Friday, December 29, 2006

I Once was Lost, but Now I am Found ...

Was blind, but now I see. ...

Well, -- I went for a leisurely little climb today. I was discussing routes around town the other day and *someone* suggested I ride up to the College of San Mateo via 26th Avenue. It's a short climb ... Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound ... a climb.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Through many dangers, toils, dangers toils and snares
I have already come
I've already, I've already come
'Tis grace hath brought me safe, it's brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead, gonna lead me home
Oh, yes he will

I believed I could make it to the top of that hill ... Some young women (downhill) runners on 26th Avenue were cheering me on. I am thinking they will probably want to take a cab (that's what I wanted) back up the hill after having coffee at the mall. It will be really bad for them if they insist on running.

From the hard deck (20' elevation max -- i.e. just slightly above high tide) to the top of the top of the hill at CSM is about 600 vertical feet. Although my ride was around 10.6 miles, the hill climbing part of all this was in less than a mile. Ultimately my route doesn't go all the way to the top -- bailing out early at about 525 ft.

The sweet view at the top from Parrot Drive.

That's San Francisco there, go ahead and blow it up (the picture, silly).

When I was a lad, the route up Parrot Drive was my favorite. After school I would often ride up there and come down 26th to the mall and get coffee. It was always fun. The rapid descent of 26th Avenue was -- well -- fun. The route is the same route in reverse. Ride up 26th to the top. Toss your 1000 $100 bike over the fence onto Campus Drive. Hump up that hill to Laurelwood, and turn on to Hillsdale up and up to CSM Drive. Turn left and then right on Parrot Drive. and enjoy the panorama, and the rapid descent into downtown San Mateo. Enjoy coffee.

I am redeemed. I made it. I had to stop for oxygen at the cul-de-sac, and for beer water at the liquor store. I got spotted by Tassia in the Hallmark store at Laurelwood. I rode up the hill and returned. It felt great to take a ride again for pleasure.

I know it was just ten or so miles -- but I smell bag balm linament ... it hurt just a bit. I feel great though. Pass the Chili. If you can't warm it from outside; warm it from within.

The route. Yahoo's routing algorythm isn't consistent enough to produce the same result when I plan as it is when you view it. I tried to get them to hire me to do their quality -- but ... So it isn't quite right. You probably won't want to ride on that freeway.

Keep on rocking in the free world!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Shawn's Chili

You might be wondering right about now, "What the heck is wrong with Shawn?" It appears as if he is on vacation, but he is hanging around the house cooking. Yeah. What's that about?

Well, I like it here. And I don't want to go anywhere. I need the down time.

So -- I am at the golden spot -- I have made the chili and now wait for the result. 45 minutes of stinky ecstasy, as the beans cook and the chili roasts, sending the neighbors to place like Mesa, Arizona in search of these delights. This is not my mother's chili. This is serious tailgate party chili. Serious southwest chili goodness. The house is rich with the aroma of it all. I promise to sweat when I eat it.

It all started because I told my ex-gf that I made chili for my parents. "You made that chili you make?" No ... I made my mother's chili. "Oh, I thought maybe you were seriously cooking for them. That's too bad." ... or something similar to that.

I am going to share this recipe with you ... gentle readers.

1 lb Pinto or red beans
One cube of butter
2 T. vegetable oil
2 lbs. chuck steak or sirloin tips cut for stir fry into 1/2" x 2" strips
1 1/2 lbs. of good ground beef
4 small onions reduced to 1/2-1 inch pieces
4 hot house tomatoes chopped and seeded
8 garlic cloves crushed then chopped into large pieces.
1/3 c. powdered chili (herein lies the magic -- this is ground/crushed arbor chilis, hot New Mexico chilis, California Mohave chilis. Mohave Foods Corp in Los Angeles offers them in little bags in Safeway.) Adjust this to your palette. It can get out of hand quickly
Large can of stewed tomatoes
2 cans of ortega chilis chopped
2 Jalepeno peppers -- chopped
1 Pasilla or Anahiem Pepper chopped
1+ t. brown sugar
1+ t. salt
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
A bay leaf or two -- If you live here on the west coast you can find these -- they grow as a Bay Laurel -- or Myrtlewood tree.
1+ t. cayenne
Pinch thyme
1+ T. Worchesterschire sauce
32 oz of beef stock
Squeeze of Lemon or touch of vinegar or splash of beer -- to add interest and help emulsify the fat ...
Cheddar Cheese

Oh my -- I just tasted it. I simultaneously thrills the tongue and warms the testicles soul.

