Thursday, November 30, 2006

November Tally.

Today: 5.75
November Total: 194.36
Number of days this month without driving a motor vehicle: 22
Weather: 30 Nov 7:50 pm 46°F., 63% humidity, wind E 7, CLR 30.426 inches.

Whoa -- cold.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

African Crowned Crane Spotted in Los Altos, CA


I been spending some time on the bike, and at the dentist.

Riding since friday: 50.42
November Total: 188.61
Number of days this month without driving a motor vehicle: 21
Weather: 29 Nov 8:30 pm 46°F 38% humidity, wind SSW, 30.074

It's supposed to freeze tonight ...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving, California Style

I had a great Thanksgiving, more like a Norman Rockwell painting than this. We didn't grill a turkey. Photo plucked from Lauren's site.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sister Morphine, the Ipod and the Alarm Clock were ...

Gentle readers.

I bet you're rooting for a story about the Ipod getting wet, or a story about an object the size of an Ipod stopping a bullet, or what might happen to a plugged in alarm clock if you dropped it into the washer or the toilet.

It's just not that simple. Since I moved in August. I have been struggling to find everything and squeeze my ever expanding life into a ridiculously small apartment. My father's health has been deteriorating on an almost daily basis. Currently, the doctors are treating him with a designer heroin to manage his pain. At least he has ecstasy on his side.

Here I lie in my hospital bed
Tell me, Sister Morphine, when are you coming round again?
Oh, I don't think I can wait that long
Oh, you see that I'm not that strong

My siblings, their children, wives, and myself have been pitching together in an herculean effort to keep my parents at home, and help them live honorably, decently. My superhero elder brother and his wife carry the brunt of the load. I find myself enjoying the closeness of my family, and the time I get to spend with them. Nevertheless, the time required, combined with trying to finish a cross country move, and a new job leave me occasionally feeling a bit tattered around the edges. I have less time to spend blogging, masturbating reading, and finding crap.

I am gradually becoming victorious. I am not your average sized Joe. I have a regular sized houseful of goods. In fact, when I moved from grad school it took me three weeks to pack the sculpture and studio, and only one day to move the entire apartment. And then there's all the art, and the sculpture studio, then the painting studio, and the 30 or so cameras, and the photo studio. I have a painting that has been on the wall of my home for some time. It's large -- 5'by 8'. It doesn't even fit in my apartment. I also have a working darkroom. It's complicated.

Each step of unpacking involves the determination of 4 possible outcomes for each item. Trash, gift, store, or find a place for it here. It's tedious work.

Today, I found the Ipod, the alarm clock, the kitchen timer, and a few other useful items, like the iron. So I started a load of laundry, set the kitchen timer for 60 minutes. Then I jumped on my bike for a wet pavement, gentle rain, dodge-car sprint downtown to Jeffrey's for a cheeseburger extraodinaire. Just as Sister Morphine came into the headset, the endorphins kicked in. At least I have ecstasy on my side.

Well it just goes to show
Things are not what they seem
Please, Sister Morphine, turn my nightmares into dreams

Friday, November 24, 2006

I have been riding my bicycleta to work every time I go there, for about two weeks now. In fact I have never driven to the new location of my job (we moved a while ago). This is a shot of Henry Adams street which is part of my new route to work. The only time recently that I have driven the car has been to pick up my son.

I just took la computadora off of the bike today and read it. 60.08.

Today 14.2 miles
Swimming: 0/0 yd.
Riding: 14.2/138.19
Miles Running: 0/0
Walking: 0/0 Miles
Number of days this month without driving a motor vehicle: 16
Weather: 24 Nov 9:30 pm 52°F., 76% humidity, Wind WNW 3, 29.776.

If you look at that street you will see the climb at the end of it ... Potrero Hill. Looks like it might be fun.

Now that the tryptophan has finally worn off I have resorted to eating a lot of Tacos de Camarones al Mojo de Ajo, and am trying to learn some Spanish from Miguel, the camarones dealer. Photo credit.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

So the Bicycle is Your Primary Form of Transportation?


It's all about route picking really. The pleasure in all this comes from picking better routes. Today, I replaced my bars with a new set and then pruned two inches off each end. I reduced the width of my bars by a total of seven and a half inches, to nineteen and a half inches. This should reduce the chances that some inattentive driver will clip the end of my bars and send me flying by about 32 metric percent. Additionally, it will mean better handling while I am on the sidewalk.

What are you doing on the sidewalk?

