Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Rostro de Vos

In re-reading my last post I wasn't sure what to do here next, so I thought about it for a few weeks. I had some photos of my Christmas and recent LA visit but that didn't seem to fit. Then I came across this poem who's themes seemed appropriate. I had been digging through my old letters and things from my time in South America and I came across this poem that I've always loved by Mario Benedetti. I've tried to translate it as best I could. I asked a few people what they thought of the translation and, not liking their suggestions, did what I wanted anyway. I had a particular problem with the fifth paragraph because it is an expression and just doesn't translate well.

I think this poem represents the best of what I love in his writing. It is so moving and uses such simple language and short lines to convey such powerful emotions.

Here is a link to the poem in Spanish.

Rostro de Vos by Mario Benedetti

I have a loneliness
so crowded
so full of nostalgia
and images of you
of long ago good-byes
and kisses welcomed
of the beginnings of change
and the last car of the train leaving

I have a loneliness so crowded
that I can organize it
like a parade
by color
and promise
by period
by touch
and by flavor

Without a tremor too many,
I embrace your absence
and it helps me
with my image of you

I am full of shadows
of nights and desires
of laughter and some
vague curse

my guests assemble
conspire like dreams
with their newfound spite
lacking innocence
I bar the door
because I want to be alone
with my image of you

But your image
gazes elsewhere
with it's loving eyes
that no longer love

Like food
looking for its hunger
they look and they look
till morning turns to night
and my day is extinguished

The walls depart
the night remains
the nostalgia departs
and nothing remains

Already your image
has closed it's eyes
and it's a loneliness
so desolate.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Maria Fernanda Genovart

If, in your short life, you are fortunate or maybe lucky, you possibly could meet someone that you so profoundly connect with that you can’t help but be fundamentally changed.

I was lucky and fortunate to have met someone like that. Her name was Fernanda and we met when I was living in Mendoza, Argentina a dozen years ago.

It was the night of October 2nd 1993. I had met another expatriate in town, Donald, and he invited me to dinner and dancing with him and some friends. My take on it was that no one is supposed to be single in these Latin Am. countries and much effort is put into making sure that that situation is quickly remedied. Excited at the prospect of a fix up, I happily agreed.

We met for dinner at a little place in town near calle Emilo Civit and Belgrano. There ended up being 6 of us total; myself, Donald, Silvia (Donald’s girlfriend), Lucila (the fix up), Fernanda and Georgio (Donald’s roommate). I don’t recall dinner but I do remember that we all piled into Georgio’s TINY Fiat 1600 afterwards with me getting the enviable backseat between Fernanda and Lucila. They were taking turns asking me questions about my family, what I liked about Argentina… the attention of 2 beautiful women in the tiny backseat of a Fiat might technically not be heaven but it is as close as I have ever been. It was probably past midnight at this point and we headed off to the local dance club, Runner. We danced nonstop to booming techno until the place closed around 4 or 5. We ended up at a café getting a late night / early morning snack, and were sitting in an outdoor patio. The tree above us was losing its spring flowers (October = spring in the southern hemisphere) so as the sun rose and the morning breezes warmed us, it would rain fantastic small purple flowers on us. The whole night felt like a dream.

I had read about South America’s "magical realism" and it was as if I was living it and had literally stepped into another world that night and was changed forever. There are these short moments that the day to day living stops and there is no being reasonable, no thinking about what you are doing: just no being. You transcend feeling beauty or joy and just are those things. It wasn't the dinner or the Fiat or the people specifically but all of those things. I’m not sure I can really describe what that night was for me except that it was an epiphany of how life could be that I had never experienced before.

Fernanda and I saw each other several more times before I left around Christmas. I met her grandmother and brother and heard stories about her parents and how they died when she was younger. We kept in touch by writing each other thick letters every few weeks. I would open one and try to be patient and slowly read each page. I would hear about her adventures in Russia, Cuba, the US, etc… I got to know how selfless and generous she was. How thoughtful and strong she was. What life was like for her in a small Latin American town (pueblo chico, infierno grande = small town, big hell as she put it). How she spoiled me by writing in English. As I read each one, I couldn’t believe that I had met someone that I could share so much with and that even through the language and societal barriers, that we could communicate on such a profound level.

