Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Under the covers, at night.

She likes to hold hands under the covers.

I'll have my hand at my side, and I'll feel her slender, cool fingers slip past my palm, brush against my fingertips briefly before sliding down to lock in with my fingers and then a quick grip of my hand, which I instinctively return, and then she's gone again.

Maybe she just wants to be reminded there's someone else in the dark room. Maybe she heard me snort in my sleep. Maybe she just had a bad dream.

That last one makes me pause...

What do ghosts dream about, and what is a scary dream to them?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

"What is cool?" According to JC Whitney, 1968,
pt 6

And you thought texting was a problem...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"What is cool?" According to JC Whitney, 1968,
pt 5

An unusual, attention-getting pedal

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Music for gray winter days.

I've been sick, and the weather here in the southeast has been more than accommodating for the past couple of days: rain, drizzle, condensation and cold winds combined with leaden grey clouds have created an environment more conducive to being morose and miserable than any other, with the possible exception of an IRS auditor's office. So I used the weather as a lead-in to indulge myself in more of my favorite, morose, winter music, because it was just that kind of week.

I took the opportunity to return to the work of Bon Iver, because it was on constant rotation pretty much all last winter for me, and always felt somewhat out of place to listen to on a sunny summer day. I was pleased to note that the music held up as well as I remembered after a year off, and found that the song "Blood Bank" has managed to get a death grip on my ear this time around.

I'm not normally a fan of songs that tell a story, but this one tells a neat compact little tale, with a few standout couplets that so that the narrative feels less like a novel, and more like one of Hemingway's short stories. Papa Ernest used to claim that the best and shortest of his stories only had six words: "For sale: baby shoes, never used." The story fills in the space between those words, so instead of feeding you the description, you are forced to work it out for yourself. This song works the same way. In the space of two and one-half verses, you get the gist of an entire life. The narrator tells a short, stream of consciousness story about visiting a blood bank and talking with someone who is never really identified but may in fact be a friend, a lover or a random stranger, about... well, random things. You're introduced to the story already in progress in the eponymous blood bank, looking at bags of donated blood and musings on relatives, mortality and connections. The song hinges on a kiss that isn't necessarily romantic, but more of a human longing for contact with someone, anyone on a cold winter day. And it all finally ends on a reflection on shared secrets, infatuation, and childhood.

I can't say exactly what I've been allowed to witness here, but I'm sure I've been there, and in the back of my mind, I still know exactly what the cold vinyl seats in the car smelled like...

    You said "Ain't this just like the present,
    To keep showing up like this."
    As the moon waned a crescent,
    We started to kiss.

Video by sklyrovka on YouTube, who managed to hit the nail on the head.

"What is cool?" According to JC Whitney, 1968,
pt 4

Add sports car styling to any car!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"What is cool?" According to JC Whitney, 1968,
pt 3

For restyling - for customizing - for street or competition.

Friday, October 30, 2009


from: Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, Murnau, 1922

Once upon a time, back when I was in high school, remember sitting with my friends trying to figure out what supernatural creature would be the next unicorn. I laughingly suggested that in the future pre-teen girls would have posters of vampires on their walls, all pouty and brooding. We cracked up at that, because we were all fans of the gothic side of vampires, the stuff of Anne Rice, Nosferatu, and Bram Stoker. Creatures who were as far from teenage romanticism as possible. Creatures whose very existence was an affront to all that was holy or natural. Now I think of that conversation and sigh.

See, once the night was a lot darker than it is now. And people would sit in small cramped houses and hear things out in the night, and it wasn't a matter of flipping on the flood lights and seeing what it was that was going bump. You had pretty much two choices, you could go out and fumble around and maybe find what you were looking for by the light of a torch, or you could stay safe by the fire and tell stories of what you thought you heard. The best of the stories would circulate from house to house, constantly being improved on, and added to, much like a clay sculpture being molded and refined, until at last there was a visage staring back at you, full of the most horrifying and frightening creatures your mind could conceive of made flesh and whole. And then, your creature would take on a life of its own, but still you have the power to hold it back. Oddly enough you subtract by adding: garlic, silver, crosses, stakes, daybreak... all these additions bind the unbridled fear and allow you a handle to restrain your unholy offspring.

The problem is that eventually the unbridled fear of the original is watered down, and made fit for mass consumption. The glass slipper loses its razor sharp edge, the witch is spared the fire of the kiln, and the creature of the dark is free to move in daylight, but bereft of its ability to capture you and lead you into its crypt-like world.

