29 September 2011

Italy + Vespas + Racing + Dreamboat = win

When I was in Italy last month with The Girl we looked at renting a scooter and touring around Florence and environs. Opted not to because it was crazy expensive and I told her I'd take her for a ride up PCH on my own (nicer) motorcycle and if she didn't live in Newport she would think it was totally rad 2 the max instead of hot and alternating between boring/scary. I don't regret not renting the scooter but when I go back to Italy I will plan ahead and do it. Because Italy does scooters (and motorcycles) right.

Here's video evidence of a Vespa race in Torino where they do a lap on the top of the old Fiat manufacturing building. So awesome. The ladies might want to stick around until skip to the 1:28 mark to see some ridiculously handsome Italian guy say something about riding Vespas in chic italian clothes and effortlessly stealing your girlfriend. Ciao, bella! Actually I'm not sure what he says because it's in Italian but I'm probably pretty close.
Thanks to HFL for the video, and Red Bull for sponsoring the event.

27 September 2011

Readling lists, and technical difficulties

Gigantic flow chart is gigantic
Had to do some stuff with that other thing so it's been hard to find the time to blog. I did build a new desk for the home office, so that's something. If I didn't have to take it mostly apart and rebuild it to make it more comfortable to work at then I would be even more pleased. At least it can be adjusted.

NPR solicited feedback on the top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. The full list is here:


And these people decided that it would be easier if it was a gigantic flow chart:


I think LOTR is overrated, never more so than when it appears at the top of this list. While middle earth is wonderfully imagined and the story well told, the characters are flat and one-dimensional. That's fine when you're in fifth grade but as an adult one (hopefully) prefers something more sophisticated. (A lot of people like Twilight, but that doesn't mean it's good. I don't mean that LOTR is awful like Twilight is; I mean that popularity does not necessarily equal quality.) Also, just because it's the first great fantasy series doesn't mean it's the best; I thought The Once and Future King was better. And easier to finish.

The number 2 and 3 books on the list are two of my all-time favorites.

Anyway, check out the list for and/or flow chart for some reading suggestions.

20 September 2011

If only...

Loved this entirely too much.

Mostly because of stuff like this:


Bring the noise - Everything old is new again

Been load-testing the speakers with this jam for a couple weeks now. The full version isn't out or available anywhere that I can find, so you get this bootleg of a bootleg, which kinda sucks but whatever. It's got enough mojo that you should be able to get through it okay. Incidentally, Tiesto Club Life episode #228 is the best in recent memory. If I heard this in the club (if I still went to clubs) my head would explode.

This bootleg was posted a couple different places but the graphic the guy uses for the video is totally rad 2 the max. So that's the version I chose.

Should also add: how awesome are the Eurythmics? This song is over 20 years old and still killing it. Yeah the remix does a lot of the heavy lifting but that synth/vocal hook has got legs and then some. 

If you're not sure if you like it I suggest you turn your stereo up a lot louder. Like, a lot.

Problems at the back

The posts are piling up. Lots going on over here so the full update will have to wait. I do have a stack of pictures to share and some funny anecdotes to relate. You care.

Here's a short non-sequitur: Was at the moto shop doing moto stuff last week and while I was there I saw a couple late 30's guys picking up a bike. An early warning sign was that one of the guys kept telling my tuner about the bike he had just finished doing work on. Customer Know-it-all would ask a question, then give the answer. Typically those interactions go better when the expert talks and you listen. That's not to say that you shouldn't engage in a dialog with your tuner, but Tuner Ryan hasn't spent the past 10 years studying and working on motorcycles because he doesn't know how to work on motorcycles, is what I mean. So if you bring your bike to Ryan for him to work on then you should, you know, trust him to work on it. Ryan handled it all with aplomb because he is customer-oriented.

So this goes on for forty-five minutes (don't ask what I'm doing - I'm dicking around in the shop, as per usual, because I like learning about bikes), and juuuuust when they are about to leave the rider comes in and gears up. The guy riding the bike has a textile jacket (good), full face helmet (very good), shorts (not so good) and slip-on shoes (not good). What really didn't inspire confidence was when he asked me to help him secure his helmet. As in, fix the strap under his chin because he didn't know how to work it. One the one hand, it's good to ask for help with something like that. On the other hand, WHAT THE F ARE YOU DOING MAN?!!??  It was funny but also scary. Mostly scary. Only funny if everyone makes it home safely.