When I went back to South Am. in 1995, I visited her while she was living above a bakery. One night she made me a fantastic dinner and we watched the summer's terrific heat lightning and could smell them baking downstairs, getting ready for the next day’s business. As we sat there, she cried, she said that the beauty was overwhelming. (If you’ve read this far or have even come to this page, chances are that you know me pretty well and know that I’m going out on a limb here but this is no ordinary post) That night I quickly jotted down these short few lines that I never intended to share with anyone:

“She lives above a bakery.
At night, while I wait in her living room,
I’m filled with warm delightful smells;
fresh bread and tortillas.
we lit a candle,
and in the darkness
searching for her deep brown eyes,
in the heated explosions of light,
I could see the long curls of her hair,
I could see the flashing reflection in the wetness of her tears
because the truth was so profound”

As email replaced our letters about 5 years ago, they became notes and random thoughts and less frequent. We threatened to visit each other but never did. Then about a year ago, Fernanda had called me. She told me that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was being treated and that things looked good. We traded more emails saying how sorry each other was about the lack of response and the distance, how we have changed and what it would be like to meet each other again. Would we recognize each other? Would we be the same people or even see that same person in each other? I had hoped to visit her this year possibly with my cousin to celebrate his birthday and we had made some excited plans.

But I had not heard anything from her for a few months and was getting concerned. Wednesday morning I saw an email from her in my inbox and, relieved, quickly opened it. It was sent from Fernanda's computer by her friend and business partner, Silvina. Apparently, the cancer returned in August. By the time they operated, they found that it had metastasized and quickly spread through her body and there was nothing they could do. Fernanda was not so fortunate or lucky this time and passed away on Dec. 7th.

As I was walking to work that Wednesday morning, rain falling on my face, the colorful fall leaves on the ground, I was thinking that I’ll never be able to tell her again about how much beauty there is in the world. About how much I’ll miss her laugh and her sweet smile. About how kind and beautiful she is. I am so glad that I met her and am a better person because of it. I cannot describe how much we have all lost with her passing. She made my world, our world, a better one and it is a colder and darker place without her. I will miss her so very much.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


As I was putting together the recent post about selling my old motorcycle, the photos I posted made me realize how much I miss Grandma, Grandpa and Clark. I kept looking at this photo I took one day while out fishing with Clark on the Wisconsin river near their house. It reminded me of the poem I read at Ken and Mary Jane's funeral in Florida a few years ago:

The Iron Bridge - Billy Collins

I am standing on a disused iron bridge
that was erected in 1902,
according to the iron plaque bolted into a beam,
the year my mother turned one.
Imagine--a mother in her infancy,
and she was a Canadian infant at that,
one of the great infants of the province of Ontario.

But here I am leaning on the rusted railing
looking at the water below,
which is flat and reflective this morning,
sky-blue and streaked with high clouds,
and the more I look at the water,
which is like a talking picture,
the more I think of 1902
when workmen in shirts and caps
riveted this iron bridge together
across a thin channel joining two lakes
where wildflowers blow along the shore now
and pairs of swans float in the leafy coves.

1902--my mother was so tiny
she could have fit into one of those oval
baskets for holding apples,
which her mother could have lined with a soft cloth
and placed on the kitchen table
so she could keep an eye on infant Katherine
while she scrubbed potatoes or shelled a bag of peas,

the way I am keeping an eye on that cormorant
who just broke the glassy surface
and is moving away from me and the iron bridge,
swiveling his curious head,
slipping out to where the sun rakes the water
and filters through the trees that crowd the shore.

And now he dives,
disappears below the surface,
and while I wait for him to pop up,
I picture him flying underwater with his strange wings,

as I picture you, my tiny mother,
who disappeared last year,
flying somewhere with your strange wings,
your wide eyes, and your heavy wet dress,
kicking deeper down into a lake
with no end or name, some boundless province of water.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Day Ride

I headed out early(ish) Thursday morning for a Thanksgiving dinner in Sacramento. As you can imagine, holiday traffic is a bitch. It is bumper to bumper from SF to Sacramento on the 80 and depending on timing etc.. it can easily be a 4 to 5 hour / 120 miles trip by cage, err.. I mean car.

