Well, it’s been a while huh?

Dang. November 2012 was my last post.

So a couple things have changed since then – all for the better, but lots and lots of changes.

I had just gotten married July 2012, and to that point, it was the biggest change to my life since I graduated high school – so 8 years or so of relatively stable arrangements. Moving apartments here and there, but really no massive changes other than the scenery.

And to say getting married was much of a change is being pretty generous. I had been with my wife (then girlfriend/fiancee) for 10 years (I’m a slow mover), so the “change” was more in the nature of paperwork and procedure rather than actually being life-altering.

With that said, these last 24 months have been nothing but a string of massive life changes.

I got a new job.
I tried to go back to college.
I bought a house.
I renovated said house over a 6 month period (unskilled labor mostly, skilled labor made it look good).
I had a kid.

Yeah, like the cherry on a sundae of changes, we topped it all off with a little human.

So with all that, it’s not quite a coincidence that the blog has been slightly neglected over the last 20 months or so.

So why now Chris? Why come back to write things on the net?

I had originally created this little slice of the interwebs for myself with the aim of helping me improve my writing – whether mission accomplished or not is debatable. Within those 8 stable years, I had tried and failed more than a few times to forge a creative streak in myself that would allow me to sustain a living wage without living like an artist.

That is to say, my girlfriend (now wife) wouldn’t put up with me not carrying my weight and not be a contributing member of society (mostly in the monetary sense).

I’ve tried blogging pro-am (meaning it didn’t go anywhere and I never got paid), I designed and printed tshirts (which I gave away after I decided I didn’t want to deal with taxes and stuff at that point), I’ve tried some photography (who hasn’t?).

All of those exercises were actually fun for me, but really didn’t end up going anywhere at the time. Still, the ability to enjoy myself creating is what really drove those interests and in that sense, it was a success.

After the last 20 months or so, I’ve had the opportunity to try a few other things that I didn’t get a chance to document and I think this might be a good place to do that. There are a few other things I’m taking a shot at; I’m trying out videography, exploring woodworking and furniture design, event planning, and potentially creating a business leveraging my passion for automobiles and helping those who aren’t quite as vehicularly inclined.

It’s more of the same really – give it a go and see where the chips land – but I’m pretty happy to have experienced it all and hope I can find a way to reincorporate that into my writings here.

So, cheers. To life, moving forward, and the unknown. To the continued exploration of the human condition, as narrated by a man who uses the pen name of a enraged monochromatic bear.

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I GOT TO DRIVE A FERRARI F430 SCUDERIA

Some experiences in life are just a small bit of luck. For me, that luck comes in the form of my wife who thus far has provided me with two separate racing experiences in my life that I cannot forget. My first one was last year when I was able to take a rally racing course in Snoqualmie Washington, and the latest one was my opportunity to autocross a Ferrari, my marquee of choice in the automotive world.

There is a company based primarily out of the east coast supplying the well to do with luxury amenities such as chartered planes, exotic cars, yachts and luxury rental properties.

The company is called Imagine Lifestyles and another aspect of their business is to travel the country allowing us normal people to autocross an exotic Italian supercar from the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. In this case, they made their way to western Washington and my wife bought me 3 laps on the autocross course.

The F430 or the Gallardo are your options, but they do have a backup car in the form of a 599 that they weren’t allowing people to drive that day.

I was lucky enough (and schemed to) get my ride in the Ferrari F430 Scuderia, which happens to be the street racecar with carbon fiber interior, increased downforce and power, carbon brakes and other small touches making it a true racecar for the street and the ideal ride for my short time in the supercar.

Below is the blow by blow from us showing up, to me getting into the car, getting out and ending with my dumb grin that didn’t go away for hours.











Playing in the dirt – Dirtfish Rally School

Because of my good luck and an even better fiancée, I was afforded the opportunity to try my hand in the world of rally racing.

It was an early morning as I was to be in snoqualmie at 8 am to start my class. When I arrived, I was greeted by some of the rally worlds most iconic 4 wheeled stars.

