Archive for the ‘Things that suck’ Category

Point of ordure

February 13, 2021

Senators at work. For a change.

One thing you do not want to do on a brisk February morning is consider the rampant jackoffery taking place in the U.S. Senate while your spouse tells you how Uncle Sammy plans to hoist you by your ankles for a vigorous shakedown come April 15.

Jesus H., etc. Every one of these posturing poltroons who came into this process focused on rubbing one out while waiting to acquit Impeachy the Clown has betrayed his or her oath to the Constitution and should be run out of town via rail (not the Amtrak variety, but rather the splintery numbers without sleepers or a dining car).

Once delivered to Flyover Country the chickenshits should be issued orange jumpsuits, either too large or too small, equipped with masks crafted from the unlaundered undergarments of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson, and compelled to pick up roadside refuse, distribute vaccine, and build houses for the homeless.

You got time to doodle, read the paper, and put your feet up while doing the people’s business, you got time to pick up discarded diapers, broken bottles, and used rubbers.

How’s that for justice? The trash picking up the garbage.

Java stop

February 2, 2021

Mr. Krups, still going (and brewing) strong
after more than a quarter-century on the job.

Mistah Coffee, he daid … again.

Happily, Mr. Krups remains very much on the job after more than a quarter century’s service. I used to take this midget espresso maker with me on road trips, before there was a barista on every street corner in the US of A.

Our latest and final Mr. Coffee machine, as recommended by The Wirecutter, survived just over 16 months before coughing up a pot of lukewarm fluid and croaking this morning.

No memorial service; interment will be at the nearest landfill. In lieu of flowers please send Chemex filters to El Rancho Pendejo, Duke City, NM, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

R.I.P., Steve Milligan

December 22, 2020

Our friend Steve went west last night.

We were on the trail past the high side of Comanche, waiting on the Great Conjunction, when I saw the owl.

It was just before sunset as he flew in from the south, spread his wings wide, and coasted to a landing atop a utility pole down the hill from our own perch.

“I bet that’s Steve come to say adios,” I thought.

We had spoken with his wife, Christina, earlier in the day. She told us Steve was near the end of his struggle against an aggressive cancer. And when I saw the owl, well. …

This morning I awakened with Tom Waits in my head, rasping, “Come On Up to the House.”

Come on up to the house

Come on up to the house

The world is not my home

I’m just a-passin’ through

You gotta come on up to the house.

And sure enough, as I creaked out of bed and began dressing to greet the day, Herself gave me the news: “Steve died.”

Steve and Christina were librarians, like Herself, who met Steve sometime in 2005 when they both worked for Pikes Peak Community College in Bibleburg. Christina did her bit at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Funny thing was, they lived just a couple blocks around the corner from our place in the Greater Patty Jewett Yacht & Gun Club Neighborhood. So we could’ve met them pretty much any old time. Small world.

Steve and Herself at PPCC.

Herself developed this notion that we might all get along, be “couples friends,” a social wall she has been banging her head against for more than 30 years. I’m a surly old dog wary of strangers at the gate.

In this instance, however, she was correct. Steve picked right up on my suspicions about any plan I had not personally devised and his nickname for me became “Mr. Three Words.” If there was something Christina wanted to do and Steve didn’t, he’d say, “I have three words for you: Patrick O’Grady.”

These are of course two words, and constitute a koan of sorts, I suppose. And no surprise, because Steve was a Zen Buddhist, a member of the Springs Mountain Sangha. We had something in common there; some years earlier I had met Joan Sutherland Roshi, who would go on to become the founding teacher of The Open Source network that includes the SMS.

Joan had worked with John Tarrant Roshi, director of the Pacific Zen Institute and Robert Aitken Roshi’s first dharma heir. And Steve and I both appreciated Tarrant’s book, “Bring Me the Rhinoceros,” a sampler of classic Zen koans and a Western approach to them.

All this is not intended to say that Steve and I were Han Shan and Shih Te. Steve and Christina and Herself and I were not itinerant locos who did a little casual day labor to keep rice in the bowl (well, Steve, Christina and Herself weren’t, anyway). We were simply friends, people of like mind who enjoyed books and movies, food and wine, chin music and a few yuks.

One of many dinners at the Blue Star.

They would cook for us, and we would cook for them. If we weren’t cooking, we were eating, at Blue Star, Springs Orleans, Tapateria, Pizza Rustica, or Vallejos. Taking in movies at Kimball’s Peak Three. Hanging out and shooting the shit.

After we moved down here in 2014 we saw them less often, but both Steve and Christina have relatives in New Mexico, so they’d pop down from time to time and we’d catch up. And whenever we were back in Bibleburg they were at the top of our list of people to see.

