Archive for the ‘In the neighborhood’ Category

Badaboom, badabing

November 30, 2018

Maybe we need to get Mexico to build us a new Wall.
This American model isn’t getting the job done.

This isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I said I could use a couple of bucks to tide me over until the end of the month.

 

What’s for breakfast?

November 20, 2018

Back In the Day®, when the cops decided to grab some shuteye during a shift, they called it “cooping.” But this Cooper’s hawk isn’t napping on the job. He’s up early and inspecting the menu from our backyard maple.

I saw this when I stepped out to shoot the sunrise this morning. Our bird feeders have become a bird feeder.

Winning: a meditation on the midterms

November 9, 2018

Remember how it feels to lose?

We ought to keep that in mind when we win.

The only people who should be dancing in the end zone are the cheerleaders. And they’d best be full of Gatorade, ’cause this game is only at halftime.

Yes, yes, yes, it’s another Friday Afternoon Club(bing) from Radio Free Dogpatch. But you won’t need the performance-enhancing drugs to get through this one. You’ve probably stayed clean through longer political ads.

“Democrats eat babies.” This one features a heavily Photoshopped image of a smiling Nancy Pelosi with a platter full of tiny arms and legs, a hammer-and-sickle bib, and barbecue sauce smeared over her lips.

“Republicans boink babies.” Well, we won’t need the Photoshop for this one.* But still, you get the idea, right?

* Sorry. I couldn’t resist. Comity only goes so far around here.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand. The background music is “Tiny Town” from ZapSplat, and the “National Emblem March” was performed by the U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band.

Bloomin’ marvelous

May 11, 2018

The daffodils and tulips have come and gone, and now it’s the irises’ turn.

The plant life hereabouts doesn’t seem to have gotten the word about our record heat and drought.

The roses on the back patio are doing as well as ever, and maybe better.

Roses are exploding on their trellis, the irises are going full tilt, and the lawn — well, it actually looks kind of like a lawn.

And those little green apples that God didn’t make? Well, somebody did. We’re gonna have a metric shit-ton of those inedible sonsabitches to contend with here directly.

Good thing we don’t have a Triffid. Judging by the way everything else is coming along, our little cinder-block wall sure wouldn’t restrict its movements any.

Nossir, that sucker would be striding around and about the Greater Comanche Foothills Yacht & Cricket Club, snatching up the neighbors and their pets, lowering property values, and making Republicans of the survivors.

Everything’s rosy

September 3, 2017

Winter may be coming, but it ain’t here yet.

We’re getting a burst of late roses here at El Rancho Pendejo. Red, pink, yellow. The works.

The four-day (!) Labor Day weekend has been a rousing success so far. Herself and I went for a short trail run on Friday. On Saturday she performed yoga while I did 90 minutes of hills on the Bianchi Zurigo. Afterward I burned a couple slabs of defunct bovine and served ’em up alongside some spinach fettuccine topped with smoked salmon and asparagus in a shallot cream sauce. Herself provided a refreshing green salad. Teevee was watched, and chocolate eaten.

Today there was more yoga and cycling (the latter on the Sam Hillborne, just rolling around eyeballing some of the top-shelf real estate over by the tram). Afterward the neighbors popped round with baskets full of homegrown goodness — tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers — that went nicely in a salad alongside the leftover moocow from yesterday, plus some mashed spuds. Also, and too, ice cream.

We are neither on fire nor under water, are unlikely to be deported, and there are no inbound missiles of which I am aware.

Is this the winning we’ve heard so much about? If not, why, then, it will have to do.

And now, it’s time for ‘Kiddie Korner’

December 4, 2016
When I was a kid it was all stuffed animals and special chairs. But the neighbor kid likes to play with Apple TV remotes, Magic Keyboards and mice.

When I was a kid it was all stuffed animals and special chairs. But the neighbor kid likes to play with Apple TV remotes, Magic Keyboards and mice.

The ‘hood is about to get a new resident. One of the neighbors is majorly preggers, as in due any second now, and since she and her husband already have one on the deck, Herself and I have become part of a small army of folks drafted into service as amateur anklebiter monitors in case the deal goes down in the wee small hours.

