31 December 2010

Year in Review: Life is uncertain

Wanted to squeeze one last post in before the end of the year. Partly to finish strong (record number of posts this year, by a lot) and partly to wish you a happy new year. I would go through and choose some of my favorite posts if I had the time and inclination, but I don't. I may do it in January if I'm so moved. Or not.

I hope your 2011 is chock full of love and laughs. And hugs. And dessert*.

xox  -c-

* It's easy to remember how to spell 'desert' (no rainfall) and 'dessert' (yum) because there are two esses in dessert, and two servings of dessert are better than one. If you spelled 'dessert' with as many servings as I would eat then it would be spelled 'desssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssert'.

28 December 2010


Forwarded by a friend: total domination in the palm of your hand. Title of the photo was 'pew pew!'
I laughed.

24 December 2010

Happy F'n Birthday Jesus

Me and xmas, enh, we get along only so so. I prefer thanksgiving. The food is usually better and the gift exchange part can be a hassle. Anyway, a friend took this photo a couple weeks ago when we were out and about and I was maximizing my potential. Apparently all I need to get into the xmas spirit is 14 beers. Who knew?

Happy holidays!

23 December 2010

You know I'm workin', nights!

I tried to embed this video but couldn't work it out. So you have to go to this portal site and watch it for yourself. My favorite part starts at 1:04.


22 December 2010

Motorcycles and also guns and other toys

Colin Edwards is a very good motorcycle racer. People tend to forget this because he hasn't won a race since he started in MotoGP, but still.

Anyway, he runs a 'boot camp' in Texas. I want to go. You learn to ride motorcycles, and in your free you learn to shoot guns. That's my kind of weekend.

Texas Tornado Bootcamp from Ryan King on Vimeo.

20 December 2010

Busy today... I'll be brief

Lots going on today so here's a quick summary of awesome, as delivered by the intarnets. Image courtesy Olly Moss, who is that rare designer that makes art I actually want to buy.

Also loved this super hard:


I'm not at all surprised that someone who is good at being a soldier is also good at baking. Seriously. Bakers are infamous for being intense and detail-oriented. From what I'm told by my friends in the service, these are also favorable qualities in a soldier. (I'm not saying that I'm intense and detail-oriented, but I'm not not saying it.)

On vacation for the next two weeks - including today - but I promise to kick out some updates as I find the time. I may have to interrupt my gym/books/xbox schedule to do so, but you're worth it. Soooo worth it.

17 December 2010

Get smarter

Had this one kicking around in the archives, forgot to post it.
Sooooo here you go.

The whole talk is much longer, but this part is a nice summary. The short version is: we need to change our education system. Easier said than done, but still.

16 December 2010

I am an international financier, part the IX

Another in a series detailing my generous (micro)financing work in foreign lands.

I funded Arlene from the Philipines loan in July (?). I guess repayment happens at the end of the term, because the capital will be invested in the livestock until she can sell them. The update didn't make a lot of sense, but whatever. Here it is after I ran it through Google translate:

Arlene grateful to the financial eyang received from lenders, he added there eyang negosyo.medako investment income to give what he pangenahanglanon inadlaw-day that the eyang family.

So that's happening. Mostly I like the picture because it's got a pig.

Load-testing the speakers with Stars "Take me to the Riot"

Saturday nights in neon lights,
Sunday in the cell

Pills enough to make me feel ill,
Cash enough to make me well

Been load-testing the speakers to this for about a week. It's not a new song, but you don't care. There was some kind of music video on youtube but it was awful (40 seconds to start the song? seriously?) so instead you get this fan version. Special bonus: words! Or you can minimize it and get your listen on. (That's my move.)

It sounds a bit like Morrissey, except for the part with the female vocalist.

Song is Take me to the Riot, by Stars.


 I had some posts piled up because firefox v3.6.13 wouldn't let me post pictures for some reason. Upgraded to firefox 4 and it's working again. So here you go: the motorcycle, with some other motorcycles.

The big win!

Managed to eek out a victory against Shannon (NMSNSS) in words with friends. It took a lot of intellectual energy, so I enjoyed a spanking from both friend Skott and brother Scott in 2 other games. I should post those scores too, but they aren't as fun. I got a bit lucky with the letters, played first, and also she swapped tiles, which gave me a very small advantage in terms of letters played. I think her per-word average was better than mine, so she didn't lose as much as she just ran out of tiles. Also: note the hour. I was definitely trying to get this done and sorted before I went to sleep.

After a game I like to review the board and find my favorite words. I think my favorite word on this board is 'ecru', though I didn't play it. My favorite recent word is 'twee', which is actually one of my favorite words, ever, and fun to play if you have some extra e's laying around.

Also, this article is the worst thing I've seen written lately:


I know you don't much care about motorcycle racing, but you can't help but be impressed by its awfulness. Here's a sample:

SOME ANSWERS: We have a spending problem Houston. The extravagance and false economy that were the driving force until recently have withered. It is a realignment of the stars. The sport in all forms will survive, but a cold hard look at harsh reality is due. Fans will still turn out to see a great show, but they need to be embraced and attention must be paid to what they want to see. Rules have to be made from the perimeter fence inwards instead of pit lane outwards for the benefit of those anointed with that special pass!

To summarize: Four sentences of repetitive cliche, one useful sentence, and a nice run-on sentence to close it out. Here it is again, edited:

SOME ANSWERS: We have a spending problem Houston. The extravagance and false economy that were the driving force until recently have withered. It is a realignment of the stars. The sport in all forms will survive, but a cold hard look at harsh reality is due. Fans will still turn out to see a great show, but they need to be embraced and sponsors, organizers, and riders must pay attention to what they want to see. Rules have to be made from the perimeter fence inwards instead of pit lane outwards for the benefit of those anointed with that special pass!

 It's actually MORE work to write badly than it is to write well.

15 December 2010

Buy American

Here's a list of "stylish and cool brands that make their goods in America". Most of the stuff is predictably expensive, but there's an economics lesson there: we have a high standard of living here in the United States, so it costs a lot to make stuff here.

On the other hand, you get what you pay for. Often when people use that cliche they mean quality, but you might also be paying for exclusivity, or a relationship with the vendor, or some combination of the above. If that's not your thing, go shop at wal-mart.


Chad hits the weights like he means it

Friend Chad is a super nice guy. This is him at a powerlifting competition. I've been joshing around with him for years, usually when I see him at family gatherings and parties. I say stuff like, "Hey Chad! Great to see you! I notice your neck didn't make it this year, because you don't have one, but maybe next year? Super!" And then we hug.

I'm told that the "total lifted is 2nd in the world in his weight class and 8th in the world for all weight classes in 2010".

He squatted 800 lbs, benched 463 lbs, and deadlifted 700 lbs.

14 December 2010

His name was Miles

The guy in this picture was killed by another motorcyclist on Sunday, 12 December 2010. He was 24.

A 60 year old off-duty LAPD officer was speeding on his motorcycle and veered into oncoming traffic on Sunday. He managed to crash into two motorcycles, seriously injuring the rider of the first, killing the rider of the second. The second bike was carrying a passenger, who was seriously injured.

The rider of the speeding bike that caused the crash was killed.

If you're keeping score, that's two people in the hospital and one dead person caused by a speeding off-duty cop.

Since cops don't give tickets to other cops, it's not a great surprise to me that he was speeding. If I could be assured of not getting a ticket I would speed too. Though I hope I wouldn't veer into oncoming traffic and take one life while I mangled two others. I hope.

