The Dog Jumps

Ask yourself and keep on asking until you find the answer...

The Passing of Ellie

You might know well, after looking at this blog, that Ellie is my Husky, or more to the point of this post, was. She had a series of strokes today and as a result the compassionate thing was to euthanize her. The need to make this decision for an animal that depends upon you is heavy and it was the concern of everyone involved that she not suffer. I am deeply appreciative of my mother, who tended to Ellie in old age. My mom was a trooper in helping Ellie up and down the steps, nearly weekly vet runs, and all the various chores involved in taking care of such an old dog. I do not know what else to say, except two core concepts to what it means to be me:

  1. Dogs give us this micro view of our own lives – reminding us always of the joy in the world, and the limit of our time here, which remind us how important it is to love as much as we can. This is why I love this article: The last word: Why old dogs are the best dogs
  2. In order to take on love you need to embrace the totality of the experience, which can, in this case, end in sadness. I wish there were a word for this sense I have, but I think of it like ying and yang makes a the whole.

I suppose if you read this or see my annoucements of her passing, and you want to do something, hug a dog, child, person or otherwise that you love.

Where to being with this one; it was another amazing trip at a time which caps my first year of climbing outside. A year with 40+ days at the Gunks, Katahdin, Whitney-Gillman, The New River Gorge, Indian Creek and Red Rocks. I have met some incredible people, had some amazing adventures, been scared nearly to the point of crying, and lots of cuts and bruises.

This trip, with Alex, to Red Rocks was simply perfect in every way; from the patience of Alex and his gentle “we have to keep moving” to the routes we picked and the laughing back in the hotel at night. I think one night we were laughing because we were both happy to have made it back. More on that later.

Day one: landing and we went right to the climbs, picking Tunnel Vision. A great multi-pitch at about 750 feet or so. Alex and I alternated leads with my leading the tunnel. This climb was really fun – I know that sounds lame, but the chimney, face, caveish, and crack climbing all added up to a really fun 5.7. I am convinced I did the crux pitch where there was a strange move from the face back into the crack. Maybe thiner people with no packs on might be able to chimney move of this climb. The tunnel was really fun with my laughing the whole time. It is really thin of pro, but I got in three pieces.

Day two: up CRAZY early, I am grumpy, and I accidentally break smash my bottle of bourbon on the floor of the hotel’s breakfast area resulting in us being branded as trouble makers by the staff. I think Alex has some photos of my trying to clean up an entire bottle of bourbon at 6am.

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Pan of the Desert

The highlights and some good beta:

  • Tape gloves, make them, it is like climbing on sandpaper
  • BLM lands for camping are great, but be prepared to share with people
  • Camping meaning brining everything in with you, wood, fuel, etc…
  • Access Fund has put in a heck of a lot of outhouses
  • The common guide book is pretty crappy, we relied on Mountain Project on my iPhone. I cannot tell you how many times we said, ‘this guy never did this climb…’
  • Cell service is spotty/non-existant in the canyons, you will be mostly off the grid while there (which is cool, if you ask me!)
  • So you think you have enough gear? You dont, make friends by chatting people up and swap gear.
  • The best climbs are “unnamed”
  • Crack climbing is radically different then other kinds of climbing and there is almost no way to climb easier cracks, which is why most of the climbs are 10 and above.

The desert is stunningly beautiful.

Alex Climbing

Alex and I flew in late Wednesday evening, meeting in Denver. Be warned the flight from Denver from Moab (CNY) is a small 16 person propeller setup. It was not fun. Here is a lesson, maybe think hard about flying into SLC and driving down. The second reason for this is that the airline that flies this short route lost all of Alex’s luggage. We arrived in Moab on the most gear heavy climbing trip on earth and half our collective gear is MIA.

We decided to stay in a hotel in Moab and get some food, hoping the luggage would come the next day. It didn’t, it didn’t showed up until days later. We went to the local outfitter and got a sleeping bag, a stove, and a harness for Alex, because the rest of the stuff I had and we figured we could work it out.

