16 November 2009

'you're STUPID!'

Hearing test
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
The boys had their 3 and 5-year-old check-ups last Thursday and are doing brilliantly (as we are all well aware!).

For the record, Liam weighed in at exactly 38 pounds and 42 inches tall. Camper was 30.25 pounds and 36.5 inches. Should we start making bets now? Will Camper be the bigger of the two? At what point will he catch up? When will he suddenly be 10 pounds heavier?

The clinic only had nasal flu vaccines, so I had to make a choice; seasonal or H1N1. I went with H1N1. We need to go back in a month for the seasonal vaccine.

Additionally, Liam got part two of his Hep-A vaccine. I've written about it before, and many of you have witnessed his reaction to large splinters - so imagine his reaction to the splinter - now multiply by like a gazillion.

I had to plead and cajole with him, and finally, we were engaged in wrestling match right there in the doctor's office. I was amazed at his strength. I ended up putting him in a big bear hug while the MA gave him the shot in his shoulder. He yelled, "you're stupid!" the moment the needle went in - to no one in particular, but he later told me that he did, in fact, direct that word at me.

Other than that one outburst, both boys behaved beyond expectations. The doctor even commented on how well-behaved they were for 3 and 5-year-old-boys. Holy shit. I'm the father of a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old.

When did that happen?

04 November 2009


busted .. again
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
Yesterday was Camper's THIRD birthday.

It was three years ago today...

We had a pretty chill day. Camper and I went for a ride to the playground so that he could get in a birthday swing, then we had some people over.

A relaxed third birthday.

Some pictures of my boy:

- Campbell; week-by-week
- World, meet Benton Campbell McLeod
- Campbell, the complete collection

31 October 2009

attack of the killer robots

After months of discussion, weeks of back-and-forth, days of planning and hours of blood, sweat and tears, I present Liam and Camper's Halloween 2009 costumes:


They were the hit of our short spin around the block (after about five house, both boys wanted to go home - they wore the helmets for all of a block). People were stopping us to tell us how much they loved them.

It's amazing what you can do with some cardboard, aluminum foil and duct tape!

Last year, two years ago,three years ago, and four years ago.

27 October 2009

under the moon and stars

under the moon and stars
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
I like to take pictures at night.

Sometimes I go months without taking pictures at night.

Last night I looked out, saw the moon and the wet roads, and told Nikki that I'd be back in a few hours.

Showers were moving through the area, but so were amazing clear patches of sky. I drove over to a hill in Beaverton that I once drove over and thought "this would be a cool place to take pictures..."

I'm going to have to get out more at night.


I have some more photos on my Facebook page.

21 October 2009

Autumn is the dreamiest time of year

I do so love Autumn.

I miss fall in New England, but I have to say, fall in the Northwest is pretty dang nice.

We've been to a pumpkin patch and an apple orchard, rode our bikes through leaves and had to put our sweaters on for the first time this year.

I like Autumn.

Fall is also when everyone's birthdays happen. Nikki's was in September, Liam's was last week, my Mom's is today (Happy Birthday Mom, I love you!!), and Camper's is in a couple of weeks.

I like Autumn.

I just wish I could find a job...

15 October 2009

OMSI members

Gecko. #OMSI #pdx
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
We joined OMSI today.

Nikki's dad bought Liam and Camper (and me and Nikki) a family membership for their birthdays. We weren't going to get it until we came back from upstate-WA at the end of December, but Nikki's school just informed her that this rotation comes with housing; family not welcome...

So... the boys and I will be hanging tough in Hillsboro until Mommy gets home...

I've decided that as fulfilling as the stay-at-home-dad thing has been, we're broke... I need to get a job. Also, I think Camper really needs to be able to hang with other kids on a daily basis - and Liam needs to get into a pre-school program to be ready for next fall (kindergarten!!).

I've already started to look for a job. I'd like to get a job in Portland. My mother can come out to help me deal with the boys until I make enough money to a) move into PDX and b) locate a pre-school for the boys.

10 October 2009

my big FIVE-year-old

my big FIVE-year-old
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
Liam turned five today.

So Mommy and Daddy celebrated by bringing the family to the 2009 Fresh Hops Tastival.


We sampled about a half dozen delicious fresh hop beers, from really pale ales to hoppy IPAs. Yummy!

Then we went home, made pumpkin pie (Liam's choice) and had some people over for a little schin-dig.

04 October 2009

Football schmootball

Football schmootball
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
We spent the afternoon at the Alpenrose Dairy watching the kick-off to the 2009 Cross Crusade cyclocross series. We were there last year as well.

It was so Portland; coffee, bikes, dogs and kids.

Oh and tattoos. There were lots of tattoos.

And cowbells.

I love the scene - the energy and the vibe. It's why I love Portland so much. Thousands of people show up to cheer on a muddy bike race.

I read that it was the biggest cyclocross race in the U.S., with over 1500 racers (and probably 3000+ spectators).

29 September 2009

Back in Oregon

After a two-day sprint up the West Coast, we have arrived back in the Portland area. The kids were super rock-stars and managed two full-days in the car with a minimum of complaints. Driving up California's Central Valley is an experience all should entertain!

We had been thinking that we'd be in Portland until Nikki's graduation next August, and were hoping to get a place in South East, but were told a few days ago that Nikki's Nov-Dec. rotation has been switched from PDX to upstate WA, so it looks like we're gypsy-lifeing it for a couple of more months.

We're staying in Hillsboro at the apartment of one of Nikki's classmate's who is gone for this rotation. It's not where we want to be, but it's only temporary.

