Saturday, January 28, 2006

Calling all angels

So, I've no excuse for not updating the blog for a week. My sincerest apologies to the four or six people who actually check this thing. Been busy at work, but then who hasn't?

Mostly I've been dry for material, slacking, struggling with a post that just won't write itself, and contributing to these guys' insanity:
Sweet Rigs; click thru that link and check 'em out. They deserve a shout, not merely for being a bunch of crazy dudes with a gut-bustingly hilarious concept, but also because they're providing a public service by ridiculing the truly egregious examples of pavement pollution in this our fair nation.

In lieu of writing about actual blogworthy topics, I figured I'd clutter the bandwidth by giving a shout out to other bloggers I regularly read:

Stop in and give the
Waiter a glance. He's quite deservedly been nominated for the Bloggies, so if you enjoy what you read, go vote for him. I was a waitron myself in a former life, and some of his posts have had me literally doubled over in hysterics. When he's not funnier than a bag of ferrets, he can come up with some amazing philosophical insight; as a former Jesuit priest, he's got an unique perspective and the intellectual capacity to do so.

Cheers to
O / Melissa, a famous, formerly anonymous blogger. It was her witty cynicism that drew me into the blog format in the first place. She recently outed herself and quit her legal career to go it alone. A great leap of faith that the rest of us languishing in Corporate Hell can merely look on in envy.

Not quite on the Celebrity Blog level, but no less valid or intriguing for that is my good friend
Marty's blog. Her photography kicks mine to the kerb (in my defence, she's a pro, yo), she's a lot more disciplined about updating, and her witty observations regularly blow me away.

And my current favourite cycling blog.
This kid isn't a celebrity... yet. But he's only 23, so give him a chance.

um, cut to random pretty photo that I can't think of where else to put, or anything really germane to say:

O, right, here's a link for a
funny freakin' site, and it comes full circle on the I Hate Cars theme I started the post with (uhh... reaching a tad mebbe, but Sweet Rigs harshes pretty rough on the internal combustion crowd).

To complete the blog cliche theme, I'll leave you with some cheezy song lyrics that handily sum up my current jaded take on society:

I need a sign, to let me know you're here;
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere.
I need to know, that things are gonna look up;
'Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup.

When there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head,
When you can feel the world shake from the words that are said.

And I'm, calling all angels
And I'm, calling all you angels

And I won't give up, if you don't give up
I won't give up, if you don't give up
I won't give up, if you don't give up
I won't give up, if you don't give up

I need a sign to let me know you're here;
'Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear.
I want a reason for the way things have to be;
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me.

And I'm, calling all angels.
And I'm, calling all you angels.

When children have to play inside, so they don't disappear;
While private eyes solve marriage lies cause we don't talk for years.
And football teams are kissing Queens and losing sight of having dreams,
In a world where what we want is only what we want until it’s ours

And I'm, calling all angels.
And I'm, calling all you angels.

Yeah this song by Train epitomises a schmaltzy histrionic pop ballad that's probably already been mad converted to Elevator Muzak, but dammit, I'm 37. If I want to shut myself in my room and listen to it over and over again whilst clutching my favourite teddy bear like some angst-ridden teenager, I will.


Saturday, January 21, 2006


No not the
movie, or even the adult diaper, the concept. Most of us have heard (or invoked) the following prayer:

“Lord grant me strength to change that which I can control, the serenity to accept that which I cannot, and the intelligence to know the difference.”

Or something like that. I am broadly paraphrasing, as my wireless connexion is FUBAR and I’m composing this without the luxury of looking it up on the ‘net.

I do some serious hanging out at the
Amante coffeehouse up on North Broadway. I go there to be semi-antisocial: to read, make notes on blog topics, do research, postprocess photos, avoid my roommate, and generally waste time.

I am loyal to Amante for the quality of their product and their atmosphere; the highest praise I can give in that regard is that they are Comprehensively Not Vic's. Amante's crowd has a functional mix of students, creative types and hipsters, not to mention the baristas are friendly, extremely skilled, and very easy on the eyes.

Wednesday night I’d planned to do some budget work, pay some bills, and perhaps write a paragraph or 2 of content. At 7.30 I had a consultation planned with my collegiate racing student.

