Monday, January 27, 2014

Hidden Treasure and Diurnal Activity

Jeanine and I went to Portal Park near my mom's old house yesterday and hid a letterbox to commemorate the 4th anniversary of her death. We hid one three years ago too, but that one quickly vanished due to it being hidden in a well traveled and well maintained area. The new letterbox is hidden a bit more off the beaten path,buried behind a Redwood tree. Check out the page for it here. I'll post an image of the stamp impression soon. Nobody has found it yet, but I'm sure that will change soon.

It's strange that four years have passed already. Gone but not forgotten.

I'm working days this week, and will be doing so for most of the rest of the school year (not to mention summer). At the moment, it looks like I'm only working two weeks of nights until September. The kids this week are well behaved and seem excited to be in the woods. A few of them didn't seem to want to sit in the dirt though, instead choosing to squat when the rest of us sat down. It's funny how some people are afraid of dirt. They relented and sat down after I did a dirt angel (that's like a snow angel, except for the obvious difference). It's fun to be back in the swing of things during the day, and I noted that I was feeling an emotion akin to joy earlier today. I really do love my job.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Death and Remembrance

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of the death of Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos, and tomorrow is the four year anniversary of the death of my mom. Continuing the trend of making this week heavy with death, Italian film composer Riz Ortolani has shuffled off this mortal coil, leaving behind a legacy of music. I listened to his score for the notorious "Cannibal Holocaust" to commemorate his passing. It really is beautiful music.

Here's an interesting short article and interview about Angelopoulos. With his death on my mind, I was looking for information about the film he had been working on when he was killed, hoping that enough of it had been finished to enable posthumous completion. Sadly, this won't be happening. Only 12 minutes had been shot at the time of his death.

I've got something planned to mark the fourth anniversary of my mom's death too, but that's tomorrow...

Thursday, January 23, 2014


The half moon is rising like an enormous, glowing bowl tonight, while nearby Mars glints redly like a distant warning beacon.

I glimpsed a Grey Fox earlier as I drove up the long driveway to work. Like most animals confronted by oncoming headlights, it wisely chose to show me its tail as it scampered off to some happier place for foxes. It's the first fox I've seen this close to camp.

Currently listening to the nocturnal sounds of: Noctooa "Adaptation"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Night Work

After a night off due to Martin Luther King Day, I'm back up in the hills, holding down the fort while the campers sleep. That said, they've been a bit restless tonight. A floor has already been puked on, and I've seen a homesick boy and a whole bunch of kids who got in trouble for talking, including Captain Sassypants and his second in command, Corporal Clueless. That's usually how it works in these situations - the back talker almost always comes with a bonus follower. Steps have been taken.

The beginning of every week is like the first day of school. Every new bunch of kids comes with unique challenges. That's part of what makes this job interesting.

This didn't stop me from finishing the novel I've been working on. One of my goals this year is to finally finish off the huge bag of books and DVDs a friend loaned me around a year ago. Fortunately, he's a friend with good taste. The latest book I read, "The Scar" by China Mieville, was particularly excellent.

I wonder who broke the circular piece of wood covering the campfire pit in the main amphitheater though. It looks like somebody drove a truck over it.

The sky is a bit clearer up here. The air quality in the valley remains bad. For the last few days, I've had a tickle in my throat, plus an off again on again soreness there. Jeanine has too, although today she had a low-grade fever on top of that, so maybe we're both sick. Whatever the problem is, it has sapped our energy. Tonight I feel a bit better, but then again I'm out of the valley and I've had coffee.

Coffee is good.

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Camera, New Egg

I've been messing around with a Canon Rebel camera for the last couple of days. It's fortuitous that one of my coworkers decided to sell it, because it's the kind of camera I've been wanting to get. He handed it over at the end of the work week, and I'll be handing him payment sometime later this week. The software that comes with it, not to mention the larger photo files it creates, has forced me to empty a lot of stuff onto an external drive, but I'm really liking the camera so far. Now, I just have to learn how to use it properly.

I took the girls to a show up in Berkeley on Saturday, and I tried out the camera a bit while we wandered along the Berkeley Pier.

At home, Henrietta laid her first egg. Ameraucana hens lay green ones.

