Saturday, June 27, 2009

Keep On Rocking In The Free World

My old Mackie Designs pal, Kevin Rupp, sent me this link the other day.  Great live Neil Young performance from SNL in 1989.  Man, I can't believe this was in '89 - I remember watching this on SNL.  I also have the album - on vinyl.  Yes, I'm old.

Give it a spin and tell me this isn't Rock with a capital "R".....

I've been a Neil Young fan for quite awhile - but not for all his material. That's partly what's cool about Neil, he takes risks and puts out material that's different - yet all Neil Young.  He's officially a rock icon now, Godfather of Grunge, or whatever you want to call him.  He's been around forever with an amazing collection of work to his credit. Truly impressive.  

One of the best concerts I've ever seen was Neil Young and Crazy Horse in '86 or so, at Madison Square Garden in NYC.  This was the Landing on Water album era.  Stage was set up as a garage - stacks of tires, etc.  Sort of a mini-play and show at once.  Jon Lovitz came on as the band manager, in the SNL liar character ("Yeah, that's the ticket").  At the end, actor cops closed down the garage and ended the show. Pretty funny.  At one point, Neil - front of the stage, blazing guitar during Like a Hurricane, with two giant remote control cockroaches at his side, antennas flopping around - wild stuff.

A less memorable concert, earlier in the '80s at the Garden State Art Center, in my home state of New Jersey - probably now named after a bank or something just as goofy - the Art Center, not the state, though that's probably not far off.  This was Neil Young and the International Harvesters.  A very country type gig, not really my thing, though Neil threw in a few classics as well.  The only memorable part of the show was fans sitting in open grass section, throwing chunks of sod down into the real seating area below.  Always fun to watch some tough guy get clocked in the head with a pound of dirt and grass, spin around ready to kill - to see about 4000 people with silly smiles on their faces. 

I attended that show with my Cousin Joey (not to be confused with My Cousin Vinny) and bike shop cohort and later Greenpeace guy, John Passacantando.

I have to give Joey and John some credit for me getting into Neil Young.  John for talking about Neil Young at the bike shop and for Joey - when we used to hang out in his basement listening to Neil Young albums, especially the wacky Trans album.  I think we were the only two humans on earth who liked that album.

If you're a Neil Young fan, check out Shakey, an official biography. Loads of info and detail on the man, his music and history.

Keep on rocking in the free world.....

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day on Tiger Mountain

To escape the Funhouse, Ian and I drove over to Tiger Mountain State Forest for some mountain biking.  I haven't ridden Tiger Mountain in over 10 years and since Ian has never seen it - thought it would be fun.  Years ago, used to hit this place once a week or so, with some Mackie Designs coworkers and pals.  We'd do the fire road climb, dive down the Preston Trail, ride the NW Timber Trail to the Iverson Trail, then back to the car.

A quick glance at John Zilly's Kissing the Trail guide confirmed the route, since my aging brain was a little fuzzy on the details.  Driving out to Issaquah, watched a storm move over Tiger Mountain - complete with lightening - then blow over.  By the time we finished lunch, the sun was back out.

We fuel up on tacos and burritos before the ride.  The food of champions.

We continue the drive to the trailhead off Highway 18 - unload bikes and start riding up the dirt road climb.  After a few miles of rolling climbs, start descending - this doesn't seem right.  I remember the climb to the Preston Trail being uphill the entire way.  We ask some people hiking if the Preston Trail is ahead - they have no idea.  Run into some older guy on a electric converted mountain bike - he has no idea.  Ian is convinced it's farther ahead, he remembers the map.  Ian is usually great with maps, so we descend a little farther - then I pulled the plug and had us turn around.  If not correct, don't want a fried 9 year old rider suffering climbing back out.  The climb back out was a grind, but Ian pulled it off.

On the way back, we did cut into the Iverson Trail for a little singletrack fun.  Ian enjoyed that - much more interesting then grinding up a steep dirt road.  Ian's technical skills have grown quite a bit and he flowed right over the roots and rocks without a problem.  At one point I floundered a bit and he lost me for a few minutes.  When I caught him, waiting at the end, he asks, "That's as fast as you can ride that?"  Gee - sorry to hold you up, laughing to myself.

Ian does the Iverson Trail

Dad does the Iverson Trail

It was getting late, around 6:45 PM, so we backtracked the Iverson - then continued the dirt road back to the car.  Checking Zilly's book again, saw where we screwed up.  We climbed the wrong road out of the parking area - the road that headed to Poo Poo Point, not the Preston Trail.  Whoops.  Yes, Poo Poo Point - if you think that's funny, imagine how funny it is to a 9 year old.  I told Ian we'd try the Preston Trail again another time.

Still, we did 10+ miles with lots of climbing.  Not all fun, but pretty good for a 9 year old - no?

Since the Funhouse kitchen is still out of commission, we grabbed a pizza on the way home.  Amy and Lori hit a movie and did their own dinner thing.  Everyone has their own idea of fun.

Happy Father's Day.