I split traffic until Livermore and then headed north on Vasco Road, up Highway 4 until 160 and then kept going north through the Delta to Sacramento. I loaded up the Road Pig (1979 Honda GL1000 Goldwing), plugged my iPod into my $30 Kraco and was blasting a road tunes mix I made for the trip. She is not much to look at (to say the least) but runs well and is great at hauling crap around and keeping the bugs out of my teeth. You can't tell from this photo but there is a mud flap that I'm threatening on changing to one of those trucker girls or Yosemite Sam designs.

So this route avoids most of the holiday traffic and also happens to be my all time favorite Nor-Cal route. Riding along the cool Delta levees during a hot summer day was the only way I kept from going crazy growing up in Sacramento. The incredibly oppressive heat and traffic were unbearable (not to mention the hillbillies and the smog). It was a quick escape to head south through town to Freeport, get on Highway 160, take a few of the ferries across the rivers and islands and end up in the little town of Locke for a beer and some eats at Al the WOPs Place. I can't say that Al's has great food but it is an experience you shouldn't miss. For dinner, there is basically one thing on the menu; steak, spaghetti and fries.

Al's is located in the town of Locke, which is the last original Chinatown still standing in California (I've read on a website). "Still standing" is a bit of a stretch as the place is literally falling over. The buildings are leaning dangerously and the floors in many of the shops feel much like a trampoline. If you go, make sure to spend the time to walk off of the main drag. The town is only about 1 city block but is a real slice of the sub-culture that exists in the Delta. My guess is that this won't be around too much longer as the housing developments are slowly creeping in and it looks like the McMansions are popping up more and more frequently along the Delta Highway.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

Back in 1989 Honda had a crazy idea to import their home market retro 500cc single to the US. No one really had much success with these types of bikes in the past so it was a bit of a gamble and by 1990 Honda had had enough of the bloodshed and cut the US off. The GB500 Tourist Trophy was a British styled bike with a green so dark it looked black, gold pin striping, single seat (US only), low bars and a long Norton Manx like tank. To me, it has always looked like sex on wheels (my bike today after a washing)

When I went to my first SF International Motorcycle show in 1990 with my good friend Garth Hurd, I sat on one of these and thought I was in heaven (pictured above). I had to have one but at $3200 there was no way that this collage student was going to afford it. Even as Honda blew these out for an eventual $2100 it was still a King's ransom. So I appreciated them from afar and kept ridding my awful 1984 Suzuki GS550ES (POS!)

Several years went by and I was sharing an apartment in SF with little Matty Goff and a friend of his, Josh Morong, was in town and getting ready for his wedding back in Maine (pictured together above).
We got to talking and drinking (I think that was the night they covered my head in duct tape) and we started talking motorcycles and it turned out that Josh had a GB500 and was looking at selling due to his impending marriage. I was working seasonally on a fishing trawler at the time in Alaska so I had a few months to kill and some cash. He made me a great deal but the catch was I had to pick it up in Boston.

That was a no-brainer. I bought a one way ticket, attended the wedding and threw my sleeping bag and tent on the back and took off on my first cross country motorcycle trip. The route was little back roads from Boston to Toronto, Chicago, Madison, Denver and then home to SF. I spent about a week at each major stop with relatives or hanging out in the local hostel getting to know the town. The bike is only a 500c single so it was a bit of a challenge going up and down the Rockies and I did have the throttle pinned most of the time as the top speed is about 75 MPH.

The highlight of the trip was the week I spent sleeping on my Grandparent's (pictured above) couch in Friendship, Wisconsin. I spent most of the time fishing with my Uncle Clark(pictured below), watching TV with my Grandfather and playing cards with my Grandmother. As it turns out this was the last time I was going to see Clark as I was getting back on the boat in Jan for a 5 month stretch and he passed away while I was out at sea. Clark was a real character (to put it nicely) but to hear him talk with such pride about his nephew from California riding across the US on the "old one lunger" still makes me tear up.

