Oct 12, 2011

Heading Downriver again...

If the weather holds (I don't care about cold, just rain/snow at this time of year), and it looks like it will, I'll be taking another quick trip on the Mississippi.  Going from Minneapolis to Red Wing, roughly 70 miles.  At the pace of my boat and the lesser currents of autumn, I'm banking on 7 miles per hour for a ten hour trip.   Spreading it over two days I'll find a nice slough to drop anchor for the night and have a nice little wavy night's sleep.  Jill and the kids will meet me in Red Wing -- or any other landing before that point if something doesn't work out according to plan.

I had been saying I didn't do as much boat camping as I'd wanted to this year, and Jill was so supportive of a last little jaunt.  She's awesome!

I'll be boating alone, but filing a travel plan as well as reporting in via social networks.  And the GPS will be on the whole time, I'm sure.  Really looking forward to it!  Me and my boat..

Oct 9, 2011

The River

Mine is a small boat. Ok, a Tiny Boat. But I feel like this when I'm on any river:

View Larger Map

You can see that the towboat is pushing hard, but sliding a bit to port (left) so that he can overcompensate on the turn.

The science museum of Minnesota has a towboat/barge simulator that looks like a fun video game. I mean, it's just driving a slow boat down a river right? The moment a kid steps up to it they're excited, but by the first river bend they're shoving those barges up on the beach.

So I step up, never having played, and simply apply my "slow boat, takes a long time to respond, think about the *next* bend" logic and I took the barge and boat through downtown and on to the end of the simulation. I was quite proud of myself.

It would be months later that I would apply these rules in the real world with my boat on the river in some more "technical" (read: crazy wind, currents, and waves) waters and I really understood the intensity of the river.

So now when I see this picture in google maps of this tow pushing sideways up a bend, it just makes me really appreciate what's going on so much more. And makes me want to make another voyage...

Sep 20, 2011


Don't Ask Don't Tell is over. Now watch what happens. Hard to argue against something if the military has accepted it.

Aug 25, 2011

Life As We Knew It (book series)

Jill (in her saintly way) tutors kids at a local school and one of the classes she stops in at was reading this book. So she got to hear the teacher reading snippets and was curious to know what the whole book was like. I found her copy lying around and, thinking it was a book club book, read the back cover to find out what they were reading this month.

Much to my surprise I was pulled in immediately. Apocalypse? The common man? Perfect! In reading some online reviews it was quite positive and most comments said they literally couldn't put it down. Got about a quarter of the way through it one night and the following night I was kept awake finishing it. You can't stop reading. You just can't. I was reading it on my Nook Color, which I love. Initially got it to hack and turn into an Android tablet, but I use it stock as an eReader. Lovely!

The book is actually teen fiction, but it's really quite dark. Told from the perspective of a girl as diary entries, it's pretty tame but the underlying concept just looms over you and makes you feel like you're a part of the story.

By the two thirds point I was sure I wouldn't be reading the next books in the series. It was too stressful and I just wanted it to be over. I was enjoying it in a "it's the end of the world and nobody feels fine" but I connected so much with the family I felt like my world was ending. It's all common stuff. Electricity, gas, water, food. Everything we take for granted in our lives, and they were slowly disappearing from theirs.

Right up to the last five pages I was done. I just couldn't take it. And when I finished the last paragraph I was trying to figure out if I should get the sample of the next one and just read a couple sentences. But I knew that would involve less sleep that night.

Found the next edition at the Library, online! With a few clicks of a mouse I downloaded it, authorized it on my Nook Color, and now I am all ready to lose more sleep.

Aug 20, 2011

Blister Camp, Year Two

This year we headed south to Perrot State Park in Wisconsin. Uriah, Tom Lindsey, Matt, Jared and I headed out at 4ish on Friday and made good time to the park. Set up in the near dark and enjoyed a feast of Hot Dogs and Not Dogs provided by Mrs Uriah, who drove down to secure our site and get firewood.