The following video shows how difficult it is to stay involved in the game when you're a goalie. Also there may be some sort of drama or protest happening; we'll never know. What we do know is that the goalie is playing a little bit out of position and, uhh, yeah. Ouch.

14 September 2011

So much love

This came across my desk early last week but I didn't have a chance to post it until now. It's a quote from Bob Marley in which he says some rather obvious things about love and partnerships and expectations.

You might not agree with all (or any) of it, but my favorite takeaway was "Love hard when there is love to be had." I agree with that very strongly. 

Change 'him' to 'her' and it works just as well. 

13 September 2011

Best. Lunch. Ever.

Beaker is the best muppet
This is kicking around the intertubes but if you haven't seen it yet: there's a guy that draws on his kids lunch bags every day during his lunch break. And it's AWESOME. I posted my favorite here but I invite you to scroll through the archives and find your own. And also to enjoy something surprisingly fun and cool.

Go here: http://lunchbagart.tumblr.com/

09 September 2011

Complete Command

This is for Ze Newbs.
When he whipped the tail at 2:17 I jumped out of my chair.

If you were wondering what complete command looks like, it looks like this: 

Anniversaries, remembrances, and heroes

For some reason we celebrate powers of 2, 5, and 10 more than other anniversaries. It's arbitrary and lame but I've already explained how I feel about all that so I'm not going to get into it here. So, big 'anniversary' coming up this weekend.

The megachurch in my area is taking the opportunity to expand their services like it's some kind of Easter celebration of 'freedom'. That makes me want to throw up for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that I find it repulsive and disgusting when people wrap the American flag in religion. (I prefer a secular brand of patriotism, thanks very much.) But I digress...

This weeks Badass of the Week is about Rick Rescorla, and it's a story that I didn't know. I invite you to read and enjoy it for yourself. Because he was awesome, and he was killed almost exactly 10 years ago today.


07 September 2011

How to change your oil: life lessons

The last couple posts have been long on words. Let's shift gears (HONK!) and bring it back to one of my other favorite topics: motorcycles and motorcycle maintenance. The video is more or less everything you need to know if you're changing the oil on your SR500 (a bike I want, but do not own, in part because I'd have to build it myself and also in part because Deus hasn't opened their LA showroom yet).  Not sure that the roommate wants a rebuild project to get in the way of the Bowflex Xtreme. Can't say I blame him.

Anyway, if you're a guy you will probably enjoy this video. If you're one of the female readers you probably stopped reading at the title.

"Love hard when there is love to be had" - Bob Marley

That's the dance floor in the middle, under the string of lights
Friend of the blog Big Cheese got married over the weekend and it was awesome. I mean 'awesome' in the awe-inspiring, epic sense, and also in the 'wow that was totally rad 2 the max' sense.

Some backstory about Big Cheese (skip past the dotted line below if you're over it):

I first heard about him from a mutual friend over 20 years ago. My friend Jayme said, "I have a friend who is just like you; you will love him." Since I was an insufferable asshole at that point of my life I wasn't really keen on meeting someone else that was just like me. For starters, one insufferable asshole is quite enough, and also, why would I want to meet some guy that was just like me? I am a beautiful and unique snowflake. So we didn't catch up until a bit later.

As it happens, Big Cheese ended up dating one of my very dear friends from high school (her name is Sweet Katie, because she's pretty much the nicest girl ever, and, as such, a good fit for Big Cheese, since he tended to suck all the nice out of the room pretty quickly, especially then; for the record: so did I, but whatever).

Sweet Katie said, you have to meet this person, he's great, he's funny, he's this and that. I was still over it, but since I was pretty much living with Sweet Katie and her family off and on, and taking advantage of their generous love and kindness (Sweet Katie's mom and dad are, not kidding, some of the nicest people in the world), there wasn't much I could do to avoid it. So I really did have to meet him. As it turns out he became one of my closest friends, and except for Jayme (mentioned above), I was the longest-tenured of his peeps at the wedding by a considerable margin.

There have been many ups and downs in each of our lives and although the geographical distance between us has sometimes been significant, the emotional distance was quite small, and we stayed close.

Wedding Highlights:
- The setting was a majestic Buddhist retreat in the Santa Cruz mountains. The weather was perfect, with warm (but not too hot) days and crisp, cool nights.

- The food was organic, locally grown, and universally excellent, which was a big deal considering the place was way out of town and there weren't a lot of alternatives.

