Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Endless Desert

The idea here was to show that I was just driving through an endless desert. Most people probabably don't think that the central valley in California is really a desert ... but it's a lot like a desert. Any way, I am in Twentynine Palms, CA for the night. Tomorrow, Joshua Tree, and onward to Phoenix.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Fork in the Trail

... I took the road less traveled. That's pretty cliché. Cliché is a French word that means snapshot. The French maybe don't quite have it right. What makes a cliché is that the image is effective, so it is subject to a bunch of agreeable use. It's widely understood and oft used, and we all know what it means.

Yawn. Now that I am free, I am going to run out to Arizona, for a few days. I'll spend the New Year Holiday in the Superstitions with the Happy Hiker Guy, and our friend Dale. We are going to Reavis Ranch for two days and I'll be in the Phoenix Metro for a few days. currently temps in Mesa are about like the are here, but promising to drop0 to freezing over the next few days. It will be cold at night in the superstitions at 3-4000 feet.

After a few days in Phoenix (looking for a job.) I'll spend about 10 days in Flagstaff, where it's snowing and the temps are ranging from 4 degrees F. to 25 degrees over the next couple of days. I am taking my bikes and gear and plan to try to ride a bit around Flagstaff while I am there. So I developed a little checklist for my gear for riding in winter with snow. Since I'll be a rodie in Mesa and a Snow Biker in Flagstaff, I'll have 2 bikes. The Trek mountain bike and the Marin San Marino.
  • Spare platform pedals (so I can wear my boots).
  • Gloves (2 pair)
  • Cycling shoes (2 pair)
  • neoprene booties
  • rain pants
  • long underwear (capilene or merino wool)
  • Wool shirt
  • Scarf
  • Jacket
  • Raincoat
  • Socks
  • helmet
  • balaclava
  • Pump
  • Toolkit
  • Spare tires
  • Water bottle
  • patch kit
  • tights
  • bike bag

I'll be getting ready.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


This is a clipping from my grandmother's recipe book, which, according to my mother, came from the Jamestown, ND newspaper sometime before 1934, when my grandfather died of pneumonia. This recipe is interesting, because one, it assume the reader can cook and bake, and two, it assumes you'll find some business for 10 egg whites (like containerizing them and freezing them for the rest of eternity -- that's what I'm planning), and three, that you'll know what sort of flavoring might be good.

Any way, this was a staple christmas favorite in my family from the 1920's until well before my grandmother passed in 1993 (at 97). It's a bit of a simple dough deep fried and coated with sugar. I don't think my grandmother used lard (my mother says peanut oil, but I am thinking crisco), but I did. The recipe was lost in a pile of stuff at my mother's, but after a fairly long search today, I found this little scrap of paper.

And it says:

Fattigmand (sic, Fattigmann is more common)
10 egg yolks
2 eggs, whole
10 teaspoons sugar
10 teaspoons cream
Any flavoring can be used

Beat yolks and whole eggs; add sugar and beat. Add cream, and enough flour to roll like cookies. Roll very thin; cut in diamond shapes, punch holes with end of knife, and fry in deep (very hot) lard.

So I made them. It wasn't until I took a stab at poke holes in the dough with tip of knife and heard the scrape of the knife against the board that I began to hear my grandmother talking in my head ... "Keep the board clean, with a thin dust of flour, roll this really thin. Make sure the oil is hot, you can tell by the way the water boils off as soon as it hits the oil". I could all of the sudden smell the smeels of her kitchen -- the mysterious starting to roll back, exposing themselves.

Now if I could just find the recipe for the sticky buns ...
Note: It turns out my memory of events was a bit off, my ex-wife claims that she's never seen these, which means my grandmother had stopped making them before 1983-ish.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ummm ... I Baked Some Bread

... Spicy Currant Bread, to be exact. I used to bake a bunch of whole grain breads, which, as we all know, takes special voodoo magic. I haven't baked bread for some years ... but it seems like maybe it's a bit like riding a bike ...

This recipe comes from the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, which is a must read if you are interested in making good whole grain bread.

Tomorrow morning I will share it with some friends. Tonight, my place is filled with great smells and warmth.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ahhhh ...that's better

Dear Shawn,
I don't know why you have neglected me for so long, but I appreciate the bits of grease and the new handle bar tape, and the new fangled saddle with the hole in it. It's about time. I am a sophisticated, serious, lightweight, carbon and steel road bike, and I deserve better (I can;t believe you actually let me get rusty). I was second best in my class in 2003. I am fast, sleek, and a great hill climber. I have to insist that you take better care of me from now on.
I notice that you have a couple of cool new mountain bikes. I am pretty jealous of those, and I am glad you've moved them to the other side of the garage. I don't want thewm to get the idea that they're important.
I feel better now that you've put air in my tires and ridden me a couple of times. I appreciate the ride to Lake Merced, it's beautiful there and it's been so long since I have been out. Today's 5 and 1/2 mile ride was a bit short, but it sure was fun now that I am all spruced up. You should continue to try not to ride me through puddles.
Your Roadster.

Multimedia message

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Saddle ...

... what will gilby think. I have always been a strong advocate of a Brooks saddle as seen in this old post, Tearing Myself a New Asshole, so this must seem like an absolute reversal of great past wisdom. But it's not. When I got the Surly KM, I moved my swell Brooks Saddle over to it and returned my Selle Italia Trimatic to its original home on the San Marino Yellow Bar 20 lb. roadie. After last week's ButtRendering&trade on the Selle Italia; ride, I decided to look at a new saddle.

