The Other End of Sunset

Monday, May 29, 2006

No woman no cry -- the only lyric in this post!

Why hello there, OtherEnders! How are you? Guess where I am?

Heh. Wrong! I'm not on a plane, silly!

No, I'm in an airport. Yes, it’s different.

Planes have engines. And fly. Airports are … well… more fixed in time and space. Or something like that.

Anyway, it’s quieter here. As a relative measure, anyway. The Musak(tm) is quite loud here, and the blonde on cell yell is pretty noticeable. But there is no engine noise, and that’s a blessing.

So it’s been a good week. I spent a lot of time on another new toy – this one a Saxon Firestorm. And went to 2 Suns games. And several clubs. I wrote dozens of pages in my “journal” and thought a lot. All in all, a good vacation, leaving me with various morsels for this utterance. However, I can not vouch for any implicature of said utterance. Or I guess it should be “read utterance”, but that would be impractical. Or something. Anyway, enough with the pseudo-linguistics for now.

My friend dropped me off at the airport after we had breakfast. I'm such a grump that I couldn’t make her put up with me anymore. So I am a few hours early. Which leaves me time to craft my verbiage here, in Starbucks, rather than in some aisle seat on a plane.

// By the way, the Blonde cell volume is steadily increasing. I wonder how loud she will get? Is there a terminal loud-ocity, much like terminal velocity. Of course, we are in a terminal, so does that affect anything? I often wonder about the practical effects of situational irony. Kind of like management. Anyway. //

So, does my friend have the right to be mad at me for being grumpy? And for how long is it appropriate to be angry with me? Is there a statute of limitations? Or a stature, since I'm much taller than she is? We’ve been pals a long time, do I get to be unpleasant a few times, or is it a one-time-only deal?

What is the impact of an individual action on an entire relationship? Some actions are probably terminal (recursive pun reference, see above). There are clearly things that can be said, or done, that will damage a relationship beyond repair. Some actions are harmful, but not terminal. I guess those are venial actions?

But the problem is this – how does one tell the minor irritants from those that will fester, or gangrene (or whatever the right metaphor is)? Based on my experience, such as it is, I can’t tell when I'm doing them. I'm not sure if I can tell when they are being done to me.

// The “public WLAN” in this airport stinks, for those of you who are interested. Don’t expect much if you come here, other than the sun and weather and a bouncy takeoff. Anyway. //

There are all kinds of interesting things about this lovely city in the Southwest.

For example, I’ve seen more police officers this week than in the past month. Or more. Police making traffic stops, directing traffic, and riding horses through crowds. However, I have noticed something else odd – the police officers do more illegal traffic moves than the worst offender I saw during my time there. The motorcycle cop with his headlight out making an illegal (and dangerous) U-turn in a city street. The highway patrol person speeding – with no lights – down a city street, running a red light, nearly causing an accident on her way to… nowhere as far as I could tell (I saw her for a long while, there was no crime that I could see even had she been on her beat, instead of on a city street.)

In case there is any question, I didn’t see the police doing anything seriously illegal. But I did find it ironic.

And the folks directing traffic near the Suns game? Awful. Abysmal. Created way more traffic than helped.

Speaking of traffic, two surveys came out this week about traffic in major cities. Apparently, this lovely city is home of the rudest drivers – which I believe – but it’s very safe (in terms of accidents per car-mile) – which I also believe. It’s astonishing to me what people are willing to do on streets here – cutting you off, honking, generally being jerk-like – but there is so much room on the roads that accidents feel relatively rare.

Some other fun facts about this city.

There are a lot of lovely women in this lovely city in the Southwest. And a lot of roadwork. Do you think they are related?

Maybe not.

Changing gears, again. I was on the bike at a stoplight, waiting. I happened to look down, and I noticed something very odd. There was change – pennies, quarters, a nickel – embedded in the asphalt. No, not ON it, IN it. I guess that people drop change sometimes from cars, that makes sense. However, it doesn’t just roll off the side of the street, maybe because the asphalt gets soft from the heat. When it’s soft, a car drives over the quarter and it gets pressed into the street surface. I am making this explanation up – I have no idea what causes change-in-pavement (much like hats-through-epaulettes).

I’ve never noticed change in streets before. Maybe it happens everywhere? I will certainly be looking for it now. It’s also possible that in other cities, such as LA, the homeless people would have dug the coins out of the pavement, I don’t know. But don’t you wonder? And yes, I saw it on several corners once I started looking for it…

// A few of you have asked about my shoes. Here’s today’s shoe report – slip on black Vans with little skulls on them. Not very girly. And very comfortable. Thanks for asking. //

It appears that all the clubs in this lovely city are owned by a few people. They all look alike, play the same music, and charge the same cover. And many of the door people make the same lame jokes – think that is part of the training? I went dancing at a club in a posh northern suburb, where I was the youngest person there (well, my friend is younger, so she was the youngest person there). And they were playing badly mashed-up house music. It was so badly mixed that the transitions even threw me – a few times I had to stop moving and reconnect to the beat to figure out how to dance again.