I eventually made it back to SF and the GB was my primary transportation for 7 years. I put about 30,000 miles on it for a total of 37k and it never gave me any problems save for the occasional battery replacement (but it has a kick starter) My brother bought me the 2 person seat kit which worked well and looked great but never really fit in with the character of the bike. I had always dreamed of putting an old style British fairing on, polishing the aluminum engine, having the wheels re-spoked, boring it out to 600cc, putting the XR650 5 valve head on it… The old GB has really turned into a collectors bike since they came out and a really good example goes for about $5000 and a no mileage model $8000. I regularly troll eBay to see what people have done with them.

I'll justify selling it by saying that I have 5 motorcycles and it is getting a bit crowded in the garage or that I haven't ridden it in 5 years and it needs a frame up total restoration. Or that now with the amazing, sweet Triumph Tiger in my garage, it’s time to stop pretending to have a British bike since I now own the real thing.

So in order to get it road worthy again, I finished rebuilding the front brake caliper as it was frozen up and rebuilt the leaky carb this weekend. To make sure everything was working well I took it for a spin around the block. The thing still hauls ass off the line and handles like a dream. It is so SMALL and twitchy that you just think about a turn, smash the handlebar and it just corners. And it is a real attention getter as well. Just taking it around the block today I had 4 people stop to look and comment on it. It is such a pretty bike and always will be, sigh...

I guess this is the part where I accept selling the bike and pass it on to a new owner for a good price like how I got it. And where I am grateful that I got to own it for as long as I did, that it treated me so well for so many years and where I go back to admiring it from afar like I used to do. Honestly, this has been so hard on me and I have to tell myself that this is a lesson about owning things. That I don't need to own them but that I can appreciate and not have to posses them. I know the new owner and he is just learning to ride so hopefully we’ll get to spend some time buzzing around the City and up to Grizzly Peak together.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Aterciopelados at Slims in SF

So I've waited about 5 years to see them in SF. Check out their myspace page for more info. These guys are an alternative rock group from Columbia that someone turned me onto a few years ago. I was complaining that I get SO tired of that crappy Norteño stuff you hear from the pickups driving by with the big cow head on the door. You know what I'm talking about if you live in SF or LA. The ompha-ompha of the tubas and the damn squeaky accordions just suck ass. These guys do use traditional instruments sometimes but they grind it out with rocking guitars and pounding drums mostly.

Sunday night's show at Slims didn't exactly tear the place up but it wasn't at all what I had expected. I had thought it would be a post punk noise fest with lots of moshing young latinos (like at the Cafe Tacuba shows I've seen). Turns out the place was filled with mid 30 hipsters and Euro trash with lots of scarves and corduroy everywhere. The show started off a bit slow but picked up as they worked their way through the hits and new material from their new album, "Oye" It was great to put faces to the music and the fans and I hope to catch them again if possible. I think they were playing in LA with Los Enantios Verdes recently but missed the show by a week. Now if only Sara Valenzuela will tour in the US! If you want to check out more Latino Rock and have iTunes do a search for "Latin Alternative Essentials"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

We Got Kansas in the House!

Sorry for the delay in posting. I've been recovering from the vacation as well as hanging with my Dad and step Mother who have been in town.

Driving from Kansas, they arrived in SF Thursday, just in time for the Dia de los Muertos parade through the Mission. I swiped the photo above from filckr. It was really a SF treat to see the night streets crowded and full of lunatics dancing and dressed in more unusual costumes than normal and to show off the neighborhood I live in.

Friday morning we all headed to Fisherman's Wharf on the way to Santa Rosa for a bit of the famous sourdough and seafood (above). Damon (Janis' son and pictured below left) was getting married and we had the wedding rehearsal at Sally's (the Bride) fathers house. Otto (pictured below right) is their 9 month old Mastiff puppy. He weighs in at 175 now and should top out around 200. I can't even imagine how much poop they have to pick up.

The wedding went off spectacularly on Saturday. Great food, lots to drink, dancing, new friends, old friends and power failures. Yes, the power was out for an hour or so during the evening but it seemed to add to the ambiance.

and of course the wedding cake with its unique topper (below).

