Friday, December 15, 2006

Kitty Rustlers?

Facing me from across the street, while i was waiting for a traffic signal last night, was a pet store. As i sat there staring at it, i began to wonder where the pets come from. Do they come from the humane society? If so, why would anyone buy from the pet store instead of just going to the humane society directly?

If not from the humane society, then where do they come from? Do the employees go around at night stealing people's pets? Are the great rolling kitten farms somewhere in middle america where free-range gerbils, lizards, puppies and kittens are herded about like so many miniaturized cattle?

I have a hard time envisioning animal wholesalers/distributors, but I suppose that could be the case. However, even if that is the answer, it’s no solution; it merely extends the question to, where do they get the animals. (should that sentence end with a period or a question mark?)

Hmm, these are the questions that drive humanity.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The New Ducati

So the 1098 images and write ups have been out there for a little bit; what does everyone think? I like the 999 better myself. Of course i said the same about the 998 until i saw the 999 in person, so who knows what may happen when i actually get a chance to touch one.

My main beef with the 1098 is that it looks just like everything else. If it had tuning forks on the gas tank, I'd assume it had just rolled off Yamaha's production line in Japan. I really do think it looks a lot like an R1. This is not a good thing in my opinion.

Don't get me wrong, R1s are beautiful. Yamaha has been producing the best looking Japanese bikes ever, and i think they're closing the gap between Japan and the European manufacturers in terms of style. Traditionally, Japanese bikes have worked wonderfully--often better than the European bikes--but have been lacking in soul, style and lust-factor. Honda epitomizes this for me. There is nothing you can fault in the performance of their bikes. The CBR series has always been the best thing for any rider to jump onto and immediately feel comfortable and in control--and actually turn good lap times. However (and I've owned a CBR and ridden several others), they are not exciting. Of course they're exciting compared to your mom's station wagon; but we're speaking relatively here, as compared to other sport bikes.

Sterile is a word i like to use to describe the Hondas. They almost work too well. Nothing stands out. Nothing adds character. There is no beastly streak that the rider must overcome. There is no odd habit that one must become accustomed to in order to master the machine. Where's the challenge? Where's the excitement? And traditionally, Honda has been fairly conservative in styling, so there's not as much lust factor.

Whether they do it intentionally or not though (usually not), the Japanese designers don't seem to be able to make cars that scream for your soul, that demand you sacrifice all in order to obtain them, that you feel like you will never be complete without. That is what the Europeans--and particularly the Italians--do.

Ducatis, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, MV Augusta, Bimota, Maserati, Alfa Romeo--these brands are pure sex. They create machines with so much soul, that a person can lust after them. These machines are hand crafted and contain imperfections both in function and in character, but are all the more endearing because of them. They are wild animals placed under your control, and controlling them can be a challenge. That is where the excitement is.

Anyway, as usual, I'm wandering off-topic. The point of all this is that the new Ducati looks Japanese (partly because Japanese bikes are looking more Italian, and partly because this bike looks more Japanese) and that I think that's a bad thing for Ducati.

The 999 was unique. It doesn't look like anything else. Any non-motorcycle person could pick it out of a line of Japanese bikes and tell you that clearly that is the hottest, most expensive and most desirable bike of the bunch. I'm much less confident that one could conduct that experiment successfully with the 1098.

Taxation Without Representation

Sent off the check for my most recent ticket today. Not particularly happy about that, of course. I hope they get the point. Of course the only person to see it will be some clerk who has nothing to do with the policies that resulted in my ticket, but it makes me feel better!

I have a proposal that most of my friends have probably been subject to during one rant or another. I think i'll now expose you to it as well...

I don't think i've ever posted anything regarding my fantastically amazing idea to revolutionize the way traffic is controlled and regulated here in the good 'ole U.S. of A. It's quite simple really, it's all about stages. There would be perhaps three primary stages--or classes--of licenses and of cars.

A stage 1 license would be very difficult to obtain, but would allow the driver greater leeway and freedom of judgement. A stage 3 license would be equivalent to what is now the standard-issue driver's license, and would require adherence to more strict regulations.

Cars would also be rated. A BMW M3, because of the quality and performance of its brakes, suspension and other critical systems, would be rated as a class A vehicle. An old VW bus, for the same reasons would be a class C vehicle.

If you're a stage 3 licensed driver, cruising along a 3-lane secion of Interstate 5 in your class C vehicle, you're limited to 65 mph and are not allowed to use the far-left lane. If you're a stage 1 driver in a class A vehicle, your speed is limited based on the basic speed law. In other words, if your vehicle is capable of safely reacting to road hazards while traveling at 120mph, and visibility is sufficient to allow you to see them, then go 120mph.

A stage A driver, in a class C car may be allowed to use the left lane briefly to pass, but must ensure that it is safe to do so (nobody closing on them at 60mph from behind), and is still limited to 70 mph. Other combinations of license and vehicle result in other restrictions. It seems complex, but it wouldn't take long for everyone to figure it out. We drive every day, we'd get it.

If 55 or 65 was safe 40 years ago, then 100mph is at least as safe today, given the technological advances now present in what would be considered class A vehicles. We've seen incredible advances in suspension, tires and brakes, we've got computerized systems to keep our cars under control and pointing the right direction, we have better headlights and we have better roads. Of course, humans are still driving, and accidents will still happen (no matter how fast or slow we go); but with frames designed to absorb impacts safely, air bags on all sides and numerous other life-saving technologies in place, new cars are much safer than ever before..

How about it?

(motorcycles of course would be subject to no restrictions whatsoever) (except for mandatory wheelies at least once per 100 miles travelled)

Friday, December 8, 2006

Oh yeah, it's for your own good...

