Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Christian" group attempts to murder cop

Okay, I probably shouldn't comment on Christian groups, being a Buddhist and all. Still, having read the bible in Junior High, cover to cover, I remember vague ideas from it.

One of them was something about not killing. This group probably skipped that part. They're called Hutaree. They say it means "Christian Warrior" or "Christian soldier."

I looked at their website and noticed that, while they weren't bashful about quoting the bible, they left out the parts I liked best. They can be found here but I'll reprint them in part.

Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Kids, there's nothing in those verses about Blessed are the cop killers, for they shall start a revolution.
Just a rough rule of thumb: if you're considering joining a group that kills cops and calls themselves weird names, sleep on it. It's probably not a good idea. And guess what - no matter what they say, they're not Christians.

The leader of the group, David Brian Stone, had the followers call him Captain Hutaree. H'mmm, that's a good sign.

The goal of the group was to touch off an uprising against the U.S. government. No word yet on whether Sarah Palin will make their bail or whether she wants them to "reload."

People ask me why I gave up on Christianity. I always says it's the "Christians" who ran me off.

Silly me.

I do want to add to this: I know decent Christians who live the life they should. This isn't about them.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hawai'i (Hawaii for search engines ;-) )

I've spent the week in Hawai'i. Before anyone says how lucky I am, I've been working. Still, if I've got to work, it may as well be here.

Hawai'i has tons of problems. The state is nearly bankrupt and social programs, while devised with the best of intentions, are luxuries that are exceeding the state's revenue least now.

To make matters worse, the public education system is awful. Honestly, if I'm a person of authority or influence in Hawai'i, I spend my money on education first. There is no future for the island without it.

Amazingly, I see the exact same problems in Guam.

Most who come here never venture out of the comfort zones. Business took me into poorer neighborhoods. Wow...quite a difference from Waikiki. Naturally, I always knew that intellectually but seeing it is sobering.

I've got Saturday and Sunday off so hopefully more will follow.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jeremy Jones on backcountry safety

Very nice...

More Jeremy Jones here and here and here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bicycles - Good guys win one

Got to thank Cyclicious for this.  Seems a rude government Nazi lost his cool, his standing, and definitely face when he hijacked someone's bike. In the end, good guys least some of the time.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Boycott Burton

It's time to boycott Burton products.

I'm not a Burton-hater. Jake Burton's done a lot for the industry and I appreciate those efforts. However, when you stop manufacturing in the United States, you lose my support.

I'm not naive. I know some jobs have left us and won't come back. But the latest news (thanks to Rocky at is more than I care to tolerate. Burton has stopped making snowboards in the United States.

Why does that matter to you?

There are lots of reasons.

The first is jobs. Our economy is stagnant. For a manufacturer to remove jobs from a stagnant economy is totally irresponsible. Most of Burton's boards are sold in the U.S. and I would venture that the vast preponderance of their higher end boards are sold here. If we don't have jobs, how can we buy them? Are the folks at Burton that uncaring? Obviously, the answer is yes. Now's the time to invest in America. They didn't.

The second is the environment. While Austria may have great environmental laws, China doesn't. So, when you buy a board made in China, you're investing in a process that reduces snow. That seems counterintuitive for folks following our sport. However, even if the country manufacturing the boards has great environmental standards, the shipping of the boards back to the U.S. creates pollution. Buy locally is an important part of the environmental movement.

The third is quality. When I toured the Never Summer factory (see that story here), I was so impressed with their craftsmanship and quality control. These weren't part-time temporary workers. They are folks who have been on the job for years and years and are invested in the product, both financially and with pride. If the folks making your board aren't interacting with riders, the quality will suffer. To learn more about the boards they make, here's a link to next year's Never Summer catalogue.

The fourth is pure patriotism. Look, I'm not the flag-waving sort. My patriotism is quieter than that. I served in the military. I care about the country. I work for the military. I don't give anyone a pass - I criticize our nation when it's deserved. However, I am an American. When I can do something that boosts the U.S., I do. Jake Burton obviously feels otherwise.

