Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Truth Follows Fiction :

The car behind me spits out a three-second blast from its horn. This is far more typical than those who don't try to share the roads with cars on a bike would think. Sure, some would say, just ignore them, but that makes an ass out of you and me. No, wait a second, that's not right.

Even so, I make the typical dismissive wave gesture that's my typical response to this situation. Shut up, jerk, is the idea. I understand that a working horn is supposed to be a necessary safety feature of automobiles, but sometimes I wonder if they don't cause more problems than they solve.

I hear squealing tires behind me, and the car blares into the oncoming traffic lane. I see it's actually a small pickup, more than a decade old and probably two, in one of those funny metallic tan colors that they called "gold." The driver looks out the window and shouts a string of obscentities that are largely drowned out by his engine. I'm typically eloquent in these situations: "Hey, what the fuck, man." I shout back. Something like that.

He continues to shout, and this time he's pointing wildly at me, at the side of the road. There's the painfully slow, momentary realization that fingers and hands aren't hollow metal cylinders, and I hit the brakes just as there's a loud pop. The truck swerves a bit more, and I brake, change angles as much as I can, and here two more gunshots. At this point the truck roars off down the road, then suddenly stops, and about fifty yards ahead the driver steps out of the cab, reaches back into it, and comes up with some kind of large object. I can't sort out exactly what it was, even thinking back on it now. Sort of like a baseball bat, but a little longer, not tapered. There are some kind of protrusions coming from each end. A length of PVC pipe? A tool? Just some kind of homemade weapon?

I don't know, but I don't really want to know. He brandishes it and shouts loudly about how he's going to, you know, get me.

It's concerning, not just about this one man but about people's actions in general, that people's brains are willing to shut off so completely. What the hell is his endgame here? I mean, we are half a mile from the police station. It's daylight, and there are at least a dozen cars around, all stopped and watching thanks to my friend stopping his truck in the middle of the road. I turn around, glance over my shoulder, and the guy hops back into his (still open, still running) truck and leaves a long, single strip of rubber of the way down the road.

At least I'm completely unhurt. I'll never know if he was actually aiming at me, or if he was "just trying to give me a scare," to "teach me a lesson," or whatever. I don't think it really matters, anyway. The followup makes me the most cynical. Like I said, I'm about half a mile from this little town's police station, and the white Explorer rolls down the hill in less than five minutes. The young cop takes my report down dutifully, and is concilliatory when he tells me that nothing's likely to come of this. I'm not even incredulous. It's expected.

No one got hurt, he says. Even though you got a good license-plate number and a description of the driver, even though there are plenty of witnesses (though none stopped), the DA probably isn't going to do anything. They just don't think it's worth the time to prosecute.

Yeah, I say, I just don't want the next guy he does this to coming home in a bag. I have some consolation in that the odds that the man is on parole, probation, or already has warrants out for his arrest is reasonably high, and if that's the case I'm sure he'll get picked up. Some consolation, but not too much.

----

Here's the "truth follows..." part. The above isn't quite what happened. No one shot at me. There was never a gun.

Instead, the weapon used the whole time was the gold pickup truck. He swerved the thing directly at me, sweeping all the way across the road into the gravel shoulder. He then accelerated again, pulled directly in front of me, and braked as hard as possible, skidding his tires for a few feet. Then he did it again, swerving all the way into the gutter, coming to a complete, smoking stop at about a thirty-degree angle with the road.

All the rest is literally true.

My point? A 4,000-pound vehicle is every bit as deadly as a gun. Every bit. If he had run me down with it, I would be as dead as if he'd shot me. Sure, there are different kinds of ways the crash could've happened. There are different ways that gunshots could happen, too.

But, do you think for a moment that, if the weapon was a gun, the response from the police would've been the same? Do you think that not much would be likely to happen, because the whole thing would not be worth the district attorney's time?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tacoma Fog 3 of 3: Stadium High

I was out of batteries by Point Defiance Zoo, but that's okay. The views of the Narrows, out across to the Peninsula and Gig Harbor, were totally obscured in mist.

A bit of light broke as I passed Stadium High, which actually exists and is a working public school. At least aesthetically, wow. Who wouldn't want this as their high school?



