Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hey, Nice One

Well, I went mountain biking today. It was kinda fun. Yeah. Some guy noticed I had a nice bike. Or maybe when he said "Nice One," he was referring to the huge mud stain on my chest and the bloody scrape on my knee. I mean, did someone see me fall like that? Holy faceplant Batman, ummm ... nice one.

I was going to give you all the details of the ride and a map like I did the other day by downloading the GPS data, and yep, that piece of shit (POS) Garmin GPS failed again to record any of the track data. I love that thing. I am going to get a Magellan.

I haven't actually ever ridden a mountain bike on a trail until, well, the other day. SO I have no idea what I am doing. None. Never thought to sit back on the seat when going down hill, nor to not grab the brakes in a panic. I did say brake(s).

So we left Skeggs point amidst a layer of fog and about 40 degree temps to climb the Fir Trail to do what should of been about a 5 mile loop around the Corte Madera Open Space Reserve. I started downhill after that climb and badly negotiateed a root in the middle of the road at too high a speed, and landed badly so tapped the front brake, which threw me forward, causing me to grab on for dear life, which of course, caused the front brake to really work, tossing me directly into the dirt mud like a rag doll. There was a decernable thud combined with a forced audible grunt as my chest hit the ground. I knew instantly I could have died there. I didn't hear any thing snap, but felt considerable pain as I tried to breathe and wondered, just breifly, about cell phone reception.

Whoa, that fuckin hurt. I thought. The climbing guy said "are you okay?" and "not sure," I said. I am still not really sure. I have a dent on my elbow and some road rash on my knee, and my torso is seriously damaged, but my face is okay. My lungs aren't punctured and my back doesn't seem to be broken, and I don't appear to be bleeding too badly internally. I don't think I have any broken ribs.

God forbid I should forget that I am injured and try to pick something up. Fortunately, the whiskey ibuprofen works.

I stripped off the top layer of gear and muddy clothes, glasses, gloves, and all the crap I could think of and wished for just an instant that I could smoke a cigarette.

Anyway, I did get up and ride an additional four miles or so ... including one mile to go back and get my glasses.

Some observations: my bike is sweet. I have no idea what I am doing, but am learning fast. When I was a kid I went down a hill kamakaze like and broke a bike, leaving myself undamaged; Today, the bike is undamaged. I could feel power as my legs caused the bike to writhe up hill, spinning, grabbing, sliding. My bike is heavy and the larger tires seem to cause the gearing to be higher. I need to work on the setup of the bike, but again, I have no idea what I am doing. it was hellafun to be out in the slimy dirt and getting really dirty, pedaling, pedaling ... climbing, steering, balancing, navigating.

Getting Ready

SO I am going tomorrow to El Corte Madera Open Space for a short ride in the coastal mountains. I threw a few extras in my bag, in addition to water and bike stuff and a raincoat. This is the stuff I like to take regardless of the reason to be away from civilization.
Princeton Tec Aurora headlamp
Firestarter (you never know) and matches
Space Blanket in case the fire gets out of control
Several goo packages
First aid kit with tape and intant ice pack
Streamlight Scorpion flashlight
Map, compass and GPS
Extra batteries.
Ummm, cell phone.
Here's a map of the site. Everything is open to bikes except the Giant Salamander Trail. We are going to ride the Fir Trail and try to make a loop of it,.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Well -- there's that ...

These came in the mail today. They fit my tires and my wheels. I set up a computer on my surly today and when setting the diameter of the wheels that I had surpassed all the options in the table and hadn't seen the tire size. I measured the diameter of the tire. 2335 mm. I am sure this isn't really an accurate assesment of the rolling distance, but it will do for now.

The spare tire is big. Yesterday, I left my Chrome messenger bag on the train. I am pretty sure I won't get that back. It had a pump and a pair of Merrell's in it. I am sad to lose the shoes.

This is the contents of the ordinary seat bag. Patch kit so I can recue my self or others. Crank Brothers tool set, some tire levers, tube, emergency food in case I bonk or go hypothermic, raincoat. I am glad the raincoat wasn't in the messenger bag.

Clam Miso Soup

At Tokie's in Foster City.

Firecracker Roll

Shannon Roll

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I ...

... was sorting through a bunch of old stuff. And I found these in the same box. Notice the dates and the late night indication on that ticket. I think that night I had the date with Rosemary where we danced in the middle of Broadway to some crazy latin cab radio music. There's unrequited ...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!!