I wouldn't go as far as to say that San Mateo planning is bike negative, but I do believe they might feel that bikes don't really belong in the road. At critical points they push bikes toward the sidewalk and onto bike pedestrian bridges, such as the ones crossing the US 101 at Tilton Ave, Third Ave, the planned one at Hillsdale Blvd, and the bridge over the railroad tracks at 19th Avenue. Crossings such as the pedestrian route at Hillsdale and Pacific Blvd./rail tracks and the pedestrian bridge at Peninsula are both extremely difficult for bikes. These are all primarily East/West routes, and they are difficult on a bike. There are several signifigant obstacles in any East/West trip in San Mateo.

I believe that there are two fundamental failures in the thinking about bikes that lead to these decisions. One: "Bicyclists are pedestrians" and two: "Bikes are for recreation." SO, it's delightful that the county closes Cañada Road to vehicles on Sunday so that bicycles can use it exclusively. It's cool that there are places like Sawyer Camp road (mixed human-powered use) Ryder Park (Same -- with dog park so ... no dogs on leashes). I am not going to drive my bike there in my car to get out and use these. I want to ride there. I also want to safely ride to my parents house. And to Sushi at Tokie's in Foster City, and to the Dentist.

There are some great North/South routes in San Mateo. Palm Ave for a while. Alameda De Las Pulgas isn't too bad. Norfolk Street. The route through Bay Meadows Race Track.

But let's take a look at me through North San Mateo to downtown to have coffee. Initially, I applied the typical Phoenix logic to the problem -- forgetting a myriad of childhood knowledge and experience. Pick the direct route on the biggest streets and ride there. Take Delaware (Parents dropping off high school aged kids for school -- construction workers opening car doors into cyclist -- pedestrians walking into street and drivers on cell phones in SUVs trying to hit/miss cyclist) from Peninsula to 3rd (Scary-Scary) and turn right, turn left (safety ahead) on B. Get coffee. Omg -- I lived.

Not one inch of this route is very safe on a bike.

Use childhood knowledge:

Leave driveway and cross Delaware immediately -- and carefully -- trying to hide behind a woman with a stroller so as not to get mowed down -- to State Street. Travel one block East to Claremont and turn South. Follow Claremont quietly, watching for people backing out of driveways in a sane way to leave for work. Carefully cross Poplar. Proceed to Monte Diablo and turn right to N Railroad and continue South on this narrow one lane two way street with almost no traffic. Roughness of road hammers testicles and prostrate so be careful. Wave to hispanic cyclists who wear baseball hats for helmets. Hola. Turn right and cross under railroad tracks at Tilton. Turn onto South Railroad -- watch for SUV taking up entire road every day, wave, and break law riding against traffic to ramp in to railroad station. Ring bell a lot and ride through train station avoiding pedestrians and trying not to get a ticket (keep ringing bell and pretend not to hear cops and conductors -- keep riding). Jump curb into parking lot and high density angle parking. Ring bell -- pay attention and plan for escapes.

Cross Second and turn onto the car free Main Street -- and aim bike directly into line for theatre. Ride slowly and politely through the crowd. Behave like best of bike advocates. These are people in my community. And it's a good community. Even if its government thinks bikes are pedestrians. So I am always nice. Ride to Third and turn West onto the sidewalk. Cross as a pedestrian on B street at the light and proceed on the sidewalk to the light pole in front of the cafe.

"Could I have a double espresso, please?" And the assumption that bikes are really transportation.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rain, oh Yeah ...

I remember this stuff. It falls from the sky and gets everything wet.

So I got up this morning and looked out and -- guess what? The ground was wet. Ah, what to wear? Should I wear neoprene socks? Nah -- forgot to find those. Smartwool™ socks, Sugoi stretch tights, geeky 100% nylon explorer shorts from REI™, trendy 100% Merino Wool to die for pullover from SmartWool™. North Face™ Polartec™vest. Cannondale rain jacket. Louis Garneau helmet showercap™. Soppy when wet leather palmed soggy butt cotton backed gloves. Customized bike messenger bag.

8 sorta wet, somewhat warm and seem to dry out get wet in a hurry miles later, here we are, in the house with the remains of the day all hanging around the bathroom drying out and preparing for tomorrow. A pizza and a soak in the hot tub, warm conversation with friends, two oatmeal, a double espresso, and it's time for bed. This kinda day makes one tired and hungry.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Should I Cut My Hair?

I thought it might be interesting to take a vote. Does anyone have an opinion about what cut I should get -- here are a few choices. Please comment your opinion.

