Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Anyone Got Their Ears On?

Update since last time:
-I'm working with Specialized Factory Racing--primarily the new tri program--and a little for ITU's awesome sport development program. I get to fly and drive all over the country and world and play with bikes. Flying still sucks, but at the end of the day I love my job and get to work with cool people. Part of the Specialized gig involves getting a class A driving license so I can drive the team truck. One of the unspoken requirements for the class A in America is a CB handle. Got to admit, I'm stumped. Any suggestions?
-Portland is cool. I eat slightly too much good food and drink slightly too much good beer. But I do it in great company. There is also gardening, duck raising, and sweet, sweet moto riding...
Stuff's going pretty good so far.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Not Your Granddad's Rubber Cow

Well, it happened. I replaced my burned-down motorbike. It was a sad process, as I went to the shop and said my goodbyes to the little beemer that could. It had delivered me coast-to-coast and through tens of thousands of spirited miles. I'll miss its simplicity, exhaust note, dignified presence, elegant lines, and talking to people about it.
I wanted to keep it and rebuild it, but as the last installment in the SC-vs-Jeff Middle Finger Contest went, the SC DMV wouldn't issue me a salvage title for the bike since I was no longer there. Nevermind everything else is perfectly in order... So, it was hauled up onto a flatbed truck and carted off to a scrapyard.
But... My insurance company must have felt bad, so they gave me some moolah. With it I bought a new flat twin--the R1100S. Though grief stricken, I made the right choice. It was not a mistake.

The motorcycles are different in so many ways, I'll spare you the numbers and stats. Perhaps the most expressive and honest difference, I'll call "The 9X mph comparison."
At 9X miles per hour, the little toaster felt primitive--like I had suddenly strapped on a Mercury capsule. The fire in its belly was deafening through wind-blast, helmet, earplugs. My eyes rattled around in their sockets. It is as if the toaster was yelling, "OMFG, WE'RE GOING FREAKING 9X MILES PER HOUR!!! CAN YOU FREAKING BELIEVE THIS‽‽‽"
The 1100S sounds more like this: "zzzzzz, wha?" Seriously. I tea-cup sipped the throttle (pinky finger out) on my first interstate ramp roll-on and I was going 8X mph before the white line dashed. 9X miles per hour honestly happened on accident and so comfortably that I'm sure the challenge now will not be based in parameters of physics, but in parameters of legality.
I cannot afford a traffic ticket so I'll tone it down (...) but damn.
The new bike's pedigree is obviously refined as its predecessor, the toaster, would demonstrate. It is dignified, comfortable, and well mannered. But as they called the old Beemers "Rubber Cows" for the wiggly-ness of their handling characteristics, it seems that the new generation has learned a thing or two. Namely, throttle, braking and steering. When they say, "it corners like it's on rails," this is what they mean.
Enjoying as many seconds as possible. And now on a machine that might be better at keeping up with the girlfriend's Ducati. Which is due out of the shop right about... Now. Gotta go.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Begin with a Sin

Gluttony to be specific.
Why is it that our holidays revolve around stuffing ourselves senseless with foods that we only eat once or twice a year? Thanksgiving may be the poster-child of disgusting overeating, wallowing somewhere in between the pain of stomach lining splitting and euphoric, momentary bliss in the sensation that one may actually never have to eat again. New Year's Eve is an all-out hedonistic bender, but New Year's day? Yep. New Year's Day, too.
Why did I eat two entire cans of blackeyed peas and a ream of collards today? Tradition. Because I'm supposed to on New Year's day. Because I'm superstitious that, after missing 2009's New Year's face-stuffing, if I miss 2010's, my prospects for any degree of luck (peas) or money (collards) will lillipute itself right off the map. My dad told me this afternoon something to the effect that no one needs the luck of the blackeyed pea more than I do. I think he's right, but as I slowly worked my way to the bottom of the bowl, forkful by forkful, I began questioning this hocus-pocus.
And by the bottom of the bowl, as my stomach stretched in bean-weight measure and I realized I was a little grouchy at having to partake, I thought: This is nothing more than voo-doo. I might as well throw the beans over my left shoulder or draw my adversary's face on the collard leaf to stick pins through it. In this dyspeptic revelation, I think how ridiculous it is to rely on a tradition like this uncomfortable and soon-to-be explosive gorging for a year's worth of good fortune. Why can't I make my own good fortune from pure intentions and effort?
As the end of 2009 showed me, that just doesn't work sometimes...
So, then again, flatulence and over-regularity seems a small price to pay for the assurance of a good year. Eat up. Gurgle gurgle.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No Chickens Were Harmed in the Making of This Fire

I'm sitting at a table near the toilets in my second favorite neighborhood coffee shop. It started snowing about two hours ago and man, the weatherman really let 'er rip. Everything is covered. I was caught out on the road, dropping off girl-and-dog, picking up new wiper blades, a headlight, some air in the tires... I was considering a bike ride, but coffee sounds better now. Funny, the forecast still calls for rain.

