Wednesday, April 1, 2015

30 Days of #Television

30 Day TV Meme

Day 01 - A show that should have never been canceled
Day 02 - A show that you wish more people were watching
Day 03 - Your favorite new show ( aired this t.v season)
Day 04 - Your favorite show ever
Day 05 - A show you hate
Day 06 - Favorite episode of your favorite t.v show
Day 07 - Least favorite episode of your favorite t.v show
Day 08 - A show everyone should watch
Day 09 - Best scene ever
Day 10 - A show you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 11 - A show that disappointed you
Day 12 - An episode you’ve watched more than 5 times
Day 13 - Favorite childhood show
Day 14 - Favorite male character
Day 15 - Favorite female character
Day 16 - Your guilty pleasure show
Day 17 - Favorite mini series TV movie
Day 18 - Favorite title sequence
Day 19 - Best t.v show cast
Day 20 - Favorite kiss
Day 21 - Favorite ship
Day 22 - Favorite series finale
Day 23 - Most annoying character
Day 24 - Best quote
Day 25 - A show you plan on watching (old or new)
Day 26 - OMG WTF? Season finale
Day 27 - Best pilot episode
Day 28 - First t.v show obsession
Day 29 - Current t.v show obsession
Day 30 - Saddest character death

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It's time for saying Goodbye...

The house a few summers back before Gma's stroke. Their yard always
looked like something out of Sunset Magazine.
The last few days the Muppets' song "Saying Goodbye" has run through my mind. It typically does when someone close to me leaves for other parts of the world. This weekend we moved my Grandfather out of his home of over 40 years down to my uncle's house in Oregon. Okay, well, we packed up his house and said goodbye and he flew to Oregon with my uncle.

It was a very quick up and back for us. While my grandfather for the last year or so had been packing things and giving them to family, his health took a very quick turn and we needed to move quickly. In the last 4-6 months things began to get away from him, he wasn't able to remember basic tasks. My uncle and cousin had been concerned, but it wasn't until my cousin's last visit and then my dad and my last visit that the family realized we needed to move NOW. So my uncle flew up and we all headed to gpa's house to help him.

Packing up a person's life is not an easy task. Splitting them up between 3 sons and 2 granddaughters went easier than we thought, but it was just getting all of the stuff packed up (and, first, found!) that was hard. So many memories in one spot - not just the physical ones we held, but the ones those items and the walls around us brought up. We had a lot of laughs, and it was just good to have some fun one last time. The last time we were all together was when my grandmother passed, so while seeing Gpa overwhelmed was difficult we were still in a much happier frame of mind this time around.

Saturday we took a break from packing up and had some of the family friends over. The Gallaghers have been friends with my grandparents since before I was born. Jim and Karen help every year with Iditarod, and Karen's mom Pete was friends with my grandmother forEVER. Jim and Karen's daughter Christine grew up with my cousin and she would baby sit me on occasion. They're more family than just friends. We also had the Frolichs over - they are buying the house from my grandfather. They live across the street and Mathieu was my first best friend. We grew up together - even after my family moved to Kenai, every summer I was up with my grandparents and we spent every waking hour causing chaos in the neighborhood. I am so happy that the house is going to someone we know and that I know will treasure it for what it is!

The "Framily" together at the house one last time.
Sunday we tried to get Gpa to go to church, but the emotions of the weekend took their tole and he decided to stay home. Mom, Dad and I went to Gpa's church anyway as we'd given them the heads up that Gpa was leaving and they had things for us to give him. Joel Engle is one of the pastors at Changepoint and we've known him pretty much since my parents have been Christians - he used to be a Christian singer who toured the country doing ministry, and now he's pastoring. It's a small world. We met him when he was still starting out and so I was excited to get to hear him preach this weekend! The message was good, and then we headed out for one last family meal at Texas Roadhouse before we all went our separate ways.

Now we're back home and I'm going through the boxes of the memories I collected. 4 boxes of photo albums with memories that go back generations, more Iditarod memories, the different knick knacks that lined the shelves... a few cookbooks... I just have to find a way to properly display or store them all.

Dad called down to Gpa tonight, and he's doing well. Dad says he sounds better than he has in months. I think this change is what Gpa needed, but man... it feels weird for the rest of us.

