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May 30, 2011

Escape From San Francisco

Above: A scooter knocked over on Larkin Street.

Above: More scooters knocked over on Larkin Street.

Above: An example of the countless trucks that are constantly defaced in the Mission district.

Like an Alcatraz prisoner gazing twixt the bars, I see the headlands of Marin County from my bedroom. This city is a Chinese finger trap - it sucks you in but you can't get out. So today, after work, I'm plotting my escape.

Maybe I'll go across the Golden Gate to Marin County to shoot the raptors. With the long lens. Yes. This. Shoot the raptors hovering above Marin County.

Poor Impulse Control

I'm turning this idea over in my little pea-pod brain, haunted by the raptors of Marin County...these birds hovering perpetually over the ridges, riding the currents seemingly motionless. No patagial markings. These are not Red Tailed Hawks. Probably not even buteos. Maybe accipiters. Maybe something even more interesting.

I turn onto Folsom street and this woman comes racing up honking...perhaps not understanding that I have my own lane...she's honking at me and just I stay in my lane but the bike rises up like a stallion. It has it's own attitude. I am but a passenger, hanging on for dear life, as the bike rises up and rolls down the street on one wheel in a testosterone frenzy.

And this is what we all love, is it not? To be clearly and demonstrably in the right. Like, for one single instance in my existence, I don't have to think about whether I'm being ethnocentric, misogynistic, or politically incorrect. For this one brief instant, it's not about what I'll be when I grow up or whether I'll ever amount to anything or if they'll name a street after me so I'll be remembered in perpetuity.

Instead, this lunatic bitch has reduced all superfluous thoughts in my brain down to an adrenaline river and I think this is what I enjoy the most. A moment of clarity in a world of confusion.

This tepid female in her feeble hybrid honking her Barbie-horn at me because she's so dense she's unaware that I have my own lane.

The bike stands up on the rear wheel and balances out perfectly and I'm sure I could ride this wheelie all the way out of town and I turn to her...I'm not making this up...I'm riding a wheelie down the street next to her and I turn to her now and look her in the eye and say about the worst thing you could ever imagine saying with your eyes. She can't hear me of course, but she feels me. She feels the rage of the machine and begins to shiver. She knows she's just a dull, thin woman, trembling beside a lion on the African coast, roaring at the sunset. This is not lost on her.

This city is interesting and exciting and there's always a lot going on and it draws you in. But at some point, you grow weary of the spray-painted vans and sirens and razor wire and red lights and homeless.

This woman has pushed me over the edge and now I have to go. Have to escape from this Chinese finger-trap city.

Riding down Lombard Street now in traffic thick and wide and red lights. I can't breathe the air in this town. Pushing out now, ripping the seams of fog city. The traffic surges out like the tide leaving the city by the bay.

Fettered to my own shifting desires.

Cool Whip thick clouds pushing over the headlands from the west. Why I don't know.

The left hand works the clutch continuously but the brain scarcely notices. Riding a motorcycle for 30 years will do that, I think. This is all automatic. Shifting, braking, starting and stopping. The clutch is going all the time now. In and out. Out and in. Slowly rolling in 1st gear in and out on the clutch until the left hand can't work any more.

Why can't we get out across the bridge. Why these city bonds? Why the shackles? Why this?

My left hand hangs at my side now. Completely spent. Finally I can roll in 1st gear as the highway regurgitates a city of cars across the golden gate. Escape. Freedom.

And now finally the enormous red bridge scrolling through my dream. Up close, even better than in photo. Steel scrolling by. Sun painting burnt red cables flowing by. Steel and concrete and cars to the right and left. So many lanes across and I open this throttle and rolling north now. Finally escaping the city.

I take the first exit and now I'm rolling downhill on roads I've never seen before and let's study these Marin County headlands more closely today.

Through the tunnel and now the backroads into Fort Baker and winding up now, along the spectacular contours of the Marin County headlands. Fog rolling in like a river. Thick as Miracle Whip and look at that view of the city. Breathtaking. This is what the headlands do to you.

Now pushing down a thin one lane twisting river of asphalt down toward points unknown. I've been down this road before but never like this.

Steel cables and fog so thick you can taste it and somewhere down here a lighthouse and lord god knows they need one. They need one about every six yards in fog this thick but clearing now and moving North. Away from me maybe.

Past some barriers to keep out cars and up through the headlands and finding this man now. So shocked and disgusted he stares at me and I call him out.

"You got a problem?" I call to him. This man with sneer pasted across his ugly mug.

"You're not supposed to be here on that thing..."

He called the Big Red Pig a thing. I should shove him onto the rocks like Piggy in Lord of the Flies for that. Dash his brains on the rocks below for blaspheming my bike.

"What's it hurting?" I challenge. I'm on a paved road, after all. It's not like I'm racing through fields of Calla Lilies.

"IT"S AGAINST THE LAW!" he shouts. Veins throb as beads of sweat pop out of his forehead.

The old man's argument simmers inside his skull, as sauce reduces in a skillet.

He feels uneasy, you sense, finding himself yelling at a stranger. Espousing adherence to a law that even he's not sure exists.

This is my gift to him, this moment of clarity. This ride on the adrenaline carousel.

He turns and collapses on a lone wooden bench, weathered and raw. Paint falling off the bench in great strips, as bark peels from the eucalyptus trees of the last great depression.

He's older now, than I'd realized. He needs the bench. The respite from the long climb up the talus slopes above the Pacific coast. Face weather and cracked. Unkempt eyebrows.

Only now does it occur to me that he's suffering the fog on this bench alone at this point in his life. There's no one beside him, after all. No one to cling to as the fog rolls in.

I open the throttle and continue up the mountain away from this stranger, simmering in solitude on the cusp of the bay.

I feel badly now, that I called out this old man.

He might not even be a tree-hugger after all. Maybe he was just trying to escape the noise of the planet by climbing up this long steep hill and then after a 30 minute slow climb to the top, I come rolling up on my motorcycle, kicking sand in his face, essentially. Probably that's how he saw things anyhow.

And for what end? Were we not trying to escape the same city? Surely a more reasonable approach would be to park the bike, apologize to the man, and sit on the bench beside him to enjoy the view.

I didn't even realize the bench was there at first. If he'd not sat down on it, I'd have driven right past without noticing it.

The nice thing is that, once you get away from the rules. Once you break those surly bonds, and go beyond where anyone thought you might...Once you get past that point and break through to the other side, then you see that there aren't really any more barriers because no one thought you'd ever get this far.

After I've successfully navigated through three different "pedestrian only" gates designed to keep out cars, I'm surprised to discover that I can drive right through the 1942 WWII batteries unimpeded. These batteries were hastily poured into the hillside in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. But the guns were removed some time ago and the ramparts left to the graffiti artists and lonely souls.

Maybe this is the true gem of this journey. The realization that, if you break enough laws, you can almost get back to sanity. Back to the way things used to be. The way they ought to be.

If you're willing to push aside the laws of society. To break every law that's ever been laid down for you, there is an escape, of sorts, from the Chinese finger trap.

As I roll back down the hill, the fog closes in around me. As I approach the old man's bench, I resolve myself to make amends with the stranger. To seek a truce. Probably he needs me as much as I need him.

But the fog is much thicker now. No longer do these headlands afford stunning views of the city. Now the winds are pushing the fog further south so that I can barely see the road or the guardrails before me. Even the bench is lost in this surreal disorienting fog so that I'm not sure where I am. All points of reference are removed from me so that I'm not sure if I've past the bench yet or not. Or even if it was real. Suddenly, I'm at the bottom of the hill again and I'm left wondering if the old man and the bench were even real or just apparitions in the fog.