The gods of Chaos had a different plan. The café was a little crowded so space was at a premium for my typical M.O. of sit down, spread out. I’d just gotten hooked up with my headphones on to do some serious composition, when the gentleman sitting next to me got up to leave… and accidentally hooked a corner of my casefile with his coat, causing, in a Rube Goldberg-esque chain reaction, a hot chocolate tsunami. Momentarily bewildered (who am I kidding, it's my normal state…) I froze, and failed to save the impending disaster.

I try to live life by the credo of the
Hitchhiker’s Guide: I don’t panic, and I ALWAYS carry a towel. People rag on me for hucking round a metric ton of crap in the trusty Chrome Metropolis, but when you need a towel, particularly in situations like this, you really need one. I rescued the offending file folder (drenched for its pains), my laptop, my mp3 player, and the various peripherals to set them out of harm’s way.

It’s a fact: if you work with electronics in an environment in which spills can occur, at some point you lose the lottery. I’m good with that, hell I’m a klutz too, my main concern is to get anything that’s powered on out of the floodplain. This poor guy was mortified and I felt really bad for him. By the time I thought to hit Pause on the m:robe and removed the headphones, he had probably apologized ten times, and was on his knees trying to mop up the mess using the sadly inadequate foodservice paper napkin method.

I told him not to worry and set to work with my towel to catch the worst of the spill while he chased down a barista for a damp rag with which to wage de-stickification manouevres.

Here’s the thing: this guy got wound up into a hand-wringing fluster about a simple accident. It bugs me that in this society, the inference is that a random occurrence like this always has to be somebody’s fault.

As a notorious scatterbrain, I willingly own my end of this misadventure. I sat down in a packed café and hauled out a bunch of electronic gadgetry without first casing my surroundings and a wreck resulted. I mean, seriously, let’s examine the evidence:

Item 1) Someone sitting there prior had shoved the tables around such that his table and mine didn’t allow him (a tall, athletic fellow) adequate room for egress.

Item 2) In my haste to set up, I thoughtlessly set my plastic casefile on the edge of the table where it could (and did) catch on unsuspecting passerby.

Item 3) I have NO excuse, none, for having 20 ounces of hot chocolate sitting next to my laptop without a lid on. As my (ex Army) manager at Lockheed would say in his nearly impenetrable Louisiana drawl: ‘fastest way to learn how to do something right is to fuck it up real bad once.’ Old soldiers are positive gold mines of pithy maxims.

So disaster was (mainly) averted, the poor man went on about his business, no geekware was harmed in the making, and the worst of the mess was corralled and dealt with (honestly that was my concern; Amante is in a brand new building with elegant Italian decor). A new drink materialised and all was right with the world. Of course by the time everything got sorted, my student had shown up, and the chance for working on content was gone. C’est la vie.

Here’s the thing. Well, two things, actually.

I would gladly have just paid for another drink. Aside from any entitlement issues and the simple fact that when an extra $3.00 is gonna break me I’ve got worse issues to worry about, as I said above, I was at least 50% culpable in the affair. I know dude was being gallant, and I respect that. Still, I don’t expect.

The other thing is the comment the barista made to me later on. My student and I were lingering over some sports psychology issues, and I’d gone to get a refill. The barista actually made a point to thank me for being so calm. It’s messed up, when you think about it, that someone in this day and age has to be thanked for plain not flipping their wig when things go pear-shaped.

For Pete’s sake. Time was manners were the norm, not the exception. I passed off his thanks with some lame observation about 'well, I'm not an asshole', when, as we all know, I have at least as much propensity for being an asshole as the next person, and considering that I'm a bike racer, most likely twice that.

The difference is, I've struggled to gain and (mostly) won, over the years, the ability to take a deep breath and reach for the serenity in the situation. It has very little to do with manners, really, and a whole lot to do with treating others as I'd hope they'd treat me.



Friday, January 20, 2006

Oh. My. God!!

like, omiGAWD... ::cue cheezy 80's synth-pop track::

Patrick Stack, one of my longtime fave bloggers actually linked my site yesterday to give props in response to this post.

If you don't read
Stacked (no, no, NOT the Pamela Anderson bullshit Myspace blog, puh-leeeaze!) well, you should. Don't let the Ali G. aesthetic fool you, this man is tack sharp. Hell he keeps my slacker arse interested in (of all things) politics. That's about like convincing Osama Bin Laden that bacon tastes goooood.

