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Ride boldly, Lad,  fear not the spills! (From "The Man From Snowy River," by Banjo Paterson) 
 
I'm not the man I used to think I was. (RBW)
 
"Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!"
(William Butler Yeats)

For a looong discussion on motorcyling in general and Adventure riding in particular, see the archives (or scroll down) for the first post on September 28, 2006.
It gives some opinions and ideas, along with a bit of philosophy; one (old) man's view of the world of 2 wheels.

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New Scooter---2014 R1200RT
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Cap'n Ron in the Straits of Georgia
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Monday, August 30, 2010

Curmudgeon

My Dear Wife is home from the hospital; not yet hale, but on the mend. She is feeling well, considering the size of the incision she is sporting. I would not be nearly as jovial, relaxed, or uncomplaining, let me tell you.

She opines that this blog has taken an aura of curmudgeonliness as of late. Ergo, I am sounding like a curmudgeon herein.

Which, to quote Stephen Colbert, brings me to today's word:

curmudgeon

Here is a brief summary of some definitions:

Definitions of curmudgeon on the Web:

Well, OK, guilty as charged. It is a prerogative of the aged to decry the current generation and the general state of our society, laws, government, and all things said curmudgeon deems worthy of curmudgeoning about.

I do not see the glass as half full. Often I see an empty glass. Or a glass full of dirty liquid, as in oil spill dirty.

But society muddles on, making a bit of progress. I do not long for the "Good Old Days," because they did not exist for a significant part of the population. For them, they were Bad Old Days, and we have put some of that behind us. Let us hope that this progress is not temporal and that we continue to inch ahead. 

Feel sorry for the Haters. When we have reached a point, sometime in the distant future, where it is no longer socially acceptable to hate gays, blacks, Latinos, women (except as sex objects), Jews, foreigners, Muslims, The French, The English, Mexicans (a special Latino Sub-category), Japanese, Chinese, communists (as opposed to Communists; the totalitarian varieties), who will be left for the poor Haters to hate? We poor, oppressed Caucasians have to have someone to hate, don't we? We are losing control, having mucked it up pretty much over the last couple of thousand years, and it really hurts to feel the reins of power slipping from our collective grasp. I guess the Haters can still hate. They have their coded words and phrases that let the other Haters know who is "on their side," and still maintain deniability. "Who me, a homophobe? Why perish the thought! I never once said I hate homosexuals. No. I hate the act, not the person. Yes, I think he/she should have second class citizenship, but that does not mean I hate the person." And so on, and so on...

I hesitate to point this out, but am compelled to do so: Some of the very acts the by folks who hate the act and not the people, are the very same acts those folks carry on in the privacy of their own homes, cars, offices, and other sites where heteros often tryst and dally. So, if the "act" is so abhorrent, why do these folks indulge? I will not go into the specifics, in the interest of decorum. Use your imagination... 

Still, nobody likes a grouch, especially a grouch who is not funny. I shall desist to the best of my ability...

 

4:14 pm mdt 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Cell Phone Menace

We have got to do something about cell phones while driving. Yesterday, leaving the hospital, I observed a Jaguar sedan, just ahead of me, blatantly run a red left turn arrow. Then the car stopped in the middle of the intersection, partially turned toward the left, left turn signal blinking. The driver sat there throught the entire light cycle, remaining there, partially blocking cross traffic even when the turn arrow went green.

Never accused of being a patient man, I leaned on my horn, and the car finally completed the turn onto the ramp leading onto the 101. I pulled along side, and, yep, there was the driver, babbling and gesticulating animatedly, with no attention to the road whatsoever. The fact that it was a WOMAN is immaterial, and I needn't have mentioned gender at all, but this WOMAN was totally engrossed in a conversation. Driving at 70 MPH on a crowded eight lane highway was not of much interest to her. I briefly considered following her to a place where I could offer some friendly advice, but thought better of it---assault can be construed in many different ways. So I went on my way, muttering imprecations and wishing I could have just for that little instance, been transformed into a policeman. 

 I would estimate that at least one out of five drivers, be they expressway or surface street pilots, are gabbing away on a cell phone. This discounts those with hands-off phones, who are much more difficult to determine. These drivers are a menace to the rest of us, and the authorities need to make concerted effort, either through public service announcements or legislation, to curtail the practice. We got along for around a hundred years without constant communication at the wheel, and it appears to me that we can continue to do without this umbilical cord to jabber at least while driving a 5000 pound vehicle hurtling along at between 20 and 80 miles per hour.