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Sandy Knocks Out aquaDRAMA

A quick note to let everyone know that aquaDRAMA was devastated by the week long power outage. Let me be clear, this is the only thing that happened to me, otherwise I am perfectly fine and INCREDIBLY lucky compared to many. Having my tank die is nothing compared to having no home, a family member lost, etc… If you can help people who are badly off, please go do so.

As for the tank, I have rebooted it – drained it, removed all the dead animals, cleaned the sump, and filled it back up with good water. I then seeded it with a started culture to help the cycle restart and I am hoping it will be good in a couple days. I will post more as this unfolds. I am also going to install a new sump, replumb, and install a new UPS to help make the tank more stable in the future.

aquaDRAMA 4.0 - A 90 Gal Oceanic Reef TankFor those who do not like the metal cables to the ceiling; aquaDRAMA got a new lighting setup over the weekend based upon 2 EcoTech Marine Radion LED fixtures mounted lengthwise across my 90 gallon tank. There is one small issue, the controls of the lamps are right next to the mounting hole and it makes it harder to push on them. Honestly, I am not sure how often you would need to touch them, so I am not too perturbed. If I were the solution is simple, buy slightly higher risers and longer bolts. The whole mount was less then 100$ and was able to order the parts precut from Esto Connectors.

532300-BX 1″ STRAIGHT BASE CONTR (BLACK)
521100-BX 1″ 2 WAY RIGHT ANGLE CONNECTOR (BLACK)
109150-AB 1″ SQ. .A.A. TUBING .065 (BLACK) 4 lengths @ 5 inches
109150-AB 1″ SQ. .A.A. TUBING .065 (BLACK) 2 lengths @ 45 inches

I also ordered 4″ and 6″ risers just to be safe. EcoTech sugests the lamps be 8″ off the water and I wanted to be able to adjust as needed.

The bolts I used are listed on Amazon as “Metric Black Oxide 12.9 Alloy Steel Socket Head Cap Screw, Hex Socket Drive, M5-0.80, 40 mm Length”. I bet you can find them around supply shops without buying 100, but oh well. Again, if you want to be able to touch the controls use longer bolts. I also put in small rubber washers between the bolt and the rack.

As for the holes, find a drill but a drill press is better. Measure the middle of the 1″ tube, and then space them out as much as you like. The mounting holes are 9.72″. I would not cross beam the rack as it doesn’t need it, and that just makes for more trouble in lining up the mounting. The units are only about 3lbs each, so weight it not an issue at all.

If you have any questions, let me know.

So, listen my children and you will hear of the weekend of your protagonist – and if you can name where that opening live is from, then you are from New England for sure. It was the best of all bests lined up for a great time.

The ingredients; some off width madness as seen on the internet, amazing weather, some old friends and some new ones, good conversation, a little whiskey and a little less skin on your protagonist this morning, who by the way, is enjoying writing Saramago-esqe, massively joined sentences, while rocking out to Led Zeppelin on the the PATH train, with a huge smile on his face, as he realizes that life is just about as good as it gets, which is pretty damn good; there Saramago, do I need to bring life to a dog character, oh wait, I have. Whoa, even my digression is a little off today. It is going to be a good day.

Left Knee

Back to the tale at hand; the pack forms mid day and decides to remove the metaphorical flesh on Disco Death March, Nathan Named ‘Disco Death Match’. I give it this name because it isn’t a march, it is a match between you and some awesome crazy off-width mess that makes the mind light up and the abs hurt. Up, kneebar, out to the left, up around a crazy corner and, I mean, I have no idea what you call this move; body jam, skin removal, agressive dermabrasion?

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It was early Sunday morning, I was with Paul at The Gunks and the climb we wanted to do was occupied a couple parties deep. I am bad at recalling what they are named, because most of the names are a little dated, so I tend to make up new names that are close. This was one was dubbed Snookie’s Revenge, her revenge being that she turned being a loud mouth into a career, just like my Governor. Next door is a 9 that I believe is called Friends and Lovers, “Nathan Name” Wake Me Up When It Starts, also in contention is Paranoid Delusions of Grandeur. Why these names?

I will explain, I mean really, you can see this post goes on, you had probably assumed I would explain, no?