Today (Saturday) we rode and rode and rode all over southeastern Wisconsin. Lettered roads all around. We stopped in Whitehall for "Beef and Dairy Days" and got to see some real live carnies. Oh and a car show. Did you know that modern cars, when washed and dice hanging from mirrors count as "classic cars" for a car show? Yeah we didn't either.

Dinner after a REALLY LONG WALK was Hammond-esque but pretty good. Except for Uriah, the vegetarian in a rural Wisconsin "nice restaurant" -- they didn't understand. It was all meat, all the time. Except the salad bar with chocolate pudding.

A much quieter fire this evening started later, but Tom made up for it by making the largest fire the massive fire circle could hold. Uriah called it a Sprawling metropolis of fire, I referred to it as a landscape of flame.

Aug 13, 2011

Pigs on Bear Lake!

On our way back from a lovely boat ride on the lake we were surprised to find four pigs wandering around the yard.  A few calls later and the Boy Scout camp sent some guys over to wrangle them home.  But it was a fun little diversion.  All I could think of was the high price of ham and how delicious they looked...

Jun 4, 2011

After You - Pepin Messabout

Another fun filled day, with lots of boating and talking about boating and even some kite flying.  You wish you were here.  Although the afternoon produced the Lake Pepin that I had imagined, with whitecaps and waves over the transom.  Need an electric pump.. :)


Jun 3, 2011

After You - Pepin!

Early to rise, headed downriver in a grind that would involve 12 hours, multiple rainstorms, waves to crash over her bow, two lock passages, and a few hours of beautiful scenery and river.  Met up with the wonderful folks of the messabout and had a great evening sitting around the fire telling lies, er, stories about many things.


Jun 2, 2011

After You - Downriver

Well, that was exciting!  Hidden falls has a boat ramp but today it had a boat parking lot.  It was a bit flooded.  No matter, Jill and the kids helped me launch quite nicely.    Left around five thirty and made good time for a bit.  Have to admit the first hundred yards took some getting used to, as the wind and currents were tossing me around.  By the time I got to downtown Saint Paul, I wanted to top off my gas tank.  Good call, though only half empty, I would end up needing every last drop in the next section.

I took a few minutes at the pier by Navy Island to tape some trash bags over the skylight and then put on the skylight cover. The clouds were graying up a bit and I wanted to be completely sure I kept the cabin dry.  It has not yet rained but I am glad I did it for my overnight, just in case.

Ok, I head into an alley of barges and industrial docks and soon after the wind picks up.  I am heading right into it and spend a couple miles reenacting various scenes from The Deadliest Catch.  Whitecaps, three foot waves, spray coming over the bow completely drenching me, and not a safe harbor in sight.  I soldiered on and eventually decided to stop at the landing at my evening halfway point, which was sure to be nearer the end of the evening rather than half way.  That was the 694 bridge, and the landing ended up being further underwater than Hidden Falls was.  So I skirted behind some islands where the water was calmer and refilled the tank.  It was almost empty, so good timing on that one. 

Took a backwater behind some more islands and noticed there was a protected channel running up through the island.  This is where I dropped anchor for the night as it was twenty minutes to sunset.

Dropped some Pigs Eye Pilsner (felt only appropriate) in the net and dropped it in the river to cool them off.  Had a nice cold sandwich and a juice box and here I sit, having a brew on the river in my gently rocking boat.  The cabin is small but super cozy now that it is organized, and I am rocking my Android tablet writing this post.  Obviously it is easy to type on, as evidenced by the long post.

After the sun set it is quite cool and no bugs to be found.  Awesome.

Now to read some pirate adventures by Michael Crichton as darkness falls and the birds in the trees coo me to sleep.  It is going to be an early morning to make up for lost time.

More photos in my Picasa Albums

May 29, 2011

After You - Up North

The whole family went out to Mantrap lake and had a wonderful cruise. Even got to see some Pelicans and Terns! The kids spent most of the time reading, but Jill and I had a nice time sightseeing. It was chilly and cloudy, but a lovely trip.