Washington State, among others, recently enacted a law that provides penalties for phoning or texting while driving. How they will implement and enforce the law, I do not know, but at least it is a step in making the public aware of the high risk involved in trying to dial and talk while managing a vehicle.

One of the ironies of driving is the fact that along many highways and byways you see official signs that advise you to "call so-and-so" to report: fires, drunks, seek traffic information, and assorted non-essential information. You are being encouraged to make phone calls while operating your vehicle---in direct opposition to what is safe and sane.

I am making the pledge, here and now, that I will no longer answer, initiate, or even consult my cell phone while moving. I will pull off the freeway, or pull onto a side street if I think the incoming e-mail or phone call needs immediate attention. I won't employ a hands-off phone, a voice-dial, or a bluetooth. I will not, I repeat, not use a phone while I am at the wheel and under way.

I urge all to take the same pledge, before someone else gets hurt.

4:36 pm mdt 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

And the Good News Is...

We have an Old Guys' Lunch every Wednesday at a restaurant at Sky Harbor, and I went today. The old friend I mentioned in the previous post was there, looking pretty darned, good, with an attitude to boot. He was quite upbeat, and said that he had gone to the coast to get a second opinion, whiich was confirmed. He returned, and is now going to start a procedure locally to contain his cancer. He may not have it in the bone after all, and I once again wish him well. Could be that this too will pass...

Not so bloody hot today. It only passed the one hundred mark by four or five degrees, but the humidity hung on. It is supposed to both dry out and cool off in the next few days. Today was nearly bearable...nearly.

I am interested in the big flap about the Muslim building in NYC, the so-called "Ground zero mosque." Of course, it is not at ground zero; it is at least two large city blocks away. The Muslims have had a mosque in the general area for some time. There are several businesses closer to the "sacred ground" that are to my peanut mind, more objectionable than a house of worship; strip clubs, junk shops, bars, glitter palaces, and the like, and I do not hear people wailing about their "disrespect." I guess the issue is whether or not you think all Muslims are America-haters, or whether you think there are practitioners of Islam who are reasonable people who want to live quiet, peaceful lives. These people proposing the cultural center are, after all AMERICANS, whatever their religious faith and beliefs. I thought this was a country that espoused, not to mention guaranteed freedom of religion, but I guess in some minds, that only applies to religions that those minds deem favorable. Those who profess strange beliefs and practices need not apply.

It is said that this proposal is too close to "Ground Zero." If two (actually, measured diagonally, I am told it is closer to four) blocks, is too close, what is far enough? Is ten blocks OK? How about a mile? Too close? Well, maybe we should just place it at five miles, as one of my interlocutors suggested, in all seriousness at the coffee shop yesterday morning.

Mr. Newt Gingrich suggests that we should allow this religious installation only when the Saudis (how did they get into this?) allow a Catholic church in Mecca. So, good for you, Newty. We can only defeat these monstrous people by adopting their own restictive and oppressive policies and laws. Great. We are quickly becoming the Land of the Free-if-you-believe-exactly-as-we-want-you-to. Ain't that just great. Do we think these practitioners of Islam are too dense to recognize hypocrisy when they see and hear it? Do you think they begin to conclude that what we say about freedom, justice, equality are just empty words to a large segment of the "patriotic" American Public?

I guess the fact that Muslims were; a) killed in the Trade Towers; b) Muslims are in our armed forces, fighting and dying alonside "good" soldiers; c) we are allied with Muslims in; 1) Iraq; 2) Afghanistan; are not worth mentioning, because, as that same interlocutor said yesterday, most, if not all Muslims are constrained to "kill all Infidels." That should end the conversation. He is like another set of acquaintences I enjoy who are pretty much serious when they say that nuking them might solve the problem. They admit that killing all one billion plus Muslims would be a formidable task, but have not yet made a connection with Der Fuhrer and his ilk in Germany in the thirties and forties. But, of course, this is different. This is us, and we are not evil. We are good, and we are only defending ourselves from the scourge of fanatics and fiends.

