Monday, August 25, 2008

Lychees & Longans Change My Life

My co-worker brought me a handful of chilled lychees & a handfull of chilled longans, so delicious. We've worked together for a few years now, and I guess that it's a tradition by now, a delicious & sweet one. Her handfulls inspired me to buy some lychees of my own and take 'em on home to my impressionable darlings. The darlings were impressed, and the afternoon took on a fresh & lovely hue, fruit & clouds blended by fate & good will. Thank Goddess for times like these.

Flowers planted in my fecund mind earlier this month have taken over the place, my nostalgia scented jungle cubicle by the bay; jasmine, tiger lily, gardenia, roses, pineapple sage, yum. Summer breezes play kid's games with me, lending grist to exceptional afternoons. I work hard, with no small price of pain, to unlock worlds beyond the pale of pavement & trail, skyways & constellations obscured by storms electric. I sense that I am onto something, and so am starting a new life without reserve, chock full of vim.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Crack in the Edge of the World

A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 (P.S.) A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 by Simon Winchester

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
My knowledge as a Professional Geologist registered in the deliciously golden state of California not withstanding, this was a fun read for me, if you don't count the lengthy and detailed appendices. Winchester has great talent for breaking complicated stuff down, but not in a concise way. The science of the book was not the main attraction for me. Rather, the excerpts of writings from the time, and the anecdotes about famous people were what evoked the most time-travelly feelings in me, and those feelings are what I hope to experience while reading a historical novel like this.

The astutely concluded connections to the rest of the world that the 1906 earthquake has were fun too, but take me back to Ansel Adams on the actual morning of the quake. That was my favorite part.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tour of Napa Valley 2008

The Tour of Napa Valley rocked my world in a fabolous way, quite inspiring. Rode up a road called Ink Grade, and I daresay it changed my life. Felt like a Faulkner novel, perhaps As I Lay Dying, with the landscape reflecting people I know, changing perceptions of time & pain. Quintan was a super team player, above & beyond the call of good sportsmanship. Looking at the elevation profile from his GPS unit, shown above, you can see where he rode back down at the top of each of the two major summits to see what was taking me so long. The first big climb was Mount Veeder, and the second one was Ink Grade. Very awesome ride overall. They had a bagpipe player at the top of Mount Veeder, a violin player at the 2nd rest stop, and a Cajun band at the end. Also, the food was right on and delicious.

My computer hasn't had batteries all this riding season, but ever since I did a training ride in the White Mountains last July I have a new way of judging my velocity. During that training ride, where I'd started in Big Pine (3,500' above MSL) and rode to Grand View Campground in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest (~9,000), the ride down got tremulous as all get out, and somewhere half-way down the descent I thought to myself "wow, these rocks & bushes are moving by at an astounding rate", after which I got a small case of the giggles. When that happens I'm going about 40-mph or so, and it happened again during this ride, and was no less hilarious.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Robot Rescue Visions

Got dreams, unfadeable visions. Got dreams to hold onto. I've got power dreams, to live by. Big, bright, happy dreams with calypso melodies dancing across elaborate partially shaded jungle forest backgrounds, fun dreams twice the size of Texas delivering ten thousand twisters per rapid eye movement. Magnetic dreams that draw all good people towards them, even the worst good folks, fiery, unashamed, modular shareware dreams used to save dying robots in remote galaxies. Toots feels me, inspires me with 400-watts of sub-woofin' amplification.

Riding the 32nd Annual Tour of Napa Valley Sunday with Quintan & my pops this Sunday, 100-miles, 5000' of climbing, it's going to be killer. Starts & ends in Yountville, yum. Shana may meet me there after for some Bistro Jeanty or Ad Hoc. Now my mouth is watering.

