28 January 2011

The art of making me cry in public places

Baby girl is a race car driver at heart
Finished The Art of Racing in the Rain this week. I had to travel and forgot my current read so I picked up TAoRitR in the airport and ended up reading the entire novel either waiting for, or sitting in, an airplane. This was problematic, because the story was prone to making me emotional. And by 'emotional' I mean 'cry'.

I loved this book.

It took me a while to get to it because it is being marketed as a dog story. (They tend to sell a lot better than racing stories.) But it has something for everyone: a dog, a love story, heartbreak, perseverance, and racing. The parts where the author describes racing are very authentic: he talks about real tracks, real drivers and real cars in such a way that he is either a racing enthusiast or he consulted one (or several) when he was working on the book.

Perhaps not coincidentally, I love dogs, and I love racing, and I love a good story. So this was right in my wheelhouse.

There are some who suggest that the theme and language in the book are too cheesy, too unsophisticated. To which I say: tosh!  Read it and enjoy it for what it is: a good story, well told. I think the style of the book suits the language and theme, but that's me.

26 January 2011

The internet delivers, part X

Long-time readers will remember that one of my favorite web-authors/bloggers is named Matt Ufford. He and I are totally on a first name basis and if we got to meet and hang out I would buy him beers and steal his jokes and that would be cool because we're buddies like that. Right? No? Oh.

Matt used to write the sports blog 'with leather', back when it was funny. He left to write a blog about television, which is too bad, because television is stupid. He was never as funny after that, largely because I think he liked watching and blogging about sports better. I don't know, but you don't care. Anyway, he's funny as hell, and I've been 'borrowing' his jokes for years. He also unapologetically loves cat videos. And dogs. So he blogged about the puppy bowl lineup, and it brought some l0lz to my face.

For example:

Meh, Yorkie mix (pictured above). The only way I'd ever like a Yorkie is if I could cram it into an M203 grenade launcher and fire it into a crowd of hippies. Grade: two Corgi puppies.

He goes on in this vein at some length, and it is rad. See it for yourself here: http://warmingglow.uproxx.com/2011/01/corgi-snub-in-depth-analysis-of-the-puppy-bowl-lineup#page/1

1,024 posts; statins won't help but they might hurt; always pay your developers

Non-sequitur Motorcycle Photo
I am not much for anniversaries or milestones. I think they're pointless and arbitrary; celebrate every day and you don't have to make an effort every 365th day, or 10th year, or whatever. Also, we only celebrate the 5th and 10th of anything because we have 10 fingers, and that's silly. What's wrong with the 9th and 11th? Are they any less special? I'm saying no.

Still: 1,024 blog posts in the webspace. This thing might have legs. I'm adding about 1 reader per year, losing about one reader every other year. By the year 2312 I could 'monetize' this bitch and earn enough to maybe buy a cup of coffee. That is, if coffee didn't taste awful, make me jittery, upset my stomach, stain my teeth, and make me have to pee every 7 minutes.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I've got some posts that aren't motorcycle related, and also some posts that are, and some posts that aren't but will feature motorcycles in the photo, because all these words are tiresome. This is the latter type.

I found this article interesting: http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2011/01/20/bad-news-for-statins-is-good-news/
The author has some comically wrong views about nutrition (fat, not so bad; sugar, very bad; I'll have mine with a side of idiocy) but his assessment of the value of taking medication that MIGHT help prevent you from having a medical problem, but MIGHT also cause other medical problems, is very interesting.

In other news, always pay your web developer. Otherwise he might take your site offline, as here: http://utilitybidder.co.uk/

The funny thing about it is he embedded a message for future developers, which I reproduce here, in the event the site ever gets their act together and pays their bills:

You may wonder why this site is offline, if you are reading the source then you are most probably a web developer that has been paid to change this. I put this here as the company in question broke our contract and left payments outstanding, as a last resort I put their site offline, what else could I do. Make sure you are paid up front, even if you have a contract, they aint worth shit.