19 September 2009

How to live in San Diego; i.e. it's all about surfing

surfer girl
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
Today we went surfing with Paul and Keri.

It was so freaking awesome. I can totally see why a person would chase waves for most of their life. Riding a wave is unlike anything else I've ever done; skiing, teleing, snowboarding, road riding, mountain biking - all that shizzle.

It is, shall I say.... orgasmic.

San Diego bugs the shit out of me, but I could learn to like it if I got a surfboard and lived on the beach.

16 September 2009

first stitches

Liam got his first stitches yesterday.


Nikki was at work and the boys and I were out exploring. We had already hit up two playgrounds, and were on our way to a third. We stopped at the top of Mount Soledad to check out the memorial. By this time, Camper was asleep, so Liam and I checked out the area around the car.

Liam went ahead of me to scale the brick steps to the top of the memorial. I turned to look into the car when I heard a scream. I looked in the direction of the scream and saw a guy standing about five feet from Liam with a horrified look on his face. Liam was face-first on the bricks, screaming.

I ran up and scooped him up, as the guy stood there staring (he was saying something like, "he went straight onto his face..."). Blood was pouring down Liam's face. His eyes were covered.

I ran to the car, where we had some towels. I pushed one onto Liam's forehead and then put him in his seat. I told him that he had to hold the towel on his cut, "and push as hard as you can!" By this time he had stopped crying and was, I think, in shock. He told me that he's try, but wasn't sure he'd be able to. I explained that I need to drive, so he HAD to do it. He was fine with that.

I hopped in the drivers seat and called Nikki in a panic. She didn't answer, so I left a message; "I'm on my way!"

On the way, I gave Liam my iced coffee to push against the wound. It wasn't bleeding as much anymore, but it hurt. He was incredibly calm.

Nikki called me back when I was about a minute out from her office, which happens to be above an urgent care clinic. We arrived and rushed Liam in, but were told that we'd need authorization from our insurance company first. The woman at the registration desk said she'd call our insurance company but wanted to know "what timezone is Oregon in?" I stared at her for a moment and nearly yelled, it's the next fucking state up, you fucking dipshit!" Luckily, my wife's cooler head prevailed and she simply said, "Pacific."

Before she called, the registration lady said it may take a while to get authorization, and we may be better off going to the ER a mile away.

Before she could finish her sentence, we were in the car and headed for the ER.

We were in and out of the ER in under 45 minutes. The staff was amazing and put Liam at complete ease. When the time for the stitches came, he was a rock star!

It was a scary experience, but it all worked out OK, and now Liam has evidence of his toughness!

15 September 2009

San Diego. Where cars rule, and you suck if you want to do something stupid, like walk, or ride a bike...

San Diego is nice if you like the beach, like cars and like driving in circles looking for parking.

It sucks if you like riding your bike, drinking decent beer and friendly neighbors.

I tried going for a ride the other day. It scared the shit out of me. Even the "smallest" roads are two lanes of madness.

I'm trying to not get too bummed out about San Diego, but so far I'm not very impressed.

The taco shops are excellent...

11 September 2009

come back, Icarus, come back!

The boys and I picked Nikki up from work the other day and went exploring in the La Jolla area. Our first stop was the the cliffs above Torrey Pines State Park where we watched some guys floating around on paragliders.

It was so amazing. I want to try! I want to try!


It looks like you're swinging on a swing without a swingset. So amazing.

09 September 2009

on the west coast again

surfer kid
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
We've landed back on the West Coast - in San Diego. And most awesomest: we're back with Mommy!! Six weeks without mommy was hard to handle.

We've been taking maximum advantage of living at the beach. Liam jumped right into boogie boarding, and Camper loves crawling though the sand - he's not so sure about the water yet...

Me? I'm not such a big beach person, but I'm SOOPER DOOPER EXCITED to be with Nikki again. I missed her. Missed her. MISSED HER!!

Our internet connection at the apartment is pretty spotty, so I'll try to post pictures and stories when I can.

04 September 2009

First MTB ride in 2 years

Yesterday I went on my first mountain bike ride in two years. I rode with my friends Dan and Ryan at Bear Brook State Park. I was riding on Dan's 29-inch Gary Fisher.

It reminded me how much I love mountain biking. Road biking is great and all, but nothing beats tearing down a singletrack. I had a shit eating grin on my face the whole time (especially on the last downhill when Dan let me use his brand new Trek with 6-inches of travel in the front and back! It was pretty dark at that point, which was probably good, as I simply bombed the downhill hooting the entire time!)

My lungs and legs are probably in the best shape they've ever been in, but my skills were a bit rusty. Still, I managed to keep up (or they waited up... whatever). Give me a few more MTB outings and I'll be race-ready!

A few weeks back, I entered a contest to receive a Specialized Stumpjumper (in exchange for blogging about my adventures. Hello? Here's my blog. I am soooo ready!!) and now, more than ever, I am really REALLY hoping I get one. I can't wait to get back out on the trails!

20 August 2009

The bike train - on water

our ride
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
We don't have the bike train around, but we do have the kayak-tube-train!

I've used it to bring the boys over to Dewey Beach, as well as the lighthouse at the opening of Sunapee Harbor. Camper has even taken a boat nap on it!

We get similar looks (and comments) to those that we get when the bike-train is in operation.

14 August 2009

I'd like a little 2010 Stumpjumper FSR love

Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
So I just came across this. An opportunity to get a 2010 Stumpjumper FSR now to ride for a year in exchange for blogging about it and maybe taking a few pictures.