I have heard it before: WWII: The "Japs" were monsters. They were fanatics. How could we cope with their Banzai attacks, their suicide pilots, and their failure to value human life? We coped very well, thank you. Those tactics, and they were tactics, not strategies, failed, just as the suicide bombers will and are failing. We are losing people, but even though most of us agree that Iraq and Afghanistan are lost causes, the concept of murder and madness as personified by the lunatic, fanatic fringe of Islam, will surely fail as well---If, and it is a big IF---we stop playing into their psychological game. We react out of fear and not reason. We strike out wildly, employing a meat axe when a rapier would do. We are smashing flies with a sledge hammer, rather than using sugar water and bug spray. Not a very clear metaphor, but the point is that more violence is not the answer. We must defend ourselves, but that defense should not include invasion, bombing, occupation, and war. We ought to be smarter than that, but fear is a marvelous blanket over the bright light of reason and clear calculation. 

But, I could be wrong...

9:45 pm mdt 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back In The Oven

112 degrees today. Thunderstorms. Humid. It ain't a dry heat! Forecast 113 for tomorrow. Question: Why would anyone want to live here? Too GD hot to even ride the scooter. By the time I got all the gear on and threw my leg over the tank I would be swooning from heat exhaustion, so I wimped out and retreated to the relative comfort of the pickup. Not many bikes out on the streets, I noticed. Maybe I am not so wimpy. No use going out and risking; a) heat stroke, or; b) drowning in your own sweat, whichever comes first.

My Dear Wife is in hospital, recovering from major surgery. She is doing well, and the prognosis is for complete recovery. She will face some chemotherapy, but it is more prophylactic than curative, we are told. Sort of an insurance policy against reappearance of the Big C. We are hopeful. Yesterday was a tough one for her, as post-op was fraught with some pain, but today she has good color, and is in high spirits, delivering her one-liners, and chopping me off at the knees whenever I get snarky. I finally have her at a great disadvantage, but, being a gentleman (by act of congress, many, many years ago), I cannot act on it. Another opportunity missed! But, I do hope such never comes my way again. 

Speaking of the heat, I did see a man jogging up Hayden Road this afternoon. He was shirtless. He must have been an Englishman, and the last I saw of him, a white wagon was taking him away---probably for evaluation...

On a definitely sadder note, an old friend has apparently come down with prostate cancer which has advanced into the bone. He had a very high PSA for quite some time, but elected to follow a course of action that precluded conventional treatment. Now his PSA has climbed into three digits, we are told, and it has metastasized into the bone. Could conventional protocols have prevented this? We do not know, of course, and I have to say that each of us makes his or her way through life and its puzzles and posers the best way we can, making our decisions from various sources and varied information. Sometimes we guess right, and sometimes we guess wrong. Who can say which is which? Is life a matter of luck, or is it the result of our (alleged) free will? If the former, what purpose in planning, in learning, in thinking? If the latter, how can we blame ourselves or our free will when we are forced to make choices based on incomplete, inaccurate, or just plain false information? Sounds like we are in some kind of a trap---damned if we do, and damned if we do not. About all we can do is, should luck really be extant, help it along with as much information as we can come by. 

I am reminded of the joke about the man who desperately needed a large amount of money. He had nowhere to turn, so he prayed to God to help him. He prayed that he would win the lottery, which would pay off in millions of dollars, more than enough to solve his financial problem. He prayed and prayed, and when the lottery paid off, he did not win. He went to the chapel, fell on his knees, and said, "Oh God, why, oh why did you not see fit to grant my wish? I have been a good and religious man.  I have obeyed all of your laws all of my life. I have been faithful with my worship. I have tithed each and every year. Why have you not granted this one prayer, the only prayer I have ever made asking for something? Why?"

A voice came down from on high, deep and loud, "For Christ's sake, buy a ticket!" Well, it went something like that. Luck (or whatever) needs a little boost now and then.

And on that note, I'd much rather be lucky than smart any day---I sure got my wish on that one...

OK, I made up the part about the white wagon, but the guy jogging had to be loony, out in that heat, actually working his poor blood pump too damned hard. Mad dogs and Englishmen...Have you ever heard Noel Coward's version of "Mad Dogs and Englishmen?" He was something, and he did that kind of thing so very well. Raconteur, bon vivant, playwright, performer, movie star, author, and composer, he underplayed his talent, but he was a Oner. Alright, he was gay, but that fact perhaps is what made him the talent he was. Have you ever noticed how gay men especially seem to possess artistic traits we straight clods seem all too often to lack? Now, if they could just gain the civil rights the rest of us have...

 

10:20 pm mdt 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Drivin' On

In Boise, on the way back to the heat-sink we call Phoeniix. There is a major family problem here, but I will not go into it now. Suffice it to say, "It ain't pretty."