In loco parentis, as it were, with an emphasis on the “loco” part.

The one underfoot is a cute lil’ munchkin, freshly hatched when we first viewed the property that would become El Rancho Pendejo, and we’ve watched her go from wide-eyed newborn to astoundingly sentient being in two short years. She and mom pop round for regular visits, mostly so the kid can see Mister Boo and lay curious hands upon bits of technology that some careless person leaves lying around where pretty much anyone, no matter how short, can glom onto it.

In a couple months I expect she’ll be editing my columns, unless she gets distracted by her new little sister.

Elsewhere, my man Hal Walter is soliciting recommendations for a budget Windows laptop. His son, Harrison, is addicted to the game Minecraft, and I guess the PC world beats Apple at this sort of thing.

I know even less about Minecraft and Windows than I do about everything else, especially children and the care and feeding thereof, so if anyone out there has some suggestions for Hal, feel free to leave ’em in comments.

 

Interbike 2016: Sucking it up

September 26, 2016
The Duke City vortex.

The Duke City vortex.

ALBUQUERQUE (MDM) — There must be something to all that vortex talk about Sedona. Something was definitely sucking there on Saturday. Mostly the drive in, down Oak Creek Canyon, on what should have been a beautiful fall afternoon.

I suppose if you have to be trapped in a traffic jam there are worse places for it. I had just left one of them, Las Vegas (“Gateway to Bankruptcy and Repossession”), and was glad of it, too.

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

Still, you expect all manner of inconvenience in Sin City. Sedona bills itself as “The Most Beautiful Place On Earth In So Many Ways,” but this linear parking lot was not one of them.

Right behind me were a couple little yos in a red Kia getting their smoke on, their rap music polluting the air nearly as badly as the conga line of cars. (Pro tip: A red Kia is not “gangsta.”)

Up front, a sign proclaimed “Speed Reduced Ahead.” Not possible, I thought, glancing at my speedometer, which was flirting with zero. This made driving through Taos on Memorial Weekend look like barreling down I-25 between Raton and Wagon Mound at 3 in the morning. At least nobody was hollering or honking.

I hadn’t been to Sedona in years, and I wouldn’t see much of the new-and-improved version this trip. After inching through town to my hotel, I slouched over to the inevitable Whole Paycheck, bought a mess of juice, salami, cheese and crackers, and slouched back. Thusly fortified, I reclined on a chaise lounge at poolside and set about enjoying the comparative peace and quiet of the bubbling hot tub after the clangor and din of the Luxor-Mandalay Bay Dante Alighieri Memorial Circles of Hell (Two Through Four Inclusive).

Rub-a-dub in the hot tub! Or right next to it, anyway (yes, I eventually got in).

Rub-a-dub in the hot tub! Or right next to it, anyway (yes, I eventually got in).

Just about then a couple wanders in and of course they are in a mood to chat, having just come from the annual Sedona Winefest. He was a copper miner from Globe-Miami, and she was a phys-ed teacher and coach … who just happened to have cycled with a trailer from Canada to Mexico and was a member of the Adventure Cycling Association.

(“Cue “It’s a Small World After All.” Everybody sing!)

Anyway, they told me that on any given weekend Sedona was pretty much as I had already seen it, and so bright and early the next morning I arose, loaded the Subaru and got the hell out of Dodge. Vortex. Whatever. I took the back door through the hamlet of Oak Creek, which allowed me to use fifth gear and my inside voice.

I made it back to Duke City and El Rancho Pendejo in time for a light dinner and a short walk with Herself and Mister Boo. Turkish and Mia bestirred themselves, albeit briefly. (“Oh, you were gone? We hadn’t noticed.”) We enjoyed a beautiful sunset and an early bedtime.

All this peace and quiet will be shattered by tonight’s debate and the subsequent spinning of same, of course. Some vortexes suck more than others.

 

Ridesharing

August 9, 2016
A three-seater?

A three-seater?

So, like any good gabacho hipster, I’m riding my Rivendell Clem Smith Jr. to the coffee shop when I encounter a couple of vatos trying to negotiate the pedestrian signals at the corner of Walk and Don’t Walk without getting centerpunched by a speeding SUV.

