I’ve worked 21 of the last 24 days. On weekdays I work a nine and a half hour shift, weekends only an hour less. My commute adds an hour and forty minutes of riding to each day. This affords me one hour in the morning and four hours in the evening when I am not asleep or elsewhere employed. Subtracting the time needed to eat, bath, and to ponder racing rats, I am left with less than munificent time for writing, reading, drawing, playing guitar, letters, cutting hair, and playing video games with my brother.
This paid-vacation from my regularly scheduled artistic ventures has left me feeling unproductive, despite the growing sum of money in my savings account. I’m worried there may not be enough time in the day for sleep, work, decompression, and other such endeavors. I’m flying in to the New Jersey on July 10th, and I wish to arrive as an ocean storm breaks land; a maelstrom of creative camaraderie.
I once learned to play a song at the request of my dear friend Abbey; ‘come together’ by The Robot Ate Me.
you should make sure
you don’t die young
you need this time to live
Yawn, Click, Fuck.
I’ve been working at a bike shop again, serving as a wrench, gopher, and general service slave. This particular shop specifically caters to downhill, mountain, and cross country bikes, so I’ve been learning about lots of new bike tech. I’ve been working 60 hour weeks also. Suffice to say, bikes are on my mind.
About an hour ago I woke suddenly from a dream, covered in sweat. In my sleep-induced hallucinations I was struggling to install hydraulic brake lines on a new bike. I dream my job.
So I get out of bed and go down to the hall to get some water, cool my head. At the same time, I accidentally locked myself out of my bedroom, at 3am. Awesome. Go team Sleepy Jono. I’ve never taken apart, unlocked, and reassembled a doorknob before, but tonight I learned how to. Maybe in the few remaining hours between now and when I need to re-wake for work I’ll dream of deadbolts, keyed cylinders, and strike plates.
Death by what?
The Monday of memorial day weekend I had off from work, so my bike and I caught an 8am train out of San Jose up to San Fran. I got in around 9:30, and started riding across town. Twenty minutes and a mess of hills later I was at the panhandle, by the corner of Oak and Ashbury. It was time for some bike polo.
For the two days prior, the tenth annual North American Cycle Courier Championships had been tearing up the streets and bars of San Franfuckingcisco with the qualifier and the official race. Monday held the final side events, including a trip to the Hellyer velodrome in San Jose, and a bike polo tournament at the panhandle in San Fran.
My polo team Death By Bees had found out about this tourny through a friend living in Oakland, and had made it our business to shop up and bring the mother fucking ruckus. At the least, we intended to represent the proud and illustrious tradition of polo in Chico. We’re the only polo team in Chico, and I fully expected to have our asses handed to us by some slick city riders. Only compounding the situation, my two teammates Brad and Nathan broke spokes on their front and rear wheels (respectively) while warming up on the court. Luckily Nathan’s friend from Oakland let us borrow the wheels off her bike, and thus became our team sponsor/savior.
As we understood the rules that were explained to us, we had two initial matches in which to be eliminated. We would have our team name called on the megaphone, and would have 2 minutes to be on the court and ready, or the match would be forfeited. After we watched a couple games on the court, we were called up. The first match went swimmingly, with us winning 3-0 in less than five minutes. We were up against “The Grid” from Sacramento, with whom we have since made plans to kick their asses again. I remember riding off the court thinking “what the hell, where did that come from?” It seemed our country bumpkin style was an advantage over these city kids.
The second match went not-so-swimmingly. Defeated 0-3 after a much longer struggle, it became clear that Death By Bees still had something to learn about the bicycle polo. We were up against “Axles of Evil” from Portland. They destroyed us, and went on to beat every other team, taking a well-deserved 1st place. Rolling from the court and back onto the grassy sidelines, I let out a few le sigh’s. I didn’t expect to make it to the top of the national hardcourt polo ladder in our first tournament against other real teams, but it still felt pretty early to be out of the tournament. Free food and beer had been provided, and team Death By Bees unwound as other teams clashed violently on the pavement in front of us. I made a mustard sandwich, returned the borrowed wheels to their rightful bike, and saw some of the most opbscene bike on polo mallet on bike collisions. Then we heard them call out “Death By Bees!” on the megaphone, and we were up again.
