Saturday, September 28, 2019

Run, run, run, run, run take a drag or two

We will run into the city this morning, to go to the California Academy of Sciences, where Rachel works. We are meeting the family of an old friend of mine. They are here to celebrate their son's 10th birthday. So, we will kennel the husky, rush into, rush out of, and be at another kid's birthday party here in Sonoma again by mid-afternoon.


Yes, having kids is time consuming.
If time is something that you believe can be consumed. 


Thursday, September 26, 2019

A lot of perpetual luck

I'm at my home computer. I am trying to keep my work computer closed more in the evenings. Even though I am not working, it casts its capitalist spell over me. I watch shows too much as I am falling to sleep. Sometimes I awake and find the computer still there next to me, open, with a dead battery. Other times I wake up after a few hours and it is still playing, pouring its inanity into my defenseless mind.

I explained all of that to justify the older picture, one that I may have used here before. I'm at my home computer. 

I have ridden nearly 300 miles on my new bike already. Such physicality at this age requires a lot of perpetual luck. I can often feel when mine is about to give, or as it is giving. I am often just a few cycles away from a strain, a sprain, or matters much worse.

The GOP is rushing to make sure everybody knows that they are being consensually governed. Trump finally did something that shocked no one, so they would expect us to not be shocked by it then use that lack of shock as a suggestion of innocence. 

We live in odd times. I never dreamed that open access to information would result in something like this. It all seemed like a dream - that finally we would all have access to the same reliable information, the world would be a better place. I still have friends who speak to me optimistically about it. It's as if.


Monday, September 23, 2019


I can't remember if I've used this picture already or not. I probably should use a pic I took yesterday. We took an expedition of parents and kids up the creek that runs behind the house. 

Here, let me find one.

That pic makes it seem as if it was all just a light riverwalk, which is a partial truth. There were some sections that were deep and filled with all shaped rocks and boulders and portions of collapsed structures populating the waters that could not be peered into for guidance. A few of the mothers were nervous. 

To Rachel's credit - this was all her idea and she pulled it off fantastically. It was unexpected and wonderful and exciting for the kids. A great unknown. The best part for me was watching adults - worse: parents - confronting unscripted nature, even in its mildest forms. You could see and feel the anxieties emerging and building. We were doing something which contained no instructions other than the direction that a river creates both upstream and down just by its being. Beyond that, everything suggested that most people here in Sonoma do not do this, which creates a sense that maybe we shouldn't be, a thing that kids love and parents fret. The further we hiked upstream, with an accumulation of challenges faced and bested, it did not seem to develop more confidence within the adults but rather that a saturation point of experience had been reached. We turned back before our stated goal, because we knew what was behind us, though with only a vague idea of what was ahead. 

Here's another pic from the day. The waters were deeper and darker in spots, but I found less time to take pics during those moments. 

I thought it was all great. I fed off of the kids' enthusiasm for adventure and was secretly encouraging them to push on upstream even as a contingent of parents were voicing their anxieties about not knowing what's ahead. Or more specifically, how far ahead they can return to the sense of control and security to which they are accustomed. 

There were almost as many parents there as there were kids, so I was not worried. One of the moms did not seem to care for me discussing the merits and dangers of alligators during our passage though the darkest of waters. In retrospect I can understand her concerns. Kids are fantastical and they love the idea of such things. Her son seemed fascinated with talk of alligators. 

I'll take Rhys back sometime and walk all the way up the river to the swimming hole I mentioned here a while back. It is not very far, a few hundred yards beyond where we stopped, past the bridge that they're going to replace soon. The creek is the shortest and most impractical way to get there. 

There was a path, sort of, that ran along next to the creek. We took that on our way back, as the banks allowed.

When we came back to the house and put on music and all had a beer or glass of wine you could see the sense of centeredness return, and along with it a sense of confidence that they had in fact done the difficult, messy thing of nature and were now all much better for it. 


