Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nike+ and the Sellout Narratives

fifty miles in
two months
cuz winter's
bangin' on
ears at a.m.
and arms
gone soft
in long-sleeves.


fifty miles in
two months
cuz autumn
leaves dreams
drifting by
shadows faded
on whites draped
in waking.

branch cracks
sky tracks
shades of
sidewalks match
shapes in sky,
ghost ride
the whip
in wool.


lapse on
last laps...
shapes in waking
drifting by
ghosts gone
at a.m.

fifty miles in
two months


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Piece Book Ch. 1: On Layaway

This is the first of a new series of posts called Piece Book. For the uninitiated, a piece book is simply a sketchbook; "piece" as in graffiti-art piece. (Suprised this isn't on Urban Dictionary.) As home-buying continues to inch closer to reality, I've found myself rummaging through old items deciding what goes and what stays. Finding little gems that never saw the light of day.

First entry is a simple beat I started three years ago during a long Christmas weekend. It's just some drum patterns, bassline, and a keyboard loop. I'd always meant to come back to this, but soon after discovered Propellerhead's Reason and pretty much gave up the old gear. The tracks are mixed (very roughly) in Acid, but sequenced with an MPC synced to a Proteus2000 and Planet Earth. I used an old janky MIDI controller to play the parts.

Since it's officially the holidays, I'll name it "On Layaway".

Oh! I was also very impressed that Acid was able to maintain all parts of the song file even though all the individual pieces where moved to a network filesystem. I tell you, the song file traveled three computers and two network hardrives from the last time I opened it. That was another reason I never went back to the track; always thought I'd have to re-construct the file structure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not That It Really Matters

So I don't lose track...

We Might as Well Win, Johan Bruyneel
All Over Coffee, Paul Madonna
A Writer's San Francisco, Eric Maisel
The Rider, Tim Krabbe
Memories of My Melancholy Whores, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Code, Charles Petzold
Karel The Robot, Richard E. Pattis
Making Beats, Joseph Schloss
People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks
The Lightening Thief, Rick Riordan
Love Is a Mix Tape, Rob Sheffield

All Day, Aesop Rock
The Record, Spaceheater
Noumena, The Drift
Everyone Alive Wants Answers, Colleen
Partie Traumatic, Black Kids
Deeds Not Words, Max Roach
Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods, Dizzy Gillespie & Machito
Shine, Estelle
Alone in San Francisco, Thelonious Monk
Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
Fate, Dr. Dog
Naturally, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
In Rainbows, Radiohead
Third, Portishead
Jukebox, Cat Power
Out of the Shadow, Rogue Wave
Back to Black: The B-Sides, Amy Winehouse
As Iron Sharpens Iron, The Procussions
The Reminder, Feist
The Impulse Story: Alice Coltrane, Alice Coltrane
Greatest Hits, Guns N' Roses
The Heart of Saturday Night, Tom Waits

The Dark Night
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Refugee Nation, Theater Performance

Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries

Michael Clayton

The Last King of Scotland

No Country for Old Men

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Wake Up Show

She usually reacts with a frown. Then quickly turns to her side, away from me, and goes right back to sleep.

But this morning, she smiled when I turned on the bedroom light at 5 a.m. to start the day.

"Is Obama still the president?" she asked, still smiling, eyes closed.

Yes, baby. Obama is still the president.

Sweet dreams.

Obama rally March 2007, Downtown Oakland.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Like Jazz on Rainy Days

If you have to lose something
the best way to keep it
is to keep it in your memory.
--Ashes of Time Redux

It was the same station agent from last year. Some crackhead rider spat at him then yelled "n--r c--t" before storming off.

I'm trying to tell the same agent that I forgot something on the train.

"What'd you lose, again?" he asks me.

It was a box.

"What kind of box?"

A UPS package. I mean, a USPS package.

"Do you remember where you were sitting?"

Second to last train. ... Oh, wait. No. I switched cars. I was in the last car.

"A USPS box on the last car," he relays over the phone from inside the station booth. He's talking with the station agent at the next train stop. He hangs up. "They'll hold the train to have someone do a walk-through."

I thank him profusely and spend the next couple minutes looking at the surveillance camera feeds inside the booth. He helps other riders with their questions. The phone rings. It's a short conversation.

"Okay, I'll let him know." He turns to me. "They didn't find anything. The train will be at the end of the line in 20 minutes. If they find anything when they clean the train, they'll call me."

Can I leave my phone number?