Also a health crisis with my Dear Wife, another event I shan't report on here. I will say that we are hopeful of a happy outcome.

These things are part of life, and we take them as they come. Life holds surprise upon surprise, and we cannot expect them to always be pleasant. It is part of the Great Continuum of which we are a part. The age-old lament, "Why me?" can only be answered, "Why not?" We are in this life, not of our choosing, and it is up to each of us to make what we can of it. "Life is hard." That is a maxim that is true in every life in some measure. What is constantly an amazement to me is how many people seem Hell-bent on making it harder. We seldom (if ever) have control over the events that beset us, the good or the bad, but attitude is the crux of either happiness or misery. It is up to each of us to decide how we want to deal with the events of our lives. We can suck lemons, or make lemonade---I know, I know---a terrible cliche, nevertheless true.

Enough of this half-baked philosophy. Life is also good.  

 

6:13 pm mdt 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Back In B.C.

Arrived back in Ladysmith on Tuesday. Oh, I hadn't mentioned that before? Yes, I moved OH MISS from Lake Union (Seattle), where she was when I purchased her, to Elliott Bay (also Seattle) for the first winter, and some winter it was! Temperatures down to 15 degrees, F., and snow! Not a usual winter for Seattle. They get some snow, but it is usually not the lasting kind. I awoke one morning to find OH MISS under a blanket of three or four inches of the stuff.

In May of '09, we moved to Anacortes, to be closer to the San Juan Islands. Sailed all over that area, and part of Canada that summer, but then, in the fall, my free ride in Washington came to an end, and I had to leave the state or face paying sales tax on the boat. She needed some work done, so I took her to Canoe Cove, just north of Sidney, B.C., had her hauled, and they did the bottom, and some interior mechanical work. I also engaged a slip there, where she resided after the work was completed. But, that lease was up at the end of May, and Canoe Cove Marina wanted a full year in advance, plus which, they would not refund all of my payments if I left, even with thirty days' notice. They would withold two months' fees. Not my idea of a good deal, since I was not sure I was going to remain in Canada or the Pacific Northwest throughout 2010.

So I drove the Vancouver Island Coast, stopping at marinas along the way, looking for a reasonably priced slip, one that I could rent month-to-month. Eureka! I found one at Page Point Marina, which is just across the bay from the quaint little town of Ladysmith. LS is between Chemainus and Nanaimo, on the East side of Vancouver Island. It is just a ten minute drive from the Duke Point Ferry, which connects with Vancouver. So, I have adequate access from the mainland, and Page Point is small but adequate, with the convenience of being able to pay month-to-month at a very reasonable rate.

OK, you do not know where Chemainus is, and may not even have heard of Nanaimo. How about Sidney? No, not Sidney, Australia. Sidney is about 25 Kilometres north of Victoria. Victoria is at the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island. Go up the east side, find Sidney, then continue north about forty or fifty miles and you come to Chemainus, a touristy little burg, known largely for the many wall murals depicting early Twentieth Century scenes. North of that about fifteen of twenty miles is Ladysmith, a small village perched on the side of a hill, alongside Canada 1, the TransCanada Highway. Nanaimo is another fifteen miles north. If you have ever lived in the Pacific Northwest, surely you have heard of Nanaimo. Geography lesson over.

I moved her there at the end of May, during the saga of the catamaran trip from Ft. Lauderdale that never was. That sort of cobbed up the summer, as I didn't get really started until July. I did get a very enjoyable trip in that month, going out (solo) for sixteen days, traveling up to Desolation Sound, and reveling in good weather, a great boat, and beautiful scenery. I even had some wind!

I am now awaiting a diver, who will replace the zincs and clean the bottom before I shove off for five or six days on the water. I have to leave her then and sally back to PHX, and it is still unclear how long I will be there. I do hope to get back aboard before winter and the drizzle set in. 

