January 12, 2008

Rings, Raptors and Radio

So, I apparently am still suffering from a bad case of "I don't want to blog today" -itis. Not sure why, either. Oh well...I suppose if I just make myself sit down and try to blog something every couple days inspiration may strike. TJ over at From the Faraway, Nearby even tagged me for a meme and it has still taken me over a week to respond. But perhaps this will be my Calliope. We'll see...

Anyway, the theme of this meme (ha, bet you didn't know it. . . I'm already a poet) is "seven random facts". I'm sure some of this won't really be new to many of you, but I'll try to spice it up with some juicy tidbits from my past that may shed some more light on who I am.

1) I'm a SNAG, and rather proud of it.
For those of you not familiar with this acronym, it stands for Sensitive New Age Guy and is the general term used to describe those of us who generally don't fall into the category of being a "manly man". You know, guys who really aren't that into sports (unless it means being able to embarass your brothers by being able to pick a surprisingly good fantasy football team), and often prefer chick-flicks over more traditionaly masculine fare (last month, while waiting for Sonja to get off work, I went to see a movie. I could have chosen either Beowulf or Enchanted. I picked Enchanted...and loved it). We are also notoriously bad at being handy around the house, or with the car for that matter. Of course, this isn't to say I can't be incredibly manly when I want to, I simply choose not to want to most of the time.

2) I was a college radio DJ for four years.
I actually had one of the more popular shows on KSUA up in Fairbanks, the Vegetarian Treehuggers. I specialized in playing americana, folk and bluegrass, and even had several well-known singer songwriters come in and play during my show when they were in town for a concert. These usually involved some of the local Fairbanks talent, but I did get a chance to have both Karen Savoca (three times, actually) and Greg Brown as guests on my show. And I was this close to getting Nancy Griffith to join me in the studio, too. I really miss DJing...

3) I lived on top of a mountain in New Mexico for three months.
I was working for Hawkwatch as their field educator during the 1997 fall raptor migration. That meant I got to hang out and wait for visitors to show up at the observation site, then run down to one of the trapping blinds to grab a recently banded hawk/falcon to give a little program with then release. Here's a clip of one such moment that I recently transferred over to digital from VHS.

On this particular afternoon I think we only had one or two visitors, both of which had spent the better part of the day with us, so I didn't really have much more to say. Most of those you hear talking were part of the field crew that were taking advantage of the photo opportunity. It was just cool to compare the size and shape of a tiny American Kestral with a much larger Red-tailed Hawk.

The whole season was a blast. Cool people and amazing birds, like this Golden Eagle. And the best part of the whole thing was watching the birds fly away after the release.

Everyone should get a chance to live on a mountain top at least once in their life.

4) I've seen "Star Wars: A New Hope" 247 times.
I know it's rather sad that I know that to such a precise degree, but there you go. Back in 1982 when we first got both cable TV and our first VCR I loved to tape movies off of Showtime and watch them over and over again. This was one of the first ones I did that with, and for some reason known only to "1982 Paul" I marked down on a piece of paper whenever I would watch it. The really funny thing is that on Showtime, the movies are always presented in "full screen" format, so they are edited to fit the standard TV screen. It wasn't until I finally watched the "widescreen" version of this film many years later that I realized how much I was missing by only ever watching full-screen versions of movies.

For instance, in the scene where Luke and C3-PO find R2D2 out in the desert, Luke climbs up to a ridge to try to see if there are Sand People in the area. He looks through his cool electrobinoculars (that's actually what they're called) and says, "There are two banthas down there but I don't see any...wait a second, they're Sand People all right, I can see one of them now." In the edited full-screen version, there is no Sand People Person(?) in that scene. I would pause the movie nearly every time I watched it to try to find this mysteriously invisible Tusken Raider, to no avail. I never found him. Until...I was in college watching the movie again with some friends, only this time it was the letterbox, widescreen version. When this scene comes up and Luke peers down at those two lonely banthas, who do I see but that damn Sand People guy strolling around on the far right side of the screen! I was so excited I jumped out of my chair, pointed at the screen and shouted "THERE HE IS!!" I was so happy...and instantly became a widescreen version snob. Although, my friends never wanted to watch Star Wars with me again for some reason. Here's the infamous scene, NOT edited to fit your screen:

And there he is...