There's been a lot of hot air blown around about how the deceased is 'in a better place'. He's not in a better place; he's fucking dead. Not to mention: what about the people broken into pieces? Are they in a better place? I think not.

Why does this bother me so much? Because I used to ride this road once a week, and still ride it now and again. I was planning on taking a friend for a ride there so we could cruise 2-up, probably on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Sort of like this past Sunday.

13 December 2010

Chicken Strips, not from popeye's, and also xmas is just around the corner

Greetings from mostly-sunny southern CA. I got this fresh photo of ze motorbike from my friend Graham, who took it at the bottom of the hill while we prepped to make our way back over. He also had very nearly killed himself about 3 minutes before, so we're talking about that while he takes this picture.

Not sure if this image thing will work, because Flickr is a fickle bitch.

I think that's a Yamaha R1 on the far left, my bike in orange in the foreground, and a ZX-6R on the right (barely visible).

This photo is a couple weeks old. I have another, more recent photo taken from the same spot with some slightly different bikes. So I'll share that when I get a chance. Fun!

10 December 2010

Post 989: the entire reason for this blog is captured in this one post

We're coming up on some milestone-type numbers for the blogspace, and I am planning a nice retrospective. Look forward to that.

In the interim, this video pretty well sums up what we're all about over here.

Video comes courtesy mrericsr, who also gives us this gem:


Residents of San Francisco will find it particularly insightful.

09 December 2010

enduro motorcycling vs. downhill mountain biking

This is pretty close.
The coolest thing about the video is that both riders are absolutely flying, though not through the same sections. The cyclist tears through the technical sections where the heavier motorcycle gets a bit bogged down. When terrain opens up the moto has a huge advantage. For those that care about these kinds of things, the KTM enduro is just about the best dirtbike money can buy. The desert rats might argue that the CRF or YZ is better, but the KTM is much, much more reliable. Also: orange and black are cool.


Time.com makes a list so I don't have to

Time.com made a list of top tens. It's a good time waster if you don't want to read one of my 1000 word blog posts. Har.


08 December 2010

If I were making it up you wouldn't believe me: The breaks desk at BofA Securities in 1998

I have had some interesting work experiences. My first job was perhaps noteworthy for it's pronounced lack of weirdos. My second job at BofA Securities was so chock full of them that if I made up the characters and put them on television no one would believe that they were real.

I worked the breaks desk, first on the NASDAQ and then on the 'big board', or NYSE. A trade 'breaks' if both sides don't recognize the same price and quantity for the transaction. One side has to recognize (or 'know', in the parlance) buying, say, 5000 shares at $10, and the other side has to 'know' selling 5000 shares at $10. If both sides don't agree, the trade 'breaks', and it would land on my desk. Conversations would typically look like the trader on the NYSE floor saying, "I know this trade at such and such a quantity, and such and such a price", and then you would take the break out to the dipshit from Columbia that got his high-profile job because he was on the Columbia football team and explain how he screwed up. Fun. I shared the responsibility with 5 other guys, so there was ample opportunity for back and forth in between delivering bad news.

My job working for the breaks desk at 'Banc' of America Securities in the late 90's (in the Transamerica Pyramid office) included the following real people:

The Overweight Lover - A morbidly obese, effeminate gay man who did the balance sheets, and made shamelessly inappropriate comments to the 'boys' in the office whenever he noticed something particularly sassy about our outfits, such as "Love your suspenders! I loooove a shirtless man in suspenders! Do you wear them without a shirt? hehehehehe". I'm not sure if he got a kick out of it, or if he did it because it made us feel awkward, or both. Probably both. He was definitely good enough at his job that no one fucked with him. He wore a short-sleeved shirt to work every day because it was 'hot' in the office. He literally sweated over the figures. Ties were required, but he was over it so he kept a clip-on in his drawer; whenever someone asked where his tie was he would grab it out of his drawer, wave it at his jowls, and giggle. They generally only did this once.

Cheryl the New York Jew - A woman with a mouth so foul that it surprised even me, and I'm not shy about the f-word. Despite living in San Francisco for the better part of 20 years, her New York accent was as heavy as ever. To be fair, she did spend a lot of time talking to her friends and family 'back home' after she came in super early and finished doing my work and the work of 3 other people. The trading floor guys didn't want to work with her, maybe because they got tired of hearing her tell them they were stupid. Every day at 3 AM we would 'go through the breaks with Cheryl' and she would tell you what 'your fuckin' prawblehms ah'. Other important things I remember about Cheryl: she was very good at her job, and she smelled like perfume, coffee and cigarettes. On reflection, perhaps 'smelled' is too mild a word. Reeked of perfume, coffee, and cigarettes, then.

She gave us numerous expressions that live on to this day, not least of which is "take no answer", which is shorthand for "I have no answer to give you right now, and I don't want to talk to you, and I don't have time to explain all of this to you, so go away, right now, and don't bother me again until I'm ready". Cheryl liked to talk REALLY FUCKING LOUD so hers always sounded like 'TAKE NO ANSAH.' When Cheryl told you to TAKE NO ANSAH you literally took it, and took it nice.

George the Pilipino Playa - George favored garishly colored suits and ties, with matching ankle-length boots. It was not uncommon for him to rock a purple coat, green pants, and purple shoe-boots, with some kind of white or yellow shirt/tie combo to pull it all together. Believe me when I tell you that it was awesome beyond my powers of description. The boots alone required a level of sartorial commitment you find only in the colorblind, insane, or brilliant. Also, he had a heavy philipino accent, which led to some occasional confusion when asked me questions about audio/video equipment, such as:
"what ees dis ting, dis subwopper?"
Me: The shit what?
George: "What do you do dis ting, dis subwopper? Eet goes wit dee speakers??"
Me: the subWOOFer?
George: "Yeasss, dat's de one! Dee subwopper!"  [cue hilarity]

Or if he had questions about the web:
'heyyyy, how do you surp de web?'
me: The whatnow?
George: 'de web, how do you surp de web?
me: 'surf the web? like, the internet?
George: "yes! dat's de one! surp de web!"

Bit players:
Billy D. - The boss. He wasn't much of a character, and we all made fun of him for his pastel suits and wingtips left over from the go-go 80's, and also for his dead-end job. (Of course we were all moving on to Bigger Things.) In retrospect, we were right to make fun of him for his pastel suits (teal? seriously Billy?), wrong to mock him for his career. Live and learn.

Roland the Weed-Dealing Temp - I know it's cliche, but seriously, I can't make this stuff up. Since he was a temp worker he would come in and work part time. And by that I mean he would plan his weekends and make the interns do his work while he 'surped de web' and did his homework.

Bonus detail:

Coffee was provided, but for people who didn't care for caffeine there was also Sudafed in quantities sufficient to start your own meth lab. I suppose that some people had sinus congestion, but most took it to stay awake and alert in the wee hours of the morning. Nothing more calming than sudafed and large amounts of money moving around.

Get your read on

New list of 'best books of 2010' available, this time from Slate.
I don't think I read a single one, which is unusual. I remember picking up a few during the occasional book browse, but couldn't find anything I wanted to pay for. I know I can get them for free at the library if I wait, but it takes sooo loooong. I'm told that buying used on Amazon is the way to go. I guess I'll try that next.

Been feeling a touch under the weather the past couple days. Apparently the body doesn't appreciate it when you a) don't sleep, b) don't eat, and c) imbibe. Weird. 