Soak the beans overnight to reconstitute them.
Fire the wod burning oven to 300 degrees
Brown the strips of meat in half the butter and half the oil -- reserve all the result in a large pot.
Add the hamburger to the skillet and brown -- add that to the large pot
Discard all the fat from your skillet add the rest of the butter and the onions and saute -- add the garlic near the end -- when the onions are transparent -- move to the pot with the meat.
Add the chili powders to this mix.
Add all the remaining ingredients to the large pot except the beans.
Boil all this and put in a 300 degree oven
Bake covered for 1 1/2 hours
Drain and cook the beans for about an hour
Add the beans and the meat mixture together
Add a splash of beer. vinegar, or lemon juice and stir
Bake uncovered for an additional 1/2 hour
Add more beef broth if it dries out
Drink remainder of beer

Grate cheddar cheese on top and serve with raw onions for real chili goodness.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

From my Mother's Kitchen

She claims this is the Smacky's chili of Eau Claire, Wisconsin fame.

One large can (or bottle, go figure) tomato juice
Two stalks of Celery (chopped)
One small onion diced
One lb ground beef
1 T. Chili Powder
1 t. Sugar
1/4 to 1/2 lb sphagetti
1 can dark kidney beans
Salt and pepper to taste

This is quite simple.

To a large pot add the tomato juice and an equal amount of water, the chili powder and sugar and bring to a rolling boil. Be sure to salt (imagine trying to kill the nearest coronary patient) and pepper this. When it boils, uncover, add the pasta and the celery and cook till the pasta is done -- about 15 minutes.

In a skillet fire up the meat and add the onions. Brown the ground beef and drain most of the fat (save that coronary candidate now) . Add the kidney beans to this and heat it up.

Combine the two in the big pot and make sure it's all hot.

In my family, on a cold day, a windy day, a wet day, this was the best meal ever. I called my brother and that's what his wife made today. It was windy and cold today -- so that's what I made for my folks tonight.

The storm front has passed and the wind is howling down here from the north, bringing cooler temps and fallen trees. I like to eat the chili with soda crackers coated in butter. Yum. And it's good with a glass of milk.

My other brother used to insist that the kidney beans be in the pot -- but he wouldn't eat a single one. He would dig them out and give them to my father. Go figure.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

My Package from Alaska has Arrived

Three or four days of Jill's weather. Notice the resemblance of my weather to Jill's. The only real difference is about 20 degree's in temperature. She has had wind advisories, hazardous weather outlooks and probably even flash flood warnings. I been here for a while, and it's fixing to rain in a grown-up way.

Any way -- I still have no seal skin booties neoprene socks, but I do have marmot rain pants. ... I can get a bit grumpy when my feet get wet. Maybe I'll need to ride over to the dive shop. It's either that or poach a seal and find an Inuit wife.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Turn up Ipod -- Mingle with pedestrians and cross street to enter traffic. Talk to ups driver waiting at light ... avoid acute crossing of rail by cutting into traffic slowing down some BMW driver who is a hothead. Fantasize about working at Advent or one of these cool content shops near the rail station. Oh that's a truck stopped ... pass this doofus -- stand up and pedal hard. Sprint through intersection! Scream at person on phone trying to kill me with a Honda. Realize adrenaline. Signal. Ring street. Ring bell. Miss pedestrian! Pick up egg mctedwich and secure to rack. Jump curb. Avoid same woman trying to park as yesterday. Race uphill, accelerate. Coast ... to time intersection to run stop sign. Jump curb, wave to security and ride into lobby.