Yep, This morning at preordained time of 6:00, no, 8:00, uh, 9:30 the mushroom girl and I met at the Sawyer Camp trailhead for a 12 mile ride amidst the strollers, bikes, pedestrians, skaters, and the like.

It was a chatty, casual ride and included a bit of a hill climb, and was a nice workout. A bunch of cars were broken into at the trailhead (actually, according to the Sheriff we talked to, 8 cars at various points along skyline road and the trail heads at both ends). It is a hassle to have your stuff get ripped off and your car broken into, not to mention the possible ramifications of having identity violated and credit used.

A short break at the halfway point.

The view of Crystal Springs Reservoir from the trail.

So, then I went home and switched bikes for the Surly ... to take it out to Waterdog Lake for it's maiden voyage. Everything works well and the bike seems very sure-footed. I can see where I might be able to get into more serious trouble.

It was gorgeous out.

The route was three and a half miles, and I plotted the distance/route with the onboard gps and downloaded it to the TOPO map program. I missed the real time speed indications of a computer, so I may have to get one. I do like the added stat's from a gps though, like the 473 feet of elevation change during the ride, and being able to see the elevation plotted on an xy coordinate system. All good.

The implications of using a gps on a bike provide the obvious conclusion that greater wilderness travel than ever before will be possible, despite the typical exclusion of bikes in "wilderness" areas.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Details

Shimano hubs.

A Bell, A light, destination label, really cheap headset™, and some hefty chunks of aluminum.

Okay -- so these darling wheels are Schrader, which makes a 700c x 2.1 inch tube really hard to find -- turns out has some.

Shimano Deore derailler, and Sram Powerglide II 34 with creepyLotsOfGears™.

Used Shimano SPD pedals ... and Suntour SR triple Crankset which I'll need to shift by hand. Additionally there's a Brooks saddle, Panaracer 29" x 2.1" tires and a hefty™ seat bag. With all the frills, it's about 30 lbs. and gosh -- it hums when I ride it.

Loof closely at this warning label found on the stem. This product is not recommended downhill competition, stunt jumping, or any aggressive off-road riding. This probably needs to be fixed. I am going to have to make a shirt that says that.

I am reminded of a few things after reading that. One -- that I walked out into the mud flats once when I was about 8 and got seriously stuck, two -- that I rode a hacked down shopping cart go cart off the levy in that very same spot, one of my earliest and most painful off-road experiences. Three -- that I broke a stringray like bike (find one for yourself over at the Unimart) in the chain stay area by taking it down that very same levy out where that Japan Air Lines airplane went into the bay (we rode our bikes two miles out to see it). After breaking my bicycle, I had to walk home dragging it. And four, that I saw an airplane crash site in the Superstition Wilderness during the ill-fated descent of Siphon Draw that *&@!*# screwed my knee. I find it interesting that memories are ll linked together like that, and that there are so many painful experiences associated with stunt riding.

It's a Bike ...

"Wow that's nice." "Thanks," says I. "Hey is that an '08?" "Dude, it's a bike."
Let's just say that my bike was the most frequent topic of discussion over at the bike shop. At least while I was there. It's very sweet, methinks.

Friday, March 21, 2008

It's Here

Well, I was surprised to find that it was made in Taiwan. And showing some surface scratches.

Gussetted head tube.

With some stuff on it.

The frame has nice curves.

I am missing a couple of key parts. The headset ... And honestly, I forgot that crank and bottom bracket removal requires special tools.

Gilby, I am thinking you'll notice the Brooks™ saddle.

Waiting, Hoping ... Ahhh

Monday, March 17, 2008

Deciding to Go

"All this flowing water
has got my mind wandering
Do you ever finally reach
a point of knowing
or do you just wake up one day
and say I am going?

What will I tell you
when you ask me why I'm crying?
Will I point above
at the Red Tail gracefully soaring
or down to below where its prey
is quietly trembling?"1

I was driving from L.A. to Joshua Tree, and thinking about what Edward Abbey said about there being no reason to go to L.A. and how he didn't (he went to the Havasupai instead), and thinking about my friend's dead father and also his sister, who had just cooked dinner for us. And then about how my lies about the ashes of our fathers justified the salvation of those two father's children by their basking in the wilderness.

I'll need to confess that sin someday. Maybe today.

