30 November 2006

Auto Burglary is on the Rise in my Driveway

It's my fault, really. I may have done something truly boneheaded by leaving most of my cycling gear in the car last night. Somebody noticed this and stole my gear bag + some other music-type items.

Here's the police report/insurance list:

3-Ring Binder : Map Bible
Fox Base shorts
Fox Sidewinder gloves - blue/blue
A shirt or two, I don't recall
Mechanix gloves - black with white
Timberland gloves - orange, tan, black
Salomon Fast shell - orange and reflective silver
Helly/Hansen shell - blue and grey
Fox 911 armor for elbows and knees
Smith Slider sunglasses - maybe receive donated
Oakley sunglasses - silver frame/blue lens
Fox Shock pump x 2
Crush-proof sunglasses case
MiniMag flashlight
Pair of Kenda 2.35 x 26 Blue Groove Tires - brand new, in box FAWK!
Pair of CrankBros pedals I was going to install with the tires the next day. FAWK! FAWK!
Phil Wood, T-9, White Lightning lubes, 2 cans of Pam, tools, misc tiny parts and hand tools essential to smooth biking performance.

2x10" subs in an enclosure (heavy)
Dozen CDs in a carrying case

They were in a hurry and missed out on a few other items inside the vehicle. Brand new Sessions snowboarding pants. Bike pump. 2 unboxed tires. Expensive parts for flashlights. Rubbermaid box with roadside emergency items. Floor Jack. Santa Cruz jersey & another jacket. Not the stuff with high resale, but those snowboarding pants are NWT, still in the plastic.

After each ride, I take the helmet, camelbak and gloves inside to dry. And, ahem, to preserve that long-lost new car smell. Right.

Normally, I take the entire bag into the garage. I got a little relaxed and let my guard down. Don't do the same thing, friends. Crime has no borders and never rests.

And here's a big Michael Vick obscene gesture for you, punkazz car thief boyz!!

Their anonymity protects them from retaliation. Knowing that their crappy lives is what put them in the position of stealing to get ahead is my only solace.

Thanks. I feel better now.

29 November 2006

Constant Gentle Pressure

I cycled uphill into Wilder Ranch and rested at the benches at the Eucalyptus Grove. It's more or less the peak of that hill, after starting from Highway One at 100 feet above sea level. Continuing through the forest, I could descend onto Highway Nine in Felton.
From the benches, you can see the edge of the Earth, as outlined by the Pacific Ocean. To the left is Monterey and to the right is obscured by forest --- but, if you were standing on the cliffs, the water and land meet near Half Moon Bay or so...

I haven't yet been on all the trails at Wilder, so I set out to find some new territory. I climbed further and found a U.S. Geological reference point set in concrete at the top of a peak which gave me a commanding view of the forest, plains, and ocean while sheltering the phone from the breeze behind some brush. Fielding calls from the office and relaying information from my client, I convinced myself that this was one of the great virtual offices in the world. Others would include : a sunny beach, a snowy chairlift, a hot spring bath.

This had been a windy day, and the sun was nearly setting three weeks before the winter solstice and with the clouds over the ocean, I had about 26 minutes before it would be dark at 4:52 p.m. The red/orange/amber burst behind and through the white/grey clouds suspended in and above blue/aqua/black sky and ocean. Cameraphone? Pshaw! Consider that one as a wasted photo opportunity and a valued memory created by applying constant, gentle pressure to cycle up that hill.

Remove any one of those three and the bike would not have brought me to that stunning overlook.

27 November 2006


this space reserved

Football Season is Really Over in PGH

Pittsburgh laid an egg on Sunday in Baltimore.
Losing by 27-0 and giving up 9 QB sacks without sacking McNair one time. Coach Cowher said a lot during the post game press conference. I only remember him saying "pitiful".

At the beginning of the football season, a friend who knows football asked me if I thought that the Steelers would make it back to the SB this year, after winning last year. I said, "no". That's what I believed at that moment. Several players left the team, and several were added. This happens every year to every team. That's not my reason. My reason for not believing that they would return to the SB this year is that they don't believe in themselves. The belief began with players like Bettis, Antwan Randel El, Kimo, etc.