Our slow internet connection, coupled with the larger photo files, means it takes forever to upload photos. For some reason though, Blogger is much quicker than Typepad.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dawning Of A Brand New Dystopia

The second week of camp for 2014 has now vanished from my rear view mirror, leaving only vague memories of its passing. From my perspective, there were no real highlights, but no real low-lights either. Every week there is some kind of first though. This week's first was that a kid managed to wet the bunk bed in the Hub. Usually, kids only sleep on those beds if they're sick and/or waiting to get picked up at night. Sometimes, like this week, kids who are just plain tired out before bedtime sleep there. This one leaked. The same night, a girl hurt her neck pretty badly during the Thursday night dance, necessitating a ride home. For some reason, Thursday nights are often chaotic. To add to the general chaos this week, many kids were weeping uncontrollably due to it being the last night of camp. Or at least one kid was weeping for this reason. It only takes one to get the rest worked up. It's like a person driving too slowly on a one-lane road. It affects everybody.

Since I know this about campers, I always try to make my Thursday night talk as funny as possible. This week, I was too successful. I found out later from one of the cabin leaders that one girl laughed so hard she wet her pants.

Sometimes you just can't win.

Shifting gears slightly, this morning, reading the news, I find myself hoping that these kids won't end up inheriting a dystopia after we're gone. This article makes me wonder if it might already be too late. It's like something out of a grim near-future science fiction film.

Closer to home, Governor Brown has officially declared a drought emergency. Read the article here.

Closer still (in fact, right around the corner from my old apartment), Flames has apparently gone up in flames. Oh, the irony.

Currently listening to: Zoe Boekbinder "100/100"

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Water We Going To Do?

To judge by the temperature, it could be early Spring right now. There hasn't even been any of the usual morning fog at camp either. It's dry like the sunny side of Mercury.

Here's another worried-sounding article about social encouragement to cut down on water use. It's good that at least some people are thinking ahead, but I'm sure that most people will only start to conserve when they are forced to, complaining bitterly about it the whole time. It reminds me of a post I saw today on our neighborhood's online forum. A guy was seriously comparing recycling to communism. I imagine he drives a Hummer and thinks that the Tea Party is the intellectual elite. Yeah, I'm stereotyping a bit, but some people make it so easy.

At work, we continue to do our best to inspire kids to be conservation-minded. We only get each group of kids for a week though, and I imagine that even the ones who are inspired in some way are likely to backslide after being back at home awhile. The lack of rain and the possibility of water rationing is a lesson in itself though. Maybe it will serve as a wake-up call for some of these kids because, after all, conservation isn't even a word in most people's vocabularies during times of plenty. Maybe soon the two minute showers we restrict them to at camp will mirror the ones they have to take at home.

In other conservation news, the hunter from Texas who won a bid to shoot an endangered Black Rhino (with proceeds apparently going towards rhino conservation efforts), may now become the hunted. People are rightfully outraged at the idea of letting this waste of space legally kill an endangered species, and apparently he has been getting death threats. I hope he wasn't too surprised by this. I know I'm not.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Moon and Murder

The full moon is enormous and beautiful as it climbs into the sky tonight, bathing us in yellow light.

It doesn't look like we'll be bathing in rain anytime soon though. Here's an interesting article about our current water situation here in California. Apparently, water rationing is already happening in nearby Santa Cruz.

What else? Somebody got shot to death a few blocks to the East of where I'm typing this, on the street where one of my stepdaughter's friends lives. That probably explains all of the helicopter noise from last night. People really need to learn to work out their differences in more constructive ways.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Whatever blockage has been ailing one of our aquatic frogs has vanished all on its own, deflating the frog to more frog-like proportions. it no longer looks like a little ball with legs. It's a good thing too, because the remedies Jeanine tried hadn't been producing the desired results.

I imagine it pooping out a small bit of gravel and heaving an amphibious sigh of relief as a series of frantic bubbles wobble toward the top of the tank. This was probably the most overdue frog fart ever. Additionally, this is probably the only time I'll ever blog about frog farts.