We also tested out the new underwater camera. At full speed it's no fun, but at low trolling speeds it's quite interesting. Next step: hook up something that will record the video..
After a long day of off and on rain I got to take her out for a later evening cruise. Bliss.

May 26, 2011

First outing of the year on the After You

The "gear locker" with new hanging straps -- possibly the most useful additions to the boat.

I also got a new battery box. Exciting, huh?

We went to Calhoun, Isles, and Cedar lake. Didn't quite make Brownie, as I wasn't confident the battery would get us there and back. It had a long year last year.
The first mate checks the camera. It's temporary henna tattoos on her arms -- we're not horrible parents. :)

Apr 22, 2011

Amon Tobin

Listened to "Out from out where" by Amon Tobin on my walk home today and was constantly struck by how comfortable I am with his combination of noises. A couple times
I was thinking about how discordant and chaotic his music is, but it felt really right. I've
only seem him live once, but it was a really great show. It's fun to find an electronic
artist who can recreate and improve on their music live. He definitely can.

So here are a few of his tunes that really strike me.

Verbal - There are times in my life when I have what I call a "mental virus" -- it's like
being sick with a simple virus, but it's mental. I know, hard to explain, but this video
sounds like it feels on the more manic side:

The videos are quite good, as well. Enjoy this, and welcome to my brain:

Finally, if ever there was a soundtrack to my life, I think this would be a good example of how well Amon Tobin matches:

Apr 14, 2011

Charizard Pokemon Pillow

This pillow is for Eli.  Finally got it stuffed!

Apr 8, 2011

Dusting off the After You

This weekend I'm bringing the boat home. After a long winter in a garage in Saint Paul, it's time to work on some fitting out of the cabin and yearly spring maintenance. Excited to see how well she held out over the winter. I've stopped by a couple times to check on her but it's different getting into the actual sunlight..

Mar 31, 2011

Bring out your boats!

Nintendo 3DS Gamebang

I got a Nintendo 3DS portable gaming system this week, and it's really cool. I'm not going to say too much about what it does, but I have an idea about one of it's cooler features.

It's called Streetpass, and it's a genius marketing move. When you come near another person with a 3DS and they have Streetpass enabled, the two consoles exchange a bit of information. At it's most basic level you "get" the person's Mii, or avatar in your collection. Collecting more Mii's allows you more points/abilities in some of the built in games, and that's kinda neat.

But what's even cooler? Some 3DS titles have Streetpass content. So if you have Nintendogs and walk past someone else who does (and it's based on the save file, not the actual game being in the machine, or even running) you find out about their pet. The next time you take your dog for a walk (regardless of whether that person is around anymore) you may see their dog. It can also unlock features and additional abilities in games.

In short (too late!), the more save games you have on your system, the more additional content you can get. And even if you don't have the game anymore, it'll be available if you do get the game in the future. See where I'm going? The more different games save files you have, the more you get. Not to mention the fact that anyone else you interact with gets something out of the deal down the road. My friend has Street Fighter, but I don't. If we meet, he doesn't get anything. If I have a save file for Street Fighter (and don't own the game, don't even want to) and we meet, he can get bonus stuff.

So it's in the best interest of all 3DS owners to have the biggest collection. So that's where the 3DS gamebang comes in. Plan an event, invite all your 3DS having friends, and get together for an hour or so. Everyone brings their games and shares them around. You all end up with save files, you all share your Mii's for the Mii Plaza, and everyone leaves happy.

Who's up for it?

Mar 17, 2011

Blades of March Skating Competition

Lily's first skating competition -- it went really well!

Jan 19, 2011


Kids these days, I tell ya. Eli comes home one day and announces that they have a field trip coming up. Skiing. Someone decided it was a good idea to take these tiny little children skiing? Ski they did. And from what I hear it was a roaring success. Eli came home with a new sport.

