Thursday, August 25, 2011

Motorcycle Defense

Welcome to Texas. I bet no one cuts this guy off after they catch a glimpse of what's on his hip. Click on the image for a closer view.

I should get one for when I ride my bicycle. Or maybe just put a sling on my shotgun and carry it across my back. That might be better. I could attach one of those cute orange triangular flags to the barrel for added safety.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I believe a bicycle to be one of the simplest pleasures a woman or man might encounter.

It's an odd thing when you sit down and think about it. Something you loved so much as a child, replete with countless memories and scars and tales. Something you held dear to your teenage heart while you scorned so many countless others. Years pass, and suddenly there you are: An adult. Occupied with a career, offspring, wars, family, debt, whatever. But you still love your bicycle just as much.

Don't take my word for all this, just ask Freddie Mercury.

Bike lanes are bike lanes, and I really like that cities are installing more bicycling infrastructure. But what I really love is the way old railways are being re-purposed. Like this place in British Columbia. I biked here once with some friends. Good guys, good memories. We biked in grizzly country past streams so full of salmon it almost seemed you could walk across them.

Also, my first and only encounter with police brutality happened on my bike. A bicycle officer (irony) whacked the hell out of my head/shoulder at a Critical Mass protest during the 2004 Republican National Convention in NYC.
This Is How They Roll In NYC.
Apparently I didn't move fast enough for him. No one could move anywhere, since it was so crowded, so he just started hitting people. He just kept yelling "F*cking move!" and went at it. People started moving after that. It frightened me, but didn't hurt that much. I kind of feel like I should have at least mouthed off in order to deserve that treatment. It's unlike me to hold my tongue after the fact, but I really just wanted to get out of there.

On a less serious note, please enjoy these three videos while you ponder how much you want to ride your bike. The first has Band of Horses, but the second two are far prettier. Especially if you love the UK. They are all just amazing, and the music in each suits them perfectly. If you are a musician, understand this guy would the cycling version of Mozart. Just pure creative genius and technical perfection.

You should theoretically be able to "hop" your bike as high as you can jump while holding it. For instance, riding pretty fast straight into a curb, you should be able to hop and clear it. But I can just manage a curb. And even then I am a little wary.

And wheelies. I really need to work on wheelies.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Kubb is a wonderfully fun yard game from Sweden. It was invented by Agnetha Fältskog.

I'd compare Kubb to bocce, horseshoes, or washers. But the pitch (playing area) is mobile. And you can play it on any surface. Except water, unless it is frozen. Any solid surface.

It's played with wooden blocks and batons. You throw the batons at your opponent's blocks to topple them, but once knocked down they are rearranged on your side of the pitch. Your opponent has to hit those "field" pieces before they can strike yours. And there's a King piece you would wisely avoid until the proper time. Like a real King.

I could explain the rules, but you should instead just take my word that Kubb is not complicated. And read that link. It's closer to checkers than chess, but the luck involved when chucking chunks of wood comes into play. And there is considerable strategy, which I always find agreeable.

Once you google it, you'll get about 10 different sets of rules. Choose your own adventure. Youtube is more funny than useful. The wikipedia entry is wikipedia-y.

I am so amazed IKEA has not capitalized (socialized) on this.

They must have had some high-level meeting in Stockholm that went something like: "We will give them the meatballs, but NOT! THE! KUBB!" And I bet that sentence sounds amazing when yelled in Swedish. Imagine a red-faced obese blond man screaming and pounding his plump fists on a cheaply made particle board desk.

I spent less that $20 on this kit. Including stain and urethane top coat.
6ft 4"x4" (Fir)
6ft 1-1/2" dowel rod (Pine, could be up to 1-3/4" thick)

Then you just rip the lumber. I only used a circular saw, sandpaper, and chisels. But if Mother Earth has blessed you with a table saw and router, then you are golden.

1ft off the 4x4 for the King piece
The remainder sawed into 10 pieces, each 6 inches long, 2-3/4" wide/high.