Above: A White-tail buck in velvet near Bird Island overlook in the GGNRA.

Above: Looking south from Rodeo Beach in the GGNRA.

Above: Looking south from Rodeo Beach in the GGNRA.

Above: Looking south from Rodeo Beach in the GGNRA.

Above: The Golden Gate bridge as viewed from Fort Baker.

Above: The Golden Gate bridge as viewed from Fort Baker.

Above: The Point Bonita Lighthouse as viewed from Conzelman Road near Hawk Hill.

Above: The Golden Gate bridge with San Francisco in the background, as viewed from Conzelman Road near Hawk Hill in the Marin County headlands in the GGNRA.

Above: The Point Bonita lighthouse.

Above: The Point Bonita lighthouse.

Above: Looking south from Rodeo Beach in the GGNRA.

Above: Looking south from above Rodeo Beach and Fort Cronkhite in the GGNRA.

Above: SF as seen from Conzelman Road.

Above: SF as seen from Conzelman Road.

Above: SF as seen from Conzelman Road.

Above: Don't try this at home...shot of Golden Gate in motorcycle mirror while driving across the Golden Gate bridge with no hands.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 30, 2011 at 11:18 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

The Point Reyes Sand Trap

Jennifer was out for the weekend and you just can't know what that's like, or maybe you can. Maybe you do know. I dunno. But for me, it's like this...the one person that's more important to me than anyone else on the planet flies in to see me on an airplane and I get to show her my new city. This is the plan.

I have a car rented and everything but when we go to pick up the car, my driver's license has expired. And they won't rent me a car. Major bummer. This sucks in a big way. And I can't figure any way around it. So we catch a cab back into the city and we're sort of grounded, as it were.

In the morning, I let her sleep in and she sleeps in until noon, which is a record so far as I know. Nothing compared to her old man, of course. But respectable. I mean, at my age, I can practically hibernate. But noon is good for her, I think.

So we sort of play around in the city and we ride the cabs and the buses and the cable cars and we have fun. We're not suffering, mind you. We hit Ghirardeli Square, the California Academy of Science, ride the cable car, buy Timmy a new cat bed. Pick up some souvineers. But I can never figure out how to get my hands on a car. I mean, I've got an envelope with a few grand in it, so I could buy a car, but even then you have to get to the vehicle, inspect it, etc. It's just not in the cards on this trip.

She was supposed to fly back tomorrow, but she's planning this big party tomorrow and at some point this afternoon, I decided I'd send her back early and let her get home at a decent hour so she could plan her party for tomorrow. I'd initially planned to get her up at something insane like 4:00 a.m. and run her to the airport in the small hours of the morning. But I broke down and reticketed her to fly out today at a reasonable hour and we cabbed it down to the airport and I let the goons in the TSA have their way with me, the slimy bastards.Now,

Then I race to pick up my bike and ride like the wind across the Golden Gate Bridge. Now, in the city, I drive my motorcycle with no plates and I tell myself that the police don't pull me over because there's too much crime. This works for me. I don't know if it's true or not, but I swear on a stack of Bible's that I've been driving this bike with no plates as a daily driver three months and I've not been stopped once. And it's starting to piss me off. Seriously.

I mean, what's a guy got to do to get arrested in this town, anyway?

I've taken to parking in fire lanes, running red lights, stop signs...riding wheelies the wrong way down one way streets...driving on the beach, driving on pedestrian pathways and even on the beach. All of these things are blatantly illegal, but I can't get any respect.

Finally, last week, I was driving the wrong way down a one way street and I drove past a parked marked police car, and the woman in the passenger seat worked up enough energy to tap on her window, roll it down, and yell "you're going the wrong way!!!" at which point I turned off onto another one way street (still going the wrong way, of course) and disappeared.

But this is all within the city limits. Outside of the city limits, my logic falls apart. There's no rational reason that I can think of that a cop wouldn't pull over a motorcycle for driving with no plates. Everytime I find myself outside the city limits, I'm always sort of thinking..."Huh....this whole 'no plates' thing is going to get me in a heap of trouble one of these days."

And that's sort of where I find myself today. I'm rolling through Marin County, heading out toward Point Reyes, just running balls-out and I'm thinking...."Hmmm....Not only do I not have a license plate, or insurance....but my driver's license is expired also...hmmmm" So this sort of hangs in the back of my brain as I'm flying through Marin County heading for Point Reyes National Seashore.

Not like it matters. I drive like I drive. That's all that can be said about that. I don't care what the speed limit is. I can't be bothered about having plates put on the bike. Life is short. We're all going to die one day. And these laws may make sense for other people, but they certainly don't apply to me and, if you think they do, well you've got to catch me first, dig it?

So I run out to Point Reyes and this time, I take a right turn at the Tomales Bay sign and I end up way on on the northern end of the isthmus and there's a parking lot and a little footpath down through the hills down to the beach and I sit for some time thinking....as Jim would say...."Do I or Don't I". That is the question.

Finally, think...wtf? Seriously? I mean...who am I? Am I Rob Kiser or not? I'm driving my dirt bike to the beach, good sense be damned. So I start driving my Big Red Pig down this little footpath through a steep, twisting trail toward the beach. Now, if I mess up, I'll fall 20 feet down into a little creek. So I'm sort of carefully rolling down the trail as diligently as possible. I get down to the beach and immediately get stuck in the sand, which is OK because now the bike won't fall over.

I abandon the bike and start walking down the beach. I think I've been here before. I can't swear to it. I've definitely been to the parking lot before. I believe I've been to this beach before, but I can't swear to it. There are not many other people here. Probably, as far as you can see, there are 8 other people on the beach. Some group of people seems to have a campfire down south of here some distance. I start walking toward them.

I should mention that I'm wearing all of my new motorcycle gear, so I look like Robocop. I'm wearing black motorcycle jacket and pants, black gloves, and a white helmet. I didn't' take it off because that's a whole other deal. It means removing gloves and glasses and then you have a helmet to carry, so much of the time, I just leave it on. Plus, I look super bad ass walking down the beach in black with a motorcycle helmet on.

By the time I get to the family on the beach with the camp fire, they're scared out of their witts. The patriarch is deliberately and obviously sharpening his fillet knife on a whet stone. He won't make eye contact with me, but the message is clear. His two daughters are playing lacrosse on the beach. His wife is by his side. He's sharpening that knife because he doesn't have a gun and he's not so sure that the guy with the motorcycle helmet isn't some psychotic axe murderer.

"What's for dinner?" I ask.

He just looks at me. Doesn't smile. Doesn't answer. Just keeps working the knife across the face of the whet stone and he's about to cut the whet stone in two.

"Did I miss dinner?" I ask.

"We had corn," he allows.

"You had CORN for dinner." I repeat. Like, seriously?

"And beef tips," he allowed. Still with the knife.

"I'm not to proud for leftovers," I reply.

Finally, he realizes that I'm not there to butcher his family, and he lowers his guard.

"I don't care...it's no business of mine...but is it legal to have a campfire on the beach? I figured the tree-hugger's would blow a gasket."

"You have to have a permit...but if you have a permit, it's legal he allowed."

"Fair enough. Ya'll have a nice day," I offer as I wander back down the beach.

When I get back to my bike, I manage to get it out of the sand and pointed back up the beach toward the trail. It's going to be tough getting back up to the parking lot. If I fall, it's going to suck in a big way because a) it's going to hurt and b) they're going to have to use a helicopter to get my bike out of the canyon if it falls in, so I sort of grit my teeth and just start back up the trail, praying that I'll make it to the parking lot.