Do you have choices? Absolutely. Never Summer manufactures in the U.S. Venture, Unity, and Lib Tech manufacture in the U.S. There's a lot of choices there and while I'm a bit partial to NS, these are all good folks. You can buy local.

It's time to say no more. Insist that Burton move it's manufacturing back to the U.S. before you buy any more of their products. It's the right thing to do.

Want to read more about their move? Here's a link to the AP story. Here's a link to a Westword story on Colorado snowboard manufacturers. Finally, here's a link to the Burlington Free Press story where Burton admits to manufacturing in China.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

King of the Hill is back - sponsored by RECCO

This is a legendary event in Valdez, Alaska. Snowboard Magazine posted this today. I'm betting against Shaun White in this event.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jimmy Buffett and Zak Brown video

Leaving for Hawai'i next week so I'm just getting into the tropical mood. This is an incredible to find out some more about Mr. Brown.

Jamaican Dog Sled Team - What happens when Margaritaville meets the Iditarod

In spite of all good sense, I'm drawn to the Iditarod.

In spite of even more good sense, I'm drawn to Margaritaville.

So, when Jimmy Buffett announced he was sponsoring a Jamaican Dog sled team to run the race, I had to watch.

So, this is saluting Newton Marshall, the first Jamaican musher in the race.

You can see videos about it here.

Here's the official web site for the Iditarod.

Here's the official web site for the Jamaican Dog Sled team.

Here's the CNN story.

Be very careful reading this. You might just fall under the spell.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bicycle humor - riding etiquette

Pretty funny to those of us with fenders and backpacks.

Now I know which way to go

Okay, now what do you do with all this information?

Driving while dumb

Driving drunk is dumb but this goes beyond the norm. Gotta wonder if these guys are Palin supporters.

See it here.

When animals attack

Wend Magazine put this slideshow together. Thanks to Rocky at Backcountry's The Goat blog for pointing it out.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Snowmobiliers trigger avalanche

An avalanche triggered by snowmobilers killed at least two in Canada.

Sadly, this is becoming more common. To become a backcountry boarder or skier, you need a bit of fitness and to invest some time in the sport. Normally, you'll have some sketchy things happen to you and that will give you at least a little respect for the danger. Note - I said normally. There are always exceptions.

However, to enter the backcountry on a snowmobile, all you need is a line of credit. Unfortunately, the lives you endanger aren't always going to be your own.

A simple request to the states (and Canada): require a license to buy a snowmobile. To get the license, require a bit of knowledge - a test - to be sure you at least know better.

That won't solve everything but we would never allow folks to drive cars without licenses. Why are snowmobiles any different?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Women's pee-quality

Sorry. I can't resist a good pun. Dirty toilets are beyond gross.

Men have the option of no contact. For women, it's a bit more challenging.

Here's a possible solution (sorry...had to say it).

More er...restroom info here with links to even more.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Just how much can we hate each other?

According to CNN, a Mississippi high school canceled it's prom rather than face a lawsuit over allowing two lesbians to attend together.


I'm the first to say I don't see much value in proms but this seems so extreme. While the issue of gay or lesbian dates didn't come up in my school - in the closet was the standard - it wasn't unusual for women and/or guys without a date to come with a friend, sometimes of the same sex. I guess that option's gone away also.

I lived in Mississippi as an adult and found it pathetic on social issues. The last time I lived there it seemed I was always involved with issues of race and acceptance. Now, the hate has expanded.

If you believe being gay or lesbian is wrong, great. I really don't care anymore than I care if you believe in the tooth fairy. But, keep it to yourself. Just because you aren't wired that way and can't possible understand how someone could be different than you doesn't justify discrimination, isolation, and often worse.

Your behavior is boorish. Now, lots of kids are deprived of their prom just because of your paranoia.

The CNN story is here.

MSNBC looks at toilets, Japanese-inspired

Sometimes the link is all that's necessary. More info here and here.

Snowboarder dies in avalanche in Summit County

Multiple reports on this tragedy. I don't like talking about avalanches - just seems dangerous - but we all need to be very careful. It can all end in a moment. This is just another reason to take the avy courses. I'll do my damnest to take one while in Colorado next season.

Here's a link to the story.