The place is like a castle. It featured in the Shakespeare-derived Hollywood film "Ten Things I Hate About You," which I watched when I was in high school for some English extra credit. At that point, I was incredulous that the school was real, and I didn't find out the story until moving to the Sound.

There's some kind of backstory about the place being originally designed as a hotel. I don't know, but you can probably find out more at their website if you like. I can't think about it much more without looking back at my time in high school. That would make me grumpy and regretful, so we won't go there. Instead, just look at how cool this place is:

Tacoma Fog -- This is post 2 of 3. If you want to start from the beginning, scroll down.

This trail makes me happy, but what you're about to see makes me cynical. It took less than a week for some kind soul to leave a gift at the entrance of the trail:



Whoever you are, thank you.

The ride through Fife to Tacoma was chilly and foggy -- the stuff that makes you look hardcore as bits of frost actually appear on your leg warmers, gloves, and facial hair if applicable. Frostbeard!

Then we're at Tacoma. I have a thought that this clocktower is the city's Union Station:



Tacoma has a lot of cobbles. Here's a street that's just called "Court C," heading from Downtown to the Stadium district:





Brick cobbles are pretty easy. See what looks like a slight rise at the end of the Court, though? It's this:



This road will definitely be part of De Ronde Van Taacomjaa, as I've started calling it.
Tacoma Fog --

On Sunday, I was planning to ride up to the U District in Seattle to hook up with Pdog & co., but the Seattle Marathon had overtaken Lk. Washington Blvd, and I didn't know any other decent route up that way. Instead, I headed back south, through Tacoma, to do the tried-and-true Point Defiance loop. Unlike most South-Sounders, I have probably only done this ride a dozen times, so it's not as old hat to me.

I had my digicam with me, but in the thirty-four degree weather, I got about twenty-five pictures out of a set of double-A's. Weak.

Still, I have three things to show you:

The first is the new trail. I'm trying to sort out exactly where this trail is going, but at least in theory the Milton Interurban Trail, when completed, will hook up over the hill all the way to the existing trail to Seattle. Political statements on what it replaces aside, here's what we're looking at:



Pretty cool. On the next shot, you'd actually be looking at I-5, if you could see through the foliage. I'm consistently impressed with how much rural flavor the Milton area has, despite its proximity to urban, industrial, and suburban developments -- yes, all three.







If you look on Google Maps, this part of the trail is actually still on there as a road: Barth Rd, in Fife. Look for where I-5 elbows west just north of Tacoma -- there's a little deadend road that shoots off diagonally from that elbow. That's it. They've paved it, now, but I am 95% certain it's for the trail, and not for cars. There is still a closed gate, and no indication of when the "official" opening date is:

Friday, November 16, 2007

FASHION!

1 ) Nice Hat!

Thanks, Stoked, for my new StokedHat. It is warm, comfy, and included a very nice ziplock bagggie. Yeah, whatever, I just got back from an eight-hour day on the bike, pointed the camera at my face, and clicked. I DO look like a zombie with sunglasses tanlines. People asked me if there is skiing already.



2 ) Nice jacket!

I've been wearing long-sleeved cycling jerseys for my commute to work, even on a cruiser bike with jeans or slacks. They get a lot less sweaty with my bag on than does anything cotton, and they're still warm. Since the general expectation is that I must stay within arm's reach of a bike at all times while wearing bike clothing, I am surprised how many people tell me "Wow, cool jacket. Where'd you get that?" when I'm wearing this combo off the bike at work, drinking my pre-shift coffee.

I kinda thought my Portland State University long-sleeve seemed like okay casual wear -- pockets aside, it is mostly black and fairly simple. But my new Seigler / Axley winter kit is firetruck red, white, with black accents and a bunch of sponsor logos. I thought I'd look like polyester meets NASCAR, but, even fashionable young ladies have approved of it. No, I have no pictures of this, and sadly, not of the fashionable young ladies.