But for one, night... on one particular night we pull all the old horrors out of the back of the closet and let them loose once more. The lids of the coffins creak, and we jump with genuine fear. We put on display all of the sins we revel in, and we let them own and control us, and we laugh because it's only for one night, only for show and only for make believe, but for one night, we let the vampires retake their fangs, and let them fly true and frightening again, and for one night, we make tales about the creaking floorboards, which spread from house to house...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

'Tis I wonderful thing to travel, but 'tis far better to be able to return.

An interesting story of cross-country travel in the 1920's on a motorcycle. Highlights: fixing a broken frame with wire, pushing a bike across a railroad bridge, and dirt roads.

Friday, October 16, 2009

"What is cool?" According to JC Whitney, 1968,
pt 2

Possibly not DOT approved.

Update: Want one? See here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"What is cool?" According to JC Whitney, 1968

Just go easy on the speed bumps...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning...

A strangely red sky this morning, and it's been raining ever since. I guess those sailors knew what was what.

I, however, came into work as normal. I fail at necessary precautions, I guess.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Apply palm to forehead.
Reassembly is the inverse.

To update the previous: Not an eaten valve, just Yamaha and their incredibly insane valve settings. How one company can come up with half a dozen different valve gaps for the exact same engine is a matter for the engineers to figure out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A momentary time of absolute freedom, followed by a crashing sound.

People occasionally ask me why I ride a motorcycle. It's obviously unsafe, frightening and loud. And in spite of all that, there are the moments when you're hunched over the tank, a fast wind pulling at your face and tears streaming back from the far corners of your eyes and a dull red sound echoing back from somewhere below and behind you that makes it all worthwhile.

The other half of this is walking home, sweat dripping out from under your padded jacket and 450 pounds of dead weight resisting your motion towards home.

My bike apparently ate a valve this past week. I'm so sick about it right now I can't even think about it much. I go out to the shed, look long and hard at the bike and try to remember the flying but all that comes to mind is the pushing. Fixing it is a job. Pulling the engine out of the frame, lifting the head and hopefully only discovering a bent valve, if I'm lucky, or a holed piston, if I'm not. Less the lion or the princess and more the lion or the tiger...

I'd sell it, but I can't bear the thought of condemning myself to the ground. Not just yet, anyway.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy 300th Sam Johnson

JGM again

"Still it is undecided whether or not there has ever been an instance of the spirit of any person appearing after death. All argument is against it; but all belief is for it."
    - Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Your lips are near...

...but my heart is far away.
Photo by John G. Moebes

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Consider the object: Luggage Stickers

I found these stuffed in a drawer while in the process of looking for something else...

I'm not sure of the date or if they are reproductions or not, but everything else in the drawer dated from the 60's so I'm going with that.

I had commented to a friend earlier in the week that you couldn't pay me to get on a plane ever again (they just aren't made for 6' 4" people, that's a solid fact), but I do still subscribe to the romantic idea of the golden age of flying when the term "jet set" actually meant something.

Aeronaves de Mexico

Indonesian Airlines

Air Afrique Luggage

Pan Am Airlines

Qantas Airlines

A pleasant remembrance of times when airline passengers weren't just peanuts, but valued customers.

All images link to my Flickr pages where you can download high quality scans, suitable for whatever mod design work or inspiration you need.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Come closer, don't be shy...

Hint: one of the people in the above photograph is not doing very well at all.
From Petrolia Heritage

There are a few ghosts who happen to share my living space with me. For the most part, they keep to themselves and don't bother anyone except for my friends who are usually only surprised by them as they stroll the yard, or brush by in the hallway. It's possible that they are as surprised as my friends are to find actual people in what, by metaphysical rights, is their space. But soon enough, I'll leave and they can go back to doing what they do without any intrusion from the corrupt world. I figure they have as much right to the place as I do, but there's one who has been whispering in my ear for the past three nights and waking me up, and if she doesn't knock it off soon, I'm gonna get angry.

I need my sleep after all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Geeking about Greeking.

I have altered this blog so the default font is now Hoefler Text. Why? Mostly due to my ligature fetish. Also, the italics just class the joint up.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hold your friends close...

From thismeik on flickr.

I woke up this morning with the following quote in my head and no idea where it came from:

I held the devil's warm hand in the cold moonlight...

It must be time to start a new painting...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Just looking in...