I let the bike wizard guy talk me into looking at the Specialized saddles with the hole in the middle, which I like to refer to as the assGap™. He had me sit on an assGauge™ to determine my bony butt wants a 143 mm wide saddle and then we picked out one with gel. A Specialized Phenom. Despite my original tirade against gel, with the assGap™, the gel won't be able to wedge itself up where the sun won't shine -- so maybe I can tolerate it.

So I put it on the bike -- and have so far retired the Selle Italia Trimatic ... 2003's finest and a very popular saddle. It has Manganese gizmo-rod things and is handmade of leather and plastic in Italy, by expert seat makers. It has a couple of signs of wear after about a 1000 miles of use, and is scuffed on both ends. If you're willing to pay shipping and a hundred bucks or so -- it's yours. It's well made and although I don't like it, many people rave about it.

If I don't like the new saddle, I suppose I'll have to buy a Brooks Titanium Swallow (wholly crap, I'll need a loan), and move The Specialialized Phenom Gel over to the trek -- which has a generic foamy crapSaddle™. It will be an improvement.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Layers of My Life

So ... a couple of days ago I started sifting through my stuff. Looking for my sign grip (a toolbox, if you will) and a box of paint cans. It's because I may have a side job lettering something, which I haven't done since the last time I was unemployed. So I need the brushes, whispery bits, odd gadgets and other sorts of what-not that allow me to perform the real magic of painting.
Magic, you say?
It's really probably the Guilder's fault that glitter is associated with magic and mysticism. The guilder uses static electricity generated by rubbing the Guilder's tip (a brush) in his hair to pick up gold leaf from a cushion. this action deposits bit of gold in the Guilder's hair. Now for the scary part, the static electricity causes the gold leaf to literally leap from the cushion to the brush (ooohs and ahhhs). This is clearly evil wizardry.
But what about the painter and the magic wand. What other profession can you think of where a person (Artist) waves a wand (paint brush) to create some thing (painting) where before there was nothing. Now that's your real magic. No wonder painters were venerated. It was fear of magic. Ha!
Anyway, let's get back to the subject, my grip. "Grip" is a term that old-timey set painters and the like use to call their tool box. They are musty, oily places with tapes and razors and wads of gum, the stuff used to put a show together. Mine has cheese cloth and cotton balls, crazy odd hand cut graining brushes and the occasional screwdriver. I used to say that with that toolbox I could go anywhere and work.
It really started in about 1985 when some crazy friend of mine said "Hey, why don't you make this guy a sign?" Well it started before that -- but this is where I'm going to start. I was sitting in a bar named "Stella Blue," which happened to be right near the local sign shop, and met this guy who told me he was painting a painting ... and a few weeks later he was teaching me to really make signs and I was helping him paint. There are a bunch of twists and turns to this story and although I never was that great at it -- I was a sign shop for about 5 years. Then I taught painting at the local community center, and went back to college. When I got out of college I got divorced and went to grad school with a truckload of tools and a Subaru, which leads us to the point where this story actually starts.
Me looking for a box of sign paint amidst a huge pile of stuff. Layers of stuff. When I moved to Eastern Washington to go to grad school right after giving up everything in my divorce, I had a truck load of tools, what fit into my Subaru, and my freedom. Two years later I packed up my studio and sculpture and the contents of an apartment and headed back to California to create the first layer of stuff in the storage that would not get unpacked. I moved to Northern California and back, New Hampshire and back, South Korea and back, Arizona and back, and several times in between. Each time I've added a layer to the storage here at my folks. About 11 layers. Some stuff always finds a home in the new location ... the stereo, the sign kit. Some paintings. the topo maps. Other stuff -- always manages to return to the pile ... letters from a certain friend. Oil painting stuff.
So I've been riding around with an old-timey sign guy, once covered by Signcraft magazine, when he was a sign shop in Maui. Definitely one of the local characters. I offered to help him out if he needed a hand, and he did. We ride around in his truck, fix up old signs, make new ones, drink coffee, flirt with waitresses. It's just like living one of the old layers of my life. One of the good layers.
As I clean up and sift and sort ... I find myself uplifted by my past life. The stuff I did. Each layer has residue that is about what I did at the time. The things I was interested in. There are layers of me as a painter, a sculptor, birder, bird owner, orchid collector, camera enthusiast, a darkroom layer, a ceramics layer, a blacksmith layer, a software layer, a manager layer, an adventurer layer, and we shouldn't forget about the bicycle layer. Or the book layer.
Anyway, so I walked into the sign guy's shop and it was organized like mine ... "In Wally's world, sandpaper is usually at the end of the shelf, standing on edge;" once you know that you'll always be able to find it.
I missed my unorganized shop in the barn at 20 South Eldorado when I had two cats and a one year old, a phone and a roof that leaked; A racoon that was starting to act like a pet, and a neighbor that made sculpture with names like "Gateway to Narnia" and drank like ... well ... a drunk. My unorganized shop with a greenhouse on the roof and wild parrots in the trees above.. The same year that I traded a sign for a VW 411 -- which I later traded for a 46 flat bed Dodge. The Sign Layer.
I could go back to that.

Monday, December 8, 2008

On Becoming Human ... Or I'm a Statistic

This week I've become a statistic. One of ~90,000 jobs lost in California over the last month. AT&T layed off 12,000 "resources" (aka ... people) that very day, which is nothing compared to the 10 jobs lost in my companies SF office. It seems really inhumane the way these large corporations reduce, downsize, and hack the size of their "staff," their "resources". It seems that the further up you get, the less likely it is that the people will be called people, much less friends, and that the decisions made about who to cut where, will be made regarding "resources" that are largely unknown to the "management."