Ha, i got carried away in the last post and wandered off topic before i even got started on the topic i had intended to write about. The post was supposed to be about traffic signals. Specifically, about the red left turn arrow.

There are very few times when that red arrow is necessary. The protected left turn--indicated by the green left turn arrow--serves a useful purpose by allowing left turns at intersections that may otherwise be so busy that there would be very few opportunities to make the turn without it. The red arrow however, cannot claim such usefulness.

How many times have you sat at an intersection, with a green light for straight-through traffic, and no oncoming traffic, held captive by that devil-spawn red arrow? There's no danger in ignoring it and proceeding to make a left turn as if you were at a intersection that did not have a protected turn signal. If my judgement can be trusted to allow me to make a left turn when there is room for me at one intersection, then why not at another?

At one time it probably could have been argued that the red arrow was present only in intersections that were particularly busy, complicated or dangerous; but that is not the case now. The red arrow now works its foul magic at countless intersections, many of them very simple.

On a precious few occasions, i've been witness to the work of a traffic engineer with a touch of sense who decided that while the green arrow is useful to allow breaks for turning traffic, the red arrow is not needed. Instead, this saint of traffic control decided that a blinking yellow arrow would be sufficient to warn turners that they should watch for oncoming traffic, but may proceed if the path is clear.

What's wrong with that? Why isn't every intersection like that?! I'll tell you why, it's because the DMV and the police and anyone who has anything to do with creating or enforcing road/traffic laws hates me. For that i apologize to the rest of you, but my civil disobedience has yet to break down the laws. Don't worry though, i'll keep speeding and busting through red arrows, as is my duty as a sensible citizen.

In fact, that duty is all of ours! I call to each of you, next time you're sitting at a red arrow, and there is more than enough space to make your turn, even at grandma in her oldsmobile pace, go for it! If a cop hassles you, ask who was in danger as a result of your actions, and ask him who you can write to about such needless impediments to the progress of man kind.

After all, Adam Corolla does it, so why shouldn't you?

It's for your own good

I wish big brother wouldn't try so hard to protect me.

The Man has got to try so hard to make this world fool-proof. It can't be done, why does he have to keep trying. Doing so only makes life more frustrating for those of us who aren't fools, or at least are willing to accept responsibility for our foolish actions. By The Man, I mean of course the government, but also much more than that, corporations, small businesses and each of us really. The litigious, nothing is my fault, bad things require recompense type of mentality drives me crazy.

Shit happens.

Deal with it.

There is not someone at fault for every bad thing that happens to you. You are not owed money or any other form of compensation for every bad thing that happens to you. Sometimes not even if it was preventable. We've got to be reasonable here. Take things back about 100 years or so to when people took some responsibility for their actions. No, take it back a thousand years to when the stupid people just flat didn't make it. The world was dangerous and not all survived it to old age. Maybe we shouldn't try so hard to keep stupid people alive. It brings down the average and makes society a more cluttered and inefficient system. They slow down the machine and reduce the quality of its output.

As a business owner, this is even more frustrating now than it's ever been before. I've got to to try to predict what kinds of stupid things people might do with my product, things that common sense would prevent most from doing. The fact that they might choose to do things that are a bad idea is one thing--hell, i do that pretty frequently myself--where it gets worse is when they pretend that they never heard the voice in their head telling them that it was a bad idea. That's when they say that I, being the expert, should have told them it was a bad idea.

I'm being vague here because it doesn't matter what my product is; every company that provides a product or service has to worry about this mentality. The mentality that feigns ignorance, that plays dumb, that refuses to acknowledge the truth. The truth is, I knew better but I thought I could get away with it so I did it anyway, it didn't work, shit happened, and now instead of accepting responsibility, I'm going to get mad at the company because they have money and I can sue them.

The process people and companies go through in an attempt to protect themselves from such litigation is called Risk Management. It should be called Retard Management. I've got to think that the earth would be a smoother running and more sustainable machine if it didn't now have to support all those who before would have perished. Of course i'm recalling the principle of survival of the fittest. Would society not be better off without that bottom layer that contributes nothing, yet consumes many benefits provided by those who do?

I'm mixing my issues here. Not all ridiculous lawsuits are filed by "that bottom layer" of society, and the supposed upper levels of society are often not above filing such suits themselves. I suppose you get the idea though. It's a bit of a wandering rant, but probably clear despite that.

On an entirely different note: The weather has been beautiful here in Central Oregon lately. The other morning I was driving to work and the mountains seemed to be suspended in the atmosphere. It was an odd light and although the sky all around the mountains was fairly dark and grey, and there was a heavy haze covering the foothills, the mountains themselves seemed to glow in the sun. the effect was that the haze and the sky melded together all above, around and below the mountain, so that it appeared to levitate like some meditating monolith. The effect was particularly pronounced for Mt. Jefferson. It was very cool. We've had some great sunsets and evening light too, but i'm out of corny stuff to write for now.

Thursday, December 7, 2006


A rather profound thought struck me tonight on my drive home from work (what was going on in my brain, maybe i should stop working so late!).

Two wrongs do not make a right, but three rights make a left.

See if you can get your head around that!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Kids Who Rip

I went snowboarding last saturday for the first time this season. The snow was mediocre at best, but the sun was shining and i had new gear to try out, so it wasn't too bad, apart from being separated from my friends and stranded at the bottom of the not-quite-operational Northwest Express lift for over an hour.

