Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Everyone say hello to ThunderBolt


I had several errands to run in San Francisco on Saturday. Well I had one errand to run, and several opportunities while I was there. I had to put a deposit on a pig for the roast (It'll be on June 11th, and if Andrew doesn't send out an evite tomorrow I'll kick his ass and send one out myself). But since I was going to be in San Francisco, I thought I would check out Diesel's line of clothing as an on-line poll recommended that it's style matched mine and I'm looking for an alternative to clear cutting loggers.

And since I was going to be in the city, and it was Memorial Day weekend, and Golden Gate Cycles was having a sale, I thought I would drop in and ogle some bikes for a while. Now, armed with a nice list of things to do and a solid says worth of work, I thought some company for some of it would be nice, so I invited TeaGirl to lunch. She thought shopping would be fun, so I was pleasantly surprised with a whole day of company. Which turned out well. It's important to get some feminine opinion on clothing before you buy it.

But I found myself talking with a sales guy at the motorcycle dealership for a while, and he showed me a number of bikes that were to my liking and about what I wanted. Then he showed my what shall now be called 'ThunderBolt' (thanks TeaGirl for the name). It was pretty much exactly what I was looking for, and was on sale for a significant reduction in price that put it only slightly more expensive than a lot of the used bikes I had been looking at on Craig's list.

Remembering my fathers advice about buying used bikes from random people (and a little bit of hubris about whether or not I will ever drop my first bike) helped sway me torward the purchase. I did hesitate for quite a while on the purchase, and even gave the sales guy a little bit of a scare, because as I was hemming and hawing, another guy was trying to purchase the bike. Thankfully his credit report took a while to get, and since I was paying cash, I got to take the bike out from under him (metaphorically).

Of course I had neither insurance, nor my gear with me, so I had them hold onto the bike until today when I caltrained up with my helmet and gloves and drove off to work with it. It's so much fun. I didn't realize how much I missed riding a bike, even in 2 hours of stop lights (which was good start/stop practice for me) I had a blast.


Friday, May 27, 2005

The joys of being on the ACLU's mailing list...



Sometimes you just misread a headline...


Alzheimer victim sold 11 organs

I think I'm reading too much horror these days ...


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Helpful neighbors


The guys cleaning up the yard are going to finish up today, but they needed full access to the driveway to cart away the crap and debris that was back there. This means that I had to move my Jeep. The only problem with that is that it's been sitting there for a few months without actually being run so the battery was completely dead. And the hood realease appears to be jammed so no jumping it (I'm glad I've now got this weekend free to look into these issues)

So I had to put the Jeep into neutral and push. Not so bad on the level surface of my driveway (though steering was interresting), but once I got to the dip in the curb and had to push the jeep up the small hill into the street, well I was stuck with a Jeep half blocking Montgomery St.

Thankfully the car that was bearing down on me was driven by my neighbor coming back from the grocery store, and she wondered what I was doing. Thankfully she offered to help in spite of not knowing exactly what she could do. That's a good lesson to learn. You can always offer help, even if you don't think it will do any good.

So I had her steer and was able to aply more brute force on the hood than I was from the open door, and made quick work of parking it on the street. That was an interresting way to start a day I thought would be quite lazy.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Crank it up...


http://www.chartersventures.com/car/bencoupe/Blaupunkt.mpeg

If it's not work friendly, you should consider working somewhere else...


Monday, May 23, 2005

Mike and his friend Keith are some Dumb Motherfuckers


Mike and I went scouting out the Arroyo Seco backpacking trip in preparation for taking the squinks on it next weekend. We mostly thought we'ld check it out and look for good spots to camp, and refamiliarize ourselves with the pathways. Of course this year has had some exceptional rainfall, and so the river was running a bit hard and we made preparations to check into that as well.

The short of it is that we're not taking the kids out next weekend.

The setup for this trip requires parking one car at the Arroyo Seco camp grounds, and another at Escandito Park. When we went to the camp grounds to park, my car, we discovered neither of us had $10 in cash to put in the drop for parking. We left a note and promised to finish paying our tab when we got done with the trip. And as we left we noticed a police officer who must have followed us driving at very high speed through the hills leading up to the camp grounds and was probably very disappointed that there was no one to ticket.

Then we wandered off to Escandito park. This drive requires spending some time on Fort Ligget Army Base. They're pretty cool about it (at least for army men), and skipped the anal probe for just license, registration, and proof of insurance. Of course knowing they would ask for my license when I drive through on Sunday, and not wanting to carry a wallet down river, I had left my ID in my car. I explained that to the guy and he nicely let us pass without too much of a scoul.

We finally pull into the starting camp grounds and about midnight friday, and discover the road leading up to Escandito park is closed, so we have an extra 3 miles to hike to start off Saturday morning. We pass out, wake up the next day and start walking in spite of these set backs.

