Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Highlights from the Boys' Canoe Trip

As I mentioned earlier this month, a couple of friends and I took our annual canoe trip... a tradition that's lasted for fifteen years now. During the trip, we shot some video, which I turned into a home movie, so the three of us can remember it when we're old(er) and gray(er)... or bald as the case may be.

I've uploaded some highlights of the movie I made.

Part I (4:20) shows me talking about my unscheduled swim.

Part II (9:49) started out as a summary of the trip, but quickly turned into a tongue-in-cheek infomercial.

Part III
(3:04) is the, ummm... credits... a fake outtakes reel.

These videos probably won't stay posted for long, so you'd better act quickly.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Very Cool Time...

I considered naming today's post "Best Time Ever," but once I thought about it, I realized that it wasn't the best ever. Calling the last couple of days the best ever would diminish the awesomeness of meeting Mrs. Evan... and the day we got married... and my kids' birthdays. But it was really cool. I went on a quick downriver canoe trip with my dad.

This is cool because my dad is a stereotypical old-school, bring-home-the-bacon, stoic, show-no-emotion type of father. For my dad, bonding consisted of passing on knowledge... hunting, fishing, baseball and car maintenance. I never got into hunting, fishing and baseball, so our bonding time was quite limited.

A couple of months ago though, my dad suggested that we go canoeing, and I was thrilled at the idea. "You'll only need one paddle," he said as we talked about it.

"Why, are you going to do all of the paddling," I retorted?

"Hell no, I'm gonna fish."

That was when I really got it. He knows that I love canoeing. It was an ingenious way for us to both do something that we love, and hang out together. This week I was able to make it happen.

I rode my motorcycle from my place to my parents' house (road trip!), spent the night at a friend's house (the friend lent me his canoe and the use of his car for shuttling), and spent the next day on the river with the old man.

My dad's also an introvert. The only time you can really get him talking is one on one... maybe a group of three. Four seems to be over his limit. He doesn't talk on the phone, he doesn't email, and he doesn't like sleeping anywhere other than his house. The only way I get to really hang out with him is by going up there, which unfortunately I don't do frequently enough.

If this post is halfway coherent, you should be realizing that I love my dad. It's not just that father-son love, I also like and respect him. But with so little in common and his Luddite lifestyle, years can (and frequently do) go by without us spending any time together. This little jaunt down the river was also a trip down memory lane, as we talked about my childhood and his. And it was a totally new experience for both of us. Geographically, we both grew up around the river, but neither of us had canoed this section before. In fact, it was the first time my dad had been in a canoe in about 40 years.

We talked about the past, the present, the future, the economy, and nothing at all. It was really cool. I think we need to do it again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Too Cool to Share

This is too cool not to share, but I can't let you see the finished product.

Mrs. Evan was tasked with making a sexual harassment presentation. In order to help things along, she enlisted the help of some people, who made short sexual harassment videos. The videos were over the top and corny, but what was even better was the outtakes.

My job was to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, giving her usable footage. But I was also given the green light to make an 'outtakes' video for the people who made the videos. My brother-in-law and I spent a couple of days turning the anti-sexual harassment outtakes into a spoof video showing how ridiculous the whole sexual harassment thing is.

Unfortunately, I can't show the final product publicly. What I can do though, is admit that we closed this not-for-profit, spoof video with Monty Python's "Sit on My Face" as we rolled our credits. How's that for spitting in the eye of the politically correct movement.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Washed Clean

Not everyone will appreciate or agree with today's post. That's fine. I don't ask anyone to change their beliefs, I just ask that you appreciate that it's kind of significant for me...

I got baptized today. Yeah, that's right, I'm a Christian... I voluntarily drank the kool-aid that is Christianity. I get that many of you don't share my faith in God... at least not the Christian God. That's okay. I'm not going to try to convert anyone, and I'm not going to get preachy. I'm merely going to share my story.

I was raised Southern Baptist, complete with the fire and brimstone, and the belief that if you don't follow the Bible lock, stock and barrel that you were condemned to an eternity in hell. The church of my youth tried to scare me into worshiping God. They failed miserably. Instead of scaring me toward God, they drove me away. There was no way I could love, respect and worship such an angry, vengeful god.