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Here we have Colin McRae’s early 2000s ford focus, a classic ford escort, and Richard Burns gc8 impreza.

After we had all checked in and signed away our potential well being and lives, we were brought into a class room to be instructed on what exactly we were to learn today. A quick power point presentation and white board drawing trying to help me comprehend weight shifting, oversteer/understeer and braking points and I was confused enough for me to pretend to understand what they said and convince them that I should try to race around in one of their rally cars.

Our chariots would be the Subaru Impreza WRX Sti. A light rally prep with a roll cage, 5 point harnesses and an expensive rally suspension setup. The engines are stout enough making 305 horsepower. And they come in this dashing shade of orange.

Step 1 was the skid pad. We were told to drive around in a circle, hit the gas a little, then let off. The rear of the car would slide out. Then add a little speed, feel the rear slide out again but this time hit the brakes with your left foot. It causes the rear of the car to slide a little faster which helps rotate the car in tighter corners.
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Learning the left foot breaking stuff would come in handy later on when we were unleashed upon the slalom course. There was a succession of cones in a straight line and we were to steer around them practicing our turning using the technique we learned on the skid pad. Accelerate, lift, turn in and feel the rear of the car slide out. When the car was pointing in the right direction, give it a little gas to accelerate towards the next cone. Rinse and repeat. It was actually a lot of fun and I learned a lot. Soon we were told to add a little more speed and use the left foot breaking technique to get the car to rotate a little faster.

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After a while I got pretty comfortable and started to try to add speed more and more. It was really fun getting the back of the car to slide out and squeeze on the gas toward the next cone, but I can’t say (neither can my instructor) that I was really good at it. My favorite part of this exercise came after a few laps. They let us use the exit of the course as a tight 90 degree corner. We were told to come in with a little extra speed towards the corner, hit the brakes to slow and then rotate the car in and apply the brake again to rotate the car hard. After a few tries I felt like I was getting it.

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Of course the wet weather didn’t help much for keeping the cars clean, but the real issue became when parts of the course would get too soggy and the cars would bog into the wet ground and start to create ruts. It would have been nicer to have a more consistent course, but I’ll take what I can get to have this much fun.

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When they say smile, do it fast, otherwise you get half of a smile in.

The last part of the day was on a small course that let us practice the skills we learned. The course had a few tight hairpins and the back “straight” which was really a long sweeping corner that got you near the top of second.

Sliding a car around at speed……..is exactly as fun as it sounds.

I seriously recommend this to anyone who has the means to do it. Even if you’ve never driven a car in anger, the staff can eek out just enough skill from you to make sure you have fun.

I am seriously considering taking the 2 day course if I can somehow find the money, it’s just too much fun and I want to do it again.

Visit to Van City – Sounders away match and more

The Sounders rivalry with the Whitecaps reaches back to 1974 when they both joined the NASL, and through the years they have faced each other on and off through many other leagues as soccer struggled to establish itself in North America. Well, we are now into year 4 of the Sounders FC, and the second year of the Whitecaps joining the MLS.

Yesterday proved that both northwest teams are no longer struggling for relevance, but for dominance in the top heavy Western Conference.

On this trip, Crystal and I were joined by my good friends Dan and Dan (aka Dlee, as he was the second of the two Dans I met) in the Sounders away section. We stood with the ECS which had a very strong showing at 800 strong (not including those who made their way into other sections of the stadium wearing rave green).

The conclusion of our 3 hour car ride north had us at Pivo Public House just a few blocks from BC Place. Our plan was to arrive before 11:45am to watch the Chelsea v. Bayern Munich Champions League Final. We spent the first half at the pub enjoying the food. I suggest the triple fries and the chicken sliders.
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At half time we made our way to the stadium to take our seats, as the stadium was also showing the final. We watched the end of regular time on the gigantic screens hanging over the field, but unfortunately didn’t get to see the conclusion as it ran into the start of the game.
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Our 800 strong in the corner of the stadium.