Monday Night Again

My second work week of the new year started with the usual sort of Monday night chaos, and then some. The hose I usually use to put out the campfire still has no pressure, a couple of bathroom doors were inexplicably locked, the cabin leaders didn't have the flashlights and books they were supposed to have, a dad showed up to pick up his kid only to discover that he was at the wrong camp (this happens depressingly often - way to know where your kids are, parents!), somebody lost a tooth, and there was the usual amount of homesickness, and another kid who was waiting to get picked up had to wait a long time because his parents had gotten lost (a teacher eventually drove down the hill to find them). All in a night's work, I guess. Of course, once the initial hurdle of Monday night bedtime is behind me, things usually calm down. Sometimes they stay calm for the rest of the week. Sometimes not.

They stayed calm for most of the night, marred only by a couple of visits from a kid whose stomach hurt because he was missing his mommy, and a girl whose little friend Ralph ascended through her digestive tract and splattered the ground near the door to her cabin. Ralph lay there, glistening in the moonlight, until I covered him in kitty litter to dry him out so he could be swept up and tossed. The girl actually volunteered to clean up the mess herself. How helpful!

Lots of kids puke at camp, usually for emotional rather than physical reasons.

The dawn was dry and blue, which gives me the blues. There is no interesting weather in the forecast at all.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Why Did the Chicken Allow Itself To Be Stroked?

The chickens have suddenly become more affectionate, which is odd behavior for a pair of birds who, up until recently, have shown themselves to be very adept at avoiding the descending hand.

Jeanine looked around on an online chicken forum and discovered it's just their way of saying, "fertilize me!"

Ew. Not going to happen, chickens. Sorry. Still, it's nice to be able to pat them without having to chase them first.

Jeanine and I went letterboxing yesterday up at Sanborn park in the hills next to my work. There's a series of 6 bird-themed letterboxes hidden along the trails there, and we found them all. I tried out my new pedometer and it seems to work as described, although according to it, we only walked a disappointing .95 of a mile. The excursion inspired me to plan a series of letterboxes that I can tie into the lessons we teach at camp. Will I follow through? We'll see...

Speaking of walking, I've now walked over 50 miles this month, so I'm halfway to my goal.

It's depressingly sunny outside right now, although I have a feeling that's a statement that runs the risk of causing people living in any U.S. state other than California want to kill me. I guess sunny does trump polar vortex, but we still need rain.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Estate of Gracelessness

I've been walking every day, although it has mostly been on city streets. I'd rather be walking along a trail in the hills, but usually I end up walking through the local neighborhoods, sometimes with Jeanine, and sometimes alone. Today, while Jeanine was at work, I wandered downtown to get the newest Walking Dead comic book (yeah, the TV show has inspired me to start reading comic books again - it's never too late to have a happy childhood). I picked up a Mexican mocha at the coffee shop on the way home, and then made a detour to check out an estate sale at this monolithic, gray house that we always pass and wonder about. It was obviously built back when buildings were still allowed to have character, and it's one of those houses that looks like it would be a good setting for an upsetting story. I went in more out of a desire to see the inside of it than for any other reason. Plus, I've never been to an estate sale before. We didn't have one after my mom died. Due to the overwhelming amount of stuff, my dad eventually just had someone come and haul the remaining items away (after we'd either donated or claimed the important things, of course).

The house, despite having a small, unimpressive backyard, was interesting, with large rooms and a basement. Much of it was cordoned off though. The original owner of the things being sold seemed to have been an artist with an interest in theater (although I wasn't impressed by any of the art on offer). There was also an old violin and a clarinet amongst the less useful stuff, although they didn't seem in the best of repair. People vultured about, clutching the detritus of someone else's passing, many of them looking elderly enough to be approaching their own personal estate sales. It's sometimes strange and impersonal the way our worldly possessions are redistributed after we're gone.

I only bought this:

I think my stepdaughter will like it, since she's into creepy things, especially creepy dolls. She'll get it for her birthday next month. An elderly lady near me said something about repairing it, or at least reattaching the legs. I replied that it was much more pleasingly creepy in its dismembered condition. She huffed disdainfully. Some people have no appreciation for aesthetically pleasing disrepair.

As with every walk I've taken along city streets, I saw more people exhibiting an inability to follow basic traffic rules. Today, one of them was a cop, who evidently didn't know who was supposed to have the right of way in an intersection. Stupid cop.