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Road Trip Wrap Up

I rolled into SF Sat. night and uneventfully unloaded the bikes. Everything went swimmingly. I got in late as I stayed to have lunch with Tim and the gang. I was hoping to get the uHaul back and not leave it on the street for the night so we'll see if I get tagged. The Tiger lost some oil but the bike was tilting even more as the trip went on so not sure where it was coming from (oil tank or engine). Also, seems like the side stand was leaning more than before so not sure if that was bent or not. There was alot of pressure on it.

Otherwise the only excitement was getting the bikes out. I put the ramp down and ran a strap to the bumper and the end of the ramp so it couldn't slide. The only issue was I left too much ramp in the truck so the Harley snagged bottom on the way out but I just gassed it and roared out of the truck (into oncoming traffic). The Tiger really hung up and stopped. Luckily I still had my tip toes on the rear deck of the truck and gently got off as I held the brake, thinking I was going to back it back into the truck somehow but without my weight it rolled out easy enough and I jumped on mid ramp... I'm sure this is how Evil Knievel started. Thanks again everyone!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Southwest Road trip: Day 5 and 6

(I'm trying to clean the posts up a bit as I have access to a computer tonight. Hopefully I'll have some photos and things posted by the end of the weekend. I’m just amazed how well the Treo did so far)

Spent Wednesday packing the uHaul with the bikes and Thursday driving to LA. Everything survived the trip so far except my ever tiring butt.

Ken and I strapped the Harley and the Triumph in and haven’t had anything break except his heart as I pulled out of his driveway. She’s in good hands, don’t worry. Ken has visitation rights and is planning on being in SF early next year for some rides through the wine country and Alice’s.

The LA slog from Tucson went as expected; smog and traffic. The LA Nelsons are doing well. Mandy is still at Liberty Hill, Grace is attending a Spanish language pre-school and Amelia keeps Tim company while he is job hunting.

As for me, I think my job on the road is done for now. I'll be headed to SF on Sat and get to unload the bikes myself. Volunteers anyone? At least to stand by and dial 911?

For more photos check out the link below
Roadtrip Day 5 and 6

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Southwest Road trip: Day 4

Perfect weather in Tucson. It’s warm with a light breeze and partially cloudy. I guess this is why the population doubles down here in the winter. I have to keep reminding myself that it is 120 in the summer (but it’s a dry heat).

Ken took Tuesday and Wednesday off so we took the bikes out for a sweet ride today and he let me try his vintage 1971 Triumph Tiger. We headed due west out Speedway Blvd. through scenic Gate’s Pass and into Saguaro National Forest. So breathtaking. I’ve never been a fan of the desert but after this trip and today I will be more appreciative and grateful. The stubtle desert fall colors were coming in, lots of yellows and reds, with the backdrop of greens and browns.

As for Ken’s Triumph, that little Tiger really hauls for being 35 years old. It must have been a terror in its day. Ken has spent the last 3 years sorting it out, respraying it to its original colors, rechroming and powder coating things. It must look just as good as when he bought it 30 years ago. So many people would stop and ask us what model it was, year…

After our ride, we stopped by Pat's Drive In for some famous chili dogs and a coke. Famous for what? I HAVE to assume I was there on a bad day as this wasn’t even as good as my crummy nightly dog and chili specials from Cala. This place has been around for 40 years and there is no way that they did that serving the incredibly average meal I had. I saw the Sysco truck backing in as I was leaving and could only assume that what I had just had was dropped on a plate and nuked seconds after the "homemade and authentic" tub of processed chili food and the “just like mom used to make” 1000 count pack of hotdogs were opened. Pat, if you are reading this, please, please, get better soon and run out those awful imposters (or shut your doors). This is hurting me, literally…

For more photos check out the link below
Roadtrip day 4

Monday, October 16, 2006

Southwest Road trip: Day 3

Leaving Las Vegas, for good! Hit the road about 9 am and took the 215 out of town, around Lake Mead and over the Hoover dam. They are putting in a suspension bridge over the dam instead of having people drive directly over it. That makes sense. That way you can have four lanes, no twisties to get to the bridge also, some of you might know that Im scared of heights but watching them build this was insane! So, Im minding my own business, waiting in line to cross the bridge and I hear a sound above me. I look up and about 100 yards above and over are these two guys suspended in cage from a crane dangling over the chasm (like 1 mile straight down) taking notes on clipboards! I could feel my manly-ness suck up into my body cavity. Jesus Christ, is this how they build these things? Engineers have serious huevos. I'm sweating just writing this. (I found this photo on the net, notice the small cage and the person inside)