I'd be perfect for this. It's what I do. Ride bikes. Take pictures. Blog. Tweet. Facebook. Every Trail.

All that stuff.

It's also perfect because it just so happens that I recently sold my nine-year-old mountain bike and am without such a bike. I feel weird, being down to only a city bike, a road bike and a tandem.

The Stumpjumper could join the McLeod family on our gypsy journey! In a few weeks, the boys and I will meet up with Nikki in San Diego. We'll spend the month of September there and then head to Portland, where it looks like we'll spend most of the next year. It would have been freaking awesome to have it in Bend - but if I get it, I'll certainly make a trip over the Cascades for some riding.

Here are some highlights from my bike ride across America.

In closing
I think I'd make an excellent candidate for
The Stumpjumper Trail Crew because I'm passionate about biking and love sharing my adventures!

06 August 2009

Slacker alert

Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
Yes. I'm a total slacker. I haven't posted in weeks - and a lot has happened.

The boys and I finished up our time in Bend, and are now in NH. Nikki's last day in Bend is tomorrow. We won't see her for 30 days (but who's counting?).

Our last week in Bend was a lot of fun. More of the same; hiking, biking and hanging out in the sun.

The day we left Oregon, I attended the Oregon Brewers Festival as an ambassador for Taplister, then the family headed to the most amazing party ever. They had a Cuban band, crawfish, PBR and a great vibe. It was a fun way to say, "oh we'll be back" to the Beaver State!

We've been in NH for almost two weeks now. My sister Molly and her kids Abby and David are also here (although they leave tomorrow). My mother lives in Sunapee Harbor, so much of our time has been spent on the boat or simply floating in the water. I flew my bike here, so I've been getting out on some ride (I need to readjust to crappy roads with no shoulders - and drivers who aren't used to bikers).

That is, when it hasn't been raining. I haven't seen summer rain in two years, so it's taking some getting used to.

I promise I'll try to keep this blog updated at least once a week. In the meantime, if you truly want to stalk me, you should follow my Twitter feed. I update that daily.

17 July 2009

Three weeks in central Oregon

With one week left in Bend, I thought I'd reflect a bit upon our stay.

It's been an active stay, that's for sure. Everyday, the boys and I ride our bikes around town, with the exception of one trip, Liam has ridden his own bike. I've been trying to log our jaunts on the Trails app on my iPhone. I only remember to start the app about half the time - and right now we're at 14 miles.

We've also been taking advantage of living in Central Oregon.

Todd Lake
An easy hike from the parking lot, we explored this alpine lake within days of arriving. We hiked around the lake, starting along the southern edge, which is on a north-facing slope. At this time of year, it's normal for snow to still exist in the Cascades. And exist it did! We played with it, slid on it, and hiked over it.

We arrived at the southwestern edge of the lake and hopped right in. Camper found a little stream coming into the lake that he really enjoyed sitting in!

The views of Mt. Bachelor from Todd Lake are pretty spectacular.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

We spent two weekends exploring this amazing place. It ranks up with the Canyonlands of Utah in terms of unbelievable, geological places that make me feel like the speck of dust that I am.

We started our adventures by heading to the top of Lava Butte. The road spirals around the old cinder cone, to the summit where you have a 360-degree view of the surrounding area. A trail runs around the edge of the crater, affording many views across the landscape - much of which is a relatively recent (about 6,000 years old) lava flow (to which, Nikki remarked, "it's amazing it didn't run over the highway.") - and down into the crater.

After going up the mountain, we thought we'd go into the earth and explore the Lava River Cave. It's an old lava tube that runs about a mile into the earth. In terms of caves I've explored, it's huge. Most of the time, the cavern is about 30-50 feet wide as well as tall. There are a few places where it gets small, and I understand that at the end, if you want, you can crawl into a tiny spot (but we didn't make it that far...).

The next week, we went down to the Newberry Caldera. A caldera is (from Wikipedia), "a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption." This one is huge; 4 by 5 miles in diameter. Within it lies Paulina Lake and East Lake, as well as The Big Obsidian Flow, a giant pile of obsidian.

We started our visit by driving to the summit of Paulina Peak and hiking around. From the summit, you can see much of the Cascades as well as the high desert floor, almost a mile down! I took a couple of panoramas from the summit.

We then drove to East Lake where we enjoyed a dip in the water and some play in the weird obsidian and pumice sand.

After that, we headed over to the Big Obsidian Flow. From the summit of Paulina Peak, the Flow looks fluid and almost gooey. Up close, it's a bazillion shattered stones - including obsidian chunks the size of buses. It's weird, because obsidian is clearly a dense material, yet right next to it are huge chunks of pumice-like stone that weigh a fraction of what they look like they should.

I really want to go back to the Flow and hike further in. It's an absolutely unreal place.

On our way out, we stopped at Paulina Falls. Yet another amazing geological feature.

Tumalo Creek
Last week, I hiked up to Tumalo Falls for a sunset photoshoot. The next night I brought Nikki and the boys up for a dinner picnic. It's an amazing waterfall that drops 97 feet into a narrow canyon - all covered with moss.

Since then we've been exploring and playing in Tumalo Creek. Mostly at Shevlin Park, a city park on the western edge of Bend. It's a tree-lined park with trails crisscrossing it, and the creek cutting through the middle of it. We found a great spot where the boys and I have been working on a dam (OK - I've been working on the dam while they throw rocks in the water...).

In addition to all the family and boys' days fun, I've been able to get out on my road bike and explore the Bend area that way. I've found a great 15-mile ride with almost 5,000 vertical feet! The smooth pavement and wide bike-lanes are just icing on the cake!