My future self can't tell my past self anything he won't find out on his own...

I liked it better when my friends had blogs instead of Facebook. I liked being able to stop by once a week and see a medley of events and thoughts and pictures so I could see what they'd been up too. It was like getting a short message with doodles on the envelope or small package of random items in the mail.

Now all I get is one line and a notification about some lost cow or which celebrity housewife cooking show they most resemble.

I tried an experiment last year to keep in contact via plain old regular mail. It was an utter failure, I'd forget to write, or people I'd remember to write would drop me a one line email to say they'd gotten my letter. My current mailbox is a huge monstrosity from Sears Roebuck, back when they were to the biggest, most important company in the world, and their catalog was a de facto overview of Americana. This mailbox was a testament to their dominance and can hold a small child, if someone tried to ship you one via the post office. Now it sits empty most days, except for the occasional advertising flyer.

Is 160 characters enough to stay in touch?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Every job, no matter how great, eventually gets to the point
where you're just dragging your sorry butt in
for one more day on the clock.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Political discourse is dead.

Watching last evening's news and seeing a member of the boomer generation refer to the "creeping evil" of socialism followed by a ten minute gladhanding piece on the 40th anniversary of Woodstock reminded me of an old joke:

Q: What's the difference between a locust horde and the baby boomers?
A: The horde doesn't look back.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Let me go on, like a dog in the sun.

How hot was it this weekend? I was panting too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Look. Just look.

"Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it..." - RIP John Hughes.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Advance the spark, we've a hun on our tail!

There are days when I question the issues of owning/maintaining a vintage bike (and this isn't even seriously vintage, it's younger then me!), or at least the questionable decision to use said bike for daily commuting.

This morning was a bit rough start after having been left alone for a rainy week, but I managed to get it to run, albeit with a bit of a limp. Halfway to work, it began revving all over the place and exuding the twin fumes of rich exhaust and leaking gasoline. Never a good sign. I had a distinctly Snoopy v/s the Red Baron feel. Especially with the bright red BMW that was following way too closely.

I get to work to note gas dripping out of the carb holders and hissing off the still ticking exhaust. Disgusted, I put it up on the center-stand and came into my office (the one bright spot of this story is that there is now a motorcycle parking lot within a stone's throw of my building, so I don't have to walk several blocks anymore).

After absorbing some coffee and reading up online I think I can do a curbside fix to get me home, but another round of tests and tweaks will be required. In one way I'm wondering if this bike will ever be finished, and on the other I'm glad I've got something to take my mind of the current madness at work.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Through a glass, lightly.

I spent a long weekend playing with the office's Nikon D50 and debating the merits of purchasing an SLR, two years after I gave away my Nikon 6006 (my last SLR). While I love the immediacy of my point and shoot (witness the sunroof series), there's no comparison to the joy of perfectly framing a shot and knowing exactly what it's going to look like before pulling the trigger and lifting the mirror.

In addition, I had forgotten how much better my old Nikkor glass was than the little shards used in my cheapo p&s. I took the above pictures with my Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lens, which is my all-time favorite chunk of glass. There's jut no comparison.

Unfortunately, the entry level Nikon no longer elegantly handles older lenses. So it's either save my pennies for the D300 (very drool worthy, and you pay for every drop) or go completely old school and back to focusing manually with the D40. The sad fact of the matter is all digital cameras are now to be considered disposable after three years, I don't have a lot of money to blow, and I guess I'm just going to have to get used to spinning a focus ring again.

Of course, if I'm going to buy a new camera I probably need an updated computer too (I'm already asking far too much of my old Pismo).

The upshot of all this pipe dreaming is that expensive thinking is enough to send me running back to my garage to go back to twiddling wrenches, since my next project (flushing the transmission in the Volvo) was only going to cost me for ATF and a few feet of clear tube.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kick the tires...

I am convinced Facebook is like the crappiest company car ever.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


"The moon landing was just a lot of hype. Once we got up there we realized the only thing worth looking at was the earth." -Lloyd Kahn

Monday, July 20, 2009

A question...

Why is Facebook the only website that actively dissuades you from lurking? Do they really want to be overrun with poorly-behaved yayhoos?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

You think you got it bad?

You lookin' at me, punk?

This is Susie. She's a three legged box turtle who hangs around my yard. She's either the bravest frickin' turtle on the planet, or a bit off in the head, I'm not sure which.