Dowel sawed into 6 1ft pieces.

4 random stakes or objects to demarcate the pitch.

Sand and Stain to your liking. Spar urethane top coat.

It's that easy. And if you begin practicing now, you'll be in fine shape by tailgating season.


I own 8 chickens. Various breeds. All hens. It sounds like a lot, but they have enough space even on my little urban farm. And as you can see from above, when it's 100+ they really love the insect-ruined cantaloupe. They dig the water hose. Tiny avian toddlers playing in the sprinklers.

As for me, I like eating eggs. And eating chicken meat that has been humanely and responsibly raised.

I don't slaughter the hens often, since we keep them principally for their eggs. So when we do eat one, it's an important meal that I take very seriously.

Shooting and cleaning a dove or a duck I plucked from the sky, or cleaning a fish I reeled in minutes earlier has a profound effect on me. I can't deny that these wild creatures flying past me or swimming beneath me were probably just looking for food or shelter. Just like I search out food and shelter every day. Well, I personally and violently ended their search for shelter, and they became my food.

I love my hens. As much as you love your dog or cat. They all get names. They all have distinct personalities. I feed and water them each day. I give them treats. And they live for years, just like more common pets.

Even though I love them, it's hard for me to reconcile my relationship with my flock. Hens who depend on me for survival and respond to my calls and routines.

Tomorrow morning I will lovingly hold a trusting chicken in my arms as it eats from my hand. And the hen will be thankful. As will I.

The vexing thing for me is knowing that deep down, I have every intention of killing it someday. Knowing for sure, the last time those trustworthy hands pick her up won't be for feeding.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Make Your Own Ketchup

Dating advice:
Never date anyone who prefers catsup to ketchup. Dealbreaker.

Can one adore cheese and date a vegan? Jesus says in the Bible that this type of relationship will end in disaster, and you will die alone. Would you love someone who doesn't love Parmesan?

Back to Ketchup. It's so very easy/fun to make. And vegan. I think of ketchup as a sauce, although Important People call it a condiment. I used the recipe below as a marinade, while baking, and as a sauce with baked chicken recently. It was very tasty.

You may even get 2nd degree burns while making it. Pretend you're using a hand blender and decide a little splashing of molten lava ketchup drops are what you'd like. Lots of fun. Pure joy.

Spicy Ketchup Recipe:

Large stock pot... hot (high/med-high)
Olive oil
1 diced red onion... brown it in the oil
3 stalks celery chopped
1 fennel bulb chopped
1 handful of cilantro
1 minced Serrano pepper (a bold jalapeno or 2 would work as well)
3 minced garlic cloves
2 28 oz cans whole tomatoes
1/2lb fresh tomatoes, crushed
1 thumb-sized piece of raw ginger, minced
2 tbsp crushed red pepper
1/4c dark brown sugar
1/4c molasses
red wine vinegar to taste, 1/2c at least
salt to taste

Use your hand blender to mix all this up. Try for no large vegetable pieces.

Then simmer for a long time. Go for a run. You're looking for viscosity.

Use your trusty hand blender to puree periodically as the mixture simmers down. Take care, and enjoy your interactions with the boiling ketchup lava.

Taste often and if necessary, add more vinegar or sugar to adjust taste while simmering.

How will you know when it's done?

Because you will be looking at a pot of tasty ketchup. And blisters from those wonderful scalds on your arm.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


To get things started I'll give THE INTERNETS my prediction of what this blog might become.

I enjoy life, but my journal-keeping habits are quite lacking. I overuse hyphens. And not to be too morbid, I kind of hope this blog might remain as a written history of the things I enjoyed doing once my life is over. Hopefully this is a long term project. I mean dang, to start a blog at 33 and keel over in the next few years would be a waste of time.

But mostly I want to share my life a little and try to communicate more with people I care about and love but never talk to enough.

Maybe I'll brag about my super-intelligent, super-hot girlfriends. They're both named Caroline. What are the chances of that?