Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kansas Day

Today is Kansas Day, the anniversary of our statehood at the fringe of the Civil War. In honor of my dear adopted place, I will share a passage from one of my all-time favorite books (and blogger namesake), PrairyErth by William Least Heat-Moon. Kansas is certainly not composed entirely of prairie, but it is arguably our most unique and wonderous ecosystem, and one we share with Oklahoma and Nebraska. So here it is:

"There are several ways not to walk in the prairie, and one of them is with your eye on a far goal, because you then begin to believe you're not closing the distance any more than you would with a mirage ...

... whatever else prairie is -- grass, sky, wind -- it is most of all a paradigm of infinity, a clearing full of many things except boundaries, and its power comes from its apparent limitlessness; there is no such thing as a small prairie any more than there is a little ocean ..."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Today's the Day


Haven't seen one yet but they came out today.
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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Morning-sky show

Mark your calendars and get up before the sun for a pretty cool display next week. Click title for link.

Friday, January 25, 2008

ok folks. this is the first paper i had to turn in for my comp II english class and i have to brag about it, because, well i got a 100% on it so enjoy and save all of your adoring prais for when you see me in person, a bow or curtsey shold do just fine.

Kale Orban
Jay Barbre
ENGL 1213
“This I Believe”
In my short lifetime I have learned many extremely valuable lessons. This essay is going to cover one of the beliefs I have adopted due to such lessons learned. When I was a freshman in high school I had an overly positive outlook on life. I took all niceties in life for granted and never thought twice about them. Well all of that was about to change. My sister Jaime, who was a senior at the same high school as me, was involved in terrible automobile accident, she was killed instantly. This was the first truly traumatic experience in my life. It took a long time to recover from this, but it taught me how to deal with any sort of trial in my everyday life.
After my sister was killed I had a hard time coping with it. My family is the most important thing in my life. I would sacrifice my own life to bring back my sister. Seeing as how this is obviously impossible, have come to realize that all I have to do is keep her memory alive to keep her “alive”. As long as she is not forgotten she will always be alive. At first I was afraid that when I started to get over the loss that I was forgetting about her. I soon realized that it was inevitable to carry on with my own life, and those who really cared about her would keep her spirit alive and loved.
I have gained the belief that I can not change the things that sometimes happen in life. This is not to say that I believe in predestination, I simply believe that certain things will just happen if they are going to. Kind of a “Murphy’s Law” sort of philosophy. After I made this realization, it really helped me learn to enjoy the love that is in front of me. I can really appreciate the things I have for two reasons. The first is because I think of how other people have it and realize that it could always be much worse for me. The second is that each day is like another treat for me. I get to do whatever I want for that time and place; it is all mine for the taking.
If you were to ask any of my friends, they would tell you that I am one of the most jovial people you will ever meet. I am a very hard person to make angry. This is because my personal philosophy is to just be happy with what you have. When people are angry all the time the cannot truly enjoy life. That is why I am glad that I have the ability to just roll with the punches.
There is a classic rock song that you may have heard of by the band Kansas it is entitled “Dust in The Wind”. This song is a perfect description of the way I like to live my life. A lot of people may interpret this song depressingly, which is understandable. However, I like to think that the lyrics are sending me a message to take hold of the small amount of time that I have here on earth and use it my fullest to capture what is mine. It’s kind of a cliché statement but it is very important for me to live my life to the fullest.
I live my life as if the glass were half full and it is up to me to fill the empty half Up with my experiences and learning’s. I have had many hardships in my life, but who doesn’t? Along the same lines, I have learned to appreciate even the bad times because the things I am able to endure make me who I am. If something bad happens I can’t help it, I just have to dredge whatever positive thing there is out of it and learn from it. This philosophy helps me stay a happy person and keep a positive outlook on my life.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Vaccum of space

"Why cant I get my toilet to spin in a clockwise direction?" <----(a dirty lie) "Why does is feel like summer here?" Where did all of my constellations go? All these questions and more here in the Southern Hemisphere. Things like..."Is breathing the paint dust coming off the angle grinder bad for my lungs?" "Can this trash juice oozing out of the broken trashbag be good for the cut on my hand?" But you have to focus on the positives...The super intense UV from the summer sun is scorching my neck into a brilliant shade of red in tribute to my Steinbeckian era statehood brethren.