At home, Dexter the cat silently expressed his dislike for my music:

Research and Development

Since she is working a party with a "Frozen" theme today, Jeanine and I went to the movies last night to watch it, making it the first film I've seen at the theater this year. It would have been an appropriate choice if we lived anywhere besides California, since the rest of the country seems to be in a deep freeze at the moment. There are no currently playing films about the imminent threat of drought though, and even if there were, it would be a strange theme for a children's party.

As for the film, it was okay in that "seen variations of this theme a hundred times" sort of way. It would have been better if it hadn't been basically a musical. On the plus side, Jeanine can now make balloon versions of the movie characters and place them into the grasping hands of small children.

I miss the days when we had good local movie houses that showed a nice selection of foreign and cult films. Some of them are still there, but playing other types of films. For instance, The Towne is still open, but only plays Indian films. The Camera theaters are still there too, but seem to lean more toward mainstream fare these days. Camera 7 is where the old Pruneyard theater was, Camera 12 is a relatively new downtown complex showing mainstream fare, and Camera 3, the only enduring original Camera, seems to have tamed down its offerings a bit. Meanwhile, in the rest of the Bay Area, there is little left. I especially miss the University Theater in Berkeley.

In other cinema news, San Jose's iconic dome theaters are endangered. The old Century 25 dome (most recently the home of the Retro Dome, which mostly showed live musicals and family movies from the last few decades) was knocked down recently, no doubt to make way for some cookie cutter assemblage of bland crap. Century 24 is next on the list. The Retro Dome has retreated to Century 21, and Centuries 22 and 23 also remain open for the moment. Developers are eyeballing them though.

I fondly remember being a kid and waiting in long lines at the Century 22 to see movies like Star Wars. They say that the only real constant is change though. I just wish it was never change for the worse. Maybe if we get rid of all the developers, Edward Abbey style, to ensure that the wild places of our childhoods remain sacrosanct...

Not that I'm resistant to change or anything like that. I'm just resistant to stupid change. To some people, financial motivation is the only motivation. Where is the passion in that?

Thursday, January 09, 2014

I Paint With Particulates

Particulate matter in the atmosphere sure makes the sunsets pretty. This one, I noticed because of the fact that the window in the bathroom was glowing orange. A quick step out the front door and a handful of photographs later, and yet another sunset is freeze-framed forever, or for at least as long as there is an internet. After all, nothing is forever.

Last night, which started with poop, ended this morning in blood. Writing that makes my job sound dramatic, when in truth it was just another boy with a bloody nose. He managed to get blood all over the place though. So, I guess I could say my night was book-ended by bodily fluids. The thing with blood on cement is that you've got to get to it before it fully dries.

As I type, I'm cynically wondering when my burst of writing energy will dissipate. I only managed to write 38 posts here in 2013, and this year, in slightly over a week, I've already done more than a quarter that many. Now that I'm back to work and back to my strange sleeping schedule, I can already feel my initial burst of 2014 energy settling down somewhat, but I'm determined to hang onto at least some of this strange momentum and ride it out. I feel like I've been in a creative slump for quite awhile now, and blogging regularly should be the bare minimum of what I accomplish creatively this year. I have other plans too, and I'd like to see them develop beyond being mere plans.

Speaking of creative, Mrs. Charles laid another egg, again by the bougainvillea. Jeanine plans to hack the plant back a bit, enabling us to reach our breakfast without spiking ourselves on thorns. Since the eggs are now becoming a daily occurrence, I'll stop writing about each and every one.

Egg Hunt and Soiled Clothing

Mrs. Charles has decided to lead us on her version of an Easter egg hunt. Jeanine found an egg behind the bougainvillea today. Who knows how many other eggs await discovery in the wilderness of the backyard?

At camp, a boy soiled himself during the night hike, and his clothes are currently in the dryer. One more week during which poop ended up in the wrong place. The bathroom is pretty frightening right now too. Alas. Several other kids, not wanting to feel left out, crowded the hub with a variety of minor complaints. One boy came in holding his tooth, which had escaped his mouth. I gave him a ziploc bag to contain the wayward thing. A girl complained of a stomach ache. Diagnosis: missing home. Cure: sleep. Another boy hobbled in from the night hike with a foot/ankle injury. He'd had a preexisting injury exacerbated by stepping on a tree root. After getting it iced for awhile, he went to bed too. And usually night hike night is so quiet... I'm glad that a couple of coworkers and a bunch of teachers helped with the chaos.