Steve was a big fella, like me a bearded baldo, but while I am prone to rant and rave like some stewbum on a sidewalk he was inclined to uncork a dry wit and serve it in a confidential tone, as though the State might be listening in. Whenever he had a bon mot to deliver he would take a step closer, right into your personal space, drop his volume to a conspiratorial level, and let fly.

Christina? More of a Buddha, less entranced by her own sermons, occasionally raising a flower. She speaks in measured tones with quiet amusement and nothing I do or say surprises her because she spent decades with her own bull-goose loony and knew all that honking and flapping was strictly ornamental.

There was less of that sort of thing as Steve’s disease progressed, Christina told me today as we three, once four, shared a long-distance cry. But at least Steve was in the nest, at home, in the care of his wife and son. And that was where he left them, and us, at age 73. Gasshō, bodhisattva.

We can’t say that human lives have a purpose, since a purpose would be smaller than we are. It’s true, though, that the impulse to give freely to the world seems to be at the bottom of the well of human intentions where the purest and cleanest water arises. To be able to offer back what the world has given you, but shaped a little by your touch — that makes a true life. Eventually we find our song and remember it and sing it. And we can never know who else will sing the song, or how the story will turn out in the end; its ripples widen beyond us and there is no end in sight. — John Tarrant, “Bring me the Rhinoceros”

More, late*

December 21, 2020

A little light and a lot more tunnel.

“Pandemic Deal by Congress Provides Economic Relief, for Now,” reports The New York Times.

But it’s too little, too late, and perhaps the last of Uncle Sammy’s pennies in the ol’ tin cup for a while, adds The Old Grey Hoor, in an analysis by Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley.

The injection of money comes months too late for tens of thousands of failed businesses, however, and it may not be enough to sustain unemployed workers until the labor market rebounds. Moreover, it could be the last help from Washington the economy gets anytime soon.

Call me cynical, but I think we need some brighter bulbs on this job.

*Apologies to Chris in the Morning.

How? Revisited

December 16, 2020

Jordan Barson (courtesy Mohave County Sheriff’s Office)

The driver of a box truck that careened into a group ride in Nevada last week has been charged with five counts of DUI resulting in death, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Nevada Highway Patrol identified the driver as Jordan Alexander Barson, according to the newspaper. He also faces six counts of reckless driving resulting in death or substantial bodily harm, and one count of DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm.

The dead include Erin Michelle Ray, 39; Gerrard Suarez Nieva, 41; Michael Todd Murray, 57; Aksoy Ahmet, 48; and Tom Trauger, 57. The injured include Jerome Ducrocq and Jose Vasquez.

Court records did not indicate that Barson had been arrested as of Wednesday morning, according to the newspaper.

How?

December 11, 2020

An image of U.S. 95 lifted from Google Maps.
Not exactly the Highway to Hell, is it? But it was on Thursday.

I hate flying. Not because it scares me, but because it annoys me. Maybe I was a steer in a feedlot during some previous life, plodding toward my next incarnation as a series of fast-food meals.

“Moo … mooooo … moo?”

Anyway, if the trip is under 2,000 miles and doesn’t cross a body of water with the word “ocean” attached, I drive. Air Subaru, baby. The flight leaves whenever, I can bring my own eats aboard, and all the mechanicals occur at ground level.

Interbike in Las Vegas was an easy drive from Bibleburg. Even more so from the Duke City. Early on I developed the habit of taking the scenic route through Flagstaff, Kingman, Bullhead City-Laughlin, and Searchlight. I was never in a hurry, and I liked having a touch of the desert and its sharktooth mountains before descending into the neon canyons of Sin City.

So I know U.S. Highway 95 pretty well for a tourist.

Headed home from Interbike 2015 on U.S. Highway 95.

Barring the speed limit (75 mph, except in Searchlight, a notorious speed trap) it seems one of the safest highways you could ride on a bicycle, especially if you had a bunch of colorfully clad companions and a support vehicle. Smooth pavement, wide shoulders, and incredible visibility. A long sightline. You can see company coming a long way off.

So how does a box truck drive into an organized ride like this?

From The New York Times:

The Highway Patrol said investigators did not know why the truck had plowed into the group but said the driver had left the roadway, hit the group from behind and then struck a Subaru hatchback that was accompanying the cyclists and another group of cyclists that was in front of the Subaru.

Off the top of my head I can think of just three ways a thing like this happens. One, the driver was impaired, which doesn’t seem to be the case here. Two, the vehicle had some sort of catastrophic mechanical failure. Three, dude was dicking around with something — his phone, his infotainment system, a Thermos full of java, whatever — instead of managing his vehicle and keeping his eyes on the road.

