trouble starting the truck. He would break really hard at times, so we had to hang on for dear life! The road was pretty rough and dusty as well. Not to mention the incessantly winding roads with steep sheer cliff dropoffs...

We got to Laguna Quilotoa all in one piece, everyone covered in brown dust. The laguna is beautiful. It´s at 12,500 ft, and it´s a half day's hike back to town...

Read the full story here

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Pre-Halloween treats -- Bloody eye

Sean, Stef, and I went wakeboarding yesterday. The season's soon to be over, so we're trying to go whenever we can...even if that means going out at 7:30am in 60 degree weather!

Sean bought The Book, a series of wakeboarding instructional DVDs done by the guys at Wakeboard Camp. We started to watch the first DVD Friday night, to prepare for our Saturday session. We picked up a few tips, and thought of what we wanted to try out for Saturday.

My goal for the day was to go at a slower speed and try surface tricks. I needed to try to ride switch, and wanted to try surface 180's. Simple tricks, that I've been too nervous to try. In the DVD, they showed you how to ride in "cuffed style" -- kind of like riding and facing backwards, leaning back, and having your hands behind you, palms facing up like you're handcuffed. I wanted to try that, too.

Long story short, it ended up being an awesome day for me. My first run, I tried to come up switch (goofy foot for me). I fell quite a bit, trying to get the feel for it. And finally got comfortable going goofy foot. Once I got that down, it was time for surface 180's -- that's where you turn the board so your feet are the other stance -- ie. going from goofy foot to regular foot or vice versa. Try after try after try, after wobbly surface 180's, I finally got the hang of it. I was extremely impressed how unscary it actually was. However, I noticed that I have an easier time doing a surface 180 from switch to regular, rather than the opposite. Got better as the day wore on, though.

My first attempts at cuffed position were uneventful. I struggled with bringing the handle to my hip with my left arm, and trying to do the pass to the other hand. It takes a shitload of strength to pull that maneuver. That, and I was doing it completely wrong.

My second run, I practiced more surface 180's, and mastered..well, not really, but finally (after many tries and sore as hell arms) rode in the cuffed position. It actually wasn't that bad, once you figured out how to do it correctly, and bend at the waist properly. Then from the cuffed position, I was going to *try* a backside surface 180 -- that's where, from cuffed position, you let go of one hand then rotate or spin around to where your back is facing the boat, then spin back so that you are facing the boat again, regaining the handle with both hands. Easier said than done! Well, I'd *just* learned frontside surface 180s...so the backside surface 180's was tricky tricky tricky. My several attempts at backside surface 180's ended miserably slapping into the water. But hey, I tried. Also got a few good one wake jumps (good for me is a few inches to a foot of air..baby steps, you know...) in at the end of my second run -- landed all of them (yes!)

By the time my third run came around, I was pretty wiped out. So I just practiced jumping. I got a few good ones, landed them all except had a few "Weltons" -- that's where you let go of the handle in anticipation of a big wipeout, but end up landing the trick just fine. I gave in once my lower back was so painful, and my arms completely dead.

Learning to fly...catching a little bit of air on a heelside jump Posted by Picasa


Stef had a productive day, too. In the end, he was working on one wake 180s -- that's where you jump and switch your footing stance in the air, and land switch footed. He didn't land any one wake 180's, but he tried pretty well. Surely he'll get it soon, if not next season.

Sean was also practicing surface tricks -- surface 180's, cuffed position (he couldn't get that one), sliding, and butter slides. Long story short, we ended our wakeboarding session when he had a spectacular face smacker into the wake just after the picture below.

Sean attempting a butter slide, just before eating shit (face slapping into the wake making his eye bleed) Posted by Picasa


He was trying a butter slide on the wake, but can't quite get the spray down. So the front side of his board caught the wake, and he slammed, ate shit, faceplanted, whatever you want to call it, right into the wake. That one had to hurt. So Peter drove the boat around to pick him up. Then Peter says, "Sean, your eye is bleeding". We all were worried..blood..bloody eye? Well, that's the first bloody eye I've ever seen..not bloodshot eye, I'm talking about blood streaming from the eye, crying blood. Luckily, he wasn't hurt too bad, it's just that when
there's blood involved, you automatically assumed it's bad. We got him out of the water, Peter dropped us off at the 360 bridge. We went to Sean's car, he thought
he lost a contact in his eye -- like the back of his eyeball. He's checking out his eye in the mirror, and then he's like, there's a vein that's popped out of my eye -- a red thick threadlike substance crossing his eye. I wanted to take a picture of it, but didn't have my macro lens on me. Anyways, we went to the eye doctor and that stuff on his eye was old blood, like a blood clot streaming on
his eye, the doc plucked it of. Luckily, he only had a scratch in his cornea, which was causing the eye to bleed.