There was a heavy mist this morning, as if the sky was teasing us by almost raining. Not funny, sky. Either rain or don't.

Currently listening to: Contrastate "Throwing Out the Baby With the Bathwater"

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Above the Smog

This is my first night back at work since December 19th, and after my time away I find that the air smells especially clean and the stars shine especially bright up here in the hills. We're above the nasty layer of particulate matter that forms during long periods of no rain, and the light pollution mostly only hinders my stargazing when I look to the north and northeast.

I wish it would rain though. This has been one of the driest years in memory, so much so that sometimes I expect the air itself to crumble to the earth in an avalanche of dust. That said, I'm sure most of the country would disagree, with their blizzards and lethal windchill. Everything is milder in California.

We have more kids at camp this week than ever before, with not one but two extra cabin rooms added. That's 13 cabins full of fifth graders. They're sweet kids, exhibiting the usual sort of charming helplessness expected from modern 10 and 11 year olds. One girl got stuck in her jacket, while a boy ended up having no idea which cabin he'd moved into earlier in the day (although he is a special day class kid, and seems to operate at the level of a 4 or 5 year old). I only have to wake up two kids for middle of the night bathroom breaks though. Sometimes I have to wake up as many as five. One of the teachers opined that this increase in nocturnal incontinence is due to a societal increase in babying our offspring. Could be. These kids would have had trouble if they'd grown up as part of an earlier generation.

It's good to be back, although as usual for the first night of the work week, I'm spending around 24 hours awake as I adjust back to my nocturnal schedule for the majority of January. Starting at the end of the month, I'll be back in the field for most of the rest of the school year, hiking and teaching kids. That will mean a more human sleep schedule.

Currently listening to: Current 93 "A Little Menstrual Night Music"

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Stop the Presses!

The chickens are finally paying their rent. This is the first installment.

They had been a bit clucky this morning, with Mrs. Charles entering and exiting the coop. Henrietta, who gets lonely pretty easily, was feeling abandoned and let the world know. I kept going out and checking on them, since clucking sometimes means that the neighborhood cats are getting too bold, but didn't think to check inside the coop until a short while ago.

Just when we'd run out of eggs too!

Walking To School

During 2013, I only logged 580 miles using Dailymile, which is better than my 2012 mileage, but nowhere near as far as I walked in 2011.

Yesterday, I walked from home to Willow's school and back, for a total of 11.44 miles. It took me roughly and hour and a half each way. Thankfully, the middle chunk of the walk was along the creek trail. Here's the view from the pedestrian bridge as I left the creek trail:

At Willow's school, I helped supervise Willow and the rest of the cast of her upcoming school play as they rehearsed. Some of the kids were obviously worn out from the shock of transitioning from vacation back to school. One boy tried to go to sleep under a table. Several others were dragging their feet a bit. There is a boy named Simeon in the cast, but whenever the director said his name, I heard "simian", and wondered why he hadn't been cast as one of the flying monkeys. That would have been more appropriate.

On the walk back, I saw this:

I can't resist a good sunset. Of course, by the time I made it back to the creek trail, it was mostly dark, and by the time I got home, my feet hurt. I even got a blister. Looking out over the freeway from the pedestrian bridge, I was thankful that I don't have to deal with rush hour on my commute.

At home, I discovered that the spider had molted. The old exoskeleton now forms part of his (or her, more likely) doorway, looking like a strange bio-awning, like something H.R. Giger would come up with. Here's a crappy (due to the red light over the cage) pre-molt photo of the spider:

I go back to work tonight. There are supposed to be over 200 kids this week, which means that our usual staff room will be full of campers.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Back To School, But Not Quite Back To Work

Today is Willow's first day back to school after the break, meaning my alarm went off before it was fully light out. Peeking out the window, I could see that the streetlights were still on. Willow, to her credit, woke up easily enough. She claims to like Mondays.

Lately, one of the first things I've been doing every morning is opening the door to the chicken coop so the chickens can resume ravaging the yard. If we sleep in, they will impatiently rake their beaks back and forth against the wire mesh of their coop, making a metallic ratcheting sound. This morning, they were barely awake when I let them out.

