Oscars 2016

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This year’s Oscars was so boring, it wasn’t even worth making fun of it.

I haven’t bothered to see the latest “Star Wars” movie, but I’m surprised it didn’t get nominated for a bunch of stuff if “Mad Max” did. I had zero interest in seeing either movies, mainly because I’m so tired of sequels, reboots, and remakes.

What little I heard of Chris Rock’s monologue was funny. His joke about Wil Smith getting $20M was the best. Second, was Louis C.K.’s joke about the Oscar going home in a Honda Civic (for short documentary).

Training logs

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This weekend I got in a couple bike rides, both marred by equipment failures. I went mountain biking on Saturday. I found some great single-track and ran out of steam going up a gully. I cranked too hard and broke my chain. Fortunately, I was only a mile from the car. Sunday, I had a 25 mile ride according to my plan. About 3 miles from the end, I must have hit some construction debris and got a flat. It was more than the tube, the tire has a hole too.

Jury duty

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Within three months of getting my California drivers license, I received the letter that makes us all cringe – a summons to report for jury duty. I managed to kick the can down the road for a year and now the chickens have come home to roost.

I don’t even remember why I postponed it the first time. I assume I had a good enough excuse. This week is one of the worst possible times because we are about to launch Cola, the app we’ve been building for the past year.

I’m hoping to just get passed up and sent on my merry way as the odds of getting picked are usually pretty low.

The last time I reported for jury duty was in Chicago, and I got picked. I honestly didn’t think I would. Insiders tell me if you’re going to get picked hope for a criminal trial. They’re likely to last one day, and can be interesting. Otherwise, you could get stuck in a trial for something like a malpractice suit or insurance fraud. Those are the worst because they’re boring and can last a lot longer.

My case was about a guy who was accused of shooting his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. The boyfriend and the accused had been friends at one time when they were both working together as “pickers”, guys who salvage scrap and sell it.

I may have written about this in the past, but long story short, we all though he was guilty and figured he did it. In the end, we found him not guilty. The prosecution did such a bad job, there was all kinds of reasonable doubt. Granted, it’s a single data point, but I can see how many seemingly open and shut cases don’t go the way most of us would expect.

Lake Chabot Ride

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Linda has decided to take up Mountain Biking with me and last week we picked up a new bike for her. We’ve been looking for something to do together that gets us outside and is also a good  way to kill time when we go camping. We had toyed with some other activities like kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, or surfing, but all those water sports require, well water. On a good day, we’re at least an hour from the ocean. With biking, we can go right from the house.

For her first ride we decided to check out Lake Chabot, an East Bay Regional park near San Leandro. We read about it on a bay area bike website, and sounded like a good place to start.

While we weren’t looking for level 10 technical single-track, we didn’t want a flat asphalt trail either.  What did get was a mile-plus climb up some incredible steep fire roads. At one point it we had to walk the bikes up a 24% grade. Overall, a great place to ride, just not your ideal first ride. For future reference, we’ll probably go back.

We finished off our ride with a little brunch next to the Westy.

Apple eating.

Apple eating.

Sunday brunch.

Sunday brunch.

The bikes together

The bikes together

Shh, that's supposed to be water in the cups.

Shh, that’s supposed to be water in the cups.

Linda's new bike a Specialized Jynx

Linda’s new bike a Specialized Jynx

Lake Chabot

Lake Chabot

Lake Chabot Marina

Lake Chabot Marina

Mono Shock

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When I was sick, my parents trotted me out to K’s Merchandise Mart on a weeknight to pick up my first bike. It was this beauty, the Huffy Mono-Shock.

My first store-bought bike. The Huffy Mono-Shock.

My first store-bought bike. The Huffy Mono-Shock.

Technically speaking, it was my first store-bought bike. The first bike I ever had was a beat up girls’ bike my Grandpa picked up at a police auction. The chain constantly fell off and the hand grips were disintegrating, leaving my hands black every time I rode it. In addition, it had one of those against-the-wall paint jobs where someone sprayed it, chain and all. The kind of treatment you give a bike after stealing it.

The Huffy on the other hand looked like something that came out of a focus group of 6 year olds. It had everything they could want, while getting everything wrong in a bike. The seat was a like a loaf of pound cake. The handlebars splayed outward. The bike weighed almost as much as me at the time. In fact, I was so light, I couldn’t even move the shock.

It was a good three years before it even fit me. I think mom and dad were thinking this will be the bike he’ll ride until college.