Bob Marley

Marten Sheen

Johnny Depp

Olvier Matinez

Quentin Tarantino

Steven Tyler

Andy Warhol

Pierce Brosnan

Lyle Lovett

Harvey Kieltel

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Happy Veterans Day

My father told me a story yesterday, while we were watching the news of Iraq and story of the loss of 3000 there since the war began. My father is 83 years old and on Wednesday night I ride over to his house with dinner on the back of my bike, to cook and have dinner with him and my mother. Their health has deteriorated lately and my whole family is gathering around to help and try to make things better, and easier for them. And like I said, he told me a story yesterday.

He told me a story about the battle for Iwo Jima and how the Americans lost some 10000 soldiers in that battle alone. He served on the USS Hancock at the time and described the hit that the Hancock took during that battle.

250 men were lost on that ship alone when a kamikaze stuck the flight deck and hanger deck severing a 4 inch gas line and causing several explosions. This was quite a signifigant hit on the Hancock, causing more death and injury than the 10 hits that the USS Hornet took during it's sinking at the Battle of Santa Cruz, which according to my father, only cost 150 of his shipmates.

As you read the history of the USS Hornet, think of my father, who served in each of these great battles. Yes, he was on the Doolittle Raid. He was also at the Marianas Turkey Shoot. And he sailed into Tokyo harbor at the end of the war. Am I proud of him? You bet!

I didn't hear these stories my entire life, just for the last 30 years or so. Sadly, these stories will stop soon.

There's another veteran in my family, my older brother, who served honorably in Vietnam. Some years later he took his own life. His stories are lost I am afraid. Am I proud of him? Yes, I am.

Join me in a prayer for these men, and all of the great men and women who have honored their countrymen, their parents, and their children by risking their lives through service in times of war. And let's be sure to honor them, by remembering thier stories.

Happy Veterans Day.

Cold Wind ... Today

Yesterfay and Today/Month

Swimming: 0/0 yd.
Riding: 17.2/42.99
Miles Running: 0/0
Walking: 0/0 Miles
Number of days this month without driving a motor vehicle: 5

Monday, November 6, 2006

Boat Free Day

Swimming: 0/0 yd.
Riding: 6.2/25.79
Miles Running: 0/0
Walking: 0/0 Miles
Number of days this month without driving a motor vehicle: 3

Alas -- I had to use my truck to go get some pie.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

The Old and The New

Here's a cross check. These are the new boots sitting next to the old ones. Do you notice any slight resemblence? After casting aside several other seemingly good choices, and finally giving in to the temptation to believe that these Merrill™ Wilderness boots were in fact very much like the old ones, I still had great difficulty ordering them online because of the huge price. I looked everywhere to try to find them in a store, but could not.

They are a classic leather boot with a traditional Vibram™ sole and they lack the plastic inner liner that made up the ultimate watertight construction part of the boot. I bit hard on a whiskey soaked Bandana™ and ordered away. When they arrived I tosssed them in the oven and greased them well with SnowSeal™, put them on and hiked 6 miles.

It's been some months now. They're good. So far -- they rock. They are very similar to the old ones. I'll let you know in a few years when I get them really broken in. If all goes well we'll hike a few hundred thousand miles together. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 4, 2006

An Ode to My Boots

Note: I originally posted this June 30th, 2005, and by an odd twist of fate, I actually had to dig these boots up today. So I shot some photos of the blessed boots. Original post:

I have this old pair of boots that I bought when I was a grad student in Pullman, Washington in 1994. I was cold and tired of slipping around on the ice and having wet feet from the snow. They were rated to –40 degrees and waterproof, and had what looked to be leather uppers. I moaned at the price and my shopping friend disagreed laughing, but I bought and put them on immediately. It took months to break them in – but they were warm and comfy all through the process. They had Vibram soles and blue laces. I stopped slipping and was rarely cold after that.

It’s been a few years since then, and now when I look at those boots I can see right through the soles to where a sock would live, having finally given them up for dead when I started wearing holes in my socks. 10 years have passed. During those ten years, we (my boots and I) have been in four countries, on two continents – and in fourty four states, and a myriad of national parks, national monuments, and wildlife refuges. We have bagged peaks in the Adirondacks, the Rockies, and throughout the northwest and California. We have waded together in some of the coldest rivers around, and some of the nastiest, remembering now that I once forsook my trusty boots for barefoot small mouth trout (I mean bass) fishing in the Huron River, only to be rewarded with a nasty cut. I put the boots on and continued. I have worn them to cast bronze, weld and grind things, used them to hold hot metal, and as a hammer. I have literally mistakenly beaten them with a hammer. Together we have been on glaciers, in the snow, the streets of major world cities – and through at least a thousand miles of desert in the summer, and made a few hundred sculptures.