When the spirit of the locker room dies, it dies on the field as well.
I'm just glad to see the team make it and win it last February. Some teams' fans haven't yet seen a SuperBowl victory.

24 November 2006

I know I've known this

Have you ever stood next to a flock of birds as they flew away from you? That deafening white noise made by the wind and their wings?? You cannot talk above that sound.

Every jewel heist movie from the '70s had some really tan guy with silver hair and blue eyes. He retired, I just learned.

When you have bad news to deliver, consider delivering it in a good news sandwich. They're happy to see you, you have bad news, then you have good news again -- as a departure.

If ever a friend asks you for something that seems excessive, grant it to your friend. It took that person a lonnnng time to work up the nerve and swallow their pride to ask.

On a road with three lanes, drive in the center lane.

Women date younger men for the same reasons : stamina, skin, ego boost.

When they say "If you don't use it, you lose it" They're talking about stamina.

Thanksgiving is like Christmas, without the gifts. You see the family and eat a lot of food and then you get tired of each other again.

In order to control your fears, you must do what you fear most.

For a child, receiving a toy without batteries on Christmas is like an adult male meeting a very beautiful lesbian.

If you think you can, or think you cannot, you are almost always correct.

Drug experimentation in youth? It's okay to walk on the sidewalk, just be sure to wait until the concrete is dry. Wait until your 20s to try new chemical things.

Pain is just weakness escaping your body.

The line between making an ass out of yourself and being funny is a very fine one.

It's important to check the brakes on fast women.

You have to create your own life; carve it out like a sculpture.

Everything in moderation --- including moderation.

Don't over exert yourself in your work, a sport, whatever the endeavor. There not the same, but you have to let the tank refill before you can flush the toilet again. You can't just pull the lever twice in a row.

Make sure and save one night a month for a night out with the boys. And, don't waste it on the boys.

Humor arrives in the form of our greatest fears and our greatest disappointments.

Always listen to your inner voice.

17 November 2006

Do You Smoke After You Do It??

It’s a stream of consciousness, not a novel. Read on, friend.

While in S.Cruz today, I was able to score some parts from another cyclist, and after a great / brief conversation I was riding off to tear it up before the phantom rainstorm arrives Friday, Saturday, whenever.

It's not going to rain. The weather today : None. Seriously. If you knew how, you could have built a house of cards at the Eucalyptus grove at Wilder today.

OT: What other job can you get paid handsomely for making televised claims that don't come true... and then you still have a job, a paycheck, and an audience following for the next week and so on?? Don't say "a bookie".

Returned home tonight from one of those memorably kickass rides at Wilder/UCSC today. The kind of ride that puts a suspicious shiteatin' grin on your face all the way home.
Traffic? Pshaw!
Radar CHP on motorcycles? Not on my side of 17.
I rode Magic Carpet twice today. Once on the saddle, and again on the cushy heated leather seat of my FUV during the return trip. A co-worker calls them that because she has seen drivers change lanes w/o their signals as if to silently say “FU” while passing.

The recent rain makes it easy to climb all the usual sandy slides on Old Cabin, including that soggy log with the red ants. (they're on vacation btw) Got my heart rate up when I spooked a deer and it darted through the forest... only after I recognized that familiar heavy, double-thump of paired hooves striking the earth did I relax and clear my mind of images of man-eating cats that attack unseen.

I don't bring a music device when I ride. There's already a soundtrack installed. Coupla times I heard Jimmy Buffett singing about a cheeseburger in paradise. A minute of Master of Puppets cranked through my sound system as I descended and as I climbed once more, a minute of a posthumous Miles Davis instrumental mashup found on Doo Bop.

Nearly clear and very blue skies. Good drainage on the ST so there was very little mud. The gravel overlay on the fireroads was doing it's job just fine. The two cyclists bombing down Engelsmann gave me plenty of room to continue my climb and there was no "yield" issue to rant about online.

I wish, however, that somebody had told me there was a controlled burn in process today. You're right. Nobody tells these things. One must ask. When I walked though the door to my house, my woman gave me a smooch and asked if I had been smoking. "Not possible", I said.

I had to divert my route today to avoid the smoke that pressed in the cool air near Wilder Ridge and Euc Loop. The absence of wind bathed cyclists in acrid smoke and ash. There just wasn't any way to get to Enchanted Loop w/o fighting a self-preservation instinct that steered me onto... Twin Oaks. Not my first choice, but it worked out fine. Along the way, black earth marked the fire's advance. Adjacent to the trail the smoke waved and rose to give chase.

Today, I was faster.

16 November 2006

Wanna Get Away?

Let's say that -today- you are invited to an out of town event and know that you will leave your home the next morning at 6:00 a.m. You would likely go home and pack your bags and sleep so you can rise early.

Let's say that -three months ago- you are invited to an out of town event and know that you will leave your home at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow. Would you also go home and pack your bags and leave early the next morning? Or, were your bags packed a few days ago?

Do you stay up until 3:47 a.m. doing laundry, packing and re-packing, double-checking that you have all that you will need for that trip?

I would like to know the truth. What is your process for packing your travel bags for your out of town trips?

14 November 2006

It never ends

Alone in a giant world populated by billions that is dwarfed by the endless galaxies located by billion dollar telescopes operated by a chosen few scientists.

We're all here on Earth for the same things : to get the most out of life. That's about it. We want the best for ourselves, our families, our friends. Everyone else? Not so much. We don't have that much energy.

Life is short? The hell it is. What could you do that is longer than your life? Our individual existences alive can be termed "short" --- this I agree.

How many ways can you cheat the Grip Reaper? I know one way : Duck! His scythe swings in an arc of measurable range. But, don't allow him a second swipe. He will take your head off your neck, for certain.

Backpacking through the western Yosemite territory, a group of us took a night hike and encountered a sleeping bear. Who would have been attacked if we had awakened this gentle beast? There's no telling.

While standing in line for a roller coaster at Disneyland 3 years ago, the ride was closed and we were whisked away. We later learned that a young man lost his life and several more park guests were injured when the train derailed. Not that close.

Fell from a school roof in my earliest teens and broke only my wrists and my courage for a few years. The physics involved would have easily allowed me to land straight onto my crown. Used up a pass that time.


10 November 2006

I agree, sorry to say, I agree

This jackass claims that W is the most stupid presdient in U.S. history.

I agree. This guy's English is better than my Iraqian, and, his knowledge of U.S. history is far greater than mine of Iraq history... so, he wins. Proud of you, swami-terrorist bastard guy.

09 November 2006

Bass Players Are A Dime A Dozen???

Somebody once told me this and I can't say that I agree. In 4-bar blues bands, possibly. Buried in a 38-piece orchestra, possibly.
Can you name some of rock-n-roll's greatest bass players? How about some that are still alive?

Steve Harris - Songwriting and marketing of Iron Maiden
Geddy Lee - Vocals, bass pedals, keyboards. You want more?
Gene Simmons - marketing genius of KISS, not musicianship

Les Claypool, Geezer Butler, and then there's Tony Levin playing the Chapman Stick.

The other day, I was hearing Iron Maiden's latest for the first time and I found myself returning from this bassplayer tangent after five tracks. A Matter of Life and Death pretty much falls flat on its face. I cannot remember a worse Maiden album. Maybe it's the third guitarist that followed Bruce Dickinson back from his solo career. The sound is too muddy; indistinct. There's not much to grab you; no hooks.

Don't get me wrong. I have every Maiden album or CD produced. No, not all the collectible vinyl in black, red, picture disc, jacket artwork variations and all that nonsense that will drive a person crazy on eBay.

Before this album, I really had thought of Steve Harris as one of Rock's most enduring songwriters. Check the liner notes on any Iron Maiden you own. He's the author of two-thirds of their recordings. On this one, tho' he's off his 'ead, mate.


I have a friend that works at DHL. One day we tried to figure out what the intials DHL stand for. We determined it is DuH-Liveries. Can I say publicly that he doesn't like the way the company is being run? Just did? Okay. I'm over it. I know he is.

Meanwhile, somebody had a bad UPS experience. Are all shipping companies the same? Nope.

06 November 2006

Football Season is over in PGH

Big Ben is being paid off.

Coach Cowher has stopped coaching.

Al Qaeda is controlling the NFL in America.

So many conspiracy theories, so little thought put into them. I don't know how to respond to the many ridiculous ideas being passed around the fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers. All I know is that after SuperBowl 40, we wouldn't see anything similar for a while from the Steelers. Why? Jerome Bettis, Kimo von Oelhofen, Antwaan Randle El all left the team. When that kind of upheaval occurs, the lockerroom and the practice field can feel it.

There was such a letdown after the 2004 season with one one loss during the regular season, that the players were fired up from the summer camp to get back onto the field and get to the SuperBowl. The threat of major players leaving the team gave them the push to get the job done and finish off strong. Now that some players have left, the chemistry just isn't the same --- and it's very obvious. Big Ben was a phenom in his rookie year. In his second year, he helped lead the team to become the youngest QB ever to win a SB. Now, he's looking like the youngest SB hangover victim as he throws the ball to the other team more than ever.

That's okay. One SB victory every 25 years is all I need.

BTW : What does NFL stand for when the team has had 1 more turnover halfway through the season than they did all of last season? Not For Long.

04 November 2006

And They Wonder How Xenophobia Begins

I took the truck out to get the oil changed. Not wanting to drive across town to the West side of San Jose or Campbell, where it's been done in the past, I sought a local shop. It's only an oil change. You can probably train a monkey to do it right.

I found a Chevron gas station with service bays and a vinyl banner hung inside that said $17.95 for an oil change. Putting price aside, this was far more attractive than the nearest five other options that I passed up.

An employee standing at the entrance to the garage was watching the Chevron truck fill up their underground tanks. There were no other customers in the garage. I drove near and asked, through my open window if he could do an oil change right now. "Sure, pull in here" and he pointed to a space for my vehicle. I pulled in and exited and another employee appeared with a clipboard and a service order form.

He tells me it is $28.95 and I ask why it's more expensive than his sign. He points to a small handwritten note on that vinyl banner sign that says V6, V8 extra. OK, whatever. I knew it was too good to be true below $20. I ask what kind of filter he uses. I'd never heard of the brand "Mighty".

I asked what kind of oil he would be using. He says "Shell" and I see several cases of Shell oil stacked nearby. Hmmm. Shell oil at a Chevron station? Another disgruntled franchisee, maybe??

All this time, he has an attitude about him, so I ask if he was having a bad day. "Not having bad day. Want to make it all clear so we don't have the bad day" is his reply. "You don't want it done, that's okay. You can go."

I let him know that if the job was going to be done right, we could do it. Maybe that was the magic phrase, but he began an unintelligible rant in slaughtered English while walking around items in the garage where we all 3 were standing (the mechanic was silent the entire time).

I say, "Hey Jackass, OK, forget it then. You lost one customer today and many more later". As I back out of the service bay, he lights 3 or 4 sticks of incense and begins to ??? cleanse his filthy repair shop of my existence, telling me to "go ahead and die on the road... please die on the road..." as he waves the incense above his head.


Related links above : Mehdi Shahbazi, Moji Shobeiri.

03 November 2006

I Don't Belong Here

International High IQ Society?
The name, alone, would turn off many people. Don't be fooled by this, however. They devise puzzles and host an annual test titled the "World's Smartest Person 2006" which just concluded.

Why is this newsworthy? Because the answers to the '06 test are available as of October 31st. There's nothing I hate worse than delaying my delayed gratification. If I take a test, I want to know that the answers are available. I won't look at the answers until I have exhausted my personal resources. But, if I know the answers aren't available, I don't give it much effort.

Test yourself. Go on, test yourself.
Download the pdf file for the exam and then view the "answer form" to make certain that you know what type of answer they are seeking.
There's other fun puzzles and trivia and scheduled international events on that site. Check the puzzles at least --- if you're not into IQ tests. Some people simply are better at taking tests than others. Many people don't put a huge amount of value in these things. I do, however, enjoy the mental calisthenics.

02 November 2006

Warren Miller is a demigod in the Snowsports Industry

Somewhere, in the deep crevices of my memories, I know that Jay Meduri turned me on to the Warren Miller films and a few of us went to the Flint Center in Cupertino when W.M. was doing a live narration of Steep & Deep. Anybody else remember that film?
Anyway, this is the 57th film that Warren Miller has produced.

Everyone attending Off The Grid will also receive:
• Free Lift Ticket to Heavenly
• $25 Off at $100 purchase at REI
• Free Issue of SKIING magazine

Film Tix are $17.50 and available here.

I Used Up All My Luck In One Night

I've had my share of close calls in life. This one was different : it had nothing to do with my own actions.

We drove in heavy traffic to JVO's brother's apartment in SF then he drove us near the Halloween party area on Market St. and dropped us off. There was a strong police presence and they casually searched people. I think if a person "fit a suspicious profile", they would search more thoroughly, but JVO and I walked straight in.

We had a really great time for about 4 hours last night. We found a great spot to stand at the edge of Market St. at Castro, with our backs against a very solid and huge newspaper rack installed near the Metro entrance. This way, we could face the street and the costumed people without being bumped into by the people 6-wide on the sidewalk behind us. Jacqueline sat atop the rack for a better view over the crowd that filled the street. We were at the lower right corner of this photo, just out of the frame.

It was fun to try and guess what the costumed people were and snap their photos. I can't tell you how many guys I called Borat and was wrong - "no costume!" and people near us laughed. We were right on several : Hey, look, it's Columbo!! Right? "Yes." Click. Hey, Uncle Fester from the Addams Family! Click. About 9:40pm six SFPD on enduro motorcycles weaved through the crowed for no apparent purpose.

My cousin, Craige, owns several restaurant/bars in SF and two are on Market Street -- he called ahead and put us on the guest list and we checked into "JET" after we had enough of 2.5 hours of peoplewatching. One drink and several songs' worth of foggy & sweaty dancing (we were dressed for the cold outdoors, of course) we thanked the hostess and exited onto Market Street, checking it all out once more. Clusters of people gathered to snap photos of well-done costumes and we flitted around the street scene.

I don't know, walking maybe 25 minutes later, as Jacqueline was eating a corn dog, somebody in the crowd of a hundred thousand emptied their gun not far from us. I heard five shots from a smaller handgun and saw 2,000 people running in every direction at once. In a blur of microseconds, an intense burning sensation near my collarbone and next moment I'm repeating "I've been hit!" to Jacqueline, and we began to run in the only direction we could. I thought to myself, "Awww, shit! Is this really happening to us?" I was hit with a bullet below my right shoulder and we ran to the police who escorted us to an ambulance parked nearby.

The paramedics instructed me to remove my shirt (and then, all of my clothes, which I declined) and lie on the stretcher. I handed them my flashlight and they inspected me but found no hole --- only a stamp-sized piece of skin was missing. I had to take a picture of myself so I could see what it was. There was no hole through my shirt, but a partial hole. That "bullet" was reduced to only a strong sting amid a lot of panic as 200 thoughts raced through my mind. How we got so lucky, I will never know.That was the only scary moment of Halloween for us. I was hit by a bullet that ricocheted off something before it hit me in a place where my chin touches my shoulder, so I couldn't see how serious it was --- and I was assuming that adrenaline was blocking the wall of pain I would soon feel from a bullet in my body.

- - -

Separated by a few minutes, I had seen two groups of young men that looked like trouble to me on Market Street. A group of about 14 black youths stood with their navy and black hooded sweatshirts pulled over their heads near the center of the street where the cablecars would normally run --- and I told Jacqueline that they were a gang and there was soon going to be a fight. Another group of about 8 Samoans(?) had "that look" on their faces as they walked through the street of costumed partyers and peoplewatchers like us, in street clothes. We simply didn't get far enough away quickly enough.

After I was declared good to go, another ambulance wailed through the crowd toward the scene of the shooting. Naturally, we had only one thought : get away fast! Speedwalking, we called the phone number of a private limo driver we met last Saturday and snaked our way through the suspicious street youths and stalled traffic to meet 10 blocks away.

Safe in the limo-taxi, we began to relax.
After three years attending, I think we're retired from that event.