Somehow, I make it to the parking lot and, just beyond, I see a bunch of quail just as some Ranger Rick types are walking by and removing their Forest Ranger hats. Knocking off for the day.

"What are those birds," I shout to them.


"I can see that. Why sort of quail?" I clarify.

"Gambel Quail," he replies.

"I don't think so," I reply. "When I came into the park today, I saw an animal cross the road. Are there bobcat here?"


"I think that's what I saw. A huge bobcat."

He looks at me and nods. I leave the park on the bike, glad to be off the beach, and away from the Ranger Rick types. Needless to say, the tree-huggers would blow a gasket if they had any idea that I was driving my bike on the beach.

So, I blow by these two and head out but as I start to leave Point Reyes National Seashore, don't you know that there's not one but two Forest Rangers with their lights going waiting for me. I'm like...."Oh man this sucks. This sucks donkey balls." Like, I'm probably going to jail. As I watch, right before, me, another Ranger Rick pulls up. They're in marked vehicles with all of the bubblegum machines going. All lights are rolling as I pull up to the T - intersection in the park.

Slowly, I begin to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I've been driving my motorcycle down a protected marine sanctuary within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I've driven my bike down a footpath where no motor vehicles are allowed. I drove down the beach. Then back up the trail. Then talked to a couple of Ranger Rick types like it was all no big deal. Like I owned the place.

All of this with no license plates. No driver's license. No insurance. And now, I'm going to jail. For realz.

My heart sinks. How could I be so stupid. Seriously? What is wrong with me that I think that the laws do not apply to me? Do I feel compelled to go to jail.

One of the Ranger Rick types jumps out of a vehicle with the flashing blue lights and waves for me to drive toward him. Slowly, I comply and roll forward, toward my own private hell. At a minimum, I'm going to spend the night in jail. Bail will be tricky since I'm in California, I figure.

But then, I realize that he's actually waving for me to keep going. And, I have no clue why they were all there with their bubblegum machines going, but they didn't stop me.

I drive down the road a bit and now I see that I'm following another officer. This time, it's a county sheriff vehicle. Probably they want to get me into town so that they can arrest me. I don't dare pass him of course, and he drives the speed limit through Inverness. I think about cutting off and hiding in someone's yard. But there's no way out. There's only one way off this peninsula. I'm not sure where they're going to take me down, but I have an idea they're just trying to get me off the peninsula so that I can't escape on the dirt bike. They'll take me down in town where I can't get away and I'll be boxed in real good like.

But instead, we go through town and he keeps going and I cut down Bear Valley and just open that throttle up and lay down on the seat and for whatever reason, they never pulled me over. And I'm left thinking...what has a guy got to do to get arrested around here, anyway?

Map of the Point Reyes National Seashore

Above: Driving down Pierce Point Road toward McClures beach after descending the Inverness Ridge in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Above: Pierce Point Ranch near McClures beach.

Above: View from McClures beach looking south down the coast.

Above: View from McClures beach looking south down the coast.

Above: View from McClures beach looking north up the coast.

Above: A point Just south of McClures beach. I walked through a crevice in the rocks to get here. I believe this the area known as Elephant Rock.

Above: Southern end of McClures beach looking north.

Above: My helmet on McClures beach.

Above: Me on McClures beach with the rear tire dug in nearly up to the chain and rear sprocket. For the record, the sand on the beaches in northern California is notoriously difficult to drive on. It's too soft and doesn't pack down well. They should have signs up on the trailhead that says "Beach sand not suitable for motorcycles" or words to that effect.

Above: Walker Creek flows into the Tomales Bay near the Pierce Point ranch. The Tomales Bay follows the San Andreas Fault.

Above: Looking southeast across the Tomales Bay from a vantage point near the Pierce Point ranch. The far side of Tomales Bay is the Bolinas Ridge in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Above: Looking southeast across the Tomales Bay from a vantage point near the Pierce Point ranch. The far side of Tomales Bay is the Bolinas Ridge in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 30, 2011 at 11:18 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 29, 2011

Timmy's New Cat Bed

We bought a new cat bed for Timmy and, since we're in San Francisco, we took turns wearing the cat bed around town like a hat. This city is so whacked out though, that it's really hard to get any attention no matter how stupid you look. There are plenty of photos of me wearing the hat, but they're all in Jennifer's iPhone. I'll post them as the blackmail material becomes available.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 29, 2011 at 11:42 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Jennifer in San Francisco

Above: Jennifer posing over breaking in Ghirardelli Square.

Above: At Fisherman's Wharf, Jennifer tries on a hat that has a pair of gloves attached, for whatever reason.

Above: Jennifer inspecting a Bottle Brush tree (Callistemon rigidus) on the corner of Broadway and Polk.

Above: Opal-rumped Tanager(Tangara velia) at the California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park. (No obvious sexual dimorphism.)

Above: Female Purple Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes caeruleus) at the California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park.

Above: Paradise tanager (Tangara chilensis) at the California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park. (No obvious sexual dimorphism.)

Above: Some type of Bombax tree at the California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park. (If you lay out $60 for two people to walk through the Ran Forest exhibit, asking them to label the trees is expecting too much, apparently.) Update: Not a bombax tree, but in the same family. This is a Saba Nut tree (Pachira insignis). Family: Malvaceae.

Above: Silver-beaked Tanager (Ramphocelus carbo) at the California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park.

Above: Mexican Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus). Family: Malvaceae

Above: A small flounder in an aquarium at the California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park.

Above: Jennifer and I got caught out in the rain. Couldn't hail a taxi so we finally broke down and rode the bus which everyone had assured me was fine. It wasn't. It's every bit as bad as you would ever imagine. Insane people shouting and loudly cursing on the bus. I finally called the bus driver out "Can't you do something about this?" "I think he's mentally unbalanced. They tell us not to engage them."

People smoking weed. No maps on where the buses actually go. No routes or schedules. Just disorganized chaos that only makes sense if it's your only means of transportation. The more I'm in the city, the less I like it. Without my motorcycle, it would be completely intolerable.

Above: One of Wyland's whale murals. There are three in the city that I've seen so far. We saw some of his work in a gallery in Kona earlier this year.

Above: Bottle Brush tree (Callistemon rigidus) on the corner of Broadway and Polk.

Above: Cuttlefish at the California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park.

Above: A male Saffron Finch (Sicalis flaveola) at the California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park.

Above: Silver-beaked Tanager (Ramphocelus carbo) at the California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park.

Above: An artist prepares to paint a commissioned mural on Polk and Fern Street.

Above: Mural in Hemlock Alley at Polk Street by Belgian street artist ROA.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 29, 2011 at 10:11 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 28, 2011

Small Earthquake This Morning...

I was awake early this morning for whatever reason and felt a small earthquake. Basically, Jennifer was asleep, and the bed was rocking for no apparent reason, so I checked the time and it was 3:40 a.m. PDT. I checked just now and, sure enough, we had a small earthquake (Magnitude 3.3) centered down near San Jose, about an hour south of here.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 28, 2011 at 11:16 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 27, 2011

The Weekly Photos

Update: A mural by Jason Hailey, aka "Chor Boogie". This is in an alley at 424 Townsend Street in the SOMA district.

Update: A mural by Jason Hailey, aka "Chor Boogie". This is in an alley at 424 Townsend Street in the SOMA district.

Above: Mural in Hemlock Alley at Polk Street by Belgian street artist ROA.

Above: A work in progress on the corner of Mary and Howard in SOMA. Update: Amanda Lynn indicates this work is by Lango and Henry Lewis.

Above: Camputee Press at 1044 Howard Street in San Francisco's SOMA district.

Above: Mural by Mario Martinez aka "Mars-1".