Sunday, September 22, 2019


Had an aborted bike ride this morning. A buddy got a flat about a thousand feet up. We were able to re-seat the tire and pump it up enough to get down the hill, but that was it. Ah well, it happens. I had hoped to get some trail riding practice in before a trip to Sedona

Soon I will go back to not writing about cycling. It is purposeless writing and says nothing of value to anybody, myself included. 

If I were to be honest with myself I would write about needing a place to be by myself. It is one of the things that I have lost. I see no easy path back to a place where I can have that. Perhaps that is why I think I want and need it most. Humans are funny - they use words like coequal.


Friday, September 20, 2019

The best medicine

It's the nicest thing I've ever owned - the bike. Is that silly? There is a fineness to the design which translates to the ever-important feel of the thing. I rode it yesterday and today. I set a personal record for climbing a hill that I have climbed many times. It is all silly. At my age the foolishness and shame of it either dissolves or doubles depending on whether I remain in good shape or if I injure myself. I am often on the fence between the two. The times in my life where I felt the most physical pain where when I was in the worst shape. Nature abhors a fat-ass. 

There are other things going on in my life, of course. But the bike is what I have been thinking about. I am like a boy when I get a new bike. It represents to me, still, a sense of self-propelled freedom that no other pursuit or project does. It is rare that I would describe myself as unhappy at the end of a ride. It reduces depression and anxiety. As long as I can avoid dementia then they'll probably let me do it for life.

I'll move on, but please know that I am happy. 


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

It seems fun

(Napa River)

Well, it's done. The boy and I went over and picked the new bike up. I test rode it enough at the shop to confirm that the brakes work and the gears change, but with little sense of how it will respond on the road, or off. It seems fun. 

I always try to ask myself when I am spending a lot of money: how often will I use the thing I'm buying, and for how long? Then, I try to figure out about how much the thing costs me per month if it lasts a certain number of years, usually three, then divide by how many times I ride each month, approx. This gives me a basic idea of how much the bike costs each time I ride it. With this new bike such an exercise is absurd. I will need to ride it about 300 times, for two hours each ride, before it will have "paid for itself."

Silly, I know. Bikes don't pay for themselves, neither do cameras, nor love. At least they do not do so in my life. 600 hours on a bike is a lot but it can't be thought of that way, or maybe shouldn't be. I know. A bike functions much better in the moment than it does in any future amortization plans. 

How many lenses have I bought that I have only used a small handful of times? 

Tomorrow I will forget about how much it costs and only admire its functional excellence. I will do a familiar ride first, a bumpy one. Bad roads are everywhere here and in all directions. This is the reason for the new bike, I tell myself - so many bumps in the road.


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Crimes, Misdemeanors, and Vacations

Ok, no more bike talk, for a bit. It was supposed to be assembled today but the shop owner is dragging his hex wrench. 

Date night went well, though we are older now and derive less pleasure from being out late. It was still nice to go have a little adventure in the city - drinks and friends and food and laughing are still good things to do.

What else is there? CS is going to travel. There is that - crimes, misdemeanors, and vacations. 

Okay, I was sitting here drinking a tea before a bike ride, Now, my tea cup is empty and I have thought of nothing useful to say. 

The wind is blowing. The hill that leads to Jack London's old Wolf House is 900 feet with very few spots that do not involve climbing, practically none. My legs will ask much of my heart and lungs. When I get to the bottom I have promised myself to turn around and climb it all over again, where the questions will be doubled or more. I will return with whatever answers my body has left. 



Saturday, September 14, 2019

Date Night

Raquel and I have a date tonight in the city. A hotel and everything. Dinner, a party, then a nightclub. For us, that may as well be going to Burning Man. It's for a friend's birthday. I made her a 6 hour playlist - punk and dub disco - the birthday girl. Not quite festive enough for a birthday party, but great if you do drugs desperately and often.

