Thursday, February 16, 2006

Such good timing on my part...

After many decades, I will finally complete my academic career (...begun well back in the previous millennium) sometime in the next year or two by graduating as an English major, right about the time words in english will have finally and completely lost any meaning.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Agents of Entropy

"In fact, we are agents of entropy: we organize our bodies at the expense of the organization of our environment, which we digest and burn."

James Merritt, "Chaos and Complexity"

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Layer upon layer

My mainstay winter riding jacket has been my old Hein Gericke from the early '90s, which has had the main zipper replaced once or twice, is missing most of its many zipper pulls, and is slowly turning the linings of its many pockets into tatters. Combined with my year-round Joe Rocket mesh pants, it gets the job done pretty well.

All of this is fine enough, but recently I've gradually become aware that despite its mass, weight and bulk, it doesn't really put too much between me and the road in the event Beast and I part company.

So when it turned cold again recently, I came up with a brilliant—if I do say so myself—idea. I wore my very oversized summer-weight Joe Rocket jacket over my Hein Gericke, instead of wearing another layer beneath it.

Much to my surprise, it seems to work out pretty well. Except for having another entire set of pockets to misplace things in, it's very convenient. Despite being mostly kevlar mesh, the JR seems to trap a layer of still air where it's needed, and contributes little weight or mass. But now I also have some additional abrasion resistance, and ballistic padding in lots of key places—which also serves to insulate and keep the wind out.

Altogether, when it's all buttoned up tight, it feels a little bit like an exoskeleton. But it's warm, snug, has good mobility, and I feel a little better with an extra layer of protection.

Plus it makes me look even more badass than I typically do.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Excelsior-Henderson, 1914

"Nervous energy is your most priceless earthly asset. Save it. Accumulate it. Replenish your zip tank every day with a spin in the country on a motorcycle. Get out in the open where there is no boundary. Enlarge your horizon. Its radius is all up to you. "

"With a motorcycle you can stick to your job till the day’s work is finished, and then in fifteen minutes put yourself out in the wide open. An hour on the road will blow the clinkers out of your lungs. See the fields once every twenty-four hours - and all day every Sunday and on vacation. A motorcycle will make this possible. You can beat it out to some heretofore distant stream, and fish for a while before breakfast - if you own a motorcycle. "

"You can be at the ballpark, root with the bunch almost instantly after you have climbed out of your overalls or closed your roll top - if you have a motorcycle. Air spray your brain by using a motorcycle. Come down to work clean and fresh on a motorcycle, and you will attack it with a vim born of fresh air and red blood. A motorcycle gives you snap."

"Men with motorcycles are live wires. They do things. They are well, and they do their work well. Their competitors fear them, because they are effective, powerful, healthy chaps. And this effectiveness is operative over a wide field, because the man with the motorcycle has no mile. He lives everywhere. His zone is practically unlimited. "

"The horse has received half his setback into the ranks of the obsolete at the hands of the motorcycle. The first cost of a good horse exceeds that of a motorcycle, and its maintenance is decidedly higher. The horse must be fed and cared for. Give the motorcycle a bit of gasoline and a mite of oil and it is at your service for a mile or a hundred miles. The horse is slow, the motorcycle is swift. The horse has a mind of his own - you are the motorcycle’s. The horse must be shielded - it is subject to exhaustion and you feel for it, and half the pleasure of your drive is spoiled through consideration for the brute which pulls you."

"Not so with the motorcycle. It has no nerves, it never falters, it is as willing at the day’s end as it was in the early hours of the morning. The horse stops on the bad hills - the motorcycle eats them alive. Gasoline is Cupid’s best friend, and the motorcycle is the little God’s choice of gasoline gigs. The twentieth century has heard the call of the motorcycle and answered it."

"Even the automobile has been forced to admit that it has a real peer in its agile little contemporary. Here is a little schedule for you - not that it is the best. It is simply given to suggest to you what can be done with a motorcycle. Up at six thirty. A five mile spin in the country before breakfast. Back in twenty minutes, allowing time for dressing, etc. You have two big healthy lungs under your shirt, both full of ozone; color in your cheeks that wasn’t there yesterday, red blood in your veins, and an appetite like a horse. Seven thirty - you are off for work with fight in your eyes - ready to meet the old world on his homeground and make him say “Uncle.” You feel fresh and clean - for there are motorcycles as clean as enclosed coupes."

"Eight o’clock - you are on the job like a glutton. Let them bring on their perplexities, their trying moments. You are equal to anything, you have absorbed enough horse power to talk you over any hill that the boss can take in his big limousine. All day long you go ahead cutting and slashing. At five o’clock you have a hundred percent day on you back track with a song in your heart."

"That is satisfaction. The other fellow wonders what has gotten into you. Let him wonder. Home to dinner, on your motorcycle, then an hour or two in the wide open, and then to bed where you will sleep like a six month old child. The next day you repeat the dose - put another dent in old Nemesis. Now multiply this one hundred percent work day of yours by six, just to get an idea of what you can do for yourself in a week, after you have taken to the motorcycle. Multiply this day by twenty-eight. Figure out where you will stand at the end of the month, and then multiply it by twelve. This gives you a line on your first big motorcycle year. It means success - a roll top and push buttons, if you care for those things. The other fellow has been lost in your dust. For the sake of your health, your chances, your balance at the bank, your tomorrow - get a motorcycle."

"A motorcycle will take you up on Easy Street. "


Excerpts from ‘You and the Motorcycle; Excelsior-Henderson’ circa 1914

DeCodeing Dianetics:

"Originally I said, hey, If this guy (L. Ron Hubbard) can figure out how the mind works, I can figure out how to ride a motorcycle."
- Keith Code interview 8/15/03

"Hooray for the motorcycle!"