3 ) Nice bag! Nobody seems to know what Chrome bags ARE up here, which is kinda surprising, but all of the non-cycling types (should I call 'em "civilians?") dig it, especially the trademark Griffin-logo'd buckle. I love my chrome bag almost enough to turn "heart" into a verb. That seems to be the trend these days.

4 ) Coming maybe soon to a catalogue near you: Yours Truly. It is not a very big one, but I got just shy of a week of Starbucks pay in one day, and the check says "Modelling." That was an interesting experience. I got to see a place that I HAVE to ride, once all the snow melts, which will probably be like, March. It's Lion's Rock, near Ellensburg, WA.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I ordered an Oakley wicking polo shirt from steepandcheap.com. I am required to wear black, collared shirts to work, and hauling a folded black buttonup is too much of a pain; plus, I only have two solid black ones.

It was $18 at SAC, but the retail is ~$60. But, it included one of these.

So, what is it?

Since this shirt is called the "range shirt," I gather it has something to do with golf... do you remove tees with it, or something?

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Powered down, power up:

Electricity is one of those things that I'll never full understand. All right, I "get" it, but it's a textbook understanding of wiring diagrams, those little broken lines for switches, little zig-zag lines for resistors, and what have you. Briding the gap between that and an actual comfort with what's invisibly happening is going to be impossible for me.

Anyway, the buzzword of the week is Vampire Power. Somehow, I actually did not know about this until quite recently. Simply put, when almost anything electric is powered down, but still connected to a live socket, it's still using power. Unplug it, save a penny, save the world.

For instance, on my bedside table is my cellphone charger, and previously I simply left the thing plugged in all the time, and connected my phone to it every night for a top-off. Now, I unplug the charger, and since I can get about three days on a charge, I plug in every other day. Likewise, the coffee-slasher and cheap drip maker on my kitchen counter, reserved for use when I run out of French press-ground coffee, are now unpluged. I have no idea how many pennies and how many worlds I am saving by doing this, but if we all did it, y'hear?

Powering up when powered down:

Also, what gives with batteries doing sort of the opposite? I think it's temperature-related, but that's about all I know. Specifically, has anyone ever noticed that if you take a battery -- especially a rechargable NiCd, but any battery -- that is out of juice, cannot operate the device it's in, and leave it sitting for a day, it will have just a bit of power when you get to it? I have a whole handful of "discharged" AA batteries that I can put in my digicam and get two or three more pictures out of. How does this happen?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Product Placement:

I suppose I'd better tell y'all about some of the new stuff I've been up to --



Axley USA / Gin Optics models shown L-R: Ozone, Paradisio, Stungunner.

The Ozones are equipped with Photochromagic ReActive lenses that fade from clear to a light tint in ultraviolet light. I'm undecided about photochromatic technology. I like having it a lot for most riding: the Northwest often goes from cloudy to sunbreaks and back to clouds eleventeen times in a given ride, and it's great to have the glasses work with ya. Not fumbling with different-colored lenses for different days is a plus, too. Also, it's kinda neat to be able to go somewhere dark and not have to remove one's glasses, but if it's suddenly dark, like a tunnel, it still takes thirty seconds or so to fully transition. Also, since ANY glass blocks almost all ultraviolet light, if you are in a vehicle or indoors, but it is bright, the lenses won't change at all. Finally, when totally clear, the Ozones look like something you'd wear to the set of The Wonder Years.

Paradisio -- oh, how relieved I am not to have to call these glasses "The New Axley Model" any more. I picked up a set of these last summer, before their official release, and the name still hadn't been set. People would often ask me what those cool new glasses were, and I'd have to give a short speech, instead of just saying "Paradisio." Name game notwithstanding, these have to be my fave shades. They've got pretty decent coverage for riding, but look great off the bike, too. I think if I were making marketing materials, I'd call 'em "Active lifestyle" glasses. It's hard to tell from my terrible digicam shots, but they get plenty of compliments just walking about, and as an added bonus, they turn everything a nifty green color.

