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Monday, November 14, 2011

Letter to myself

It seems more blogcationy around here than not.  Yet, I think about it.  Waiting like the most patient dog in the world.  The most patient dog in the world, who would have long-ago starved to death from inactivity.

Today I received a letter from myself in the mail.  I wrote the letter in August at a two-week intensive professional development thing I did.  The thing was amazing.  The letter came at a good moment.

It's been hard, the new job.  Some days harder than others, but most hard.  There was one where I came home and was able to say it had been a good day.  That's one day out of lots.

It's not all bad, of course, just hard.  And lonely, as I knew it would be.  So, I try to take the moments.

The student who told me that she liked my pants today.  

The actual dogs, who do get fed.

Honey, whose birthday is tomorrow.

And, today, the letter.  The last line of which I said (to myself, remember), "Take care of yourself and ride your bike more often, without guilt and with joy."

I haven't done that, of course, but I like that I told myself to.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

What continuum am I on?

Recently at work I had to start a social media ad hoc committee.  People have behaved badly on social media this year.  Blogging mostly, but faceplace, too.  It was just at the end of the term and I asked a few folks to get together on the day of commencement (before the string of parties started) to talk.  During the conversation, I admitted (not in a confessional way, but I'm sure it was taken that way) that I had a blog and that it was anonymous.  Sort of.  Earlier this week, someone else mentioned my anonymous blog to me.  Clearly trying to get access.  No quarter was given.

People still blog.  I read them every day.  Every once in a while someone who doesn't blog much whose blog I read back when I played blogleague fantasy sports will blog.  That makes my day.  A little bit of sunshine, you know?

So I have this new job.  Start in a month.  I can't decide whether the "beyond this place there be dragons" is the right metaphor for the next phase in my professional life.

Or maybe I'm a little like Halo.  Will the box be all I want it to be?

Best case is that it's like the entrance to my favorite hotel.  It's on a little street in a little town in the desert.  You wonder if you've arrived at the right place.  You ring the bell.  Once you make it through the arch, though, you never want to leave.

I'm hoping the new job is somewhere between Halo's box and Desert Hot Springs.   

Recently, in my current job, I've been dealing with several unpleasant circumstances.  People causing drama, insisting on controlling the drama narrative.  Drama that requires after hours meetings.  Ad hoc committees on social media.  Me to steel myself against others' crying.  It's karma, I think.  For leaving.  For feeling bad about leaving. 

For being a more than a little afraid that the continuum is between the dragon and Halo's box.

The only way out may be through.  Halo figured that out.  Maybe I will, too.

Wish me luck. 

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Documenting the Collection, um... Passion, um... Obsession

My mother is an avid shopper.  Deeply avid.  I know avid suggests that, but let's be clear that the woman shops.  And buys.

I have some of her tendencies in this area and own more shoes than I need.  I also own many many products of Apple.  Too many, probably.  I don't buy clothes much, though, for complicated reasons I'm not going to get into. 

I am impulsive when it comes to car purchases.  Of late, I've turned cars over every three years.  That's too often, really.  I like my current car a lot, though, so as I slide toward year three, I'm quite confident we'll make it to year five, at least.

Then, there's bikes. Towit:
  • Cannondale F400.  Sold to get Gunnar (see below).
  • Want road bike.  
  • Trek 1200.  No, too harsh, too small.  Sold.
  • Lemond Zurich.  Scared it would break. Sold.
  • Ibex Classic.  Bought for parents house.  Too small, terrible riding.  Sold.
  • Surly Cross-Check.  Too small.  Cross bike brakes don't work.  Sold.
  • Gunnar Rockhound.  Yep, still in garage.
  • Gary Fisher Kaitai.  Lives at my parents house.
  • Soma Smoothie ES.  Sold.  Didn't ride.
  • Kona Dew Deluxe.  Good, but harsh. Going to get Sold.
  • Surly Karate Monkey.  Getting the Kona's parts as we speak.  Anyone need a Kona frame?
So, I've turned over (in the last seven years or so) ten bikes.  I still have three, one of which lives 3000 miles away in may parents' basement.

