Icy shore

It was bitterly cold last week, and large swaths of Flathead Lake froze over. The entirety of Woods Bay was covered in ice, and even far out in the middle of the lake it looked like things were freezing over (honestly I’m not sure how often the entire lake freezes– I suspect it’s quite rare). This afternoon Pepper and I went down to the state park to take a closer look. The shoreline was covered in shards of ice that had presumably washed ashore before things were completely solid.

It was a really cool thing to see. Imagine shattering sheets of glass and scattering the pieces for miles…

The weather was kind of moody as well, making for a great scene looking south along the icy water.

A River Runs through… Something, I Guess

Many people have told us how amazing the movie A River Runs through It is. Thom says it’s one of his favorite movies of all time; a variety of Montanans have encouraged us to watch it because it’s filmed in the Bitterroot Valley near Missoula. Proponents have told us the story is compelling and the scenery is breathtaking. So tonight we sat down to watch it.

It turned out to be one of the most mind-numbingly dull movies I’ve seen in ages. It was so boring. We kept waiting for something interesting or exciting to happen. In the first hour of the movie, literally the most exciting thing that happened– and you could tell because the music really reached a crescendo– was when Paul cast his fishing fly differently than his dad had taught him. Seriously. That was apparently some kind of big deal, and even led into a slow-motion montage.

Sorry, Thom. Sorry, variety of Montanans. We just couldn’t do it. After an hour we turned it off and watched some standup comedy on YouTube instead.


In December the temperature at home dropped to about twenty below zero. We were out of town, celebrating Christmas in Utah, so we missed the excitement. The weather decided to give us an encore, though, and today the mercury was at around four below. Coupled with sustained winds howling at 40mph and more, the wind chill was twenty below.

It was snowing as well, and I did my best to take a photo through the window (I didn’t want to go out for a photo shoot!). Sadly, the photo looks like it’s just kind of blurry and foggy. In fact, the snow is blowing horizontally (somewhat visible against the dark solar panels on the roof).

Yep, today’s definitely a day to stay inside.

The annual winter visit

Thom and Katie have made a tradition of coming out to Montana in February. Fortunately we don’t have a lot of other people clamoring to visit us in the winter, so we have plenty of space and time for them. The first thing we did was head up to Blacktail Mountain for a day on the slopes. It was a gorgeous bluebird day, and the ski resort wasn’t too crowded. At times it felt like we had the whole mountain to ourselves.

Pepper continued working on her snowboard skills. She’s getting pretty good! Here’s a shot of us riding the lift:

As usual, Sefton was my little buddy. He’s getting the hang of skiing, and insists on going down first. Everyone else has to follow him. Fortunately he’s not too slow, and he even went down several blue runs!

We all aspire to be as good at skiing as Thom, but I think that’s all we’ll do: aspire. He continues to run circles around us, although he’s always a patient teacher for Sefton.

The next day we decided to do some snowshoeing. Despite all the snow at our house– which has been on the ground since the beginning of November– there isn’t really enough coverage down in the Flathead Valley. We trucked up to Jewel Basin to find some deeper snow. The road was open much farther up the mountain than I’d expected, so we were able to ascend a bit before trekking through the crunchy snow.

One thing I especially enjoyed about this visit is that Miss Hadley finally became my buddy. She’s always been a little leery of me, but I must’ve tickled her enough and followed her around when she had something to show off. She warmed up to me, and we had a good time taking pictures of ourselves.

Bonus activity for the weekend: shoveling the driveway! Twice! Pepper and I were going to do it, but Katie insisted on joining us. And I mean insisted. “I could sit around in here,” she pointed out, “or get some exercise. Let’s go.” She helped us clear the usual tire paths. Since we couldn’t sled down the driveway or go skiing on it, as we’ve done in the past, Thom carved out a little sled track along the pavement. He and Hadley gave it a test run:

As he pointed out, action shots of sledding tend to look like you’re just sitting still, but trust me when I say they were moving at a good clip. Sefton took a turn:

Katie asked for a ride, and her supportive husband obliged:

Pepper got in on the action as well, although she started up by the house and bumped her way across the lawn, over some rocks, and eventually right onto the blacktop. At least the photo looks more exciting:

The snow was super sticky, so naturally we had to build a snowman (and, at Sefton’s insistence, a snow dog). Here’s the fam posing with it.