Speaking of active-lifestyle, if you're feeling particularly saucy, rock some Stungunners at the cafe. They look sweet, in a Matrix sort of way. While I don't have the sweet pink ones like Stoked has, I'm liking them on the bike a lot, too. They've got lots of coverage on the sides, a free-floating lens on the bottom, and an uncanny ability to hide the big sidebar of the frame in your blind spot, which means you don't get their frames in your FOV. (Ya know, Field of Vision? I just made that up.) Anyway they're not as aggressive of sport glasses as my Raptors might be, but you can wear these suckers for anything.



Yeah, SBUX has been my paycheck-bearing home for about a month now. As those who have stageraced with me know, I'm the Guy Who Drinks Coffee After Dinner AND in the Morning. Caffeine, what? I live on it.

Starbucks French Roast has been my go-to bean for some time now, whenever I haven't had the time or cash to source something else. It's consistent, rich, and available at Costco! I think this is almost the darkest commercially available coffee -- to be fair, you are mostly tasting THAT, and not the beans -- but it's still mighty good if you're into that sort of thing. A little more complex flavors than the direct, smooth espresso roasts, it's my yardstick in dark roasts.

The Starbucks Anniversary Blend this year absolutely rocks. It's the best coffee-house special coffee from the bull in the china shop company I've tried, and I'm all the more sad that it's gone. It's spicy, dark, and deliciously bold, without the earthy aftertaste that I get grumpy about. You juuust might be able to find a starbucks that has a bag of this left, but, I doubt it.

If you missed out, what you CAN get is this year's Christmas Blend. Oh yes, it may be 10 November but it is Christmas at Starbucks. The same aged Indonesian coffees that gave the Anniversary blend its kick are present here, but overall the coffee is smoother, lighter. It's kind of bathrobe coffee: you can drink it first thing in the morning without it blowing you over. Personally, I WANT to be blown over most of the time, but it's nice to have in your arsenal. When the weather gets nasty, I think I'll drink this more.

Fiery? Arsenal? KOMODO DRAGON. This might be too much for me most days, with a powerful taste and an earthy finish. If you like that pacific-rim style coffee, with an aromatic nose and a lingering flavor that would recall a lot of agricultural words, this is your coffee.
What IS a "morning person," anyway? I'd never have thought it would be called me. I'm far too enchanted with three in the morning. But, even so, I love the quiet early morning hours. Who doesn't love the cool, moist dawn air?

I won't wax too poetic right here, though. Instead, I'm writing this to tell you about my breakfast.

Part of the reason I love mornings is that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Today's looks like this:



As you can see, I like variety. I'm out of the blackberry jam I made over the summer. Wow, I'm impressed how fast I went through that. I still have a bunch of frozen berries, though, and those go in the oatmeal while it's cooking, and make it all purple.

Stoked asked me to participate in a recipe-sharing list recently, and I had to pass, mostly because I have no idea how to cook much of anything. I don't HAVE any recipes -- so much so that when I tried to type this, I misspelled it "RECIPIE."

But this oatmeal is really good. It has the berries cooked into it, like I said, added just as the oatmeal is starting to thicken. Don't use those silly quick oats, either. I crush some hazelnuts and almonds, and throw those in as it's cooling. Then I sprinkle a little bit of some kind of dry cereal over the top -- this is Kashi Golean Crunch -- for more texture, and about a tablespoon of soymilk.

I used to just do the ol' raisins, brown sugar route, but this is way better.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pdoggydog,

I'm in yr house.
Updating my blogs.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Oh, and by the way:

Remember, remember, the 5th of November...

Yeah, that wasn't as exciting as it could be. But, the November-December issue of ROAD magazine is pretty sweet. It's one of the few rags that's actually worth buying, if you're into the domestic road bike race scene, which admittedly is a pretty niche market.
Okay, I promise to post later tonight. I certainly have got plenty on my mind.

But, I am going to go out and do something in this nice weather. It's just too nice. Something not training, I did that for 13 hours this weekend.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Okay, I almost universally avoid YouTube embeds, because when other people do it, I never watch them, and mostly it's just annoying. But it's come to my attention that many of you don't know the song in question, and it's quality rock, and hillarious. Also, kinda clever at a deeper level, which I'm not sure if the band meant.



After all, "Everybody knows, that the world is full of stupid people... but I've got the pistols, so I'll keep the Pesos, yeah that seems fair."