"Yeah. But if you don't hear from me in the next hour, that means they didn't find it at the end of the line. The best thing to do is contact BART lost and found. " He hands me an info sheet.

I picture the lost and found office as a dark and cold underground converted closet in a government building in downtown Oakland. Right when I get home, though, I fill out BART's on-line lost-and-found form. Item description: "USPS box containing a pencil drawing of a hill and houses." It's an All Over Coffee print by Paul Madonna. He'd once included my old apartment in a drawing of Bernal Hill, where Lisa and I celebrated our wedding reception two years ago. I'd ordered the print for our anniversary.

For several days after the incident on BART, I try to kick the sensation and memory from my head: I was exiting through the turn-style and something didn't feel right. I'd forgotten something. What? The package. Damn. The blood seemed to drain out suddenly at my ankles. If I were 5-years-old, I'd probably start crying right on the spot.

I try to re-imagine the incident, but with Micky Mouse there instead to hand me a chocolate bar wrapped in a gold ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, where I watch the San Diego Chargers win their first Super Bowl. Me and my buddies at the 50 yard line.

It isn't working, though. The memory of the incident still sucks.

The lost-and-found information suggests that after three weeks, consider your item lost for good. I wait two weeks. I want to order another print ASAP to get the it out of my head.

And then, I get an email from BART. My box is at the 12th Street station. The print is perfectly safe and sound.

From All Over Coffee #314 by Paul Madonna.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Car Camping X

Me, Diablo, the moon in broad daylight ... an omen. (pic by lsalamida.)

The coffee maker didn't work. That was the last straw. Halfway up Mount Diablo on a cold windy morning, we thought we could at least have freshly brewed coffee. On this camping trip, the fire danger was not only "high", which made wood burning out of the question, the wind gusts made the fire danger "extreme"; We couldn't even light our camping stoves. "High" and "extreme" might be good for a Red-Bull-sponsored sporting event, but not for camping.

Actually, if anything, Lisa and I take taking car camping to the extreme. We'd brought our coffee maker to plug into the car's cigarette lighter. Coffee while camping is always tricky. This didn't work either. Not enough watts to operate the water pump, I guess. Should'a QA'd this.

The evening before, we had no firelog, s'mores, or a warm dinner. That's cool. I'd brought my bike and spent the afternoon climbing. I was pooped and was laid out shortly after sunset. Plus, camping is like the fisherman's adage: The worst day beats work any time.

But no coffee for breakfast? Pack up the tent and let's get outta here.

At least it wasn't one of those epic camping failures like the time we stubbornly setup camp in 100-degree heat only to pack up an hour later. Or the time we rushed out first thing in the morning to get a prime first-come camping spot, only to find out the mountain was closed for a cycling race.

Speaking of coffee, there's this funny bit of dialog from "Battlestar Galactica":

"Colonel, seven other container ships are now refusing to release their supplies. Food, medicine, even coffee."

"Coffee?!? ... Frak this. ... I'm sending in the marines."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weapons of Moroland

If I'm gonna spend half the day in the saddle, might as well have proof of it.

From this weekend's First Annual Siclista Classic, rockin' the SoCal retro jersey. P.H., what!!!

Climbing Calaveras. Car back. Doh! That's the SAG wagon! SAG Wagon, what!!! (Pic by JohnnyBoy.)

About the Siclistas, they're a Filipino-American cycling group based out of Fremont. This was my first ride with them. Superunleaded from the NorCal group invited me to the ride during the Mt. Hamilton climb. "There'll be a fiesta afterward," he mentioned. Fiesta? No way I'd miss that.

Props to the Luzvimin team for setting the pace up front. (Pack included Maui and Lloyd Reynante, father-and-son from the Philippine national team; Son Lloyd had top 10 Pro/1/2 placings while visiting NorCal.) And thanks to the Team Tropa guys for leading the way back to the start.


From last week's Lighthouse Century along the Central Coast.

Somewhere near Cambria, rockin' the NorCal 08 jersey. Dub-C, what!!!

Climbing Old Creek, somewhere between Morro Bay and Hwy 46. (Pic by mhendricks.)

Descending Hwy 46 to Hwy 1. Sidenote: I had once stopped here several years ago to take in the view after a road trip to SF. Would've never thought I'd be riding a bike past the same spot years later. This pic doesn't do it justice, but from the lookout you can see coastal fog weaved into the local mountains.

We never saw the sun on the coast. Fog was so thick, we couldn't even see the ocean. If you are considering this ride, the hilly route is a must.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

In What Respect, Charlie?