Pretty sunrise though:

The chickens, as they usually do, followed me over to the back door. They know food comes from that door, and they didn't want to miss out on any potential snacks. I obliged them.

I don't have to go to work tonight because camp only runs from Tuesday through Friday this week, and since I don't have to worry about tiring myself out today, I plan on walking to Willow's school later to help supervise the kids during after school play practice. This will definitely be a big jump toward my 100 mile goal for the month.

Currently listening to: Denovali Records Label Sampler - Nordic Lake Sounds Vol. V (free download! Click the link and get your copy now!)

Sunday, January 05, 2014


One of my goals for the upcoming year is to spend less time online, or at least less time doing useless things online. We all seem to need periods of time with our brains in neutral. Some people achieve this state by drinking or doing other types of drugs, some people sink into their couches and gaze upon the vast wasteland of so-called reality shows, and some people mouse and click their way across the hinterlands of the internet. I'm one of the latter, and since this is my chosen method of wasting time, I scorn all of the others I've mentioned. That doesn't mean that my way is necessarily any better, although it's a little less passive than the others. Also, I have a feeling that many people spend pretty much every waking minute in neutral. I base this on observation.

Every once in awhile, I come across something online that I find inspiring. A short video about a young woman named Zina Nicole Lahr is one of those somethings. Watch it on YouTube or click here and scroll down to watch it on Vimeo. What I think impresses me most about her is her energy. In the video, she diagnoses herself with "creative compulsive disorder", which seems about right, and then takes us on a whirlwind tour through a variety of projects and her room, which is jam-packed with the results of her aforementioned disorder.

Tragically, shortly after this video was shot, Lahr lost her life in a hiking accident. I wonder what she would have gone on to accomplish had she lived out a normal lifespan, but I know that in the short time she was here, she accomplished more than most of us will no matter how long we live.

Here's a clever little stop-motion film by Lahr about the secret lives of items on the kitchen table.

Take inspiration from Lahr and go create something. Anything.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Erasing the Horizon With Internal Combustion

Today (and for that matter, the last week or so), the air looks like a giant carpet was shaken out nearby. We're talking billowing dust and general griminess, so think that it nearly obscures the nearby hills. We need wind. We need rain. Now.

It's the kind of air quality that makes a person have second thoughts about walking. The only problem is, when people have second thoughts about walking, they get in their cars and drive. I walked around 7 miles yesterday, the last couple of them after dark with Willow, but I felt grimy by the end of it all. At least the smiling crescent moon was nice.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Republicans Seem To Be Regressing

Obviously, people can believe whatever they want to believe. I can believe that we're prevented from floating off into space by strong magnets under the dirt, or I can believe that the strange stain on the floor near my desk is my deity, but that doesn't make it the truth.

Republicans, according to this poll, are increasingly choosing not to believe in evolution. So, basically, as a political party, republicans are choosing to have their beliefs shaped by a book written a couple thousand years ago, although I'm betting that only a small percentage of them have actually read it cover to cover, in which case their beliefs are shaped by a book they haven't even read.

Of course, I'm making a lot of assumptions here, but I'm betting I'm more or less right. People really need to take more time to self reflect.

Here are some more thoughts on this topic. Poor math skills? Blame politics.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Chicken Snacks and Another Symptom of the Imminent Failure of Society

I noticed the chickens staring forlornly up at the persimmon tree, so I went and got a couple of squishy, overripe persimmons down for them. They didn't bother to thank me before they dug in.

I think the crows were jealous, but then again they can fly, so they don't have to wait for some human to take pity on them. They can have persimmons whenever they want.

Also, I think the chickens have taken secret jobs as sign makers. That would explain the photo below. There's no way crows would have let something like this get past the planning stage:


Just to get the blood flowing, I'm starting the year off with a walking challenge. I need to walk 100 miles before the end of January in order to succeed. So far, I've walked around six miles, although the challenge page on Dailymile indicates nine because it started counting before the beginning of the month. I find that short-term challenges are more inspiring than long-term ones like the Walk To Mordor challenge I've been working on for over a year now. So far, I've walked 804 miles on my way to Mt. Doom, with only 975 remaining before I can fling the ring to its destruction. My goal this year is to finish that challenge before the end of December. That means I've got to get stepping.