Welcome to the Funhouse

Load-O-Fun here at the Dan O Estate this weekend.  While at work on Thursday, Lori called me to report the living room rug was wet.  What? How would the living room rug get wet?  While on the phone, she looked behind the 'fridge and other possible spots - nothing.  We then got a reference for a plumber from our real estate pal, Tony Meier. Gave 'em a call - earliest time would be 7:30 AM the next day.  Okay - come on out.

When I get home from work on Thursday, crawled into the crawl space under the house - always a pleasant experience - and looked for a leak.  Pretty easy to find, water dripping from various places - off the beams and insulation - with a nice puddle under it all.  To me, looked like the drain for the kitchen sink and dishwasher was leaking - right next to where the cable guy ran cable last week.  Comcastic.  Thought maybe he somehow drilled or punctured something while drilling a hole into the house for cable.

Plumbers arrive exactly at 7:30 AM as planned and dive into the proceedings.  Doesn't take them long to figure out the dishwasher pump was failing and dripping water into the floor.  Nice.  They offer to haul the dishwasher away and give us a reference for some water damage repair folks - who show up in one hour.  In no time, wall unit is pulled away from the wall and several loud fans and dehumidifier are drying out the place - carpet, wall unit, sections of wall, under floor of kitchen and behind cabinets.  Another set of gear in the crawl space scaring the spiders and whatever else lives under there.  Fans are supposed to run for 3 - 5 days.  Joy.  Water Damage Dude (says so right on his card) recommends abandoning ship and getting a hotel room for a few days.  Call to Allstate confirms all festivities should be covered by our home owners coverage.

On top of all this, we had plans to spend two days in Mazama for Ian to compete in Indie Series race # 5 in Winthrop.  After, uh, much debate - we elected to stay close to home and bag the trip.  Much disappointment from Ian and I.

We skipped the local hotel idea and stayed home for the night, all of us in one bedroom to escape the fan noise and heat.  Downstairs now hovered around 85 degrees and super stuffy from windows being shut. Very comfy.  In the morning, we escape the house for the day.  While playing mini-golf (Amy's choice), Allstate calls to inform us they may not cover this little shindig.  They also want to see the dishwasher pump - already hauled away.  Very different tune from the day before. Calls to plumber to dig up the pump and Water Damage Dude to let him know insurance company may not cover his service.

It's now Sunday - night number 3 of loud fans and sealed bedroom door.  Also, 3 days of all meals eaten out.  Water Damage Dude stopped by to check progress - things are drying out as expected - should be good by Tuesday.  We all escaped the house for the day once again.  The fun continues.

On Tuesday, Allstate guy is scheduled to stop by and look things over.  If they deny our claim, I won't be a happy camper - especially after we were given the green light initially.  Oh yeah - we've also been Allstate customers for home and car insurance for over 20 years now. I'd hope that accounts for something.

We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dance Recitals and Campy Delta Brakes

I've been swamped at work and home, meaning the blog has been idle for a week now.  That's not good, need to do my part in filling up the Internet.  Remember - it's only a exhibition, not a competition - please, no wagering.

I took today off from riding - woke up late, a little hammered from the last two days of riding, plus my back is tweaked out a bit.  Riding home on Monday, I felt pretty good and cruised at 20-22 mph for quite awhile.  For me (Al Franken), that's fast.  Also spotted, then rode with some kid on a cool vintage Pinarello, complete with Campy Record Delta brakes.  You don't see those often.  I thought about asking the kid to stop, so I could snap some pictures - but felt kind of goofy about it and didn't.  That's rare for me - goofy is usually not a problem.

Over the weekend, my 5 year old daughter Amy had a dance recital. A very big deal for her and mom - lots of practice, special dress, flowers, pictures, dance on a real stage - the whole shindig. 

Friday was a full dress dry run, then the real deal on Saturday to a packed house.  Loads of insanely cute little girls involved with the program.  Of course Ian whined and complained about the whole thing, but I guess that's normal for a 9 year old brother.  By coincidence, coworker of mine - his daughter is in the same class as Amy and they danced together - that was great.  On top of that, one of Amy's little friends recently joined the class and danced also.  A fun time for all.

After the recital, a celebration at Ruby's Dinner - Amy's choice.  It's fun having a girly-girl daughter to balance out the activities we enjoy with Ian - very different worlds.

We're very fortunate parents to have such cool kids.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Old School Fisher

This old school Fisher has been in the bike room at work lately.  With the Biopace chainrings, under chainstay mounted U-Brake and top mount shifters - mid '80s vintage.  Biopace and chainstay brakes proved to be a dumb idea that faded quick.  The old Fisher logos look cool though.  They were forced to name their bikes "Gary Fisher" after pressure from the Fischer ski company later on.  A little fun fact to bore your friends with at parties.  The ladies will be impressed.

It's great to see these old bikes put to good use - especially commuting.  The woman who rides it borrowed the bike from a friend to take part in the commuter challenge last month.  The event is over and she's still riding it - very cool to see.

I get a kick out of seeing it in the bike room.  It could be hanging in a garage somewhere collecting dust - instead of getting a new bike commuter to work and back.  A noble use for an old mountain bike.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Wallet

I've been using this wallet since the '80s - don't remember exactly when.  It's hammered, conformed perfectly to my ass - left cheek - and now a running gag, while being sort of a living art project.  An art project to be enjoyed daily by everyone involved.