They missed their east-west opportunity, so they pivot to the north-west crosswalk, and the older of the two, sporting a cane and a limp, says to me, “Hey, can you give us a lift to Taco Bell?”

“Sorry, man, I forgot my basket,” I quip.

Unfazed, he replies, “That’s OK, he can ride on the handlebars and I’ll ride in back.”

Ay, Robot

August 8, 2016
I'm up on the tight wire, linked by life and the funeral pyre, putting on a show for you to see.

I’m up on the tight wire, linked by life and the funeral pyre, putting on a show for you to see.

Electricity is your friend, until it isn’t.

We were watching the finale to season one of “Mr. Robot,” the one in which Eliott awakens in Tyrell’s SUV to discover that his hack has taken down the global financial system and all is chaos, when the lights first hiccuped and then went out altogether.

Bzzzzt. Game over.

The culprit wasn’t FSociety or any other anonymous (har de har har) hacktivist collective. Seems a bolt of lightning drilled a West Side Public Service Company of New Mexico substation, starting a fire and turning out the lights from Santa Fe to Los Lunas — affecting some 135,435 customers, including our little cul-de-sac. PNM said later it was the worst power outage in years.

After a bit, everyone in the ‘hood wandered into the street, exchanging quips about who tripped over the cord, passing out candles to the light-deprived, and generally just catching up on idle chitchat. Nice and dark it was, and cool, with just a soupçon of rain.

About the time we decided we’d better eat all the ice cream before it turned into ice-cream soup, click, the power came back on. Civilization — or the feeble substitute we’ve all agreed to settle for — marches on.

O, wholly night

December 26, 2015
My rigid Jones 29er plays a lovely moonlight sonata.

My rigid Jones 29er plays a lovely moonlight sonata.

A neighbor couple had invited us to join them for a full-moon Christmas ride on the Sandia foothills trails (.pdf), and while the field was halved by start time last night — his wife was recovering from a cold, and mine thought her headlight gravely underpowered — Phil and I soldiered on.

Alas, the moon likewise declined to participate, and my lighting system also proved less than illuminating (an elderly, AAA-powered trinity of Cateye Opticube HL-EL450, Princeton Tec EOS, and Princeton Tec Remix). Happily, Phil was content to lead the way with his new Cygolite, so we got around and about without issue.

My "lighting system." Not pictured: The Princeton Tec Remix I wore as a headlamp.

My “lighting system.” Not pictured: The Princeton Tec Remix I wore as a headlamp.

I was reminded how much fun it is to do something different, and how good this can be for the bike industry, because you discover how woefully clapped out your equipment is.

There was the lighting issue, for starters. Also, my old Pearl Izumi winter gloves seem to have gone walkabout in the move, I have no clear lenses for my prescription Rudy Project Rb-3 cycling glasses, and my decrepit Kucharik toe covers no longer cover all 10 toes.

And which bike to ride? I ride these trails on a cyclo-cross bike in the daylight, but that seemed unwise in the dark, with old snow and ice likely to be lurking in any north-facing bits. The old DBR Axis TT mountain bike seemed an ideal choice, until I found a big hop in the rear tire that no amount of inflation, deflation, removal, replacement, and yanking this way and that could resolve.

The Co-Motion Divide Rohloff? That would have been fun, but I didn’t fancy fixing a rear-wheel flat in the freezing dark (the Rohloff hub and Gates belt drive complicate that chore a bit, and I was out of practice).

Thus, the Jones. It’s the perfect bike for this sort of outing. Big-ass Maxxis Ardent 29×2.4 tires, a Shimano XT drivetrain with a low end of 19.3 gear inches for creeping through icy rockpiles in the inky blackness, and Avid BB7 discs with 200/180mm rotors for knocking down the MPH as necessary. Plus you could hang 12 headlights on that H-bar, if you had ’em, which I did not.

Speaking of which, I’m taking recommendations for a reasonably priced headlight. Sound off in comments if you feel so inclined. And a happy Boxing Day to one and all.