It occured to me today, that perhaps this job is some sort of test. Maybe not in the classic sense, but maybe it is the yin to the PCT's yang. I am in and on a living, breathing, man-made world of steel and pipes in a virtual desert of water. There is no physical connection to the natural world. I am always surrounded by people and secured to a daily routine for the good of the collective. On the trail I will be about as far from the ocean as one can get for all intensive purposes. Another world. Where you can program a robot to run this ship, it would be impossible for a robot to make it even a day on the trail. Being, living, existing by the whims of nature. Moving at my own pace. Primitive shoelace express existance in the face of an ever more mechanized and technology based madhouse. The thin sliver of dirt serving as the unifying force in my reality. A world where only my voice carries weight. No longer a number, now a man.

Until then I keep on keeping on in the high seas along the bottom of the world.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Little Green Men?

Well, if you haven't seen it yet, here's the latest weird image from Mars and a related story from a UK newspaper. (click on title)
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Full Wolf Moon tonight

From Almanac.com:

"Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January's full moon." Also known to the Celtics as "Quiet Moon".

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The first step to spring gardening

You guys have me burning off the remains of last years plants/weeds (mostly weeds) in what will eventually become a beautiful vegetable plot. It's far too small to call it a garden. It was mid to low 20's out there but the fire, along with the thought of spring planting kept me warm.
My gardening efforts of the past few years have been disgraceful. I didn't realize it until today that I have a new years resolution! To maintain a healthy, nearly weed free, veggie plot.
Now why did I go and say a thing like that? Must be a severe case of cabin fever.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Salsa Garden

As you can see, my goal is lots of peppers and tomatoes. I actually picked varieties of peppers based on color and heat. Some are best for drying and some for fresh use. Though I haven't had a lot of success planting from seed recently I'm going to try to get it right this time. I'll get onions locally and already have garlic. Hopefully by the end of June I'll be swimming in salsa and by the end of August enough dried peppers to get through next winter's chili cooking season. Of course the sunflowers are for looks and our small feathered friends. Some of these are supposed to reach 12-14 ft with 12 inch heads!
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hey! Ho! Let's Grow!

It's that time again. This weekend I drew an elaborate map of my fantasy garden. I have no idea where I may be living in 2 months, but I have the seeds picked out for this hypothetical plot.
There's an heirloom dealer practically next door, in Missouri, called Baker Creek (http://www.rareseeds.com). When I was a 16 year old doing Lord knows what with my spare time, this Missouri teenager was starting his own rare seed company. 10 years later, he sells thousands of unique varieties that are seldom seen in the grocery store, like purple green beans or ball-shaped carrots. Ever seen white tomatoes? They're freaky.
Steve, I'm curious to know what varieties you ordered from Seed Savers, and eager to hear the results.
On the roster for this year, reliable standbys:
green beans * edamame * broccoli * cukes * greens * carrots * kale * snap peas * spinach * tomato * squash * herbs
And the glamour queens for this year:

Five color chard
Mexican sour gherkin (pictured), which are the size of a quarter and have a lemon tang
Red and white "Christmas" lima beans
A green, stripey, tangy tomato I found at farmer's market last yr. called "green zebra"
The most fragrant and juicy melon in all the land, "charentais"
And last but not least, rich, Hungarian pepper called Paradicson Alaku Sarga (I have never had luck with peppers, so here we go again...)

I would love to hear about any of your personal favorites or recommendations!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Just a quick addition

Right now, there is some really cool science being done aboard the ship. We are presently positioned over a deep canyon on the ocean floor. We are lowering a CTD (an instument that measures, water conductivity aka salinity, temperature and depth) over 6,000 meters into the trench and taking rapid readings that will produce very detailed data graphs. Because the cold deep water flows water though the canyon and hits the wall, it is forced upwards towards the surface. The scientists on board are trying to understand how that is effecting a variety of things including how that might influence the aggegation of life in this otherwise empty patch of sea. The captain caught a Dorado and several squid last night, so it apprears that something lives here.

The next trip to Antartica is supposed to be brutal. 42 days in the cold with very rough weather toped of by being cooped up inside most of the days. In 2005 they made a run there and dropped a bunch of Iron pellets in the water and we will be going back to see if that produced algae blooms. 37 new scientists will be coming aboard for that one. On the plus side there is supposed to be spectacular scenery and icebergs miles long.

End of Zeta Talk


Monday, January 14, 2008

To Nowata on motorcycles

Jack and I rode up on our bikes on Sunday. Stuffed ourselves with stuffed peppers and sour kraut while watching football with Dad and Sam. It was really too cold to be on motorcycles but glad we did it.