I learned a good deal on the trip to Desolation, and my confidence level is growing. I had wondered how much difficulty I might have handling the 150 Genoa I put on, and it was not a problem at all. I did get it jammed in the mast once, but with the help of a fellow sailor, grinding on the winches while I poked and prodded from twenty feet up the mast, we got it free and rolled correctly. This mainsail is in-mast furling, a great help for a single hand or short crew, as the sail does not have to be flaked as it is brought in. I rolls up inside the mast, like a vertical window shade. But, it exits from the aft of the mast through a narrow slit, and if the sail cloth is not wound tightly on the spindle inside the mast, it can bunch up and jam as it comes out of the slit. One has to be very careful to keep tension on the sail as it is brought out or when it is furled up. I apparently was careless furling it, and the next time I tried to unfurl, it bunched and jammed. There was nothing left but to either find a rigger, or try to do it myself. I had only been up the mast once or twice, and only as far as the first spreader, which is about fifteen feet up. This mast has folding steps, a great help for a single-hander, since it does not require someone on deck to winch you up on a Bosun's Chair. But prudence dictates some sort of safety device to prevent a fall should one slip on the steps. So, I bought a climbing harness at REI, and learned a couple of climbers' knots. When I go up the mast, I take a spare halyard, fix it to the deck, and tighten up with a winch, making it taut. Then I fix a Kleimheist or Prusik knot to the halyard, clip it to the harness, and up I go, a step, slide the knot, another step, slide the knot, etc. If I should slip, the knot will not slide down the taut halyard, and I am belayed.

After we got the sail properly furled inside the mast, I screwed up my courage, grabbed my camera, and went clear to the top of the mast, which is 56 feet above the deck. The view was great, and my acrophobia was missing entirely. Maybe it was the belay, and maybe I just lost my acrophobia over the years. Having once owned a hot air balloon perhaps led to the dimishing of a fear of heights. I do clearly remember standing in the balloon, two or three thousand feet above the cold, hard ground, knees literally knocking together, the sides of the basket appearing to be only inches high, struggling to strike the sparker to relight the propane heater before the bag lost buoyancy.

So, the mast was a challenge met, and I now am confident I can mount the mast while at sea, should the necessity arise, without fear, and get whatever needs be done done.

 

 

9:28 am mdt 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

And Another Thing...

Another annoying thing about highway travel these days is that there is nowhere decent to eat. If one is interested in real food, that is. Of course there is food available at all expressway and freeway exits, such as all of the fast food franchises. You can have MacDonalds, Burger King, Wendys, KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken), Taco Bell, the usual suspects. The food in these places is reliably the same. You get to know what to expect, and are never disappointed. On the other hand, you are seldom thrilled and excited by the gustatory excellence of the fare. Hey! It's fast food! What do you expect, Wolfgang Puck? So, you are hungry. An exit beckons. You pull off, desperately searching for something that will satisfy the palate in addition to filling the void. The logos and neon flash by, left and right. Everything smacks of the same fare---fried in hot oil, slathered with "secret sauces", and decorated with fries, ketchup, and salt, lots and lots of salt. The drink, unless you opted for coffee (black, no sugar), or water (bottled, no flavor, no sweetener) is liquified sugar or (maybe) cancer-inducing artificial sweet-stuff. You can usually get the minimum required to stave off death by starvation for something less than ten bucks---try that at a real restaurant---should you be fortunate enough to find one.

You drive on, into the heart of the community's business district. Locally owned establishments are scattered, and their fare a real crap-shoot. You find Shari's, Dennys, maybe a Red Robin, Busters, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, pizza joints on every corner, and Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks. So, weak with hunger, you finally select one and stagger in for a hope shot. It might be different this time. I did have dinner at a Red Lobster last evening, and have to admit it wasn't bad. It was not gourmet, it was not outstanding, it was not an eye-stopping, palate exciting, Wow!, but it was acceptable. Bottom line: I did not get sick, and there is the bottom denominator. If it "don't make you sick," it is "good." Well, it may not make you sick tonight, but what about ten or twenty years down the road? What does twenty years of greasy hamburgers and dripping potato strips do to your ravaged body? Who knows, and besides, I most likely don't have to worry, because I don't have twenty years...

The main complaint I have is that all of these places have the aura of assembly line food. They are formulated as to content, quantity, and quality, as though they came out of a dispenser, one serving just exactly like the one before it and the one yet to come. Don't know what I mean? Read "Fast Food Nation" sometime. It leaves one slightly queasy regarding the plate the smiling "My name is Debbie, and I'll be serving you tonight" slides in front of you.

So, eschew the fast food joints and opt for a Mom and Pop, if you can find one. You are an adventurer in the world of cuisine. You are hacking your way through the jungle of restaurants that are but one step removed from those garishly liveried fast food franchises. What you may not know is that a good many of their offerings are entrees and sides of packaged and prepared items, sold "ready to heat." You have a vision in your head of a cook, laboring over a stove to prepare your order. Chances are at least a portion of it was pulled out of the freezer and zapped in the micro-wave. You imagined someone throwing that lasagna together in the back, fresh and hand made. It was more likely taken out of a package and zapped for your culinary delight. 