Dammit, that Hubris post has gotten a fair bit of play and I've since received emails in praise from people I don't actually know. So thanks, peopleihavenocluewhoyouare, but kindly don't expect great things. As my granpappy, God rest his soul, used to say: 'even a blind pig can find a nut every now and again'.

Sigh... considering one or three people besides my mom and my best bud might actually stop in and visit the site over the next few days, I guess I'll attempt to raise my game a tad, or at least
clean a few of the dead bugs off the windshield.



Wednesday, January 18, 2006

For your entertainment

I'm a little dry for topics today, but I thought in the spirit of randomness I'd include a couple totally unrelated things.

First up, a capture of my (yet again) wind-oppressed ride with the Swift club from last Sunday, courtesy of my PowerTap software. This should keep the cycling cognoscenti entertained for .00023 seconds:

In unrelated news, the notebook search has had its ups and downs but after a couple fruitless and downright annoying weeks, I'm pleased to report success!

Not, however, before I totally flew off the chain and posted
this Tourette's afflicted rant to the Denver Craigslist R&R board, tho. Holy angst, Batman, I need to lay off those double shot espressos.



Monday, January 16, 2006


Aha, now we've come to it! The cliche 'why-do-I-blog?' blog post.

With all apologies to those of you still languishing in Psych 101, please allow me to wax a tad existential (I never made it to college, thus was denied any appropriate forum in which to get this crap out of my system before the midlife crisis hit, k?).

Why DO any of us blog? What gives us the sheer
hubris to decide that Our Opinion Matters... at least enough to immortalise it on one of these slickly encapsulated little Mc.html templates? And on reflection, why would any sane... or more realistically, even any suicidally bored person trapped in the Ninth Circle of Cubicle Hell voluntarily sift through the rummage sale of my (or anyone else's) ineffectually articulated mental processes? The blurry, shaken, noisy photos? The tortured poetry? The tangled prose? The adolescent rants? The cute kitten drawings?

Daily, more and more courageous, talented, misguided, brilliant, cranky, opinionated, literate, articulate, passionate, bored or just plain borING individuals set out to pitch these little tents here in the vast outback of the Interweb. With a tip of the hat to the
Prince of Hubris himself, a blog can be a simple Message in a Bottle... for some of us it may represent the territorial urge; a metaphorical pissing-on-the-gates of modern society... or even a brilliantly ascerbic primal scream of self-actualisation from an anonymous corporate drone.

Blogs can be as simple as a tech-savvy communications device for far-flung relations, such as a
baby journal

There are blogs about the daily pain of being an
adolescent French girl (for the love of Pete!!).

Blogs about

Technology blogs.

A blog that makes an ingenious stab at answering
every and any question one could possibly dream up.

Some blogs start out as
simple rants on daily life, and via the transformative paradigm of the Net mentality (and not just a little talent on the parts of their authours, mind you!) become Celebrity Blogs. No, no, not blogs about celebrities... well not at first, anyway. In this instance, Everyman has become bona fide celebrity in his own right, via the magic of a daily public web journal of his toils, misadventures and peevish observations.

Personally, I find blogging (and reading select blogs) a captivating sociological peek under the rug of modern culture. Reality TV for the intellectual... no wait, that's me being a condescending pain in the ass. It's crack cocaine for the net addicted. Why else would I be up until 2 AM on a Sunday, reading about a 23 year old
Bay Area chick who knits and has a somewhat disturbing fascination with cupcakes.

Blogging evokes the same tantalising sip of voyeurism as provided by the insanely popular
What's In Your Bag? photoblog thread on -- the premise is quite simple: Dump out your pocketbook, backpack, messenger bag, laptop case, man-purse, whatever... onto an appropriately large, well-lit horizontal surface, snap a bad photo of it, upload it to Flickr, then add cute little interactive rollover tags documenting your scattered treasures. I Triple Dog Dare you not to click that link, then doubly not spend half an afternoon peering at total strangers' lives as expressed by the contents of their carry-on.

Much to the chagrin of many of the highly talented and creative photographers on the Flickr site, it seems regardless of how technically sound, colourful, lovely, artistic or just Bloody Damned Good all their other photos on their galleries are, the 'whatsinyourbag' tagged snap instantly vaults to the top of their click-list. The chimps in that particular zoo (yep, including yers truly!) are somehow inexorably drawn to gaze at an endless stream of iPods, lipgloss, Moleskines and used tissues, variously spread out on appalling dorm carpeting, banal conference tables, or hideous hotel bedspreads.