She's quite content to let me bug her with my camera, and she shows absolutely no fear of either myself or the dog. In fact, the following video may be the cutest thing I've ever posted on the internet. May God have mercy on my soul.

When the magic wears off...

I found the above photo here, in a great collection of vintage motorcycle photographs, and it completely summed up the frustration of what happens when vintage motorcycle parts stop working for some unknown reason. Lights flicker out and forward motion ceases and you are left all alone with the gods of physics. Sometimes all you can do is stare and hope for a sign from the heavens to bonk you on your thick skull and tell you what connector to wiggle to continue on.

Why yes, I was rebuilding my electrical system on the bike again, why do you ask?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Virtual travel.

Have you read my story about finding Hernandez, NM for my parents and wanted to try it out but don't have the time for a road trip? Google Maps to the rescue!

What goes around...

Remember the old motorcycle tank I bought with the neat painting on the side:

The nephew of the original artist contacted me through my flickr page recently. How cool is that?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

If you just smile...

So in all the media hoopla surrounding the passing of MJ I did learn one interesting fact: That he and I share a favorite song.

It's a rarely disputed that Charlie Chaplin was an excellent comedian, but he turned out to be a pretty good composer too. His song, Smile, is definitely one of my all time favorites, one of the few songs that always manages to make me do just what the title says. However, I'm going to eschew MJ's version in favor of a very restrained version by Madeleine Peyroux with excellent muted trumpet by Till Bronner.

Friday, June 26, 2009

My small tribute to
the once and future, King of Pop:

The day the Elvis died
Was like a mercy killing
America breathed
A sigh of relief
We knew all about the drugs
And the Vegas shows
And there wasn't much of anything
That looked like grief

And I guess he shoulda done
Like James Dean did
'Stead of putting on weight
And sinking down, down, down
Easier to take
If he had just skidded straight
To souvenir city
And T-shirt town

And sometimes I wish
I was smarter that I am
But I'm on my 3rd city
And I'm on my 4th car
And I'm on my 5th apartment
And so many of my days have sprung

And now it's too late to crash
Too late to burn
Too late to die young

If Pete Rose had exploded
Like Roberto Clemente
He'd be hanging in the Hall of Fame
Without fail
Can you name the last good film
Marlon Brando made
While trying to keep his kid
From going to jail
And the old people
On the street are telling you
"Don't become like me"
But every day
You creep a little bit closer

And I guess we shoulda done
Like James Dean did
'Stead of putting on weight
And sinking down, down, down
Easier to take
If he had just skidded straight
To souvenir city
And T-shirt town

And sometimes I wish
I was smarter that I am
But I'm on my 3rd city
And I'm on my 4th car
And I'm on my 5th apartment
And so many of my days have sprung

And now it's too late to crash
Too late to burn
Too late to die young
-Dan Bern

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

The annual self-portrait in petals.

Ready for my closeup, as always.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Do geeks dream of electric sheep?

My subconsciousness is arguably more geeky than my real-life self. I dreamed last night that I went to Disney World, but experienced it as a text adventure. The only part I remember with any real clarity is the following exchange:

You are at Space Mountain.
>enter space mountain
You are in Space Mountain, it is very dark, you are likely to be eaten by a Pooh.

So not only am I dreaming in interactive fiction, I'm making geeky references to Zork. I'm not sure if that's awesome or sad.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Don't forget to read the manual...

"Return from orbit is simply the reverse of takeoff procedure."

Strange addictions for strange times.

Being a bit of a denim aficionado, there are certain words that catch my ear. Much the same way a foodie might perk up at the mention of a new restaurant, or a sports fan at the mention of a promising new recruit, I can hear the words "redline selvage" from across a crowded room.

Theoretically you could lure me into a James Bond style trap with the right combination of words. Or, if not a trap, at least an eBay auction, which is very similar. So when I see the words "deadstock" "big-e Levi's" and "Talon zipper" all jumbled up, I'll hit the bid button so fast, you'll get a whiff of burning pixels.

Usually the object of my desire is snatched away from me, by deeper pockets than mine, but occasionally I'll find something only a truly sick aficionado could love. An object so odd that my adoration will cause others to question my sanity and fashion sense. And so it came to be that I won these vintage 60's Levi's 646 deadstock pants:

Yes, I'm fully aware that I look like a rodeo clown in them, but they fit so well it's uncanny. They must have been waiting in a dark attic for forty years for the right person to find them, and now I have. You think your mocking hides your jealousy, but oh no, I see through it.