Update: A mural by Jason Hailey, aka "Chor Boogie" in Clarion Alley, between Mission and Valencia in SF's Mission district.

Above: Mural in Clarion Alley, between Mission and Valencia in SF's Mission district.

Above: Mural in Clarion Alley, between Mission and Valencia in SF's Mission district.

Above: Mural in Clarion Alley, between Mission and Valencia in SF's Mission district.

Above: Mural in Clarion Alley, between Mission and Valencia in SF's Mission district.

Above: Mural in Clarion Alley, between Mission and Valencia in SF's Mission district.

Above: Mural in Clarion Alley, between Mission and Valencia in SF's Mission district.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 27, 2011 at 5:46 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Rick Perry to consider Presidential Bid

As bad as Obama is, I think that Rick Perry is the probably the only Republican that stands a decent chance of defeating him. It looks like Texas Governor Rick Perry is seriously considering a run for the oval office. My fingers are crossed.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 27, 2011 at 11:26 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 26, 2011

This guy really doens't like Time Warner Cable...


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 26, 2011 at 8:13 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 25, 2011

6 Things Nobody Tells You About Owning a Motorcycle


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 25, 2011 at 11:57 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Off-road in a 2011 Jeep in Oahu's Ho`omaluhia Botanical Gardens

This is pretty funny. We took the top off a 2011 Jeep and went off-roading in the Ho`omaluhia Botanical Gardens. Ho'omaluhia translates as "To Make a Place of Peace and Tranquility". These gardens are located on the windward side of Oahu, near Kaneohe, Hawaii. In any event, we went way off the map and when we were coming out, the park ranger totally busted us. She was livid and I just played dumb, like I'd gotten lost.

Jennifer and James were standing up in the open back of the Jeep. Karen was riding shotgun with me and my Quicksilver Hang 10 straw cowboy hat.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 25, 2011 at 3:26 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Winds of San Francisco

The rain wants to leave the streets, only the wind won't let it. The winds blow the rain uphill, across the crown of the road. Through this I walk to the grocery store across the street.

The Honkey Nut trees don't seem to mind. They're blooming like crazy and beneath them, the homeless stalk the hapless pedestrians. Only now does it occur to me to wonder why the grocery store has a chain link fence around it. Probably to make it easier to defend the shopping cart motor pool. That's got to be a losing battle, I figure.

Behind the chain link fence, out of the rain's reach, a homeless army defends the ramparts of the grocery store. They're all different and they're all the same. This one is frozen in time, rolling a joint of marijuana, just still as a statue. The weed carefully laid out in his rolling paper. All he needs to do is twist his fingers like he's done countless times before be he's not here any more. His brain has just snapped and time has frozen in around him.

I walk past them, past security, and into the store and they're selling just big bins of things you can't know what they are. It looks as though the earth has been overrun by people 5 feet that speak English as a second language, if at all. And they're all rooting through these bins, holding up alien fruits and items to the light. I know not what they are, or on what basis they're selected. Only I try to stay out of their way and I walk through this store.

I pick out some sushi rolls and Tim's Cascade Style Potato Chips.

I think about going out to one of the homeless people and telling him that he has won a 3 minute shopping spree. Give him an empty cart and 3 minutes to fill it up. Film it and upload it to youtube and retire.

But that wouldn't be exciting enough. I'd have to get two homeless people and give them each a shopping cart and 3 minutes to fill it up, but with the catch that only one could win. That would turn it into more of a gladiator type of competition, with a lot more strategy. Like, first, you'd have to go find and incapacitate the other competitor, then load up your grocery cart, and stomp him down one last time for good measure on your way to the check-out counter. But I figure that this wouldn't be any better than Bumfights, and think the guys that filmed that ended up doing some time behind bars.

I get out of the store unmolested, slip past the security guard, and start back down the sidewalk but it's quit raining now and the homeless army is on the move. This is when they're most dangerous...when the rain stops and the sun comes out, they rise like zombies to roam the streets and now they're pushing their cardboard signs out into the traffic. Somehow, their signs are dry, so they're crazy, but not so crazy that their chief means of income got wet from the rain. They got that one figure out.

So this one...he's there all the time I think...he's about as crazy as they come and he's just screaming at the top of his lungs, but why and at whom, no one can know. I hear the word "California", but that's all I can get. And he's walking away from me, but now he doubles back toward me and I run into traffic to get away from him.

In a way, I'm jealous of him because, he's truly free. He can do whatever he wants, and no one messes with him. The police. Other people. No one bothers him. Period. He's crazy, but that's our perspective of him. That's how we see him. I'm not sure that he's not right where he wants to be.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 25, 2011 at 2:03 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 24, 2011


Wow. I'm truly impressed by this guy Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was. He delved into philosophy so deeply that he'd sit in a sort of trance for days at a time. His cigarettes burned down into his fingers and he didn't flinch or wake up he was so lost in thought. He went through repeated doses of electroshock therapy to try to drag his carapace back into contact with this world. His wife left him.

And somehow, out of that nighmare...when he came out on the other side, he wrote this book and it was turned down by publishers 121 times. Think about that. Think about walking out of the insane asylum, discovering your wife has left you, your son has the early symptoms of a serious mental condition, and then writing a book about your experience. Only when you go to have this book published, no one will touch it. They avoid it like the plague. Basically, Pirsig was kicked in the balls 121 times by publishers before it was finally accepted for publication. Since then, the book has sold 5 million copies worldwide in 23 languages. ZAMM was rejected for publication more than any other bestselling book, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 24, 2011 at 12:48 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

RIP, Chris Pirsig

I'm rereading Robert M. Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and I read today that his son Chris was killed in a robbery outside of the Zen center in San Francisco. So, at lunch, I drove down there to see where it happened. Now, this was a long time ago - his son Chris was killed in a robbery attempt in 1979. But I felt a connection to them story since I'm reading it and discovered that his son was killed less than a mile from where I work.

So, I drove down tot he Zen cernt today at lunch. Now, keep in mind, that "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" is the most widely read philosophical book in recorded history. It sold millions of copies in 23 languages.

But the people there at the Zen center a) didn't have the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for sale and b) didn't have any clue who'd written the book or even that his sone was killed outside the building. I shouldn't be surprised. People are so stupid it's just beyond comprehension..

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 24, 2011 at 12:54 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 23, 2011

Obamacrats - Tax and Spend

Dottie sent this to me. I didn't create it. But I love it. :)

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 23, 2011 at 3:43 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Recent Photos

Above: Red fox mom with pup (Vulpes vulpes).

Above: Red fox mom with pup (Vulpes vulpes).

Above: Red fox mom with pup (Vulpes vulpes).

Above: Male Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus).

Above: Female Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus).

Above: Male Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus).

Above: American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Above: Male Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus).

Above: Bull elk in velvet (Cervus elaphus).

Above: Male Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides).

Above: Western grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis).

Above: Unknown bird. Not a good photo, but I wasn't clear what this bird was when I saw it. I've posted at whatbird.com. Update: This is a Spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularia).

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 23, 2011 at 1:17 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

May 22, 2011

Scale of the Universe


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 22, 2011 at 9:43 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 20, 2011

Netanyahu Urges U.S. Return To 1845 Borders

Aboard Air Force Aleph (Reuters) - Speaking to reporters accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his long flight to the United States tonight, Netanyahu spoke of the injustice and hardship Mexicans have endured since American forces annexed Texas in 1845.

"Tens of thousands of ordinary Mexicans were driven out of their homes - the only homes they had known for centuries - and forced to live in poverty and squalor south of the border imposed by American aggression," Netanyahu said. "The Israeli and Mexican people agree on this: This festering wound will never heal until America takes bold steps to return to the internationally accepted lines of 1845. Clearly the settlement activity that's taken place in occupied Mexico since then is illegal. When I meet the President tomorrow I will tell him to halt all building activity in Texas immediately. Two lands for two peoples, yes, but not on land taken by force from Mexico," the Prime Minister said.