It's clear that no one who actually knows me was involved in the decision. Hopefully that makes it easier for them. I know that makes it easier for me. I am probably an ok guy, and they just don't know what they're doing. After all, they don't even really know me.

When I was in graduate school at the school of Wazzu, we practiced being human. It was our job. There was 16 of us, grad students in art. We loved and hated each other, the faculty, and the undergrads. We were the face to classes and accesible for schlepping stuff around, or helping at the firings (ceramics, not people), or bronze casting, to lecture ad hoc, read papers, spout untested opinions, give technical advice, but most importantly, to find the way to justify and explain are own humanity. To find the big T truth, to explain our very meanderings, the real arguments for the being in human being.

I remember at that time I was reading an amazing amount. I was also hiking and exploring the Bitterroots, the Palouse, Eastern Washington, and Idaho. I was exploring. I was looking for myself in a landscape of farmland and hard work, wilderness, and my own acute philpsophical mind. I was making Congoesque objects from grease and wool, and barbed wire, trying to heal myself. I was reading Vine Deloria and Jose Sepulveda, and arguing the case for my own ideas in a great scholastic swirl. The freedom to chase these ideas was intoxicating.

Like I said I was reading a shit load. I was looking to Pablo Neruda, Borges, Terry Tempest Williams, Edward Abbey for the evidence of my humanity. Neruda spoke of love and injustice, Borges of an undefinable dream, of desire, Abbey of the absolute, of travel in the wild, and Terry Tempest Williams of the desire of people to become human.

The desire to become human. Just think about that for a minute. Why is being human so difficult that we all want to do it. You might be wondering about now what this has to do with being layed off -- seemingly less than humanely.

How do we get to the place we where fear life without our job. That we won't survive. That our kids won't thrive. That we won't be defined well. How do we get to the point where the conversation is about whether or not we're willing to agree to not speak disparagingly about the company that is laying us off, in exchange for the small bit of severence they allot us. How do we get to the point where we call our co-workers, our friends, "resources."

It's because we don't take enough walks. We don't go outside. We focus on our stuff and not our actions.

I know this because I did it. When I finished grad school, I set out to make art; teach art. I worked for two years, showed all over the west. Lectured, won prizes. I made no money. I took a job out of desperation and turned it into a great career. I just got layed off in the middle of a an economic disaster and I am so delighted and scared. Why?

One. I doubt myself. Two. I know this is just another opportunity for me to be a human being. I know I can travel, work hard, be kind, and get by. I am relieved because I feel abused. Pay doesn't make up for abuse, time does. I am excited because I have been planning a trip for a while. I just needed to get some time to go. Now I can. I can go to Alaska and look for a job. I can retrain for a new career. I can try to find a way to have more fun and ride my bike.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ask Me Where it Hurts ...

The Mushroom Girl shooting God beams at Fort Funston.

A while ago, The Mushroom Girl scored a bike, a X-country Peugeot, possibly about 15 years old, all steel and set up to bring home the bacon. She has been riding it everywhere. I think she likes it. I would have bought it for myself if I could, but it was exactly her size, and it's the perfect bike for her.

So, the Mushroom Girl came to me and asked if I wanted to go for a thirty mile ride with her before she leaves for some Asian islands in about a week. She said -- well -- "I want to go to Lake Merced", and I am thinking -- oh, that's like a fifty miler. We'll need to start early, say -- 11:00. She's training for the ride for your life AIDS thing, where you have to raise a crapload of money, and then also ride your bike 450 miles (from SF to LA) or so in 5 days. So I am all for helping out.

Well, I haven't been on a bike since October 1 or so, but I figure, well -- I am in pretty good shape. I've been working out ... and so on. So we park up in Hillsborough by the watershed, but away from the trailhead at Crystal Springs, where so many cars (including the Mushroom Girl's) have been broken into, And head North. It's like 2:30. We tear down the first 6 miles, so quickly, neither of us believes it.

Seriously, we bounce down the bike trail and the crazy girl is pointing and calling out Mushrooms alongside the trail (it rained finally) and it's looking like a serious roll into the city. We break briefly and I ask if she has any lights ... No. I think, well I have lights. We hammer up Skyline road and gracefully descend past Fort Funston and into the city. At one point we found ourselves on the freeway so rode back to a Starvebucks™ and asked a Barristar™ if it was ok to ride on the freeway. He said it was, so we believed him and did. Zoom-Zoom.

We found the Lake. I looked at my odometer and it said 15 miles ... We briefly debated going around the lake, but decided we better turn back for fear of the approching darkness.

There's a HangGlider in This Shot.

Or Maybe the Hanglider's in This One.

At Fort Funston I discovered that I actually only had a headlight (the crappy Blackburn tailight has fallen out of it's holder) ... and we were probably going to be riding in the dark. I estimated 1.5 hours of useful light. We could make it, but we had to Go. Despite a fairly tough ride back, championed by the MGirl, we still were trapped by darkness, with the last bit being a bit challenging.

When I got home I ate like a horse. A roast beef dinner with a baked potato, cornbread, and green beans, followed by a 700 calorie protein shake and a pint of vanilla ice cream. Yummy. I love riding a bike.

There was this one spot during the ride where I had to stop and walk while climbing Trousdale Blvd., due to some cramping, but it only slowed us for a few minutes. I might have pulled a quad slightly. I suppose I'll know before long.

Any one care to have a guess at where today's ride really hurts?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Night at the Laundromat

I went to the gym ... imagine that. I had no idea what I was doing so last week I talked it over with my trainer buddy. He showed me a few lifts and how to try to prevent myself from getting hurt. He thought sets of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 would be good, increasing the weight with each set.