Hope you weren't eating lunch...

So, nearing the end of wakeboarding season -- here's a list of the tricks I can do from the INT Wakeboard Trick List:
- Adjust board shorts (60 points) -- I bet I could do that, but I don't wear board shorts so I haven't tried...
- Board slide in flats -- in between wakes for me (125 points)
- Bunnyhop (Ollie) (100 points) -- I've done a few decent ollies, but need tons of practice!
- Cross one wake (60 points)
- Cross both wakes (70 points)
- Crouch down and touch water (60 points)
- Healside air - one wake jump (100 points)
- Ride with one hand on handle (40 points)
- Stand on board (20 points) - LOL!!! I'd um..hope I could do that by now!
- Surface 180 (150 points) - I can do frontside 180's and switch frontside 180's
- Toeside air - one wake jump (150 points) -- did a few a long time ago, but haven't in a while
- Wave to someone (75 points) -- surely, I could do that one, too but haven't tried

I have tried, but cannot do yet:
- Backside/blindside surface 180

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project

I've given the go-ahead to help out with the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project that I mentioned in a previous post. I'm really excited about participating in this effort. As I said before, I feel that it is the least I could do.

I will be taking Continental and British Airways to Nairobi. On the lower weight side, I've found out that I can take two 50 pound bags with me. Karen Valenti, the program manager of the Project will give the go ahead to their US office and they will send me a 50 pound (max weight) duffel bag filled with gear. Now how I will carry this all the way to Tanzania, I have to freakin' clue. I'll probably make Sean carry it ;)

Here's the email I received from Karen:
Dear Marisa,

I am extremely touched by your willingness to be of support to others. You have made my day and given us the encouragement we need to continue with this work. I will have the U.S. office send you a duffel bag with a maximum weight of 50 lbs. if this meets with your approval. The IMEC office will notify you of the shipping charges which you can then reimburse them as a tax deductible donation. The last bag that was shipped to a courier was approximately $70. Do let us know if this will be agreeable to you. We will then have the bag sent in early December. You will see firsthand what a difference you will be making in the lives of the porters here! Karen


I feel like I am doing so little in this effort. I am amazed by the people there, like Karen, who have taken the initiative, and are running this project. They amaze me to no end.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Flashback...Belize



This is one of my favorite images from Belize (click on picture for full image). I don't know why. It's like it freezes an unknown moment in time. Who was sitting there before the chairs were deserted? What were they discussing?

Two Decembers ago, I was there, sitting on the beach, admiring the turquoise blue waters. The dramatic sunrises, sunsets, and moonrises. Gazing up at the millions of stars before the full moon rose. Long Caye, it was such a beautiful little island...

Yoga poses

Finally posting these pics, from the same day of the casting pics..duh, same clothes.

Anyways, here are some of the things I've learned from yoga. Crazy moves. I can't hold them for long, but they're fun to practice...


Tripod into a headstand Posted by Picasa


Headstand Posted by Picasa


I don't know what this pose is called -- balancing on my hands, knees resting on back of arms, feet in the air Posted by Picasa


Handstand attempt Posted by Picasa


Another funky pose -- balancing on my hands, right knee and hips on elbows, feet off ground Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Playing with Fire

I like to play with fire.

I had to do quite a few castings at work last week, so I took my camera up to the shop and had Sarah take a few pictures of me casting. Well, the flame is definitely more intense than what the camera shows...

In this project, I'm casting mass produced sterling silver pieces. I've charted the weights, and have weighed out the pure silver + copper I need to alloy the metal into sterling silver, and have wound up the centrifuge. I use an old "button" from the previous sterling casting and alloy the rest to the proper weight.