And, to be blunt, there is something vaguely terrifying about some middle-aged fat guy, in a baseball hat turned around backwards, waving his pudgy hands in some parody of gang signs, on a dance floor. Look, I have nothing against older people dancing – I mean, dude, look at me! In fact, I think it’s awesome that people don’t have to get serious and judgmental after they are 30 (even though we have states that seem to focus on judgmental skills over say, mathematics skills) – people getting crazed on a dance floor has to be part of what made our country great. But I do have something against people pretending to be something that they are not – dude, you are NOT a poor African American. You have neither a sign, nor a set. And your fraternity days are over. Fit into your skin, be crazy as yourself, and I'll cheer you like a madman. I might even turn my hat around if it makes you feel better.

This is not to say that people are locked into their “youthful” personas forever – people change over time, and that’s great. Sometimes they change by becoming younger in spirit. Sometimes they change by learning new things, or becoming more cynical, or whatever. Change is good. Change is what frees us from, e.g., high school memories. I have changed a lot in my life, so much that I don’t know that people always recognize me. I love change, for those of you who are keeping track!

But I'm still stuck, musically, in the 80’s more or less. I like post-80’s punk, and a few other genres, but you can always find me on the dance floor for just about anything from my youth. And I hope that will still be true when I am older, with pudgier fingers.

I am, after all, wearing Vans. And I have been told, several times, that I am too old to wear them. So, perhaps I should be celebrating the hat-backward guy, as, in fact, he and I are the same?

But I'm taller.

Let’s talk about the new toy for a second. Yes, this is different from the Benelli. However, it’s not any smarter. I'm an idiot. Sorry.

Saxon is a small motorcycle company in the Southwest. They make street frames – not choppers, really, but not rider-friendly bikes either. It sort of looks like my Victory, only using an S&S engine, and custom fabricated parts. For those of you playing the home game “custom fabricated” means “irregular and likely to be poorly constructed”. Machines do a few things well – cutting and automated welding are among those things that machines do better than humans. So, you can expect this bike to be surprising in some ways. For example, there is a piece of billet that is bolted on to the frame to cover the rear axle bolt. It is a nice touch, the piece is shaped to reflect the shape of the bike, it is shiny, it’s cool. But the bike uses an S&S engine. S&S engines vibrate. A lot. Like as in >7 on the Richter scale vibrations. The billet is bolted onto a fixed part of the frame. Guess what? One side of the billet has come unscrewed already. Sigh. And the back left running light is out. I think the running light filament shook into pieces.

The front brake isn’t very useful, which isn’t so great on a bike that weighs several hundred pounds. The engine is touchy, and it stalls easily when it’s not entirely warm. The transmission has an odd characteristic – sometimes it won’t quite get into 1st gear but it is in some gear. The physics of this make no sense to me – it’s a sequential transmission, like all motorcycles – but it appears to be true. I can ease the clutch in, and power up the engine, and it will go, but in an almost stalling way. Then a few yards later, you hear a clunk, and suddenly the bike GOES (keep in mind, I'm on the gas just to keep the bike from stalling). This transition – from stall to race – isn’t easy on rider (and really is not pleasant for the passenger, on that little joke of a pillion pad).

The bike is, however, beautiful. I mean, really, the gas tank is awesomely rounded, and the paint job is stunning – it’s honey-brown, with skulls in a bluish color that are hard to see except in the sunlight. It’s really gorgeous.

And I don’t know that I will buy another like it. I think I need to replace the front brake – or add another rotor to the front. I am uncomfortable with the weird behavior of the transmission – but that’s easy to replace. And the dealership was a bit odd.

But all in all, it’s fun. My friend piled onto the pillion seat and we rode together up South Mountain – it was a beautiful ride, very twisty. Continuing on with the oddities of the bike… The pegs are, no surprise, billet, and they have these points on them, like spikes. The problem? Not much clearance for the bike – I keep dragging them when I turn. So, on a twisty mountain road, I must have dragged each one ten times. I didn’t cast sparks, and it doesn’t destabilize the bike, but it freaked my friend out.

But, really, I love the bike. I'm glad I have it. And I think I'll spend more time on the Benelli!

I'm headed back up to the Bay Area, where it is 20 degrees colder, and probably les sunny. I’ve enjoyed my time away, and am ready to head back to work.

What happens next? Who knows. But, really, my friend is right – you shouldn’t get cut when you are doing a good deed.

I'll try not to bleed in the taxi, or at least I'll catch it on my pants.