Who needs a training log?

Mileage for the week, 63.90; Maybe I do. because I used to ride that in a day.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Manfrotto Mono Pod

My new Manfrotto™ 679b tri mono pod. it weighs 1 pound 6 ounces. It also came with new Slic ball head (SBH-120).

It can double as a walking stick.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Plan your Escapes

Look closely at this map. It's from the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) latest quake page. It shows a 3.7 magnitude earthquake in red (and a smaller one in the same place). These two earthquakes obscure another one which happened in the last week. There are four earthquakes south of this quake. Clockwise from the red one -- an earthquake East of San Jose on the Calaveras fault and the blue one at the bottom of the map (both no big deal), an earthquake near the site of the Loma Prieta quake of 1989, a small earth quake near at the epicenter of the 1906 quake and the 1957 Daly City Quake, and then the recent quakes on the Hayward fault in Berkeley (3 at least but who's counting).

The other day I was at work and I was looking around the room -- noticing the brick walls and the evidence of earthquake retrofit. I said to my friend the transplant from the Mid West, "Do you know what to do in an earthquake here?" Get under your desk ... one brick in the head can do a job on you.

I grew up in California. I think about the world in terms of escape from collapsing buildings. Especially brick ones. Glass ones are freaking scary too. Not to mention the ones on stilts. Thinking ahead is important ... planning what to do is valuable.

Having survived a dozen or so noticeable earthquakes and some moderate to large ones (never any great ones), I want to get back to talking about the map. The thing that scares me is the earthquake at the hitch in the fault. The hitch in the fault. There's a small dogleg in the San Andreas fault right at the epicenter of the last major quake in the region. Despite a myriad of opinion to the contrary (opinion puts it north in Marin County), I think the epicenter of the great 1906 quake was at the site of that small quake in the picture -- also approximately the site of the 1957 Daly City quake. It's all based on an artist's observation of the map, unlike the science used in 1906. Quakes along the San Andreas in this section of the fault make me nervous -- even if they are very small.

My son was born right after one of these noticable quakes -- he was born the day after the Loma Prieta quake in 1989. I'll tell that story tomorrow perhaps. Today -- I was at my parents house with my daughter -- as I was that day in 1989 -- and strangely I was reminded of that day for some reason. It's 17 years later. During the quake in 1989, I was in my parents house. I have been there for most of the quakes I have enjoyed, endured. Let's just say I knew what to do.

My son and I went shopping today, and hung out with the men at the cafe. We got something for my daughter and his mother. There are many mysteries in the world -- earthquakes are one -- how men shop -- what hummus is made of -- and then there's this:

You come out at night
That's when the energy comes
And the dark sides light
And the vampires roam
You strut your rasta wear
And your suicide poem
And a cross from a faith
That died before Jesus came
You're building a mystery

You live in a church
Where you sleep with voodoo dolls
And you wont give up the search
For the ghosts in the halls
You wear sandals in the snow
And a smile that wont wash away
Can you look out the window
Without your shadow getting in the way
Oh you're so beautiful
With an edge and a charm
But so careful
When I'm in your arms

cause you're working
Building a mystery
Holding on and holding it in
Yeah you're working
Building a mystery
And choosing so carefully

You woke up screaming aloud
A prayer from your secret god
You feed off our fears
And hold back your tears

Give us a tantrum
And a know it all grin
Just when we need one
When the evenings thin

Oh you're a beautiful
A beautiful fucked up man
Youre setting up your
Razor wire shrine


Repeat chorus

Did you hear that?

You woke up screaming aloud
A prayer from your secret god

It was Sarah McLachlan. Building a Mystery. Any way there was another quake today at the same spot in Berkeley. Plan your escape carefully.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cruising the Blog World

I went out cruising the blog world. I figure that if you browse around a bit -- maybe some folks will blog back into your world and we will all get better.

So I am looking at blogs using the next blog feature which finds a random blog ...