At about 9a.m. we hit the river and start having some real fun. Well for certain values of fun. Mike has the brilliant idea of throwing on our wet suits and just cruising down the rapids (which with the high flow are significant enough to do this) holding onto our packs. This means we're floating downriver banging into rocks left right and center. Oh boy did I take some nice shots to my thighs and hips. Thankfully the PFD save me from the worst of the chest shots, and by some miracle I never needed a cup.

But the water was still about 60 degrees and cold. We made great progress and made it well past where we had spent the night last time, but being in a canyon, we lost direct sunlight at about 6p.m. and had to stop for the night. This meant a 12 hour intensive recovery sleep that both Mike and I appreciated.

The next day we get up and start heading for the waterfall that we know is close, and is the crux of our scouting. We continue to run the rapids in our crazy manner, but more gingerly, and with some planning to avoid the worst of the hits.

When we get to ehte waterdfall it's game over, man, game over. There is a whirlpool that is pretty bad and then the 6 foot drop with a whole lot of water running. This is running in a rock sluice about 4 feet wide. So we go up the rocks on the side and look if we can jump it. It would be a 30-40 foot drop into water that probably was deep enough not to break our ankles.

Well no kids are being brought on this trip, and we're not continuing down river. Mike says it's time to go back up river. And this is the point where I have the idea that gets me initiated into the dumbass club. I suggest we climb the ridge to get up to the service road. This is 1000 vertical feet of bushwaking through vegetation that should be hacked with a machete (which we didn't bring with us). Somehow I did manage to convince Mike that this was a good idea long enough to get us up to the point where it would be too much work to go back down.

So for 2 hours we're climbing, and clawing and hacking, and trying not to fall. Trying not to give into the urge to sit for a break (as we'ld never get back up). Trying not to fall down with the loose rocks and sand. And trying to avoid as much of the ever present poison oak as was possible. I really don't know how we made it, but we both knew that there was nothing to do but continue upward.

It's actually kinda weird because while I was hurt, tired, and fighting the urge to give up (though not really sure what that would mean), I was at no point resentful, or in any real danger of actually whining or giving up. I'm not sure where that came from, but I'm glad that in the last year I've developed some mental fortitude, because the last time we where there, the hiking alone got me to my asocial and bitchy point. (It's an interresting combination, because I don't talk to people so I only bitch in my head).

But anyway for 2 hours we stared up the hill at the road which mocked us from above. Always it was getting closer but at a rate that would drive you insane. Finally we crest and we find a shady spot, and I finall break open my Nalgene and take some water (it only held a liter, and we still had 6 miles of sun beaten hiking to go once we crested). That was one of the sweetest breaks I've ever had.

After enough time to get to the point to try walking again, we trudge along for 3 miles until we get to the point where we would have pulled out had we gone along the river to its end. With minimal communication Mike and I walk down to the river bank to refill our water bottles, and spend some time in the cool water.

Turns out that we really needed it. It was refreshing and energizing, and we got back to joking and joshing for the remaining 3 miles before finding my car, and heading out to King City for some Chile Rellenos.


Last Week Omnibus


Well I haven't posted in a while, here are the highlights from the last week.

Cherie Graduates

I spent the previous weekend in Syracuse with the family to celebrate Cherie's graduation. It's definetly an experience to watch 15,000 people graduate simultaneously. And it was cool that Cherie got named to a couple of prizes in the History department. Pictures

Sally is all Dudded Up

I got Sally back on Tuesday and she's so pretty now. No more gashes. No more yellow scrapings. Just clean. And black. And awesome. Of course she needs a bath after a week of driving, but it's so nice to driver her around.

Dinner

And on Tuesday I went out to dinner with a couple of friends on a set-up. I had a lot of fun, and learned how to sign (as in American Sign Language) a whole bunch of dirty words.

Stupid Americans...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Lazy weekends lead to lazy weeks


I had my last completely free weekend for about two months a few days ago. I've actually got plans for every weekend through the end of June, and July appears to be filling fast. Looks like I'm not going to be getting any Fortress of Solitude days for quite some time. I think that'll be OK. Especially if Tuesady goes well.

But it weird how a lazy weekend (all my precious plans to go on a nice long Saturday or Sunday bike ride in the hills turned to dust through hangover and rain) has seemed to set up a lazy week. Monday mornings ride was called on account of rain, Tuesday's make-up ride I did alone, and yesterdays climbing was canceled on account of illness.

...

Of course all that was written before I just went to the gym now. And while there I realized that I'm actually the strongest now that I have ever been. While I suppose that isn't saying all that much, and I definetly know that I'm in better shape than I've ever been, I was able to solidly quantify it at the bench tonight. Pretty sweet.

Oh, and while I was at the gym I thought of mom. Mostly because I had an idea about how to optimize for efficiency for one of the exercises Mike suggested the Peters-bar-theory. At which point I wondered what a Peters over 2*pi would work out to.

Geek points awarded to all who got that...