Being a cynic, I’m inclined to Door No. 3. Let’s add speeding to our list of options, because during my trips back and forth on U.S. 95 I was pretty much the only motorist doing the speed limit. Now that I think of it, the ever-popular pulling out to pass and whoops, big ol’ Buick Lardass dead ahead pulling back in might be another possibility, especially if mixed with speeding and a certain lack of focus.

We’ll learn more if the press keeps its eye on this thing, which it might, though the world is chock-full of tragedies at the moment. A former cop is involved here, which has to help, if anything can.

One thing we already know, and it applies to everything, not just cycling through the desert: Keep your eyes and ears open, regardless of where you are and what you’re doing, especially if you’re overly familiar with your surroundings. Familiarity breeds complacency, not just contempt.

And Satchel Paige notwithstanding, look over one shoulder occasionally. Something may be gaining on you.

The victims, from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

• Michael Murray

• Gerrard Nieva

• Erin Ray

• Tom Trauger

• Aksoy Ahmet

‘Beer’ me

November 16, 2020

The only fake beer worth drinking.

When the gub’nah announced The Clampdown v2.0 on Friday I didn’t think much about it.

Seemed obvious it was coming, the grownup equivalent of your mom delivering a dope-slap to the back of your head for acting the fool. I can see one of those coming a mile away and my mom’s been dead since 1995.

Since I’ve actually been minding my manners during The Plague, following Michelle’s Big Book of Rules and whatnot, I figured to just keep on keepin’ on. No dope-slap for me, thanks all the same. Lookit me, all like being a good boy, an’ shit.

I’d done my chores, gotten outdoors for a bit of essential aerobic exercise, and endured the gub’nah’s weekly video tongue-lashing. It was definitely beer-thirty. But I was out of my preferred fake ale, and so, with some spicy tacos and taters on the dinner menu, I figured I’d toddle down to Total Wine and fetch me some more.

Total Wine is your basic one-stop shop. They have my Clausthaler Dry Hopped and Herself’s La Vieille Ferme rosé. Zip in and out like a great big road runner. Meep meep!

Assuming you’re popping round at some oddball time and day, that is — not at 3:30 on a Friday just as the gub’nah is announcing that come Monday, the retail drawbridge will be pulled up and the moat restocked with alligators, piranha fish, and electric eels.

Holy hell. The parking lot looked like Shea Stadium during that 1965 Beatles concert, and inside was worse. Plus they were completely out of my near-beer.

I managed to escape with my Subaru intact and motored on over to Kelly’s Liquors in the Mountain Run Shopping Center, the second of just three options for Clausthaler Dry Hopped in the Duke City, Wholeazon Amafoods being the third.

That parking lot was a hair less batshit, but only thanks to greater capacity; it serves an entire shopping center, with a Smith’s, a Walgreens, and all manner of other retail opportunities. But there was a big ol’ boy standing at Kelly’s door directing traffic in and out of the shop, of which there was plenty.

I took a deep masked breath, shot to the cooler for a case of hoppiness, paid, and beat feet. On the way to the Subaru I heard the big fella respond to a question about what might happen come Monday with, “Naw, we’re an essential service.”

Boy howdy. I’ll drink to that. As long as the gub’nah will let me, that is.

R.I.P., Garrett Lai

October 2, 2020

Sad news: Garrett Lai, one of the cycling journos, has gone west.

Garrett was running Bicycle Guide back when I was a minor cog in the VeloMachine, and from time to time we’d bump into each other, exchange compliments, usually at Interbike.

I can’t claim to have known him well, but I knew for sure that he was a top-shelf scribe with a finely honed personal style. And his curiosity, enthusiasm, and expertise were not limited to the bike world.

Once or twice we talked about doing some work together, but this never came to pass, more’s the pity.

Patrick Brady, who did know Garrett well, has a remembrance at his new operation, The Cycling Independent.

Peace to Garrett, and to those who knew and loved him. He left us far too soon.

Getting Nazty in North Carolina

August 24, 2020

The GOP goosesteps into the spotlight this week.

More than three stooges this time, though.

Good trouble

July 18, 2020

A police mugshot of John Lewis from Nashville, during the Sixties.

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)

“I just happened to be wearing black on a sidewalk in downtown Portland at the time. And that apparently is grounds for detaining me.”Mark Pettibone, a Portland protester snatched off the street by anonymous men in camo who sprang from an unmarked van.

When Mother Jones asked the Homeland Security Department for details of what DHS agents are doing in [Portland], a spokesperson sent a press release in which acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf described nearly 100 incidents allegedly perpetrated by “violent anarchists” — mostly vandalism of the courthouse and other federal buildings. (A typical example: “Violent anarchists graffitied the Hatfield Courthouse.”)Dan Friedman, Mother Jones.