A bit of background, Gunks climbs are old, most of them, the majority of them and were graded in a time when there was nothing higher than a 5.10. This results in most climbers saying things like “A Gunks 9″ or “Historical Grade” with more than a few climbing veterans telling tales of what a 9 used to be like, etc… I get it all. I love it all. Nothing is static, this is all impermanent, even grades are impermanent. Again proving climbing is the embodiment of enlightened philosophies on earth.

Hitting up a 9 at 9:30 am on a Sunday might seem like a good idea, might seem like a bad idea. I like to climb harder grades in the morning, cooler, rested, etc… and it mostly seems like Paul prefers afternoon, so I lead morning, he leads afternoon. Perfect!

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Wandering About Climbing

A quick update so you know that at some point I will get my life together and work on some blog updates. I mean if it would rain or something then I would have a home day and get caught up…but…as I was told last night, “you are a real climber now, when you are in a different crag each week…” So I suppose that running around from The Gunks,  to Cannon, to The New (um, we raised some cash for AAC), to Maine, to Rumney, to Maine, back to The Gunks, and maybe CO before the end of the month means what? I am crazy, perhaps… I like to go with adventurous and it is summertime!

When I have a moment, I will buckle down and write up something about each of the trips. I do have notes. The bottom line is that I am having an awesome time and climbing grades I didn’t think were possible, meeting a lot of great people, and spending a serious amount of time outside!

More To Come: Pan From Eaglet

I am working on a full post about my recent trip with Paul to NH for a long climbing weekend. Here is a teaser, the view from on top of the Eaglet Spire

The trip was amazing and I learned a ton about Apline climbing! As I read this week…

One could be forgiven for thinking that climbing is supposed to be fun, but something beyond pleasure drives people to push themselves to exhaustion in such a hostile environment.

Climbing Tips From The New Leader

It has been about 8 months since I start climbing outdoors and started leading as well. In that short time I have learned a few newbie tips that I thought I would share:

  • When placing gear and giving it a tug to check if it is in snug, do not do this towards your face.
  • The sling loop that you attach to your harness can be clipped between your legs to keep it out of the way. I have one from Metolius 
  • When cleaning/following try to clip the protection to your harness or sling before you remove it from the rope, this reduces the chance that you will drop it.
  • Slings are your friends, you need them to reduce rope drag. Be thoughtful about making the rope in as straight a line as possible underneath you. This can be hard, but practice it as rope drag really, is, well, a drag :). I use the Transformer Sling from Mammut
  • Put your rack together with bent gate biners towards the rope as they are much easier to clip. I really love Petzl Spirit‘s as they have a smooth feeling and close actuation, which makes clipping super smooth.
  • You are going to want to wear trad shoes, not some crazy bouldering shoes. Look for a comfy flat slipper type shoe. I wear La Sportiva Mythos and notice that about half the people at the Gunks have this shoe on. I also like the Millet Yalla, but the pair is taking a bit of time to break in.
  • Make sure you practice rappelling setups on the ground, you need to feel solid up there when doing it. You can never practice too much. There are some good how-to’s out there on using an autoblock system that is much safer.
  • Ropes are obviously needed in climbing, I would check out the Mammut series of ropes, they have all variation, dual sheaths for knowing the middle, and all kinds of useful information on rope types and handling.
  • A handy blog post about twin/double/single ropes.
  • I am sure there are lots of great brands out there, but I go with what I know: Patagonia, Black Diamond, Petzl, Mammut, Metolius.
  • Lot’s of people talk about how they dislike the Gri-Gri, dont listen to them. The thing works and works well. It is just heavy so lugging one on a 2 mil approach might not be a good idea when you have 50 biners, 20 slings, 2 ropes, etc… and you are looking for ways to save weight.
  •  There are lots of great packs out there, but this one really is the best I have found – it is rugged, has good capacity, and is not too expensive: REI Pinnacle 
  • Try to avoid telling guides what to do, they don’t like it.
  • Remember that most people are not scientific about information, therefore take everything anecdotal you hear on the wall as a story not fact. Always back it up with real research from trusted sources.
  • If you want to have some fun, tell boulderers to “get a rope” when you walk by them. :)

Recently I went and saw, on the same day, the about to close Cindy Sherman exhibit at MoMA and the Keith Haring exhibit at Brooklyn Museum.