We have one more week here and I plan on making the most of it!

Check out my Deschutes County photoset.
Or maybe my Beaver State one.

04 July 2009

Bend suits us

built like a climber
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
Well folks, we survived the packing and the moving.


As Nikki alluded, I kinda freaked out during our three-day packing and moving. Sometimes I'm not the most mellow person on this planet. OK, OK.... I'm never the most mellow person on this planet.

I hate moving. I hate packing. And yes, I blamed Nikki and her need to go to a school across the country.... I got mad because we're broke and I quit my well-paying job to become a full-time dad while she goes to school. Not exactly paying attention to "the big picture," I realize, but hey, we're allowed our moments of weakness.

Aren't we? Please say yes.

Whatever. What's done is done. It is what it is. And right now, "it" is us living with what we could fit in (and on) our car.

We're in Bend, and I'd say it fits us well. It's full of - as my friend Bryce would say - "the PLU." That's People Like Us. Unlike Hillsboro...

People here like the great outdoors, beer and each other. There are a ton of bikers (on our street the bike traffic is easily twice that of cars), climbers, skiers, kayakers, hikers and other adrenaline junkies. There are also several breweries and brewpubs. AND, AND.... the people are friendly. I constantly find myself in conversations with strangers (who don't feel like strangers). So unlike Hillsboro, where if you talk to someone you don't know they either ignore you, glare at you or try to talk about their intimate relationship to Jesus Christ (or how a woman's role is in the home.... and she should have, as one woman told me "as many babies as God allows. I hope to have eight." "Wow," I replied. "That's a lot. I hope you have help." "Oh yes," she said, "God." "Does God change diapers?" She stopped talking to me after that. I was fine with that.)

The boys and I have been riding around town checking out the playgrounds (all of which seem to have a mandatory climbing wall) and the river scene (it's been in the mid-90's, so a dip in the ice-cold river feels perfect!). On Nikki's first day off, the family went on a hike around Todd Lake, an alpine lake up near Mt. Bachelor. It felt so good to be in the mountains again.

We'll have to put Bend on the short list of "places we could move to when Nikki is finished with school." It would be a great place for the boys to grow up; there's skiing, world-class mountain biking, climbing, and, most important, a sense of community.

21 June 2009

Sunday Parkways

little rider
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
The McLeod family spent Father's Day afternoon in north Portland participating in the Sunday Parkways, a 7.5 mile loop of roads closed to cars.

The loop connected several parks and neighborhoods, and temporarily converted a good portion of the city into a (carfree) park. The turnout was amazing and the weather was typical Portland-weird (sunny rain showers).

Last year, there was one experimental Sunday Parkways. It was such a success that the city decided to host three this summer. I wish we were going to be around for the next two.

Liam rode his own bike, and, while there were a few tears and moans about halfway through the ride, we all made it and had a wonderful time. He tried his hand at the MTB skills course that was set up in Kenton Park.

A big HUGE thanks to the City of Portland as well as all the volunteers who made today possible!

17 June 2009

grocery shopping by bike

Bike-lane love
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
We may be car[e]free, but that doesn't mean we can't stock-up on supplies.

The boys and I just got back from a trip to the grocery store - by bike. I'm not able to pick up the amount I could get when I have the car, but I can still get what we need. Today I got some diapers, beer, bananas, local strawberries, tortillas and charcoal. I was able to fit it into my panniers, bike bag and the Chariot.

Liam, being the big boy that he is, rides his bike alongside me (no more bike train for him)!

Being car[e]free in Hillsboro with two little boys is a challenge, but we're making it work!

16 June 2009

one of those days

Camper woke up crying today at 7 am and pretty much cried all day; look at him wrong, don't share a toy, share a toy, it didn't matter, he was a screamer. Liam wanted nothing but to either watch TV, "do his work" (Liam refers to playing on the computer as "doing my work") or eat chocolate chips and/or some gross-ass popsicles (that Nikki bought last weekend. "Slow Melt" popsicles?! What the fuck is that!? It can't be good for you!).

It's eleven pm and Camper finally stopped running around about 45 minutes ago. I've barely had a minute to myself all day. They wouldn't play outside unless I was with them. They wouldn't play (nicely) inside unless I was with them. I couldn't even go to the bathroom without Camper following me and pounding on the door (if I dared shut it!).

I tried taking them to the library for the reading time this morning, but Camper was such a little asshole, we had to leave. He was screaming, yelling, throwing books, grabbing things from other kids, and crawling up on the table. It was really great. I was the father of that kid.

It's only Tuesday, but I'm already starting to go batty. I get tweets from a twitter-bot that lists all the beers on tap in PDX I get tweets from BikePortland describing all the fun Pedalpalooza events ... and I get to hang out in Hillsboro with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old (we're still carless, so the only way into PDX is on the MAX, which is fine, but not realistic with the boys and any bikes).

Today was one of those days where I had to keep reminding (and trying to convince) myself that I'm one of the lucky ones. Most dads don't get to see this much of thier children....

Tomorrow will be better.

glimmers of humanity

Yesterday I witnessed an act by my son that I believe every parent would want to watch their child do.

While crossing the swinging bridge-thing, a little girl behind Camper stumbled and nearly fell off. Camper let out a gasp, and quickly moved in to help. He handed her a bar, and then held it steady while she pulled herself on. After that, he walked slowly across the bridge with her to make sure she was OK.

Once it was clear that she was across the bridge and OK, he quickly resumed his rambunctious, and potentially hazardous play.