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The game ended in a dramatic 2-2 draw, with Fredy Montero scoring in the final minute of regular time on a curling effort past the flat footed keeper. From our angle in the corner on the opposite side of the stadium we couldn’t actually tell if the ball went it right away, so there was a half second delay between the goal and the supporters erupting in celebration. The way the keeper stood there staring at the ball without even trying for it had me convinced that the ball went wide and had hit the outside of the side net. What a way to end a game against your local rivals.

As it was only a day trip, we explored a few nearby neighborhoods and ended up in Chinatown. I’ve never been able to make it there in the past, so it was a pretty cool experience. We first went to a little bakery which had both Chinese and Filipino pastries and bought ourselves a few snacks. Then we went to a nearby park to enjoy our sweets.
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Crystal showing off her almond cookie.
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We also stopped by a macaroon shop to visit with Dlee’s cousin. She hooked us up with the goods.
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The drive back involved lengthy conversation about politics, religon, The Avengers, comics, my hatred for Avatar, and other lovely things while Crystal tried (unsuccessfully) to sleep.

All in all, a very successful trip and successful Saturday. Something to look forward to is another trip as there is another away game to Vancouver in September….

Getting back on the horse

Little by little, I fully intend to be back into this writing thing. Life has had some funny things for me lately.

But for the lighthearted stuff, funny pictures and hipstamatic.

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Just a small reminder, learn to take a step back from the busy and enjoy what you have now. It’s easy to forget when we have everything to do, but as cliche as it sounds, sometimes you don’t appreciate things enough until its gone.

Post holidays recovery

Life gets so busy this time of year. I have a ton of family, friends and other obligations to meet plus work gets busy at the end of the year. This blog kind of goes to the wayside.

But all that’s past us now, I hope your Xmas/Chanukah/Kwanza/(seasonal celebration of choice) and New Years were fun and exciting. Hopefully you got all the fun stuff you wanted, saw all the people you wanted to, and that you haven’t broken your resolutions just yet.

Mine was to start cooking and buy less fast food. So far, I’m doing well.

My big present to myself was the Watch the Throne tour that came through Tacoma earlier this month. Jay-Z and Kanye West presenting themselves for a 2.5 hour set. No opening act, no fillers, no BS.

Gotta be one of the best concerts ever. Two of the greatest sharing the stage, and trading time between themselves to do their best solo work too. Wow. Seriously, start to finish great.

Well..

Except this one part, with Kanye, kinda getting all weird. But we will get there later.

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To start, both came out on top of 20+ foot tall cubes with screens on them, 1 cube on the main stage, 1 cube on the middle of the arena. Jay-Z was closest to us on this cube, with a freaking shark.

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The laser show they had going on was crazy too. Very effective use of lighting.

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Otis!

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Here’s where Kanye went kinda buzz kill. He spent 20 minutes on his cube all red, doing some songs, but then kinda broke down in his 808s and Heartbreaks stuff, then started on a lecture talking about love, and how it’s all sad, went all emo. That and he would not stop using auto-tune. Gold digger auto tune is not something people should hear. 80% of the show he was great, the other 20% were awkward for everyone involved.

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AGAIN! These guys love N*ggas In Paris. They did it 5 times, 3 of them encore. Apparently LA got it like 9 times. Awesome song though, great energy from them and the crowd. My favorite part was when they would hit the heavy bass at the end of the song. This light show looking like rain and thunder would go off, amazing. Every time the song would hit this part, you would hear Kanye, “I know right? That’s so cool.”

Definitely one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.

Nothing exciting happened during Christmas, went and saw family, it was great to spend time with them all.

Then came New Years

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Spam Masubi!

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First time drinking Hennessy. I like. Had some Jameson too, but I prefer Crown or Hennessy to it.

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Beer pong! I won twice in a row, and unlike Jordan, went out on top.

2011 New Years Eve Beer Pong Champion

I can only hope that 2012 brings the same success.