Persistence

Sometimes persistence is the answer. (Especially if the clue is “obstinate assiduity.”)

Any ride you can crawl away from.

I have been having more than my fair share of flat tires lately.  It’s not as if I’m actually aiming for the broken glass and nails and such so much as they are hunting me down.  And they must be stealth nails, because I rarely see them.

December 30th – Scheduled my last long ride for 2012.  Started off by asking Google to show me a bicycle route from Brisbane, California to Tiburon and back – a metric century. Why consult with Google Maps, you might ask?  Don’t I already know the way?

Well, yes.  However, the bicycle option for Google Maps has often suggested interesting routes I would not have otherwise considered.

This was not to be the case on this day.  In fact, as I perused the suggested route, I came across item #36: Turn left to stay on the Coastal Trail.  Take the stairs.

Take the stairs? Just what part of bicycle did Google not understand?  A friend suggested that perhaps it thought I was asking for a cyclocross route.  Other than those stairs, Google’s route was the same as I’d’ve taken without inquiry.

On the road by 9:00 because I wanted to get back before dark, everything went according to plan until I sauntered into Sausalito.  Started out on the Mill Valley-Sausalito path and suddenly there was a lot more friction in the road than I liked. Looking down, I could see that the recumbent’s front wheel was in the process of going flat.

Damn.  Another one.

Pulled over and pulled out the fix-it kit, which included both patches and a spare tube.  I decided on the spare because that would be faster.  I could patch the old tube when I got home.

Back on the road — Yes!! Much better!  Cranked the velocity up to about 20 mph to take advantage of the flat path and windless day.  Went about a mile and then …

thump thump thump thump …

Before I could finish the thought, What the hell is that thumping?  POW!

The front tire failed explosively and I went tumbling, as my father would say, “asshole over appetite.”  The asphalt rose to slap me in the face and I blocked it with my right hand.

Ouch!!

Whose idea was it to make asphalt out of such rough material?

Sliding several feet on hands and rump, all I could do was grit my teeth.  When the sliding stopped, I waited on all fours like a dog for the first wave of intense pain to pass.  After about three centuries, it did, and I picked myself up off the road.  Other cyclists were starting to gather.

“You okay?” they seemed to ask in unison.

Hmm.  Was I okay?  Quick check for broken bones and bleeding.  Seems I was able to protect all my favorite organs.  “I’m fine.  I think the bike is broken, though.”

Aside from the tire, the rear derailer lever was broken off.  That’s going to be fun.

Having assured them that I wasn’t going to pass out nor bleed to death, the other cyclists went their way, and I pulled out the fix-it kit again.

The new inner tube failed at the valve stem weld.  So now I have to patch the old inner tube, anyway.  Maybe I should write a letter of complaint to the tube manufacturer?  Would it do me any good?  Didn’t seem likely.

I had intended to meet a friend for lunch in Tiburon.  After explaining my delay by cell phone, we changed the lunch to Mill Valley.  Riding there, I discovered I could only change the cassette gears with great difficulty.  Effectively, I was stuck using the three gears available on the chainrings.

I needed to accomplish two things: Expedite the trip home and avoid the slog up the hill from Sausalito to the Golden Gate Bridge.  Fortunately, both of these were attainable by taking the ferry from Sausalito to San Francisco.  From there, it was relatively flat to Brisbane.

Except for one hill.  Third Street to Bayshore, near Candlestick.  I decided on an alternate route going around Candlestick Park, which was longer by a mile or so, but much flatter.

Little did I know that the 49’s had a game that day.  Hey, I’m not a football fan.  I hope they won and all that, but there I was, navigating around the aftergame traffic, police barriers, street vendors, and drunken fans on three gears.

Life is good!

Plastic nocks and Elves

Proof that elves invented plastic nocks.

Zombie Apocalypse – Archers on the Run!

I watched a movie on the SyFy Channel yesterday titled Zombie Apocalypse.  I feel like I need to justify this.  I caught the flu and was feeling miserable and wanted something on television that didn’t require too much cerebral effort while I laid on the sofa like a sick puppy.  So I turned on the SyFy Channel and was treated to a marathon of zombie movies.

Though a lifelong science fiction fan and admitted trekkie, I am not a connoisseur of zombie movies, or even of horror movies in general.  I can’t pretend to be an expert giving a review.  I can only give you my impressions of the movie as viewed from my feverish stupor.