At one point during the day, I rode up the lift with two very young kids. I overheard their conversation and one was 13, the other 11 years old. They were talking about trying to find a good kicker to do backflips off of. Now, i don't know anyone who can do a backflip on a snowboard, much less an 11 year old kid, so i tended to assume that he was totally full of crap, or joking or something. But he sounded kinda serious, and he was kinda weird.

Well, i was just checking the local news and saw a video piece that reminded me of the encounter so i watched it. The piece is called Kids Who Rip and is about young Bend residents who skate and snowboard. Sure enough, the kids are in it. I believe Ben is the one and i think i saw the real young kid with long hair too. Anyway, i guess they were for real.


I'll never be that good, and this kid is only 11! It's happened to me on a motorcycle too. I've been at the motocross track and had kids come flying past me. I think to myself, 'uh-uh, that's not happenin, i can keep up with that little runt!.' And i try to keep up, only to watch them fade away ahead of me (rocket away may be more accurate), and that's on their tiny little bikes!

Anyway, i'm gonna try to link to the video but it was a flash gizmo embedded in a pop-up window, so i'm not sure how successful this will be. Leave a comment and let me know.

Video Here

Monday, November 27, 2006


Dang, I almost got another ticket today! This time I was coming back from the valley and was a few miles from Sisters when i passed a group of about 3 cars. It was snowy, but perfectly straight road and no oncoming traffic for quite a while. The snow was very cold and actually made for pretty good traction (relatively speaking).

As i was passing the cars, i noticed (too late) that the front car was a police SUV. It was all black and was marked as Black Butte Police, different than anything i'd seen before, so i didnt notice it. Plus there's so many SUVs and cars with roof racks around here that the lights didnt particularly stand out either.

He had the lights goin before i even got up alongside him. I went ahead and finished the pass then pulled over. I'm sure the other two cars i passed got a good chuckle out of it. The officer was not laughing though. He jumped out of his car as soon as we stopped, came right up to my window and said, "you're not very smart are you?!" Well, I didn't think there was an answer to that question that the two of us would agree on at that moment, so I decided to just keep my mouth shut. He then asked me if i knew why I wasn't very smart--again, my self-preservation instincts told me to keep my mouth shut. About this time, i noticed that the man's chin was quivering and his hands were shaking. He was so furious with me that he was physically trembling! He then told me that my actions qualified as reckless driving, which is a misdemeanor offense, and that he could arrest me and impound my vehicle.

It was at about that time that i decided to take the apologetic approach with the rest of this encounter, rather than try to contest his accusations or express my frustrations with speeding laws. Plus, he was much more justified in pulling me over than was the cop who got me on Saturday. I was exceeding the posted speed limit in conditions that were undeniably sub-optimal. Exactly how dangerous the conditions were is debatable, but i don't think he was being particularly unreasonable.

I explained that i make that trip frequently and that i've probably become jaded and callouse to the dangers it poses; that I've become accustomed to them, and probably don't take it as seriously as i should. He told me about how many people die on that highway each year, and that i'm the kind of person that takes out not only myself, but others too. I listened earnestly without protesting and he let me go. I was VERY relieved that he was not going to ticket me. It could have been a lot uglier than just a speeding ticket too.

Of course he was right. To what degree is arguable. I don't think i was being reckless, but i probably should try to slow down a little bit in the snow. The thing is, i go slow where i need to (curves, downhill, etc) but fast when it's safe to do so (long straights with good visibility). He freaked out because i was going 60 in the snow, but it was safe to do so there. Earlier in the drive i was doing 20 through sharp, snowy curves, because it was not safe to go faster there. Is that wrong? I dunno. I don't think that it is, but many seem to think that's not reasonable.

What do you think? Tell me what an ass I am for putting you in danger.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I got popped again today. Heading south on the Bend parkway this time. All i got was 2 little chirps out of the radar detector. A glance at the occasionally helpful device confirmed my fear--the "L" light was blinking at me; "L" as in laser. For the most part, if your radar detector picks up a laser signal, it's basically just telling you that you're already screwed. Sometimes the detectors can be useful in warning you about oncoming cops, it will pickup radar waves that are scattered all over as The Man is blasting the cars ahead of you. Laser is a different animal though; it's extremely precise and is directed at only a single vehicle at a time. It also acquires a reading much more quickly than radar (or so i'm told).

So, if you get the laser signal from your detector, you might as well just go ahead and pull over... or run.

Anyway, I've so little faith in my radar detector these days, that i figured it was just a false alarm. Of course, i scanned the roadway ahead of me for possible police vehicles, just in case. As I did, I noticed a white SUV barely visible behind the bank and divider separating the highway from an upcoming on-ramp. As I watched, the SUV moved out from it's parked position and accelerated up the ramp. Sure enough, when it broke past the barrier, I could see that it bore the insignia of our city's finest. After merging in, he pulled right up behind me and stayed there.

Generally I drive 60 to 65 on this road. I can't argue the fact that it's marked with a limit of 45 mph, but it's a freeway. There are no intersections for several miles, there are ramps for entering and exiting traffic, two lanes, and it's divided from oncoming traffic. Traffic tends to flow at about 60 mph. I tend to go faster than most people.

Well, there's no need for further suspense; by this point it's as clear to you as it was to me that Mr. Police Man intended to have a chat with me. He followed me to the next exit, then put his lights on. I was ready, already having slowed to within 5 of the speed limit (going actually at, or *gasp* under the speed limit would look way too suspicious) and worked into the right lane.

After I drove past two other cars also enduring the wrath of the local heat, I was able to find an unoccupied piece of curb to park at. The officer said I was speeding, and that he assumed I knew it, since I slowed by nearly 20 mph as soon as I saw him; then he took my credentials back to his car.