At first I was skeptical of Sherman as I do not particularly like modern photography. I was intrigued to learn that she is the subject of all of her photos. This effect is remarkable in both how unnoticeable yet how creepy it is. I learned this fact from reading the exhibition catalogue, which contains a funny interview between the artist and John Waters. My favorites were definitely the movie still series and the aged socialites series – both interesting is their seemingly satirical intent and detailed composition. I do have to say that I was put off by how grainy the enlargements were; the lack of clarity in key parts of the larger photos was often distracting.

The Keith Haring exhibit was next and interesting in for both how it covered his art and the world in which he existed: the ramping up of the AIDS crisis of the 80s into the 90s and NYC night life of that era. I admit to not being a fan of his art and dismissing it when people would want to stop at his shop on Lafayette across from the Puck Building back in ‘the day’. Funny thing is I recall having a debate about his work on that corner in front of the gas station there in the early 90s. File this one under my rule of if the majority likes it, it has to be mediocre.

I am now reconsidering his work after this exhibit because it was put into context more by the people who set this one up – good job on the curation! I think this exhibit closes in about a month. It is worth checking out as it gives you a putty good idea of the artistic process as it was evolving in Haring from street artist to international star. It is also a stark reminder of what we lost because of AIDS.

It was a last minute idea, hiking in Katahdin in October can be iffy. In the history of us doing these treks we have had every weather state from freezing snow to bright sunshine, but it is always worth a shot as the hikes are not too long, so even in the rain, it is enjoyable.

We hiked into Chimney Pond on the first day. The hike was unremarkable except for the cheer joy of being the in the Northern Maine woods – from the sounds to the smells. It was just, well, like being at home.

Upon arrival we quickly got cold as the temperature dropped nearly 20 degrees as the sun went down. Huddled up on the lean-to, wearing everything I had with me, in a sleeping bag, I woke up in the middle of the night and told my father that if it didn’t warm up, I was going to hike down in the middle of the night. He told me I was crazy and to at least wait until morning. I think the recorded at the ranger’s station said 15 degrees. Yeah, cold!

We woke up in the morning and I reluctantly joined the group to hike up the Saddle and down Hamlin ridge. It was a noce col late fall day, crisp clear air, a light breeze, and as long as we kept hiking we kept warm. We briefly sat in the sun just on the side of the ridge to avoid the wind. The sun was bright and I actually got a sun burn.

The view of Katahdin from Chimney Pond

As the sun went down, on of the my father’s friends, an accomplished climber, arrived at Chimney Pond. It was a great surprise, as we thought he was not going to join us. The verdict was immediately, in the dimming light, that there was too much ice on the mountain to go rock climbing. But, we also knew that a very warm front was supposed to move through and it could be nice in the morning. There was hope…and as the night went on, a warm breeze cam through and you could hear the ice falling in the night.

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West Point @ 30°F

Up to some old tricks this weekend up at West Point sport climbing wall. Jim, Paul and I braved the cold and got in a bunch of climbs. Some 5.8’s were lead by all! Well, maybe not Jim, he isn’t to into leading, but you get the idea.

Know the Code awaits your arrival!
Know the Code awaits your arrival!

Safety check in progress
Safety check in progress

It was warmish in the sun...
It was warmish in the sun…

All done with this one!
All done with this one!

Pickles the goat is right at home
Pickles the goat is right at home

Another Awesome Day @ The Gunks

What is there to say? Low 60’s, fall, pals, and The Trapps = a couple trad climbs that scared me, some good runs cleaning up, and a slab problem from hell, aka Pebbles. You can check out all the photos from climbing in The Gunks this fall as well.

I have to really report that jumping into this sport again has really changed my life. The combination of the physical, mental, and social aspects are a perfect balance for me. I just love it. Climb, chat, hang out, get input (beta) from people, etc… Plus being up and out of the city area is what I have missed for so long. It is nice to spend the day encountering people who actually want to chat with you. It reminds of the part of Maine I love the most, humans being humans.