This movie has the feel of something that would be produced by a high school student production.  It’s what you’d expect if the English class wrote the script (and not even the honors English class) and the extras were made up of fellow classmates and the family and friends of the production crew; if the make-up was done by the cosmetology students from the community college; if somebody who is good with a Mac did the special effects; if they borrowed a lot of the props and probably built a few in the machine shop, and filmed the scenes in deserted backlots in Toronto.  Somehow, they talked a Hollywood B-lister, Ving Rhames, into starring.  The production budget was raised from a PTA bake sale.

The story follows a group of survivors across the country, trying to make it to the island of Catalina off the coast of California.  Along the way, they kill a lot of zombies, some of them get turned into zombies, and some of them just get eaten.  Oddly, they keep killing the same zombies, though I suspect this had more to do with a lack of extras than the re-spawning abilities of the undead. They do eventually encounter some kewl zombie zoo animals.

The acting isn’t horrible.  It’s what you’d expect from a community theatre.  There is some dialogue designed to get you interested in the characters, but it was written by somebody with the emotional repertoire of a teenager.  The gory fight scenes, which follow one right after the other, fill in where a more expensive movie would have drama.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the movie.  I was entertained, though sometimes not in the way the film makers wanted me to be.

So why am I talking about a zombie movie?

There were archers!!  Well, sort of.

Some of the survivors were the school archery team of some university (I didn’t catch the name) and their coach.  And, on the screen, their arrows went exactly where they were supposed to.

Allow me to clear my throat here.

I know that the budget was near zero.  But is it too much to ask that they find a real archer who could give the actors a half-hour lesson on how to shoot?  Or lacking that, isn’t there some professional responsibility on the part of the actors to say, “Hey, if I’m going to shoot a bow on screen, I’d better look like I know what I’m doing.”

It was painful to watch these actors playing competitive college archers, demonstrate that they hadn’t held a bow in their lives until five minutes before filming started.

The scenes which show them loosing arrows are almost comedic.   I tried to find online photos of these scenes, but the produces wisely kept them off the internet.  Ironically, there was a bit of dialogue where one survivor asks the other, “Why bows?”

“Because all the ammunition was already taken.  The sports stores still had archery equipment.”

“That’s because almost nobody knows how to shoot a bow!”

Zombie Apocalypse was followed by Resident Evil: Apocalypse (see the connection here?) which I could stomach until the scene where, knowing that the dead once again walked the earth, they decide to take a short cut through the graveyard.

I don’t believe I’ll ever develop a taste for zombie movies.

The Archers’ Moon

You can find online or in any of several almanacs the names of the moons.  There is nothing official about these, though many authors will make the bold statement, “Native Americans call this the ____ moon.”  As if all the various native American tribes got together at some pre-columbian astronomical conference to give names to the moons.  Other authors will at least give locality to the tribes, saying, “Tribes in the Northwest called this the ___ moon.”  Considering the plethora of languages and cultures of the tribes in the “Northwest” and lack of written history, I take all of this with a grain of salt, but I’m not an anthropologist.

The names of the moons tend to be seasonal – like the Harvest Moon, though many lack a certain coolness.  For instance, I don’t care at all for the Worm Moon.

My beloved and I have created our own set of names for the moons.  For instance, we call the moon in late June the “Strawberry Moon” and celebrate the full moon be coming up with creative ways to eat our favorite summer  fruit.  We borrowed from some of the more standard names, like the aforementioned Harvest Moon.  This year, we are combining it with a cheese making party.

While admiring the full moon in May 2010, which we currently call the Full Flower Moon (borrowed from the Farmers’ Almanac), it occurred to me that any full moon which happens in late May or early June takes place in the constellation Sagittarius.  The celestial archer.

Sagittarius

I think this is a great idea for the name of a moon!  The Archers’ Moon!  Anybody who knows me, or has read one or two of my previous posts knows that this is a favorite topic of my blogs.  Specifically, traditional archery. How more traditional than the ancient zodiac?! Here it is, my favorite sport, immortalized in the heavens.  And it’s just as official as any of the other names of the moons.  That is, not at all.  But it’s personally relevant.

Hope everybody enjoys the Strawberry Moon on June 26th!

Down on the Farm

Beth and I have this fantasy of leaving corporate America behind and buying a hundred acre farm.  We’re going to start off with two milk goats, three chickens, a pair of ducks, a large garden and a small orchard.  Then we’re going to invite some unemployed friends to joins to become an intentional community and increase the livestock.

Like I said, this is a fantasy.  I’m well aware of all the practical problems involved.  But evidently, we are not alone.

According to the people who are in charge of keeping track of these things, the five-year farm census in 2007 indicates almost 300 thousand start-up farms since 2002, most of them small, and a huge proportion of them are owned by women.

It would seem that the United States is backwards from other industrialized nations.  While the populations of other countries is moving from the farm to the cities, the United States is moving back to the farm.