In whatever language is there. It would be nice if it knew I spoke English and pointed me at blogs in English. They know I speak English -- Google ... i.e. blogger -- knows who I am and knows my search preferences. They probably know I like to search for "Free Asian Women," among a half a million other things. The might know what books I have read and when. They know I speak English and French and could read in Spanish if I tried for a while. They know this. I am convinced that's why they didn't hire me. They've been imagining what I've been thinking.

So I am looking at a blog that is so unintelligible that I have no idea what language it is -- it might as well be Martian (poor persecuted Martians).

It says: "anwinatza uevflk haltsv bhngv kgwa" among other things -- which frankly -- I can't read. But I have this overwhelming desire to comment: "asdf ghjkl qwerty yuoit zxcv bnm," or "klaatu berrata nicte" just to see if I get a response. This sort of anarchy could make me very happy, much in the same way as having a bike lane stencil, a can of spray paint and some free time would.

That's a guarenteed opening to anarchy, "The pursuit of happiness," maybe we should leave that out of the constitution. Amen, Brother. I remember being up at Stanford looking at a New Guinea Sculpture garden near Roble Hall. The sculptors were brought to Stanford to make this garden and while they were here they had the opportunity to enjoy Rodin's work at Stanford. After seeing this -- one of them said -- "This is nothing, we can do better than that." That ... is optimism.

Aim high. We can do better than that.
7.83 miles today. Temperature: chilly. This morning (or last night while giving some young cyclist a safer route to Palo Alto), I pulled a muscle in my calve. Ride home, hot dog and garlic fries, hot tub, cold refreshing liquids, Ben Gay™ ... bag of popcorn, sleep.

Today's 8.5

Miles ... 8.5 miles riding. I rode to work in the frost on the ground frigidness. I left my bike at work and then walked from potrero hill to Pacific Heights and then to North Beach for dinner, about 4 miles. A cab back to work then ride over to BART and train to Millbrae. Ride through the ice on the road frosty chillyness to home at midnight.

Brrrr... No snow though. I put on an extra layer this morning and was still chilly as I left the station tonight. I stopped and put on my gloves and something around my neck. By the time I got home and into the house I was seriously overheated and ripping my clothes off,

Monday, December 18, 2006

I've been Tagged

I once got pulled over on my bike for speeding through a school zone -- I was younger then. Gilby has tagged me -- I suppose I will need to tag someone now, too. But, that might take some thought. Fortunately, right after I got tagged I wrote this, which reveals several things about me.

1. My brother killed himself twenty years ago.
2. I lived in a warehouse with a menagerie.
3. I studied Fine Art as a graduate student in Pullman, WA -- I am not going to get all POMO on your ass like Annie.
4. I used to fish alot with my older brother. He liked to fish in the stanislaus river.
5. I have never ridden a bicycle in the snow. I have gotten laid in the snow -- and you know what they say about getting laid and riding a bike.

And the bonus. My son was born the day after the Loma Prieta Earthquake. There's a huge story there which I might tell someday. Two things are worth understanding. I survived a major earthquake, and so did he. Fortunately, he doesn't remember.

So I think I want to tag the old bag, and Ruby to tell me 5 things about them I don't know.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Spare me a little bit ...

I was really trying to read Edward Abbey's Journey Home, but unfortunately it's just a bit too much about actually returning home, which is what I thought I was doing, unfortunately, you never actually go back ... so instead I am listening to the Cowboy Junkies on the IPod at volume 11.

Things are returning to normal. What's normal? Four years ago I lived in a warehouse with concrete floors, more than a few dozen orchids, a crazy bird, a woman named Jane, and three somewhat feral cats, and a Pacific tree frog. It had no heat and a makeshift kitchen and a clawfoot tub right in the middle of the living room, which we fondly referred to as the observatory. ... Jane would be out, and I would have the volume on the stereo at nine with Juliana Hatfield taking the paint off the walls ... I could pretty much park my bikes anywhere. There was a 1+ mile hike to the bay directly out my door. That still seems pretty normal to me. My brother would have shown up with beer and a couple of friends, turned the stereo up, if he could have.