Did you know that Hershey's kisses aren't really chocolate, but wax with a very small amount of chocolate flavor? That might explain this commentary

Was all set to post a picture and related commentary but the picture embed thing is acting up, so I can't. I would troubleshoot firefox and the blogger but I'm over it and you are too. Upside: I've got pictures to use in future posts! Hooray!

06 December 2010

Life Lessons: "my room smells like beer and regret"

Not pictured: my dignity (I didn't bring it with me)
I'm in detox for a couple weeks. Need to give my liver and bank account an opportunity to recover from the beatdown supreme they got this weekend.

You learn all kinds of things when you binge-drink. For example, if you can't remember what day it is, you probably shouldn't use the telephone for calls or texts. Or email. Or anything. Take my word for it.

Spent Sunday at the Corona del Mar "Christmas Walk", which is really just an excuse for die-hards like my roommate to mix in a few beers on a Sunday. It should be more accurately titled "holiday booze up and stand around". Credit my roommate (pictured) for getting us there in time to commandeer a table in the 'beer garden'. Again, this is a case of misrepresentation, since they weren't growing beers there, they were growing hangovers. 

I'm surprised they let us in since we didn't have a labradoodle and/or $800 baby carriage for our progeny. It ended up being a good time, even with inclement weather. I was impressed with the turnout.

Blog post title comes from a text message I sent out after waking up Sunday morning (pre 'christmas walk'). It's a poor imitation of the original from last nights text "(my room smells like vodka and shame"), but you don't care.

03 December 2010

Worthy of it's own post: Chart pr0n!

This from friend Ze Smitty, who, in addition to being annoyingly smart is also super nice. And well-traveled. (He's a hard person to like sometimes.) Anyway, he forwards this fantastic website:


There is so much good here I can hardly stand it. The world bank data visualizer was a particular favorite (recommended by Ze Smitty), but I also liked the F1 info.

It's easy to watch the world bank data and figure out that you don't want to be in Africa, ever. It's not trending positively, so to speak.

I don't know, is it?

 Ahhh, this never gets old:


Rode the bike to work today. Hells yeah. I sometimes wonder if it would be more comfortable to commute on a bike that wasn't built for a racetrack. But not often.

Image courtesy someecards, who didn't give me permission, so get on over there, sign up, and start sending some funny cards. I already made my contribution. It's not award winning or anything but one of my friends some stranger was nice enough to give it a 5-star rating. I think it's more a 4-star card, but that's me.

02 December 2010

what. the. f.



Yes it is possible to buy the opportunity to host a world cup, even if you have no soccer history, no stadiums capable of hosting the event, your country summer temperatures soar well past 110 degrees, and your country represents a security risk to any visitors that aren't muslim (read: most of them). In a legitimate contest, how does Qatar win out over the United States? It doesn't. The US didn't pay the voting countries enough money. I wouldn't mind FIFA's crookedness if they didn't pretend that it was legit. Ugh.

Qatar. Seriously. Qatar.

01 December 2010

Cookie recipe feedback

In response to queries from our readership: Yes, I read AND bake. And no, I'm not gay. :)

Why did I choose a thumping trance anthem to accompany this post? Because I listen to music when I'm baking. And I've been load-testing the speakers to this jam for a couple weeks now. Boom!

Friend Sonz was asking for a winning cookie recipe, which prompted this exchange:

hrmm... my best cookie recipe isn't anything unique - it's the same as the toll house recipe with minor modification and specific techniques. it makes the best chocolate chip cookies that I'm aware of, but i don't know if they will win a cookie contest. what constitutes a contest-winning cookie? for example, my choc chip cookies are the best, but many people prefer peanut butter, or snickerdoodle (??). if someone tells me they love snickerdoodle cookies i don't even offer to share my cookies; they're not worthy. So it depends on what you want. I do think that the fake niemann marcus cookie recipe is quite good, even if the origin is a myth.

my mom has a recipe for chocolate sugar cookies with mint frosting that is super good, but they take FOREVER to make because you have to roll them out, cut them, bake them, let them cool, and then frost them individually. if you're really committed you make 2 or 3 different colors of frosting (red, green, white) and decorate them. lordy it's a hassle. each cookie ends up a work of art. If you're super committed then I will send you that one. You'll need a full complement of kitchen stuff though: roller, cookie cutters, frosting bag and frosting tips, and a LOT of spare time. you'll want to make a double batch, then bring only the top 12 or 18 cookies to the contest. when flavor is roughly equal, then effort will matter.

here then is the recipe for the Chocolate Chip Cookies of Legend, lifted straight from a previous blog post, because I'm like that:
recipe for cookies of awesome is based on classic toll house semi-sweet choc. chip recipe. what follows is that recipe, w/ small additions. Note that the changes aren't for everyone. some people prefer a crispy, dry, flat cookie. the standard recipe will work fine for those idiots. for more discriminating palates, and moist, fluffy cookies, use the recipe below.

Buy semi-sweet nestle chips in yellow bag. I like buying the big bag so I can throw in a few extra choc chips when I'm making the cookies, but it's not a requirement. do not add nuts.

* = special steps i figured out through accident and error. they are what separates my cookies from the pretenders.

2 1/4 cups + 1 Tblspn all purpose flour
1 tspn salt
1 tspn baking soda
Pinch of baking powder*

3/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar (light brown is fine too)
2 sticks butter (margarine is acceptable but I prefer butter)
1 tspn vanilla
2 eggs
2ish cups semi-sweet chips

Preheat oven to 375.

Put flour/salt/b soda/b powder in small bowl. Set aside.

Beat margarine, sugars and vanilla in large bowl until creamy. A stand mixer works best, an electric hand mixer will do. (Mixing by hand alone won't cut it.)
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. when well mixed...
gradually beat in flour mix. I do it in three parts, works great.
Mix in choc chips. throw a few extra in if you're feeling zany.

cool dough for 8-10 minutes in fridge before you bake put dough to pan. also, cool dough again between batches.*

put cookies on sheet. I use two regular teaspoons (the small ones in your silverware drawer) because I have years of practice and I'm the shit, but some people use a mini ice cream scoop. whatever.

bake 9-11 minutes. be careful not to overcook.

to cool, place on cut up cardboard box laid flat on countertop, or on a paper bag (like the kind you get from the grocery) cut open and laid flat on countertop.* store when they reach room temp.

And when you least expect it: Jeff Goldblum

Killing hipsters: It might not sound like fun, but after spending last Saturday in Long Beach I can relate.

If everyone is wearing the same ugly clothes and ugly 'ironic' beards it isn't ironic any more, it's conformist.

30 November 2010

REPOST: pictures

This picture is kicking around the intertubes today. It's from the National Geographic photo contest. Many more pictures over on the big picture, but this is my favorite. It's one of those things that you would be lucky to see, never mind capture in a photograph. Totally sweet.

Image copyright Sean Heavey and NatGeo.

29 November 2010

Moar reading, but free

It's one of my favorite times of year: cooler weather means mostly comfortable motorcycle riding, I get a couple weeks off during the xmas holiday, and also it's cool enough outside that I can bake delicious desserts if I'm in the mood. I'm almost always in the mood for dessert, so I'll probably make a carrot cake or a custard pie this weekend. The carrot cake is a bit more work but it stores nicely. The custard pie is delicious but after The Episode* I haven't been able to have one of those in the house.