Asked if his hard-line stance could hurt the U.S.-Israel relationship, Netanyahu reiterated Israel's commitment to America's security and the unshakeable friendship shared by the two countries, then added, "But who was it who said, part of friendship is being able to tell your friend the truth. The ball is now in Obama's court."

Clarification: I didn't write this. Robert sent it to me.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 20, 2011 at 10:31 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Weekly Photos

Above: XR650L making a little illegal run down Baker Beach yesterday.

Above: Ocean Beach and the Great Highway.

Above: Sutro Heights Park.

Above: Golden Gate Park.

Above: Ocean Beach and Outter Sunset.

Above: Seal Rocks at Land's End/Cliff House.

Above: Seal Rocks at Land's End/Cliff House.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 20, 2011 at 2:28 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 19, 2011

The Old Man and the Sea

I have to say that, after going back and re-reading The Old Man and the Sea, it's easily as tedious as I remembered, if not more so. I'm not sure why he won an award for this book, but I'm not reading any more of his stories. They don't do anything for me.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 19, 2011 at 11:53 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

May 18, 2011

Mas Fotografias

Above: Irrigated patches of desert near Dyer, Nevada with snow capped Sierra Nevadas in the background.

Above: Nazca-like lines reaching into the Sierra Nevadas along Chiatovich Road, just north of Dyer, Nevada, on State Highway 264.

Above: Nazca-like lines reaching into the Sierra Nevadas along Chiatovich Road, just north of Dyer, Nevada, on State Highway 264.

Above: Lake McClure near Barrett, California. Water from this lake is used to irrigate California's central valley.

Above: Arroyo Hondo Road/Oakridge Road/Mountain Day Road snakes through the Ohlone Wilderness.

Above: The Calaveras Reservoir.

Above: The Cargill Salt Flats along the southern end of San Francisco Bay.

Above: The Cargill Salt Flats along the southern end of San Francisco Bay.

Above: The Cargill Salt Flats along the southern end of San Francisco Bay.

Above: The Cargill Salt Flats along the southern end of San Francisco Bay.

Above: The Cargill Salt Flats along the southern end of San Francisco Bay.

Above: The Cargill Salt Flats along the southern end of San Francisco Bay.

Above: Nob Hill, as viewed from the intersection of Leavenworth St and Green St.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 18, 2011 at 11:46 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Your father, now, who is he?

Oh yeah. Who's your daddy now? Here's the XR650L stripped down, ready for the new Clarke 4.7 gallon tank. Of course, I don't have any manuals or anything. I hard a hard time figuring out how to get the seat off. But, at the end of the day (literally), I got the seat off and the tank off. The new Clarke 4.7 gallon desert tank went on no problem. They suggested cleaning it out first, to get all of the "plastic shavings" out of the tank. Wow. That was a primo suggestion. Sure enough, it had plenty of plastic shavings inside the tank. Dumped them out. Put my old fuel cock onto the new tank. Torqued it all down real good. Got it all put back together, with only a few parts left over and a few hoses that lead to nowhere.

The fuel tank air vent tube that goes down into that tree-hugger charcoal canister is a little tight. And it's sort of a tight route now from the fuel cock into the carb, as the fuel cock sits a little lower and it's got to route around some other little tree-hugger contraption. But I have a feeling that I'm going to get off work and "uncork" this thing officially before I take off on the big adventure.

Just for the record, the plan is to go to Alaska in August. Now...I'm not saying at this point whether I'm going to Juneau or Anchorage, but I'm going. In August.

So, that's sort of the end-game here.

Also, I installed my new left rear turn signal, but oddly, I couldn't figure out which wire was hot and which was ground, but it didn't seem to matter, as it worked either way. However, the left turn doesn't blink for whatever reason. It's just on or off. So, I'll have to work on this, of course.

Also, I tried adjusting my headlight again. Trying to get it down from the stratosphere. It's better, but I still am not thrilled with it. I think the trick is to adjust it at night while you're riding it, which is about as dangerous as you can imagine. But it's the only way, IMHO.

Of course, the first thing I did was to drive straight to a gas station and fill it up. I managed to empty the contents of the old tank into the new one, which is not easy, since you have to take the drain cock off of the old tank and put it on the new one, so think about that for a while. In any event, I got the gas out of the old tank into the new one and so, it has (I'm guessing here---let's say 1.3 gallons) in it.

At the gas station, I fill it up and it says 3.418 Gallons @ $4.319/gallon = $14.76. Now, the trick is to monitor my gas mileage very closely and try to figure out a) exactly how much the tank holds and b) exactly how far I can go before I run out of gas. I don't want a repeat of my near-death-experience in the Punta Prieta desert in Baja California del Norte. You'll never know what that feeling was like, but it was bad bad bad.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 18, 2011 at 10:47 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 17, 2011

The Old Man and the Sea

I left my copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in Colorado, so now I'm re-reading The Old Man and the Sea.

I have a special connection with this book because I met the "Old Man", Gregorio Fuentes in December of 2001, when he was 102 years old. He passed away the next month, in January of 2002.

When I first read the book, I was just a kid and remembered it as being about 500 pages. Charlie recently pointed out to me that it was only a short story, about 100 pages long. So tonight, I picked up a copy and started digging through it again.

I like the story, but it's not like Grapes of Wrath, IMHO. I think the next book I will tackle will be Steinbeck's East of Eden.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 17, 2011 at 11:40 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink


I finally saw someone today trimming the Agapanthus at the Hungry Hunter Steakhouse in South San Francisco. So, I retrieved my bike from covered parking and raced back over there. He was trimming the Agapanthus like he knew what he was doing so I went up to him and I challeneged him..."what is that flower there?" and he said "Agapanthus". What about this one? "A Fortnight Lily". So, he go those two right.

Then, I was like "What's wrong with these Agapanthus? When they bloom in San Diego, they all bloom at once. But here, their blooms don't look right. They don't open at the same time. Why is that?"

"Probably it's because it's so windy here," he offered.

"It's not because it's too cold?"

"No. I don't think so. I think it's the wind."

"And what about this flower here? What is this one? This is the Myrtaceae family, is it not?"

"It is from the Myrtaceae family. This is a plant called the (i forgot what it called it. getting old sucks.)

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 17, 2011 at 12:23 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 15, 2011

Weekly Photos

Above: California's central valley near Modesto.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 15, 2011 at 12:27 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 14, 2011

Swainson's Hawk

Above: Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni). This is the first Swainson's Hawk I've photographed this year. I think that they returned to Colorado about a month later than last year, for whatever reason.

Above: Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni).

Above: Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni).


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 14, 2011 at 11:29 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink


Canon repaired my EOS 40D and fed-exed it back to me. I got the package yesterday (5/13/11). But the EOS 7D they have refused to repair under warranty, which sucks in a big way. Not sure what I'll do with that one. Repair estimate is about a grand.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 14, 2011 at 9:01 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

May 13, 2011

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I'm re-reading this book. I read it as a child, and I'm sort of re-reading it now to see how it holds up. It's a bit tedious, but parts of it hold up very well.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 13, 2011 at 8:48 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 11, 2011

Give Us This Day

Give Us This Day

Everytime I get on the US 101 I feel small and insignificant. It's so dangerous that you just can't know. And I can't say. But when you're on this road, you're very close to a painful death and anyone with a brain would know this.