I don’t remember them saying they would be good to 120 degrees, but once they were worn, they were fine. Once I even won a prize at a basketball game because I had blue shoelaces (the person sitting next to me had a picture of a fish in her wallet – and also won a prize). The death knell for these old friends finally came when I was moving out of my warehouse loft. After a week of 16 hour days – literally standing and walking on those poor soles, I caught the hole in the sole on a nail in the floor and ripped the boot open. I had a funeral in the yard.

I want another pair, I tell myself. And the only thing I know about them is that they are Merrell’s, size 8 and 1/2, I think. I go to the store. There’s nothing that even looks like these boots. I look at the old boots. There’s a marking on the tongue, “WTC” it says. A search of the web reveals “ultra watertight construction” is the predominant feature. I can’t find them anywhere. I even looked on Ebay. I go to the web site for Merrell. Lot’s of sandles … but I am not finding my boots. I can’t believe it. I am thinking that these were the best boots ever made. Why on earth would anyone stop manufacturing them.

I am now throwing away the fourth pair of boots I have owned since 1994, this time it’s a pair of Vasque Zephyrs, which crush my toes and cause serious pain in the ball of one foot -- and blister my toes. They are barely broken in. I can remember walking 12 miles as though it were nothing in those WTC boots. If I were in a pinch I could easily have walked 20.

Since I firmly believed that Merrell made the best boots ever, when I was unable to find the replacement boots, I chose a Merrell boot, a light weight “Ventilator,” whose predominant feature was slipping on any wet surface. They are unrivaled in being the worst shoes I have ever owned. They are shit. I have almost died now about 50 times. They provide almost no support anywhere – and are useless with a pack. They actually cause the ball of my foot to feel crushed. Additionally, I bought a pair of low top ventilators, which almost threw me into the Rogue river at the narrows from a height of about 200 ft, due to the very same slipping characteristic. I threw those away that day because I was afraid to take them to the goodwill, out of fear they might kill someone there. If you happen to be a shoe manufacturer or designer, you should pay attention to this part: I swear, I will never put another boot on my feet unless it has a yellow vibram label and squarish lugs. If you want me to buy anything else – you must provide a compelling argument that if I step onto a moss covered rock during a creek crossing with 50 pounds on my back, that they will find a way to stick, or at least help me not to fall. That really means you better start putting some wet moss covered rocks into the store with the boots.After trying that (the ventilators) I went down to the local independent shoe store (we’ll leave RedWing out of this, because they make pretty good shoes), and bought the Vasques. I have had the boots for about a year, and they stick to everything except my wet patio (they have vibram soles, go figure), and provide great ankle support. I went for a 2 mile hike four days ago in the Superstition Wilderness, and three days later my feet feel like they have been beaten with a hammer. What I really don’t understand is why I can’t seem to find a pair of boots that I can put through hell, and will grab the ground, keep me warm, and protect my feet from damage, whether I am stepping into the icy Couer D’Alene or the deserts of Death Valley, a parking lot in Phoenix, or a scrabble covered trail. I want a pair of boots that loves me and trusts me enough to let me decide where it’s safe to put my feet. Granted they all look cool and high tech, but they don’t work. I want a pair of boots that stands up to what I dish out and performs, not a pair that asks me to put up with them.

I think I am going to have to go out into the yard and dig up those old decent boots, my old friends, and put some new soles on them.Copyright 2005, Shawn Kielty, all rights reserved.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

The Firestorm in my Inbox

When I locked up this morning around a tree in front of the Bean Street Cafe, as I got my morning coffee, I realized, that I don't think there is a single bike rack in the entire downtown of San Mateo. Not even in front of the bike shop toy store. You can rent a storage locker at the train station -- I think. One of my favorite characters from San Mateo history was Jud Green, who has always owned a clothing store downtown. He would frequently complain about the city eliminating good parking spots downtown to plant trees (San Mateo Times, some time in the early eighties). Did it ever occur to the city that it might be nice to have a bike rack somewhere downtown. I patronize downtown about three times a day on my bike, and never have seen a bike rack.

Yesterday's post started a firestorm in my mail box, and seriously alienated at least one of my former readers. More than one person has an opinion on the topic. Apparently the Peninsula Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition doesn't support the city plan for Bay Meadows phase two. I really think there was a woman telling me about it in the Bean Street Cafe last week. It doesn't surprise me that they don't support it, since it seems misguided, at least at the first glance ... be sure to bring your reading glasses -- because there's a lot of pages.

The Commuter hanging down at the San Mateo Station.