Monday, March 16, 2015

My 15 seconds of fame

Just when I thought I'd just be little ol' me tweeting and blogging on my own blog for Iditarod for the first time in 3 years, I get asked to be a guest blogger for an awesome mushing fansite. I've followed SofaMushing on twitter for a couple of years now, and they do great work. They're based in Europe, so it's nice to see a different perspective on the sport - plus it's a great way to follow their races. They contacted me a couple of days ago asking me to be a GUEST BLOGGER. I don't feel like I have the knowledge or the credibility, but apparently I'm doing something right.

So while I do cross post most of my stuff, I have tried to give their blog a few posts that aren't on here. Be sure to check their site out. It's fantastic. They have an Iditarod news feature that follows the mushers' facebook/social media pages. A GREAT RESOURCE!

That then led to me being asked to be a guest on Dog Works Radio, apparently I'm a social media expert. Robert Forto is the host and one of the bajillion mushers I have the pleasure to know. He's been around social media for I don't know how long, and is able to keep it all together while doing the podcast, run dogs, and go to school (and run a business). Pretty cool. His co-host is Alex Stein who made a documentary on the Iditarod a few years ago called "Mush" which is a pretty interesting bit of film and history. Alex is in SoCal and he and I have been social media buddies for 4 or 5 years now? I think?

Those that know me know how much I hate any sort of "real" social interaction (which is why social media and I get along, no real human interaction), so calling into a podcast and talking was out of my comfort zone. It was fun, though, the guys were great at not putting me too much on the spot and the discussion was easy. My cell phone doesn't work in my house so I was sitting in my car, with our wind storm howling around me, and I'm sicker than sick... so I don't know how much of a good thing my interview was, but it was fun. If I get asked again I wouldn't say no! Thanks again guys, you are awesome.

So I've had my 15 seconds of fame. Go me.

You can listen to my "episode" of Dog Works Radio by clicking here.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

There's a freight train loose on the Iditarod trail...

Dallas Seavey and team during the
Ceremonial Start of Iditarod 43.
March 7, 2015
…and the conductor is Dallas Seavey.

Now that the leaders are bearing down onto the coastal community of Unalakleet we’re starting to see the typical strategies emerge from the teams. Dallas is back to his typical run rest schedule, and he’s gaining time and miles on everyone around him. Dallas took off out of Kaltag at 5:35am this morning, Jeff King and Aaron Burmeister left the same checkpoint almost an hour ahead of him. He’s run down King (who is currently resting on the trail) and nearly ran down Burmeister. He is currently resting, and we can assume he’ll camp for a few hours before blowing through Unalakleet.

Expect this same run pattern for the remainder of the race (or at least until White Mountain). Dallas’s team is one of only maybe three teams that is steadily gaining speed at this point in the race. He will continute to chug down the trail picking off anyone ahead of him. Jake Berkowitz blogged today saying Dallas was terrifying to have behind you, and in front of you. He’s declared the younger Seavey the one leading the Iditarod – and he’s not wrong.

Burmeister is maintaining, but slower than before – and King is showing major signs of slow down. Aliy’s team is older and is at a steady pace. Mitch Seavey is another team looking like they’re on an upswing. He’s been running conservatively up to this point, waiting to pull out the reserves and make a move. Still not seeing that move, but I expect to see it soon. Perhaps this will be the year they come in 1 and 2?

Jessie Royer is making a statement still, and is currently resting in the same spot Aliy did earlier today. She’s looking at a possible top 5 finish if she can maintain her lead she has on the rest of the pack, and she’s in shooting distance if another team falters to climb further.

There’s just about 300 miles to go, so it’s still too early to tell who the winner is, but you can expect an exciting run up the coast. If you haven’t caught the “Iditaflu” yet, you might want to start coming down with it so you can call into work. The next three days will be exciting!

Iditarod Day 7 - Morning Update

Good morning world!

The race is on to Unalakleet, the first checkpoint on the coast. Many race fans know that the race kicks into high gear at this checkpoint. Weight is dropped, slowest dogs are dropped. From here to Nome it's all about speed and how best to conserve it while not spending a lot of time stopped.