It wasn't a huge deal, but sometimes it's the very little things that matter the most.

Those glimmers of humanity.

15 June 2009

change in plans!

We're being sent to Bend, Oregon rather than Nampa, Idaho!

View Larger Map

I guess the doctor in Idaho is having some personal issues (like a trip to see Betty Ford), so Nikki has been reassigned to a dermatology clinic in Bend.


I'd much rather spend July at the base of Mt. Bachelor than in a town with a slaughterhouse and paper mill. So would you.

Two weeks from today we'll be in Bend, so we've been packing and organizing. Most of our belongings are going into (or are already in) storage, so it's a matter of picking what comes and what stays, and then of the stuff that stays, making sure it's well-organized and easy to access so when we do need stuff, it'll be easy to find.

09 June 2009

my little punk

'I go ousside!'
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
Camper has taken up a charming new way of letting his displeasure be known.

Sticking his tongue out and zurburtting at you - and if you're close enough, he'll take a swing at you. He's deadly serious when he does it, which frankly, makes it all the cuter, and therefore harder to punish (it's hard for the kids to believe you are serious when you're half-laughing).

I'm trying my best to ignore it, but I'm not sure that's the best approach.

He's a tough little guy with a strong personality who won't back down for anything or anyone.I don't think he should have any problems with the McLeod Clan motto: Hold Fast. The Clan Crest is a bullhead between two flag poles with red flags and the motto Hold fast.

07 June 2009

auction is a go

My Mac Pro is on eBay.

Mac Pro, 24-inch Cinema HD display and speakers - eBay (item 150350275083 end time Jun-13-09 10:20:38 PDT)

I really (really ... really ... really) hope that I can get enough to afford a 17-inch MacBook Pro. I don't want to be computer-less while we're doing our gypsy-thing, and I want to be able to continue running my photo processing/organization software, Aperture, which needs high-end hardware to run well. I've just started to make a bit of money from sales of photos through Getty, as well as the art dealer, Farmboy Fine Arts. It would be kind of silly to walk away from that opportunity. Besides, the travel may give me an opportunity to build up a more diverse portfolio.

And really, could I live without my blogging and tweeting and Facebooking and Flickring!?


We took the kids to see Up in 3D last night. As usual, Pixar knocked it out of the park.

I had heard that the first half-hour-or-so is a bit sad, and may be too much for little kids. We needn't have worried; the whole death thing was lost on them. Pixar does such a masterful job of telling a story on two levels; one for the adults and one for the children. I was choked up by tears of sadness over death, and dreams never fulfilled, while Liam was choked up laughing at poor little Carl fall through the creaky board in the old house.

Watching it in 3D offers a strange and somewhat disconcerting experience. It wasn't like "traditional" 3D movies where things appear to be popping OUT of the screen. It was more like looking INTO a moving diorama. The edge of the screen appeared to be about twenty feet from the wall. I'm not really sure if I liked it or not. The 3D glasses were a bit heavy and felt odd piled on top of my glasses (Liam said to me, as I was sitting down, "Daddy, you should have worn your contacts!"). Liam wore his for about 75% of the movie, while Camper barely wore his.

It was a great movie with wonderful characters, amazing animation and a fun-filled adventure to tie it all together.

"Won't you please be my prisoner, please please please!"

05 June 2009

what's wrong with you?

Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
Last week, I used this beard picture of me as my Facebook icon.

I got several comments that said something to the extent of, "Wolverine!"

A little history
The picture was taken in the spring of 1994 by my father in my dressing room, backstage at Western State College. I had grown the beard out for a part in a play. I was playing Snug in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

This was the last night of the show, and I was going to shave.

But first, I was going to have a little fun...

Flash-forward fifteen years
A few days after posting the beard picture, I switched my Facebook icon to my awesome, super-suave mustachioed self (from fifteen years in the past!).

Within hours, I received this Facebook message from my mother.

subject: what's wrong with you?
You look like you are out of your mind. Is that the image you want? Or have you lost it?

Oh, Mom.

I love you.

... But I think we all know that I lost it a long time ago. That fact aside, I was just trying to have a little fun, and, as we all know, it's always easiest to have fun at one's own expense...

a followup...

mr. mcleod
Originally uploaded by Walsh
I was going to edit my post from yesterday, but then I decided that a) if you've already read the post, you wouldn't know about the changes (as if you'd really care that much) and b) that's what a blog is for. A mostly unedited, unfiltered mess.

For that, my dear readers, I apologize. But that's how we('ll) roll on this here bloggy blog.

A mostly unedited, unfiltered mess.

It'll be hard for the editor in me to deal with, but it should be a good exercise (something like, no more than 5 edits per post).

Welcome to my life.

A mostly unedited, unfiltered mess.

04 June 2009

These days are long

Today, the boys and I had a good day. No one had any major meltdowns - we went to the playground, we went for a bike ride, we went to the pool. We even went to Baker's Burgers.

Not every day is like today. Yesterday was one of those days.

It was one of those days that ended with a meltdown from daddy. I had had enough. Campbell actually tripped the fuse to the upstairs four times. Four fucking times! How many times do I have to yell and scream, "stop playing with the light switch!" The third time he did it, I smacked his ass. The fourth time I put him across my lap and actually spanked him.

I then proceeded to freak out on the two boys, having a breakdown over the mess they've been making, how they're not listening to me... the whole thing. It was lovely. It made me feel great.

Everything I feel when I'm having a "moment" is nothing new to parenting. I'm not the first person to experience it. I know this... but it doesn't make it any better.