As always, it was a grand time and a lot of fun to spend a few days in the snow with my favorite brother and his clan.

Icy Holland

Holland Lake– and the waterfall a few miles up the mountain– is one of our favorite hikes in the area. We were curious what it looks like in the winter, so we grabbed our showshoes and crampons and headed out.

As it turned out, snowshoes weren’t needed. Although there was plenty of snow in the area, it wasn’t very deep and it was quite crusty on top. Crampons were probably going to be a good choice, so we strapped them on and started out. We had fun walking on the lake for a while, rather than meandering through the forest on the trail.

It’s interesting to compare the lake in the summer…

… with the ice- and snow-covered lake today:

Eventually we left the ice and hiked through the forest for a few miles. The trail proved to be icy in spots, and without the crampons we would’ve struggled with our footing. I love these things. Check out the half-inch steel spikes on the bottom of Pepper’s boots:

As we climbed, the snow became deeper. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, though, and the sun on the snow was beautiful. Speaking of beautiful, here’s my wife:

To my slight surprise, Holland Falls was flowing. I guess I figured it would be completely frozen over in early February. There was ice everywhere! It surrounded the falls and was all over the rocks.

Because of the splashes and constant mist, there was an inch-thick layer of ice atop all the nearby snow.

Again, here’s a comparison shot. First, Holland Falls in the summer:

And in the winter:

My only regret was that I didn’t bring my tripod and camera filters. They would’ve been great to capture the flowing water.

But all in all, it was a magnificent hike and a great use of a sunny February day. I’m already looking forward to returning to Holland in a few months (when it’s warmer)…

Nighttime studio

It’s been a little over two years since I created my first game prototype. Over that time, with the help of about forty people, I’ve honed it into a game I think is actually pretty cool. Now it’s time to “make it real”, meaning I’m going to put it out to the public for sale. As such, I need to get serious about marketing and sales… two things I have no experience or expertise in doing. The first step is design: I need to come up with a professional-looking layout for the box, the rulebook, the web site, and even the campaign page where I’ll advertise and sell it.

For at least a year of those two years, I’ve been telling people “Oh, I’ll get to the marketing part eventually”. This week I decided “eventually” had come, and sat down to focus on it. It’s meant a series of late nights, working in my little studio, doing my best to dial in a design that’ll entice people to buy the game.

Here’s a shot of tonight’s work:

I’m working in the mostly-dark because Pepper’s sleeping in the next room. Also, it reminds me of the many, many late nights I spent working on Zing stuff in my basement office, with nothing but Christmas lights strung up around the room to illuminate my desk. I feel like I do some of my best work in the late hours, so hopefully the creative juices will be flowing and I’ll come up with something good. Stay tuned.


You know how sometimes you listen to a song– one you’ve known for years (decades?)– and as you sing along, you realize you don’t actually know the words? Or the words you know are almost certainly totally wrong?

The song “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister is like that for me. As a kid I thought the lyrics were something like “Carry a laser through the darkness of the night”, which sort of makes sense. But of course the correct lyrics are “Kyrie eleison through the darkness of the night” (hence the song’s title, duh).

The other day I was rockin’ out in the car and realized the second verse– at least as I’ve sung it for 40 years– doesn’t make sense.

My heart is old, it holds my memories
My body burns a gemlike flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again

On a whim just now, I looked up the lyrics. Even after 40 years, it’s not too late to learn the right words.

Turns out, those are the right words. Wow. They don’t make any sense! What does it mean when my body burns “a gemlike flame”? And what’s a “soft machine”? The mind boggles.

Nonsensical or not, it was at least a little gratifying that I’ve been singing that verse correctly all this time…