23 January 2011

Why doesn't this have 3 million views?

For some inexplicable reason this only has about 60k views on the tube o' you. That bipolar dimwit with the rainbows has 24 million. Double-you tee eff, people.

These girls kick ass.
Have you tried jumping rope lately? Probably not, because it's effing hard.

21 January 2011

37 is a prime number

Kept the headphones; retired the eurotrash haircut
One month (less one day) away from my 37th birthday. I start telling people I'm 'almost 37' a couple months before my actual birthday in an effort to make the transition easier.

It doesn't work.

Ze Newbs surprised me with this picture of yours truly staring out the window at the Andalusian countryside. I recall that I listened to Sigh No More the whole way. It's got to be one of the best staring-out-the-window-on-a-train-from-Seville-to-Madrid albums I've ever heard.

Not coincidentally, it was one of my favorite records of the year, eclipsed only by Girl Talk and Vampire Weekend. The VW record won out over Mumford & Sons because I thought it was better top to bottom.

But still:
Love it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
There is a design, an alignment, a cry
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be

20 January 2011

This from the internets: Daft Punk 'typographic portrait'

This from ze interweb.
That's a typographic portrait of Daft Punk, which I put here mostly because the Coachella lineup was announced and they aren't on it. SAD FACES.

But also because it's cool. And because the creator was kind enough to put the full size versions on the web for free:


I keep getting requests for a print so here. It is a uncompressed CMYK TIFF @ 300DPI 11"x14" (~23MB): [link]

Here's the JPEG RBG version in case CMYK isnt working for you (JPEG @ 300DPI 11" x 14" 7MB): [link]

That's how you deliver the awesome. Well played, *fleuraime. Well played.

19 January 2011

Why would you do that?

I love you THIS much
Between the camping and the impressively overequippped OC Lutheran high-school group (e.g.: 9 enormous vehicles for 33 people, not including trailers) singing Taylor Swift songs adjacent to my tent, I didn't get a whole lot of restful sleep over the weekend. Gave me plenty of time to ponder my daily gratitudes, and also evaluate my motivations for going on the build trip.

When people hear that I'm going to Mexico to build a house they often say, "Oh, that's so awesome/great/inspiring that you're doing that." Which always feels a bit odd to me, because I do not feel awesome, great, or inspired when I participate. Mostly what I feel is tired, filthy, and crabby. 

On reflection, I go on the trip because I enjoy spending time with my friends. I am glad to have a lasting positive impact on a persons life, and glad that my friend and his family make it relatively easy. The trip brings out the best in people: everyone contributes, they cooperate, they mostly don't complain, and they make the best of whatever happens. As a shared experience it's hard to beat. But without my awesome/great/inspiring friend Blair leading from the front I wouldn't do it.

18 January 2011

Work got done

Rehydrating while the ladies get work done
Built a house in Tijuana this weekend with my friend that works for Amor Ministries. Amor specializes in building homes for needy families in impoverished areas, mostly in Mexico, but I checked their website and I guess they do work in other places too. I've only ever built a house in TJ.

We had a small group this year, but there were still enough people that the whole thing would have gotten done even if I weren't there. I know this because I've been on trips where the work wouldn't have gotten finished if I weren't there and it was miserable. This year was probably the easiest build I've ever done: super nice people on the crew, perfect weather, the arrangement of the house meant we had less work to do than on a typical build (one wall abutted an existing structure, so we didn't have to stucco it), and we had a work area in which to stage/build the pieces of the house. Special bonus: The smoldering piles of trash tended to cover up the smell of the feces. It's the little things.

Poop was a common theme on this (and other) trips. The banos onsite are an adventure (see below, re: Bruce), and the port a potties in the campsite, while adequate, are not anyone's idea of luxurious. So when and where you might have to "do the big one" is a subject of much speculation. Put simply: America > camp > local bano > roadside. Girls have it tougher, no doubt about that.