I'm constantly questioning what I'm doing, and if I'm doing all the right things. Am I pushing my kids too hard? Not hard enough?

Liam is a smart kid and has an insatiable intellectual curiosity. He's constantly spelling out words and adding up numbers. He likes to write words down, and can even Google the stuff he's interested in. Star Wars. Spiderman. I want to encourage his development without pushing him.

He's also an incredible biker and has been unstoppable since we re-removed the training wheels from his bike and he figured out how to start himself a few weeks ago. He's really good, and he's really capable, and again, I want to encourage his development without pushing him.

Our biggest problem is Liam's addiction to "screen" (TV, computer, iPhone... it makes no difference to the digital generation). He's constantly asking if he can watch a show or do his "work" (computer time). When I say no he whines, cries, kicks and even screams. Sometimes it's really bad.

The answer is to get rid of the TV and computer. The TV would not (will not) be a problem. Not at all. The computer? The problem here is, daddy is also addicted.

We're about to head out on the road and it's looking like no one wants to buy my desktop so I can afford a laptop - so Liam and I may be going cold turkey together!

03 June 2009

I gotta go pee!

(It's almost 11:30pm and) I was just in the boys' bathroom using the toilet when the door to their room popped open. It was a sweaty-headed Camper.

He looked at me and said, "I gotta go pee!"

So I peeled off his pajamas and (dry) diapers and plopped him up on the toilet. Within moments he was peeing.

When he finished, he hopped down, looked at me and said, "now I gotta get some watey."

02 June 2009

Craigslist scam

I posted my computer on Craigslist yesterday, despite the warning from the folks at the Apple Store to skip it and go straight to eBay. I've received a couple of inquires, one of which was simply, "Is this item still for sale?" I responded in the affirmative, and about an hour later received the following email:

Hi Seller, I am serious in buying this item that you listed and i want
you to remove the advert from craigslist,i have much interest in it
and want it to be sent to my son abroad who is currently in his final
year in school in ancient university in west Africa, and i am willing
and able to buy the item through my paypal account, so please kindly
get back to me with your paypal email address so that i can pay for
the item and i will include $220 for the shipping via (EMS) GLOBAL
EXPRESS MAIL USPS.Please if this is acceptable to you,kindly send your
full name and your contact information and PayPal email address so
that i can proceed with the payment via PayPal.

i live at 37 Stonehenge CirApt 8, Pikesville Md 21208,

Thanks i will be looking forward to hear from you.

kelly handsome

I know this is a scam, but I'm just not sure how. If they put $3000 plus the $220 for shipping in my PayPal account, how are they scamming me? My guess is that it would probably cost around $200 - $300 to ship it to Africa, so they aren't making any money that way.

What's the deal here? How does this work in their favor? Do many people fall for "Hi Seller" (especially when receiving a response to an email they signed their name to)? What's up with "this item?" Doesn't that just scream SCAM!?

Has anyone had any experience with this sort of thing?

01 June 2009

Things I've heard from a four-year-old... [Part 1]

  • My brain tells me I need to watch more television - and not a edunacational show!
  • My stomach tells me it needs ice cream.
  • You're not the boss of me. My brain is.
  • I'm the boss of my bike, which means I control where it goes, so you can't tell me which way to go!
  • What's inside a bug?
  • Why doesn't it hurt when it rains? It falls from WAY up.
  • Girls don't have penises. They pee out of their butts.
  • You're not my daddy!
  • I do not like your attitude!
  • Daddy, if you let me watch a fighting show you will get a box of all the camera gear you want.... and sushi...
  • Camper! Do no damage!
[Stay-tuned] There will be more...

29 May 2009

in case you were wondering...

...I'm enjoying myself.

The past couple of weeks without Nikki have been tough - and given me a huge amount of respect for single parents - but I've managed to enjoy myself.

I'm really glad that we made the decision to have me stay with the boys full-time. It's tough financially, and there are moments when I want to cry (oh wait, I've done that...) and scream (and that...), but I know that in the long-run this is the best thing for everyone. I get to see my boys grow up.... and they get to hang out with me, the coolest guy ever...

Despite the fact that we're car[e]free, the boys and I went into Portland today (we rode the MAX - suck it George Will) to take in the Rose Festival Carnival.

It was free admission, and the rides were just two bucks each. The problem was, Camper was too small for most of the rides, which meant Liam would ride alone and I'd have to stay with a kicking and screaming two-and-a-half-year-old. When he did get to ride, he was into it. He showed his big brother how to do the crazy bungee-jumper, easily going twice as high as Liam had, all while screaming, "I Iron Man!"

We sucked down some carnival food and headed home. Upon arriving at home, we hopped on our bikes and rode around the neighborhood, meandering our way to the pool for a late afternoon/early evening swim.

I wouldn't trade today for a "real job" ever.

There will be time for that later...

27 May 2009

Mac Pro for sale

Mac Pro for sale
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
I'm selling my computer (and monitor... and speakers).

It's an Apple Mac Pro with 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon, 3GB RAM (expandable to 16 GB) and two 500 GB hard-drives.

It has two DVD-RW "SuperDrives," a bunch of USB and Firewire ports, WiFi and Bluetooth (the mouse and keyboard are Bluetooth).

The display is a 24-inch Apple Cinema HD and is beautiful. It also has a bunch of USB and Firewire ports.

The speakers are JBL Creatures and match the aluminum finish of the computer and display.

I love this computer (I polish the monitor and aluminum at least once a month with iKlear...), but if our gypsy thing is going to work, I need to downsize. My plan is to sell this set up and buy a 17-inch MacBook Pro.