Aliy was first out of Kaltag, and is now camped out on the trail. Jeff King and Aaron Burmeister were next out (in that order) and are running very close together judging by the GPS pings. Dallas Seavey has the fastest time into Kaltag of the front runners, taking basically an hour LESS to get there than Burmeister did. He rested his team for 4.75 hours and is back on the trail as well.

Mitch Seavey came into Kaltag sounding very happy with his team, said he let them pick their speed. He wanted to be a little faster, but the trail was great. His team seemed eager and still cohesive, so all positive in the video for Mitch. He is still in the checkpoint, and nearing 5 hours of rest.

Jessie Royer has been "silently" creeping in on the front runners fun and is looking like a contender. She is also out of Kaltag. Jessie trains her dogs in Montana, where they had snow and good trail all winter. It seems that gave her an advantage as some mushers in Alaska who did (or could) not get to good trails for training have said that their dogs weren't ready for this type of trail base. Royer learned from 4 time Champion Doug Swingley, so those of us who've paid attention to the race have been waiting for her to make a move. It looks like this is the year for her to do it.

Kaltag is getting busy this morning with more teams filing in. Fast trail, fast race... still on track for a Tuesday night finish.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Just a little Kaltag update before bed

So Aaron Burmeister's tucked into rest for 8 hours in Kaltag, he can leave at 4:49am. Jeff King made it into Kaltag a little while ago running just over 15 minutes faster than Burneister's time. Dallas looks to be third into Kaltag, he's about 15 miles away. That puts him into the checkpoint sometime after midnight/1am. Aliy Zirkle finished her 8 in Nulato and is also headed to Kaltag.

My guess is Dallas will leap frog and take control of the race... unless King gets up and out before Dallas can leave. I expect Dallas to rest on the trail between Kaltag and Unalakleet - but I do not have any knowledge on what his plans are. I'm just guessing. I also expected King to not stay long in Kaltag and he did. So what do I know? I am not a musher and don't pretend to be!

Friday, March 13, 2015

It's time to take your 24!

Jodi Bailey's team run through Anchorage
for the Ceremonial Start of Iditarod 43.
March 7, 2015
The leaders have made their way into Galena and Huslia. Most are taking their 24+start differential hour mandatory rest in one of the two checkpoints. Of the front of the pack, only Jeff King has taken both his 24 and his 8 hour rests. He is currently on the trail to Huslia. I expect King to take a bit of a rest in the checkpoint before continuing on. The trail report says the run into the checkpoint is extremely cold (like -40 below and colder) which causes more friction on the sled and slower going. In other words, it zaps the energy of the dogs faster. Can't blame them, no matter what you're used to THAT'S COLD.

Mitch Seavey took his 24 in Ruby after noticing some of his team was dealing with soreness. He had thought Ruby would be his stop, but that sealed the deal. He's passed through Galena and is on the trail to Huslia. He still needs to take his 8 hour somewhere on the Yukon (he has till Kaltag). According to his Insider interview last night, he plans to break up the run from Galena to Huslia. My guess is he'll take his 8 in Huslia.

Aaron Burmeister was first to the halfway point and collected the prize. He told Insider that his team was finally coming together - sharing he's had his fair share of problems with one of his main dogs coming into heat so all of his male lead dogs were "more interested in making puppies than running down the trail." He's declared his 24 and will have 24 hours and 32 minutes until he can leave... don't ask me to do the Idita-math as I can barely figure out how to get the answer for 1+1 apparently. It will be late tonight (sometime after 11pm).

Dallas Seavey is also in Huslia taking his 24. Dallas' dogs came in from a long cold run looking VERY good. They were happy, still stretching out in the line, and actually pulling at the line wanting to keep going. That's a good sign that they have a lot of juice left in them. After a 24+ hour rest? Yeah, good luck holding back that "monster" of a team. Dallas' wife Jen has reported that this team has been a joy to train, and that with how well they're doing Dallas has changed up his race strategy to best match their potential. We may be watching Dallas' run to a third victory... but there's a lot of trail left and another 20 or so teams that are just as good and deserving.

Aliy Zirkle is still in the mix, and while she's considered further down in the standings - she also took her 24 in Galena. Zirkle has been working hard on the back of her sled by ski-poling, pedaling, and running with her team. This makes for a very tired musher, and it's showing in the videos Insider has interviewing her. However, she got a nice long rest in Galena and with the hopefully warmer temps of the day as she runs to Huslia her energy may be boosted. Don't count her out. She'll kick into another gear in the second half.