A view across the way while up on the rocks.
A view across the way while up on the rocks.

Me laughing at what just happened, which I am not sure happened.
Me laughing at what just happened, which I am not sure happened.

Nathan looking over the edge using the new fisheye lens.
Nathan looking over the edge using the new fisheye lens.

Tablemania Life Hacks

I was asked today about some of the ways that I help organize and run my life. I will start by saying that all of this is my opinion and my interpretation, so you will more than likely disagree, which is part of the fun.

I would consider myself an early adopter – I had a bluetooth headset in 2000 and ran my life form an iPaq back then. These rules were developed for myself to help temper my desire to buy everything techno-cool or even worse stay up far too late building my own versions of something. Although you will find black spray pint, burn marks, and cracks in my apartment from me hammering away at something electronical.

The overarching idea here is that technology can help you a heck of a lot, but it is also the major part of the problem! I have learned from buying, building, and throwing away far too much technology (and thereby money).

Rule one: If the phone rings you dont have to answer it. Ignore the interruptions that technology can create and remain focused in the moment you are in. Your coworkers and significant other will appreciate your increased focus and attention. This rul applies to text messages, MMS, facebook, google+, and any other random interruption that technology can bring.

Rule two: Simplicity! If you can have 3 things to do that function, try to find one! Think about your audio/video setup. Do you really need all that equipment and wires? Probably not. Think about what you listen to or watch in the course of the week and build towards that state, not the exception when you watch 1 movie and need to rearrange the setup.

Rules three: Minimalism – not exactly the same thing a simplicity, but closely related. Focus on the core things you need to do, and give up all the fluff. If you do not need to look up restaurant listings because you never eat out, why buy a smartphone? I know this seems simple and I even laughed a litte when I wrote that last sentence, but I think you understand at this point!

Some tools & examples

  1. The Omni tools, especially OmniFocus – it syncs all my to-do’s on all my devices, I can organize them by location and projects. I put the most simple ideas and notes into this tool and it frees me up from strings on my fingers.
  2. BBEdit and Google Docs NOT Word – All I do is write text and bold things occasionally. So I use BBEdit on my Mac. This is bring written with BBEdit. It starts up in 10 seconds, the txt file can be read by everything, etc… SIMPLE!
  3. Online backups and TimeCapsule – Carbonite and TimeCapsule along with a cheep software RAID in my closet keep all my backups. Simple, easy, mindless and has saved my butt!
  4. Only one piece of audio equipment – ok two, AppleTV and a Denon AV Receiver. All hooked-up to a TV. Why do you need anything more complicated than that? If you don’t want to do Apple, pick another media device.
  5. Get rid of cable – This is the most transformative thing EVER! If you do not think I am serious, time the amount of TV you really watch in a week, and you might be sick to your stomach. Yeah all that time sitting and doing nothing. Once I disconnected it, I found hours and hours of free time to do other things in my week.
  6. Google Reader and Twitter – With these things properly stocked up you can get more than all the news you ever wanted organized how you want it.

I am sure I can think of more and more things that fall into this category, but some of them are so normal to me that I wouldn’t think of them as exceptional.

But keep in mind this one guy manages to keep track of a fish tank, a car, a motorcycle, hold down a job, travel, study Talmud, observe Jewish customs, etc… all with a nice dose of help from some of my pals, but managing all that information and physical resources could be daunting without a dose of simplicity.

Moreover, I would like to think me “do you really need that” approach saves me money and lowers my already heafty coarbon and slave footprint – maybe just a little, but every bit counts, no?

My Feet @ NJ Rock

Yeah so for those of you who know me, 2011 has been a bit if a rough year. As you might have noticed, I have not been writing all that much, and my travels have been cut down. There are so many cliches that can be spoken that it just seems silly to even mention any of them. Back in February I joined some of my pals at a local rock climbing gym one night at random and have become a junkie since then! I had forgotten how much I enjoyed climbing as I used to do it often back in high school and college.