Everything you've ever learned about riding a motorcycle comes into play now. Your entire riding philosophy is brought to bear. Right lane. Left lane. Middle lane. Your call. Get there.

Zero shoulder on either side. Cars passing on the right or the left. Cars and trucks and motorcycles, all racing pell mell into the city. Unadulterated madness.

I just hunker down on this bike and speed up slightly. Don't drive in anyone's blind spot. Try to not get run over and not run into anyone else. I'm bent over the handlebars racing like the wind. How I wish this story was over. This is the worst part of owning a bike in the city. This short dash through hell.

And now, the engine dies. I'm in the middle of the US 101 and I've just run out of gas and this is a bad feeling. I reach down to switch over to reserve, but with my new snow gloves on, I can't find the switch and I'm slowing down now, close to death.

This is not good.

The road splits and I drift into the yellow zone between the roads and finally, I get it switched over to the reserve tank and just hang on. Eventually, the fuel finds its way into the carb and the bike roars back to life and for one more day in San Francisco, I have cheated death.

Market Steet

Market Street is death. A swift and painful death and normally, when I come to this road, I cross it immediately as soon as I find it.

"Cross it where you find it". That's my motto with Market Street.

Market Street is death death death. Slow motion intersections. Buses and trolleys and taxis and bikers and bike lanes. Easily the most fvcked up street in the city. I never go down Market Street, because I don't have a death wish.

But today, i order a sandwich (Torta de Pollo) and I've got 10 minutes to kill so I decide to drive down Market because I never have done this. I've been here nearly 3 months and I've never driven down Market street so I decide I'll drive down to the Ferry Building and turn around and come back just for grins. So, I make it down there and I turn and double back down Mission and somewhere between 1st and 2nd, I see some statues and I pull into this little plaza to snap some photos of these statues.

A security guard or three come running out and they're all exciting, like fire ants when you kick their mound. They're all stirred up and they come running out and yelling at me and they're like "you can't be here...we're going to call the police" and I"m like "hahaha. Call them. see if I care"

I'm not hurting anything. Just snapping some photos. But these guys are wanting to start some sh1t and they race around behind my bike to get my plate and they're so disappointed to find that there's no plate. Nothing there at all.

"Did you get my plate? Did you get a good look at it?" I challenge. (I don't have a license plate, for those of you playing the home game). And I'm like, suck it dudes. Y'all lose this one.

"We'll call the police."

"Call them," I say flatly.

"They're right around the corner," they challenge.

"Sure they are. Look dude...5 people were shot on one night in the Mission."

"That's right," he replies. "They sure were."

Our eyes meet.

"So, that's not how it works. If people are getting shot 5 a night, then they won't be 'right here' to check out a guy on a dirt bike taking photos. That's not how it works. You lose this one, cool."

And I ride away slowly, laughing.

Death to Short People

A package arrived in the mail this week via USPS certified mail. So I go down at lunch and sign for it and it's the stock link for my XR650L. The guy that owned my bike before me was a midget and he lowered the bike, which I hate because the bike rides like crap. Seriously. Like, it's a dirt bike that handles like a Smart Car.

So I finally got off my @ss and posted an email on Craigslist that I'd trade the "lowering link" for the "stock link" and people started replying like mad and I said "First one gets me a stock link to my crib on Russian Hill gets the lowering link".

So I got this link in the mail and tried to install it last night, but my tools were just crap. Just cheesy Wal-mart-grade entry-level crap. ΒΌ" socket wrench set. A small set of metric hex wrenches. And I nearly killed myself trying to get it off last night so today, at lunch, I rolled down to Lowe's and stocked up. I bought about $75 worth of tools and came home after work and I'm like....let's so who your daddy is now...

So I break out all of the tools and how good it feels to have grease on your hands again. To get closer to the machine. I'm lying down on the sidewalk in khakis and a white shirt, grease on my bloody knuckles. This is good. Better than good. Women walk by and I start grunting. People stop to watch. I'm cursing and throwing things, like my father used to do. No real reason. Just glad to be alive. Glad to be able to bring a little white-trash-testosterone-theatre to Russian Hill.

Eventually I get the lowering link off and I put the new one on. Not that hard once you figure out what's going on....like...once you locate it underneath the bike, it's all downhill from there. So I got the old one off and the new one on and really, that was my goal for tonight.

But now that I'm here, I may as well get a few other things fixed at the same time. And this is the way of the world, is it not? An object in motion tends to remain in motion. An object at rest tends to remain at rest. This is a fundamental law of physics, though I forget which one at the moment.

I decide to tighten the chain and I pull out the two enormous crescent wrenches I bought at Loew's on my lunch break. This is a good feeling. To have these enormous crescent wrenches on the sidewalk makes me feel like I'm eleven years old and carrying a rifle.

I apply the two wrenches to the rear axle and they don't want to break so I stand up on one and this little oriental man walking by stops to gawk. To see who will win, man or machine. I'm perched on top of this crescent wrench, bouncing up and down in khakis and a white cotton button down and this likkle oriental monkey is stopping and watching now, but eventually, the torque is too much and the bolts and nuts break loose just like I knew they would and the little oreo monkey turns and trots down the alley.

How good it is to be a spectacle. To be the center of attention, if only for a brief time.

Now, for the record, my chain is now stretched as far as Honda deems safe. Any sane person would order two new sprockets and a chain. But that's a project for another night. I'm still feeling my way. Getting dark now.

Darkness brings so many problems

So, I tightened up the chain, lowered the front forks back to their stock (flush) position, and adjusted the headlight so it's not pointing up at the top of Transamerica tower.

Then, when I get on the bike to take it for a test drive, I realize that I can barely touch the ground with my toes, which makes me happy, of course. This is what I want. Exactly what I want. A bike so large that 95% of the population can't even straddle it. Suck it, libs.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 11, 2011 at 10:46 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

May 9, 2011

Fox Kits

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 9, 2011 at 1:57 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Trampoline Lunacy

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 9, 2011 at 1:51 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 7, 2011

The Cuteness is Strong in this one

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 7, 2011 at 9:19 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink


Above: Coyote (Canis latrans).

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 7, 2011 at 8:58 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 7, 2011 at 3:13 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Chatching Up On Photos

Above: Aerial view of San Francisco, as seen from south of the city looking north.

Above: Tiger Lilly, a neighbor's cat.

Above: The Cargill Salt Flats. The coloration comes from algae that thrives in these high-salinity ponds.

Above: The Cargill Salt Flats. The coloration comes from algae that thrives in these high-salinity ponds.

Above: Wheat-paste graffiti in the tenderloin section of San Francisco.

Above: Wheat-paste graffiti in the tenderloin section of San Francisco.

Above: Homeless people killing time in the loin.

Above: Mural in the tenderloin.

Above: Homeless person in the loin.

Above: Ursula Young's recently restored mural on Haight and Laguna St.

Above: A 48-unit apartment complex gutted by fire in San Francisco on Monday of this week. Turns out a woman poured bourbon onto a bbq grill while she was cooking.

Above: A 48-unit apartment complex gutted by fire in San Francisco on Monday of this week.

Above: A 48-unit apartment complex gutted by fire in San Francisco on Monday of this week.

Above: A 48-unit apartment complex gutted by fire in San Francisco on Monday of this week.

Above: Patty's brother Aaron and I met for drinks this week. He's moving to Argentina later this month. I told him he has to put me up if I show up on my dirt bike.

Above: A new mural along Columbus in the Financial District. It's part of an exhibit in The Space Between art gallery, I believe.

Above: A mural in Chinatown.

Above: A mural in Chinatown.

Above: A mural in Chinatown.

Above: A mural in Chinatown.