I did sets of:

Standing Shoulder Press with a single @ 75.
Squat with a single at 120.
Deadlift with a single @ 150 lbs.
Assisted Pullups with a single @ 150
Assisted Dips with a single @ 150
Sit ups

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fitting Fitness into a Busy Life

I was talking to my friend Saul one day about making it to one of his workouts, and how I just didn't have time ... when he said, "You've just got to tell them (presumably all the people in my life -- like my boss), that you've got something more important to do (meaning workout).

It's the truth. What he said. I remember reading the beginning of a book about whole wheat bread baking, The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, which went to great lengths to describe how to incorporate bread baking, or other things, like raising a cow, into one's life. Serious plans for baking bread regardless of work schedules, day care, or any of a variety of other interference.

Making a space in life for the important things, like personal health, is pretty imperative, I suppose. So I quit the climbing gym, and signed up at the Y near my house.

This morning I turned my morning shower in to a workout. I got up, drank some juice and grabbed a hard boiled egg, and brushed my teeth, gym bag, drive, stop for coffee, drive, swim, shower, drive to work.

Normally, it takes me about an hour and a half from my bed to shower, coffee and get the car on the freeway to work. This morning I was up at 6:45 and on the way to work at 8:30, an hour and forty-five minutes. By getting up a few minutes early, I squeezed in a half hour swim. Amen to that.

Swim: 500 yd/100 yd/5650 yd.
Run: 0/0/9.55 mi.
Bike: 0/0/15 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike: 1.5 mi/11.4 mi/28.8 mi.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Swim: 0 yd/500 yd/5150 yd.
Run: 0/0/9.55 mi.
Bike: 0/0/15 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike: 1.5 mi/11.4 mi/28.8 mi.

Weight: 155

That's a base for the week of 12.5 miles with a 3.2 longest trip, so I think that may be a starting point.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Swim: 0 yd/500 yd/5150 yd.
Run: 0/0/9.55 mi.
Bike: 0/0/15 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike: 1 mi/7.8 mi/25.3 mi.


Swim: 0 yd/500 yd/5150 yd.
Run: 0/0/9.55 mi.
Bike: 0/0/15 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike: 2.1 mi/9.9 mi/27.4 mi.

Weight: 156

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Little Recovery Drink


Swim: 0 yd/500 yd/5150 yd.
Run: 0/0/9.55 mi.
Bike: 0/0/15 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike: 2.1 mi/6.8 mi/24.3 mi.

Weight: 158 (grumble)

It seems like my weight is increasing ... I came home from the gym after about 25 minutes with a 146 average heart rate, which indicates a fair workout. Assuming I could burn about 500 calories at a serious walking pace per hour, this could be approximately 250 calories burned. I figure the 15 minutes or so in the hot tub maybe doesn't burn all that many calories.

So I burned a couple hundred calories. I have been reading this book called the Paleo Diet for Atheletes by Loren Cordain an Joe Friel, which talks about the importance of eating relative to recovery -- in fact, it seems to consider all eating in terms of recovery -- and recommends a recover drink.

SO I mix up my favorite recovery drink:

1 cup Brown Cow Cream Top Vanilla Yogurt 220 calories
1 scoop Solgar Whey Protein Powder (20g) 70 calories
1 scoop Green Vibrance Super Green Food 44 calories
8 oz Grape Juice (Grape or Apple or Mango) 160 calories
1/2 cup trader Joes frozen organic blueberries 40 calories
2 crushed Advil caplets (just kidding)

Ok -- so I do the math real quick like 22 29 33 49 53 +4 = 534. Let's see ... that can't be right.

If I were to drink another glass of whatever at 200 calories and then have had an espresso with cream before ... that puts me in the same category as the folks that drink a caramel machiato and then walk to the car to work it off... 800 calories - 250 == 550 calories in the unwanted fat category. No wonder this recovery drink sends me right to nirvana.

I go back to the book. It says to skip the caramel machiatos and the beers. It says to cut back on the recovery drink unless you workout intensely or for more than 60 minutes. Go figure -- I think I need to work harder.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Swim: 0 yd/500 yd/5150 yd.
Run: 0/0/9.55 mi.
Bike: 0/0/15 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike: 3.2 mi/5.7 mi/22.2 mi.

Weight: 156 (grumble)

I managed to keep a bit higher pace today, managing a 5k in about 42 minutes. It's almost a running pace.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Swim: 500 yd/500 yd/5150 yd.
Run: 0/0/9.55 mi.
Bike: 0/0/15 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike: 2.5 mi/2.5 mi/19 mi.

Weight: 152

Friday, October 31, 2008

Saving Willie Martinez

A couple of weeks ago at work I took a first aid certification training, with a handful of my coworkers, during which I told a brief retelling of the time I found a guy in a parking lot, stabbed in the chest. Tonight at the Halloween party at work, one of the folks that heard that story expressed an interest in hearing the entire story.

For me, this story is a tale of a real life changing event. I have told the story a few hundred times, and although my role in it might be considered to be heroic, for me it was just the least I could do.

It was a normal sort of day in suburbia and my wife and I, went to check out a Play Zone store in Fremont, California, to find out about a party for my daughter's fourth birthday. Since my daughter is now 21, that means that this was the end of July, early August in 1991. I can't remember entirely the date, but I sort of suspect August 2nd was the day -- since I think I read the Saturday paper to find out details about it the next day. So anyway my wife and I and the two kids went to this play zone in Fremont to arrange a party in the Subaru.