I probably won't even have a drink tonight, just some chewy pot edibles. I have some shrooms, but what for? I am in training, trying to lose ten pounds or more. If you can't increase your cardio/endurance enough in one month then decreasing weight accomplishes a very similar thing. It makes you seem stronger. I could use some feeling of strength. Strange things happen to an aging man. There is a cosmic softening. Or, comic suffering. 

Oh, I don't mean that. The samurai sword is not a symbol. There are drugs that give you the approximate firmness of a teenager. I just meant the mellowing of age. It is rare that I wouldn't rather be sleeping now. I look around at the restaurant, bar, nightclub, bathroom mirror and I struggle staying on nodding terms with my previous self. 

I'll try to relax and laugh a little. It does wonders, makes you flexible like a teenager. If feeling as a teenager is your public or private prize. 


Friday, September 13, 2019

More Bike Talk

Yes, I have been reduced to only gazing at pictures of the bike that I do not yet possess. The more I look at the tires the less I like them. They will be replaced with an all-black version long before I ever mount it. 

And yes, the gravity of the guilt at how expensive that bike was is beginning to catch up with me. I just ordered new shoes and clips. Another $200. I didn't really need to but it felt wrong putting beaten up clips on such a brand new thing of beauty, a marvel of design and newness. A thing that I have yet to see. No as-promised email with the tracking number ever arrived. 

Dealing with guys at bike shops in California (it's a German company, but their distribution headquarters is based in California) requires a special calmness, one that borders on stupidity. They are not quite the assholes that surfers are, or can be, but they're not very far off either. They all seem mildly territorial about all space all of the time, but not enough to challenge anybody. Back in Florida we used to find any stupid reason to kick the shit out of people like that, for fun. 

In truth, I know nothing about the company that I bought a bike from - Canyon. I just liked their design, the feature set, and the cost. Ok, I read a number of glowing reviews, also, and every biking friend I have speaks highly of them. As much as the bike cost, it still would have been much more than it was if I had purchased in a store. The markup on bikes is significant. Buying directly from manufacturers gets you a useful discount. The bike shop still makes money. I'm not going to assemble something that precise. They live for that stuff.

The disappointment is that I likely won't even be able to incorporate this bike very well into a mountain biking trip I'm taking in October to Sedona. Something more than a gravel bike is required for rides like this and this, though not by very much. I could almost use the new bike, but it would only be to prove a point to myself. 

My more than adequate mountain bike is the right choice for that trip.

These two bikes will be the only ones that I'll have now, more than anyone needs. I'll have to cremate the one that I was hit on - a Trek Domane 4.5 - to dispel the bad juju that now surrounds it. The Kona Honzo AL that I have used as an exercise bike will go the way of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, king of the terrible lizards

A bright burning rock will scream from the skies and set the earth and oceans afire. The end is nearer now than ever before, but not for very long. 


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Canyon Grail SLX 8.0

Well, if you thought I was out of my mind to spend as much money as I have on yesterday's bike, you would have been right... 

The manufacturer reached out to me today to apologize that they do not have that bike in stock any longer. They offered me a discount on my next bike purchase from them and free shipping. I wrote back and asked if they would discount even further a nicer bike, and if so then I would purchase immediately. They came back and said, Sure!, but not by very much. So, I spent almost a thousand dollars more than I had even initially thought that I was going to. The only differences are the weight and strength of the frame and the rims. They are lighter, which means that they are more expensive to replace. The rims are likely stronger, being carbon fiber rather than aluminum. Less material used on the frame can only mean one thing: the frame may be weaker, but lighter. That is an assumption based in ignorance. 

The extra only warrants an additional X in the name of the bike. 

But the bike is a fine enough machine. Just look at it. 

Few will be able to reason with me once it is in my possession.  I will be like Susan Orlean when she is alone with her beloved orchids. Don't look for any differences in yesterday's pictures and today's, the improvements are not at all visual, unless you happen to notice the numbers on the rim. As I said yesterday, all that matters is how it feels to the rider. Like anything that you love, your tastes tend to tighten their grip around the things they desire most, once they have seized upon the possible pleasures involved.  


... with no identifiable enemy

"The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.

It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy.

We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed -- for anyone.” - HST


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Canyon Grail CF SL 8.0

I bought a new bike today, a replacement for the one that was destroyed. Life goes on. I would write about the details but such things appeal primarily to the lost and lonely. How a bike feels to its rider is all that matters. It is what is known as a gravel bike, designed to do everything adequately. You might think I'm kidding, but that is its charm. It is not dedicated to being a strictly road or trail bike. It can do either, so it does both modestly when compared to the more specialized bikes that I have always gravitated towards and sought to own. It is also the most expensive bike that I have ever bought by a fair amount. We'll see.

CS pointed out correctly and immediately that I could have bought a Leica... I'll use the bike more, though it will produce less, nothing really. If a bike does anything it is to convert, not to produce. I feel no special need to compare bicycles and cameras. I'm happy to have both, and have never tried to use them together. 

I am a happy bike nerd.

It has full SRAM Force 1 components, a 1x11 drivetrain, the hydraulic braking system being paramount in my desire, a unique handlebar designed to reduce the amount of road vibration felt, a seat post that likewise absorbs shock, tubeless ready 40mm tires, which I will replace. I do not care for white walls, and might possibly go down to 35mm.  

Simple, elegant, functional, fun. 


Maybe they're all wrong

It's only a matter of time that the GOP will start arguing that they need to hold on to their assault rifles due to the many uncertainties of climate change. It will become real for them when they can use it as a point of fear. A selling point, as it were.  

Oh yeah, no politics. That's my new mantra that keeps me calm. Is climate change political? For how long will it be framed as a political point? I read a piece on FoxNews the other day that argued that the earth being warmer is definitely a good thing for humankind, and always has been. Do liberals even have any idea how hard it was for humans during the last ice age? They didn't even have guns then. 

"My political creed has remained as bleak and changeless as an old gray rock. It is classical to the point of triteness. Freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of art. The social or economic structure of the ideal state is of little concern to me. My desires are modest. Portraits of the head of the government should not exceed a postage stamp in size. No torture and no executions."
–Vladimir Nabokov, 1964 Playboy interview

Fuck it. Life will probably be more carefree and fun at first, once everybody gives up. That is, if you can ignore all the people claiming the end is near. Or, if you can ignore the actual end being near.

The craziest aspect of all of this, at least to me, is how easy it is for my mind to blunder into a desire towards the belief that it is all a big, monstrous lie. It is tantalizing. It not only requires less information to show any faith in, but much anxiety is relieved when you even consider it as being a possibility. Words really are magical.

I do not wish to lapse into despair. It requires something along these lines of reasoning: If the polls were wrong about Donald Justice Trump becoming president maybe they're wrong about the global climate, also. 

You need not point out to me the fallacy here. I see it. But the thinking relies on desperate faith, not logic, to work its magic. Populism feels like helium.

Let's run with: maybe they're all wrong. I like the way that sounds, and it is in line with how I have always felt.


Monday, September 9, 2019

Felt Corrective

I have bad posture. Or, I have found something to blame my back pain on. It's me, a lifetime of slouching, hunching over, sitting and standing carelessly. Not carefree, but careless.

Ah well. How much longer could I possibly need a functioning spine?

This is not the opinion of a doctor, but the truth that was revealed to me this morning as I sat upright for the first time in decades. Something about it felt corrective.

I have been having troubling uncertainties since getting hit by that car. I suppose that's an event that will provoke those sorts of feelings, but the thoughts are of the trifling kind nonetheless. Stupid stuff, really, but when I left the house today to go for a ride I wondered, almost aloud, if I would ever see the house again. I've always had those kinds of thoughts, but they are making different impressions on me now, I guess. I realize the miracle it was that I wasn't more injured. Some hint of a religious upbringing has me feeling that perhaps my punishment still awaits me. Or, something.

It's just me fretting over the unknown, again.