I'd really like to sell it to someone who will love it and care for it the way I have.

Interested? Send me an email. I'm going to list it on eBay in a day-or-so, but I thought I'd see if anyone in my "social-networking" circle was interested first.

26 May 2009

crimson [and] clover [over and over]

a crowd
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
I've been a bit obsessed with clover recently.

Trifolium incarnatum to be precise.

It began a couple of months ago when I noticed that it was growing in many of the fields that had wheat in them last summer. About a month ago I noticed that this clover seemed to grow taller than the clover I'm used to.

And it has gigantic leaves, such that, when viewed as a whole present a lush, verdant field undulating under the ripples of wind that move across them. I'd be riding my bike on roads with acres and acres of the stuff all around and would find myself starting at it.

A couple of weeks ago, they flowers started to bloom. Slowly, at first, but then, within a few days, the giant, green fields turned to a reddish-purple. While out riding, I stopped and took some pictures in midday sun, with my phone, but I knew I'd have to come back in better light.

Last Friday, at sunset, I went out to capture that golden hour glow in the fields. Standing in the midst of them made me feel like Horton looking for the Whos (I always wondered why he didn't simply leave the clover they were on in the midst of all the other clover - seemed like a safe place to me...).

I believe the clover is planted for the hay, but according to this web site "the main reason is to provide biologically–fixed nitrogen" to the soil.

get used to it

get used to it
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
I need to get used to this view of Liam on his bike.

He is such a great little rider. He's got incredible balance, is nimble-as-can-be, and has strong little legs. It blows me away when he asks how to do something - say, start the bike on your own - watches me demonstrate, listens to me explain, then hops on his bike and does it flawlessly on the first attempt! And if he doesn't get it on the first try, he simply tries again until he gets it right.

The poor kid is riding around on 12-inch wheels, so he has to pedal like hell just to keep the wheels rolling, and the slightest turn of the handlebars can send the bike careening out of control (thus the usefulness for his nimbleness...).

Once he gets a hold of a bike with normal-sized wheels, he'll be hard to contain.

25 May 2009


Nikki is taking the car up to Fort Lewis for the week, so the boys and I are carfree. Carfree in Hillsboro, OR is a very different thing from carfree in Portland, OR, but I think we'll manage just fine.

That is all.

24 May 2009

Same name, new direction...

An announcement

I'm taking this little bloggy-blog in a new direction. Instead of being a bike-centric blog by a guy living in Oregon, it'll be a blog by a bike-centric guy living like a gypsy. I mean, the bike-thing can only go so far (unless of course you happen to be BikePortland or Cyclelicious...).

Nikki just started 15 months of six-week rotations, and so rather than sit around without her, we've decided to tag along. Her first rotation is up at Fort Lewis and began last week. It kinda sucks, but during this first rotation, we'll only see her on weekends. Her rotation ends when our current lease runs out, so we're following her onto the next stop: Boise, ID.

In the next few weeks, I'll pack most of our furniture - and most of our belongings - into storage so that the essentials in our life fit into (and onto) the Subaru. The boys and I will spend the month of July in Idaho with Nikki, then head to New Hampshire for the month of August. We'll meet up with Nikki in San Diego for the month of September, and then head back up to Oregon for October through December. Her first fall rotation is in Newberg, which is about 30-45 minutes south of PDX, and her second one will be in Portland, so we're not sure what we'll do about housing.

The gypsy life.

Stay tuned...

Back to the biking thing

Mr. Independent
After a few months backslide into the use of training wheels, Liam removed them piece-by-piece this week. We started on Monday by removing his left training wheel. He zipped around and mainly used the training wheel as a kickstand and for starting and stopping. The right training wheel kept hanging him up on right-hand turns, so on Friday he said to me, "Daddy, this thing is getting in my way. Let's take it off."

He loved it and cruised up and down the street. Stopping was never an issue - he'd apply the brakes, put a foot down and stand there like he's been doing it for years - but starting was a different issue. Everytime he'd come to a stop on Friday, he'd look at me and say, "a little help, please," and I'd hold the back of his seat while he'd get going.

On Saturday, he looked at me and said, "I think I can start on my own. Show me again how to do it." I showed him, and off he went. First try. He's now a fully independent biker.

What's with the white vans?
I'm not really sure what's with me and white vans. It was a white van that drove me off the road last September, and today, I had a run in with yet another white van. My friend Bryce and I were out on a ride today when a white van came hauling ass around a corner about an eighth of a mile back, I heard them coming, and started to move into single file (we were riding next to each other - I realize it's not encouraged, but we were out on a rural road...) but these guys laid on the horn and sat on it as they approached us, passed us (and threw water on us - we hope!) and drove off.


28 April 2009

hot [bike] date

hot date
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
On Saturday, Nikki and I went out on a hot bike date. A classmate of Nikki's stayed in with the boys, so we rode our bikes to the MAX stop near her school and rode into town.

We hopped off the MAX at Kings Hill/SW Salmon and rode NW 18th about 20 blocks to the Lucky Labrador Beer Hall on Quimby where we had a few slices of yummy veggie pizza and a few rounds (OK, maybe I had a few and Nikki had like one...) of delicious beers!

The Lucky Lab is a fun, open beer hall with long tables full of people playing games (provided in shelves by the door), using laptops (using free Wi-Fi - or maybe Clear?!), or just hanging out with friends (or a hot date).