I am getting a bit ahead of myself. At the time I was working teaching recreation classes in painting and recently the administrator of the city of Half Moon Bay had forced an official San Mateo County first aid kit on me, since I was teaching a course in landscape painting, which I put under the seat of the car. Although I had had Red Cross first aid training, I don't think it was actually current, but the night before I had seen an interesting story about emergencies, first aid, and how to stop major bleeding.

So we are in this Play Zone checking out the party action, and book a party and leave ... I insist on going back in to pee, but find the bathroom all jammed up so leave any,way and then make a wrong turn to the admonishment of my wife and we are driving through the parking lot and there's a guy on his back the ground in the opposing lane of traffic with a panicked woman screaming on top of him and shaking him. There's blood. I reach under the seat and grab the first aid kit.

I stop the car and get out.

"What's happening?" I ask.

"It's my boyfriend, he's been stabbed. A bunch of guys, they beat him, then they stabbed him."

The right side of his shirt is soaked in blood about heart high. There's a lot of blood.
"Ok, sit down right there on the sidewalk, and I'll see if I can help him." I ask. "What's your name?" I ask him as I open his shirt. There's a one and a half inch wide puncture wound in his chest, just about where I imagine there's a huge vein. It's bleeding. Not pumping. But there's a huge amount of blood coming out.

"Willie Martinez."

"I am gonna try to help you, but I think it's gonna hurt."

"Ok." he says, and passes out.

I take a look around. I am in a lane of traffic and I am alone. I see a guy in the near distance running directly at a phone. I assume (correctly) that he's going to call 911. Willie's right hand is bleeding. I open the first aid kit and grab the biggest gauze thing I can find -- which is a 4" compress. Open it and press it against the wound. My wife asks if I need anything.

"Can you bring me a diaper, I really need a bigger bandage?" I pinch the opening closed in Willie's chest by squeezing it with my fingers. A crowd is gathering.

A woman approaches and says "I am a nurse, can I help?" I hand her the first aid kit and tell her that he has a huge cut on his hand. A large woman approches me and states that she is a doctor. I hear a siren. The doctor has trouble getting down to the ground but has a black bag. I am going though the first aid training ABC's and by now am trying to get a pulse. The doctor instructs me on finding the carotid artery, but is clearly reluctant to touch the victim.

The doctor has me roll our victim up on his side so that his good lung is up.

My wife returns with a blanket and says, there aren't any daipers -- this is all I can find. The Doctor thinks Willie may be in shock -- so we use the blanket to wrap him up and try to raise his head. The siren is close now. I now have him in a sort of hug where I am holding this little piece of guaze against his chest and pinching his wound closed between my fingers.

The cops arrive. I think, thank god -- maybe someone will take over. There is a pretty large crowd. The cop asks me what happenned and I explain the Willie got stabbed. He asks me, "How big was the knife?" I say, "I don't know," and he asks if I saw what happenned, and I say no.

"Who did?" the cop asks, and I point at the girl, still on the sidewalk. He takes his notebook and walks away. I hear another siren. The Fire Department is arriving. They run up carrying toolboxes, and whatnot. I hear another siren. The fireman look at me, and ask what's up. I tell them about Willie and they ask, "How big was the knife?" Oddly, they stand there in wonder and immobility. and the parametics arrive.

The paramedics immediately shout instructions to me -- "Don't move." "What happened?" "..."
"How big was the knife?"

"I don't know."

The paramedic ripped off Willie's shirt to examine the back of Willies body to see if the wound had gone through. It hadn't. They roll him on a backboard and I maintain my position holding him together. They setup an IV. He said to me, "Let me see what you got."

I removed my hand and showed him the wound. He made a loud gasp and so did I. Willie wasn't bleeding. He wasn't bleeding. The paramedic plastered him with a large piece of plastic tape.

I get up and walk over to the cop, "Do you need me for anything?"

"Did you see what happened?"


"You can go."

I get into the car and drive home. I wonder to myself if I just fulfilled my life's purpose.

Later that night I call Washington hospital (he's not there), the Fremont Police, and Alta Bates (the coronary truama unit -- he's there).

The nurse at Alta Bates I talk to -- and I explain I was there when it happened -- she says -- "oh you're the one ..."

I learned that he lived -- that 6 kids got arrested for beating him ,, that's everything I ever knew about it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Trade ...

Last year or maybe before that ... My son crashed on this bike and quit riding it. It's actually a bit odd that he insisted on the skinny tire road bike set up, and then crashed because of it. Any way, despite crashing -- he wants a bike again, so I am going to give him a fat tired bike to ride.

I squirted some oil on them and swapped out the pedals ... I am looking forward to riding my commuter again.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blacktail Deer

I was so close to this buck that it got uncomfortable. It snorted and I about jumped out of my skin.

Swim: 0 yd/5150 yd.
Run: /9.55 mi. 20:00
Bike: 0/15 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike: 4/19 mi.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Half-Naked Thursday


Swim: 0 yd/5150 yd.
Run: 1.6/6.35 mi. 20:00
Bike: 0/15 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike 0/15 mi.

Weight: 156

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hump Day


Swim: 500 yd/5150 yd.
Run: 0/4.75 mi. 15:05
Bike: 0/15 mi. (machine)
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike 0/15 mi.

Weight: 154

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Screw Ironing

I am working on the Physical Efficiency Battery (PEB). Today's run at 15:05 for 1.5 miles puts me on the map with a score of 65. There are some interesting points to note. The machine claimed a maximum heart rate of 199, which is a bit out of range for my age. It's not uncommon for me to be above 170, so it may not be lying.

I wonder how high it is when it's really pounding when I am mountain biking.