Some highlights:
- Bruce ALMOST falling into a cesspit. You really shouldn't stand on anything that's been in Mexico for more than one season, but you especially shouldn't stand on old plywood that borders the hole dug out for the crapper. No harm done, and Bruce got only a scare. Had he fallen in it would have been a very eventful day.

- My butter-soft hands blistering through my gloves. I'm such a sissy.

- Visiting with my friends, who make me laugh, and show me how to be a better person. This theme was important to me, so I'll cover it in a separate post.

- Finishing each day in time to take a rinse/shower when we got back to camp. It makes a difference.

- The patriarch / trip-sponsor handing me a piece of 2x4 and quietly asserting "If you call me Mr. Illingworth one more time I'm going to stick this up your ass. It's JDI to you." (He was kidding. Sort of.) The best part is it was two jokes in one, because while Mr. Illingworth was too formal, I still didn't get the more informal "Dave". I alternated back and forth between Mr. Illingworth and JDI from then on, depending on mood.

- Blair's campfire story about a particularly challenging dump he took at the Amor offices. It was so strenuous that he began to sweat profusely, and was forced to remove his shirt during the act. I laughed. 

- Improving the quality of life of the family for whom we built the house.

More pictures as they become available. Mine aren't very good so I'm waiting for the other shutterbugs to post theirs. 

aaaaaaand... we're back!

Big news is that the housebuild is complete. More on that in a bit, but first this design update from Aaron Draplin. Make sure you connect that 20 to the 11 properly. Otherwise it's ugly. Don't do that to people.

15 January 2011

Handmade denim jeans from Roy Stapler

Roy's Jeans - Video by Self Edge from Self Edge on Vimeo.

Adam Smith (economist) famously posited that a person, working alone, could make some small number of pins in a single day. If you had an individual person working on each step, they could make quite a lot more. Upwards of 4800 times more, depending on how you crunch his made-up numbers.

This guy is that one person, making one pair of jeans at a time, because that's what he likes to do. (Yes he cuts the fabric en masse - but still.) You can buy a pair yourself for $275, which is a princely sum for a pair of jeans, but competitively priced for premium denim. And, made by hand. One at a time. As long as you don't outgrow them, it's likely that you could wear them for a decade or more. It's possible that you can get that kind of wear out of a pair of Levi's, but not likely. Maybe an old pair. The new pairs are cheap shit and wear out just as fast as anything else.

Plenty of people spend $275 or more on a pair of jeans and don't think twice about it. I'm not saying that's good or bad; instead I'm suggesting that if you do, you should consider buying them from Roy, because he cares more about your jeans than you ever will.

14 January 2011

Mistakes were made

Thought I'd save a few bucks and buy the cheapo store brand granola bars. They make for a nice snack when I'm sitting at the desk, solving problems. Usually the Quaker brand is on some kind of (so-so) discount, so you're not paying the full rate. The full rate is $4 a box, which was a good bit more than the $2.50 that these 'albertson' branded jobbies were going for.

Note that Albertson's logo didn't make it onto the actual bar; they package these little sawdust bricks in any old box and voila!

Point is, these bargain bars were complete shit. It's one thing to skip buying the spendy ones. Quite another to spend money on garbage. I'm going to put the second box out in the work common area for the vultures office team. They'll eat anything.

Big weekend: build a house for a needy family in TJ. Something to do, anyway. I'll try and take pictures but they'll look pretty much the same as last time (see profile photo for example). That's because I wear the clothes to TJ, wash them when I get home, and then put them aside until I go back to TJ and need to wear them again. Could wear them for dirty jobs and projects, but I avoid those assiduously, so no need. You care.

13 January 2011

Give Mark Twain the benefit of the doubt - leave his words alone

Someone thought it would be a good idea to change some of the offensive words in a new edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawywer and Huckleberry Finn. Specifically, they changed the word "injun" to "Indian" (close enough but still wrong) and, more significantly, the word "nigger" to "slave".