Thanksgiving highlight (aside from my friend making every effort to keep his happy holiday buzz from the previous evening rolling along throughout the day) was when Trevor attempted to identify the vaguely-turkey-shaped bread item on the table. I got the impression he wasn't really in the thanksgiving mood when his guesses were as follows: "Treble clef? Swannn??" Ahh, no and no. You had to be there but I promise it was funny. To be fair, it looked substantially more swannnn than it did turkey. Just sayin'.

Magazine articles for your reading pleasure: http://givemesomethingtoread.com/post/1660934095/give-me-something-to-read-best-of-2010

If you're ipad enabled you can read them on instapaper. I'm old school so I print them to a little thing I like to call 'actualpaper' and read them at my leisure. Then I give them to other readers. It's great!

* Can't remember if I blogged about The Episode, but what happened is I made a custard pie on a busy Friday night (I party) and proceeded to eat it that night and most of the next day. I worked through 2/3 of it before I had to throw it out because I was going to eat the entire thing. The kicker was I had just taken out the garbage so when I threw the remainder of the pie in the empty, clean trash bag I thought, "I could totally come back to this; the bag isn't even dirty or anything, it's just like a big ziploc." At which point I took the whole thing to the outside trash and did some soul searching in re: gluttony, desserts, and me. It was a Low Moment.

What are you reading?

The 'Best of' book lists for the year are coming out, which is great because I heart reading and I look forward to indulging this vice, especially in December when I'm only working half the month (vacationing during the other half, if you must know).

I recommend starting with the Guardian - they solicited feedback from several authors and posted it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/nov/27/christmas-books-year-roundup

Let me know if there's anything you liked that no one mentioned. Nobody put Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie on their list, perhaps because it wasn't sufficiently highbrow. I quite enjoyed it.

25 November 2010

Give thanks: post number 974

Baby Girl can see the future: it looks good (there will be snacks)
Thanksgiving in the US of A today. It's a time when people get together and, depending on your family, enjoy themselves or argue. I enjoy thanksgiving very much, even though my own nuclear family went nuclear a long time ago. I have many close friends so I get to review several different thanksgiving options and pick the one that I think best suits my needs in re: dinner, dessert, accessibility, pre- and post-dinner plans, and company. I could visit my own parents but they're about 1000 miles away and it's too far for a holiday weekend. Thus they get low ratings for accessibility, pre- and post-dinner plans, and if they're mean to one another (which is often), company. To be fair, the dinner and dessert are always first rate.

October was an interesting month. It gave me a head start on what to be thankful for, and helped me figure some things out, such as: if you drop a piece of buttered toast, what side it lands on is less important than your attitude when you pick it up. In other words: good things and bad things will happen, but you own how you feel about those things. Cliche, I know, but here's the kicker: things that made me sad actually ended up making me happier. How can this be? They made me realize how good I have it, and how important it is to appreciate that goodness on a daily basis. Fuck yeah.


I hope this post finds you well, whenever and wherever it finds you.


23 November 2010

'evo' is Italian for 'boner-inducing'

Pictured is the new Ducati middleweight sportbike, the 848 evo. Not pictured: the stirring in my loins.

Middleweight bikes from the big four are 600cc machines, but Ducati is a v-twin, so they have to bump up capacity to get equivalent (or better) horsepower numbers than those inline 4 engines. (The advantage of a v-twin engine is that it makes more torque, which is good for acceleration. If you've ever hammered the throttle on an I4 engine at low RPMs you'd be amazed at how little happens, especially on a 600cc bike. You would subsequently be amazed when the engine spins up and the bike takes off like you just got launched off an aircraft carrier). The best engines are a combination (or compromise) between a good torque curve and max horsepower. This new iteration of the 848 is the best yet, at least until the MV Agusta F3 comes out, and the MV will almost certainly cost a lot more.

You can get a superb 600 for half of what the 848 evo costs; it's about $12k new, $6k for a used 600 is an easy find on clist. And your maintenance costs will be much cheaper if you get a Japanese bike. But still... look at that thing. It comes in red (lame) and white with red wheels (lamer). Stealth black, you are sneaking your way into my heart. On the sly. Because you're so STEALHTY. (See what I did there?)

Before there was scrabble, there was Angry Birds

Long before I was getting blown up by over 100 points a game by people both near and far ('qat' is a word? wtf?), I had a different obsession. If you haven't played then this video will make no sense to you. But if you have...

22 November 2010

Sex advice from people that don't have sex

With apologies to our Christian readers, an admission: some of you may be new to this space, but occasionally We write unpopular posts about things that are important to Us, such as science education in schools, and civil rights. It gives Us an opportunity to flex our rhetorical muscle, clarify points that might get discussed in later conversations, and also use the majestic plural. We hope that you will continue to visit this space anyway. Because sometimes we post recipes and they are delicious.

The pope is in the news this week for making comments about using condoms. Never been a big fan of the pope or his organization, what with their centuries-long commitment to gross ignorance and institutionalized abuse. Oh, I meant these more recent cases. My bad. Sure I chose some easy examples but there are soooo many it's pointless to list them all. You either agree or you disagree already; I'm not going to change your mind here. I'm just telling you where I'm coming from.

Anyway, setting aside my personal feelings about how/why this tax-exempt, pedophile protecting group retains its influence, I wonder why anyone thinks it's a good idea to take sex advice from a guy that doesn't have sex. How can you trust the accuracy of information when the person delivering it has NO EXPERIENCE in that area? Indeed, professes to avoid it? Recommends that you too also avoid it, until you're married? (And then only if you're straight.) Why wouldn't you question their motivations? (If you're Catholic you're prolly not much of a questioning mind anyway, but that's a separate issue, about which see prev. paragraph.)

Just. Don't. Get it.
My issue is that any answer from Catholics will be grounded in Catholic theology, which I reject. Don't start there because it's a dead end. Instead, I want an answer that explains why it makes sense to solicit information on a subject from people that actively avoid its practice, except in specific circumstances (marriage) WHICH THEY ALSO DON'T PRACTICE. That is flat crazy. Would you ask a vegan how to cook a steak? No. You wouldn't even let them near your grill. Or smoker. Not that they would ever know the difference between grillin' out and barbecue anyway. Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiit. At least the Protestants and other reformation churches have some kind of leg to stand on with this stuff. Yeah they're full of crap too, but for different reasons.

Which reminds me: Why do you always take two Baptists fishing?
Because if you take one he'll drink all your beer!

Coming up: recipes for the chocolate cake I made yesterday, and also maybe the recipe for carrot cake I'm going to make later this week. I might have posted both of those already but I can't remember. you care.

19 November 2010

Harry Potter denouement, analyzed (revisited)

The release of the latest Harry Potter movie reminded me of a conversation I wanted to revisit. My friend was very into the HP books and we discussed them at length when the final version came out 3 years ago. Also I wanted to review some of the plot points, since my normally superhuman reading retention/comprehension is compromised by the fact that I tended to finish the HP books in 24-48 hours (total elapsed time, not total time reading). If you look at this post and say, wow, that's a lot of words, well, you should see the books.

This is a narrative about which many people have Strong Feelings, and I'm surprised by how many readers I talked to loved the epilogue. I was not one of them. I did enjoy the strength of Neville, though. While Harry was a bumbling, idealistic bore, it was deeply satisfying to see Neville make good in the end.

Here then is our conversation from July 2007, in it's entirety. (Pls ignore typos):

what did you think? were you pumped when Mrs. Weasley took it to Bellatrix? did you say, WTF! when harry took a 30 minute time out to hang out w/ the pensieve and snape's memories? were you moved when you realized that snape was a repressed, jilted, bigoted, errr... hero? did you smile when Neville killed Nagini, because you had predicted big things for him (although you overshot the mark a bit)?