Over the years, I lost original appreciation I had for the bike. Other kids were getting ten speeds and dirt bikes. The mono-shock was neither. One major benefit of riding it for so long was I got used to the weight. I don’t remember when I officially stopped riding it, nor do I recall what happened to it. The one great thing about Huffy bikes. They’re pretty durable, and built to last. I can’t necessarily say the same thing about their ride quality.

The Grammys

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Last night I caught the tail end of the Grammys. I must be a masochist, because I hate most award shows. Compared to most, the Grammys are the least authentic. That includes the Oscars, because I expect actors to be feigning sincerity.

Recognizing David Bowie’s contribution to music made perfect sense. I would have preferred someone other than Lady Gaga to do it. I think she’s talented, but let her Madonna’s tributes when she dies.

We really didn’t need another montage of his 10 radio hits. We’ve been hearing those around the clock since he died. It would have been more interesting to hear from the diverse range of people who worked actually knew him. I would have loved to see an uncensored Iggy Pop up there.

I liked the B.B. King tribute with Gary Clark Jr., Chris Stapleton, and Bonnie Raitt, because I like them. The Grammys tributes are such a conceit, not because they’re so mawkish and self-congratulatory. It’s because they’re obviously done more to promote the flavor of the day act.

Mountain Biking Weekend

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Finally go the new mountain bike dirty with some riding this weekend. I went to Pleasanton Ridge two days in a row. We have a lot of great places to ride all within an hours drive. The Ridge happens to be one of the tougher rides in the East Bay. There are miles of single and wide track at 1400 feet. Getting up to the ridge is the challenge. From the parking lot, it’s a 1 mile ride up with some grades over 15%.

I’ve been road riding for years, and road shape is definitely not the same thing as mountain bike shape. Even in my granny gear, I couldn’t climb the 21% grade hill known as Godzilla without dismounting.

As always the case with rides that have that much climbing, the ride down was worth the trip up.

Saturday Morning Ride

It was a gorgeous morning to ride. The fog rolled in overnight. At the top of the ridge I rode above it.

Some earned dirt on the bike.

Some earned dirt on the bike.

1400' elevation and fog over the Tri-Valley, Mount Diablo in the distance.

1400′ elevation view

Olive Grove trail

Olive Grove trail

Pre-ride prep

Post ride.

Fog over Sunol, CA

Fog over the Tri-Valley and 10 degrees warmer.

Resting on the Thermalito trail

Resting on the Thermalito trail

Sunday Afternoon Ride

I must be a glutton for punishment, but I went back for another ride on the same trail. Linda and I had been looking at bikes for her, and I got the itch to go back. This time I paced myself and only walked the bike once.

The highlight of this ride was seeing the snow capped mountains of the Sierras from the top of Godzilla.

Looking down the hill with my backpack on the ground.

Looking down the hill with my backpack on the ground.

Tired feet.

Tired feet.

Snowcapped Sierras faint in the distance.

Snowcapped Sierras faint in the distance.

View from Godzilla

View from Godzilla

Thermalito Trail

Thermalito Trail

Sunshine Superman

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Last week I ordered a 10″ electric orbital polisher and an array of bonnets to take on waxing the Westy on my own. I’ve washed my own cars countless times, but this was the first time I’ve ever waxed and polished it. I figured buying all the stuff was cheaper than even one professional job. Over time, I figured I’ll get better at it, or just go back to paying someone else.

The real work was cleaning the pop-top and luggage rack. It’s white fiberglass and had years of black dirt settled into the pores. Using a concentrated mix of Simple Green and a plastic scouring disk attachment on my drill, I was able to get the top back to white. The scrubbing made a world of difference, but I still need to do something about the oxidation.

Pop-top and Luggage Rack Before

More build up on the pop-top

More build up on the pop-top

Years of a dirt build up

Years of a dirt build up

Pop-top and Luggage Rack After

Build up gone.

Build up gone.

Shiny shiny white roof.

Shiny shiny white roof.

The body of the Westy looks good from afar, but far from good up close. It’s in decent shape for a 31 years old. When the light hits it just right, you can see a million little dents, nicks, and tiny rust spots. The yellow paint gets pretty dull and loses its luster in the punishing California sun.

After a thorough washing, I applied a coat of Carnauba wax and buffed it out with the fleece bonnet. I was surprisingly disappointed with the result as it didn’t shine. After reading some directions, I ran over it with a microfiber bonnet to get it to really sparkle.

Lemon zest.

Lemon zest.

All dressed up and ready to go

All dressed up and ready to go

Training Day 33

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Went to Melinda’s Spin class today. I got there early and added a couple miles to my overall ride. She had us try to hit our highest watts ever. I got the bike up to 785 for about 6 seconds. We did that about 5 times and I felt knockered.

Activity Distance Time
Spin 20 45:00