Martin Buser is still in the mix, but had a very interesting chat yesterday with the Iditarod Insider saying he was going to take it slow and not worry about placement. With the news about Lance Mackey's team yesterday - Lance's 3 year old dog, Wyatt, passed away suddenly on the run from Tanana to Ruby - I have to assume part of his decision was based on that event. He talked about running for the dogs, not for his fifth win. I don't think this was a slight at Lance, but more just a "I need to stop pushing them beyond what they're capable of just because of placement/human ego." Which maybe he felt that's what he himself was doing. Martin is currently in Huslia, has taken his 8 and I assume he's declared his 24.

So while most are resting for 24+ hours, it's time for the fans to step away from the computer, stretch their legs and go take a look outside. The next 3-4 days we'll be glued to the screen non stop with little rest. So get in some YOU time while you still can. We'll see ya on the flip side.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The end of the Lance Mackey era?

Lance Mackey and team at the
Ceremonial Start of Iditarod 43.
March 7, 2015
Lance Mackey made an alarming statement via Iditarod Insider yesterday afternoon - Iditarod 43 is very likely to be his last. Mackey's heath issues have been no secret the last few years - the man is in considerable pain even after treatments and surgeries to help counteract the effects brought on from the aggressive cancer treatments he went through over a decade ago. Lance has poor circulation in his hands and feet, and it was a major concern going into this year's race. During the Yukon Quest he admitted his team was not the reason they were not competitive - he was.

Looks like things may have been worse than what we all originally thought.

On his run into Tanana, Lance had to deal with a dog tangle. This typically occurs when there is a dog fight (which is caused for any number of reasons). Mackey told Insider that he lost his mitts somehow, so his fingers were essentially frozen. He can't bend them, and he doesn't have any feeling (other than pain) in them. This makes bootying his dogs (to protect their feet) nearly impossible. He declared his 24 in the checkpoint to hopefully be able to recover.

However, Mackey sees the writing on the wall - his body is telling him that his career is just about over. He was tired, cold, and in pain - so no one is willing to truly count him out yet - but he knows the inevitable is coming. Lance was most emotional when he talked about how his brother Jason, also running in this year's Iditarod, was going to scrap his race plan to now run with Lance and help him with the detail work - bootying the dogs, etc. The idea that his brother was willing to "screw up his race" to help him choked the 4 time champion up big time. That was when I started bawling.

Lance can be heard saying "I LOVE this sport... I just can't do it anymore." and that's rough. Lance is only 44 years old. God willing, he'll be around for at least 44 more. He's still at the "prime age" for a musher. The man who holds the record of four consecutive Iditarod wins, the man who won the Iditarod and the Quest in the same year... this man has gone from the top to being barely able to care for his dogs on the same trails that saved his life. It's tragic - Lance has never had an easy go of things, but it seemed that dog mushing was his saving grace... and now even that looks to be leaving him.

This is not how he should have to go out.

Lance and Jason headed out on the trail this afternoon and arrived in Ruby a short time ago. No reports on how the teams are doing, but an interview earlier with Jason on Insider had Jason saying that Lance was determined to get to Nome. If this is to be his last race, he's going to take it all the way.

We're all running with you, Lance. No matter where you place - you'll forever be one of this races biggest champions.

(If you want to go through an emotional roller coaster, read Danny Seavey's blog post about Lance. Bring tissues.)

The irony of Zoya Denure

I will preface this post to say - I am aware that my opinion will not be popular. That I have been called out before on this subject, I'm well aware that Zoya - for whatever reason - is well liked and her fans are fiercely loyal. Good for her. I wish all the mushers had such a great fanbase. However I've been stewing about this subject since this year's Yukon Quest... and I think it needs to be said.

Zoya Denure reacts to the trail conditions during the Ceremonial
Start of Iditarod 43 in Anchorage, Alaska. March 7, 2015
Zoya Denure scratched this morning in Tanana citing personal reasons. That's a pretty vague explanation - but it's the only one we've got. Considering all of her other reasons over the years in the Iditarod and other races, I'll take it. At least it seems more honest than accusing the Iditarod of forcing her to use contaminated straw or the whole nursing issue. This time, it seems, she's at least taking a little responsibility - for now. I expect a blog post from her in a day or so with the "real" excuse that will vilify the race, or another musher, or a muskrat.

