Posted May 19, 2009, 1:08 am.

The Shop at Night.

Yesterday afternoon at work didn’t go my way. There was a string of minor but multiplying mistakes on my part that left me feeling clumsy, sloppy, and incompetent. I closed the shop feeling like a bad mechanic, with the remains of a project laying haphazardly on my bench.

I returned to the shop at night though, leaving my apartment just before midnight. I wanted to clean up the mess I made, and not leave any loose ends for my coworkers to deal with (or more likely push aside and lose) the next day.

I really enjoy working in the shop at night, whether it’s on my own bikes or some other project from the day. There are no customers, there are no coworkers, there is only the shop stereo, the tools, and I.

Being alone it can be quite romantic
like Jacques Cousteau underneath the Atlantic
a fantastic voyage to parts unknown
going to depths where the sun’s never shone
and I fascinate myself when i’m alone
-Andrew Bird, Lull

I fixed the bike I had left in pieces earlier in the day. I returned each tool to their place on the board. I cleared away accumulated litter and sorted parts into vessels. Once the mess was cleared, I pulled an old hub from my private stash of parts in the basement.

It’s a Super Record low flange front hub from the early ’70s. I placed it in a truing stand, and with the axle held in place the hub shell could spin freely. The bearings are older than me but still spun smoothly. I tapped out some Simichrome polish onto the hub and begin spinning it rapidly by pulling a rag back and forth across it. The polish turned from white, to grey, to black as it gently ground the tiniest particles of aluminum from the surface. Tiny scratches disappeared and the finish shifted from a dull silver to satin, and eventually to a mirror finish.

The ride to and from the shop was perfect. No cars on the road, a slightly cool Summer evening, crickets. When I got home I felt better.

Posted May 17, 2009, 8:59 pm.

What's the Song.

I’m not very good at remembering the songs I’ve written.

Since 2006 I’ve written about thirty songs that I’d consider worthwhile, lost interest in just as many songs half-way through writing them, and learned maybe seventy covers. I’ve tried a few strategies for listing this music, but none of them have worked perfectly. My constant fear is forgetting. I can think of a few songs whose titles I can recall, but the lyrics and melody of which are lost.

Written lists in notebooks fail as my stationary affections shift from one book to the next. Typed lists are usually inconsistent and don’t offer enough information about songs’ lyrics or chord structures to be helpful when I’m feeling forgetful. Folders full of text documents are the best solution I’ve found yet, but don’t mesh well with collection of .mp3’s I’ve recorded.

So as a little introvert-nerd project I’ve decided to make a little .html database of my music, a catalog that will combine lyrics, chords and tablature, and audio recordings. By making this database available online I can access the lists from wherever I get a signal, and at the same time it makes the my Creative-Commons licensed music open source.

The only trouble with this plan is that it means I need to go through every half-decent song I’ve written in the past twenty-odd months and clean up the lyrics, figure out what chords I’m playing, and then process it into some kind of structured document. I’m sure I can knock out of a few songs every night when I normally practice.

Today I got the most basic elements of the database put together, along with the first two tracks from Interstate 80. Once I’ve got that album done I’ll put the whole listing online.

Until then.

Posted May 8, 2009, 12:02 am.

I love fucked up movies.

Last night I started watching Synecdoche, New York as I was going to bed. I’m not sure at which point I shut it off, but it must’ve been about halfway through where things start to get a little surreal. Tonight I finished watching it and have since been feeling simultaneously giddy and glum.

As viewer the movie satisfies me so completely, but I’m not sure I know how to write about it. It’s a movie made by a self-reflective film director about a self-reflective theater director who creates a deeply recursive play about his creation of a play about plays. “It’s not a play about about dating, it’s about death!” shouts Hoffman’s character’s duplicate. “…it is a play about dating, not a play just about death. It’s about everything: Birth, death, life family. All that.” corrects Hoffman’s character.

There are so many little details and techniques that upon recognition provide me with such wonderment. The homonym title (and subsequent wordplay throughout), the unaccounted and often disorienting passage of time, the recurring theme music (“just a litle person, one person in a scene, of many little people…”), Hoffman’s character’s daughter’s diary as an impossible window into her estranged life, the apparent collapse of society into a military state in the background. I feel like I could watch this movie over and over and still not find every awesome nugget.

Yet at the same time, as it did the first time I saw it, the movie makes me feel really sad and lonely,worried about my life, and more than anything confused.

Which in turn makes me like it even more for so effectively fucking me up.

I’ve read that Synecdoche wasn’t very successful, wasn’t promoted very well, and (partly as a result of poor marketing) didn’t do well at the box office. I can understand this, I just hope that the people who finance these kinds of masterworks have enough faith in their eventual recognition.

Posted May 6, 2009, 6:38 pm.


I have invented something delicious.
Put a box of strawberries in the freezer until completely frozen solid.
Then leave them out on the counter until they start to defrost.
They are extra sweet, and a little bit crunchy, and cool on hot afternoons.

Posted May 4, 2009, 10:23 pm.

Up to Inskip

Yesterday Brad & I rode up into the hills.

Inskip - 78m

Thanks to my own late waking, we didn’t get rolling until a little after ten in the morning. Brad was on his Extracycle equipped slick-tired MTB, and I rode my Doublecross. The sky was grey, but it didn’t look heavy enough to drop anything on us.

Honey Run was our first climb, and it looked like the hill had received a but more point since the last time I rode it. I guess the Wildflower brought a lot of attention to the area.

Oh Hai

Once we made it to Paradise we started running into some heavy fog that turned into actual rain as we made our way along the bike path that runs parallel to Skyway. It wasn’t heavy enough to soak us through, but made me glad I was wearing wool.

The only other time I’ve ridden up to Inskip was two years ago, again with Brad, and Ryan and Nathan too. I was on a single-speed geared around 44x18 with only one brake. I remember endless climbing. This time the climbing was much easier, due in part to both an abundance of gears and what feels like being in some kind of shape.

Instead of coming back down on Honey Run we stuck to Skyway. Normally the preferred route is Neal Road, but we were ready to get home. The view from Skyway’s lone lookout spot gave on interesting perspective on the finger-like shapes of the foothills.

There’s talk of riding further past Inskip, all the way up to Butte Meadows. Likely this would be split into an overnight camping trip, riding through Inskip one day taking a route through Forest Ranch on the other. I am stoked for school to let out and such plans to become viable.

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