Saddle, up

September 23, 2020

Say, is it my imagination, or is that cloud flipping me the bird?

If you had told me back in January that I wouldn’t ride down to the bosque until September 22, I would’ve given you the old hee, and also the haw.

But it’s true. Between the busted ankle and The Bug® a trip to the bosque has felt either impossible or unwise.

I have a bike to review for Adventure Cyclist, though. And the Paseo del Bosque trail is one of my stock routes for these projects. So yesterday off we went, the New Albion Privateer and I, to see what we could see.

I only saw a handful of other users on the Paseo bike path.

It was a short visit —  from the Alameda trailhead to the Paseo del Norte bike path. Too many people, and not nearly enough masks. Mind you, this was around 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, not a weekend.

I felt safer on the streets. Feature that, if you can.

Once I left the bosque path things settled down considerably. The Paseo and North Diversion Channel paths were lightly used, as was Bear Canyon Arroyo.

As per usual I had one of those moments when I wonder whether I should be allowed to leave the house without adult supervision. Just west of the bike-ped bridge over I-25 I began sensing that something was not quite right about my position on the machine, and got off to have a look-see.

Well, duh. Seems somebody forgot to use some elbow grease on that saddle-clamp bolt, and the saddle had been gradually tipping skyward. Another degree or two and I might have slid right off the back and onto the rear rack.

That’s one way to carry a load, I suppose. But I doubt that Adventure Cyclist would approve.

Just a few autumn leaves

September 22, 2020

You can trust your car to the man who wears the star. Or not.

• Skid Marx: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

• Al Sleet lives: “The weather will continue to change, on and off, for a long, long time.”

• Raiders of the Lost Arkea-Samsic: “We have top men working on it right now.”

Equinot yet goddammit. …

September 21, 2020

Me and the Voodoo Wazoo on the homebound leg.

The last day of summer? C’mon. Didn’t the Tour just wrap on Sunday, f’chrissakes?

C’monnnnnnnn. …

OK, well, then, since it is the last day of summer, with all that implies (impending winter, the ongoing cooling of the Universe, entropy galloping along unchecked toward inert uniformity), I decided to do something I haven’t done all that much this year, and that was ride the Elena Gallegos Open Space.

It practically goes without saying that I was on a rigid chromoly frame and fork, with rim brakes, 700c tubed tires, and electronic/hydraulic nothing. Unless you count the thousand-year-old Cateye Velo 8 cyclocomputer on the handlebar.

Mostly sunny, temps in the 70s, everybody in the vicinity just having a high old time. Sure, winter, entropy, and all that, but still, damn. I’ll take it.

Cast off, matey

September 20, 2020

The New Albion Privateer, in matte black.

There’s a new ship in the harbor: a New Albion Privateer.

The temptation is to load it down, saddle up, and sail away. But to where?

Lacking a passport, I’m restricted to the lower 48 states, Alaska and Hawaii being something of a long bunny-hop by bike. I don’t think Hans Rey could make either in one go, even if he started with a bean feast, a lit fart, and a tailwind.

Unfortunately, several of my preferred bolt holes are either hot as blazes or actually on fire. And if I leave New Mexico, I face a 14-day quarantine when I return.

Plus, Herself would have to rassle up her own grub in my absence, in addition to working for our living, catering to Miss Mia Sopaipilla, and assisting the assisted-living place with Herself the Elder, who recently took another digger, this time breaking her right wrist.

HtE is issued a fresh 14-day quarantine every time she leaves assisted living to see a sawbones, which is not nearly as much fun as seeing the road unfold before you from the saddle of a brand-new bicycle.

This is a review bike, of course. Merry Sales provided frame, fork, and a big box of bits, but the Great Parts Shortage of 2020 being more or less ongoing, I had to contribute a few items from my personal collection, among them a wheelset, inner tubes, saddle, and brakes.

Between us it made for a pretty tasty build, and I can’t say much more than that until the paying customers get theirs. In the meantime, I’m getting mine.

Still sticking pretty close to home, though. I’m not getting too far away from the mailbox until our ballots show up. That’s a review I can’t wait to write.

R.I.P., Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 18, 2020

This is a real blow, perhaps worse than Election Night 2016.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg did her best. Beat cancer twice, a blocked artery once.

Amy Howe at Scotusblog looks back at the career of “a reserved and relatively unknown court of appeals judge [who] became an improbable pop-culture icon, inspiring everything from an Oscar-nominated documentary film to her own action figure.”

She hung on as long as she could. It wasn’t long enough, but that’s not her fault. Peace to her, and to those who knew and loved her.

‘Make a joke and I will sigh. …’

September 18, 2020

By Cthulhu’s slimy tentacles! Can Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” really be 50 years old today?