Imagine having to go to such great lengths to explain taking 2 days off just one week after you lifelong friend's father has died. We banish our failings to the dirt of the desert, finding peace in the only harmony we know; our developing oneness with the wilderness. Being one with the world is so simple, so fulfilling, the evidence of it simple sand in the shoes of an everyday life.

Mac never spent much time with me in the wilderness. But his life and knowledge of the wilderness, his savvy and wisdom, even the very weapons of his hunter spirit, have been shared with me through my friendship with his son. I am so much better off having known this man, Mac.

Yep, I was driving along against the pre-dawn Monday rush from the desert outlife into an urban world, cautiously fighting my own transformation, by playing endlessly with my phone, and thinking of Abbey. If Phoenix is a cancer, than Los Angeles is a pox; not a pox on humanity, just on the desert. Thinking quietly of Abbey and my upcoming birthday, and the Adirondacks, and my children, and John Muir, and Ansel Adams, and wondering at how many years have passed.

The sun was cracking open the sky.

Palm Springs was passing behind me and before me lay the Mohave. An uncharted wilderness of the military, bombing runs and the omnipresent creosote, a playground of outlaws, wild horses and the occasional border patrol. Thank god and Edward Abbey. I felt like I was coming home.

Me -- finding a home in the Mohave. I should confess that.

I decided that I need to go to the wilderness and write my story.

It's not the celibate story of Thoreau, nor the hardened wilderness of Hemingway, not Abbey's tale of love, nor a sad tragedy of Alexander Supertramp. It's a story of joy, and reverence, and abandon. It's the fly fisherman of my grandfather, the goose hunter of my father, it's the happy hiking guy and prospecting in the Sierras, it's tube rides on Cache creek with my crazy brother, and skiing with my overly sane one. It's me on Steptoe Butte listening to a Russian painter explain to me that the ants crawl into the pine cones when it's about to rain. It's the Colorado in a raft, barefoot hikes in the Rockies, an icy swim in the Couer D'Alene River, or a just a simple hike to a wilderness hot springs carrying a French woman. C'est la vie.

I think there might be more to confess. I think I am gonna just go ahead and do it.

1The Cowboy Junkies, Good Friday

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's a Question of Aesthetics

I was an undergrad at the California State University in Hayward in 1993, and was really ready to graduate. I had applied to grad school and been accepted, and although I still had 2 quarters of course work to complete, there was really only one quarter remaining before I had to start graduate work.

So I concocted a crazy plan. Take all the classes (30 units) in one quarter, and if I don't pass -- take an incomplete and finish in the few remaining weeks. That required that I get the Dean's approval, and I swear that's the only time I ever met him.

Dr. Russ Abrams, a philosopher, after accepting my initial argument that, as a senior and fairly smart guy, I could probably easily pass his freshman level course in Clear Thinking if I only attended every other class (since he seemed to do everthing twice), seemed genuinely glad to see me when I showed at his class every other session. I was candid, and so was he; I asked the frequent question and he needed that. So we got along fine.

When I got the first test score back and it was an 18%, I freaked, confident I was going to fail. The highest score was a 98 and I was second, and as it turns out, a "B".

So we marched through 11 weeks of that ... me with an 18% B and he and I enjoying delightful conversations about my grandmother the astronaut, and other unbelievable but possibly true characters. I succeeded despite such poor attendance, and he revealed that I deserved an "A", however, since I had taken the course pass/fail ... I would just pass. Rumour has it that had I taken all those 30 units for grades I would have graduated summa cum laude. But, that's just a rumour.

On the final lecture Russ gave me a great treat. He made the astounding argument that Mathematics, because of it's principle of elegance, ultimately is founded on a principle of art. I don't think I have failed him at all in taking this to mean that Art itself is of the highest order in the realm of knowledge. I have many arguments in my life about the importance of art in understanding the world.

SO I was a bit surprised during the last job interview I went to when I was informed "I don't think I've ever interviewed any one with a Master of Fine Arts degree." "Then I guess it's your lucky day," says I. Guess who didn't get the job.
User Interface design, games, usage, etc. ... are all about aesthetics, which I am a recognized expert in. I don't know what they were thinking. I think they might have been a bit full of themselves.