Swim: 0 yd/4650 yd.
Run: 1.5/4.75 mi. 15:05
Bike: 1/15 mi. (machine)
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike 0/15 mi.

Weight: 154

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Wash Day ...

I swam 20 laps in about 30 minutes. Much better than last time.


Swim: 1000 yd/4650 yd.
Run: 1.25/3.25 mi.
Bike: 0/14 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike 0/15 mi.

Weight: 154

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday ...

I took notes today.

Today's workout:

Shoulder Press 1 x 8 @ 50, 2 x 8 @ 37.5
Lateral Raise 3 x 9 @ 50
Tricep Extension 3 x 8 @ 25
Arm Curl 8 @ 31.25, 8 @43.75, 8 @ 31.25
Back Extension 2 x 8 @50, 1 x 8 @ 75
Abdominal 8 @ 50, 2 x 8 @ 75
Row 3 x 8 @ 100
Lat Pulldown 8 @ 87.5, 2 x 8 75
Leg Extensions 8 @ 75, 2 x 8 @ 50
Leg Press 8 @ 140, 8 @ 160, 8 @ 180
Hip Adduction 3 x 8 @ 100
Hip Abduction 8 @ 75, 8 @ 62.5, 8 @ 50
Chest Press 10 @ 106.25, 10 @ 81.25, 10 @ 55.25
Fly 8 @ 40, 2 x 8 @ 20

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Night at the Laundromat


Swim: 0/3650 yd.
Run: 1.25/3.25 mi.
Bike: 0/14 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike 0/15 mi.

I also did a little workout.

3 sets of 8 each of:

Bench Press 50
Butterfly curl 30 20 20
Curls 50
Pull up 120 80 80
Dip 80 120 120
Leg Press 100
Hip Adductor 50
Row 100 80 80

40 sit-ups

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Now that I've Admitted to Belching Often ...

... I mean, well, being old. I guess I can talk a bit about it. I went to the Doctor with a list. 1. I burp too much, 2. I had a tick bite on my abdomen that wouldn't heal. 3. A bump on my foot that bleeds when I hike 10 or so miles, 4. I needed to establish a relationship with a Doctor for a change.

All pretty minor stuff. The Doctor talked about my history, did I smoke, drink, whatever. family health, hypertension, blood pressure. How old I was ...

Suddenly we were all talking about a physical and screenings for colon cancer ... and she was putting on that single glove. Ok -- well what about the bumb on my foot, I am saying ... We'll get to that later, once we do all this other stuff.

I see the Gastroentorologist, or whatever. I still have no idea why I burp so much. I ask -- he's not sure. I explain about the Grand Canyon and being force plunged into the river and the water being forcwd into my stomach and lungs ... and how I had giardia and was treated for it and when that started all the burbing, and does that have anything to do withit, is it a bad "flora" or a yeast, can we test for that? I have a lot of questions.


Wellso I had the colonoscopy, now recommended for folks over 40 with a history of colon cancer in the family. 50 other wise. I also had an endoscopy, which is recommended for folks with a lot of gas and pain shortly after swallowing right in the general vicinity of the heart. I am sure this is going to be a real blast ... I am thinking, remembering my father's drinking 750 gallons of liquid to clean him out, all in a single night.

So, like I said, I had the thing. I drank the go-litely (now just a half gallon). I went in and had the morphine (the only real drug that I had never tried). I don 't remember any of it. It was done in a few hours. I saw the pictures. I heard about the 5 different biopsies. I liked the morphine -- I could get used to that.

One of the biopsied polyps was pre-cancerous. Every thing else was normal, and that I have an inflammed esophagus and stomach, and no explanation of why. I lived. I should continue to live. The tick bite has formed a decently ugly scar which may never go away. I don't seem to have lyme disease. The dermatologist scraped off the bump on my toe and had it biopsied ... Again normal. I don't have any intestinal parasites.

I still have no idea why I burp so much. I take a drug called protonix every day which helps -- but I am not going to take it forever. There' no real indication that it will stop the gas after it's done, or that the inflammation will subside.

I am not sure I am entirely right after all that. My throat is irritated and I have a twingy pain sometimes in my stomach. My faith in medical science is slightly a jar. My confidence that drinking from the Colorado River isn't that great of an idea, is still pretty intact, however.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Swim: 500/3650 yd.
Run: 1/2 mi. Time 10:00
Bike: 0/14 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike 0/15 mi.

I ran a 10 minute mile this morning. My fastest ever on a treadmill. My PB for a mile is 5:54 when I was about 14 or 15. I don't think I am going to be able to do that again, but I'll settle for a ten minute mile indoors.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mokelumne River Trail

From my trip a week ago.

Notice the bit about "advanced wilderness skills required".

Mokelumne River.

Swim: 500/3150 yds.
Run: 0/1 mi.
Bike: 0/14 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike 0/15 mi.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

These are my bike buddies immediately after one of them crashed, shortening what was promising to be about a 10 mile ride, down to about 5. There's blood in that picture -- if you look.

So -- 5 mile cycling and 900 yards swimming. Why, you might ask? Ummm, errr, it's like Sunday.

today/this month

Swim: 900/2650 yds.
Run: 0/1 mi.
Bike: 5/14 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike 0/15 mi.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

20 laps today ... I think I might have had a bit of a break through. It took me about 45 minutes to do that, because I had to stop and catch my breathe a lot. It's to be a 25 yard pool, so that's 1000 yards.

I was actually able to put several laps together without stopping to catch my breath.

Swim: 1000/1750 yds.
Run: 0/1 mi.
Bike: 0/9 mi.
Paddle: 0/4 mi.
Hike 0/15 mi.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ho Hum ...