See what I mean? 

I used to collect, well, collectibles.  But, I stopped.  Seemed wasteful, really.  You run out of storage.  And then they're just plastic.  Or ceramic.  Or whatever.  I still watch antique/collecting shows on tv. 

Of recent years, I must confess to a bit of a bag collection.  Passion.  Obsession.

I built a little wire container system to hold them.  I take some comfort in knowing I'm not the only one. 

There's the Bag Collector Blog.

Yeppers.  He's inspired me to document.  Ready?  (Since no one actually reads this anymore much, go with it.) 

Or not. 

Let me note, before I begin, that bags have come in and gone out without making the current collection/cut.  I bought some, didn't like them, and let them go.  They were mostly Timbuk2, some Chrome.  One or two Crumpler.  Some bought cheap, others full retail.  I wish them well in their current lives. 

In college I used an LL Bean backpack.  I then have a memory hole until I bought a Hartmann leather bag at their outlet mall in Camarillo.

I used the Hartmann for a number of years.  It's a nice bag.  Heavy, but good quality and I like it.  My one criticism is that it doesn't have a top handle, which makes it hard to move around.

I wanted a lighter, sportier alternative.  And thus did my fascination with Timbuk2 begin. 

I ordered a custom messenger to "match" the Trek 1200 (see above). 

This bag was made of a less shiny nylon than most of their bags are.  I worried and worried over the color panels.  Ultimately, they ended up sort of meh.

So, I tried again with Timbuk2.  They were doing a spate of special fabrics.  As documented here I wanted the Eames fabric one.  I bought (can't tell you why, really) this one instead.

(You can embiggen these pictures of course, should you want more detail).

It didn't hold up well, the special fabric.  Tore a little, got dirty from regular use.

Then Timbuk2 went brushed canvas, in a line they call Single Speed.  Happy sigh.

That's the relay.  Love that bag.  Got it in bigger, too.

That one, Honey and I call the "PIF bag" as I used it to carry my very large, very unwieldy Personal Information File (or PIF) for my tenure and promotion decisions.

I still use the Relay (smaller one) sometimes.  It's well worn, with some ink stains inside it. 

I like the idea of Timbuk2 custom bags a lot, though I'm not sure I've ever gotten then color choices right.  I bought and used a Eula for a while.  It's their "girl" bag.  Somewhat purse-like, and small.

Dark green and silver.  What was I thinking?

Now, as I noted, I like me  some products du Apple.  And they need to be carried.  So, I tried out some Timbuk2 products designed to carry computers and an tablets and other things Cupertino.

Above you have The Blogger, a 333 line laptop bag, and the Freestyle.  That last one kind of broke me from Timbuk2.  They've moved a lot of their manufacturing overseas (the custom ones are still made in San Francisco).  I still like them, but the straps have gotten shorter and shorter (I like a LONG strap).  I used the Freestyle some, but, with the exception of the Relay, none of these bags do much for me anymore.  I tried to sell the 333.  My love affair with Timbuk2 is over.  I appreciate them, but don't heart them any more.  Basically, those last three bags are available to someone, if they'd promise to use them. 

The intersection of bike stuff and these bags is pretty clear.  They're all meant for carrying on your back while you ride a bike.  I realized from reading online that Chrome seemed to have a lot of credibility with bike folks.  So I tried a regular Chrome, with the seat belt buckle.  Did not like.  When they came out with their "lifestyle" bags, I haunted ebay and managed to get a Vega.

I've used it a fair amount and it's still in light circulation.

Honey bought me this Keen for Christmas in 09.  It's a great bag.  In medium circulation.

