04 February 2018

18 July 2017

Mid-summertime and the livin' is easy

Left my shoes under my desk on the last day of the school year, just found them there yesterday, and hadn't missed them for even a minute.

Thus far, with some three weeks to go, summer has been just what I needed it to be: the opposite of work, filled with good rides with good friends, time spent together as a family, visits each week from faraway friends and family passing through town, and ample quantities of cheap hot grilled food and cheaper cold Tecates consumed in good company, and a bit of new ink for good measure.


05 June 2017

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

As spring turns to summer, my father, dead now for a full year, continues to occupy my thoughts almost daily.

Not because I am sad that he is gone, though I am.
Not because I am unmoored without him, though I might be.
He is with me, in the center of my mind, because I cannot seek his wise counsel, his particularly prescient insights, in the midst of these trying times.

Our culture stands on the sharp precipice of history.  We have been here before, surely, though perhaps never before like this.  Yet my father, regardless of circumstance, always seemed to know what was going on.  Would that he could tell me of such things now.

I know he would say things like, "It's a coup, John.  Follow the money."

And, "Never listen to what they say. Watch what they do."

But I cannot know these things as a certainty, because he is, put succinctly, no longer here to tell them to me as he once was... when we sat together on awkward chairs in his makeshift back-bedroom office space smelling of old man's feet and cologne and spearmint gum, surrounded by cropped and tint-corrected family pictures, and a framed-lifetime of awards and achievements, three-dozen useless empty software boxes, and the latest iteration of his always dumb-but-faithful dog asleep on the well-worn rug at our feet.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And yet, even without him, still my life goes on.

 And it is good.


14 April 2017

Archival footage: old signature file

I dredged up one of my old signature files from the 1990s recently, while searching through archived alt.mountain-bike Usenet threads. Always liked this one, felt it was worth preservation:

Looking around this old online group, I was fascinated to find Mike Vandeman still posting daily vitriol to the forum about the dangers and destructiveness of mountain biking. After all these years, alt.mountain-bike looks to have become his solitary domain, a forgotten corner of the Internet that he's somehow become entrapped within, like the Phantom Zone, a bleak repository of hate going on for page after page, amounting to literally hundreds of posts bearing his now-infamous name and a simple note: 0 views.

A denizen of Usenet forums as I was back in the day, Vandeman was an aggressive and combative hater of all things mountain bike from the very beginning of our sport. And, once he found the Internet, he let his disgust be known, often in terribly pugnacious ways, all over mountain bike-related Usenet groups. Vandeman engaged vociferously and condescendingly with anyone who tried to debate him and commonly wrote long, contentious, purportedly factual posts about how much of an assault mountain bikers were on the environment and on the experience of other trail users, too. He prided himself on knowing far more about these issues than anyone else and commonly touted his Ph.D as evidence of his elevated intellect. To my knowledge, over the course of many, many years standing in opposition to mountain bikers, Vandeman never admitted defeat, never stood down, never failed to submit yet another long, curmudgeonly reply to a given argument. There was no winning in a debate against Mike Vandeman's bloviations. He never conceded, never relented, until his victims wandered away, exhausted and befuddled.

Vandeman was put on trial in 2011 for six counts of assault and battery against a group of mountain bikers who he encountered using restricted trails near his home in northern California. According to one website, "On 11 April [2011] in Oakland in California he was sentenced to thirty days on a Sheriff’s Work Party... Since he [had] already spent eight days in a cell on remand, he [served] 22 days."

I don't miss Mike Vandeman. But I do kinda miss Usenet, even though it's not a place I've visited in forever. I spent a lot of time there when I first got goin' on the info-superhighway, back in the late 1990s. These days, my compulsion to foist my opinion/opposition/advice onto the mostly nameless-and-faceless, is generally satisfied by my occasional participation in various forums at mtbr.com.

My sig-file there is a lot simpler and accompanied by a classy avatar:

Slower than you

"May your trails be winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." - Ed Abbey