Monday, May 09, 2005

Sunday, May 08, 2005

I now own Kangaroo Skin


Yet another species of animal has contributed, through its death, to my happiness now. I went to Golden Gate Cycles in the city upon recommendation from Tolles to aquire a helment and gloves. I have no intention of wearing loaner versions of those at my motorcycle class (did I mention I got my permit last week?) when I'm going to need to by my own anyway.

And talking with the guy at the store, I ended up with the really high end gloves which are made from kangaroo skin because their leather is tougher even the deer. So it's all about protecting my hands. And the knuckles are actually carbon fiber, so while they are protecting me from rocks debris, and heaven forbid a good fall, they also give the gloves this Mad Maz vibe.

For my helmet, well, I now have a new most expensive wearable. But since it's to protect my brain, I figure that's wear to spend the money. Even after reading the helmet review Stephen pointed to me that said Snell is just a marketing gimick, and not really going to protect me in realistic falls, I still went with them. First because it's hard not too. Second, I really didn't want to have that conversation with my dad. And third, the review was written by a 40-50 year old guy who is a lot more likly to take serious damage in a lower impact crash. I think my body is a lot more likely to do well there, and I damn well want the protection should I be in a very high energy crash.

But anyway, I'm all decked out. All I need now is a bike.


Lampshade Drunk


Oh boy was that some hangover yesterday. Andrew and Lexi had their penultimate BBQ on Friday night (the ultimate will be when we get a pig just before the head off to Zurich -- speaking of which I need to make some phone calls). It was a wild success and a crazy Basteel bash. I made the mistake of finisihing off 4 mostly empty bottles left from Scotchtoberfest. After a few glasses of burbon, I guess I misjudged how much was left in each because I was flying.

I have at times bemoaned the fact that I thought I couldn't get to the point that I referred to as Lampshade Drunk. Stupid beyond recognition, but in an outgoing and extrovertive way. Well, while there was no lampshade on my head, I hit that point with flying colors, and other than a slight emotional immaturity on my part, I'm glad I got there.

I'm also glad that there weren't pictures of some of the stupid things I did that were told to me as news the next day (I think it's one of the more complete black outs I've had). Things like, grabbing Lexi's ass, eating raw pork, and being harrassed as I tried to pass out in bed by Mike and Gen. I believe all my friendships are still in tact, but I have no idea if I made any progress forward or backward with Allysa (Andrew and Mike's oh so hot co-worker).

However, I wasn't the only one that rip roaring drunk. Ishy actually recieved an hour long lecture on Nitze by Samm. I'm still waiting for Ishy to start quoting it back to me.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

Sally is getting an acid wash


Well actually her skin is going to be removed by sand blasting, but the technique is similar. My mustang convertible is now in the shop to get a completly new paint job to help clean up all the dings, scratches and two large dents that have accumulated from my stupidity over the last five years. In the meanwhile I will be driving a Pontiac Grand Am remtal, which is nice and sporty. It's not Sally, and I fear I will miss her this week, but I'm really looking forward to having her spiffy and new.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Backpacking with Boy Scouts


Last weekend I wandered off with Mike and Mel to go backpacking with squinks. We headed off to Henry Coe park which is right outside of Morgan Hill (which is in turn about 10 miles south of San Jose). Mel works with a troop of Boy Scouts in the East Bay, so we had P-Wood and Sean from Sequoia and a half dozen scouts. It's definetly been a while since I've hung out with scouts, and these were some well behaved boys.

It continues to amaze me how well behaved and mature the kids I meet are. I know that my whitebread, suburban friends where neither so consientious nor mature when I was in scouts. I still have yet to set up the right control to know whether this is because of a hardening process that comes from living in the ghetto (and for some of these boys that's not hyperbole), or whether Mel and Mike aren't going to be taking out troublemakers. I suspect it's a linear combination of the two.

Regardless, I had a great time. My leadership skills are improving (I actually took the initiative and set a limit for the kids at one point), though since the other adults were talking about enrolling me in a leadership training class so I can take the kids out on my own there's a voice in the back of my head suggesting that I should be concerned. But that's the same voice that tells me not to talk to strangers, so I've been working on killing it for the last year now.

And my favorite part of the trip was this one hill. A few of us had decided to try and avoid digging a hole if we could, and as we approached civilization on Sunday, we got to a point where there was a massive climb for a mile. At the top of this climb was an outhouse. A couple of the kids negotiated the ability to move quickly up the hill (as they could go significantly faster than the slowest among us) to make use of the facilities.

This gave me a chance to open up with some speed and see what I could do. It felt really good to leave Jonathan and Marcus in the dust, and I worked hard to keep up with Byron and arrived at the top only a minute after him. Of course his pack was 15 or so pounds lighter, as is he, so while I do need to work on my pain tolerance, I can take pride in what I was able to do.

Anyway, I had a great time, and I got to really have some fun with my new camera. It does make a huge differnece when you don't have to remove a lens cap and wait for the thing to boot, so I've taken a lot more shots than I would have with my G2.

Pictures