5) I'm a helicopter pilot.
Well, an ex-helicopter pilot, at least. I spent three years in flight school during my army stint. Even though I'll probably never get to fly one again, if I concentrate I can still remember how to do it. I goofed around a lot while flying, too. During one of my solo cross-country lessons I planned a trip from Grand Forks to my hometown of Alexandria. When I got there I didn't go straight to the airport like I was supposed to. I mean, come on. I had my very own helicopter to play with, like I was going to not take advantage of that.

So, I stopped by to visit a friend at the camp north of Alex that he was working at. I think I neglected to tell him that I was coming, though, based on the reactions of his coworkers when I landed in the middle of their playing field. Fortunately, they were between sessions, so the only people around were staff. I also hovered over my backyard (which was too small to make a safe landing on). What I didn't realize was that I chose to do this during my old neighborhood's annual garage sale weekend. As a result, my audience was a tad larger than I had anticipated. And all I wanted to do was show Mom my helicopter. I had told her to expect me, so she was able to stop our neighbor from calling the cops, at least.

6) I own a pair of lederhosen.
I even bought them in Austria, so they're the genuine article. They were my one splurge during my three-week backpacking trip in central Europe. When I landed in Frankfurt I started noticing a fair number of "hip" backpackers wearing them, and they looked quite comfortable. So, when I got to Hallstatt and saw them for sale I couldn't resist. In hindsight, I should have gotten a pair of alpenshorts. They would have been more funner.

7) I've lost two wedding rings.
But they were in very cool places. The first time I lost my ring was during our honeymoon in Hawaii.

We had gone scuba diving in some coral reefs near Kona on the Big Island, and I guess my finger shrunk from being so wet. But when I peeled my wetsuit off my arm it sucked the ring from my finger and over the edge of the boat it went. So, Sonja bought me another one as a surprise for Valentine's Day that year. It was a little big for me, but I wanted to wear it anyway.

A few weeks later we went skiing in the Alaska Range south of Fairbanks on Castner Glacier. The weather was beautiful, and actually not that cold so I took lots of pictures. Every time I would get the camera out I'd take off my gloves, snap a photo, then put my gloves back on. It wasn't until we were all out enjoying some pizza in Delta Junction that evening that one of our friends looked across the table, pointed at my hands and said, "Uhh, Paul? Are you missing something?" Things went downhill from there. The closest we were able to figure is that it slipped off my finger at some point during our time on the glacier while I was taking pictures. So I lost my first one in a Hawaiian coral reef and my second in an Alaskan glacier. At least I didn't accidentally flush it down the toilet... Anyway, I wasn't allowed to wear a ring for the next year and a half.

There they are, seven random facts about me. I'm supposed to tag some more people now, so I think I'll go with Steve, Chris, Karen, and Erik.


Anonymous said...

I love the way the kestrel scolds you after he's been released. Such a cute little bird. Amazing photography.

Patrick Belardo said...

Great list! Now, I need to go watch A New Hope on widescreen because I always wondered about that too. I guess I didn't pay attention when I saw it on the special editions in the theater. I still have all my toys somewhere in this house including the rare blue Snaggletooth figure.

Crap, I think I'm a SNAG too.

I assume you have a new wedding ring?

P. Ollig said...

Yes, I do actually. Sonja found a silver ring with an elvish wedding poem written on it (I think it's Quenyain, rather than Sindarin, considering that it is a formal poem probably used in ceremonies and such). I think the fact that it's got elvish writing on it is part of the reason I haven't lost this one, yet.

And I think I remember you mentioning that blue Snaggletooth before. I'm still insanely jealous.

Patrick Belardo said...

I have friends who have wedding bands with Elvish writing on them too. I don't think Beth will go for it.

P. Ollig said...

The translations are actually pretty cool. And, I bet there are companies that could custom design some rings with personalized elvish script on them.

Tell her all the cool couples have elvish writing on their wedding rings.

T.R. said...

Great meme Paul! And great video. The wedding ring story is priceless - well I guess not so priceless in theory!

Guess what I think I say today - a wandering tattler. They're common where I am this week on the Big Island of Hawaii. I've posted a pic - you must have known them from Alaska. Hopefully I ID it correctly.

Tristan Abbott said...

I am interested in finding elvish script wedding bands for my Fiancee and I. I found a really cool picture on Pintrest that has one with the saying "One ring to show our love, one ring to bind us, one ring to seal our love and forever entwine us."

I think this is absolutely fantastic and completely unique which we both love. But I am having no luck in finding a company that actually offers "Elvish script" as a font.

I was wondering if anyone happened to know, or could find out from friends that had Elvish script rings WHERE I could find them?
Any info would be so amazing and I would be eternally grateful!