This was one of the albums I used to drive my parents insane, along with Iron Butterfly’s “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida” and Led Zeppelin’s and Steppenwolf’s respective self-titled debuts. I’m surprised the family Telefunken stereo hi-fi console survived the prolonged and vicious beating I gave it.

Later, of course, I mellowed into the quiet flower child you’ve all come to know and love.

Some like it hot

September 17, 2020

Lessee, there’s freedom of the press, freedom of speech,
and freedom to run like hell from the cops with their heat ray. Got it.

H.G. Wells got it wrong. Mars isn’t the problem.

Before the feds drove protesters from Lafayette Square in June, according to an Army National Guard major who was there, the Defense Department’s top military police officer in the Washington region emailed officers in the D.C. National Guard to ask whether the unit had “a microwave-like weapon called the Active Denial System, which was designed by the military to make people feel like their skin is burning when in range of its invisible rays.”

According to The Washington Post:

The technology, also called a “heat ray,” was developed to disperse large crowds in the early 2000s but was shelved amid concerns about its effectiveness, safety and the ethics of using it on human beings.

Pentagon officials were reluctant to use the device in Iraq. In late 2018, The New York Times reported, the Trump administration had weighed using the device on migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border — an idea shot down by Kirstjen Nielsen, then the Homeland Security secretary, citing humanitarian concerns.

But in the email, on which DeMarco was copied, the lead military police officer in the National Capital Region wrote the ADS device “can provide our troops a capacity they currently do not have, the ability to reach out and engage potential adversaries at distances well beyond small arms range, and in a safe, effective, and nonlethal manner.”

Federal police ultimately were unable to obtain a heat ray device — or an LRAD — during the early days of protests in D.C., according to the Defense Department official.

“During the early days,” hey? Don’t forget to wear your Alcoa cammies when you’re out smashing the state, boys and girls. And spray yourself with a little olive oil, maybe stuff a few onions, taters, and carrots into your undies. The “Martians” are going to need a lunch break at some point.

‘Turmeric? Yeah, you gotta take that shit. …’

September 15, 2020

“Turmeric May Ease Knee Arthritis,” reports The New York Times.

Hey, my boy Marc Maron got there first, dudes.

A Grimy Handshake from Patagonia

September 13, 2020

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits
the Cibola National Forest.

I’ve somehow gotten myself on Patagonia’s mailing list, probably through buying stuff from them — and good stuff it is, too — and they sent me a note the other day linking to a piece by Mike Ferrentino.

Yes, that Mike Ferrentino, he of the Grimy Handshake. His stuff is even better than Patagonia’s.

Anyway, Mike wrote about wilderness, and why he no longer poaches trails there, and it’s worth your attention.

In other wilderness-related news:

• A forest ecologist from CSU-Fort Collins wonders whether some iconic forests might fail to bounce back after a wildfire.

• Trying to take pix of the fires? Ian Bogost says your phone’s camera was not built for the Apocalypse.

• Have the orcas finally had enough of our bullshit?

Sometimes I have a great notion

September 12, 2020

No, I’m not snorting a line. Not right at that moment, anyway. …
Photo 1981 by Tom Warren | Corvallis Gazette-Times

Somehow I never thought of Oregon as a place that would burn.

I never thought it could burn.

In my mind Oregon remains a damp, dreary place where I spent a lot of time indoors, either working, hammered, or both. The only place I never owned a bicycle. Occasionally I walked, but only if I was too drunk to drive.

All my people were back in Colorado or in California, where I spent some months trapped in a Simon and Garfunkel song:

Asking only workman’s wages I come looking for a job

But I get no offers

When an offer finally came the job was in Corvallis, in Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley. It was good to be working again instead of sponging off friends and family, but the baggage I brought with me held more than T-shirts and jeans.

I made some friends, most of them on the job, your typical newsdog. And we had some laughs, catching Andy Irvine and Paul Brady in concert at a tiny venue downtown, or motoring to Portland to hear Johnny and the Distractions.

Occasionally I’d meet my old buddy Merrill in Seattle, a change of scenery for us both. He was trapped at a newspaper in eastern Washington, which was another sort of hell altogether.

But I spent a lot more time slouched in Squirrel’s Tavern or in my tiny apartment, huddled with my dogs next to the wood stove, or taking aimless solo drives out to the coast, places like Newport or Depoe Bay.

Mostly I remember rain, damp, the kind of cold that a Colorado winter doesn’t prepare you for, the sort that settles right down into your bones and makes itself at home. I got fat in self-defense, trying to make my bones harder to find.

If you’d told me the place would burn I’d have laughed out loud and poured another one. But I don’t drink anymore, and I’m not laughing, either.

• From Oregon Public Broadcasting: How you can help.