Two years ago I lived in the desert. The Sonoran desert. 15 minutes from the most stunning of wilderness. Scorpions, coyotes, bobcats, javelina, tortoise and tarantula, not to mention snakes. You never really had to go anywhere to find them -- they would come and visit you -- no waiting. Stereo on and up. My brother would have been there to check out the sights and bag a few peaks with his dog, who would chew up the couch. He would have complained about the heat and made more Margaritas. The desert would have begged us to hike and ride. I left that virile sun to return home.

I made a journey home like this once before. A journey back to the place I was born. Where I grew up. I went back home after grad school, after I graduated in the desert, after I did what no other person in my family has ever done. I went back. Nothing was as I remembered it. I grew in a sleepy burb ... which grew up into a freeway coated metropolis.

So I have done it again. Gone forward into something that looks like the past, to find out that it isn't there. It's just not; the past is not here. I am miles from my home.

If I could just reach the crest of that hill
this whole day will tumble and out the night will spill
The sky is still as a spinning top,
shooting stars drop like burning words from above
If I could just connect all these dots,
the truth would tumble like a cynic vexed by love

I am many miles from my home. In the place I grew up there was my brother. "I was Walking After Midnight, Searching for You." He was there, always there. He would show up on Saturday morning with two tickets to The Day on the Green. Stop in on Thursday night looking for me to go see the Taming of the Shrew with him. Pick me up on Friday night for a trip fishing to the Eel River, or whatever. It was always something -- and he was always late, but it was often good. He was always a good place for a party to start. He was smart -- brilliant -- and a disaster. My father used to say he could "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory." I travelled across the country with him, my brother. He always said that it was great to be alive. He said that, my brother. Then he killed himself. He killed himself on Christmas Day 20 years ago. Happy fucking anniversary.

On the Ipod is 'Misguided Angel.' Brother, you speak to me of passion, You said never settle for nothing less ... There comes a time when you live to break away. Baby there are things that we cling to all our life. ... Misguided Angel hanging over me. Hard like a Gabriel, pure white as ivory, soul like a lucifer, black and cold like a piece of lead.

When I was writing the introduction to my thesis I talked about my brother. Early in my life he inspired me to want to be a Painter, an Artist. When I was about 5 he painted a painting of hot air ballons ... and I decided to be like him -- to be an Artist. I talked about his inspiring me. My whole life changed that day. It's too bad he was never here to see what he had done. When I was in Pullman Washington -- he would have been there. To party! -- and to cheer me on. He would have shown up unannounced with his Pentax, and say I was in the area ... We would have smoked some hash and ...

(Michael Timmins)

I don't want to be no patch on no quilt
(I just want to see...)
Tear-stained stitching linking memories to guilt
(I just want to see...)
I don't want to be no hair on no wall
(I just want to see...)
Blood-stained note saying fuck you all
(I just want to see what kills me)

Tommy, are you ready we better head to town
J.D.'s box is waiting to be lowered down
and you know how he hates to be kept waiting 'round

I don't want to be no chalk line drawing
(I just want to see...)
Toe-tagged question mark, until identifying
(I just want to see...)
I don't want to fuse with no economy seat
(I just want to see...)
fuel some fireball at 30,000 feet
(I just want to see what kills me)

Tommy, did you catch his face
before they closed the lid?
I swear I saw him wink once and flash me that old grin
Oh, you know, that would be just like him

I don't want to face no hollow-eyed ending
(I just want to see...)
Loved ones buried, empty days of waiting
(I just want to see what kills me)

Tommy, darling, come to bed
we'll try and sleep away this sadness
These memories, too, are bound to die
so our dreams will have to serve us
Tomorrow may be the day that our love betrays us
Do you think it's too late to volunteer to work on the suicide hotline on Christmas morning?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sheer Madness

This is madness. Please spread condoms to Africa to prevent the spread of aids. Not this voodoo. I can't imagine why the New York Times thinks this is news.

You'll have to sign in. If not it says that circumcision reduces the chance of infection with HIV by about 50% for men (let's not even bother to talk about the women who have unprotected sex with these men). Those odds can be beat I think.