- The guests were very nice and friendly. This is almost always true but it's still fun to meet everybody and hear their stories.

- We opened the wedding day with a morning yoga class at 9 AM, led by yours truly. I prepped a program and playlist but didn't expect the class to be very well attended. Bonus was that there were around 20 people there, including all of the wedding party except one person who was too hung over. It was crowded but I had a blast.

- Big Cheese broke down during his vows and had to compose himself. It turned all the bridesmaids into waterworks. It was nice to see people get emotional at what, at its core, is simple civil ceremony.

- The array of custom-crafted organic pies for dessert. I had the key lime (2x), chocolate mousse, pecan (2x) and apple.Yes I really did eat 6 pieces of pie. They were very small. And I may have eaten a piece of the pecan pie with my breakfast the following day. The fat kid loves dessert. Don't judge.

- Epic dance off to close the night. At the close anyone left standing was on the dance floor, including the DJ and the bartender. It was that kind of fun.

The happy couple are off on a honeymoon now.

06 September 2011

My Italian vacation: recap

Not bad
I took only a handful of pictures in Italy. This wasn't one of them. The girl I was with took it on her cellphone. It's the view (at sunset) from the rooftop terrace of our hotel in Florence. Pretty nice. Usually I would auto-filter a photo before I post it but this is great as-is.You can't beat the light at sunset. Florentine architecture doesn't hurt either.

Trip was great. I don't think I've ever had more fun. Visited (in order): Pisa, Lucca, Cinque Terre (stayed in Monterrosso), Florence and Siena (day trip from Florence).

Highlights, in no particular order:

- Gelato. Everywhere. I was on a mission to try and find the best gelato place that I could. Since the gelato shops were everywhere this was a serious undertaking; you'll be happy to hear that I was up to the task. 

- The view from the roof in Florence. Just look at it.

- The Leaning Tower of Pisa at night. We were the last people allowed up and it was fantastic. No crowds, pleasant weather, and a panoramic view of the town. Took no photos so you'll have to get your own.

- The food and views in Lucca. It's a tourist town but it is a beautiful place to visit. And the food was great.

- Blue skies, every day. They do a brisk business in crisp blue skies in Tuscany and the Italian Mediterranean during the summer. I think I was there for 5 days before I even saw a cloud. I wore a lot of sunscreen. And a rather dashing straw fedora.

- Views in Cinque Terre. The Girl took some pictures in the various towns but I haven't seen them yet. And may never. I posted a link in a previous entry so you've already seen some great pics. Spent a quiet beach day swimming around the Italian Mediterranean. Like the gelato research it was tough, but I struggled through it. Hiking the towns was awesome too. It's not an easy hike but it is beautiful and rewarding.

- Florence. It's full of tourists, and deservedly so. It is beautiful and the sights in and around the city are superb. DO go see the David at the Academia. DON'T bother with the Uffizi unless you loooove Renaissance art (I don't). DO avoid the gelato places on the main streets and get involved in the places on the side streets. Special tip: if you cross to the south side of the Ponte Vecchio and head east along Via de Bardi, you can find gelato that shames anything else you might try. I forget what the place is called, but here's a link to a map. I recommend the mascarpone and Nutella gelato. Beyond good. Not sure that 'good' is even the right word; I need a new word to describe it because I ran out of superlatives. How about "worth a trip to Florence"? Yeah I think that covers it.

- Cooking class in Florence. Learning + fun + delicious food = win. The Girl's family gave her the gift of a cooking class at a restaurant / farm in Figline Valdarano (outside Florence) for her birthday. So we took the train out there one evening and made ourselves dinner. I took a LOT of beautiful pictures of this (with her camera) and I'm working on the post-processing. The important thing is that it was amazing. We cooked everything for our dinner from scratch (except the pasta). So we made focaccia, biscotti, stuffed calamari, stuffed zucchini flowers, broiled fish on garbanzo beans, and some other stuff I'm forgetting. Everything was locally grown on the farm (except the seafood, which was caught the night before): olives and olive oil, eggs, vegetables, etc. The chef cooked with us for about 3 hours and then we sat down and ate. We ended up preparing much of the food on the menu for the evening, so while we were at dinner the calamari would come out and we would look over and say, "yeah we made that." Super awesome fun time and one of the most cool/unique things I have ever done.