A lot of what we do in our lives is about aesthetics ... In San Francisco, they made it against the law to use styrofoam containers for take out food, and outlawed plastic bags at grocery stores because they are bad for the environment. Personally I think that the noise stryrofoam makes would have been sufficient cause, not to mention the smell of it when it vaporizes. Or the fact that everyone in town knows what you've bought because it's in a shapeless, formless, semi-transparent, plastic bag. A paper bag has strength, character, wisdom, and it's a pretty good source of fuel. A paper bag is much more aesthically pleasing than a plastic bag.

But never mind that. It was the right thing to do -- and since we all hate that sound -- we're all better off. Amen.

This week, I am going to Durango, Colorado with my son, to look at going to college there. He doesn't really want to go. I said "Whoa, I would go there." Skiing, rafting, hiking, the San Juan mountains, nice. Wilderness. He doesn't want to go to Colorado. He wants to stay here. Even my son is making aesthetic choices. He doesn't want the wilderness, he wants to be in the city. Here.

Here. I am working in information. I live in a house that is shared by my family. I am a contractor, a mercenary. A hacker. My contract is up in May. My kids are both adults. I had this idea that I might go get a summer job and spend my summer in Alaska, Moab, or Yosemite, or Yellowstone ... ya know, drop out for a bit. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

Now, my current assignment would like to make me permanent. That is going to screw my plan. My job is not that attractive. It's really about aesthetics. I think I'll tell them no. And go anyway.

The State of Pickles

I have no idea why I would ever get sweet pickles on a sandwich, but I did. Who ever thought of that? It seems that pickles really aren't all that good anymore; they just don't tast like they used to when my grandmother made them, or when you would find a barrel full of them in the local hardware store. I would eat one of those. Really. Even the best pickles these days are somewhat disappointing.

The state of pickles isn't quite what it used to be. Some things aren't quite as good as they used to be.

I am pretty sure I am not going to be disappointed in having bought one of these. I can't wait for it to get here.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

... I'm Grounded

The finger injury has me effectively grounded. Period. No climbing. The mushroom girl and I spent the day with her bike. Fixing it up , and buying stuff for it. Well we didn't buy a rack. And lthen we didn't buy tires. And we didn't look at used bikes. And we didn't find a new wheel.

We did tweak on it, oil it a bit, adjust the brakes, and generally spend some time learning about the MGirl's bike and caressing it. We avoiding lunch and then took it for a ride.

today's miles: about 20

temp: warm and windy.

We took the route out by the bay.

It was good out there but the wsurf was up. We rode the ten miles down without breaking a sweat -- talking and chatting. We turned back and into the wind and the conversation stopped. The wind roared and it was a hump getting back. The Mgirl demonstrated her youth by leaving me behind immediately, and I never saw her again until I was back at the truck. At one point I was trying to catch her -- but there was no way for me to bridge the gap.

It's cool though. The Mgirl's bike worked well and the wind gave us a big workout and it was all fun.

Angel and the Mgirl had a birthday tonight. So we drank a bit and shot cutthoat at the pool hall.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Tapeworm is Angry

Some of you may remember this about the ultimate in easy to carry eat snack foods, the quartOfIceCream™ and about a tapeworm. I am sure none of you know, however, how all of the jokes and extra laughter about Shawn's tapeworm got started.

I sat across from my boss every day for about eight months and at about 2:30 it would start. The foraging. I would begin to prowl around the kitchen and work areas, looking for uneaten carbohydrates, ice cream bars, or an occasional cup of moose stew, which was often, damned hard to find, in that office in San Francisco. Frankly, I was hungry, and it was obvious.

One day, after a late lunch, my boss looks up at about 3:15 and says, "How's the tapeworm doing?" There was an eff-load of laughter right after that. I said, "Wha?" "Your tapeworm. Howse he doing?" More laughter. Hmmmm.

So the other night I was eating ScreamingEffingHot™ with chunksOfHabanero™ Thai food with my friend, and I belched rather profoundly. He said, "I think the tapeworm is angry." More laughter.

The Mushroom Girl and I are going to Berkeley tomorrow shopping for a used bike. so maybe after that I can tell the story about the elder brother and the Atkins diet, and about the guy who got fired for hoarding hot chocolate in his locker at work, and how if you wait for the potato chips to be put out at work you'll starve to death, because -- after all -- those are *bad* for you, ... mmm ... they're carbs, so we don't want you to have them all the time.

Pass the pasta please.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pacific Orchid Exposition 2008

shawnkielty's Pacific Orchid Exposition 2008 photosetshawnkielty's Pacific Orchid Exposition 2008 photoset