Happy Days!

Make your own Razz!

Monday, December 11, 2006

My Kitchen Would Like Some Attention

Oh, well. The sink flooded the other day and slowed the pace of blogging all to hell. Made a mess of things out into the hall and I woke with security in my kitchen. SO I have fans all drying me out and things look like they might get back to normal sometime after the new year.

The upside:

It's easier to park the bikes on the concrete floor in the living room.

The heater is on, so it looks like I might stop feeling cold before March.

I rode 55+ miles last week because I was so comfortable in my place.

I got to sleep on a cat last night at my friends house.

I don't have to lock the door because so many people are going in and out every day.

I won't need to worry about whether I will have enough money to run the Colorado again this year.

There appears not to be a really large amount of damage (fingers crossed).

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Drawing with a Pencil

So here I am -- in San Francisco -- far from the adventures I have known in my recent past, close to all the adventures of my childhood, reading, as it were, the future and current adventures of Jill. I have to admit I am more than a bit jealous.

I have boots, and a bike, and a truck. I can walk, hike, ride, camp, bike, but can't manage to get away, so I stay here. I miss the new Jane, the "happy hiking buddy™", and the Superstition Ridgeline. I can go there. If I can just get away.

I can't. In my youth, I was stuck here too. I dreamed of tigers and safaris and ostriches, and places far away, rain forests. I wrote read National Geographic on the remote wilderness and the world adventure. I was their staff ornithologist. I dreamed. I dream now, too. I dream of orchids in Madagascar and Brazilian women (just one actually). I dream of the world without. I dream in the dentist's office as I read where people have circumnavigated the globe under human power. I could be one of those people.

And where am I? They survive a hurricane at sea in a boat and I am at my desk. Did you know that Ernest Hemingway finished "As the Bell Tolls" in Havana, Cuba. I can't even go there, as far as I know. I am really just here, in the place of my youth. My friends are here, and I make new friends easily, because I know the rules, the local code. I grew up here, in a marsh, in a barrio, I lived through glass in the street and neighbors that we called "the stealers" for seemingly obvious reasons (they were replaced by a Portuguese family that -- guess what -- got robbed) and several floods.

I feel V.S Naipaul's neighborhood in Trinidad in the way I can still feel my own. The babysitter of teaching my children Erdu is here, my neighbor of the perpetual sushi is here. My best wiffle ball playing childhood friend. Islander Markets and taquerias, the taquerias of my youth. Seafood, tacos and cioppino. I am a tidepool of cross-cultural driftwood. So be it.

So, where am I now? On a journey in my head -- an adventure within. It's a place where we draw the birds in our yard and read all the bird books at our library. We draw the birds of the Arctic, the puffins, and barnacle geese, and dream of the future when we can travel. Shoot arrows into a bale of straw at the back fence until we manage to send one out to the freeway. We get poison oak at the local rope swing while smoking (my political career is a disaster anyway -- honest -- I did inhale) and dive off the dam at swim in the water shed. It's the place where we had our first kiss and got the truck stuck in the mud; the first time we got laid, and then I met that young Asian woman who will remain nameless. We rode our bikes to shoot at rabbits with wrist rockets, and later learned to hunt with guns. A rock concert -- a love-in, and ... a fifth of tequila. Birds on the edge of the bay in the morning. Canoe trips and costume parties. And we should never forget beer drinking bonfire parties to be broken up by the cops on the beach out at the ocean in the wee morning. It's the place where we met ... almost every one we know.

It's the place where I learned to work and ride a bike; learned to navigate an uncertain future. I learned to make art, got married, raised a family, and was a strong part of this community. My community is here. My friends, family and mentors are all here, too; some to live and die here. I sure wish I could strike out on a ten mile hike with the camera into the sun and the scorpions ... there's a wilderness within, I know it; I just have to find it. I must find it.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Inspiration to Change

Last week or so, I received a letter from a friend of mine talking about how he'd been thinking of me. He was planning to start trying to get back into shape, the kind of shape that would put him back on a mountain bike, and be able to enjoy it.