He said he got me at 68; I don't doubt it, but that is a little faster than I normally go on that road. I told him that. It didn't help. He wrote the ticket for 65 instead of 68. That way i was not more than 20 mph over the limit, and it's a lesser fine. How sublimely generous of him.

Side Note: I hate that policemen are usually (not always!) so professional during these encounters. It causes me to feel like the jerk and the unreasonable one if i raise a ruckus.

As I waited for my citation, I had ample time to note that it was the 25th day of the month, and also coming up on the holidays. I suppose that the department was not quite on track to make its quota for the month, and they have a few extra expenses coming up, so they decided to go out and set up a speed trap. The parkway is guaranteed easy-pickings. It's safe to do well over the speed limit, so of course, most people do. Since it's safe, the department usually doesn't worry about it too much. But oh what an easy source of revenue when the budget is looking thin! One cop can probably write four tickets per hour there. Since there were two other people already pulled over, and i was the third, there were at least 3 men working that stretch. That's 12 tickets per hour, at $150 each. The department is pulling in $1,800 per hour.

It's unsportsmanlike. Shooting fish in a barrel would be harder. Fish are unpredictable. We, in our cars, must follow the lines; and lasers are more accurate than any bullet. The Man should have to work a little harder than that to get into my wallet! If only it were that easy for us to make a living!

Don't get me wrong, i'm not implying that the citation revenues translate directly into policeman's wages. And I'm not placing blame on the individual officers so much as I am the system that they work in. I think traffic officers are largely unneeded and that American society would do just fine with about 25% of the traffic officers we have now. If there weren't so many of them to support, they wouldn't have to write so many tickets to keep the department funded! I would gladly pay more in taxes than i pay in traffic tickets annually, and not have to feel paranoid while driving. And i'd have the satisfaction of knowing that more of my dollars were being put to work on productive tasks, like reducing crime or conditions that actually endanger people. That and not feeling like it was stolen from me, would be welcome conditions.

Hopefully things will come to be more like that some day. Until then, I'll continue to pay tickets I guess. I wonder if bribing would work? I doubt it, and I'd imagine the consequences for attempting to bribe an officer are pretty high. Maybe I'll have to start running. Also high consequences, but more likely to succeed (when on two wheels anyway, not so much with the SUV).

Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

The Mountains Are Shy

It's been relatively cloudy and showery here for the last couple of weeks, nothing like in the valley, but still plenty of clouds. As a result, it's been a while since I've had a clear view of the mountains. Normally, on my drive to work I can see Mt. Bachelor, Tumalo Mountain, Broken Top, each of the Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson and Black Butte. It's pretty spectacular and is one of the things that's so great about living here. Plus, most of the mountains are within 30 miles of my doorstep, so their magnificence is amplified by proximity. But recently, like I said, they've been hiding behind their cloak of cumulosity. (It’s been a while since I made up a word, I almost forgot!) Even while the sky overhead and in every direction but west is clear, the mountains have not been exposed. They are responsible for all our clear days here, damming the flow of weather from the Pacific, keeping the valley lush, green and deserving of its rainy reputation, and causing central and eastern Oregon to be known as the High Desert. They save us, but choose not to save themselves.

Isn't it fitting that for a mountain, the storm is the shelter? It's like the cocoon in which they are guarded from prying eyes as they morph from summer's rocky, barren and brown juts of earth, into winter's vibrant, pure and smooth beacons of freshness.

Anyway, I finally got a peek at them today and it was quite a good one at that. I was leaving Redmond, heading back toward Bend, so I was a little further away from them than normal, but there they stood, tall and proud in their new coat made of an unimaginable number of perfect tiny crystals. Of course, the unveiling demanded dramatic lighting, and the sun complied, illuminating the remaining clouds with that soul-calmingly warm light, just before it fell to the far side of the horizon.

It's great.

On a completely different note:

Tomorrow I will lose my monster truck virginity. Who could believe I’ve made it this long!? I purchased tickets this afternoon for myself and my gal to attend the Central Oregon Monster Truck Fall Nationals. Bigfoot will be there, and I'm told that there is a truck driven by Medusa. Apparently Medusa is the, uh, 'entertainer' formerly known as Chyna in her 'professional' wrestling days. Don't act like you don't remember, I despise wrestling with a passion worthy of a whole series of blogs, but I can't deny that I've been exposed to enough commercials to know who she is. So yeah, that's, uh, exciting.

Actually, as is apparent from the title of this site, I'm a bit of a gear-head. So I’m pretty excited to see (and hear!) the trucks. Those things are all custom built and have some pretty trick hardware, plus they're putting out ridiculous horsepower. So I’m sure it'll be cool. I just realized, this is yet another opportunity for me to dress all cowboyed-up. I seriously need to find me some cowboy gear. Any of y'all know where a fella can find some cheap size 13 cowboy boots?

Wednesday, November 8, 2006


I have a Bonsai Tree! It's a Hawaiin Umbrella tree. My lovely girlfriend gave it to me in honor of our having been together for a year. There'll soon be snow outside the window whose sill it sits on, but it will remain my tiny little piece of the tropics. It makes me think of the "no bad days" window stickers with the pictures of palm trees. I like those stickers, they calm me and remind me not to take life too seriously. I think my new little tree will do the same.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Are You Sure About That?

Don't vote if you don't know.

Everyone is promoting voting, which is great, as long as you know what you're doing. BUT, if you don't feel that you understand what or who you're voting for very well, don't vote. I'm not so sure that a low voter turnout is necessarily such a terrible thing. If the only people participating are those who take the time to properly research the topics and candidates before casting their vote, won't we all be better off than if everyone votes but only a few of them actually know what's going on?