In the months that have passed I have started to go to NY Rock Gym about 4-5 times a week and even started running and doing core work at lunchtime to become a better climber and drop a few pounds. The funny thing is that when I started my climbing pants were a little snug, now they fall off all the time because of how much weight I have lost.

I mostly climb indoors at NJ Rock Gym in Fairfield, NJ which is not the coolest and most modernest gym on earth, but the people there are really into climbing, amazingly helpful to newcomers, and the overall attitude in there is very positive and fun. I climb mostly with my awesome and amazing friends Deidre and Max, who both bring a different kind of attitude to the sport and I enjoy the mixture that provides. The three of us have been to Brooklyn Boulders and Gravity Vault at various times, but always end up back at NJ Rock.

Nathan up a crack at the GunksI have also taken a couple guided outdoor classes in basic top roping and anchor building. I would recommend that people check out guided lessons before doing something stupid and hurting yourself. While basic anchoring isn’t hard, it obviously can go really wrong is you do not pay attention.

Some reflections on starting up climbing (again):

  • your hands are going to hurt, be nice to them!
  • climbing doesn’t actually require you to be strong, it requires problem solving and fitness, especially at a recreational level
  • climbing can be really social, don’t get distracted from your safety check routine and paying attention to your climbing partner
  • like any sport good equipment will help, but it is the last 10%, get some good shoes and figure the rest out a you go, learn your style, and work with other climbers
  • make sure you stretch
  • you don’t get better unless you go climb
Thinking about it, this week I will have been climbing everyday but one – yeah obsessed – but I want to get really good at it so I can do harder and harder things and more importantly, I enjoy the challenges from my friends, old and new, at the gym and in the woods. There is nothing as satisfying as a good day with pals, rocks, a nice beer, and then a nap!

 

I want to start by saying this post is about Zuni or Zuni style fetishes, so calm down a little :)

My father has traveled a lot in the Southwest and on one of his trips he brought be back a really neat black marble bear. According to a book I bought about the history and ideas behind these small carved animals the bear represents the West, healing, strength in the face of adversity. Here are some photos of my small collection:

Russell Shack • Black Marble Bear
Russell Shack • Black Marble Bear
Tommy Tso • Alabaster Bear
Tommy Tso • Alabaster Bear
Unknown • Jade Bear w/ Salmon
Unknown • Jade Bear w/ Salmon

On my trip out west recently, added a couple new carvings to my collection. This is when I realized that I have accidentally started a small collection. I think that the collection point is when I added a new animal to the set – a coyote. The coyote is the trickster promoting the ability to laugh at one’s own mistakes.

Andres Quandelacy • Fluorite and Turquoise Bear
Andres Quandelacy • Fluorite and Turquoise Bear
Kenric Laiwakete • White Marble Coyote
Kenric Laiwakete • White Marble Coyote

Matteo Update

As you may recall, I have had an ordeal with my Ducati 749 Dark starting from the time when I bought it. You can read my frustration in a post when I was essentially giving up on the bike after it being molested, raped and abused by Corsa Motor Sports in SoHo.

I have since been in contact with ECS up in Middletown, NY and thought a process of a little bit of trial and error they have brought Matteo back to life. I should be really clear, from the start they said this would be a bit of a process as when these Ducatis go nutso they can be problematic to really nail down the root cause.

What ended up happening is:

  • Stock POS Ducati ECU was replaced with a Nemesis ECU. This was done after blowing 6 ECU’s (I think, I stopped counting) under the idea that this ECU is much hardier and also has a longer warranty in case something went wrong.
  • A new engine, well rebuilt. It is marked at a 904, but I am not 100% positive what the size is exactly.
  • Many new wiring components
  • Minor repairs, new tires, etc…

I got the back last summer from ECS and it failed once as a result of some continued electrical issues, but has been fine since some more of the wiring has been replaced. Last I checked, I have over 4500 miles on it. I have been riding it work, the rock climbing gym, and a couple times into the city.

For those who do not know me, I will start with a little background. I am not generally a theater person. I tend to like serious plays when I do go. To actively go, something has to catch my attention. I do know who Kushner, Mamet and Stoppard are. However, I deem knowing who these people are as simply being educated about the world around me and no reflection on any theatrical tendencies. I do, very much so, love opera. Don’t ask me to explain this distinction, it just is.