In what can only be described as “the fastest wheel change ever”, I tore wheels from the donor bike and hurled them with all my earthly strenght into the hungry receiving dropouts. With a silver Campy 15mm “peanut butter” wrench in each hand, I dialed down the track nuts with an animal fury, torque specs be damned. In less then a minute Death By Bees was rebuilt and ready to roll. The team we were facing was one I had been watching all day, composed of “the bruiser”, “the tall guy” and “the other one”, they played some dirty polo. They defeated us 2-3, and it was some of the nastiest polo I’ve ever played.
So as I predicted, Death By Bees was defeated quite thoroughly. But our wounds will heal, and our skills will improve. We will have the sweetest revenge.
More photos can be found here, and this is my favorite thus far.
During the last few days I spent in Chico, betwixt final exams and the official start of summer, I went to a Thai restaurant for dinner with some friends of mine. Facing a menu that generously accommodated vegetarian and vegan preferences, and with our little dinner party split 50/50 vegetarian/omnivore, it was unavoidable that the topic of diets arose.
A parallel was drawn between the impetus placed on an individual to defend and explain their vegetarianism/veganism when outed, and that felt by someone coming out as being gay or bisexual. Obviously there some significant differences between these two situations. For example, it’s rare to hear of anti-vegan hate crimes, and churches don’t preach of the sin that is a meal without meat. However, both situations involve an individual identifying with a group that is outside the norm. This identification implies disparities in tastes, practices, and values.
“Are they going to preach to me?” “Are they going to try to change my values?” “Gosh they’re different.” “Gosh I hope they don’t challenge my values.”
I’ve been a vegetarian for over a year, specifically I’ve been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for 14 months. I remember the day I started, senior year of high school. The animal rights club had organized an entire day with a heavy focus on the cruelty of factory farming. I remember watching a video about the conditions in which pigs were slaughtered and processed, I remember it was very graphic. Some students were disgusted and left, some students were amused by the way the animals struggled and violently kicked as they were slaughtered. In all honesty, seeing the suffering of meat didn’t do much for me. I wasn’t horrified, I didn’t feel vindicated, I wasn’t grossed out, and I didn’t feel moved to take radical action.
But I did stop eating meat that day. It was high school after all, and you can’t be a real punx rocker unless you stick it to the man in some way. The principal reason behind my going vegetarian was to challenge norms. “This is how it’s commonly done, so let’s try something contrary.” Around the same time I found myself smitten by Whitman and Wordsworth, and this lead me tumbling down through the Romantics, Emerson, Thoreau, Leopold, stewardship, Gary Snyder, sustainability, Sharman Apt Russell, environmental ethics, and eventually to where I sit now, at the temporary bottom of a reasoned hole.
Today, the reasons why I don’t eat meat still have as little to do with animal rights as they ever have. I’m much more concerned with conservation of energy and the depletion of sources/over-filling of sinks on this our finite planet. A basic rule of thumb (brought to us by thermodynamics) is that transduction of energy from one form of matter to another (sunlight>grass, or grass>cow, or cow>human) about 90% of the original energy is consumed in the process of finding/eating/digesting/metabolizing/growing/reproducing. In practical terms, this means that a serving of beef cost roughly ten times as much to produce as an equivalent portion of tofu, or asparagus, or tomatoes, or corn, or anything else that grows in sunlight. This cost can be measured in calories, the fuel required to transport and process corn for feedlots, the amount of water consumed, or waste produced, or in the petroleum required to produce synthetic nitrates used to grow the soy/corn/etc. Not to mention the health benefits; so I won’t mention them.
I’ve often given the example “well, if I went out in to the woods and caught a rabbit, or shot a deer, yeah I’d be fine eating it.” But I probably wouldn’t. Let me be the conservative eater, privileged omnivore I am.