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Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Long Shot

I really enjoy night photography, setting up the tripod and taking long exposures. There are some tricks in this area where film still has it all over digital, and of course I don't shoot film.

I was on a recreational ride, just unwinding on a Saturday evening and it was so clear downtown I knew why I'd brought my tripod.

On the way home I saw other opportunities, I just didn't feel like I had time for. The Quaff was looking very photogenic with its two stories of neon signs. Then The Ship, in the West Bottoms, its sign (or interior) would be worth planting the tripod. I did happen to think, The Ship might be a place I could find Laphroig at.

When I first got into single malts, I bought a bottle of Laphroig and it's the only bottle of booze in my whole life I think I ever bought and then couldn't drink. I poured it down my friends' throats until that fifth was gone and hadn't given it much thought since. But it keeps showing up in my Facebook feed, in advertisements and I wondered if I'd still find it horrible. I like Scotch and Irish whiskey in general, that peaty thing, I even brew a peat smoked wee heavy from time to time. But trying it again, I didn't want to buy the bottle. And the dives I watch sports in don't carry anything so high fallutin' has Laphroig.

Sure enough The Ship had it. And it's basically as I remember it: a burning car tire being extinguished in a swamp. I actually found by the time I finished the round it was growing on me a bit, so maybe it's an acquired taste. I noticed some numbness on my tongue as I pedalled hime, I'm sure as the result of some polyphenolic type thing in the whiskey, so maybe it just becomes more palatable as it disables the palate, I don't know.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

January Mass

I made spoke cards for Critical Mass, figured turnout would be good since it was 61ºF. In January, yep.

I was right, I gave out 120 spoke cards (I'd made two designs so a lot of folks got a pair), but still. I was out before a lot of my good friends showed up. Which was fine, that freed my hands up to terrorize people with my Nikon and have a beer.

As usual there was a good contingent of tourists. I don't mean that derisively, but there are regulars who show up for Mass pretty consistently, there are sporadic folks who make it once or twice a year, but there's a lot of folks who make it a one-off experience. I guess kind of like Rocky Horror or skydiving, it's a bucket list thing for some people, something to try.

And that's fine. I hope they enjoyed the experience, it seemed like they did. I wouldn't say Critical Mass is exactly kid-friendly but there were plenty of kids there.

We went through the Plaza, to Loose Park for a stop. Stopped at the Scout after a pretty long, for Mass, ride out east. Another stop at Royal Liquor on the Boulevard for the part that didn't head back to Westport from the Scout, then me and two KCK homies meandered back to KCK while the remaining dozen or so headed, I think, to the river overlook.

And my friend Sam said something I really appreciated. I'd noticed he followed me on Strava and gave me kudos on my rides a lot. I tend to think about all the times I say fuck it I want that extra hour of sleep, especially if it's cold and rainy or I expect a lot of ice on the roads (I fall with the grace and resilience of a bag of empty beer bottles). I have my 100 mile weekly goal but even with RAGBRAI and Bike MS and stuff I didn't make 5,000 miles last year. So I tend to think I don't ride that much.

And he was like, dude, you ride all the time. You ride no matter the weather. Seeing what you do makes me ride more.

I had no idea I was inspiring to anyone.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Second Annual 73rd Running of the Pines

I was always a big Tom Lehrer, fan. I have the songbook, Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer with Not Enough Illustrations by Ronald Searle.

This blog post echoes that. It's too many photos by yours truly with probably not enough narrative to balance.

I guess it depends on if you enjoy my little narratives. If you think they're a drag and only come around for the pictures, maybe this is your lucky blog post. You're welcome.

It was dubbed the Second Annual 73rd Running of the Pines. A BSA-style Pinewood Derby for grownups. Well, sorta.

Sorta because 1) kids were there and 2) a lot of the adult participants, maybe me included, stretch the definition of 'grownup.'

Or try to. I've got to admit an affinity for Peter Pan's ethos regarding the value of growing up. Growing up is mostly bullshit.