Here's another link to it.

Here's some info on avalanche training. If you're living in the states, why wait?

Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Finally, here's a link to a post from Snowolf, someone who's opinion I (usually anyway) value highly. It gives info on an online course.

If you've got first-hand info, please post it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Niseko sold

Reuters today reports that Niseko Village was sold to Malaysian investors. The previous owner was CitiGroup.

Details here.

That's a lot of money...I doubt it will lower the already high cost of staying in Niseko.

Snow poop

Not only does it poop snow, it's cute. Nothing is more quintessentially Japanese than this invention.

Want to see more unique Japanese things? How about this or this or this?

Or check out this recent post on Naked Snow Oppression in the United States.

Healthcare silliness

Folks opposed to healthcare reform often ask "What's the rush?" Considering this has been in the works since FDR, just how slow should we go?

Perhaps the real problem is they don't really want it but don't want to be honest. Boy, that would be a shock!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Google maps adds bike routes

Finally. This is a great beginning.

Palin turns out to be closet socialist

Having experienced national healthcare, I'm a big proponent.

Perhaps Ms. Palin sees the light?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

When Prius' attack

Just when you thought it was safe to drive to the 7-11, a rabid Prius descended upon California. Here it is!

At least they didn't have to deal with this decadent snow nudist promoter.

How to surf an avalanche

Not recommended but here's one way:

Naked snow oppression

I'd like to think this was a joke, but it's not. Just how Puritanical are we? Still, it is funny.

More funny stuff? Look at this or this  or this or this or this or  this!

Snow season ending

For those on the southern end, snow quality is going down fast. Rain has fallen in many places and is predicted again. If you can go north to Hokkaido or Hakkoda, you can still hit some good stuff. And, if you get lucky, you might hit an occasional good day in the south.

It appears my job will be sending me to Hawaii in a couple of weeks. Then, at the end of April, I'm going to Key West for my defrosting.

What will we cover if the snow stops?

Bicycle riding, fitness issues, dirty politics, and the finer dining/drinking opportunities in Tokyo will be the order of the day. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dirty politics

I spend a lot of time and energy trying not to express political opinions. I even try to have as few as possible. I've been disappointed so many times by politicians I liked and trusted that I've become fairly cynical.

Still, I served in the military. I believe in the U.S. I always vote and make an effort to know what or who I'm voting into or out of office. Often, I'm voting more against a candidate than for one.

I'm not a big believer in the two party system. I feel fairly certain that we need at least four major parties. I say all of this as a disclaimer to what follows.

I think what's happening in the Republican party now is treason.

I don't mean conservative viewpoints. I have enough of those to irritate my liberal friends and enough liberal views to irritate conservatives. The natural debates that come from those disagreements are good for America.

I'm talking about the dirty tricks.

When you attack the president's politics, you're doing your job as the loyal opposition. When you attack these people in a libelous, inaccurate, hateful way, you're destroying the nation.

Here's the story. It's getting old.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Intermediate/Advanced snowboard lessons

Like most snowboarders, I'm largely self-taught. That's part of the freedom. You hack it all together, maybe check out some YouTube videos, and surf your way to greatness.

The only problem - greatness never comes.

I don't even know how to rate myself. I only ride groomed runs to get to ungrooomed ones or to return at the end of the day. Much of what I ride is off-piste in Japan. In the states, I tend to stay semi-in-bounds or at least use the gates. So, I'm advanced.

But, I really suck in the trees. That doesn't stop me from riding them....I ride them all the time. But, truth be told, I wasn't getting any better. So, I'm an intermediate.

Anyway, I decided to take a lesson while in Colorado.

Professional golfers take lessons. Skiers take lessons. Why shouldn't I? Naturally, many of my friends laughed. My wife asked why. That just made me more determined.

I called the folks at A-Basin and asked to take a 3-hour private lesson. The person on the other end of the phone asked me if I was intermediate or advanced. I told him the above story and he elected to put me with an advanced teacher.

On February 16, I met my instructor Page Brush. Page started skiing at birth and graduated to snowboarding by the time he was 3 months old - okay, I exaggerate a little but he'd done both a very long time.