OK, shut up, stop whining, and eat your grease!

Speaking of food, I cut out sugar a few months ago. I have a terrible sweet tooth. I can go through a six-pack of Klondike Bars in a flash. I often pick up a couple of pints of Hagen-Daz or Ben and Jerrys, bring it home, give Madam a serving, and then polish off the rest without a whisper of remorse. More than once I have washed out the carton, filled it with water to make it seem like there is ice cream left, and then put a short message just below the surface: "Too late!" Or, "I couldn't help myself." "You lose!" is another favorite. My craving ends only when the sugary delight, whatever it might be, is gone.

Well, no more! I have quit the sweet stuff, real or artificial. Since sometime in April, I have not had any candy or ice cream. I cheated a couple of times with Cokes, ate a sugary muffin at Starbucks one time, had two pieces of birthday cake at my uncle's 90th party (special occasion! I had to partake of his cake!), and way too  many glasses and cans of sweetened iced tea. I learned recently that these teas are loaded with sugars, and promise myself that I will go cold turkey and shift to the unsweetened kind. On that theme, just try to find a cold drink at a freeway gas stop convenience store other than bottled water that is not loaded with sugar/artificials. And, bottle water is another bug-bear. I'll leave that one to simmer awhile, but promise to come bck to it on another post. The only good alternative is to bring your own drink, keep it in a cooler at your side, and feel superior as you guzzle your home made green tea.

But, the denial of sugar has had an effect. I have lost a few pounds, sure, but the great benefit is that I get this warm, fuzzy feeling that I am healthier---whether that is true or not. Maybe it will last. Maybe I will throw off this sweet craving, and come to taste sugary foods as cloying, too sweet, and unpleasant. Maybe...

 

9:47 am mdt 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Movies Are Better Than Ever (??)

Oh yes. We took in a movie yesterday. Generally speaking, I think current movie fare is pretty sucky. Fantasy, violence, and sweaty, grunting bodies rolling around on tables, bear rugs, and sometimes, even beds, seem to be the norm. I do think there are some flicks these days that do not thrive on (unlikely) car explosions, slashing blades, raging monsters, blue creatures with long prehensile tails,and the like. An example: "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," a Swedish film that is gripping and fraught with Schadenfreude. Another is "The Secret in Their Eyes." The latter is Artentine, and also an edge-of-your-seat-grabber. The former will be remade here in America, and I predict it will be a miserable copy of an excellent original, as is so often the case with Hollywood re-dos. These two films are great cinema, thoroughly entertaining, and give us some food for thought.

The movie we saw yesterday was "The Kids Are All Right," starring Annette Benning, Juianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo. The acting is terrific. The story is a good one: Lesbian parents who have two children resulting from one sperm donor (Paul, played by Ruffalo). The emphasis here is on family and the difficulties of love, marriage, and the complications of life, especially modern life. I won't try to synopsize the story, but mention several factors that I think detracted greatly from the story, along with the weakness of then structure itself.

First, gratuitous sex. There were some pretty graphic scenes of intercourse, the only things lacking being blatant genitalia exposures, the aromas of animal sex, and the wet spot. I can see no reason for these scenes other than prurience. They in no way, at least to my way of thinking, enhanced the story.Call me old-fashioned, but there are times, and this is one of them, when I long for the (not so) good old days, when the participants kiss, sigh, and the scene fades, closing on a bedroom door, a bed, or some other suggestive device, leaving the audience to its own imagination. The point is made, and the mechanics of sex are mercifully missing.

Another was the depiction of male porno tapes, as seen by the two principles, Nick (Annette Benning), and her wife, Jules (Julianne Moore). Apparently, Lesbian couples get off on watching two men engage in their cavortings, suckings, and buggerings, a lot like many straight men get a rise out of watching two or more women romping on the sheets. Beats me, but, to each his own. In another scene, the young son, a fifteen year old, and his questionable friend find the porno tapes, and treat themselves and the movie audience to some near porn, barely screened and filtered for our sensitivities. Much too much "information" for this old man.

I do not consider myself a prude, but at this stage of life I am disinterested in watching hard bodies hard at it. Been there, done that, and my memories are still sharp enough that I do not need them honed by the frantic gropings and grabbings of the current pretty people on-screen.