I ride because there is no room for the weight of life, and it must stay behind, if only for a while.

--E. Portmann, Road Bike Action Magazine, Issue Sept./Oct. 2008

Because of rides like this:

- Dub-C to Sunol out-and-back in a blistering Yellowjackets paceline.
- Mt. Diablo solo to empty the tank, North Gate to Junction.
- Running on fumes past Diablo Ranch.
- Re-charging on the descent and realizing the earlier paceline speed was faster on average.
- But still cruising at 20 mph on the home stretch.
- Thinking I'd covered around 70 miles.
- Finding it was actually 80.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Three P(r)eaks

So, as it turns out, it was Tam, Diablo, and Hamilton in successive weekends. This was my first time up Hamilton, also riding for the first time with the BikeForums NorCal group. As first times go, Hamilton was my favorite of the three. Maybe it was the good company all along the way.

The meet-up near Alum Rock at Kirk. There were close to 40 riders at the start.

Overlooking San Jose a few miles up Mt. Hamilton Road.

The summit observatories first become visible near the top of the first climb.

The infamous switchbacks viewed from the top.

The lead group of the NorCal pack. Dudes climb like cats up a tree.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tom Waits/Soul Coughing Anti-Mashup

It is only fitting before embarking on an 8 to 12 hour drive to San Diego to quote a little "Screenwriter's Blues" and "Diamonds on My Windshield" ...

Exits to freeways
twisted like knots
on the fingers.
Jewels cleaving
skin between breasts...

It is 5 a.m.

and you are
to Los Angeles
--Soul Coughing

The 8s go east
and The 5s go north
and the merging nexus
back and forth.
You see your sign,
cross the line,
signaling with a blink.
And the radio's gone off the air
gives you time to think...

And one more block; the engine talks,
whispers 'home at last'

It whispers 'home at last'

And there are diamonds on my windshield
these tears from heaven.
Late nights and freeway flying
Always makes me sing

It always makes me sing

--Tom Waits


BART sketches Aug. 18-21, a short week with packed cars:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Then We Shall Ride in the Shade

I hadn't ridden in Marin since the move to the W.C. last year. I forget how gorgeous it is, and when peeps speak of the beauty of the Bay Area, in my head I interpret this in images of Marin, specifically my first trip to Stinson Beach through Muir Woods. Add Fairfax to Mt. Tam's East Peak.

Ridgecrest looking north. Descending this section is the best part of the ride. Wish the asphalt was smoother, though.

Alpine Lake: Bay Area bling.

Rain forest effect from Bolinas to Ridgecrest. Condensation from the onshore flow and fog drips from the trees as a heavy rain. While the sun is out!

Dangerous punctuation.

SF lies underneath like a kitten in bedsheets.


BART sketches Aug. 11-16.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Satanic Versus [sic]

I otherwise stay clear of Mt. Diablo this time of year due to the heat, preferring instead figure-eights through the Oakland/Berkeley Hills, the Three Bears, and maybe Martinez. This, despite the fact that I live only a few miles from Diablo's North Gate. Climbing Diablo in the spring is one thing. But in August?

Saturday's temps were a reprieve. North Gate to Junction is my bang-for-the-buck ride. Short on time and need a challenge? It's North Gate to Junction. Saturday stayed cool long enough to visit the summit.

Some milestones:

1) I was feeling a little under the weather and wanted to take it easy. To my surprise, I was able to do almost the entire ride under threshold. The exception, of course, being the Summit Wall. But even then, I was able to stay seated and skipped the rest stop at the lower parking lot. My heart rate monitor said I was at 90% at the top of The Wall. I had some left on the throttle. Now, if I can only achieve this in February then I know it'll be a good cycling year.

2) I've done North Gate to Junction enough times to break it into three sections:

a) North Gate to park boundary: Gradually ascending rolling hills. Descending this section is the bomb-diggity.

b) Park boundary to 1,000-foot elevation marker: Steady climbing begins. The first stretch of 10% grade comes at the 1,000-foot marker.

c) 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet: Includes a long, winding 10% grade approaching Diablo Ranch, followed by a series of hairpins, the last of which is tight and steep on the inside. The 2,000-foot marker comes soon after that, followed by the ranger housing then Junction station.

Not that any of this makes me any faster. It does mean, however, that I have to begin higher-intensity training so I don't plateau.

Starting the rollers just past the North Gate.

New-ish retaining wall just past 1,000-foot marker.

The hairpins. Maybe at the end of the season I'll spend the afternoon taking better pics.


BART sketches Aug. 4 - 8