Torch is lit, getting ready to alloy silver Posted by Picasa


Alloying the silver in the crucible Posted by Picasa

Once the silver has been alloyed into sterling and the old metal has been melted into the alloy, I take the flask from the kiln and place it in the cradle. Now that's hot shit you don't want to touch with your bare hands.


Placing the flask in the cradle. Posted by Picasa

This particular casting called for 157 grams of sterling silver, quite a large amount of metal. I use a large flame with a high oxygen content for a higher temperature flame to melt the massive amount of metal.


Turning the oxygen up on the torch to get a hotter flame Posted by Picasa

I keep space between the crucible and the flask, until all of the metal is in a liquid state.


Melting all of the metal (alloyed metal + old metal) to a fluid liquid state Posted by Picasa

Then I push the crucible to the flask, keeping the heat on the metal, rock the crucible to break off any "skin" on the surface, then release the centrifuge.


Centrifuge is released, molten metal flows into the flask Posted by Picasa

Post casting -- you look for a button.


That's what the flask looks like once the casting has been done. The black thing in the middle is the silver "button" Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hujambo?

I started learning Swahili before I left for Argentina, and put it down for ages...time to pick up the books again. I just ordered the Pimsleur Swahili language course from Amazon -- it's an Audio CD.

I have a "Teach Yourself Swahili" book, but there's no accompanying audio. I'm probably saying everything wrong. I need audio! Hence the Pimsleur. That'll keep me entertained on my commutes.

Some basic Swahili for those of you who are interested...

Hujambo = How are you (to one person)
Sijambo = I'm fine
Habari za safari? = How was the journey/trip?
asante = thanks
karibu sana = you're very welcome
Ninatoka Mericani = I come from America
kwa heri = goodbye

Well, that's it for the lesson folks. This is some hard shit to learn, I'll tell you that, and I seem to have a natural knack for languages...or so I thought! I've already forgotten 98% of what I had learned pre-Argentina trip. Back to square one!

Whenever I try to pick up a new language, for some reason, I start spewing out French, which I haven't learned since 1996...

A bientôt! (See what I mean)

A world away, a world of a difference

Well, as you might or might not know, I'm planning to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro in December, hoping to summit New Years Eve. I am nowhere near ready to do this feat. Shoot, I haven't even prepared my gear list one bit.

But anyways, it's in my mind. I've decided to help out with the Kilimanjaro Porter's Assistance Project based in Moshi, through Mountain Explorers. It entails bringing over donated gear (clothing) from companies in the US to Tanzania. It's really the least I could possibly do.

Africa will be a completely different world to me, nothing like I know. But seeing how hard the porters worked on the Inca Trail, and not doing anything to support the porter projects there last year bugs me in a way. This time, I will do what I can. I hope this little thing -- being a gear courier -- makes a difference in someone's life.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Bandana-riffic!

So one day, I posted a thread on BootsnAll about Making your own gear. In the thread, one of the users encouraged me to post pictures of my bandanas, so I did. From that post, I got a customer..yay! One guy who saw the post decided to order 7 bandanas for his wife, who works at a cheese shop. You know, bandanas in the store are really boring, cowboy print and blah! Mine are fun and funky :) Everything went well, and they seemed pretty pleased. Yay!

Today, I got an email from a co-worker of my first customer. She said that she's been admiring her co-workers bandanas (cool stuff, I tell you). So she's thinking of putting in an order for 3 bandanas. Yay me!

Interested??
Here is a link to the fabric swatches I have available.

Email me for more details, if you're interested :D

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Welcome to the twilight zone...

So a few days ago, I get an email from my ex-boyfriend, an amicable email saying that he found me on a travel website b/c he was looking up hostels in Germany. Off course, that site had to be BootsnAll because that's the only one I'm on.

Anyways, he says he lives in Leander, and I'm like..no shit..long story short, I end up finding out he lives 4 streets (now these are not big streets, just neighborhood cul-de-sacs) south of me. How crazy is that!?!? We've lived in the same neighborhood for 2.5 yrs (Sean and I have been there for 3.5 yrs) and never had a chance encounter. That's just bizarre. I think I've got better chances of being struck by lightening or of winning the lottery!

But anyways, it's all good. We're both in shock, it's just so bizarre. Twilight zone-esque, I swear!

Flat water snob...