My disillusionment with Timbuk2 laptop bags led me on a search for an alternative.  Steepandcheap to the rescue!  (Don't know about steepandcheap?  It's like woot for outdoor gear, except for one item a day, it's one item after another.)

This is an Osprey Astro.  It's my go-to when I want good padding for the laptop or the iPad.

Bonus points for the Osprey: it's made of recycled plastic.  Nice long strap, too.  It's a little voluminous for non-electronic everyday use.  Plus, I'm much more likely to have the iPad than the laptop. 


My current favorite bag company. 

By a lot. 


They're (to me) what Timbuk2 was once.  San Francisco made.  Committed to sustainability.  When I was up in San Francisco in January, I stopped by their "store," which is the front part of their factory.  They gave me a tour.  Told me about what they do.  They have bike parking, a sofa to relax on, and seem a great company.  Their core bag is called the Zero messenger.  No fabric is wasted making it (thus the "zero" part, zero waste).  It's mailed to you (all their products do) in a "round trip shipper" (a canvas envelope) which you send back to them to use again.  Their prices are really reasonable.  I have an iPad sleeve and have managed (in a very short time) to acquire four Zero messengers.

My first one was a small.  Orange and brown.  Not a bad color selection (given that it was me doing the selecting).

When I went up there, I ordered a medium zero, made from a fabric made of old soda bottles.  They rushed the order and I picked it up on the way out of town.  (They made it for me with a longer strap!)

I love this bag so much that I have trouble keeping others in circulation.

It's brother (bought on ebay) hasn't even been out for a spin yet.

Not that I'm a champion anything.  (Those stripes indicate that the wearer is a world champion in some bicycle endeavour).

My latest Rickshaw is a purse.  The call it the Zero mini.  It's a purse.  I am actually occasionally using it as such.

My latest bag (in violation, I must admit of my agreement with Honey to take a "one-in, one-out" approach to bags was acquired with a birthday gift card.  It's already loaded to be next week's bag.  Seems a good size and I like the design.

Crumpler soupandsalad.  I like Crumplers, but they cost too much.  This one was on sale at REI.

There are lots of other makers out there I'm interested in.  Honey sighs as I write, though she doesn't know why.  Some of the more respected companies don't do much for me design-wise.  I know people really like REload and Baileyworks.  Maybe someone could tell me why.  The former seems too busy, the latter too plain.  A lot of the American made bags seem really spendy, too.  I'd say that was a function of what it costs to make stuff here, but then I remember how much Rickshaw charges.

Oh, and just to be completest.  My trusty Canon Rebel xsi, with which the above pictures were taken lives in a camera-specific bag, called the Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home. 

Anyway, Crumpler aside, I'll go back to one-in, one-out now.  So, someone please please take one of the Timbuk2s so I can look for a new bag.  I'm thinking Seagull or Black Rose

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Along the 101

I'm just back from five days in San Francisco.

Thanks for having me, Norcal. You were your usual self in all the good ways.

I haven't spent a ton of time in San Francisco, truth be told. When I moved to Los Angeles almost twenty years ago, I talked myself into thinking that living in L.A. was almost as good as living in San Francisco would have been. I had read Tales of the City rather breathlessly.  The result was a certainty  that if I could get to San Francisco, it would all be just as interesting as Maupin wrote it.  It didn't matter, really, that I was to arrive 10+ years later.  Or that it was--well--fiction.

At the time I thought Los Angeles would just have to do.  No one from Norcal was beating down my grad student door.  And L.A. had called.  Offered money.  So loaded up my babyshitbrownyellow Camry and "hit the San Diego freeway doing 60 miles an hour" to quote Miss Nanci Griffith.  (Who--oddly--is playing on itunes right now.  It's another song, but still, eerie.)

I told myself that I'd go to San Francisco a lot.  I haven't, but I think sometimes about that promise I made to myself and what I thought my life was going to be like back then.