I'm not suggesting that nobody should vote, or that only some elite subset of society be allowed to choose our direction. I'm just asking that if you're going to vote, that you inform yourself first--through reputable means--and that if you can't or won't take the time to do that, that you do not force your uninformed and unjustified opinion on everyone else by casting a ballot.

I don't understand the pressure to get higher voter turnout, without taking care to ensure that they are quality votes. Votes based purely on what a person may have caught of a few politician's or lobbying group's television commercials are not quality votes.

What do you think? Would it be better to have everyone voting, regardless of whether they have good information to base their decision on? Or are we better off to trust those around us who take the time to adaquately research the topics?

In my opinion neither situation is ideal. The ideal would be that everyone be smart and informed and make a sound decision based on what they think is best for themselves, their community and the country; but that's not going to happen.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Cool spots in Portland

I just spent a weekend in Portland and hit a couple new (to me) spots. Tops--literally--for the weekend was the Portland City Grill. It's in the 30th floor of the U.S. Bancorp Tower on SW 5th Avenue. Happy hour is 4.30 to 6.30 and there are a bunch of great appetizers at very inexpensive prices--drinks are still full price and we still ended up spending over $50 without getting a meal. But it was worth every penny. It's a very comfortable ambiance--upscale but not so much that you have to dress up. There was a piano player helpin the mood flow with his rendition of Elton John's Tiny Dancer and other old favorites. The view was spectacular, even though the clouds were huddled low and the windows were rain-streaked. On a clear day I'm sure you can see all of east Portland under the crown of Mt. Hood. We enjoyed a few of their specialty martinis and appetizers and watched the sky go dark and the streets become electrified before continuing on our way. (The picture is from the restaraunts website. Our seats looked more directly over the Willamette River and to the east)

Our next stop was a medium-sized hangout called Life of Riley. It was empty! Ok, there was one group when we came in, but the place was practically deserted. Again, very comfortable. This one had a raised loungy area with a couple couches, a coffee table and some board games. A note on the table warned us that it was reserved, but it was a full hour before the party was to arrive, so we took the spot. More good drinks here; in fact, i think i discovered a new favorite... except that i can't remember what it was called. I think it may have been the Cherry Rickey or something like that (seriously). It had Olive Grape Vodka (I didn't know such a thing existed), lime and a 'spritz' of soda. It was excellent, very light and fresh. When asked, the bartender said that the place usually had quite a bit more of a crowd, but typically wasn't packed. Sounds perfect to me. It was still only about 7.30 when we were there, so that could partially explain the lack of patrons.

The last establishment I'd like to note for now is Stumptown Coffee. It's a snooty little hipster cafe that i didn't particularly like, but they make excellent coffee. I feel like they'd prefer that every customer drive a (new) VW to the shop (or bike of course) and write poetry on their Mac; and that they'd probably have thrown me out if they knew i like guns and plan to attend a monster truck show next week. However, i ended up going there twice during the weekend. First because it was there and i didn't yet know anything about it, and the second time because the coffee was great and i was getting it to-go. Their latte has a texture that is incomparable to any other that i've had. Now, i'm nowhere near a coffee snob like I am sometimes a beer snob; in fact, i'm pretty much a coffee newbie, but theirs was something special. It must have been expertly blended with ancient Chinese voodoo methods or something. I'm not going to try to describe it too much, just give it a shot if you're looking for a drink and you're in the neighborhood of 3rd and Stark.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Seeking Something Sporty

Some of you know that I currently employ an SUV as my primary mode of transportation; a Honda Passport to be exact. It’s a pretty good rig, hauls all my crap and even pretty reasonable sized trailers. It’s great for trips and gear and stuff, and it’s pretty quiet and comfortable inside. It’s even got pretty good power.

But it’s failing in a major way to scratch my itch right now.

I’m absolutely craving something low, light and with a manual transmission. Before the Passport I had a 2000 Subaru 2.5RS (turbocharged for a while) that was each of those things and quite quick. I miss it dearly at times now. Although my current ride is much more useable and practical on a daily basis, it is very definitely not as much fun.

I’m entertaining a few different schemes to provide myself with a little more thrilling driving experience. I’ve had thoughts of buying a cheap, old pickup truck for work duties, and swapping my Passport in for something more fun but still capable of packing toys and gear. Tops on that list is a Subaru WRX wagon. Or, I could keep what I’ve got and pick up a really cheap play car. Entrants in that contest include but are not limited to a late 80’s Toyota MR2, an older Mazda Miata or possibly even a Honda CRX.

I like the MR2 because it’s a mid-engine, rear wheel drive, extremely small and light, cheap and I’ve driven one that was a blast. It would be very difficult to work on because of the mid-engine design, and I’m operating under the assumption that any of these cars, in the price range I’m looking in, is going to require a fair amount of my time spent dinking around in the engine bay.

Miatas are widely known to be a very fun car to drive, and there is wide availability of upgrade parts and information. Plus it’s a convertible and day dreaming about a summertime trip down the Pacific Crest Highway is almost irresistible. It’s also rear drive, but has a much more accessible drivetrain than the Toyota. However, I’ve not driven one, and I fear that I might not actually fit in it, or at least not comfortably.

The CRX is appealing because it’s actually quite practical. In addition to being super light and agile, it is the only one of the three that has a back seat, and that back seat even folds down to provide quite a bit of cargo area. Also, there is an absolute plethora of aftermarket parts. The negative is that it’s front wheel drive and it’s got a much dorkier image/rep in my opinion—not that that’s critically important, but I’d be lying if I said it isn’t a factor at all. I’m not terribly concerned about how cool other people think these cars are, but I would like to have one that I think is cool.