I also know that I have enjoyed Kushner’s other works and always seem to end up thinking a lot when I hear him speak or interviewed.

Many of my friends are theater people, in the best possible sense of that word. They are not the kind who sleep on the sidewalk to see Rent, but people who enjoy it as part of the artistic landscape of NYC, as people enjoy good books, exhibitions, and conversation.

Combine these two, and a little surprise, and you have me, Dan and James at The Public last night seated to experience the The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures.

Before I go into what I have been able to assemble 12 hours later into my thoughts on the play, there are two quick observations:

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A little bit of a change in plans, well change in life plans, really, led to Chris and me heading to Iceland for a few days last week. Here are a few of the best snapshots from the short trip. Iceland is simply amazing. There is no way else to describe it. The simple, empty, rocky beauty is stunning. It was truly wonderful and relaxing.

You can also view the whole album for the finer details.

Reykjavik Night Fall

Reykjavik Night Fall – A view from our hotel of the coastline in the setting Icelandic sun.

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Zebra Crinoid Feather Sea StarThis week, I acclimated – over 2 hours – an incredibly creepy specimen that seems as though it shouldn’t be alive. It happens to be one of the oldest extant things that lives in the oceans. You can read all about them on wikipedia – as you can with everything. This animal has these strange feet called cirri that look almost like little claws. These are attached to what I think you could call almost a body which then unfolds into the feathery arms. In my reading, the arms have small tube feet, as all echinoderms do, that sweep food into a central mucous track. This slowly flows to the central body where there is a mouth.

I am incredibly excited that this animal has acclimated well to my tank. I am working hard to make sure that it feeds well. As noted by the seller:

Maldivian Zebra Crinoid Feather Star. Crinoids are very challenging to maintain, and should only be purchased by the expert marine reef aquarist who can house the animal properly in a display with other NPS (Non-Photosynthetic) organisms.

I have a very mature tank with other NPS organizsm that are thriving, so I am thinking that this crinoid will be able to prosper.

I have been obsessed with it to the point of sitting next to the tank watching it fold and unfold with the day/night cycle. It tends to close up with the arms tucked into the center at with daylight and unfold in a sweeping way in the night time.

Right now it is sitting on one of my sponges in a very heavy water current spot, which happens to be int he lower left corner of the video on the aquaDRAMA camera. Take a look and see if you can observe it.

aquaDRAMA Updated

I really need to post more about my fish tank. It is one of my core hobbies and I spend more time thinking about it than I do writing. There is so much to share about how I have managed to make this thing work.

The most recent change is that I gave away my pseudochromis that has grown very large and was terrorizing everything in the tank. This included the shrimp and even my hand.

After this change I decided to continue to grow my anthias harem. So far there are 4 species in the tank and they tend to hang out in 3 clusters. I am not sure why the two different special are always together, but they seem to have made a harem together. My other 2 harems are doing very well.

The only other news worth sharing is that I decided to buy an ORA goniopora, which after a month has been doing very well. I am fearful of these corals, but these ORA are supposedly a good subtype that can do well in the aquarium. We shall see.

Everything else is the same. I am sitting here writing this and watching the cleaner shrimp tend to the anthias one at a time. Always a wonder…nature!

aquaDRAMA Modifications & Update

I am trying to harder to make quick updates to the blog. If only I had this magical thing that took my ideas and transcribed them. In that vein here is a little update on what I have done to aquaDRAMA lately that changed me home for the better.

I bought acoustic foam and ran it all along the inside of the cabinet. This is the best 10$~ that I have ever spent on the tank and I have no idea why it took me so long to think of this!

I bought a new fan of the lighting hood. Josh commented one day that the fan was very loud. I thought that is must have ratcheted up over the years slowly and I ad not noticed. He was right! I got a Globe Motor’s fan that fit in perfectly. About 15 minutes later the tank is now ever quieter!