I've come to love Los Angeles.  I appreciate it, too.  I went to a concert a couple of weeks ago and the artist said, "people in New York always ask why I love L.A. with all the traffic and the freeways, and I say, 'exactly.'"  It's not about the freeways, of course.  It's about the city itself.

Anyway, I had been looking forward to this trip when I thought Honey could come.  Then she couldn't.  And it was the first week of the semester.  And then it turned out I was staying at a hotel other than the conference hotel and not particularly nearby.  All of which served to make me cross.

I decided to drive up the 101.  I couldn't take the 5 and feel ok, what with all the crossness.  I'm not sure I'll ever take the 5 to get to the Bay area again. 

California has all sorts of problems, I know this.  I'm not from here.  I know this, too. 

I thought a fair about about where I was from because I listened to The Help on CD some of the way up and all the way back.

Ok, so it's New Orleans, not Mississippi (where the book is set) or Georgia (where I'm from).  She mentions New Orleans and I'm taking a little poetic license based on the photos I just downloaded from my iPhone.

Driving to this city where I thought I wanted to be from the city where I do want to be, listening to a novel about a city that resonates with my past (or at least with my mother's) all served to be a little disorienting, in both time and space.


The sea lions weren't out in force to greet me. 

I always forget the damn hills, too.

Did I mention that I like Hipstamatic a lot?  I do.  Made me not want to take my regular camera. 

The conference I went to was terrible.  Not terrible in the way MLA or AAA can be.  That terrible is epic.  Shuttle buses, wide-eyed grad students, pretentious papers, really trendy girl glasses, drinking, people having sex with people they don't know, kind of terrible. 

This conference was just bad.  Boring, tedious, and talking about important stuff from 1000 miles away without acknowledging the distortion.

I stole the time I could. 

Went to the Ferry Building

Had Rickshaw make me an fabulously great new bag (which I deserved).  Ok, bag aside.  I promised Honey a "one-in, one-out" bag trip.  I was determined, therefore, to be deliberate about bag choices.  I started with Rickshaw.  They couldn't have been nicer.  Gave me a tour of the factory.  It's a great space.  They're committed to the right things.  Timbuk2?  Not so much.  Want to support a good SF based company all about sustainability?  Rickshaw, friends.  Rickshaw.  I got a Zero Messenger made of recycled coke bottles.

I also explored the coffee of the place.  Two words to simply your search for goodness of coffee.  You ready? You sure?



I had good coffee elsewhere in SF and just made it to Intelligensia a week or so ago down here.  It's a good time to like coffee here on the coast of west.  Portland and Seattle are out here too, you know.  They're not bad at coffee either.

It's a great city, San Francisco.  And I need to go back more often.  The hills are not fun.  The food is great. 

It's what I wanted it to be, especially early in the morning when the fog stays thick and I could ignore the conference and walk along the Embarcadero. 

And yet, all week I wanted to come back to L.A.

I drove home on the 101 and stopped in Gilroy for lunch.  The sullen waitress and cheesy singer seemed bearable with the garlic.  As I walked back to my car after lunch, I noticed this cool old building, which had once housed the newspaper in the town.

The earthquake warning was meant to keep me away.  Instead I peered into the windows and stood and looked at it a long time.

I moved to Los Angeles just after the riots.  The earthquake happened not very long after I got here.  I moved to the "wrong" city. 

When I pulled into my driveway, my car smelling of fresh bread and coffee, I was home.  What's a little unsecured masonry among friends?

As good as my car smelled, the house smelled better.  Honey had baked me cupcakes. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

of i

Taking some time off work this month and things are generally ok-ish.

Today, though, I read a book I didn't like that I have to lead a discussion on tomorrow. I also didn't work out. (Or eat much, so I guess it's ok-ish).

Feeling kind of down.

So I cleaned all my Apple products. Pad of i, Pod of i, Phone of i. All with Klear of i and the wonderful blue cloth.

At least one thing went well today.