Saturday, June 25, 2016

Eulogy to Hamlet

Don't let the sepia tone and washed out contrast fool you. The below photo is not a Daguerreotype from Civil War era Fredericksburg and 'Ham Ho Hap Ho' was not a Confederate code. The photo is from the 1980s and the homemade banner stands for Hamlet House Happy Hour, 5-7. That was back when the University had a socially vibrant campus and the happy hour was a cherished precursor to parties and socializing from Seacobek to Jefferson.
Today, the sterile, empty house is the home for computer servers or some such things. Don't let that fool you. The house would be just as lifeless if it was still the men's honor house (not that they have that anymore?) and stands as an illustration of how barren the place is now. As always it seems, a few outposts of spirit and excellence hold out against entrenched, calcified mediocrity. --Guess who I'm primarily referring to?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Trailer Trad Living: What's the Most Idaho? Quiz

Northern Idaho is fabulous but I can't resist poking a little fun at it. Here is a pop quiz. What is the most 'Idaho' -

1. A used library book sale
2. A quilting expo
3. A hippy 'Hempfest'

The answer may surprise you. The used book sale came on strong with throngs of older, university types perusing old sociology books for a dollar and modestly dressed women looking to add to their large collection of children's home school textbooks and religious books. 
Next is the quilting expo which, on its surface, was probably as purely Idaho as is possible unless one were able to combine it into a 'gun and quilt' expo. Just kidding, actually. Around here, everything is done in a remarkably chill, low-key way that sets it apart from other conservative areas and makes it Northwest in spirit. As an aside, NC is much more hard-core than Idaho, it appears to me. For example, the Raleigh Fairgrounds held gun shows all of the time that crowded out antique collectors like me. For every one, the parking lots surrounding the Fairgrounds filled up so much that it looked like the State Fair was in town. Really.

Anyway, I was at the quilt show because the Viola, Idaho women's quilters held a raffle for a beautiful, hand-made quilt and I won!  One thing that I noticed from the quilt fair is that the little modest women there looked quite alike! It can seem as if they're all related. Short, gray hair with roundish face, pant suit (dark pants with print top) with the occasional "oh my gosh, I forgot the casserole" Upper Midwest-ish comment.

But the surprise winner is the Moscow Hempfest, an agricultural and economic development event held in the park a block from my house. It was filled with 'interested' kids, college students, and older counter-culture types. The bus pictured below was just one of several make-do mass transit vehicles used by those interested in this subject. I was going to take pictures of the trippy, hippy VW Vanagons at the park but I thought that might freak out the already paranoid folks sleeping in the back!
The surprise winner of Most Idaho goes to Hempfest! It wasn't just because the attendees, while trying to look 'One World,' came across like a 1967 Coke commercial. What really seals it as quintessentially Idaho is that, first thing the next morning, the park was SPOTLESS. A colleague from California observed that the same park in CA would have a been a mess for weeks.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My New Ride: Swiss Army Issue Bicycle

I got my new bike from Switzerland. I'm a newbie to cycling so I wanted something no-nonsense; suitable for commuting and designed for hills and light, off-road duty. This bike is filling the bill. Love the sturdy, hand-braised Condor frame (Bradley Wiggins' frame choice) with Shimano shifting. The Swiss leather seat is extra comfy. 
This model was introduced in the mid-nineties to modernize the venerable Swiss courier bike that was largely unchanged since the 1930s. The bike was built to carry not just letters. Military specs required that it potentially carry items like machine guns if necessary! As a result, it is extra sturdy and over-built, which I like. The front and rear racks are custom-made as part of the frame. Pretty unique. Cool French, Italian, and Swiss components and maintenance items are woven throughout the ride
I went to Palouse Bicycle Collective to get it inspected and adjusted to fit me perfectly. These guys are awesome. Their only downside is that they are hurting the business of  the other for-profit bike shops in town.  Their high level of service while committing to dirt cheap service prices makes me want to reconsider my aversion to all things 'collective.' Peace Man.