Yes, I've become a flat water snob. Well, I went wakeboarding this afternoon. I only did one run, had pretty crap water. Even with the slightest of chop in it, the water bounces me around all over the place, so I refrain from doing anything too crazy in it. Stil had fun, though.

I learned a new "trick", or rather tried it out. I touched the water. It's pretty easy, nothing to spectacular about it. And the boys say that my ass is still too high up in the air. Something different though.


New trick: touching the water Posted by Picasa

I tried a heelside jump, but failed miserably at it. I might as well have been just crossing the wake really fast...


Miserable attempt at a heelside jump Posted by Picasa

But Sean got a few heelside jumps in...


Sean doing a heelside jump Posted by Picasa

After we were all done, we headed on to Ski Shores to grab a bite to eat. Peter whipped the boat in, unknowingly right in front of a boat cop who was eating there. Woops! But he didn't do anything, which was good. Sean's and my burgers took forever to get to us. Well, they say on their website that, "Ski Shores Waterfont Cafe is known for its quality not for its speed." Ain't that the truth!

Anyways, while we were eating, the boat cop left, got on his police boat, and hung out in the water in front of ski shores. As Sean said that he was going to go after this boat about to pass us up, because some dumbass was sitting out in front...the sirens went off, and he flagged the boat down. Don't know what happened, but the cop ended up making them turn around and following/escorting them back, probably to a dock. We all laughed because it was just the timing of the statement and the ensuing events.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Making the most of the wakeboarding season...

You'd probably think I'm nuts. But I went wakeboarding today. We left the dock around 7:50am, at some 57 degrees Farenheit air temperature. It was damn chilly. Luckily, this is the time of year that the water temperature is still warm (relatively, Lake Austin is cold...).

Stripping down before a wakeboarding session sucked, but jumping in the water felt so nice. Getting pulled out of the water and standing up...now that's a different story. Damn chilly!

We went last weekend, and I was able to get 3 really good ollies, 2 of which I landed. Also landed a few jumps. One, where I edged really hard, flew into the wake's ramp -- they guys said I got really good air...but I didn't land it. Instead, I think the nose of my wakeboard caught the water, I fell and tumbled a full rotation. It didn't hurt though, but they boys told me to not try so hard..haha.

Today...I sucked! Well, the water was pretty nice my first run. Not too many people out. It was cold, and no one seems as crazy as we are ;) I wanted to practice ollying and heelside one wake jumps. My ollies were horrible! On my first run, which was short, I ended it by attempting a heelside one wake jump, only to splat face first in the water so hard that I popped out of my bindings and flew a few feet, water shot up my sinuses and ears, and I had an instant headache. I waded for a second or two, looked back, and swam back to my board. It was the hardest and worst slapper that I've ever had. I thought my toeside jump slappers were bad..well, this one topped the cake. I went back to the boat to rest up.

I had two more runs, and since my first big slapper of the day put me in my place, I decided to take it more conservatively. I did a few heelside one wake jumps, but nothing too big. Stef said I got about 6" to a foot of air. Not bad. And I actually landed it, too. I had a few that I didn't land. And my ollies were horrible. Just not my day.

Well, tomorrow's another day. We're going out on the lake in the evening. Maybe I'll have a better session...

I can't believe it's already 1 week into October, and we're still wakeboarding...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Ollie ollie ollie!!!

Went wakeboarding this afternoon/eve. It was quite a packed boat -- me, Sean, Stef, Karan, Peter, Peter's next door neighbor Dawnelle, and another chick Lisa.

In short, my first run was so shitty. The water was ridiculously choppy, and I worked so hard at just keeping myself up. I went outside of the wake, to attempt a heelside jump, but damn, I was whipped so bad by the choppiness of the water, I just crossed the wake, and then soon after gave in.

My second run was great. Nice, nice water. I went outside of the wake on my toeside, and tried some ollies. I just decided to go for it. I got one good one in, where I felt like I got a bit of air. The others seemed small. I did my fair share of falling while learning how to ollie. Also failed miserably at a few heelside jumps. Tried 3, and each time fell and popped my wakeboard off my feet.

I bought Sean the Roam wakeboard for his belated birthday present. It has no fins or not edges on the bottom. It's kind of like a wakeskate that's attached to your feet. Well, this may be the new favorite board on the boat. Stef and Karan liked it, too.