Anyway, the way this thing works, a scout troop loans us a track, and in turn we raise money for the scout troop. With entry fees, of course, and with bribes. You can bribe the judges all you want, but the money goes in the envelope for the scouts. Oh, and your car gets branded. Because you're a fucking cheater.

I committed bribery this year when Goldmember, one of my childhood Pinewood cars, got hung up on the track. I gave the scouts a sawtooth and in turn got another run, which turned out to be totally worth it since I won the Vintage category. Which means an old Avocet saddle I'd never ride, though I think one of my friends is going to buy it from me.

The creativity unleashed by this event is awesome. There was the Ghetto Blaster which featured a large (for the car) boom box strap on, there was the Fireball car that had a built in beer bottle opener, there were cars with feathers and pearls glued on, a couple of six wheelers (and a couple of three wheelers though that doesn't turn out to work very well).

My own unique contributions this year were Milk & Cheese, Evan Dorkin's comic book characters, 'dairy products gone bad.' That and last year's Sweet Transvestite, and my childhood builds, Goldmember and a Red Barchetta that I think at one time had my name and a number but now just says 'R...5' Milk & Cheese were pretty easy to build though the angle knob on my mitre saw is busted off so I had to eyeball the angles, and I couldn't find my drill bits only drill blades and they splintered the shit out of Cheese. But they ended up looking very punk rock, which I think is appropriate.

After all, they're known for saying such things as 'We're Milk & Cheese...shit your pants and run!'

There were lots of style driven cars. A bejeweled car that didn't have a single BSA component as far as I could tell, made by a girl who figured she could just go to Michaels and glue a bunch of glam together and if it fit the track... Well, it fit but it didn't roll exactly. It was kind of like last year's edible entry, bonus points for style, but a DNF as far as actually reaching the end of the track.

And at least she didn't build a car with a CO2 cartridge built in for speed. Not that a car actually went flying off into the crowd or anything like that. I swear, nobody saw that happen. It was too fast.

There were lots of open category cars of course, but like Vincent's, wow. He made his out of steel bike tubes brazed together. It's like, well, that's not legit BSA, but you win a prize for the best brazed joints of any entry.

Much pizza was eaten, much beer was consumed. This doubled as a launch party for Early Riser porter, a collaboration of Boulevard Brewing and Velo+/MAPS (where the vent happened). It's a very interesting and enjoyable beer, basically a brown porter with a distinct coffee element, a refreshing change from coffee beers that amount to 'stout with a stout shot of espresso.'

And not too many people got offended by cars that said things like 'shit your pants and run' on the side. There was a 3-D printed car called 'Just the Tip' and when I saw a mother cringe at this being called out, I said, 'You know, I'll pick up the check for dinner, you get just the tip.' And relief washed over Lenexa.

And trophies were distributed indiscriminately. And a good time was had by all.

And I'm already brainstorming cars for next year. I mean, I guess at some point I'll have to ask myself questions about how much I want to donate to the scouts, at five bucks a car I had five cars this year. For next year, I thought maybe add a Tardis (super easy), a guitar, a bad check (also super easy cuz it's a rectangle), a rolling paperback novel, and or a coffin (cars are coffins after all).

The possibilities are really endless if you don't bother with details like your sculpting/building ability and stuff that would get you kicked out of scouts.

Granted, when I was a scout, I fantasized about ways to get kicked out, scouts was not a positive experience for me if you exclude the model rockets, the egg drop and the Pinewood Derby.

Hell, I fretted about the draft when I turned 18 and had to register for Selective Service. And that was super silly, going to Friends Meeting so I could pretend to be a Quaker when all I'd have had to do is pretend I wanted to fuck guys. In 1988, that was enough to get you thrown out of the Army, even if you volunteered. True story, hard as it might be to believe.

Or thrown out of Boy Scouts. Until very, very recently, any hint of homosexuality was verboten in those circles.