We signed him up for lessons at Hyland. I took him the first week and wanted to get him all set up properly so I didn't plan on skiing. Spent the whole time wishing I had the right gear so I could get on the slopes.

Hyland is considerably larger than Como (where we grew up on Ski slopes) with more than one slope and more than just one rope tow. For Minnesota, it's a great city ski spot and lots of fun. Eli has had three lessons now and was signed off on the basic course and if he wants more lessons it'll be at a (basic) advanced level. The instructor and supervisor were both really impressed that he did so well, especially since he's only been skiing five times! I just explain that by saying he's a Craig. :) And it's thrilling to find something Eli likes to do this much. Again, a Craig.

I'm excited about this new chapter in the Craig Skiing Scrapbook.

It's been so long since I'd been skiing. There were a few things that strike me:
  • When did skis stop being pointy?
  • I don't have a problem with snowboarders, but why do they all sit down in the middle of the slopes?
  • WOW there are a lot of opportunities for people to ski now. I don't think there's a handicap anymore that would prevent someone from getting on the slopes. The blind skiiers were a bit of a surprise, but they really do quite well!
  • Dad. I keep saying things to Eli that came straight out of my Dad's mouth. So many points that I totally "get" now. (Yes, ropes are better because they keep you warmer, lifts just make you cold. Bring your own sandwiches. Sweat is the enemy. Don't just go straight down the hill. Use poles. Colder means less people on the slopes.)
  • Why doesn't anyone use poles anymore? Seriously!
  • Lacking moguls, all hills are the bunny hill. Some are just steeper than others.
We're having a lot of fun. I'm having a lot of fun. It's good to be back.

Jan 4, 2011

eBlots - cut rate internet therapy!

eBlots is back
, kinda.

I'm working on porting the web site over to an app for Android, and thought it would be fun to put the site online for a bit in order to test it and gather some samples.

Fine, I'll explain. I suppose it was ten years ago. TEN YEARS. I don't know how that happened. Anyway.. I was working at Plural, and I had a Palm of some sort. Probably a Palm V, which was of course the best and coolest Palm *ever*. And whenever I had a moment of boredom I'd just draw a little doodle and save it. We'd been light on work (closed later that summer) and I'd been churning out ridiculous little web sites (guidsquirt, flarben, etc.) and coming up with some interesting ideas. eBlots was one of them. Just the idea of Rorschach charts and sharing opinions...

So I whip up eblots.. (no, I still don't know if it's eblots or eBlots) Dropped the link on a site or two but really just enjoyed doing it. Was fun coding, fun drawing the doodles, and most of all fun to put my comment in daily and see what other folks thought.

Yahoo sites of the week, mention on CNN news, many many many linkblogs, and lots of traffic. I'd promised never to put ads on it, and I'm still glad I did that. The couple hundred dollars I might have made wouldn't have been worth the thought that I kept it "pure" -- although I did open a cafepress store if folks wanted a t-shirt or something. :) I got to watch 1400 connections pour in at one moment and that was a lot of fun -- even handled the volume! Woo!

It was a lot of fun, and after a while it sort of petered out. After the year anniversary the images rolled over and somehow, as unbelievable as it sounds, a couple folks complained about the "reruns" -- what a memory! Eventually I retired it and stopped paying for the domain.

It's one of the few sites I'm really proud of because I enjoyed it and it was enjoyed by other folk.

So now I'm building a version for Android phones(*). Maybe I'll let someone write an iPhone version if I get a cut of the profits. Just kidding! eblots will always be free.

So if you want to hit the site you can play along and see a new image every day, comment on it, and see what other people thought...

The Lying Down Game

These pics are a couple months old, but we were at the cabin and I had mentioned the silly "lying down" game to the kids. They took the camera and dove right in...

The Lying Down Game
by the kids

(Before you ask, just remember -- we're Craigs.)