Above: The 39th floor of the Marriott Hotel on 4th and Mission has a bar on top called "The View". This is a shot taken from the bar looking South East, across the Bay Shore area.

Above: Me and Scott, my old college roomie enjoying a bowl of coconut milk soup at a Thai place off of Union Square.

Above: Circling above SFO.

Above: Snow covered mountain range, probably somewhere in Nevada.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 7, 2011 at 10:27 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 5, 2011

BRB Someones at the door

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 5, 2011 at 7:00 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Coonass Dictionary: Puerile, Gall, and Naive

Puerile - Immature; childish. For example, standing outside your sister's house while she's out of the country and refusing to wave back at the neighbors while you're smoking and talking on the cell phone is puerile.

Gall - Outrageous insolence; effrontery. For example, throwing a crawfish boil, inviting everyone in the neighborhood, and then realizing that nowhere in your trailer is there a pot large enough to cook more than one crawfish at a time. It takes gall to have your sister ask the neighbor (that you refused to wave at and didn't invite) for his enormous aluminum pot that he bought at great expense from a commercial supply store in downtown Denver.

Naive - Having or showing a lack of experience, understanding or sophistication. For example, calling someone and asking to borrow their crawfish boiling pot for "a freind's" party and thinking he won't figure out that it's for your puerile sister's party that he's not invited to takes gall, and also demonstrates that you are naive.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 5, 2011 at 2:40 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 3, 2011

The Tenderloin Speakeasy

Last night, I went to a benefit for the California Gay Sheep Farmers Co-operative (CAGS) at some speakeasy down in the tenderloin. The speakeasy is a discreet place with a non-descript front door and a peep-hole. You have to have a password to get in and the back room is literally hidden behind a book case, no joke.

The hard thing about growing old is that I don't remember as well as I used to and the big gaping holes in my memory are hard to paper over. I introduce myself to people and they say we've already met, and I'm like....'when?' and they're like....'eleven seconds ago'. and I'm like, 'huh...how about that?'

So we're out at this speakeasy last night and several of the girls there say they've met me before, which is hard to imagine, as I have zero recollection of them. But they seem to have a few stories that betray they have, in fact, run into me before.

At some point, I find this girl in my face, swearing that I told her "for a fat girl, you don't sweat much". I don't deny that I may have said those words, but she misunderstood the context. It's an old line. A standard left-handed compliment. One I've repeated countless times, but I would never have directed it at her. I would have offered it up more in the vein of "that's like saying 'for a fat girl, you don't sweat much.' "

Now, for clarification, the girl in question competes in triathalons. No joke. So, she's not fat. Far from it. She's skinny as a rail. And to somehow be offended by this line is just absurd, in my opinion. Like, if you're going to be offended by that line, then you don't need to be around me, because I'm just getting started. Those are slow-pitch softballs. Entry level stuff.

But somehow, she apparently misinterpreted my line as a sincere pickup attempt and got offended by it for whatever reason. We'd both been drinking, of course.

So, I turned to Jeff for help.

"Jeff, dude....tell her it's a line from a movie. She's acting like she's never heard it before."

"What movie? I dunno, man. You're on your own on this one. I can't help you."

See, when you're on the road, you end up in the company of strangers. It sort of comes with the territory. So, I'm surrounded by people who don't get my sense of humor. Who don't know the same lines. Haven't watched the same movies.

Furthermore, the problem with confronting someone that's thin-skinned is that there's no answer to the charge of being insensitive, at least none that I'm aware of. It's just this meathook that dull brutes swing without mercy at every conceivable opportunity.

All you can do is apologize profusely for living and tactically retreat from their field of vision.

In a perfect world, I'd shove a grenade in her mouth, pull the pin, and run out into the streets of the tenderloin. But, as luck would have it, this animal is someone's friend. Someone in our clique thought it wise to invite this replicant to our little soiree. So, I can't put a grenade in her mouth.

I tell her several times that she didn't understand it was just a line. To drop the issue and move on. But this is not the way of the beast. The beast can't move on. It has never lived but to fight this one battle. This one crusade, and she's bent on marching down O'Farrell Street with my head on a pike.

Finally, I bolt. I just gab my gear and go outside to get on my bike to flee like a battered woman in the night. But I get to my bike and I don't have my helmet. I left my helmet in there by the monster. Somehow, the dragon is wedged between me and my hat.

In the shadow of my motorcycle, I collapse onto the concrete sidewalk with all of my luggage. (I've still not made it to my crash pad on Russian hill. I went straight from the airport, to work, to this party. Now, I'm cursing all of the Gods of all the world's religions, each in turn.

I call Carol and her boyfriend answers the phone.

"Dude, can you bring me my hat?"

"Why?" he asks.

"Because I asked you to," I reply. Like, I have no idea what to say to a woman. Never have and never will. But godd@mit I'm asking you as a friend to bring me my hat so I don't have to confront the dragon in its lair.

In the tenderloin, you just can't know. Cannot know what this circus is like. Negroes wandering around aimlessly, cursing the sidewalk. Pissing and defecating in the streets. Bottles breaking. Drug addicts. Prostitutes. A drooling, hobbled black woman approaches me. She's pointing her cane at me, waving it menacingly. She's saying something, but the words aren't coming out. Or maybe she's speaking only I can't get it. I try to listen. To know her complaint against this dislocated man sitting on the sidewalk by the motorcycle.

But, before I can discern her concern...before it settles clearly on me, the dragon is upon me. Hovering directly above me now. Wings articulating menacingly in the stratosphere. Flaming red hair. A dragonfly tatto on its bared belly, howling madly in the darkness.

Fire scorches the bare feet of the broken slave. The homeless woman collapses her cane and disappears, squealing like a pig into the night.

I watch her scurry away into the graffiti-splattered darkness. How I envy her, the freed slave as she disappears into the tenderloin, escaping the ire of this smoldering, barren woman.

A piercing screech emanates from the innermost chambers of her carapace. Rising up from the depths of her scarred, hollow uterus. Waves of left-coast, femi-nazi, man-hate cascade through the streets. Before her, sheets of quaking homeless negroes part, as Moses parted the Red Sea.

Sullenly I realize, it holds my helmet in it's bloody claws. I can't leave without my helmet. Driving drunk without a license plate is dumb enough. Doing it without a helmet is suicidal.

She stands above me, fanning the flames of hades with dragon wings, dangling my helmet above me in her talons, deliberately just beyond my reach.

I see now something that I'd not noticed previously. She has a scar across her face. Odd that I'd not seen it before. Only now that the makeup is running down her face in rivers of sweat, base, and mascara do I see the 9" scar across her face where someone once reached down, found their balls, and chopped her face in half with a machete.

How I envy that man. The one that found the testosterone to part her face with a steel blade. If only I knew his name, I'd crawl across every cactus in the Punta Prieta desert in August to thank him.

Now she's fanning the flames again, going on and on about how stupid I was to say that she "didn't sweat much for a fat girl".

Will nothing deliver me from this special corner of hell that I've somehow crawfished into?

At some point, she tosses the helmet into the asphalt streets and it goes rolling down, away from Knob Hill, deeper into the tenderloin where the crazed addicts and whores stare at it curiously. It comes to a rest on a homeless person, who sits, dazed and confused, inspecting the scorched helmet.

"Sorry," I say and I retrieve my helmet and fire up the motorcycle and disappear in the San Francisco night.

God as my witness, she'll never find herself in the same room as me again.

I believe that I'm giving up on my life as a social creature. I think that I'll stick to my photography/motorcycling and leave the psychotic femi-nazis alone.

Today, I googled the line to see if I could find where it came from. I'm still not sure of the origin, but I didn't make it up, obviously. Since she's never had any lines first hand, I thought I'd share a few of the lines I found on the web, to wit:

"I'd love to see what you look like when I'm naked."