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

"Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night"

The weather is, of course, a troubling addition to the sense of doom we all seem to share. How could it not? Are there still the silent hopeful out there somewhere? If so, they do not make much noise with their hope. I am certain that the last human thought to occur will be one of doubt rather than terror. How could it not?

I have no idea what I might hope for leading up to death, but a feeling that the world would go on without me often seemed a mildly comforting one. The idea that the last human generation may have already been born is one that does not invite the deep sleep my mind and body so need. The idea that we all might witness the most tremendous disruption of human survival in all of history isn't a comforting one. Imagine having to collectively come to terms with the fact that there will be nobody left to remember you. 

Selfish maybe, but knowing that you will be remembered is different than knowing that you will not. 

I try to remind myself just to enjoy it all and laugh along a bit - enjoy every sandwich - but those decades I spent mocking the deep spiritual concerns of others has really caught up on me lately. Who might have guessed that the collective disdain, nihilism, and pissiness of Generation X would not later reward us all in Starburst strawberry dividends. 

Or, whom?

In the future nobody will have fifteen minutes of afterlife. 


Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sonoma Creek

There is a soberly named creek that runs behind our house. Its headwaters are about 10 miles north of us at the Sugarloaf waterfall, it bleeds into the bay about 20 miles south of us. The boy is of course fascinated with it, while mom and I are mostly terrified of his fascination. Perhaps not terrified, but cautious and sometimes vigilant. 

The unstable bank of this creek that runs behind our house is steep with rocks, roots, and boulders populating the way down, accumulating at the bottom in a pile of visible threat. Any foot slip from our backyard towards this terror would be horrible. Not potentially horrible, but actually. I know. I once slid about 10-12 feet down it before my flailing arms and waist fat slowed my descent to a stop. Well, it was the fat and the branches that scraped along my abdomen and arms. Resistance brought me to a halt. Bleeding and confused, I climbed back up the banks in the dark of night.

Yes, drunk.

Luckily there are places to enter only a short distance upstream or downstream. Akira the pup has explored the various ways to enter, cross, and frolic downstream, before ascending the banks on the far side, to unfamiliar lawns and strange puppy friends for her to meet. While the boy and his buddy (who spent the night last night) have been relegated to enjoying the pool that has formed just north of an old stone dam, maybe five hundred yards upstream, where it can be entered by shore or tree swing. 

It's nice to have a little natural place to swim, a local swimming hole, as it were. I know I've said this many times before, but I'll say it again: where I grew up there was the constant fear of the many alligators that governed any similarly themed excursion. Always, there was fear. 

The stone dam creates a little swimming spot that can be somewhat relied upon for good, simple fun. A few times a years the river rises so thats the dam ceases to be any buffer at all for the rapids. When the rains cease, this leaves large areas of river rocks near our place that are dry and can be uneasily walked through at other times. 

You can still find an occasional beaver dam here, also. On my bike rides up the valley I have seen them wandering in the dry river beds. I greatly prefer beavers to alligators, though they should always be left alone. They are territorial, aggressive, and often the victim of rabies (especially if you see them in the daytime). I try not to misapply concepts of benevolence and harmony to what can be found in nature. One is a reptile, the other a rodent. 

At the swimming hole there is mostly a current-less pool, peaceful upstream and down. 

Us, the predators that matter. 

There is no story to tell, other than the plain fact of us having done this thing yesterday - two boys, two dogs, two parents.

For as much as I talk about photography you might get the misimpression that I am meticulous about the technologies involved. Todays pictures prove otherwise, to me. Not in the fact that they are mostly an artless documenting of a trip to a little creek, but that when I started looking through them I noticed they looked noticeably better than what I am used to from this camera - deeper and richer. 

Because I use this camera (Fuji) to shoot so much, and often when I am out and about with the boy - where I shoot a lot and hope to increase my chances of capturing something candid or a mistake that's interesting - I foolishly shoot high quality jpegs instead of in RAW. I will need to stop that now.

I renounce all things except maybe happiness.