So it's Friday night. I remember in college when I didnt have a date on Friday night. I would go and do my laundry at the laundromat and see if I could run into some other person "too busy" to go out on a Friday night. Another option might be to go to the gym, or the pool, or a women's basketball game.

I just got back from the gym, surprisingly it's much busier on Thursday night than Friday. Last night I ran a 1/2 on the elliptical and a 1/2 on the treadmill, 15 minutes on the rowing machine, and did an awesome upper body workout, along with 15 minutes in the spa.

Tonight 15 laps in the pool - mostly freesytyle sprints with a lot of gasping for air in between.

Swim: 750 yrds.
Run: 1 mile
Bike: 0
Paddle: 0

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Oh, to be on Sugar Mountain ...

So, one of the interesting side effects of turning 50 is that you're older in the eyes of the Doctors. When you show up because you've got some gas, or some bumbs on your skin, or a big ugly tick bite that won't heal, they really want to talk about taking blood for tests and several critical screenings for cancer, and they offer as often as possible to give you a perscription that you might need to take for the rest of your life. They really don't have a lot of time for the tick bite you've got that won't heal, and, sometimes, they don't remember why you've shown up for an appointment, even though they asked you to come.

So today I looked over the results of the first panel of "labs" that I have had done, which found that my cholesterol is high, and that my glucose is high. "Did you cheat while fasting?" No. Sorry, I really did fast. There were some very positive things. My PSA results indicate that I probably don't have prostate cancer, although the Doctor didn't actually speak to that directly. It's 0.37 while the acceptable range is from 0.00 to 4.00. Despite a few too many beers over my lifetime, it appears my liver and kidneys may still be working occasionally.

After discussion my normal exercise routine, we decided I should try to manage my glucose and cholesterol with (increased) exercise and diet (rather than take some cholesterol reducing drug for the rest of my life), which the doc was confident wouldn't work. She recommended that "Paleo" diet, which is basically a diet based on foods that man would have eaten prior to agriculture or the domestication of animals. As you see in the picture above, the potatoes and the steak from the dinner during my recent hunting trip, are both perfect in every way. They would both be unacceptable according to this diet, because the potatoes are harvested agriculture, and the beef is domestic. Wild animals that one might hunt or capture, collectable fruits, nuts or berries, or just perhaps generally starving due to the inability to find or capture anything, seem to be the key constituents to this diet. It seems I may need to sharpen my bear hunting skills.

I did recently join the Y near my house. They have a pool and hot-tub, and classes, and weights and machines with tv's. I am not sure how to increase my workout, because I usually climb 3 times a week and paddle once or twice, and then mountain bike once on the weekend. I suspect I need to either one, have more sex, or two, start working out the remaining days of the week at the gym in a very aerobic way. I think I will buy some tight fitting tees, some new shorts, and get a hair cut ... and start hanging out more often at the gym, and see if I can change my exercise pattern.

So -- My new plan:

M-F cycle to gym, work and home
M W F -- Climb in the AM. 5k Run PM.
T -- Go to the gym and swim AM. -- Weights.
TH -- Swim AM. -- PM, Kayak
training in the pool. Weight training after.
S -- Paddle 8 miles.
S -- Hike 5 miles, hot-tub.
There's a problem or two with this -- so it's just tentative. Once I squeeze 40 hours of work into this -- there isnt going to be any time to eat, much less gather nuts, fruits and berries.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Year in the Wilderness ...

Alpine Lake in the Rain.

or ... oh man, is it raining.

It all started innocently enough. Vacation ... 7 days in the Mokelumne Wilderness looking for bear. I left Thursday, with a truck load of gear and a general plan to camp near the road at 7000 feet in Hermit Valley. And each day, hike into the wilderness. It's a trip like one I made with my father when I was about 17. It interesting to be car camping again, so many luxuries.

Friday morning I woke with an uncharacteristic warmth to the air and a thin wispy overcast. The predictions for a storm must be true, I thought. Ok -- so it could snow. I can wait it out. I set up camp, and took a quiet walk up the hill to get acclimated and have a look around. It's a brisk 720' climb in about a mile and runs up a rough jeep trail to a knob just above camp. At the top of the hill there is a crisp wind. I am a bit winded.

By the time I return it's raining lightly, just a mist falling really, but falling steadily. I start a fire, cook, eat, and the wind starts to hum a bit above me in the trees. I secure the tent a little better. I test out the ice chest (such luxury ...) by choosing a cold beverage, and set up the chair (a chair?) near the fire. I realize that I have forgotten my rain pants, but put on my ultra-lite anorak. and determine to stand to reduce the water falling on my lower body.

Alpine Lake Still in the Rain

I stoke the fire. A family of European travelers inquires whether I have any "gasoline" for sale ... We have a brief conversation about Markleeville being about 30 miles away. We talk about bears and that the family is traveling from Yosemite. I explain that they will be ok if they have to spend the night in their car, and that here the bears are wild, and the humans have guns, which means that the bears are afraid of the humans, unlike in the National Park. I offer my gas can and they decline ...

It is now raining in earnest. the wind above me has risen to a mild cacophony and ... "I think it's going to really storm" goes through my head. I stoke the fire again and secure the camp against the wind.

The wind rises to a roar in the trees about 150 feet above me. Although I am at 7000 feet, it's still about 2-3000 feet below the tree line. I think that qualifies the climate zone to be subarctic, but just by a bit. Back to the wind. The howling increases, helping my mind to wander. I think of Frost, Thoreau and Whitman, and other great men of the wilderness, I think of Abbey, and John Muir. The roaring above me increases, but it's not really windy here on the ground. Is this what inspired Muir to climb a great tree and whether a storm at the top? The roar continues to increase in intensity.