Right now, the combination of rear drive, easy access drivetrain and convertible top has me leaning toward the Miata. I really need to find one to drive so that I know if I fit; obviously, if I don’t, it’s no option at all.

What say you? Anybody spent time with one or moreof these cars? Leave me a comment and share your experience/opinion.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

The New American Hero – And: Why Don’t You Like Racing?

Well, not exactly; Nicky was already the American Hero. He has now achieved what has been his goal probably for longer than he can remember. Nicky Hayden—southern drawl and all—is the new MotoGP World Champion.

For those of you who aren’t motarded, MotoGP is the pinnacle of two-wheeled motor sport. It’s the highest and most respected form of motorcycle racing. It is the series in which the very best of the best compete to be the world champion. The history of the series has seen success by riders hailing from numerous countries, but the United States and Italy probably rank highest in number of race victories and championships won. Recently, it’s been the latter who has dominated via its prodigal progeny, Valentino Rossi. In fact, Rossi has won the last five championships, and until now, was the only one to win since the change from 500cc two-strokes to 1000cc 4-strokes. Next year the limit is changing to 800cc, so Hayden just managed to squeak in and prevent Rossi from winning every single championship in a whole era of motorcycle grand prix racing.

You probably wouldn’t know it if you’re an American, but racing is huge in most of the world. Star riders and drivers are treated like rock stars. Who do you think is the highest paid athlete in the world? I’ll give you a hint, he’s not American and he doesn’t even play ball. It’s Michael Schumacher, the man who has ruled Formula 1 racing for years.

Rossi, the Italian MotoGP rider, who possesses as much charm off the track as he does skill on it, earns the third highest athlete-salary in the world.* These guys are treated like rock stars in Europe and the rest of the modern world.

*Disclaimer – I’ve been told these statistics second-hand, and as I’m writing this, I’m without internet access to verify these claims. So they are being stated as the best of my knowledge at this particular moment in time and space.

What I don’t understand is why so few seem to care here in the US. My girlfriend recently illustrated to me the fact that a probably alarmingly large portion of our population is unaware that there are race tracks with right-hand turns. That realization makes me a little ill. NASCAR is by far the most popular form of motor sport in America. My best guess as to the reasons why are that the whole track can be seen from any seat and that the racers are mostly all good ‘ole down-home southern boys that the fans feel like they can relate to. Sadly though, those good ‘ole boys only make good ‘ole left-hand turns. I don’t want to say that NASCAR racers are not skilled drivers—they are—but I don’t see how one could think that what they do is as challenging or demanding as riding a GP bike or driving an F-1 car at its limits. Correspondingly, I don’t understand why people seem to think NASCAR is more entertaining to watch than the other forms of motor sport. I’d better stop here. The popularity of NASCAR, “professional” wrestling and reality TV in the US are topics that I could carry on about for a week or three.

As much as I like the other American riders, I have to say that Hayden was our only real hope. Colin Edwards hasn’t shown himself to have what it takes to be a consistent chart-topper. I was a huge fan back in his world superbike days, but it’s hard to stay excited about a guy who finishes in 6th or 7th place every race, like clockwork. He’s a talented rider, and on any given day can put up a pretty good fight for the lead; but he always seems to fade out of the picture before the race is over and quietly settle back to somewhere in the bottom half of the top ten.

John Hopkins is very talented and has shown much promise. So much in fact, that he was plucked straight from AMA racing for a slot in Suzuki’s MotoGP effort. The problem is, Suzuki has been a non-factor and is a little too content with B-grade riders. I don’t think they’re providing a bike capable of winning many races, and Hopkins should be trying hard to earn a spot with another team. He may be capable of improving, but it’s gonna happen slow—if at all—as long as he’s at Suzuki.

And Kenny Roberts… well, he was the champ in 2000, and I’m still not sure why. That’s about all I’ve got to say about him.

I’m a fan of all these guys (ok, not particularly of Roberts) and love to see them do well. But the reality is Nicky was the only one with a hope to win the series.

Monday, October 30, 2006

C'mon America, show a little testicular fortitude!

Schools are prohibiting children from playing tag because it's too dangerous.


This makes me furious. Not just because kids are not being allowed to play tag, but the whole mentality that has resulted in this. It is so ridiculous and outrageous, I don't even know what to say about it.

Who are the wimps who keep making outrageous decisions like this, and how is it that they exist when clearly their family line has had no balls for a few generations?

I'm going to go into this more later!

Friday, October 20, 2006


I feel like that last post comes through with a different tone than I intended. I don't feel bad, or apologetic about the situation. I do feel like i need to prove myself worthy. There is a difference.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I am self-employed.

It almost doesn’t register. It’s been a goal of mine for a very long time; and I think I’ve always known (or thought I knew, anyway) that I would someday achieve it.

I didn’t see it coming. I did not think I would be a business owner within nine months of finishing school. I had no idea what kind of business I wanted to operate, and no particularly promising widgets to market. Aside from going to school, I didn’t feel that I’d done much to bring myself closer to my goal, and I wasn’t sure what to do next.

The opportunity was dropped in my lap without me even looking for it. A family friend wanted to retire and apparently believes that I am capable of taking over. My family has the resources to provide most of the means for me to acquire the operations. So—plop—here I am—an employer and small business owner.

Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t being given to me for free. I’ll be paying back every penny, with interest. However, I’d never have been able to fund the purchase on my own name and assets.

Do I deserve this? Of course not. I’ve done nothing that would entitle me to such an opportunity. I am not owed anything. I do not take this for granted, I appreciate it greatly and I accept it humbly but confidently.