Time went by, and I reconnected with God. I realized that the Southern Baptist god was only a small portion of what God truly is. And God was more than happy to meet me on my terms, revealing himself to me slowly, as I was ready to accept who He is... accepting that I would lean on Him when times were bad, and return to my life when the hard times passed.

This pattern went on for about twenty years, but somehow I knew that the status quo wouldn't work indefinitely. In the back of my head I knew that all worthwhile relationships require work, and that my relationship with God was no different. Somewhere along the line, I realized that it was time to shit or get off the pot.

I won't go into how I know God exists... suffice it to say that I believe, and that's enough for me. After all, my experience won't convert anyone else. Besides, I promised that I wouldn't preach here. With that said though, I came to realize that now is the time for me to work on my relationship with God. Getting baptized was the best way for me to demonstrate -- to God and to myself -- that I'm ready and willing to work on the relationship.

This wasn't a conversion experience. I'm still the same guy I was yesterday... the same guy I was last year. I'm not going to instantly disavow my non-Christian friends, and I have no plans of turning into an instant evangelist. If you don't believe, that's okay. I don't expect you to suddenly change your beliefs because I got baptized. I do, however, hope that you're at least able to recognize this milestone in my life and wish me well accordingly.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Funny Sh!+ for Your Sunday

(... or whatever day it happens to be when you read this post.)




Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different

My older daughter forgot to empty her pockets before tossing her jeans in the hamper...

Several days later, I washed a load of clothes. As I pulled the laundry out of the dryer, I discovered the contents of her pockets... specifically, I found lipstick stains all over our clothes. No amount of relaundering helped lighten or remove the stains.

Fortunately, there were no good clothes in that load. But there is a stain on a pair of my boxer briefs that look eerily similar to the kind of stain that would be caused by a "feminine accident."

Saturday, June 6, 2009

An Unscheduled Swim

Another post about our boys' trip...

On the third day of our trip, I did something I haven't done for years. I managed to swamp my canoe.

We had just started paddling for the day. I was commenting on how awesome the scenery was, and how cool it was that we were starting the day off with some fast water. We rounded the corner and were immediately greeted with log that ran virtually the entire width of the river. The only way around was to the extreme left of the river. Unfortunately, I was going first, the water was running too quickly, and I couldn't get far enough to the left. I T-boned the log, right in the middle.

I knew that I was going to hit it, and began weighing my options. The only option that I saw was to try backpaddling, hoping against hope that I could paddle fast enough to get upstream and work my way around the log. Once I hit the log, I started backpaddling and immediately realized this was not an option. I understood pretty quickly that the only thing I could do was save my strength and wits for what would inevitably happen next.

I quit paddling, and the canoe immediately swung around parallel to the log. I tried to lean into the log, (the only way to prevent swamping in this type of circumstance) but the current was too strong, and my canoe immediately tipped. In less than a second, I was under water, under the log, and popping back up... my canoe full of water, and my gear floating downstream.

My canoe is homemade... constructed of plywood and fiberglass. It will float by itself, but not with any weight in it. My gear was stowed, primarily in waterproof containers. But I didn't have enough waterproof stuff for everything. Part of the gear was stowed in rubbermaid containers, strapped shut with bungy cord.

My camp chair was one of the items that wasn't in a bag. It's heavier than water and immediately sunk to the bottom... never to be seen again. Fortunately, these chairs aren't too expensive. Unfortunately, it was brand new. I also lost my sunglasses, and my baseball cap, but I found my cap later on downstream.

One of the rubbermaid containers wasn't rubbermaid... it was a cheap imitation. It filled with water, and shattered on a rock. It also had most of our dry food. We lost our mac-n-cheese, oatmeal, cocoa and instant tea.

My sleeping bag, clothes, camcorder, wallet, and keys were secured in waterproof bags. They were fine. My cot and matress pad were wrapped in contractor bags. They got damp, but weren't soaked. They dried in less than 3o minutes in the sun.

Since we went south for this trip, the water was warm, so the swim wasn't uncomfortable. In fact, it was kind of fun. But we were swept about 1/4 mile downstream before I was able to make it to shore and before we coralled our gear. After the initial shock wore off, I laughed my @$$ off!

The moral of the story is that even experienced paddlers need to pay attention and not become complacent. It's also good to remember that no matter what, the river will occasionally win.

I've got some video footage of the trip. I plan to make a youtube video sometime in the next week or so. At that time, I'll write more of a review about the trip and some of the gear we took.