- Walking through Siena on a Saturday afternoon. I could do a whole post about Sienese culture but it would take too long. Suffice to say that the place is worth a visit. Stroll through the town. Soak up the atmosphere. And when you're there take a class at the...

- Tuscan Wine School in Siena. More super awesome fun ways to learn about Tuscany in general and Siena in particular. Originally wanted to take the 1 hour 'crash course' but it was booked. That worked out well because the 2 hour course is superb. Highly recommended. You get to sample some delicious olive oils, breads, cheese, and wines. So good. You will return to the streets of Siena in a festive mood, so you might want to hike any stairs BEFORE you take the class. Just sayin'.

I'm sure I'm leaving some stuff out, but you get the idea. Crammed a lot of activities and sightseeing into a relatively short span of time.

If you want specifics or recommendations on stuff I didn't cover here just let me know.
Thanks for reading.

Post-it Wars = radness

Note that Pedobear is not on an exterior window
This is has been all over the interwebs for a couple weeks now but I've been too busy (read: lazy) to post it. (See what I did there? HONK!)

The Guardian gives it a quick summary, with a photo gallery.


01 September 2011

I loved this so hard. No idea if it's your cup o' tea, but whatever.
lulz to my facebone.

Original here:


Thanks for reading.

This probably took a while

Hat tip to ze Newbs for this little slice of excellence.


BIG BANG BIG BOOM - the new wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Time and money wasted

The United States of America loves going to war on ideas. Drugs was a big one, and although it has been wildly ineffective at actually, you know, keeping people from buying and using illegal drugs, it has been effective at making people a lot of money and putting people in prison.

The next big war on a concept was the War on Terror, which has been more expensive than the war on drugs, making a greater number of people a staggering amount of money, and roughly as ineffective. While some strategic gains have (probably?) been made, only a fool would argue that Afghanistan or Iraq are anything like a success. Instead they are endlessly awful quagmires, which is exactly what you'd expect when you start a war without a clearly defined strategic goal for winning. You can't wage a war on Terror because you can't make it surrender. In short, it just goes on and on, forever. I don't know about you, but I'm not a huge fan of wars that go on and on. They're expensive, for starters. 

When are we going to start a war on an idea that might actually do some good? We started a war on poverty but gave up when it got too expensive. A person's willingness to aid another person is directly related to whether or not they have ever found themselves in a similar position. Post-depression era 60's there were still a lot of people that remembered being hungry. If you've never been hungry it is unlikely you will help someone who is hungry. Never been poor, no sympathy for the poverty-stricken. Also it's much easier to criticize the government for helping people than it is to help them. So: f you, poor people. It's your own fault.

Why don't we wage a war on ignorance?  Because as it happens, ignorance (or lack of education) is one of the great predictors of poverty. They go hand in hand. All the hard work in the world won't help you better your lot in life if you can't get an education.

Education isn't really all that expensive, especially compared to how much money we spend on wars and our failing, soon-to-be-bankrupt health care system. So what the fuck is the problem?

The problem is that the culture of military dominance in the United States is sacred and untouchable, while the culture of wanting to help kids reach their full potential isn't. Also, there's not nearly as much money to be made in education as there is in arms. In other words: primary education needs a political action committee. (Secondary for-profit education is a whole nother can of awful mess but we'll consider that in a different post.)

The US spends more on defense than every other country in the world put together. Wouldn't it be rad if that were true of education? 

Expanding on ideas outlined by Dave Eggers: Why do people gargle the balls of the American Soldier but throw the American Teacher under the bus? Why, when test scores are low, do people want to fire teachers? We don't blame the soldier in the trenches when a battle goes badly. Instead we blame the commanding officer that failed to set them up for success. As Eggers points out, if we don't like the results we're getting in the military we ask what it will take for success: more manpower? more money? more equipment? better equipment? more training? all of the above? 

In education if things don't go well people blame the teacher and cut funding. All of which contributes to worse results. This is ridiculous. I know that teaching kids not to be idiots isn't sexy and doesn't capture voters like WAR and TERROR and FEAR, but still.

I need this in my life

Been kind of an up and down week. Big wedding this weekend, at which I will be leading a yoga class. Except for the fact that I don't really know what I'm doing it'll be great.

I'm trying out the new blogger interface and although I like the new one better they moved some stuff around and I have to figure out where they put it. 

It's great to be back from Italy so I'll try and do another post on that later today if I can.

Also: this happened.