I thought the epilogue was cheesy. except for the last line, it was a family sitcom. pass out. tell us something about what they had become: aurors, teachers, whatever. Instead they're parents. it was a letdown after some good storytelling in the final chapters. also, the book was about 150 pages too long. that part in the woods added nothing to the story. overall, it was very well done.

okay, let's see.

Mrs. Weasley was bomb, that was awesome.

sort of expected more from Harry chilling in the pensive. Snape loved his mama...okay. it was still his fault that she was killed, and he had no problem handing over harry and james. also, he was a jerk to harry who had no parents and no family, bc, why? jealousy? school boy grudge? eff that. i am not that impressed. [My friend] steph took the other side, incredibly moved by snape's pain, sacrifice, whatev. me, not so much.

neville's part was cool. what got me was when he pulled the sword out of the hat. he was a true griffendyor hero.

also, Narcissia Malfoy willing to sacrifice herself for her son got me pretty good. tears are stinging my eyes just thinking about it. she was the same as harry's mom.

i still really like the epilogue. i told you the reason i get so into the books it that i like hanging out with the characters, so i was excited to know how that worked out.

i had a few issues. i had expected a bigger twist/revelation. i had hoped for bigger turn arounds from snape, draco and maybe petunia.

i thought harry dying and coming back was lame. he either dies or he doesn't. too easy to make up a middle ground.

i also didnt like that harry was so perfect in the end. i would have preferred him more flawed. in particular, he didn't actually kill voldemort, he never had to confront the challenge of committing murder. he was still innocent/pure blah. not a real character. dumbledore and his lust for power/struggle not to take it was much more engaging and relatable.

overall, i liked it a lot too. it would have been pretty hard to screw up.
my take:
Harry was not much of a hero. no flaws, and every time he was in serious trouble he was rescued by someone else. example: in the ravenclaw house when searching for the diadem, he gets knocked down and Luna saves him. laaaaaame. maybe it's part of the fact that he wasn't supposed to be anything special as a wizard. voldemort was right when he said it was luck and circumstance, although we're led to believe at the end it's V's own bad choices that lead to his demise (linking himself to Harry). He was The Boy Who Lived, not The Boy Who Did Anything Much. He stands up to V, but it's Vs protective elements inside him that protect him. Harry stood tall in previous books, but in this book, not so much.

One point I really liked was when Harry stood up for McGonagall (shortly after Luna saves his bacon). Where was that guy the rest of the story? missing Ginny? feeling sorry for himself in the woods? punk.

re: Snape, enh, i was unmoved. he was an interesting character, but his resolution was unsatisfying for me. he did it all for love? are you kidding? he wasn't in love. he was obsessed. and he was an unremitting jerk who couldn't let go of a) his "love" for lily, or b) his bullying at the hands of James. get over yourself. move on. it's not noble, it's pathetic. if you say he was in league w/ Dumbledore, well, fair enough. It was interesting that Dumbledore was pulling the strings and that he was every bit the egomaniac that V was. It was his ambition that killed him in the end. There's a lesson there...

i missed the narcissia sacrifice. i will review that again. you were right, that is a key turning point.

when Neville pulled that sword out of the hat and killed the snake I almost wept for joy. i wanted to cheer for him. he came further than any other character. i said, f yeah, that's how you handle business. I was also much pleased when Harry gets back to school and they decide they're going to fight. Harry tries to talk them out of it (again, and again, and again, does Rowling just Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V these sections?) and they say no, they are there for him, and they are taking a stand. That was nice. And I wept a little when Dobby showed up w/ the house elves to turn the tide. A pleasant touch, i figured they would be left out.

lastly, I think there was too much made in the book of Harry's unwillingness to sink to the DE's level. He should have had more edge. Instead, he comes off as weak. Lupin chastises him for it in the early pages, but HP refuses to make the hard choices (unlike Dumbledore). You could argue that is why D died and HP lived, but i think HP would be a more triumphant character if he could make the hard choices and survive. If you have to wrestle a snake, you're gonna get dirty. It's how you clean up after that matters. (At least in my fantasy world.) :)

and the last word from katie:
i agree with you about harry. he is a weak character. more of a conduit to the rest of the story than anything else.

i was very excited for neville in this book. as you know i had even higher hopes for him, but i do not hold him responsible for those not happening. he is one of the best characters. not in that i like him the best, but that his story is probably the most touching and heartbreaking of anyones. in the first book, when he gets house points for standing up to harry, he is triumphant. in the fifth when he is visiting his parents at the hospital and harry, ron and herm come across him, it is the most heart wrenching scene in the entire series. he has suffered as much, if not more than, harry, but is not "the boy who lived" and thus no one really knows about his pain and no one offers him their support the way they do harry. he is much stronger than harry.

harry has always been obnoxiously repetitive. him trying to convince others not to help, trying to protect ron and herm, refusing to go to authority figures who could help him at the appropriate time, etc. i think the three central characters all have the same essential problem of not growing throughout the series. they lack character development.

i completely agree with your last paragraph. you gonna get rid of death eaters by stunning them over and over again? obviously not.


The gauntlet has been thrown down

I am officially everyone's whipping boy on words with friends. I remember now why I never play scrabble. I know a lot of words (more than anyone I can think of offhand), but I am SO BAD AT SCRABBLE. Ugh. But I will get better, people. Enjoy your victories now because the fat kid is going to improve. Search the web for strategies? Yes. Learn new high-scoring words before other players use them against me? Yes. It's going to be lopsided and lonely you get an xbox360 and allow me to destroy you at CoD: Black Ops. But I am going to practice. Or something.

Video is somebody doing amazing things on a bike. Sweet. Like epic skate tricks, it never gets old watching somebody do impossible stuff on wheels. The first trick alone was worth a video, never mind what he does about 1:45 in, over the bench to the retaining wall and back over the park bench. That is insane.

17 November 2010

Buffalo buffalo

Had to hit the internet for some visual inspiration today. I don't know why I loved this animated gif so hard, but I do. Headline for the post where I scavenged the attached picture is 'sad bookshelf is sad', which made me laugh. (Notice how they had to put the encyclopedias at the bottom so it didn't tip over?)

Been a tough week in blogville. Not much going on. Usually I could hammer out something pithy about current events or my gym schedule but I don't have anything really good, so I'll dig into the email mailbag for a word problem I kicked over to my word-minded peeps.

The following is a famous linguistics exercise. It's also a grammatically correct, complete sentence:

Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

I asked friend Jeff if he had come across it in his studies and he said yes, but he can't teach it in his classes because his students would just get more confused. English is hard. Sentence is easier to parse if you read it as 'place animal (verb) place animal'. So: buffalo from Buffalo push buffalo from Buffalo.

I got the sentence from a Steven Pinker book about language. I forget which one. He references its source as an associate of his. So, credit where credit is due: check the book for the actual source. I would look it up but my books are in boxes in the garage. :/

In New Addictions I finally beat Skott in a furious battle of wits on the virtual scrabble board. By one point. He's up two game two one after delivering a spanking in game two. I had to withdraw in game 3 because I played a word I thought was illegal. Turns out it wasn't, but that's my fault for not knowing (word was jesuit, if you must know, and yes, the lower case usage is accepted, which is why it wasn't illegal). If you've got an ipod touch or iphone and want to go head to head with a very mediocre player then hit me up. LET'S DO THIS. My words with friends name is Dooshie McTool. All my usual videogame and forum names were taken. Which sucked.

