February 2010

Tires

I’ve had a couple of days off from work, which is wonderful because i was getting totally exhausted. Now i’m going to ask them for a demotion and for part time work, which would fit my energy level better. I simply can’t maintain the pace.

But there’s good news:

This morning i cut cleanly through and found a fabulous bargain on new tires for my Segway, which i had been shamed into shopping for after this really handsome young motorcyclist pulled up beside me at a traffic light yesterday and jocularly observed that i was riding on slicks. Luckily, i thought quickly enough to laugh and shoot back that i might have already got my money’s worth outta ’em. Still, i was mortified because he was absolutely right and besides, they were so old that both had slow leaks and had to be pumped up every few days.

Anyhow, after some shopping online and being horrified at the prices of replacement tires (not even looking at the price of official Segway tires), i called the Segway dealer in Oakland and discovered that since i’m riding an obsolete model that nobody wants because the new version has so many improvements and also because everybody is wanting the way cool gnarly knobby off-road tires, there are lots of the old very slightly used street tires around going begging. I got a pair for sixty bucks, and he threw in the wheels because it was so much easier for him to just give ’em to me than to change the tires. Since my old wheels were pretty beat up from all the falls and airline trauma, getting newer ones was a big plus.

When i got home i celebrated by riding down the hill to my gymette and doing 1.18 miles on the elliptical trainer (which because it uses somewhat different muscles i can actually get my heart rate up on, which i can’t do walking) and then waved a few weights around.

Then i continued the celebration by riding down 14th street to the Mission Beach Cafe and making a lunch of their wild mushroom Benedict Florentine with a truffled mornay sauce instead of béarnaise. And since i was already in there, a slice of their divine chocolate cream pie, about which i dream, it being the very essence of what a chocolate cream pie should be.

On the way home i picked up a sourdough baguette and a gallon of low-fat milk, but i haven’t eaten them yet.

And OK, in the interests of full disclosure, not long after the encounter with the motorcyclist i was riding around in Dolores Park scoping out possible places where the homeless might gather on the night we’ll be enumerating them and encountered what appeared to be a grassy slope but was really a mud slide held in place and camouflaged by the grass. The Segway immediately went out from under me, and i landed with a squish on my back. The Segway preceded me down the hill until we came to rest, thoroughly muddied, at the bottom. It was on the way home that i decided that some tires with a little tread on them might be a good investment.

bikeMeanwhile, since we’re talking about vehicles, take a look at this Bicycle Built for Two by the Rock the Bike folks:

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A Perfect Solution

This afternoon as my Segway and i were laboring up the hill home into the teeth of an icy rain, my chilled brain cells went into overdrive and i thought of the perfect solution for President Obama’s problems: war. No no, not the ones he inherited and seems to be perpetuating against all the hopes of those who voted for him, but rather a fresh new war that he starts himself to show those who didn’t vote for him he’s not some conciliatory wimp but rather a closet neocon with real cojones.

But who should we invade? I asked myself. I mean, we wouldn’t want to just jump blindly into something without thinking it through, now would we?

So after due consideration of the problems we face in our current wars, and wishing to avoid some of the ummm, complications we’ve encountered over there, i am proposing, as a true American patriot concerned only with the good of my country, that we invade and occupy Iceland.

When i consider all the advantages, i’m surprised nobody has suggested this before. Think about it: Iceland is conveniently located, just a hop and a skip beyond the southern coast of Greenland rather than way the hell off somewhere in the Middle East or Asia with all the long supply-line issues that causes. And strategically situated? It doesn’t take a Clausewitz to understand that he who controls Iceland, controls sea routes to northern Europe, especially in a few years when the Northwest Passage will be ice-free year round. Also, since they’re an island, we won’t have to worry about porous borders over which terrorists can infiltrate.

Furthermore, Iceland has no army, navy, or air force, and we are already responsible for their defense, so invading them ought to be a snap without even having to reduce Reykjavik to rubble. Their population is only 300,000, so occupying them would be easier since we wouldn’t have to deal with millions upon millions of ’em like we do in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of them speak English as a second language, which will make it easier to give orders and conduct interrogations. And finally, we wouldn’t have to be bringing them the benefits of democracy since they already have a democratic form of government although we would of course need to make a few adjustments like replacing their socialist health care system with a free enterprise program so the more deserving citizens can purchase better health care than the masses.

The more i think about this, the more excited i get. A win-win situation if i ever saw one, but i’ll flesh out a few more details before i send it to Barack and volunteer as Provincial Governor until control can be restored to the native population. They can address me as Matte the Just (Matte Heiðarlegur), at least until i’ve mastered Icelandic, which i ought to be able to do in ten years or so, well before the transition. As a beginning, i’ve installed the Icelandic keyboard on my PC so i can type their names since they are still clinging to letters like æ, ð, and þ that English hasn’t used for a millennium and which i regret, as i quite like them.

I’ve made preliminary arrangements with a private security company named Graywater to be a Praetorian guard for me and my staff and to perform certain functions too sensitive to be left to the uniformed military. (Surely you didn’t think i’d hire Erik Prince’s crew, whatever he’s calling ’em now, especially since Graywater is owned by a group of my friends who will naturally be grateful that i’ve steered a contract with seven zeroes to them.)

I’ve saved the best reason for invasion until last. I have it on reliable authority that clandestine geological surveys under the guise of helping the Icelanders find more sources of geothermal energy have discovered evidence that the entire northern half of the island is sitting on vast deposits of the highest grade unobtanium, so pure it hardly even needs refining. Who knows what would happen if the Icelanders, or worse yet, the Faeroese, got their hands on this stuff, and we dare not risk finding out. (Imagine, if you will, the utter horror of an entire planet under the cruel dominion of the Faeroese! Compulsory fish livers and mutton, to start with.) In the interests of world peace, we must harvest the unobtanium ourselves and protect it, once again vaulting into the forefront of nations and saving the planet for Jesus.

Ahhhh, back into the service of my country. It’s a good feeling.

aloeWe can celebrate with a pic of a little gem i picked up cheap at the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market last year. It seems to be some sort of Gasteria genus from the 3 cm. flowers, but mad scientists are now crossbreeding these little cuties crosseyed to get handsome blossoms, so i’m not sure what it is other than a beautiful member of the Aloaceae family. Is Spring here or what?

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Crash

The following dialog actually came close to happening this afternoon:

“What were you doing immediately before the crash?”

“I was trying to dig my helmet out of my pack and put it on without stopping the Segway.”

red roofWell, see, i had got off the train in the West Portal station and pushed the Segway through the crowd out into the sunshine, and it was such a gorgeous moment that somehow i found myself atop the Segway with my helmet still in my pack where i’d stuffed it for the duration of the Muni ride. But then, as i rolled along at top speed, picturing myself having to provide the above answer to that question caused me to stop while i got the helmet out, so i survived to catch this red roof shot on 24th Street:

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