Goats

Taking advantage of this trend, Rick and Lora Lea Misterly have started a farm school at their spread in eastern Washington State called Quillisascut Farm.  The class is Intro to Farming and gives an overview of small, organic and sustainable farming, aiming to expose all us urban gardeners who have romanticized farming to the harsh realities of agribusiness.

Learning about grafting

Being the kind of people who eschew vacations spent on cruise ships, ski slopes and haute spots, Beth and I plunked down $695 each for tuition, room and board and traveled by air from San Francisco to Spokane.  We rented a car and drove two hours north along US Hwy 395 (somehow resisting the nearly overwhelming urge to stop in at the archery store in Chewelah) to a place in the world where people are few.  We then spent five days working on the farm and listening to people talk about farming.

We woke up before sunrise, which is really early this time of year that far north.  We milked goats, tended the garden, did morning chores, and sat down for breakfast.  After breakfast, it was cheese making, and more garden chores, and lectures on topics like tools, irrigation and fencing.  The afternoon found us traveling to other farms to learn about orchards, bees and mulching.  Then back to Qullisascut for dinner and a post meal lecture by yet another farmer on the topics of budgets, rabbits (did you know that the American Chinchilla is a rabbit? I had no idea), and botanical herbs.  We finally got to bed by 9:30 and were grateful for it.

The first thing we noticed is that everybody we met started their farm while still working full time for somebody else, and years later, some of them still are.  The second thing we noticed was their passion for this way of life.

Learning about bees

There were 12 students, ten of us from California, one from Hawaii and one from Seattle. There were 11 women.  Working, eating and bunking together, we all became fast friends.  Thus the third thing we noticed was that we were all of a certain socio-economic and racial background — white, middle class, mostly liberal and predominantly middle aged.   The question was finally asked, “Did previous classes have any more diversity?”

“Well, er, no.”

I will leave it as a homework problem for the ready to figure out why not.  I tried some guesses, but there were all just WAG’s.  Certainly poor people can’t afford the class or the travel, and rich people aren’t in the market for small, labor intensive enterprises, especially when the CEO needs to milk goats and tend the garden before breakfast.  Liberal because the focus was on organic, sustainable farming.  But white?  Perhaps because Idaho, a mere long bowshot away, has taken on a reputation as the last bastion of white male supremacists in the United States, though that didn’t stop the four lesbians in the class.  I refuse to openly speculate on the female aspect of the student body, fearing to sound sexist.

For more pictures, go here.

Asylum Improv – Pacifica Spindrift Players

Review: Asylum Improv
Pacifica Spindrift Players
Pacifica, California

I cannot imagine a more challenging social situation than trying to be improvisationally funny. Telling memorized jokes is easy. Reading a comedic script is a snap. Doing a stand-up routine that has been rehearsed and choreographed is a piece of cake compared to what the Asylum Improv does several times a year at the Spindrift Players in Pacifica, California.

It’s because of this that we don’t expect the actors of Asylum, lead by the very brave Roger Genereux, to be as funny as Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie, who are comedic geniuses, but they’re already funnier than Drew Carey.

It’s perhaps fortunate for the cast of Asylum that the audience consists primarily of the family and friends, and some die-hard community members, so we aren’t as critical as we could be. Asylum really does try hard to be funny, and one often gets the feeling that they are trying too hard. Sometimes desperately hard, which is evident when the look on an actor’s face plainly says, “Will somebody Please end this scene?” Which is echoed by Roger’s expression which says just as plainly, “Will somebody Please say something funny?”

There are, however, gems which make waiting through the embarrassing moments worthwhile.  We especially liked the efforts of Steve MattesKevin Myer and Lourie (whose last name I couldn’t find, but he’s the bloke with the almost-Irish brogue, softened, I think, by his years in the States).  Lourie can always be counted on for a funny routine involving the alphabet and/or the English language.  Tricia Callero once again wow’d us with her superb vocal skills.  We can’t help but think that if the entertainment industry really was a meritocracy, she’d already be head-lining.

The presentation could be improved if Roger could just relax a little.  We think he’s very smart and talented, but he often comes across as if he believes his entire worth as a human being is riding on the success or failure of the show.  And considering the amount of work he invests at Spindrift, we can’t blame him for feeling that.   But Roger:  We are going to like you anyway.  You have already proven yourself.  So relax.  Also, if you can’t read one of those audience suggestion slips, you should just toss it.  There is no entertainment value in watching you try to decipher somebody’s scribble.  And we know that it’s supposed to be improv, but perhaps a little more structure would help lubricate the show.

And we will be there when you return in March!