15 November 2010

REPOST - good enough to eat

Cribbed this from someone else's interweb space, but I liked it, and it reminds me of something I would do (the eating part, not the drawing), so here you go:

“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

- Maurice Sendak

It's almost Fall weather here. That means dessert time, and soon. Get excited. CARROT CAKE.

Somewhere Coach Jeff is laughing right now

I'm on injured reserve for a couple weeks with biceps tendinitis. Why is this funny? Because my friend Coach Jeff always gives me a hard time about only lifting arms when I go to the gym. That's ridiculous, but now I have an overuse injury and can't shock the guns for 2 weeks, followed by 4 weeks (!!) of light work to rebuild strength. :/ Could be worse, though. It's not serious, and I can still go to the gym, just can't do the usual.

I'll have to rotate some different work into the program. Spin class, here I come.

In new entertainments: try words with friends on the iphone or, if you're me, ipod touch. Scrabble with your peeps. Good times.

12 November 2010

Veterans day was yesterday

In honor of Veteran's day, here's a good post from one of my favorite writers, who was brilliant on withleather.com (sports blog) until they moved him over to write about television (warmingglow.com). Ugh. TV? He's still funny, but TV sucks.

So here you go: http://www.uproxx.com/feature/2010/11/eight-completely-badass-veterans-youve-never-heard-of/

Yay for turtles!

This comes straight from the internets. It's still funny. Photo credit to whomever took the original picture. It wasn't me. Nice depth of field and photoshop effort.

In unrelated news, there's a psychic / 'spirit medium' that works (and I use that word very loosely) down the hall from me. She gets clients to come in and she has 'seeings' with them where they contact the spirit world. It gets quite loud when she 'channels' the spirits. This kind of thing can't be done quietly. Seriously, this happens. And people pay for it. Anyway, what kind of psychic is she if she can't even figure out when I'm coming down the hall and walks into me? Oh she's not THAT kind of psychic? My bad. She must be the other kind, not so much predict-the-future, more make-shit-up.

Maybe if she channeled the spirit of my dead loved ones she could predict why people pay to have her invent nonsense. Maybe.

10 November 2010

Teachers are funny

Professor Jeff has to deal with mostly good students. But every now and then he gets to work with students that have no idea how dumb they are.

The cheating parts, and the parts where the student complains about 'deserving' a grade, are particularly common in his experience.

He sent this. I'm sure it's a big hit with teachers everywhere.

Sound req'd, and NSFW, because of the f-word.

07 November 2010

The People Have Spoken, part V

Reader Shannon (NMSNSS) comes to us from LA, and I don't mean Los Angeles. How she ended up here is a mystery, but we're glad for the feedback and until we have more readers than time to respond to their comments we will continue to feature hers. She wrote a whole funny post on chicken strips, and the only thing I have to add is that she refers to the carefully chosen words I used as:

blah blah blah blah chicken strips

That's clearly wrong, because what my post actually says is:
blah blah chicken strips blah blah blah


Bad news is that corporate is cracking down on internet usage at the office. I used to like to post an update at lunch or in the evening but it looks like all internet traffic is now a Serious Issue, so I'll be posting only early or late henceforth. Minor hassle but I'll do what I can to keep the magic happening. In my pants. Wait, what?

What does Glasvegas have to do with any of this? Nothing. Sweet jam though.

Louder = Better

Spent the weekend doing important stuff, like, umm, restringing the Babe (pictured, in the chair - it's a Gibson Les Paul Classic). I need to restring Sara too (that's the acoustic), but I wanted to play instead of bumble with the strings so I put that off until later this week.

Stuffed animal (pictured) is a chew toy that baby girl left to keep me company. 

I needed my roommate to experience the full awesome of The Babe played through my Fender DeVille 4x10 amp. The amp is appropriate for 'small to medium sized gigs', and totally inappropriate for a 10x10 room with hardly any furniture and hardwood floors. It's also perfect when your roommate is suffering on the couch with a hangover. Sorry bro. Kind of.

Total number of seconds I played before a screw from the vent rattled out of the ceiling and fell to the floor: ~6. (Some of the falling fasteners are also attributable to the stereo. We do a brisk business in loud music here at Chez Spencer.)

Took me a while to get the tone I was hoping for. One of the (dis)advantages of a tube amp is that they don't start to sound good unless you turn them up. The volume increase is nonlinear, so it goes from inaudible (setting 1, seriously, it doesn't even make noise until you get to 2), to 'kind of loud' (2-5)  to 'deafening' (5-12; hells yeah it goes to 11). You can keep turning the volume on the amp up but you only get a minor increase in volume up above about 8; instead the tone changes as you push more power through the tubes. Further complicating matters are volume and tone controls on the guitar. So many variables! So much power!

Invited the roommate to plug in the acoustic (she's an acoustic-electric) and jam but he said he 'doesn't know how to play'. I pointed out that didn't stop me, but he demurred. I'm optimistic he might get involved next time. Next step: learn a song for the electric. Or two. Maybe two.

Brief technical description for Music Whiz Scotty B, who has a similar guitar and same amp, and will want to know what settings I used. Skip this part if you aren't into minutiae.
Tone pickup on LP (front?), guitar pickup volume at 5, pickup tone maxed, amp volume to 4, amp treble at 6, regular drive, and I forget the other settings. no reverb.

04 November 2010

The People Have Spoken, part IV

The people have spoken. It's been hard to find a moment to update this space and give the readerships comments the attention they deserve. It's late and I'm tired but I don't want them to have to wait any longer.
Reader Shannon (or, Not My Similarly Named Sociopathic Sister, henceforth NMSNSS for short) asks / comments:

I didn't understand chicken strips so I had to look it up.

Now I understand and I'm sure that my life will be richer for knowing.

I don't know why I get sucked into these things. I'm a middle aged house wife who works at a church, for pete's sake. I could care less about motorcycles or chicken strips (unless they're from Cane's).

Since you contributed to the wasting of 10 minutes of my life that I'll never get back, I think the least you can do is give me some ideas on how I can work chicken strips into every day conversation.
Chicken strips are what you get on your motorcycle tire when you don't lean it over very far. The only way to lean a bike over is to go fast around corners, and in order to do that you have to trust both your tire and the road. Some guys like to lean their bikes over really far on public roadways. They have a trust in the roadway, and traffic, and conditions, that can best be described as 'optimistic', but is more often described as 'fatal'.

If you ride by the book, in every corner you leave a margin for error so that in the event of some unforeseen circumstance (a car in the road, gravel in the road, a dead coyote in the road - which happened to me last week, water on the road, whatever) you can either stop, adjust your line and go around it, or both. In the canyons the penalties for unexpected loss of traction are severe. So I go relatively slow, and I have some pretty sweet chicken strips to show for it. Truth is it's definitely possible to ride the canyons near my house safely and still go faster than me, since I only ride a speed at which I am comfortable. And that's not very speedy.

On the racetrack you can be confident about the road surface, and the line, and traffic, and traction, so you don't have any excuse and can fully commit to the turn. I hope to take my bike to the track in the next couple months and put some proper wear all the way out to the edge of the tires.

Not sure how to work it into conversation, since 'chicken strips' has a negative connotation and you don't want to insult anyone. Plus it comes up infrequently even if you like talking about bikes (and I spend a LOT of time talking about bikes), unless you're at the track. :)

Past my bedtime.
Thanks for reading.

I (heart) animals!