I have a theory. It's probably wrong, as most of my half-arsed demi-intellectual caffeine-and-insomnia-fueled pop psychology theories are... but here goes:

We are all Voyeurs and Attention Whores. Both. Simultaneously.

Is that a bad thing? Not actually. Not so long as we remain honest with ourselves and clear about our goals. Here's the thing. Blogging, photoblogging, setting up a brilliant web art gallery, rambling on about how much your roomate sucks, or simply dumping the contents of your bag out for the world to view, exercises a spirit of creative play that the majority of us leave behind with adolescence, in order to focus on grown-up issues such as bills, kitty litter, tax law, how to mix the perfect Cosmo, and whether or not that back molar's gonna need a root canal this month.

I consider blogging (for me, personally) to be a little healthy mental yoga. Remember the joy we got from fingerpainting in kindergarten? Setting up a blogsite and raving (or ranting) about Things That Matter to you is (at least in my opinion) becoming a very popular outlet in which disenfranchised creatives of all stripes may express themselves.

Blogging, in short, encompasses everything from the
ridiculous to the sublime.

Most of it poised with statistical inevitability, amidst that vast clump of the bellcurve reserved for
the staggeringly mediocre.



Sunday, January 15, 2006

More LoDo

A couple fast shots from last weekend's adventures in LoDo:

This one's FINALLY a successful long exposure shot! Whew! I liked the composition, even (check out the folks standing on the platform... they stayed still enough to register nice n sharp):

Here's a candid shot of a pleasant young fellow in the bus station taking the late bus back to Boulder, like me. Funny how random folks just come up n' start to chat when I've the Nikon, the singlespeed and all the goodies with. He's an art student at CU Boulder, and he had some serious camera envy. I guess the one good thing about getting old is having the money / stability / job to buy these kinds of toys with. I let him play with the Nikon a bit, and we started a convo about blogging and bikes and such.

Folks here in the Front Range are super kind and laid back about being candid / urban photo subjects, I've found. It kind of fits in with the general friendliness in the Denver area, I think.

O yea, I nearly forgot: a big shout out of congrats to the
Donkeys for sending those arrogant Massholes back to whatever hole they crawled out of. Man, there was some stuff getting stirred on Craigslist about that!

Not that I'm a football fan or anything. I just like to see trolls get a richly deserved Beat Down.



Saturday, January 14, 2006

Take this job...

These characters right here:

Are the reason I'm happy to climb out of bed every Monday. Seriously. I don't know many folks in the corporate world who can say they enjoy interacting with their colleagues on a business level, much less actually get along with them as friends. These guys rock! Possibly 'cos they're highly intellectual research scientists and not your garden-variety backstabbing corporate pond scum, but mebbe that's just me being cynical.

Lots of exciting news 'round the workfront lately, which is why I haven't been blogging, honestly. The 70 hour workweeks have precluded much extracurricular shenanigans (this has included going in on weekends - yep you heard right, the Slacker Of The Century is actually putting in massive overtime!) In a couple weeks, I hope to have some really exciting news on that front, but for now it's on the q.t.

That and I'm in the market for a notebook PC so's I can blog from the coffeeshop like all the other hipster poseur wannabees. I mean, I already have more techno-toys roaming 'round the Metropolis than a thirteen-year-old Asian kid... all's I need is the trendy laptop, right?

I'm seriously considering making a break for the Mac front. The
recent announcement of an Intel/Apple partnership running dual core processors, only makes it that much more enticing.

Speaking of highly-touted rumours... there's a lot of
buzz going on recently 'round legendary pro glass manufacturer Carl Zeiss. From the tantalising hints on their web page, it seems there maybe a Nikon mount Zeiss lens in the future? O lordy, there goes my wheel budget for the next three years!



Sunday, January 08, 2006

This Blows!


Make. It. Stop!

This shit is getting old...

Seriously, for ten days straight it's been unrelentingly windy. And I'm honestly sick and tired of it.

Tired of struggling to go 10mph on the bike in my smallest gear at 300 watts.