Am I worthy of the opportunity? Can I make something of it? Will I work hard to make it a success and reward those who have put their faith (and money) in me?


It’s been quite a learning experience so far, just to create a new corporation and obtain all the licenses, services, accounts, vendors, etc.; and I’m not done yet. I’ve already had to deal with losing employees in key positions, and customers that spent a lot of money and are very unhappy. I’m trying to learn the product, customers and the industry, while still dealing with many of the logistical loose ends that remain from the purchase/transition process. It’s tricky sometimes, but certainly not impossible.

It doesn’t feel like a job. That may be the best part. I’m certainly not getting rich right now. But it is pretty easy to get out of bed in the morning, and to work late, when it’s my project, not just my job. It’s invigorating to know that ultimately, it all comes down to me. I have the ultimate authority and don’t answer to anyone. It’s also my neck on the line, which can make it a bit scary. I think that the risk of responsibility is a factor which ultimately has a positive effect. Risk elevates the excitement and reward in most of the sports that I enjoy, why should it be any different now? In fact, the risk is largely responsible for this opportunity. If there were less risk involved, the purchase price would have been beyond my means.

Right now, I have much to learn about the business and how to serve the customers. I’m relying heavily on my crew (who are great) and their experience. That said, based on the progress I’ve already made, I’m confident that I can do the job very well. With the right people, I’ll be able to take the company beyond anything it’s been so far. That is my ambition.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Disaster Movies - Why God?!

Listening to: Radiohead

Drinking: Water

Disaster Movies. Aptly named, because every single time I decide to (or more likely, am coerced into) watch one, it turns out to be a complete disaster.

They are horrible.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a natural disaster (earthquake, flood, volcano, spontaneous ice-age), out of this world disaster (asteroid) or human-caused disaster (fire, terrorism, whatever); they are all mind numbingly terrible movies. That said, the natural disaster types are usually—but not always—the worst.

I could go on and on about various movies, but just from the example-types I’ve listed, you probably know most of the ones I mean. Besides, they all follow the same formula; sometimes ridiculously close. So it’s really only necessary to criticize one, or maybe one from each of the three types. Anyway, right now the movie I’m going to talk about is World Trade Center, because it’s the most recent one I saw.

Let me start by saying that I did not want to see this movie. There were two reasons why it was obvious, without knowing anything else about the movie, that it would be bad, and most likely, very bad. The first reason of course, is that it’s a disaster movie. Rescue workers caught in a collapsing building, this falls into the third disaster category. Second, it’s based on a fairly recent historical event. Either of those things are a pretty good strike against a film; the combination of the two leaves you with odds of seeing a good movie that are about inline with you winning the Viper parked on top of the penny slot machines in the Indian casino (without playing).

Of course I was dragged into the movie by my girlfriend. I am ashamed to admit that I was not dragged in kicking and screaming. I should have left claw marks all the way down the sidewalk trying to keep out of that theater. Now I’ll grant her, the only other thing playing that showed any promise was a movie that she’d already seen. I can understand not wanting to go to a theater to see a movie you’ve already seen. So I caved and bought tickets for World Trade Center. Ooh, it pains me to put into print the fact that I paid to see that movie.

Have you seen Ladder 49? It’s the one with Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta. If not, go watch it. I’ll wait.

Ok, you’re back? It sucked like a nitro-boosted Hoover, didn’t it? Ha, yeah I shouldn’t have done that; but I had to suffer, so you do too. Ok, anyway, World Trade Center is exactly the same movie. I’m serious, different city and different actors, otherwise exactly the same. Some normal Joe-types, stuck in a pile of rubble, unable to help themselves, just waiting and trying to hold on to hope. We get flashbacks of the families to show what great guys they are, and so we really want them to live. Some of their buddies die. They almost lose hope and give up, and then, miraculously, help arrives. They are triumphantly rescued and treated as heroes.

Actually, that doesn’t sound as terrible as it actually was. Read that paragraph over and over for two hours though. Then you may get closer to the actual feeling of watching the movie. The problem is that nothing happens and it’s boring. The dramatic elements aren’t good enough for the movie to stand as a drama. There’s very little humor. And the action is sparse. That doesn’t leave much of anything to entertain or challenge a viewer.

The entire movie is two guys buried under scrap metal!

It was boring. I wish it had been presented from a wider scope, rather than from just the two men and their families. Then it may have had more hope, still would have been difficult to do well.

Anyway, I’m tired of writing about it and if you’ve actually made it this far (doubtful), I’m sure you’re tired of reading about it. So with that, I digress.

In other news: I acquired a Pepsi vending machine today, and went on my first official mountain bike ride in Bend as a local. I rode a loop a little over 9 miles, mostly on Phil’s Trail. I started at the trailhead off Skyliners road. It was nice trail, and all single-track, but mostly unchanging terrain and very low technical difficulty. I feel crazy to say anything negative because it seems to be such a nice trail system, but it was a little bit boring I have to admit.

Oh, and I think that my lungs, being accustomed to thick, sea-level air, were struggling pretty hard at the elevation here. The climb was not that steep but I was huffin’ and puffin’ pretty heavy. Anyway, they were nice trails and very accessible so I’m sure I’ll be hitting them again.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What is the Baja Wipeout

Date: September 21, 2006

Listening to: Sufjan Stevens : Illinoise

Drinking: Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port

It is the question that has consumed the mind of intellectuals for all the history of man-kind, the focus of ponderment (yup, made that up) for professional ponderers, the riddle that has ruffled the feathers of every revolutionary rastafarian ever to think revolutionary thoughts…

What is the Baja Wipeout?