03 November 2010


I survived another layoff, still have a job.
Indulge me for a moment while I take a break from the dick jokes and do some navel-gazing. If you're over it, come back tomorrow, and it'll be business as usual. Promise. 
It's been an interesting month over here in me-ville. The company I worked for got 'acquired' by another company, so I had to wait out another round of layoffs (they cut 25% of the old company yesterday). It was the fifth round of cuts in 2 years. Also, there were some other personal disappointments I had to deal with at the same time.

These hiccups encouraged (forced?) me to examine how I felt about my job-career, my personal life, future happiness, and all sorts of other shit I don't pay much attention to when I'm busy practicing yoga / working / reading books / playing guitar / traveling to amazing places / working out / riding motorcycles / dominating / generally being awesome and doing awesomely. But sometimes things don't go your way, and instead of waking up every day noticing how good your life is, you wake up and wonder what the hell just happened. This is not my preferred Default Setting for navigating the day.

So where are we now? I don't think that all my life lessons need to be reproduced in this space, but the short version is that I appreciate my life more than I ever have. It's good to be me, though not because I'm anything special. Instead, it's good to be me because my friends and family are amazing. (If you're reading this, you're probably one of them.)

Have a good day today.
Thanks for reading.

01 November 2010

Total domination: Daft Punk costume in action

Halloween 2010 was about what you'd expect: sloppy drunk with a side of shenanigans. I don't mean me - I had several drinks and there are some photos of me on fbook that I only vaguely remember posing for, but I was far from the most drunk person at the party. Yeah I was working the dance floor but I'm pretty sure everyone else out there was as drunk as I was so whatever. 

Costume of excellence goes to my roommate, who dominated from start to finish.

This is him pre-partying with a martini, and also spending a few moments in repose before he made magic happen at the club.The club shots are poorly lit, but I'll see what I can do.

29 October 2010

Back to back Daft Punk

Sneak preview of the Roommate's Daft Punk costume for Halloween. Total domination.

The picture of Rodin's Thinker is a wall hanging I bought from Room & Board. The actual sculpture was too large to fit in the house. And also too expensive.

Party pics to follow.

oh hell yes

Daft Punk brings the noize.
Might have to get the soundtrack before I see the movie.

The brunette in black is Olivia Wilde, who is so pretty it makes my eyes hurt. Were there any other people in the video besides Ms. Wilde and Daft Punk? Not that I noticed. 

28 October 2010

Cats = win

Got a haircut today. Just in time for Halloween. It doesn't really add or detract to my guy-in-green-velour-shorts outfit, but now my hair is shorter. And I'm 85% more dashing. Helloooooooo, ladies...

In unrelated news, this graphic with the cat made me laugh. I got it off the internet, so thanks to the theoatmeal.com for allowing me to pilfer it. I liked this, too.

And if you want to know how many Bieb-dawgs you could take in a fight, go here.

Me: 24 Biebers. Could have done better but refused to make protective armor from pieces of dead Biebers.

The people have spoken, part II, re: Pawn Stars

Longtime reader Big Cheese says:

I too just discovered pawn stars and came up with the very same analogy...its like antiques rodeshow with attitude. Its not as dumb as one would think. However, after watching every available episode on demand, I now have mixed feelings. Everyone who sells shit on the show gets taken to the cleaners. I guess your an idiot if you try to sell something at a pawn shop in the first place, but the smugness of rick, who is clearly knowledgeable, rubs me the wrong way. Its hard to watch a show and pull for a guy who takes advantage of people, kinda, even if its only cuz he's a savvy business man. Interesting show nevertheless.

Oh and I like chumlee btw.
Well allow me to retort:

To put it bluntly: you can't rape the willing. It's a shame the people need the money more than they need whatever it is they're selling, but they are not coerced into selling. Nothing prevents them from going somewhere else. Or not selling. So I don't agree that the guy is 'taking advantage' of people, at least not as far as they show us in the program. If anything, it's the fault of the seller for not doing some research before they show up. And also their fault for not walking away from the transaction.

I also enjoy watching Rick drop knowledge. I also enjoy them asking, "pawn it or sell it". It's one of my new favorite expressions.

Maybe I'm smug because I love watching Rick tell people how much their stuff is worth? Seller: "I hope to get $3000." Rick offers $250, buys for $300. And then I laugh.

Reader Shannon (not my sociopathic sister) likes the show, and also to say the words 'Pawn Stars' because her "life is boring and it makes [her] feel a little dirty", which is funny. And reminds me of how my friend Boston Jeff liked to use a similar expression, pronounced 'pahn stah', in re: his, ahh, anatomy, and a girls indelicate handling thereof. Coincidentally, Boston Jeff's comments also made me feel a little dirty. Synergy.

Thanks for reading.

27 October 2010

Westside Batman

It was this or batman with deer.
The westside hand was the difference maker.

Post fail - Update

Tried to post via mail and it didn't work. 

So here it is again:

This happened.
If it doesn't make sense to you, go here.

26 October 2010

Truth in cookies

This is is pretty much how I decide if I should eat a cookie.
I love dessert.

Out of Town, watching TV in a hotel room

Out of town this week so I ended up watching some (mostly) bad television in the hotel room. That's why I don't have a TV in my room at home. Anyway, fun programs to watch on the History channel: Pawn Stars, which is like Antiques Roadshow with some harsh lessons about economics mixed in. And also American Pickers, which is a couple guys in the midwest trolling around and trying to find items they can flip for a small profit.

Pawn Stars is awesome in that the guys are smart, do a brisk business, and don't mind giving people a hard lesson in economics (and negotiating) when they bring in stuff to sell. The lesson is that your stuff is worth only what someone else will pay for it, which usually isn't much, and it is ALWAYS less than what YOU paid for it. They also employ the dumbest guy I've ever seen on television: Chumlee. Check local listings or set your DVR so you don't have to sit through the interminable commercial breaks.

American Pickers is two guys traveling around trying to flip antiques they dig up. The show was originally recommended to me by Jeff, and I was skeptical, not least because I'm never home and hardly ever watch TV. Long weeks traveling on business fixed that, so I'm caught up on my TV watching. Pickers is entertaining because they are not wealthy, just carving out a living doing something they love. And although they mostly sort through junk and trash, they do have a passion for old stuff and an infectious enthusiasm.

If you don't feel like learning about antiques and pawn-shop desperation, you can always head back over to discovery channel and enjoy more episodes of idiots yelling about overpriced, slow, hilariously unrideable penis-extensions. Or not.

22 October 2010

21 October 2010

The people have spoken!

Reader Shannon (not my similarly monikered sociopathic sister - some other Shannon) commented on the Mondrian Cake post, which is near and dear to my heart because I have liked Mondrian's art for a very long time, and I love cake like it's my job.

Take it away Shannon:

I've never cared for Mondrian because I always thought it looked like he made a career out of repackaging the same painting over and over again. Then again, I love Fornasetti who is pretty much the godfather of the one hit wonder.

So, I'm fickle.

I have no idea who Fornasetti is so I had to look it up.
Yikes! I don't see the appeal there, but to each their own.

Yes Mondrian tended to do the same thing over and over again. Most artists do, but Mondrian is more obviously repetitive because people recognize the pattern. Rapahel never got tired of painting his sluts groupies girlfriends as madonnas, for example. But that's apples to oranges. Maybe a better comparison is Pollock? Both adopted a style and then worked within it, trying to execute their vision. Either you like it or you wonder why anyone would hang it on the wall, never mind pay for it. 