I have new wallets - never been used.  Why ruin all this with a new wallet?  Spoil the cheap entertainment when I pull it out to pay for something?  No longer have friends ask to actually see "The Wallet"? I think not.  Joke with my son, that one day "The Wallet" will be his. This can't be stopped.

Today at Starbucks - Washington State law requires every resident to visit at least once a week - some business dude in a suit spied my wallet, while I was paying for my overpriced ice tea.  "Nice wallet" he says - not sure if he was impressed, horrified, or just being sarcastic. I then told him the story of "The Wallet"  and how I planned to be buried with it.

I can't stop the joy "The Wallet" provides for family, friends and strangers.

No, it must go on forever....

Float Like a Blog. Sting Like a Bee.

It's been about 6 months since I've started this little Blog-O-Rama project.  I enjoy it - an outlet and learning experience - cool stuff.  A few people seem to follow it, I've received some positive comments, and made some online bike pals in the process.  It's all good.

Pictures above from my commute this morning - much different conditions from my first post - taken in the same spot.  60 degrees and sunny instead of freezing temps with ice and snow.  Both still fun in their own way.

On the commute home, received a bee sting in the stomach area - right through my bike jersey.  Little bastard must have gotten caught between my messenger bag strap and body - then zapped me.  I never found the culprit, but know what a bee sting feels and looks like. Lucky - not much swelling and no big deal.

Nice weather is supposed to continue for a few more days.  I'm digging riding my carbon Ibis in the sun.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Three Hour Tour

A three hour tour today - the weather didn't get rough, Gilligan and the Professor were nowhere to be found.  The Minnow wasn't lost and we didn't have to build a radio out of coconuts - or be trapped in reruns that ran through the '70s.

It actually turned out to be a two hour tour, featuring a different cast of characters.  Son Ian, coworker Jay, neighbor Dan, new guy Kevin, and uh, me.  New guy Kevin just moved up from Southern California and was inquiring about getting a St Ed Park tour on the Evergreen email list.  I said sure, come on down - just don't pick door number 3.

The ride also was to console Ian, who skipped Indie Series race # 4 today, to attend a school pal's birthday party later in the day.  A tough choice for a 9 year old - birthday party won out, even if some second guessing this morning.  Too late for that.  It's not easy being a little mountain bike racer.

We did some easy cruising pointing out a few trails in St Eds and O Denny parks.  We let Ian dictate the pace and he was feeling a little tired today - though he did clean a few nice logs and the entire switch back climb out of the secret gully.  Coworker Jay, a fairly new mountain biker has picked up some additional skills.  New guy Kevin commented on riding through actual trees - instead the barren wasteland that is Southern California.  Somewhere along the way, neighbor Dan disappeared without a trace.  No real concern, he's ridden these trails a zillion times.  I did call his wife when we got home, she rang his cell and all was well.  No owl attacks or endos involved.

Son Ian, Coworker Jay and New Guy Kevin stand around looking bored, yet mildly amused.  Neighbor Dan was MIA at this point.

Some of our local terrain is so technical - the trees grow sideways. Here Ian defies gravity on the "Plank of Death".  Either that, or I'm an idiot getting used to a new camera.  You can't shoot video in portrait mode - whoops.  Crunchy audio is probably due to finger over mic. Yup, Hollywood should be calling any day now.  Any day....

This concludes my ultra exciting, multimedia, action packed report.  I know there's a vast audience out there tuning in.  I thank all three or four of you....

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rest Day

It's summer time and the riding is easy.  Well, its not officially summer yet, but sure feels like it.  I've been on a roll and have only missed a few days riding over the last few weeks.  I'm out of my winter slump and spring allergy hell - can feel fitness returning.  The "motor" feeling as I call it.  Can cruise at a decent clip without trying and feel slightly punchy on hills.  You can't buy that feeling for a million bucks.  Well, maybe you can - since you could quit your job and ride more.

I did drive to work today though - legs needed a break.  It's been a few weeks since I've started my car, so I'm expecting a call from Al Gore any minute now - probably from his private jet.

Here's a few exciting photos from my commute:

Empty bike rack leans away from parking rate info - like a anti-magnetic force.  Nothing more enjoyable then forking out a few bucks a day for parking.  This is the cheapest lot I can find near work and it requires a 15 minute walk to my building.  Nothing wrong with walking, except when it adds 30 minutes to your workday - sort of a little extra punishment for driving.  Still better then paying the parking rate for my building - about $15 daily.  Ouch.

View on the way home, complete with cracked windshield and commanding view of SUV.  The red lights however, do give you time to pause and reflect - on how much you miss riding to work.

Ahhh, much better.  View from previous commute.  Which would you pick?

I'm not anti-car, actually bit of a (recovering) gear head.  Driving is fun - sitting in traffic and paying for parking - doesn't qualify as fun.

Bikes however, are the most fun of all.  Oh yeah - no doubt about that.

Ride on.