Other news in the fish front: the Anthias are duking it out to see how become the new male and I think one of the fish has won because it has started to show coloration changes. Ah biological wonders…

Josh took this photo of me waiting on the platform of the New Delhi Railway Station with all of our luggage as we learned that the train would be 5 hours late. I was warned this might happen and at this point in the vacation we were both more that used to things in India - which is to say trains do not run on time, they get there, but often hours late. I was told it is better to fly, but the train offers a place to sleep overnight, pretty good food, and a little adventure.

Josh took this photo of me waiting on the platform of the New Delhi Railway Station with all of our luggage as we learned that the train would be 5 hours late. I was warned this might happen and at this point in the vacation we were both more that used to things in India – which is to say trains do not run on time, they get there, but often hours late. I was told it is better to fly, but the train offers a place to sleep overnight, pretty good food, and a little adventure.

Josh @ Lunch Time on Sealdah Rajdhani Express

Josh @ Lunch Time on Sealdah Rajdhani Express. After over 15 hours together in this little rail car, we were giggling at just about anything. Eating, napping, reading, music, and watching the landscape killed the time. A great way to go – once.

My Name Is Khan was a controversy while we were in India. My understanding is that SRK, the main character in the movie, is Indian and a Muslim. He owns a cricket team and commented on how Pakistani players were not allowed or asked - not certain - to be on the Indian teams. A right wing party wanted to boycott his movie over this comment. It was advertised very heavily all over India.

My Name Is Khan was a controversy while we were in India. My understanding is that SRK, the main character in the movie, is Indian and a Muslim. He owns a cricket team and commented on how Pakistani players were not allowed or asked – not certain – to be on the Indian teams. A right wing party wanted to boycott his movie over this comment. It was advertised very heavily all over India.

Victoria Memorial Hall

Victoria Memorial Hall in the heart of Kolkta. It sits in the middle of a large garden and contains interesting exhibits on the history of Bengal, West Bengal and the formation of Bangladesh. I also learn that the first non-European Nobel Laureate came from West Bengal.

Esplanade Mansion

Esplanade Mansion in Kolkata. All I have been able to figure out is that it was built in 1910 by Martin and Co and josh says it is Art Nouveau (and he knows his architecture). It would also seem that it was built by a Jewish family of Syrian descent.

The Lion Capital of Ashoka on the side of the Writers Building in Kolkata. I started to become obsessed with this national symbol of India. It is both historically interesting and pretty.

The Lion Capital of Ashoka on the side of the Writers Building in Kolkata. I started to become obsessed with this national symbol of India. It is both historically interesting and pretty.

Royal Insurance Building in the heart of Kolkata. This scene in many ways sums up what Kolkata looks like. You have a beautiful old building that is also interesting in its decay with people selling color items on the sidewalk  and driving by is an old cab.

Royal Insurance Building in the heart of Kolkata. This scene in many ways sums up what Kolkata looks like. You have a beautiful old building that is also interesting in its decay with people selling color items on the sidewalk and driving by is an old cab.

Just another random street fire. People seem to cook, warm and dispose of trash this way right in the middle of busy streets.

Just another random street fire. People seem to cook, warm and dispose of trash this way right in the middle of busy streets.

A panoramic view of a central part of Kolkata attempting to give you a feal for how it is there. Kolkata turned out to be a favorite of both of us. I am not sure either of us knew, but it is charming in so many ways and people tended to leave us alone. That allowed for more relaxing wandering around. I even haggled a few things in the market and bough a coupe books.

Sorry Josh, but this is the only proof we ate real India kati rolls. After wandering through the New Market, which was behind our hotel, we took a friend

Sorry Josh, but this is the only proof we ate real India kati rolls. After wandering through the New Market, which was behind our hotel, we took a friend’s advice and gave them a try.

In the final hours of an amazing trip to India for both work and to celebrate one year with Josh we deiced to sit by the pool, think about how it was 50 degrees colder back home, and relax before the long trek home.

In the final hours of an amazing trip to India for both work and to celebrate one year with Josh we deiced to sit by the pool, think about how it was 50 degrees colder back home, and relax before the long trek home.

To browse the entire set of photographs from this trip starting with the photos of Kolkata please see my SmugMug album.