The n-word appears 219 times in the book.

Auburn University English professor Alan Gribben is the editor of the 'updated' text.

I have no doubt that Gribben has his reasons for creating this new edition. I also have no doubt that he is a joke of an English teacher, and anyone that buys his book should be ashamed of themselves.
Two days to the build in TJ. The bad news is that my roommate decided to check his passport yesterday and it was expired. The good news is that it shouldn't be an issue, says people that know about this kind of thing.

When we're finished the place should look similar to Sagrada Familia cathedral (pictured). Or as similar as we can make it in 2.5 days of hard work. So, not similar at all then. But still nice.

12 January 2011

REPOST: dancers, dancing (sort of)

I like that he took his coat and tie off to eat his snack
Loved this series of pictures from Jordan Matter Photography.

This one was also a particular favorite.

There are few things more captivating than watching a difficult thing made to look easy. This photo series is a lot of that, with the added bonus that the people tend to be very good looking. It's like gravy on your potatoes!

Image copyright Jordan Matter Photography.

sooooo.... that happened

Roommate loves cheese dip, and also bean dip
My roommate is a source of great inspiration to me. He's also the source of some superb anecdotes. Sometimes these two things are combined. This is not one of those times.

I summarized his most recent effort in a text message for my friend Skott. I could go into it in more detail but Skott says that the text covers all the important bits. He it is:

"Roommate tried to pick up the dogs massive dump but was too gross & he threw up. in the koi pond. FML"

Sooo... yeah. That happened. Fish are fine, if you're wondering. A koi is just a brightly colored carp, and carp eat pretty much anything.

11 January 2011

It's good to have goals (again)

Full list of the top 10 'goals of the year' as selected by FIFA.

FIFA are generally a bunch of clowns (Qatar? seriously?) but they had my second favorite goal on the list.

My favorite is embedded below. You have probably seen it already, but you might like to watch it again. I know I did.

Scorpion kick? Diving back-heel? No idea.

Let's imagine for a moment that you're already up 2-0 against one of the big clubs in your elite league. Let's also imagine that you scored those two goals, so you're on a hat trick. What do you do when a player serves you a brilliant cross as you race towards goal?

1. Casually slot it home. (ho hum)
2. Score on a diving header. (yawn)
3. Dive under the ball and kick it in with your back heel / leg. Enh, I guess that'll work. 

Lost in this is the excellence of the two passes that lead to the goal. The two touches before the goal make this possible, and they were superb.

10 January 2011

Get on the bike and ride; TJ housebuild

Above the clouds
Got a chance to get back on the bike this weekend. Finally.

Took it pretty easy on the run over Ortega. There was a lot of dirt in the road in spots, plus some standing water, new potholes (and gravel), and similar hazards. Overall it was a good riding day, if a bit cold. I was all bundled up but my Ducati-riding friend was really suffering. He was dressed for warm weather and the air was blowing right through his suit. I expect he'll wear an insulating, windproof layer under his suit next time.The funny thing about ventilated suits is that they aren't ventilated well enough to cool you when it's hot, but they do move plenty of air when it's cold and you want to be warm.

It was a fun day to take a picture, since the cloud layer on the east side of the hills started about 100 yards below the lookout point. I think my cellphone camera captured it really well. (hmm... maybe not)

My friend got a new camera and took some video, which  you can view here

Can't ride this weekend because it's the annual build-a-house-for-needy-family weekend in TJ. I skipped last year but I'm planning on being there this time. The work isn't very hard but you're in TJ and don't get to take a shower for 3 days and that's a drag. I don't mind the work, or camping, or getting up early, or the port-a-potty crappers, or the weather. No, I don't really mind any of that. What I hate is not being able to take a shower. On the other hand after only 3 days I get to go home and take all the showers I want. So there's that.