I graduated. I did really well. I forgot to give the finger to South Carolina on my way out, though I did had some serious fantasies about it. Had it happened, it would have been the most epic middle-finger event in history.
I will not miss: Java City in the Cooper Library nor the base, shitty, inane music in it; networked printers; collections of kids with center-of-the-universe-disease; collections of adults with center-of-the-universe-disease; Governor Sanford; T-shirt shops; Zillion percent humidity; unchecked rejection of creativity; E-portfolio; old-fashioned ignorance;;;

I will miss: Nick's and everyone in it; meat-n-3 at the Esso; Jordan and all of her guns and good humor; Lesley and Emily and the genetic kindness and generosity of the Lindstedt family; Patrick; Buddy the dog and his owner Graham; Grits and Groceries; Double-Dog and Gonzo; Kenny; the broken elevators in Strode; Le troiseime étage de Daniel, même s'il n'y a rien de quiche;;;

So, I'm getting settled-ish in Portland the last little bit. After we got a blown head gasket out of the way--and a three-day delay--I had a nice fast drive across the USA with Adrienne. She laughed at my compulsive checking-of-the-coolant and I laughed at her jerky-clutch-style shifting--she drives a Subaru as if it is a Ducati.
Along the way, we learned that her garage had caught on fire and burned to totality taking with it a ton of stuff including my BMW motorcycle and her '62 Schwinn Jaguar. Shit. The fire started in the chicken coop and spread. The chickens suspiciously made it out ok, save some singed tail feathers. Can fowl be pyromaniacs?
And these bad sequences never seem to stop at two, so I'll tell those of you who know my old friend, Cog, that he's got some pretty serious liver trouble that he'll have until the end. Send some good thoughts to the old man if that's your thing.
Aside from that, it was a very nice, quiet Christmas with good food and friends.
Privately, with the help of a few wonderful people, I'm working on the good fortune side of things for this next year. Knocking on wood, standing on my head, making the sign of the cross, fresh air and positive thinking. It's a bumpy road, but whatever it takes. Whatever it takes.
Happy New Year, everybody.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fucking ePortfolio

-Insert foul language and spitting here-

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thanks, Friends

I owe you all some thanks.
In January, on the heels of a tough holiday and the decision to get a divorce, etcetera, I wrote this:
"2009 is an infant at this stage, and I'm already understanding just how much of a bitch she's gonna grow up to be."
Today I'm reflecting, and can see where I was right. 2009 was a bitch. Is now a full grown bitch. I have so much freaking work to do in the coming weeks. Papers, exams, moving, resettling, job-finding, grad program applying... And, while separated, I'm still not divorced, which makes me feel a bit constipated.
It is easy to be negative about all this, but here's the bright side: I realize how lucky I am. I get to travel the world doing work that I love to do with good friends. I get to have terrifying rides through the Oaxaca mountains in the backs of vans. I get to eat good food and drink good drink. I get to read and write. I get to talk about motorcycles and sheep farming. I get to think about the future. I get to create. I have love. I get to be happy with myself and the people around me (or far away).
Yes, 2009 has been hard, but it was not joyless.
At lunch one day last week in Mexico, Gale said something funny. Really funny. In fact, I lost my shit. I laughed like I haven't laughed since... Well, I honestly can't remember. It was the kind of unchecked, choking, food-coming-out-of-your-nose laughter that seems to happen once a decade, but should probably happen daily. My laughing got Gale laughing, and we both made a ridiculous cackling scene in the restaurant that just went on and on. I couldn't see straight and, though we were stone-sober, I'm sure we appeared to have had a few too many shots of complimentary mezcal.
This year so far, there have been hundreds of instances like this. Maybe not laughter exactly, but equally poignant for sure. If you're reading this, we've probably had at least one together. Friends, don't think that the value of times like this is lost on me. I appreciate every second.
So, to all of you, for all the joy in this bitch of a year, Thank you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lost Souls CAlling Long-Distance Salvation

Early drive to the airport for the Mexi-trip. I usually listen to Public Radio in the car, 90.1, but this early it is some canned classical music show that was guaranteed to lull me into roadside-statistic-hood. So, I scanned. By the time I got to 95.7 I had already passed six evangelist stations, all varying degrees of psychotic. I did stop on one for a while. Mostly because the preacher's "JE-sus" and "SA-tan" style iron-fisted iambs were guaranteed to startle me awake every once in a while.
A couple things I noticed in general.
1-He made no sense--the thread of his conversation was so broken, I never knew if he was originally talking about premarital sex or the apocalypse. Guess it is all the same thing to some people...
2-Rampant misogyny--According to our wee-hours fanatic, God is at the head of man, man is at the head of woman and woman belongs in the house. At first I thought I had time-warped back to before people were smart. But, alas, I did not mis hear or speak. Examples followed. It is clear that this preacher actually said and meant that men are better than women.
Now, that concerned me on a couple levels. First, I'm generally bummed out that this sentiment exists. It is a very bad interpretation of a perfectly good philosophy, it is based in fear and hate.
Second, the radio is saturated with this claptrap. Bandwidth isn't cheap. That means that there a lot of people buying what this jerk is selling. In response, I have to say this: You people are assholes. Will you listen to what this guy is saying? I'm sure Jesus didn't hate women.
Over and out.