Anyway, another 9 hour / 400 mile trip. I took the excellent Highway 93 south towards Phoenix. This highway is why you ride a motorcycle. Rolling hills with smooth black top, 75 mph speed limits, no traffic and all while surrounded by this amazing forest of Joshua and Yucca Trees Check out these photos. Stunning

I made it to Tucson around 6 PM with leg cramps and a seriously overworked ass. Cheryl had made an excellent dinner and we had a bottle of wine while we watched the Cardinals lose to the Bears after a 20 to zero led. Can they ever win? Time for some rest and some easy day trips around Mount Lemon.

today's top six road tunes:

6: My Favorite Things (Sarah Vaughn)
5: Sounds of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel)
4: Summertime (Ella and Louis)
3: Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan)
2: How Long Has This Been Going On (Louis Armstrong)
and at number 1: Ain't Misbehaving (Fats Waller)

For more photos check out the link below
Roadtrip Day 3

Southwest Road trip: Day 2

Las Vegas baby!! After a restful night recovering from my ordeal, I hooked up with my old High School pal Kevin who has been living in Vegas since he went there to deal Blackjack for the summer back in 1990. I asked him to show me the real Vegas. I understand if you are on vacation, the resorts, the shows, the gambling, etc... but what do the people that live here do? Or, if I can be so blunt, why would anyone live in this run down, crack house urine soaked mattress of a town? I'm looking for the "there there" as Gertrude Stein puts it.

We started the afternoon by getting some lunch over at the excellent Crown and Anchor British pub. Excellent British style pub food and beer. In fact, if wasn’t in a strip mall and on an eight lane thoroughfare, I would swear that I was in England. OK, so that is something. Seriously.

Next we headed over to the Pinball Hall of Fame. This was in a different strip mall about a mile away but was by far the highlight of the Vegas adventure. I’ve never been good at pinball but I’ve always loved to play and enjoyed the idea of it. I don’t know if it’s true or not but it always seemed so American. This place was amazing, like a shrine to the art. Check out the link cause I won’t be able to do this place justice. Every game I can remember playing as a kid was there and meticulously restored. I was also told that this is only a fraction of his collection. I mean these are serious pinball nerds. They had index cards on each machine explaining the significance and history of the specific unit, the artist that drew the back panel, the year make and model. Here’s a tip guys, get real signs made. I was reading one on the Superman game and they mentioned they had replaced the Atari (yes that Atari! they used to make pinball games) bumpers with Bally ones because they were clearly better as everyone knows… Nerd! Go to this place! and spend a quarter just to play and hear that loud “thwack” sound as you win an extra game. It was like a time machine.

At this point Kevin left to work the late shift at the Hilton as the Pit Boss and I decided to check out the Vegas Hookah district. To be fair, there are only a few Hookah bars but these two were blocks away from each other (and UNLV): Hookah Lounge and Café Hookah. I won’t bore you with the details but let's just say a good Hookah was had by all and that you don’t need to worry about going to Café Hookah.

Now off to an art house movie theater to watch… wait, there isn’t one. They show “those” movies at the local library. OK, a nice quite coffee house… well, I can’t find any and it isn’t mentioned in either local weekly (which were almost impossible to find themselves). The Starbucks guy or the Hookah mistress (is there such a thing?) didn’t know of any either. Whatever. I set myself up for a letdown it seems. OK back to the run down “new” Frontier, packing and a good night’s sleep for tomorrow's ride to Tucson. I had a good time but I don’t think I need to come back anytime soon. If I’m wrong, let me know, but there is no there there.