He told me that he was inspired by seeing me change my life, from a smoking, hiking, hacking maniac into a biking, hiking, hacking, maniac. He watched the photos roll in as I drove my car 30000 miles a year around the west shooting pictures. He witnessed a quiet and powerful change as I quit smoking and hit the road on my bike, preparing to ride a 100 miles for the first time in my life. I was flattered and touched to realize that I had this influence on his decisions; that I might have been an inspiration to him to get fit.

On November 10 of this year, one of the most profoundly inspirational men in my life passed away. Ray Lorenzato, Professor Emeritus at the College of San Mateo, father, Sculptor, and my mentor for several years, passed on. Saturday or Sunday morning I'll ride my bike down to San Mateo's Central Park for a memorial on his behalf at 11:00. Ray was a daily challenge to change, and a inspiration at every step.

A new friend of mine has told of this and it's been very interesting to meet Michael. He was one of Ray's colleagues and indirectly caused a profound change in my life, many years ago. I had the pleasure to tell him this, because I recently met him. My (ex)wife was a student in his class where he taught a lesson about a Flemish bread called Desem, which is made only from whole wheat flour and a "yeast" or organism cultured for the flour, and water. As a result of this lesson and my subsequent attempts to bake this bread and eventually reading the book The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book (and several other titles on the subject of eating better for a better planet) I stumbled upon an article (in the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book) which became part of my life's philosophy. It was the introduction, entitled Always a Choice, by Bronwyn Godfrey, which changed the course of my life. I started eating to impact global politics, I started to eat better, I studied colonialism and I ate better. I started thinking about what I was doing, what I was doing with my voice, my money, my appetite, my effort. My (ex)wife was right there with me. Did I mention that I ate better?

I embarked on a search for a better way to live, a better set of rules, a search for better bread, and on a bread baking quest of my own. A search for a philosophy to help me navigate a confusing world. I fed my friends and gave them loaves of bread. I still make the lentil soup recipe I learned from Frances Moore Lappe in Diet for a Small Planet, and I can still bake a damn good loaf of whole wheat bread. I can't believe that people embrace a lie of scarcity, amid such incredible bounty. It was a great ride I went on, intellectually, socially, physically, happily.

In teaching my wife, oh so many years ago, a simple lesson about how bread was made, Michael had a significant and profound impact on my life, the life of someone he didn't even know. He started an avalanche of choices and decisions that led to where I am today. All from a simple glimpse into the staff of life. A simpler life.

So how do we inspire others in our world to change? I had a conversation with a friend of mine about how I generally felt apolitical in most conversations. I didn't find conversations about politics to be all that exciting. I said that the simple act of having a conversation of politics was usually a serious waste of time.

He asked, "What about the quiet way you life your life? You take photos of the beauty of nature, and you ride everywhere you can. What about that -- is that apolitical?" I say no, it's powerful. It's the only vehicle for change that I have control over. It's actually an idea better defined in feminism. Carol Hannisch's idea that "the personal is the political," is here. Change your life, and you can change the world. It's not just for women.

Ride your bike, eat well, demonstrate the beauty of nature, live healthy, and ask the people around you to join you. Ray and Michael, and my (ex)wife, all inspired me. Change your life -- and maybe someone will be inspired.

It's really cool to think that I might live in a way that inspires people.

I tuned up the roadster today, filled her tires, put lights on her. Took her out for some lovemaking a spin. She's looking good, still under 20 lbs. If I am not going to drive -- I need to be able to get around a bit better.

On the Ipod: Prince, When doves cry. Allison Brown, Mambo Banjo. The Crusaders, I felt the love. Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares, Sableyalo Mi Agontze.

There's a few miles involved.

Today: 21.46
December: 37.62
Weather: 50°F. and clear

Live well.

Eat Well.

Friday, December 1, 2006


This was a nice example of a moire affecting a digital image. Blogger must have screened it out. Hmmmm, now it's just a fat wad of keys.