BC on Revelle


Just a follow-up to the Chief's post...where's your bucket?!
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Message in a bottle

Ahoy from the Indian Ocean. I appologize in advance for the missing R in some of my words as this keyboads R button is tricky. You never realize how many words have an R until the words start coming out wong. :-) Anyway, Its been quite the journey so far. The trip here was slightly brutal. Missed connections, impromteau stops in Dakar Senegal, drug shakedowns, World Health Organization appoved bugbombs deployed in the cabin, lost luggage etc etc. All the crazyness wrapped in 1 world travel burrito. Anyway, I got 1 night in Durban before the ship left with a stop to the Black Market (Because it was a Sunday and the cook wanted booze) "Bottle Shop" Aka liquor store. I ate a steak at the mall smothered in some sort of terrible sauce and served with mashed up pumpkin ala Gerber. Blech.... And just my luck if I didnt encounter crazyness with 1 of the locals when she thought I was trying to steal her purse at the pub. My reflexes and witts were quick though because I somehow avoided her haymaker punch and the subsequent jailtime.... Ahhh good times.

So life on the boat is settling down. There is some degree of shock when jumping into the deep end of the pool so to speak. I am basically the sea going janitor. I dub myself M.L.S. for Menial Labor Specialist. Trash and mops are my game. Its alight though. With this job, the higherups dont expect you to be a rocket scientist. So I just drool and give a slightly dazed gunt every now and then and the world continues to turn.

Im not really here for the job though.. Im trying to stay focused. I am reading, writing and have begun my nightly wokouts in peparation for the PCT. I have my maps and guidebooks, plus a sattelite intenet connection and a cool roommate. So lifes not so bad. No expenses, a roof over my head and 3 square meals a day. Plus there is a drink machine that dispenses TANG....mmmmm.

More to come...


Friday, January 11, 2008

Revelle Update


Checking in to the Revelle site this morning, came upon this photo from the fantail camera. Don't know if BC is in the picture but there are a couple of possible suspects.
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Night Sky

While you keep your nose to the grindstone keep an eye on the sky. Here's some items of interest for all you nightwatchpersons. Just click on "Night Sky".

Eagles' world tour stops in Lawrence

On Saturday the snow melted away during one of those unseasonal January days, where you are teased into thinking Spring will come early, and optimistic folks sallied out in t-shirts and shorts. I was comfortable enough in a sweatshirt as we took to the old River Road on bikes, hoping to spot some bald eagles, which are known to roost along the Kaw in winter.

Because the snow had just melted, the country roads were fantastically muddy. But after slogging through a couple miles of fresh mud, we saw about half a dozen red-tailed hawks, and no less than 30 eagles, in flight over the broad river, or else hanging out in the bare cottonwoods along the shore. They were unmistakeable by their shadowy mass among the tree limbs, and occasionally they would drop heavily from the trees to soar along the bank, scaring the gulls.

We rarely see the baldies in town, so it was a real treat and well worth the effort.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


With the recent harvesting of downed branches due to the ice storm, our yard looks like that of an Alaskan backwoodsman. I've got 4 seperate wood piles.
Sycamore, birch, hickory , cotton wood, hackberry, elm and some unidentified wood chunks make for an interesting display.The one organized stack is 5 feet tall and 10 feet long. The three other piles look like driftwood piled up on a creek bed after a big flood. The neighborhood squirrels are elated!
So now it's a matter of waiting for inspiration to cut the logs down to size and haul them a couple hundred feet to the back yard. I'm thinking maybe next fall. I have a feeling Brenda's going to encourage me to become inspired in the near future.
If anyone wants to come get a truckload, I'll round up a crew to help you load it.

Orion's Bolt


After 4-5 days of warm weather a cold front pushed through the state last night. In combination with the remnants of the west coast storm quite a spectacular display was presented. The heavy-duty storms were east of us early in the evening and that's when Cathy got this shot. Later in the night a second wave came through and gave us a good soaking and today much cooler temps.
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Dig It

The warm dry weather has got me thinking about spring, so with borrowed tractor in hand (thanks cornerstone construction)and a large pile of organic matter available I have begun my 2008 garden. I put in a few tomatoes and peppers in this spot last year and with heavy competition from the local weeds, still had a decent crop. Hope to keep the weeds more or less in check and see what happens. I've got seeds ordered from Seed Savers Exchange and will grow seedlings to transplant when spring actually arrives! I'll update progress as it happens.
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Saturday, January 5, 2008


While the wild weather raged out west the heartland enjoyed warm, windy, springlike conditions. I climbed on the tractor and disked the riding arena...the girls climbed on their ponies and enjoyed the ride.
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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Okie Mariner

Well, he's on his way again. This time off the coast of Africa, then south to Antarctica. Hopefully we'll all get a glimpse as he makes his way. The link will let you keep up with the whereabouts of his ship, the Revelle. Good luck and good sailing Brandon!