The irony is that Denure's husband just wrote an article last month calling Jeff King and other mushers out for scratching in the Yukon Quest. He was immediately called out by fans who began to list the number of scratches his wife had to her name. Zoya came to her own defense saying it was "irrelevant". How this is the case, I'm still scratching my head. A scratch is a scratch. Each musher who John named in his article had LEGIT REASON for scratching. That John is against the best care for these dogs was staggering as he and Zoya are very vocal about how they care for their dogs (and dogs no one else wants). All it did was give fuel to the anti-mushing groups who believe that his mentality in the article is shared by those out on the trail.

But we're not talking about the Quest, we're talking about the Iditarod. One that just went from having a "brutal trail" over the Alaska range to having a "race track like course" on the Tanana and Yukon Rivers. The trail is hard packed. It's fast. The dogs are all said to be doing extremely well...

...and yet Zoya has scratched for personal reasons.

And all I can think is John's article asking the questions:
Isn’t running the Yukon Quest about running dogs? Why do mushers run the Yukon Quest?
Replace "Yukon Quest" with "Iditarod" and ask the questions. Most do it for the adventure - rookies want that belt buckle - to say that they did it. Most want to be out with their dogs on the most exciting 10 day camping trip they will ever experience. The front runners might be running for a title, a little gold, a new pick up truck, but they too are more about sharing that bond with their dogs. They run with sore bodies - the Lance Mackey's look like death warmed over but they LOVE the sport and they LOVE the dogs and you will have to carry them out in a body bag before they give it up.

Very few do it for the money or the glory - there really isn't a lot of money to be made and the glory typically goes to those that win or at least have some awesome human interest story. But Team Zoya is an exception - she markets herself extremely well. She gets a lot of attention for not accomplishing much (yes the belt buckle is a huge accomplishment, one no one can take away from her... but... Oprah chose her over Aliy Zirkle to feature in her magazine). She's able to get a lot of funding from sponsors. She's pretty, she weaves a good tale. She's a promotions dream.

Still, I can't help but feel bad for those that she's buffaloed into supporting her financially. Maybe not the corporate sponsors - though that money could be used better elsewhere on a team that actually has a chance of making it and not just taking the money and going to Hawaii to become a Yogi -  but the individuals who want to support a woman musher who seems to love her dogs and the sport. Honestly, I'm sure she does care for her dogs, but I don't think she loves the sport.

Think about it folks, in all the years she's run - she's only finished once. She cites personal issues for the scratches each time. This suggests she's just not cut out to run the long distance race. She rarely even finishes the shorter races rookies use to qualify for the Quest and Iditarod races. She runs just long enough to keep her sponsors happy. So I guess more power to Team Zoya - but there are far more deserving mushers who will at least finish if at all possible who are just as personable, and dare I say it more trustworthy to use the funding for the dogs and not for a home remodel.

But, I *am* just an armchair musher who is not out there on the trail with her. However, if you're going to talk about the other mushers - either individually or as a team as they do - you better be ready to "put up or shut up". And that's where the irony is.

If ever there was a year that Zoya NEEDED to make it to Nome, this was it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Brent Sass' Iditarod ends due to disqualification.

Brent Sass and team during the
Ceremonial Start of Iditarod 43.
March 7, 2015
The news is all over social media and - Brent Sass was DQed this evening due to his use of a device that has the capability to be used for two way communication. While Sass was using his iPod Touch to play music, the device has the capability of connecting to WiFi and is therefore not allowed on the Iditarod Race. It is allowed on the Yukon Quest, but as Sass said in an Insider Video after it happened - "this is a completely different race with completely different rules and I should've just thought that."

Brent won the Yukon Quest this year with the race mantra "I believe" - while he said he wasn't expecting to win this year's Iditarod, he was set to make at least the top 10 (and a lot of folks believed he'd be able to win). Brent is a true competitor, and a good dog driver. He just wasn't thinking. There's no reason to think he was trying to sneak one past the officials. This is just a bonehead mistake that ANYONE could have made - it's just that Brent was the one that made it.

I have no doubt he'll be back next year hungry for redemption.

You can read the official press release here.