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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Grand Junction, Colorado (part 1)

Part 1: Feeling at home in the land of smoking corn syrup-laced styrofoam 

Sometimes you get to go on vacation. Sometimes you have to take a trip. There’s a difference.

Seeing your elderly Mother through a life-threatening operation is definitely a reason to drop everything and “take a trip.”

What was wrong with Carolyn? Oh, nothing much. Her intestines decided they needed more ‘lebensraum’ and so pushed her stomach up through her diaphragm, to a point where it was nestled, noodle-like, between her lungs. The medical term for this is ‘hiatal hernia’, which is pronounced “hoe-lee / shee-ie-t”.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bicycling through Glenwood Canyon

I grew up in the 1970’s, the time of NIXON, Ford and carter. It was a time of polyester, smoking, wide ties and shame at our perceived strategic reassignment of our objectives in Vietnam. 

“International” was on the back burner for America, and when my stupid older brother wanted to quit the Air Force after 18 months, they shrugged and said: “Sure. Okay. Thanks for stopping by.”

Domestic Acheivements were the order of the day, and the crown
First road thru the canyon, 1903
jewel of our vast nation was our Interstate Highway System. We had been diligently linking up all of our nations regions since 1956 and it was all done by the late 70’s! Yay!

Well, almost done. There was one teeny, tiny 16 mile stretch of road that stubbornly defied all attempts at fourlanedom. 16 lousy miles out of 47,714. And that’s where my family vacationed every year.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Amtrak: Aboard The California Zephyr

My Mother lives on the Easter Island of the North American Continent. 

Grand Junction, Colorado, just over the Eastern border with Utah, is a city of 60,000 situated in a region of about 60,000 square miles of inhabitation. I’m not kidding: As you enter I-70 the direction signs tell you “East to Denver” or “West to……, ‘Utah’, I guess”.*

Isolation is all fine and dandy, especially if you already live there and are retired. But for those of us wishing to travel there, Grand Junction offers a variety of unappealing choices:

Taking a plane is a four-dimensional thrill ride of frustration, wherein you fly over your destination, all the way to Denver, and then take a prop plane back across the state to the Western border. ‘Prop’, for you readers under 80 means that the plane is equipped with propellers, instead of jets. Propellers, like when aeroplanes landed in fields instead of on runways. And up until a few years ago the local airport was indeed called “Walker Field” - watch out for that tractor, and don’t hit the scarecrow!

Prop planes have a cruising ceiling of 10,000 feet, and this run goes all the way through the Rocky Mountains when they are at their tippy-toppy pointiest, which means your plane will be slaloming around various peaks and ranges on your way back through ground that you just flow over a couple of hours before.

A sleek, small metal tube that is loud and buzzy and takes you to various peaks? Its like traveling inside a vibrator.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wharf to Wharf Race

Those of you who have hiked in Colorado may know the sensation of standing in a grove of Aspen trees. The Aspen is a white-barked tree of such astounding skinniness that even a fully mature specimen can be ringed by holding your thumbs and index fingers together. Aspens like to be in large groups and they have an consummately efficient vascular system that allows them to flourish at extreme altitudes. (The tree in the phrase 'treeline' is most often the Aspen.) Their leaves are small and numerous and they catch the light wonderfully. In a breeze they make a lovely, musical sound, not unlike a Cottonwood.

Standing in an Aspen grove is a sublime pleasure, but if you can't get to the Rockies easily, try standing in the crowd of runners before the Wharf to Wharf race. Its largely the same effect: You're surrounded by thousands of light skinned individuals of astounding skinniness with excellent cardiovascular systems about to function under extreme conditions. Instead of leaves catching the light it is the runners outfit. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

The 2014 Silicon Valley Triathlon: Quest for the RED bag

Triathlons = Adventure.
But the Silicon Valley Super Sprint Tri was grand-double-super-secret-squared ADVENTURE.

And Adventure, as always, is defined as:
  • 90% Boredom
  • 5% Terror
  • 5% Laundry
In retrospect I should have known that things would go wrong on this race.
Due to the drought in California the venue had been changed from a reservoir in Santa Clara County to Half Moon Bay - the thinking being that the ocean is not going to dry up anytime soon. All fine and well - my FIRST TRIATHLON was held in a depleted Lake Mead that was so low the swimmers were cutting their feet on the sharp rocks on the bottom. But changing a race venue is pretty much a guarantee that some important details are going to be missed - like stranding 700 racers 6 miles from their gear and their cars.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Magic 8 ball: Tool of the Gods!