The main criticism I have of this flick is that the overall theme, mentioned earlier, laudable as it is, is gravely weakened by the final outcome. It is a very positive thing to depict homosexuals as capable of having families, with all that go with family life; love, laughter, strife, conflict, development, and all of the things most of us have experienced in our lives. In other words, yes, same sex couples are the same as the rest of us, but for that one defining difference. They should and do have the right to the same lives as the rest of us.

But, the events of this movie---infidelity, separation, painful deceit and disloyalty, followed by understanding and reconciliation are fine. We are treated, in the final scene, to the couple, once again holding hands, while the son, still living at home (they have just delivered the daughter to college---looked to me like it might have been Stanford), drive off into the softened light of a California afternoon.

What is left out and ignored is that the surrogate father, Paul (again, Ruffalo), who was brought into the family by the curiosity of the children---they tracked him down, met him, and invited him to partake in their lives, is unceremoniously dumped because of a failure of character and conduct. He and Jules had a few rolls in the hay, discovered by Nick, causing great pain and strife for all characters. But, in the end, it appears that Jules will once again be accepted as "Mom," taken back into the family, and all will be well.

Poor Paul, having been brought in, is treated like the interloper Nick at one point names him. His sin is castigated by all, and he is jettisoned without a second thought from any of them. He, who had fallen for Jules, decided that his lifelong batchelorhood was a bummer, dumped his gorgeous black girl friend, thinking that he and Jules could make it. He loses, and it just ain't fair, whiile Jules, at least as culpable, if not moreso, gets a pass after a short stint in purgatory.

But, I can only imagine that the writer and director of the movie just might be a Lesbian herself, and this could just be indicative of a Lesbian attitude about men. Who needs them? Well, only for a hand-job in a cup, and then give him the heave-ho. His usefulness is at an end, something like the male Preying Mantis. Once the copulation is over, the female gives hime the Coup de Grace. In my humble opiniion, that is what happened to Paul in this otherwise warm and charming saga.

But, I could be wrong... 

12:46 pm mdt 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Just One Of Those Days...

Got up at 0700, and took Ruth's car in for oil change. She also thought the A/C coolant might be low, and asked to have it checked. The service Rep at the Honda shop said it would be about 45 minutes. I waited in the waiting room. An hour went by. The service Rep came in once, walked to the back of the room and into the adjoining room, talked to some people there, and left. I tried to make eye contact, but he never looked my way. I decided for once to be patient. I had plenty to read, so read I did. At two hours, I had finished all I wanted to read, finished the USA Today Crossword, and was getting tired of waiting.

I went out into the bay, and to the booth my service Rep hangs out in. "Cars ready!" He said. "Been ready for about an hour! I paged you a couple of times, but decided you had stepped out."

"I was sitting right there!" I pointed to the chair just inside the waiting room. "I have been in that chair since I left you my car!" 

He blew it off without so much as an apology. OK, so I will give it a pass. I never did hear a page, for me or anybody else, but, maybe there was one with my name on it. OK, OK. So I paid my bill, and asked for my keys. "They're in the car," the clerk said. I hiked out to the car. It was locked. I hiked back to the service Rep's booth. "Oh, she probably thought....blah, blah, blah."

I got into the car and left. I had a stop to make at Home Depot, to pick up a three prong plug for the extension cord the yard cleaner cut the other day and did not bother to tell me about. I was in H-D for not more than ten minutes. I found the plug, paid, and walked back out into the parking lot. Now, where did I leave that pickup? I wandered around, looking for my pickup for a good five or ten minutes. I couldn't find it. What the ??? Where was it? I was just about to panic---Oh---never mind. I wasn't driving the pickup. I had my wife's car, and there it was, right where I had left it, not fifty feet from where I stood. 

I think I'm losing it. 

The rest of the day went passably better...

 

10:49 pm mdt 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer Simmer

Left Anderson/Redding at 0630, Sunday, August First, and drove straight through to PHX. It was about 900 some odd miles, the routing chosen by Glenda, the Good Witch of the GPS. She routed me through the Greater LAX area, instead of cutting through Nevada on a bias. Since it was controlled access, divided highway all the way, I think it was actually, as selected, the fastest route. I pulled into the driveway at about 2130, making the last three or so hours in the dark.

Monday was pleasant, I do not think it broke 100, but by today (yesterday 107), it touched 110, and I re-awakened to why I do not like it here this time of year. Hot, hot, hot! But Monday was a stellar day, as my Sweetie drove me over to Central and Deer Valley Road to pick up my moto from the shop---Moto-Ghost, run by Omar _____, a master of knowledge and skills on Beemers. My bike had been in there for several months for a few repairs that the local Beemer dealer seemed unable to set right.