07 January 2011

Not just better than you think, but better than you can imagine thinking

Hard-core NHL junkies tend not to like using penalty shots to decide games. I think it's okay in the regular season, because it adds some much-needed excitement to the end of a game, it gives you a chance to see players do things they wouldn't otherwise be in a position to do. Or you get to see them do something they SHOULD be doing, but maybe the game isn't coming to them at the NHL level.

For example, take Benoit Pouliot. That's him in the video, calmly finishing a penalty shot with sublime skating and puck handling. (Classic hockey: all you get in celebration is a short little hop as he skates his way back to the bench.) Guy was the fourth overall pick in the draft, but so far this season he's 144th in goals, 206th in assists, 183rd in points (!!) and 232nd in plus/minus (!!11!!). In other words, he's not producing like you'd expect the fourth overall pick to produce. In more other words, he's a bust, and you might wonder why he's even in the league. But you don't see him practice, don't know what he's like in the locker room, and, if you hadn't noticed, he's got skills to spare.

If you see this kind of skill from someone who can barely stuff the puck into the net, how good are the players that do it on a regular basis? Crazy good.

06 January 2011

Get ready for some righteous indignation

Roommate celebrating xmas on the lake; ice keeps the beers cold, camo is slimming
I don't like baseball. It's boring, the games take too long, and it's boring. The Fox telecasts are unwatchably bad. They introduced the now en vogue quick-cut style, where they cut from crowd, to pitcher, to manager, to pitcher, to crowd, to batter, to crowd, to batter all in about 15 or 20 seconds, in between pitches. They do this to give you the illusion that something is happening. There are two things wrong with this: 1. Nothing is happening, and 2. The important part of what is happening is happening on the field, with the players, and they rarely show that. (I hate crowd shots.)

So, baseball is not my thing. Whatever. I don't hate it, and I'll turn the game on if Vin Scully is announcing or if the Giants are featured or similar. Whatever.

What I HATE about baseball is the judgy, sanctimonious nonsense surrounding the baseball hall of fame. Hate it. With a fervent passion. The character clause invites sportswriters (bitter because they're ugly and the pay sucks) to sit in judgment on players for more than their performance. It's bad enough that every sportswriter would sell his soul to be a major league ballplayer, and spends their entire career at their mercy. This is not the type of atmosphere that fosters good subjective judgment. So you get words thrown around like 'impact' and 'feeling' and etc.

There was a minor victory for rational argument over 'gut feeling' this year with the election of Bert Blyleven. The case against him was mostly based on the idea that Blyleven didn't 'feel' like a hall of famer (more on that in a moment). The case for him was based more on other stuff, like numbers and objective metrics and math and comparables and other shit that attempt to reduce or eliminate the 'gut feeling'.

Jon Heyman, never one to miss an opportunity to broadcast his idiocy, weighs in with an entire article on the subject. Heyman's main reason for not voting for Blyleven is that he doesn't 'feel' very good. Then he cites a bunch of stuff about how no one thought he was very good at the time, like Cy Young awards and All-star balloting. In essence, he says, "We didn't think he was great then, so he's not great now. Numbers? Piffle!" The good news is that a great percentage of the voters actually changed their minds about Blyleven after reconsidering his career. So, a small victory for open mindedness.

I was all set to break down Heyman's post but I don't have time and no one would read it. Joe Posnanski addressed it, which you can read here: http://joeposnanski.si.com/2010/12/30/hall-of-fame-the-eight-definites/.

Apparently Blyleven was a bit of a touchstone, because it set off a wave of commentary from other clowns about how the hall should be reserved for only the 'great' players. Blyleven's greatness apparently doesn't rate with people like Bob Costas, whose primary qualification seems to be a willingness to gargle the balls of worshiping Mickey Mantle. Posnanski writes about that, too, and I'll leave it to him because presumably he gets paid to write 5000 word blog posts. I know I don't.

04 January 2011

Backlog: photos

That thing to the left of my ear is actually a verrry tiny person.
Was tidying up and found this photo. It was tucked into a folder from Del Mar raceday last year and I had forgotten about it. I liked it so much I cropped it to make it my Google contact picture, but I'm posting the full size here.