One of the Tunnels

"The next San Carlos B/PAC will be meeting is Nov 7, at 7 pm, upstairs in room 207 of the San Carlos City Hall. Members of the public are encouraged to attend. " So there's the next chance to do something. I don't know what a B/PAC is but I do know this. People who like to use acronyms must have a disease that prohibits them from describing what they mean when the rules of usage are so simple: The first time an acronym is used in any document it is defined. I.e. Blue pigs and cats (B/PAC) will be meeting ... B/PAC prefer bacon as a food source ... until they realize what it is. Would it really be something like Bike Political Action Commitee (B/PAC)?

One rant about bike policy and suddenly I am thrust into politics ... maybe we need to organize a critical mass ride in San Mateo. We could clog up traffic downtown for a while and then ride right down El Camino to City Hall. Maybe we can start at the Whole Foods (WF) and take over Hillsdale Boulevard, where it's really freakin' scary (RFS). Yeta, yeta, yeta ... It really seems that San Mateo City policy isn't very bike positive. They are treating us like they treat day laborers, get 'em off the real roads and the world will be better. That's RFS.

Today's ride was good, albeit wet. The power went out several times today due to the rain, and well finally there was no further speculation about whether or not the network power was going to come back. The earlier than normal train dropped me at Millbrae, which meant a longer ride home.

How far exactly, we don't know. Because the Cat-Eye mount for the computer is a piece of crap and broke for the third time. I forgot to throw the computer into my pocket this morning. We do know from past trips that round trip via the train trips SM-SF SF-Millbrae is about 8 miles.

Daniele created this masterpiece mocha at Bean Street in San Mateo.

Although the leaf covered route was rain covered also -- The new fenders were smashing -- I didn't have a single leaf stuck to the back of my head. And I was generally dry, except for two drenchings due to rainfall. One of my acquaintances called the spattering from the lack of fenders a "Freshman Stripe," a term he picked up in Davis.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Carry All Everything Day -- the 1st of November


Swimming: 0/0 yd.
Riding: 11.59/11.59
Miles Running: 0/0
Walking: 0/0 Miles
Number of days without driving a motor vehicle: 3

Me screaming at the top of my lungs, her driving less than inches from me, as if I was not less than a foot from her; she was totally oblivious. Some people should not be driving. That's all there is to it. The Gateway area in San Mateo is really kind of scary; the City of San Mateo should really consider some bike lanes on the main streets there. There is a big presence of cops in the area to keep business people from driving up and hiring day workers, but it seems that the enforcement of driving rules might be secondary to this. The City should have some sort of campaign to increase the awareness of the presence of bikes on the roads (I wonder if they are doing that?) . In one particularly bad stretch around the freeway they have put the bikes on the sidewalks, which is still a bad idea. If you live in San Mateo please contact these people and complain that the city bike policy (I couldn't find one) is mostly about making it hard on the rider, and not very much about making it safe to ride or easy to lock up a bike. A good comprehensive plan that includes bike lanes on all the roads and enforcement of auto/bicycle safety would be good places to start. Be sure to lock your bike securely and not leave it sitting on the sidewalk, where it might get stolen picked up by the city. At least if you lock it, they will have to get help to haul it away.

Palo Alto, a trendy and cool city, is bike friendly. Woodside, on the other hand is not. Would it be cool if San Mateo were? I think so. Trendy upscale apartments, cool, bike friendly city, excellent food and transportation, walk to downtown ... are you with me here? ...

Personally, I need to do more research before I drift into a serious rant. They may have a plan and I just not know about it. If you happen to know of the City of San Mateo Bike Plan, feel free to forward it to me. Enough of this, I survived another day.

Today was a haul stuff around day. Haul stuff to work. Miss train home by microseconds, grumble to no avail. Get on train early and sit around. Get coffee, go to grocery store, and select deluxe dinner offering for parents. Haul food across town, using stretchy cords to attach shoes to bike, carry lock over shoulder. Replace dinner in deck bag with large amount of mail. Cook scrumptious fresh wild ling cod dinner for my parents. Reminisce about trying to catch them (ling cod, not my parents) in the pacific ocean in 16 foot outboard boat with crazy old codger (not my father -- a different codger) who had shark teeth on his key ring. Eat, clean up, gotta-go bye.

Get groceries for home and haul them home. Strap groceries atop rack bag with heavy duty stretch cord. Think about cargo bikes for a bit. Sit in front of computer and drink heavily relax. Look around generally toward hot tub and become too weak to move.

This wasn't supposed to be a rant. Almost getting hit today reminded me that it's important to instruct drivers in the most obvious way possible, that cyclists have a right to be on the road. And it's the duty and responsibility of vehicle operators not to hit each other. Whether they are on skates, bikes, scooters, bikes or cars -- or just pedestrians with dogs on a leash.