Tired of 4 hour rides that go nowhere but pain.

Tired of seeing plastic bags in trees.

Tired of watching even the birds give it up as a bad job and go anywhere else but upwind.

Tired of ragged blown-out flags semi-detatched from their lanyards.

Tired of waking up at 2AM with the whole building creaking and banging like a ship in a high sea.

Tired of the deafening howl of wind in my helmet straps.

Tired of hearing the girders groan in my office.

Tired of getting sand blasted and dessicated.

Tired of dodging tumbleweeds.







Tarp ties.

Garbage cans.

Holiday decorations. (fercrissakes it's past Epiphany, take 'em DOWN already!)

Other riders.

Grocery bags.

Shipping twine.

Plastic of every description.

Construction fencing.

Highway cones.

Junior sand dunes.

Senior dust storms.

Inattentive drivers in high profile vehicles.

Tired of tacking.





Guttering and getting guttered in half-arsed semi-competent eschelons.

...and all that.

Coming home on 63rd today past the Boulder Muni Airport, I truly felt for the poor pilot who was wrestling his sideslipping single-engine Cessna to a dead standstill in the Chinook, in attempts to make the upwind turn to land on the south runway. Last weather update reported gusts in the mid-sixties. This is insanity-making, unrelenting and I wish it would just frigging STOP already.

I know, it's been over sixty degrees, I shouldn't complain. But I can dress for the cold. There's nothing can be done about this wind.

It blows.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Over The Rainbow

Welcome to the New Year!

:: cue angelic choir ::

Holy Portents Batman! Someone at Amgen must have REALLY been good, eh? Check this action out:

The weather has been... not so much bad here in Boulder, as just unrelentingly windy! Anywhere from sprightly breezes to full gale force hurricane type ridiculousness has been howling every day since Christmas. Enough already!

The good news is that my
PowerTap is fixed. The bad news is the wind was so ridiculous on Sunday that during my 40 mile New Year's Day adventure with the Swift guys, I was actually sitting on someone's wheel, going 10mph, yet still pulling 250 watts. Ow very much... not to mention I'd already taken a deep 70-mile rummage through the Pain Locker with the Louisville guys the day before. Honestly, I never get any smarter, just older.

This morning, I'd not have gotten wet, had my ears nearly blown inside out, nor been late to work... but I just could NOT resist these shots. I dumped the singlespeed into a pullout along 63rd street, hauled out the Nikon and shot away. First 2 captures were made with the 50mm f/1.8

And then I took some with my Sigma 18-50, at 18mm, hoping to capture the entire arc... nope, cos owing to the very low sun angle, this was a MONSTROUS rainbow that filled the sky nearly to the zenith. I'd have needed the
Nikon 10.5mm 'fisheye' to capture the whole thing. And that's a pricey little bit o' glass, trust me.

More information on rainbows, atmospheric phenomenae and more wild water droplet and ice crystal optics than you can shake a stick at can be found here. Check it out, I dare you. This is stuff you didn't even KNOW you wanted to know, but do anyway.

Naturally by the time I was done thrashing around finding the right lens in the messenger bag, keeping my gloves from going walkabout in the hurricane and doing the dirty deed with the lens swop, the rainbow was already fading.
Now any photography dork worth their
Giottos Rocket would have had a litter of piglets. Here I was, standing in a dirt pullout, with rain spitting down, and a full gale blowing, CHANGING LENSES. For those of you unfamiliar with digital SLR cameras, pulling lenses is supposed to be some sort of holy religious rite, where you count to three, neither two nor four, say a Hail Mary to the Oh God of Dust Bunnies, and preferably do the deed in an hermetically sealed cleanroom with choirboys singing madrigals and god-rays beaming down upon you. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a tad, but in all seriousness, doing a lens swop not only exposes the rear lens element (that's kinda bad), but also the mirror, sensor and all those fancy electronic innards in the camera body to all sorts of horrible environmental invaders (that's really bad). Or so I'm told. And you shouldn't do it outdoors at any rate. Eh, hell it's my camera, I'll destroy it if I like.

Over the weekend, I picked up
Nikon Capture, an imaging suite that will greatly assist my post processing. Photoshop 7 can only get so far; for some things (like tack sharp printable images from raw NEF files) the proprietary software is, as they say, the dog's bollocks. I'm already liking it.