I can't remember if I posted it before, but you don't care. I've got a few more to share, some old, some new. Get excited. Funneling them through Picasa now; Flickr is a pain in the ass, and Picasa has more free space.

Get your listen on; also, I put the 'tard' in custard pie

Been a busy couple days now that I'm back at work. Work / gym / read / pass out. Repeat.

On the wagon until February. I don't drink that much anyway, so it's not a huge challenge. 

I made a custard pie over the weekend and it was retarded (hence putting the 'tard in custard pie - get it? honk!). I took a picture but a bad picture of an ugly dessert isn't acceptable blog material. I decided.

Last time I made a custard pie the crust didn't turn out, but at least it looked okay (it stuck to the bottom of the pan). This time I didn't have the sticking issue, I had a debacle. The custard part was delicious but the crust leaked and buckled and the custard got all underneath and around it and that was all she wrote. Rumor is my mom is sending me a recipe for a better crust which, when combined with an improved technique, will prevent this type of issue in the future. We'll see. That process involves pie weights and cutting in cold butter and all sorts of shit. It's tough for me to build my own crust because I'm living in reduced circumstances and my cooking equipment is in boxes in the garage. Anyway, I already read through two cookbooks worth of pie crust explanation, so I know where I went awry. Upside: I don't really care about the crust anyway; it's the custard I crave. And it was divine.

In related news. I like to listen to music when I cook. Usually dance mixes, but occasionally something more moody. Depends. Anyway, latest jamz come courtesy Big Cheese, and they are awesome. And free. Guy is called Girl Talk, and the record is called All Day. Get it for your own, and rock the party: http://www.illegal-art.net/allday/.  

I recommend downloading the MP3s as separated tracks to simplify navigation. It's intended to be heard in order, but (just as an example) if you have an ipod and turn it off, then back on, you get reset to the beginning of the most recent song. That's a bust if you're 30 minutes into a 70 minute piece, so: separated tracks, people. Ya hearrrrd me!

Unzip them to wherever you keep music for itunes and then Add to library. And get your dance on.

Drop Knowledge: Douglas Adams

An hour is a long time. Or it's no time at all. Time is funny that way.

If you've got an hour, enjoy this from Douglas Adams, speaking at my alma mater. It looks a lot like my college experience, with fewer beers. It's not that my grades were bad, it's that they were so good given how infrequently I paid attention.

By the bye, the answer is 42.

If you'd rather read than watch, go here: http://navarroj.com/parrots/

03 January 2011

Get on your bike and ride

Courtesy HFL and BMWs marketing group, here's a very good example of why BMW adventure bikes have a (deserved) reputation for being worth the money. The rider pictured (Tiffany Coates) is doing riding that is so different from the type of riding I do that they can hardly be called the same thing (hers is much, much more challenging), but it is still a fun example of why riding a motorcycle is awesome.

It needs to stop raining if I'm going to do this again

Gearing up for the big housebuilding trip to TJ in a couple weeks. By that I mean I am making sure my hiking boots are in good working order, because I don't want to get any TJ on my feet.

This is what motorcycles look like when it's not raining here in the OC. A rare sight, lately.

01 January 2011

One / One / Eleven

Had an okay New Year's. It was tough to motivate for it because NYE is kinda lame if you don't have a date. Plus I had already had one big booze up during the week. (I'm on vacation, if you hadn't heard.) So I called it a night fairly early and made sure I got a workout in today. You care.

Highlight of the night was my friend's sister showing up with an enormous 'purse'. She was carrying this thing around like it was a handbag but it was really more like an overnight bag she brought to the club. So I said to my friend: "I don't think your sister's luggage is going to fit in the overhead compartment." And then we all laughed. Except for her. What?

This blog needs more pictures. Who's in charge of that? Me? Oh. I'll dig something out of the archives for next week. Get excited! I should have gotten a photo of that girls carry on. It was awesome.