For more photos check out the link below
Roadtrip Day 2

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Southwest Road trip: Day 1

(posted from my Treo so sorry for the spelling) There is nothing more perfect than a flat twisty road through the mountains on a crisp autumn morning and a throaty v-twin. Not sex, not money... What a long day. I ended up spending about 12 hours in the seat. I left Coulterville around 9 and made my way to Yosemite. I had been told by several people that because of the rain we had two weeks ago, that Tioga pass had closed due to snow for the season. I had to hear it for myself so I called the park and it turns out they just reopened it. Yes!! I tore off through the valley and then froze crossing the 10k foot pass. The snow mostly melted but it was still icy. I think I had a touch of hypothermia at the end and once I left the park and dropped back down to 7k, I sat defrosting, shaking and eating lunch outside outside of Lee Vining. The joys of being on a motorcycle. I really don't get this whole romantic idea people have of it. Try this. Sit on a chair or your bicycle for 6 to 8 hours not moving you hands or feet and taking 15 minute breaks every hour or so. No radio, no one to talk to. In fact most of the time I'll sing every song I can think of to pass the time. My top 10 this trip:

10: Car Wash Blues (Jim Croce)
9: Cotton Fields (CCR)
8: All I Want Is You (U2)
7: Blue Skies (Ella)
6: Free Falling (Tom Petty)
5: Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You (Ella)
4: Carefree Highway (Gordon Lightfoot)
3: Behind the Wall of Sleep (Smithereens)
2: The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald (Gordon Lightfoot)
and at number 1: It Had to Be You (Sinatra version)

so after 6 hours of arrow straight highway 95, my voice was giving out as I rolled into the "new" Frontier (which is anything but) in Vegas around 9. Fell down on the bed. Time for some sleep.

For more photos check out the link below
Roadtrip Day 1

Friday, October 13, 2006

Southwest Road trip: Day 0

Friday I managed to get out of SF a bit early so I could split lanes for 2 hours. How do people do this commute? I'm guessing from SF to Stockton at about 4 hours. Ughhhh! I eventually got off the superslab and took Highway 132 east and spent the night in Coulterville, near Yosemite, at a charming little place, the Hotel Jeffery. Serious, great place, great hosts, cool old bar

So today I'll be heading out to Yosemite to spend the night and then off to Las Vegas, Tucson, LA and then home. I'll be breaking the Sportster in so if the weather holds up it should be an amazing trip. I'm really looking forward to the Yosemite portion and crossing over Tioga Pass (before it gets snowed in this year). Plenty of fotos to follow. We'll see if I can get them posted daily.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tuesday Night Poker Party

A few people at work have been organizing a Tuesday night Poker party that is on the verge of becoming a regular thing. The location varies and this week was at my newly emptied house so I had plenty of room. As you can see from the photo above, Dave Snapp cleaned us all out and was laughing in our faces during. From right to left: Dave Snapp, John Boyd, Briana Lenz and Adam Chapman (all my co-workers in IT at Current). We had a good turn out of about 13 people so we started a second table (photo not shown). Before we got started with the gambling, I fired up the grill and we enjoyed the last of the decent weather here in San Francisco.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Folsom Street Fair

This post is about a week late but I just wanted to give a shout out about the Folsom Street Fair last Sunday. It was a beautiful sunny day in San Francisco. Perfect for wearing your harness, chaps and close pins. I actually didn't go this year but happened to be riding around the neighborhood and saw everyone as they were arriving and leaving. Seems like I saw alot more women this year (wearing latex Dominatrix outfits). Also, rather than taking photos I figured I would just wait for the postings on flickr. Warning, these photos show the usual casual blow jobs on the street and naked guys in hanging cages. You've gotta love San Francisco!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Saturday Afternoon Ride

Summer has finally showed up here in San Francisco and it has been a nice 80 degrees warm for the last couple of weeks. Typically we get a few weeks, maybe a month if we are lucky, of this weather and then comes the cold drizzle. I took the opportunity to hang with newbie rider, co-worker, and NY transplant, Frank (hell on wheels) LaMonaca. We headed south to Half Moon Bay and then cut inland to the world famous Alice's Restaurant for lunch and then back to the city. We missed the big Sunday ride but had an great burger, saw our share of cool bikes and had an excellent ride.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pears a Plenty