I worked at a Wicca store for a few years, and almost every customer I met ended up playing with the Magic 8-Ball by the cash register. It brings back warm fuzzy memories from childhood. 
I saw people asking it questions all day long and laughing at the answers it gave. A toy? Yes. Explainable? Yes. Then why is everyone nodding as they laugh at it? Why are they laughing with something that has no inherent magick in it?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Play Ball!

The Vernal Equionox has passed, but its not REALLY Spring until Opening Day. 

And so today there’s a singing bluebird on one shoulder, a Louisville Slugger on the other and the world is once again running in greased grooves.

Baseball is here again. We can relax.
Because baseball is all about relaxation. An Englishman once remarked that to endure the top of a 7th inning is to understand all eternity – this from a country that worships Cricket, where a game can easily last for three days.
On the field after running a Giant Race 5K.
But you know what? Let ‘em whine. Today I am in love with all the world. My teams are resplendent, untarnished, invincible. By the All-Star break they’ll be broken down, indicted, and able to strike out at will – but here, poised on the cusp of the season, they are immaculate, inviolate.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dream: BIG Bathroom

Note: As clearly as I could recall this is exactly what I dreamt. And no, I wasn't watching "Back to the Future 2" or reading Gibbons' "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire" or anything the night before.
Dusty desert bar standing by itself, next to a lonely two-lane blacktop that runs arrow straight, disappearing over both horizons. Early afternoon. Slight breeze blows some tumbleweeds around. The bar is almost empty – the only patron is a hippie dude with a beard and long hair sitting at a table with a glass of water before him.
Two teenagers enter the bar. Tall, skinny Chuck and short, fat Rob. College kids. Arguing about habits of the Roman Legions. One says they were loyal to Rome only, and the other says that they were often not Italian at all – in the later centuries – and were based hundreds of miles away from Italy, and sometimes never even saw the Capitol.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Saint Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick’s Day can be rough on a red-headed Irish guy who isn’t Christian, doesn’t drink alcohol, and has a modicum of shame.
Let’s go out tonight and what shall we experience? Plastic shamrock hats, green beer, bad “lucky charms” accents, and waking up the next morning with a hat full of vomit next to your bed and a feeling like the I.R.A. just set off a bomb in your head.
But I’m not a drinker, so I dodge that aspect. What I do get is all my co-workers talking like Darby O’Gill, adding “Mc-” to their surnames and continually berating me for not wearing green. I even still get pinched on occasion.
And I’m just not into playing along this year. I have taken off my “Kiss me – I’m Irish” button and replaced it with one that reads: “Don’t kiss me – you’re an idiot.”

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Troy (or "Frankie and Annette starring in 'Saving Private Helen'")

(Note: In 2004 the editor of the free paper in my town suggested that I try my hand at Movie Reviews. So I went to see "Troy" and handed in this review the next day. The Editor then pointed out that the movie theater that advertised in his paper would not appreciate my 'less-than-glowing' recap. So I told him that he could keep the hard copy - and also where he could put it.)

On the one hand you can't get too mad at a Hercules movie, whether it cost $100,000 and starred Steve Reeves or $175,000,000  and starred the hot blonde dude who peeked in "Thelma and Louise". 

Beefcake pictures are like beach books: they proliferate each summer, much like pollen, and are long gone by Xmas, when Oscars the grouch wakes up.* Gals drag their guys to them, mucho funno is had later at home, and the guys drag themselves to the gym the next day. Everybody's happy and the local economy prospers. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pantheacon 2014, Part 4: Sunday

4 out of 5 dentists recommend that you begin your journey with THURSDAY, FRIDAY and/or SATURDAY.

Sunday morning at Pantheacon for many people means rolling over and saying: "Hello. And you are......?"

Or at the very least: "Wait....who am I?"

Being sober and married I had neither of these problems, and so my Sunday morning was the time for clear-eyed reflection. And what I realized was that I had seen, like, two things a day for the entire weekend. I would need to up my average if I was going to avoid looking like a complete doofus in these here reviews.

I mean, if I'm going to spend the entire convention just sitting in Cafe Ho-Hum and complaining about the food and service, I could just skip the whole Registration fee, right?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pantheacon 2014, part 3: Saturday

Backtrack to THURSDAY or FRIDAY. Or not. You have Freewill.

Amazingly I slept right through the Hockey in the Night, but I think it affected me nonetheless. I got 6 hours of sleep, woke up at 8:30am, and was totally going to make it  to a 9am workshop.

I got to the door to "Wake Up - to Spirit!" and then decided that I had failed the first half of the title. So I rebounded back to - you guessed it - Cafe Ho-Hum.