The rain has been increasing too. The rain in Northern California is different from the rain in Arizona. It can rain 3 inches in 15 minutes in Arizona, and everything is dry 15 minutes later. In California, it takes a day to rain 3 inches and 3 days to dry out. The rain in California usually has an ocean behind it. I think about my dead brother, and how whenever we went camping it rained. I hope I haven't somehow been cursed with that.

That's when I start thinking about my time in the wilderness. The Eel river, Russian river canoe trips, crazy inner tube rides in Cache creek, the Colorado, the Sierras, the redwoods, Yosemite, Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, San Juan river, and the San Juan mountains, Vancouver Island, Zion, Joshua Tree, the Sisters, the Kalmiopsis wilderness, the Superstition wilderness, and my totally ever present home, the Santa Cruz Mountains. It started before my earliest memories. Trips to the mountains, the country, the wilderness.

I did a brief calculation. Since I am now 50, I have seriously been traveling to the wilderness for about 40 years, usually 2-3 times a year for a week or so. So I figure that it's somewhere around 100 weeks, but since I can't really say for sure, I'll just call it 52 weeks. Which is a year in the wilderness. I've spent a year in the wilderness.

That may help explain why I am standing in the rain, in the dark, when it's about 40° out, staring at a fire, thinking about John Muir riding a storm out in the top of some fir tree, and wishing it would snow.

Camp de Shawn

P. S. For those of you that follow these things, it appears that Snowshoe Thompson has a beverage™ named after him.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fight Gone Bad

I did a little photography on Saturday for FGB @ MadDawgFitness. You can see my photos featured in the post. I am also quoted in the text of the post. It was fun, and I actually worked up a sweat watching all these folks work out. Plus what -- the guacamole was excellent.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Catch a Wave and You're Sitting on Top ...

... of the world.

No kidding. Well, so I didn't actually go surfing. I did catch a wave though. I went to the ocean today in a kayak. The surf was not up much. I took a class in understanding the surf zone (sometimes called the break zone) in a kayak.

There are three zones, the soup -- frothy white stuff, inside the bone crushing, thrash a kayaker, wear a helmet, impact zone, and the shark zone -- which is everything else -- sometimes referred to as the "safe zone."

Notice how many of the words I have chosen sound damaging. Do you wonder why? Well -- it seems slightly more damaging than riding a bike. But not much. I hit the beach, I was rolled like a cigar in a kayak, which was colorfully described as being "Maytagged," which relates, of course, to what a washing machine might do to a person, and I was hammered at least once by an incoming wave. Salt water doesn't really hurt the eyes that much, nor is it too dreadful when inhaled. It seems that the beach isn't all that punishing, in the absence of rocks, or any real serious waves. Although I was a mere mile from Mavericks, I was a long ways from those conditions. It was calm with a NW swell at 3' (probably sounds like I know what I am doing).

You might wonder, "Why would you do this?" I hurt in ways I cannot describe. Unmitigated pain combined with Ibuprofen and the imminent threat of immediate hospitalization. The euphoria often associated with fat tires. I like to work out, and to work hard. Add a small element of fear and surprise, and that's a formula for a good time. It doesn't really hurt that much, and I'll sleep brilliantly tonight. When the sea grabs you and tosses you at the beach -- i seriously rocks, if it's right.

It also clearly beats the hell out of staying in the ocean forever, which would be the other choice. If I can learn to manage the surf zone, I can travel up and down the coast at will. Me, some gear, some food, and a kayak, travelling the west coast to Puerto Vallarta. I can paddle out the gate and go north to Alaska, all under my own power. Imagine that.

There's a bunch of satisfaction in that.

"Get yourself a big board
But don't you treat it like a toy
Just get away from the shady turf
And baby go catch some rays on the sunny surf
And when you catch a wave you'll be sittin on top of the world" The Beach Boys

Growing up on the coast, there's a memorable feeling in spending a day in the ocean. It nas grown and becomes part of me, enveloping me. The saltiness reminds me that there are greater forces at work. Large forces.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Sleeping with the Enemy Playlist ...

... or the testing out the ipod playlist. Anyway -- I bought a new IPod nano. if I could just manage to succeed at downloading a new version of iTunes, everything would be so cool.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Kayak at the Pace of Walking

Yep -- I paddled beside a pedestrian, a girl no less. For about an hour twenty minutes. We were at exactly the same pace. I was in the water and she was in the path on shore. ... She laughed and smiled and said "Hi." The truth is -- I can't paddle any faster than a woman walking.

I was thinking I might be able to paddle some twenty miles a day. I guess not. Never mind that. I guess I'll have to drive to Alaska.

I paddled today out towards the bay, I felt the afternoon wind and imagined the bay with it. A large motor boat made a huge wake and I instinctively turned toward it and powered the bow up to meet it. It was large and broke across the bow, ummm ... but this is a kayak. So we just floated along through it.

It's pretty cool.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I found a boat. Um -- took it out yesterday for a spin in the little puddle by my house. Everything seems to work. Paddled what I guess is about 3 miles.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hey ... where's Shawn?

Well ... I've been busy ... I learned to do an Eskimo Roll (no, that's not a sushi roll). I am trying to buy a kayak. I want to learn how to read nautical charts and learn how to navigate surf with a kayak. Ummm ... guess where I am going ...

I got my kids back in college. I have a new mountain bike. I have been shooting my bow. I still have a job. I want a real vacation.