Another exciting post about my yard! I realized that not everyone has seen my place and I thought I would post a photo to show everyone the plenty of pears that are just about ripe and ready for eattin' Bonus question: Does anyone know what kind of pears these are and what the hell do you do with several dozen pears? More exciting deck photos to follow...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Oktoberfest in California

I had an exciting weekend as I joined a few friends to celebrate Andrea's birthday at Oktoberfest at the infamous Tourist Club. For those of you that don't know the Tourist Club is a funky little bar / hostel over looking the Muir Woods in Marin just north of San Francisco and is only accessible via (at best) a short hike. They have a few events every year but by far the most popular is Oktoberfest. If you are looking for a way to combine hiking, nature and drinking, I recommend it!

It was a great summer day filled with plenty of Lederhosen, Tubas, Accordians, Polka, dancing, Knackwurst and beer. Hmmm... lots of beer related events this month. BTW, the homebrew is happily gurgling away in the closet. T minus 6 weeks and counting..

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Updated Deck Project Photo Albums

Just a quick note to check out the updated photo albums of the deck project. I should have the rest of these up in a few days that will bring this up to date. Check out page 2 and page 3

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Never Ending Deck Project

Always inching forward. The more I work on this deck the more I realize that this is just like life. There are no quick solutions to substantial projects. It is coming up on one year since Ken and Cheryl decided to come out for a week and help me do this thing. I took a little while off to recoup, then it rained for about 4 months and since then I've been picking away at it like a itchy scab. Today was a big day as I put the first section of actual "stop you from falling off the thing" railing on the deck. You want to see the whole saga? I'm still building the pages but here are a couple of photos from page 1. I'll be posting the rest as time permits (cause I'm busy working on the damn thing). This is at the very beginning where I had to pull out a few tons of cement, a tree and a couple bushes to make room for the deck footings.

For more photos check out the link below

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Yes, this is just as exciting as it looks from the photo. A pot of boiling hops and malt (a wort in beer making lingo), that with some time and love, will soon be a couple of cases of American Hefe Weizen. I guess I should have had this ready for the big NFL kick off this weekend but wasn't thinking that far ahead. It'll spend a week in the plastic bucket, then 2 weeks in the large glass bottle and then 5 weeks in the actual beer bottles.

I had forgotten that my Dad used to make wine in the closet back in the 70's. I guess it all comes back around. So show up in October for some free beer and let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Birthday Poem

A friend had a birthday recently and it reminded me of one of my favorite poems. You might know about Billy Collins (Poet Laureate of the United States, from 2001 to 2003) but if not check him out. He has an easy to read style that evokes beautiful, touching images while not taking himself too seriously and is down right funny. You can't say that about many poets! Let me know what you think.

On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

-- Billy Collins

Monday, September 04, 2006

Yuba River 2006

Last weekend Robert and I headed to Nevada City and specifically to the South Fork of the Yuba River for a little camping and R & R. For those of you who don't know, the Yuba River is one of the most relaxing, tranquil places I have ever been and I (almost) always end up returning feeling refreshed and full of energy. For those of you not living in California, it's about an hour or so north of Sacramento. It's hard to tell the size from the photos but these huge, deep clear pools of water run the entire lenght of the river. The large pool below is about 70 feet long and 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep. I usually bring my swimming goggles because the water is so clear you can swim right up to the fish (or snakes) on the bottom.

for more photos check out the link below

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

in the beginning....

So, here I sit. I've finally succumbed to the pressure of having to live up to Ben and Lisa's excellent Blog (thank you BTW). I have some posts saved up so I hope it doesn't get old too fast as my life doesn't move at the pace that most others do.

I'll start by saying that I thought about whether I should have a blog or a website for some time and in the end I've decided to have both. The format for a blog is well suited for brief topical updates and that a website is much more functional for large photo albums, topic specific pages and archiving all this crap. It also made sense to have the “About Me” stuff on Friendster and / or Myspace because that is what they specialize in. Check out the links on the right to see what I'm talking about.

So as the posts acumulate I'll be moving them over to my personal site and consolidating them when it seems relevant but more importantly I'll be using the web site for the pages of photos that just don't fit into the blog format. Make sense? Well, if not I guess you could click that comment link below and let me know.