Naturally, he's much younger than me. At this stage in my life, everyone not in an old folk's home is younger than me. However, he was decidedly professional and knowledgeable and, as a bonus, had snowboarded Japan while stationed here in the Navy.

He asked me what I wanted to achieve. I told him to watch me ride and tell me what to work on first with the ultimate goal being to ride better in the trees. Throughout the 3 hours, he adjusted my stance, taught me how to turn correctly, adjusted my bindings, and - this is the amazing part - got me to ride moguls.

I've always hated moguls but he explained that they were a great place to practice to get better in the trees. I (hesitantly) took him at his word.

At the end of the 3 hours, I was better. I also had some serious things to practice. I rode moguls for a while longer to ingrain what he taught me. Making a very long story short, over the next weeks I rode trees better than ever before and I now intentionally ride a few moguls.

Bottom line - the lesson was the best thing I've done in a long time. Next year, I'll be back to take another...maybe two from the same instructor. If you're in the A-Basin area and want to contact him for a lesson, his email is I highly recommend him.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Colorado mountain huts

While the person writing/shooting this is skiing, there's some serious opps for snowboarding - especially splitboarding - in the same areas. Here's the link.

What size snowboard should I ride?

I post this every month as it gets a tremendous number of views.

This is the site I send people to  most of the time. It's got a formula that calculates your needs based on a variety of criteria. I'd add 2 - 3 cm if you ride a lot of powder. It even recommends boards. This is a great place to start. But, you're spending a lot of money. Check thoroughly.

Here's a much deeper look at the subject, including (if you go to the bottom) information on board widths. There's some good info here.

Finally, here's the data.

Wow...all this research is making me hungry. How about some Japanese food?

The Never Summer 2010 - 2011 Catalogue

It's as high resolution as I can get here. Hopefully soon I'll get some more software.

Here's some more on Never Summer.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Never Summer - The factory tour

While in Colorado, I was able to arrange for a tour of the Never Summer factory. That sounds impressive and it was but I want to be sure no one misunderstands - they offer tours to everyone...I'm no one special. Of course, if you've read this blog very long, you already know that.

I met with Vince Sanders. We discussed the beginnings of the company and my particular interest in the board designs and in the Vario Power Grip Sidecut. Vince's committment to the company was apparent. He wasn't just an employee, he was an emmisary.

One of the owners, Tracey Canaday, met with us briefly. He showed me examples of the Sidecut and how it works. Conceptually, I get it but, without the ability to fold things, I'm not sure I can explain it. It does make a lot of sense - I'm a believer. It's a rational alternative to magnetraction and, I believe, a superior alternative in certain situations.

I was extremely impressed with Tracey - he has an obvious dedication to the product and its development that goes well beyond money. Vince called him a visionary - I agree.

We discussed my snowboarding and what I wanted to have in a new board. Tracey showed me the Raptor, available for the 2010-2011 season. It's the first time I've been stunned by a board design. I literally took an audible breath. It's so clean. The waist looks perfect and the rocker/camber combination is genius. I was ready to drink the Kool Aid and I hadn't been in the factory yet. Tracey said he'd been riding one for a year or so, working out all the details. Sign me up.

Vince showed me around the factory and explained the manufacturing process step-by-step. While much of it was beyond my skill set, what was obvious is the dedication and loyalty of the workers. Most have been in their positions for 10 years or longer. Watching them work was a joy. I've run production departments in various industries - these guys were impressive.

Another point that came through clearly after the tour - these boards are as close as possible to bullet-proof. If you see the p-tex reinforcement, the metal rails, the new Carbonium, you believe.

Currently one of the boards in my quiver is a Never Summer Summit. Like most of my boards, it's had some rude introductions to trees and other obstacles. Unlike my other boards, it doesn't show much damage. Now I understand why.

The long and short of it - an outstanding operation. As soon as it's available, I'm ordering a Raptor X (the X is the wider version). It's nice to have some things settled.

One more thing - all Never Summer boards are made in the U.S. That means you're not just buying an awesome board, you're helping the economy. Nice.

You can read about Never Summer's new line of freeride boards here and you can read more about the company here.