Der Klunkenschiffter had developed an annoying habit of jumping out of second gear on the acceleration, about one out of five up-shifts. Most annoying! He knew exactly what to do to fix it, and had a shim made that prevents that. It had a leaking front fork seal---replaced. The anti-skid system was erratic---sometimes it self-tested and worked fine, and then at others, it failed the self-test, and the red Inop light stayed illuminated. Also annoying, although not an impediment to safe riding---we have been riding motos without anti-skid for over 100 years. Who needs it? But, I hate to operate equipment that has inoperative components. Well, I say that, but this anti-skid problem has been with the bike for oh, I don't know, about 40 K or 50 K miles. Omar got that one squared away as well.

As I am not currently acclimated to the bleeding heat, I have elected to let her sit for awhile, until I can get some cooler miles under her wheels and ease into this broiler world before exposing myself to riding around with ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time). I am not about to ride around sans gear, hot or not hot. Hot is uncomfortable, especially with protective trou and coat, complete with ballistics, gloves, over-the-ankle boots, helmet (with liner), and back protector (under the coat). But, uncomfy as it is, it is much, much better than road rash---or worse. I have probably written this before, but it is worth repeating: #1 Rule of motorcycle riding---Sooner or later, you are going to fall off. Count on it. That leads to Rule #2---You will not have the luxury of deciding when you are going to fall off, so it is ATGATT. That one time you swing your leg over the tank and ride down to the local 7-11 for a soda just might be the time you hit the pavement. Tain't worth it, at least not to this old guy. That is one thing old age may, and I emphasiize MAY, teach; It Can Happen To You. Youth is bullet-proof, because "It ain't gonna happen to me," but us old geezers have been there often enough to know that it ain't so. It can and does happen. ATGATT!

By the way, the gasoline prices on this trip from Canada (I fill up in the US before entering, avoiding their $1.09 and $1.10  per litre prices (that comes out to $4.14 to $4.18 per gallon, US$) ranged from $2.73/Gal to $3.49/Gal.! Quite a spread!

 

10:06 pm mdt 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It Was A GOP

Yes, it was indeed a Grand Old Party---in more ways than one. Held in a northern California stronghold of the Right Wing, it surely had solidarity with Republican and Conservative ideas and values. I wager that the only non-Republican in the entire group was yours truly---not that it makes any difference. I was able to evade my cousin Ben's (Uncle Pete's oldest son) gibes and digs, and hence avoid any and all discussions on political grounds. Even when his middle son remarked that the sad decline of public assistance and social programs was a result of a liberal governor and legislature. He meant, of course, Governor Arnold (a Republican, you might recall), saying, "He's married to a Kennedy. You can't get any more liberal than that!" I guess he is under the impression that social assistance and help programs are the children of conservatives. That's news to me, but, I could be wrong, as always...

The party was at the Redding Rodeo Association grounds, in Redding, and there were a couple of hundred people in attendance. It was a very happy affair, with my Dear Uncle the featured party, greeted with affection and deep respect by all. The food was plentiful and very good. A whole hog was barbecued, along with tri-tip beef, chicken, and salads, salads, salads. One of the members recited some cowboy poetry, and it was pretty good stuff. The Master of Ceremonies was glib and not long-winded, and cited some of the many accomplishments Pete has in his resume, including a Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medals, and a Presidential Citation. I was very proud of my Unk. He was togged out in new jeans, a white western shirt, and a great cowboy hat that never left his in the best cowboy tradition. May he last another 90!

I had the added bonus of seeing cousins and their children, some of whom I had never met before. My other flying uncle's daughter and son-in-law have two children, now rapidly closing on 50, whom I had not had the pleasure of prior to this gala. It was nice. I was most honored to be there. I wouldn't have missed it.

8:25 pm mdt 


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For future use

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Our New Best Friend, TRES

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My Hero, Uncle Pete, two days short of his 90th birthday.

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Meet Mort--- Mortem "mors me cum equitat"
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The view from 50 feet up the mast
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The Old Guy At The Helm Of "OH MISS"
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Adventure Bound
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The Old Guy, Back Home Unscathed
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2005 BMW K1200LT, long gone to bike heaven
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"Der Klunkenschiffter" at age 4, 102,000 miles