I know what the Baja Wipeout is, and I can tell you; but I’d have to kill you. Actually, I would have had to kill you, but this information has recently been declassified and made available to a select few outside the Omega-7 security level. Oops, you shouldn’t even know the Omega-7 security level exists… just pretend you didn’t hear that.

Anyway, since I know only the highest echelons of society are aware of this “internet”, I suppose it’s safe to tell you about the Baja Wipeout. What we’re talking about is an evolutionary leap ahead in the culinary development of the human race. The Baja Wipeout is a pizza; bear in mind however, this is no ordinary pizza. Oh no; this pizza is born out of the inability of both myself and a certain stunningly beautiful and creative woman known as Burl Amber Sequoia Martin to constrain our imaginations to what is commonly known about the universe and pizza.

Now, one may be asking one’s self, “what calamity of condiments is on this wondrous creation of irrational thought and tomato sauce?” And if you’re not asking yourself that, you should wonder why not.

[hang on, I’ve got to go get some more port… you know, keeps the creative juices flowing]

Well, ask and ye shall receive. I’ll tell you what it takes to create a masterpiece such as the Baja Wipeout. Be warned however, you may want to do some mental stretching exercises, else you may find yourself permanently brain-damaged or traumatized; and I’m not lookin’ to be sued. What follows is highly sensitive information. Were the Taliban somehow to obtain this formula, it could be the deliciously deadly recipe for the end of humanity as we now know it. Guard this information as though your life depends on it. Some day it may.

The Baja Wipeout:

  • Whole wheat pizza crust
  • Sweet, fresh tomato sauce, to be used liberally. Forget liberally, abuse the sauce! Pour it on like you’ll never have another chance.
  • Pizza style canadian bacon and pepperoni
  • Mixed mozzarella and cheddar cheese (there may be room for improvement here, we’ve not had ample time to experiment).
  • Quartered artichoke hearts, these should be sliced or split into smaller pieces.
  • Pineapple chunks. Your typical Hawaiian pizza style.
  • Sliced jalapeƱo peppers. These should be sliced 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Available in a jar.

That’s it, bake it until the pepperoni starts to curl and get a touch crispy, and you’re done!

I’ll admit that it’s conceivable at this point that you may not think the Baja Wipeout sounds all that incredible. This will be difficult but you’re going to have to trust me; you’re mind simply cannot wrap around the greatness of this pizza right now. Go ahead and make one. Somewhere between jalapeno application and sprinkling that last thin layer of shredded cheese, you’ll realize the magnitude of the creation before you, and all that it means for the future of the earth. Make sure someone is around when that happens, because you may pass out, which could be bad if you have a particularly hard kitchen floor. Don’t be ashamed to wear a helmet while preparing this pizza; it could save your life.

I suspect a bottle of Pacifico would compliment this taste-bud-tickler appropriately, appealing to the Hawaiian/Mexican beach influences that permeate the pizza pie. However, I cannot personally attest to the validity of that combination. I happened to have Deschutes Jubelale available, and I can tell you that it was an excellent, if unexpected combination.

In all seriousness, I’m sure it’s been done before; but I haven’t seen it, and it’s awesome. Everyone should try it. Burl and I will take credit. You can send your donations to my paypal account. For tax purposes however, try to keep them under $1,000 unless you just can’t resist.

….I wonder what it’d be like with peanut butter, hmm…

Monday, September 4, 2006

Super busy, gotta prioritize

No time to blog lately. I'm moving to a new town, trying to find a place to live, taking over a business, and learning a new industry--so I've got a little bit to do right now. I do have some potential topics to write about when I get a chance though, including: my reactions to An Inconvenient Truth, stories from a four-day motorcycle ride, how Oregon is the greatest state in the union and my thoughts on alternative fuels, energy, habits and technology.

I'll get to 'em when i can.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I'm totally motarded!

I'm coo-coo for... motorcycles. If you know me, this is not news; I've been riding since i was in the second grade. Lately however, I've been feeling like my moto-excitement level has been rising. For a while I've just been in situations where it hasn't been as easy/convenient to ride as I'd like. I can't lie, it hasn't been that tough, mostly i just haven't been riding much and I'm not entirely sure why.

Anyway, I took my girlfriend for an all-day ride a couple Saturdays ago and it was great. Riding with a passenger is something I'd not done much until recently (well, i still haven't done it much) and I'm finding that i enjoy it quite a bit. As with many things in life, motorcycling is even better when shared with someone close to you. It is especially interesting because she's never done much riding before at all so it's an entirely new experience for her. I think a lot of people are less than thrilled to be on the back of an uncomfortable motorcycle all day long, looking over someones shoulder to see down the road. I think she honestly enjoys it though, which is great for both of us.

One thing that has always struck me about motorcycling is that even when you're doing it with other people, it's still in a way a very personal and solitary experience. No one can talk to you. You're alone with your thoughts. That's been one of my favorite aspects of motorcycling and I'm sure that it always will be. At times, riding with a passenger, I'd like to be able to speak briefly to point out a distant sight or to discuss the surrounding sights, smells and feelings. That's not possible, or practical anyway, but it's a compromise I'm usually willing to make for the peacefulness and isolation from intrusions.

It's also interesting how many things you notice when left to yourself like that. You become aware of changes in temperature or moisturocity of the air (yes i made that up), the subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) smells, the sounds and other various stimuli that pass unnoticed when one is enclosed in the damped and filtered comfort of a car. When I'm looking down the road, my motorcycle isn't even in my field of view, which creates the illusion that I'm gliding over the road under my own magical power. I feel like i experience the world so much more then, than when I'm in my car.