"Hooray for the motorcycle! It seduces you into getting off the freeways and onto smaller roads and doing things the harder way and being aware of the countryside."

-Ted Simon, interview in CityBike June 1998

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thoughts on Oz...

...You know who the real hero of "The Wizard of Oz" was?

Toto.

If Toto hadn't outed the Wizard, then Dorothy et al., would have been stuck believing in his omnipotence.

Where are the Totos of our day, bravely pulling back the curtains and exposing the charlatans?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle, an icon that so sadly is burdened with being the “…last refuge of the scoundrel” is a spectacular animal. It's even more spectacular when viewed minus the tedious overlay of self-congratulatory myth and jingoistic self-aggrandizement with which we have nearly smothered it.

It sits on the bare branch of the oak, deep in the stream ravine, its fresh bloody lunch pinned to the branch with one taloned claw. Slowly and in leisurely fashion, it peels strips of flesh from the dripping carcass, like you or I would eat a piece of string cheese—if we could hold it with our toes.

Carelessly, it tosses the bits of flesh into the air and gobbles them down. It’s easy to try and anthropomorphize, to humanize the bird, but it’s much more rewarding to try and imagine what it’s like to sit on that branch and eat that bloody lunch with its metallic savor.

Eventually, I spook it; it flies off deeper into the woods and disappears from sight, the blithly abandoned carcass dropping to the forest floor to the delight of the scavengers.

The cats will both be indoor cats from now on.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Omphalos: For A Case of Beer

For a case of beer, unobtainable by his own devices
edgy the lad liberated the truck from its red brick barn,
Where it slept awaiting that clamorous call
The call that rarely came, the horn that cried in the night
Awakening the village men, tossing them from various slumbers
With unassailable urgency

But not today. It came occult, on covert occasion,
To serve us in our own special need—
Where the pale concrete children scampered and squealed
Among moss fallen cabins, we labored long in that broad white hole
Snowblind in the heat, chilled by the dark mountains’ fogs
Long days melded into evening’s aching labor
we reached the day of judgement—

The truck equal between shore and broad white hole
Snout draughts deep of the chill lake
From its side the mighty snake emerges, flat like the nightmare parasite
Drapes the weedy sward, broad bronze mouth perched over the hole,
secured by stones, and rope, to a plank—
That was in its turn, secured against the fearsome coilings

On our command the lad loosed the power he brung:
Rumble, then a ripping sound like I have never heard
Before or since, dances across the grass to me
The snake hisses, bucks, belches, heaves, disgorges
a plume of emerald, splays across the hole,
washes away, conceals what we have made

I cannot resist—climb in—our mutual baptism in this moment
A sacrament unsanctioned and unknown
I meet the plume arms outstretched, back turned in greeting
crucified against the pounding column, laying back
embraced and held close by this most substantial of ephemera

You would not think such a thing possible, but I saw it with my own eyes
For three straight hours the snake spewed. It filled the hole with emerald
opaque and unknowable, unfathomable
At its center, a froth-flecked gyre, a foot or more below the unwavering edge
Though I watched it for hours, it stayed, undiminished
Such moment does not easily surrender
Omphalos

The Gardener Addresses the Poet:

You wrote line on line, stacked them in weary wilted mounds
until they moldered, sheer quantity mustering inner heat
in tepid imitation of the life you strove to pin to the page.

Let me tell you—the bloom is just a prologue,
a vulgar advertisement for a simple transaction
The real work, the heavy lifting comes
late in the hot season, flamboyant spring forgotten,
Lulled by cicada song and sweat stung

The true stars are the vegetable and fruit—
meek mottled vessels, packed by mad design,
not exalted on high on fragile stalks
but motionless, in sweet communion with the soil

You were distracted and misdirected by a conjurer’s trick
florid displays of no consequence; you took an easy path to fulfillment
Now release these feeble floral metaphors back into the wild,
from where you stole them, so they can regain their vigor
Meanwhile, take a good look beneath, lift the tart’s skirts;
see where your supper lies

I’ll tell you a different tale:
My love is like a kohlrabi. She glows in the midday sun
A sheen on her flawless skin. She is pale and firm and sweet
Not like some insipid pear—her sweetness hides a pungency
She is beautiful with a hint of menace in her exotic aspect.
Her roots go deep into the soil, into her place—
But the sun is her friend, spending her days seeking his embrace

Planted in cool spring, she becomes voluptuous with the warmth.
And so she will stay—if attended to.
The cool of fall, the frost, the snow will not daunt her;
They may make her sweeter, if she is nurtured and cared for.
But leave her alone, untended, ignored—the pungent will turn bitter,
the firm into hard, the sweet to stolid.
I should sample her sweetness today; I may not have time tomorrow

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Thoughts on #$%^& traffic:

The "left lane" is the new "right lane."

There is a whole gigantic cadre of dull-witted drivers who fail to appreciate the most basic rules of driving, who believe the a lane is a lane. They are the ones driving at or below the speed limit in the left lane.

On my daily commutes, I typically find the left lane clogged with these four-wheeled embolisms, and yet the right lane is clear as...something that's really clear.

Don't they teach drive right, pass left anymore? Or is it presumptuous of me to think these feebs were ever actually taught to drive?

Analogy

If you look up in the top right corner, you'll see a little button which says "Next Blog." I've been using this nifty little feature a lot recently in my downtime, and I have come to a conclusion:

"Blogging" : "writing" as "Karaoke" : "Singing"

I certainly don't put my own humble efforts on any pedestal, and there are a group of bloggers (some I know personally, some I've admired from afar) whose work I hold in high esteem for both content and execution.

But golly whillikers, folks...people do actually read these things sometimes.