Rode the Tour de Max out of Palo Alto last Sunday, also with Quintan & my pops, 75-miles, 7,000' of climbing. Quintan demonstrated extreme team sportmanship by letting me wear his only gloves because I had forgotten mine and am prone to numb hands. He rode gloveless, and both he and my pops took turns letting me draft them such that I felt super-stoked with the teaam feeling of the whole deal, brotherly love, agape, less pain by any other name. Truly surreal climb from the beach at Highway One up Tunitas Creek Road to Skyline. Tunitas Creek Road is a redwood butterfly paradise road frought with potholes that seems like it won't ever end. I had conversations with three cyclists and two butterlies on the way up the steeper section of the creek edge, which almost took my mind off the agony & visions of death. It's a tough 10-miles, but it does end, after which you get to descend the giant laughing devil head of a road know as King's Mountain Road. My dad had said "After King's Mountain Road it's all over but the cheering", his exact words, so I pushed it fierce down that lucipher asphalt, passed a shiny silver BMW that was stuck behind some other cyclists, passed everybody in a skeletal final exertion fit verging on convulsions. We then arrived at the bottom of Sand Hill, and it turned out that it was not actually all over but the cheering. We still had to ride from Woodside to Palo Alto. Many hot, tortured miles ensued, and my face wore that deeply repulsive mask of mega-pain, mainly lower back, right on into the finish line. They had no massage tent at the end, so my poor pops had to hit my back himself, which helped much, thanks Pops. I had forgotten the pain and was feeling like King Dick within about an hour.

I then promptly drove to San Jose to visit my good old friend Jennifer. Our college highlights include seeing AC/DC (what a show) and Neil Young (1991) at the Cow Palace, and I once got a speeding ticket driving her light blue Colt 100-miles an hour coming into Eureka. Her mom had laid out an amazing assortment of snacks, including two kinds of chips with two kinds of dip (carefully covered with Seran wrap), Reese's peanut butter cups, Cheetos, pretzels, and four kinds of cookies, too much. I also availed myself of a 20-oz grape soda and a slightly effervescent mango smoothee. What a sweet mom Jennifer has, although she did not come downstairs to say hi, and what a relaxing pad, complete with a sunken living room covered in orange shag carpet and knick-knacks from the 1970s, including those cool little metal sea gulls on pieces of drift wood that I always liked so much as a kid. We had a great visit, real nice in the San Jose afternoon heat, letting those post-ride endorphins do their shadow thang.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Pink Flowers Smell After All

When we inherited our yard it was sprinkled happily with a drought resistant and prolific soft pink flowered annual, pretty little things with lots of green leaves and pert yellow triple-stamens. At some point in my life I decided that most pink flowers don't smell, and always have thought that of these pink flowers. So, as my darling daughter picked one while lounging on her plastic future-vehicle last dusk, and then went to smell it, I looked down and said "Oh, those pink flowers don't have a smell Darling".

"Yes they do smell." she whispered, and handed me the blossom, which had a most divine fragrance. Never too late to discover this type of thing, so packed with delight and simplicity. Right when I'm reading a book on using flower essences for transformation too, my aromatic allies rippling through summer, breathing life into the almost dead, cutting out old wormy wood, communing with the water spirits at dawn with goony grins. I take the form of a lion-man, massive mane, my tail whips, now that's living.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Patented Burrito Therapy

Little Loola has begun to show more than a little motherly love, and you know, forget about that brotherly and otherly love (sang Zappa), come on and give me some of that good old motherly love. We had just washed Mabel's (all the baby dolls are named Mabel, don't ask me why) hair with real shampoo with built-in conditioner, and you see her here receiving our patented burrito therapy. Taking this photo, I really did almost feel like a grandparent for a vague minute, eery time travelin'.

Been drinking some darn fine cups of tea lately, but it turns out that sometimes nothing beats chamomile, Peter Rabbit.

Tour de Max 2008

Whelp, I avoide the sag wagon and rode the whole 75-miles and 7000+ feet of climbing. Very beautiful ride with friendly people, right past my old Stanford stomping grounds, all the way to my sacred Pacific & back, glorious, but painful for me, undertrained as I found myself.

By the time I finally made it home the pain had worn off just a bit though, and the super-stoked to have finished endorphins were swimming happily down my worn out rivers of blood. I acturally felt and appeared (to my wife) taller. What a wicked ride. Someday I hope to be in good enough shape that that course doesn't hurts so bad, and I can power through it less than the 7.5 hours it took me.

Don't know if I could have pulled it off without my team too. Quintan & my dad took turns letting me draft them and just hanging near my slow ass in general, very encouraging. Also, I had forgotten to bring gloves, and Quintan was nice enough to let me use his while he rode barehanded - killer team member to have.

This Sunday is the 32nd Annual Tour of Napa Valley, 100-miles, 4,300' of climbing, should be easier. Starts & ends in Yountville, yum.