Probably I like the Mondrian because it soothes my OCD. A place for everything, and everything in its place. It must be said that the works tend to show better in person; I've never seen a Mondrian and liked it less than I thought I would, even though they all "look" the same. Except when they don't. a ha.

20 October 2010

Photo op: Seville

Seville, walkway
Been editing and re-editing my posts lately. Takes me a couple tries to get the words in order. If I edited my papers this much in college I might have gotten decent grades (proofreading is for chumps; I got by on genius alone).

Full size versions on flickr.

Took this in Seville. If you click through the image has a caption that explains why I enjoy this picture, but if you're not in the mood, here's a summary:

It's got some people for scale, and organic and inorganic elements mixed together. The architecture gives it a unique feel. It looks very Seville to me.

Walkway is wet because it had rained overnight, washing away some of the grit. (Seville can be a hot, dry, dusty place.)

Seville was a great place to take pictures. The architecture is beautiful, and the weather was either cloudy, with patches of sunlight, or bright sun. Cloudy weather makes things easier to shoot with my shit camera because the light is diffuse. Sunny weather makes the colors pop more. Either way it's hard to take a bad picture in that town. Like this wall, for example. It's a Gothic wall against a sharp blue sky, but it still looks cool. At least to me.

18 October 2010

Motorcycles: putting some life in your years

sean on the bike
Spent Sunday visiting with my friend Sean, teaching him how to ride his motorcycle. Photo is him sitting on it and getting ready to start learning how to ride. I had to sneak a shot from this angle because I know he was nervous and I didn't want him focused on me taking pictures; I wanted him focused on not dropping his bike.

We started from the beginning - he didn't have much experience on a bike before we took it to the parking lot. And by 'much' I mean 'any'. But that's okay - everyone starts from the beginning, and he had a good attitude about it.

Riding a motorcycle is not easy, but it's easier than you think.

Once he got used to the idea that he could do it (an important step in the process) he was doing circles in the lot without issue. Which is funny, because I didn't tell him how to turn the bike. I just said, 'make the turn' and pointed him the direction I wanted him to go. Moderate-speed turns on a bike are one of the easiest things about riding. Technically you use countersteer to turn (you push the handlebar in the direction you want to turn, so push left, go left; push right, go right), but by the time you get done explaining it people have a glazed look in their eye and they're worse off because they start thinking about it, tense up. Tense is bad, and Sean had enough to fret over with the shifting and braking and clutch and gas.

He did superbly, and he's got his permit, so he's going to practice in his suburban neighborhood for a while until he takes the MSF safety course and gets his full license. But now he can practice on his own. Awesome.

15 October 2010

Hee fee

This from ze Smith.
What did I like best? Was it the soundtrack?* The graphics? The haircut? The unbridled awesome? No. It was they way he said "hee fee" every time 'HiFi' came on screen. Ahh, I laughed. If he had said something about "1969 being a very momentous year" I would have fallen out of my chair.

*In the time it took me to type this, the soundtrack skipped from Ghostbusters theme, to Pirates of Caribbean theme, to Indiana Jones theme.

Speaking of soundtracks, also this. I didn't much care for the video, though.

Let's take a picture

Posted the last of the pictures from my recent trip to Foreign Lands to flickr. Still planning on highlighting some of my favorites in this space. Pretty soon. Eventually.

For the record, this is the second to last picture I took on the trip. And the only extant photo of me and ze Newbs from the whole deal. Had to use the camera timer to get it. I know what time it is. (No, really, I'm wearing a watch.) Shirts optional. Killed the image at request of ze Newbs.

True Story: Had to call a guy from work and ask him a question. I kick out the jamz in the office, because I have a door (which I generally leave open, but whatever). I turn the jamz down when I get someone on the phone because the headset mic is sensitive and I don't want to bring the noize too hard. I'm a professional, after all. Just as I get on the phone the computer has a seizure so all of a sudden volume control is not available. Co-worker inquires "are you having a rave?" Me: "nah. it's dance party USA up in here, all day. TGIF motherf*cker!"

I'm management material for sure.

14 October 2010

Watch this!

Because I think you should watch it, and also because it's a clock. Get it? har har har

The 600 Years from the macula on Vimeo.

Art you can eat: Mondrian cake

Some people like Piet Mondrian's artwork, some don't. I'm a fan.

In related news, I hope the next time I'm at SFMOMA I can get a slice of this cake. Because it's artistic. And I love dessert. A lot.

13 October 2010

Happiness explained (evolutionarily speaking)

I thought I had posted this from ze newbs, but when I tried to find it, I couldn't. So here you go.

Short version: Your brain will change your view about the world so that you feel better about the world that you live in. And you won't even notice.  :)

Presenter is Dan Gilbert.

12 October 2010

"Beer Guy" costume: delivered

The Liederhosen / Beer Guy / Shorts with Suspenders and Matching Socks costume arrived in the mail. It's early doors, but:
  • It reeks of diesel exhaust, sweatshop, and child labor. I'm concerned it won't survive a wash; I'll have to hand wash and air dry. 
  • The socks are my favorite part. 
  • Green velour is very slimming.
  • The hat doesn't even kind of fit.
  • Tried the shirt on in the office, and it's a wee bit small. And by that I mean it's skin tight. Friends of the blog will remember that I'm not above wearing slim-fit shirts in general, so I'm going to keep it as is, since if the 70's taught us anything, it's that a tight polyester shirt > a loose polyester shirt. Or something.

11 October 2010

Craig Ferguson wins again

Cold open from his show, featuring a flock of seagulls lip sync and the guys from Mythbusters.
And puppets.
And total domination.

The monster your monster could smell like

If loving this is wrong I don't want to be right.

A spoof of this excellence.

Note: 'I'm on a cow' just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Did they get him off the waiver wire?

Following the game from the web while I finish up at work. No idea who Fontenot is. Presumably he plays for the Giants, because I'm pretty sure the Cubs didn't make the playoffs. I know it's hard to keep track of all this stuff, but I'd imagine they would go through and audit all their player photos for the playoffs. Or not. Not's good.

Keeping busy: Stand up paddleboarding in Newport Harbor

Yesterday I wasn't busy so I followed up my advanced yoga class with a pleasant afternoon paddling around Newport Harbor on a stand up paddleboard. Conditions were really good and I was not terrible, so it ended up being really fun. Here's the summary of what I learned:
  • The board is more stable when you're moving. If you get stuck standing (literally) in one place, such as if you have to wait for the ferry, you are more likely to fall in. I didn't, but it was a near thing.  
  • Paddleboarding is waaaay more fun than going in circles in a Duffy. And better exercise. I'd argue it's better than a kayak, too. Much better view, 6 feet off the water.
  • If you get stuck waiting for the ferry, tourists will take your picture. They do it to everyone, because when I told the guy at the rental shop that I had to stand and wait for the ferry boats, he laughed and asked me, 'did they take your picture?' And indeed they did do. I almost waved, but I didn't want to go tumbling into the water in the middle of the channel. Not because I couldn't get back on the board, but because the water in the channel is nasty. 
  • Paddling downwind is easy. Paddling upwind, less so. 
  • Eat a powerbar and drink some water before you get started.
  • Sunglasses are optional but recommended. Sunscreen is required. 
  • It's hard to throw a friendly wave at passing boats when you're one careless gesture away from a dunking. So I made do with my paddle as best I could. 
Next time there's no waves and warm(ish) weather I'll try it at Doheny, which is supposed to be super fun. At least the water there won't give me hepatitis when I fall in.
See you there.