"You're ugly, but you intrigue me."

"Can I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?"

"You don't sweat much for a fat girl."

"Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?"

"Do you know karate? 'Cause your body is kickin'!"

"So....are you in the fifth or sixth grade?"

"Do you have a quarter? My mother told me to call her when I meet the woman of my dreams"

"Someone call a priest...an angel has fallen from heaven"

"Do you like cabbage?"

"was your dad a baker, because you have a nice set of buns"

"i have a 12 inch tounge and i can breath through my ears"

"now, i dont look like much now, but im drinking milk"

"Excuse me - do you like puppies?"
"You know, puppies - all cute and furry and soft?.."
[Yeah, I guess so]
"Great, let's go dance"

You're a long, tall, drink of water, I'd like to climb you.

Are your feet tired, cuz you've been running through my head all night .............

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 3, 2011 at 10:34 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

May 2, 2011

Our Deepest Fear

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us...." - Marianne Williamson

The alarm clock goes off somewhere in the dark of night and I hit snooze and I don't want to get up. Don't want to live this life any more. They killed Obama last night. Lord knows what the retribution will be today. Probably a good day to stay home and out of the airports. And I think about this. About curling up in bed and staying home and this is not an option.

I get out of bed and race to the airport in the snows of spring and on the shuttle, a man with a nice backpack.

"That's a pretty serious backpack you've got there. What's that for?"

"I use it when I travel. I put my laptop in there."

"That's what I'm looking for. The one I have is pretty weak though."

"We sell them," and he hands me his card and I figure I'll look them up. He's not sure how much they run, as he didn't buy his.

"What do you do?" he asks.

"I do precious little. Mostly, I travel. Give speeches. And take photos."

The more evasive you are about what you do, the more intrigued people are by you. That's the truth. That, I have learned. So, when people ask what I do, I'm deliberately evasive.

If I were to say "I'm a computer consultant", then their eyes just glaze over and they start thinking of ways to end the conversation without being overtly blunt.

It's a carefully crafted little tale that I tell because most people want to believe that there is something out there better than this. So I offer them that. A glimpse at a life that could be. And if it's not the delicate truth, it's not far from it. And immensely more interesting.

He gives me his card and now we're at the airport. I'm expecting long lines due to Obama's untimely demise, but the lines are not bad. I get up to security and try to slide a small arsenal of tools through the metal detector and the woman behind me says "you missed a belt loop" and I'm like "do what?"

"You missed a loop," she says.

And she's right, of course. I've missed a loop in the back of my pants.

"This is the price of living alone. I don't have anyone to catch those little things for me."

She actually is wearing a shirt that says "be good to people" and she's beautiful and smiling but tragically married and now the TSA is wanting to root through my bags.

See, there are no Wal-marts in San Francisco. Why? I dunno. Because it's San Francisco, I think. And I need tools for my bike in SF, so I bought the tools in Denver and I'm flying them out to the left coast so I can adjust my headlight, install my new gas tanks, tighten my chain, tighten up on my clutch a little...just some light maintenance.

And I've already gone online and researched this. I've measured my tools. They're all legit but they want to be belt and suspenders certain. So they're measuring them out very slowly and deliberately but eventually they let me go.

On the train, we're about to go and some random woman in front of me isn't hanging on and I want to tell her, "woman, you need to hang on", but I don't say anything and the train starts with a lurch and somehow she doesn't fall but you think just 'who are these people?"

Some Delta flight attendants on the train with me and she tells me my backpack is open and I wonder how I'll make it. It's hanging wide open which I'd not realized and I say thanks.

"Y'all aren't in some unholy code-share alliance with US Air are you?"

"No. We have a code-share, but not with any partners in the U.S."

"Well thank god for that. Continental is in the middle of merging with United...."

"They already have merged," she corrects.

"Well, I tell you what. You buy a plane ticket from either one of them and then you tell me how well that merger went," I retort.

And they all laugh.

We get off at Terminal C and I start up the escalator and one of the ditzy flight attendants gets on the escalator and just blocks the whole thing off, by standing in the middle of the escalator so no one can walk past her.

And the woman in front of me smiles, and looks back at me, knowingly.

"You'd think they'd, know, right?" As in, you'd think that a freaking flight attendant would not be so clueless as to block the whole escalator. But this is where we are.

When I board the plane, I sit by the window and some guy sits on the aisle and, I should mention we're flying Southwest. So, you sit wherever you want. I board first and get the window. Someone takes the aisle, and it's a full flight, so someone will be in the middle. The trick is to to find someone small.

So, I spot this smoking hot little oriental chick and I just look at her and point to the middle seat and, for whatever reason, she nods and sits between us. Her English is not good, but I figure I'll go down swinging.

So, against all odds, we land about 30 minutes early and he ride's not here, so I offer her a ride on my motorcycle. But she's going to San Jose, so she thanks me for the offer and walks out of my life and this is how my Monday starts.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 2, 2011 at 2:02 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 1, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Killed by U.S. Forces

Osama Bin Laden is dead. May he rot in h3ll.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 1, 2011 at 8:56 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Canon Online Repair Tracking


OK. I'm shipping back my Canon EOS 7D and EOS 40D for repair.
EOS 7D Repair Number = WE370608
EOS 40D Repair Number = WE453561

"Camera (40D) won't take photos very well with my Canon EF f/4.5-5.6L 100-400mm IS USM lens. Hesitates for reasons not clear to me. Very frustrating in the field. Then gives the error: 'Err 99. Shooting is not possible. Turn the power switch and again or re-install the battery and pray.' "

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 1, 2011 at 5:19 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Trade 1" Lowering Link on XR650L for Stock Link

The bike I have in San Francisco is easily the worst handling bike I've ever owned. The reason is that the idiot that owned it before me was a dwarf and installed a 1" lowering link on the rear suspension. So, as a result, you feel every bump you go over because he has the suspension cranked down so a dwarf can ride it, which drive me nuts, of course.


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 1, 2011 at 2:20 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

MS Outlook 2003 'Show Standard and Formatting toolbars on two rows' is greyed out

I can't really figure this one out. For some reason, in MS Outlook 2003, I can't get my toolbars to appear on two rows. In theory, you should be able to go to Tools - Customize - Options, under "Personalized Menu and Toolbars" at the top, the first option says "Show Standard and Formatting toolbars on two rows", but it's greyed out. Maddening.

I've searched the inter-tubes for some time, but not found a viable solution to this nightmare. This is the first post I've seen that comes close to answering the question. Doesn't work for me, of course, but why would it?

I suspect that I'm actually missing my Formatting toolbar, for some reason. It's not listed under Tools - Customize - Toolbars.

Continue reading "MS Outlook 2003 'Show Standard and Formatting toolbars on two rows' is greyed out"

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 1, 2011 at 12:01 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Obama, the 'Worst President Ever'

Sunday Reflection: When Jimmy Carter Is your best-case scenario, you're in trouble

I've been saying for some time that Obama will be remembered as the worst U.S. President ever, surpassing even the naive and inept Jimmy Carter. Now, it seems that the world is beginning to see what I could see from the outset. That Obama is, at once, both dumb and conceited. Arrogant and inept. Narcissistic and clueless. An empty suit.

He's in over his head, and too dumb to realize it. He's a boy trying to perform a man's job

By any definition, he's also a socialist.

As if that weren't enough, he's divisive, racist, and elitist.

So, yeah. I think that makes him the worst president ever. And I think Trump is about to serve him his lunch.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 1, 2011 at 10:27 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 1, 2011 at 12:04 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink