The (non-) shit monsoon

August 18, 2018

There’s some water up there this morning, and by this afternoon it may be down here.

Following the news lately reminds me of John Prine’s intro to “Dear Abby,” from his “Sweet Revenge” album.

Talking about reading a small English-language newspaper in Italy, he observed: “Every time you turned a page something just jumped right out at you.”

The deer didn’t get this one.

The old fight-or-flight reflex can only handle so much of that. Sometimes you have to take a deep breath, close the laptop, and walk away.

Lace up the shoes and go for a trail run. Log some Miles. Enjoy a frosty beverage. Watch the hummingbirds battle.

Stop and smell the roses.

Read something that doesn’t make you insane.

Listen to something that makes you want to dance. Then play a little something yourself.

Go for a nice long bike ride. Make sure it has fenders. Like the fella says, it never rains, but sometimes it pours.

 

R.I.P., Aretha Franklin

August 16, 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, the Queen.

I don’t remember the first time I heard Aretha Franklin’s voice, but I never forgot it. Even the tinnest of tin ears perked up when the Queen of Soul was belting one out (she had a four-octave vocal range).

Many of the reflections on Franklin’s passing note that “The Blues Brothers” helped revive her career when it was on life support (the rockin’ pneumonia and boogie-woogie flu had turned into a bad case of disco fever).

That’s one more reason to miss John Belushi, too.

 

It’s a long, long way down to Reno, Nevada

August 15, 2018

Thirty days and counting to Interbike.

I’ll be skipping the show this year. Adventure Cyclist expects slim pickings in the touring category, and BRAIN hasn’t paid my freight in forever, a cost-benefit calculation that keeps coming up snake eyes for Your Humble Narrator. In lean times the last thing you want is an ill-mannered, off-the-leash cur snarling at the customers as you try to keep the bank from taking the bike shop.

Le Shewe Bigge has shifted north from Las Vegas to Reno for 2018, and I can’t be the only person who finds it amusing that Interbike went there to get itself a divorce from Sin City. Still, I’m curious to see how it works out.

There’s much chin music about an ongoing “Reno-ssance,” the local spin on “gentrification,” which itself is the scenic route to “get those poor people out of sight, they’re scaring the tourists and playing hell with property values.” See Bibleburg, Duke City, et al.

For instance, in The Biggest Little City in the World one may enjoy a nifty Riverwalk District that skirts the Truckee, where the John Laws have been running off homeless campers, unfortunates who may be traveling by bicycle because they have to, not because it looks like fun.

Novelist and musician Willy Vlautin has written about people like these who seem to be missing out on the “Reno-ssance,” and so has Our Town Reno, a production of the Reynolds Media Lab, part of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada-Reno. They taught me a new word: “artwashing.”

It’s been years since I last visited Reno, en route to and/or from visits to friends in Northern California. It always felt like a rest stop between Here and There, not a destination in its own right. I’d camp at the Motel 6 West, and dine at some hippie joint down off Sierra, or maybe Virginia, I don’t remember. Vegetarian fare, heavy on the garlic to ward off the vampires.

Come morning I’d grab a cup of joe and a tank of gas and get the hell out of Dodge. Which, as it turns out, seems to be mostly what all these tourist traps want from us. Howdy, partner! Got any money? Keep moving.

Before long the last place in the country without a riverwalk, legal weed and a bespoke artisanal microbrewery will be Ash Fork, Arizona. You will not see Interbike in Ash Fork anytime soon, no matter how bad the bike biz gets.

 

Chickensheet

August 13, 2018

Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump chuckle (“Sheeeet”)
before getting back to work.

Before we celebrate the utter failure of the “alt-right” to attract anything like actual numbers to their “white civil rights rally” Sunday in DeeCee, let’s remember that they still have control of the Justice Department and the White House.

Battery up

August 11, 2018

El Diablo Rojo rides again!

One of the neighbors was chortling about never seeing me riding the Vespa, so I dropped in a new battery (yeah, it’d been a while) and after a bit of reluctant huffing and puffing from the caged, carbureted beastie we’ve been buzzing around the ’burbs again, just ’cause we can.

But it turns out that as per usual I’m behind the curve, out of fashion, so 15 minutes ago.

All the Kool Kidz are rocking the electric motorcycles and scooters these days.

The only part I got right was the battery. ¡Que triste es la vida Vespa!

 

Color me surprised

August 11, 2018

Looks like rain, y’say? Shoe does.

Some days, you kit up for a ride, but the Universe says, “Piss on you,” and then does. But nobody who lives in a desert complains about the rain.

Space farce

August 9, 2018

The Empire has cornered the Tang market in preparation for galactic conquest. | Liberated from @Todd_Spence on Twitter.

Emperor Pompatus wants a Death Star.

It figures he’d have an interest in space, since there’s so much of it between his ears. Also, and too, he looks like an astronaut wanna-be who couldn’t make the weight and washed out of the program after a Tang overdose.

Might be nice if we settled a few of the fights we’ve picked down here on Earth before we blast off in search of the Rebel Alliance, don’t you think?

 

International Cat Day

August 8, 2018

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), at ease.

“Today is ‘International Cat Day,’ you say? When is it not?” enquires ’Is Lardship.

He’s not kidding, y’know.

 

Wild kingdom

August 6, 2018

Say hello to my pal Sluggo, who took the scenic route (down the stucco wall) to the yard the other day.

We’ve had a pleasant few days around the ol’ rancheroo, lounging on the back patio with a beverage of an evening, airing the cats, and watching the wildlife (which, unlike cable or even streaming video, is free).

The deer have been sniffing around again, drawn by the neighbors’ apples (they’ve already wiped out our crop). And our hummingbird feeder is attracting quite the crowd —  rufous, broad-tailed, black-chinned and maybe even a calliope. The aerial combat over the sugar water looks like the Battle of Britain. Even the bees are getting involved.

Bigger birds have been on display, too. One great big hawk, either a redtail or ferruginous, sat perched atop a neighbor’s tree for the better part of quite some time the other evening, putting a damper on all the other avian activity. A hawk thinks a bird feeder is a hawk feeder.

Later, what looked like a prairie falcon came out of nowhere and swooped low overhead, perhaps mistaking the Turk for a great big bunny. Nope. “That’s no ordinary rabbit,” as Tim the Enchanter has taught us.

Perhaps the most striking creature we’ve seen all summer was a two-tailed swallowtail butterfly, which found one of our shrubs mesmerizing. I should’ve taken a pic, but I didn’t want to interrupt its snacking.

And then there was Sluggo. Less attractive, perhaps, but he gave me an excuse to try the macro function on the Sony RX100 III.

Besides, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, que no? I ain’t exactly George Clooney myself, as Herself periodically reminds me.

Un Orso sotto la pioggia

August 1, 2018

The Bianchi Orso sports a Tubus Cargo Classic (with adapters to clear the Breezer-style dropouts and thru-axle levers), an Arkel TailRider rack truck with attached Dry-Lite panniers and a Revelate Egress Pocket. Oh, yeah, and five water bottles.

August? Say what? Wasn’t it July just a minute ago?

Here at Ye Olde Dogge Parque the party just keeps rolling along. The Bianchi Orso is nearly ready for its closeup. I need a few details from Bianchi HQ, but they seem a taciturn lot for persons of the Italian persuasion.

Perhaps they’re distracted by the antics of that other ugly American, the one whose coloration is rare among the primates, save for the orangutans, who do not claim him. Happily, Bianchi USA is lending a hand, trying to fill in the gaps. Che figata!

The sharp-eyed among you may note a rain jacket strapped behind the Egress handlebar bag. It has indeed been raining in the ’hood, and not just your occasional refreshing sprinkle, either. Daily full-on frog-stranglers is more like it.

Seems it’s either drought or deluge around here. Some middle way would be greatly appreciated. Why, I actually had to dodge a puddle on my morning run. Che cazzo!