After the Lukcy Lab, we rode along NW 20th, up the hill by PGE Park, and down into Goose Hollow. The Goose Hollow Inn has a fun, small, dark (and maybe on the gritty side) bar that looks right out at the MAX stop, so we had a round while we waited for our train.

I love riding my bike through Portland at night. The bike lanes are full of riders moving all around the city and bike racks outside (and in the case of the Lucky Lab, inside) bars, brewpubs, restaurants, stores and all types of establishments are full.

26 April 2009

two rides; one week - only in Portland!

I recently rode in two rides that exemplified why Portland is such a great city for riders.

Crazy, crazy climbs!

On April 3rd, I rode in the De Ronde van Oeste Portlandia, an undergroundish-group-ride with about 600 people. It was 47 miles with over 7000 vertical feet of climbing and was probably the most challenging ride of my life.

The course zigged and zagged up and down Portland's west hills, climbing the steepest inclines I've ever attempted on a bike. There were moments when I figured I'd just quit, but I ended up riding with a great group of riders who kept encouraging each other all the way to the finish at Council Crest, Portland's highest point.

It took me alomost as long as it took me to ride 100 miles in last summer's Portland Century! 

my bunnies
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
Bunny on a Bike

A little over a week later, the McLeod family joined about a hundred other Portland riders for the 5th Annual Bunny on a Bike Ride.

It was one of the funnest rides I've ever been on, as we paraded through the streets of Portland with everyone dressed as bunnies. We started the ride in southeast, where we rode through parks and down bike lanes to the Eastbank Esplanade.

Groups from northeast, northwest, southwest and north Portland met up with us at the Vera Katz statue at the riverfront, and from there we circled the waterfront, then rode through the city to Irwin Park for a teaparty potluck and easter egg hunt. It was a perfect day for a ride through the city with a bunch of bunnies!

Check out the map of the De Ronde van Oeste Portlandia

20 March 2009

Spring ride

1st day of spring ride
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
Nikki was home early today (because she's a total genius and she aced her exam), so I got to go for a ride.

I went on a variation of my usual ride, the Hillsboro Hills. Spring was in the air, as tulips and daffodils were popping up everywhere and the smell of fresh manure was wafting through the freshly-turned fields

Within five minutes of starting, I was pelted by some rain and fierce winds. The rain stopped within a few minutes, but the winds stayed in my face all the way to the base of the hill. The usual, big-crank spin through the flats was an all-out grunt fest as I made my way slowly toward the climb.

I was spared the winds on my climb, as that was the leeward side of the mountain, and was even granted a nice wind at my back as I made my way home.

There are only two weeks left until the 2009 De Ronde Van Oeste Portlandia, a 47-mile ride with 5,400 feet of climbing. I'd like to say I'm planning on riding in it, but for now, it's a "we'll see" situation!

Today's ride was 20 miles with 2,200 feet of climbing, so I think I'll be able to handle it. I think....

Check out a map of my ride today (along with vertical and speed).

1st day of spring

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09 March 2009

bike train '09

bike train '09
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
Now that Liam has discovered that he can actually ride a bike, he provides the pedal-power and I steer. Camper is kind of like our horn; he's yelling most of the time.

Seriously, when Liam starts pedaling, it really pushes me along. We'll be coming up to an intersection and I'll yell, "green light! Pedal, pedal, pedal!" and I can feel the bike accelerate as he really starts pushing.

On the flats, I stop pedaling completely and let him provide the power. He loves it. He'll yell, "check it out Daddy, I can push you and pull Camper at the same time!

We were driving around east Portland yesterday. I can't wait for us to move into PDX and have access to the Springwater Corridor and Eastbank Esplanade.

08 March 2009

Bike Registration

A bill recently introduced to the Oregon Legislature would require all bicycles in Oregon to be registered. Registered!

House Bill 3008 proposes a $54 bi-annual “bicycle registration and licensing system.”

I'm not really sure why this bill has been introduced. Is it to solve some problem? Bike theft? The licensing system will somehow curb theft... Too many bikes? At $54 per bike, people may think twice about buying a bike.

All I know, is that it would cost way more to register my bikes than my car! I guess the bill only penalizes those over 18 for not registering, so I think we can get away with not registering the boys' bikes. That said, we're still looking at $324 every two years for our bikes, and $131 for our car (and $10 of that registration fee goes to the BTA!).

So of course I'm opposed to the bill.

Read about it at BikePortland.

[Update: Jonathan Maus, the Editor of Bike Portland interviewed the primary sponsor, Rep. Wayne Krieger (R-Gold Beach). Apparently, for Representative Krieger, it's a matter of equity. If bicyclists want to be treated equally, he believes we should pay our fair share. I could agree with him, but I believe $54 per bike is too steep. Perhaps it it be a percentage of the value of the bike, or something like that.]

07 March 2009

spring beauty

looking back
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
I was able to get a ride in on Friday (March 6th). It was my first ride since getting the bike all tuned up a couple of weeks ago.

I thought I'd need a new drivetrain, but the guys at the shop said that all I needed was a new chain and a tune. (I like it when the shop-guys option is the cheapest!)

I went on my usual, Hillsboro Hills ride, and brought Nikki's iPhone with me. I had just installed the EveryTrail app and wanted to try it out.

It was a gorgeous spring day, with temperatures in the mid-60's and my bike riding like a sportscar, accelerating around corners and up hills - feeling that new-chain love!

You can see a map of my ride here (keep in mind, the ride-time and average speed are taking into account the long rests at the tops of the climbs to take in the beauty of nature - seriously, Mt,. Hood and Mt. Saint Helens were out. It was awesome!)

Hillsboro hills ride

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