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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Longest Critical Mass Ever

Sometimes Critical Mass doesn't go that far. Sometimes it isn't massive or even critical. Because sometimes it's 6ºF on Christmas Day when Critical Mass happens.

But fair weather Critical Mass is always a gas. Always a lot of people, both regulars and newbies (I suspect that most Critical Mass rides around here are at least 50% first time riders, and a few regulars drop out but are replaced by those new riders who become converts).

I made spoke cards, as I have the past six months, and the back side promoted my Post Modern Pentathlon coming up on August 14. I did some digging around before the ride this month because the darts oriented bar, Chez Charlie, I planned to take our little group to for the darts portion of the Post Modern Pentathlon, well, they're not open Sundays. And I'm committed to doing this little alley cat on a Sunday because bike mechanics always complain about Saturday rides because they're stuck working at a bike shop on Saturdays.

All night I got asked for spoke cards, and I'd run out. I made 120, kept one for my portfolio, set aside one for my wife, and put one in my back wheel. I gave out 117 and my friends were still rolling in, I guess I should have made more. They were Brexit themed, something I resisted the night before, thinking there was no way the U.K. would vote to leave the E.U. and that nobody would care about such boring politics. But then the U.K. did something as stupid as letting Donald Trump even claim to be a candidate. This is like Massachusetts seceding from the Union not because it wants to do something different than being part of the United States, but because they want to do two years of paperwork to make sure someone from Mass can drive to Connecticut.

So besides the high turnout, this turned out to be a long, long mass. It generally leaves the south edge of the Scumfresh parking lot, goes out Westport Road to Broadway to the Plaza, then it's all bets off. It goes where the guy up front goes unless a few people in back of that decide that's bullshit and schism off. This Mass went to Loose Park, then south, then back through Loose Park to pick up stragglers, then out south and east on Troost and the Paseo.

We stopped at a ghetto-ish liquor store/gas station on the Paseo and they did a great job of processing over 100 people buying sixers and hats and such out of the blue. They thought we were funny, mostly, I think. And I suspect that while they might sell lots of booze on a Friday night, selling like $1,000 worth in twenty minutes is a bit unusual, and I think that's probably about what happened.

Critical Mass has always been a bit of a party scene, and it still is, but some of the party elements have had babies in the past year or two, and now they're bringing their little honyocks along. I do notice that these particular individuals seem to party a bit lighter now that they have a toddler in a trailer behind their bike.

But the most striking thing about this Mass was the distances. So many times it seems like we ride from Westport to the Plaza and maybe Loose Park or the Nelson, and then people are already thinking exit strategy, but for whatever reason this time it went way out south and east and still made it to the overlook from the Town of Kansas Bridge in the River Market. That end point used to be a reliable feature, so much so that a lot of people who drive to the event would leave their cars at the River Market and bike up to midtown for the start, but lately that hasn't been the norm.

So anyway, I've taken the bus as part of my commute a lot lately, and I feel super lazy when I do that but I also feel...air conditioning. The bus is fairly amazing that way and I can generally put my bike on the rack on the front of the bus and it's just so goddamn convenient. So this week, I ended up with 72 bike miles and 36 of them were on Friday, and a third of those Friday miles were Critical Mass and by golly when I was getting home after I felt like I'd done something.

But even as I labored up the hills on Minnesota, I was struck by just how much fun I'd had. I won't lie, I'd had a few beers, too, but I wasn't drunk I was just buzzed on the social interactions and the bike ride and the gorgeous weather and all that.

The pictures kinda fall off as the sun goes down. I had my D7000 with me and an SB-800 speedlight, too, but really, the shots I could have gotten at the ghetto-ass liquor store/gas station, the fountain at 39th & Gillham (I tried a few there actually, all failed), I'm not sure they've invented a camera yet that's even up to that. The Nikon D5, maybe? But then again, when my D7000 can't even autofocus, the light might be so dim that even a flagship, full frame camera will be lost.

Monday, June 20, 2016


You truly never know what you'll see cycling to work. Coming up through Penn Valley park, I heard drums.

Todd is quite good. I thought maybe he was someone who lived in an apartment where it was hard to practice, but no, he and his sister had just taken advantage of the cool morning weather: she was doing her art and he was practicing drums.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

We had a little Father's Day brunch at Succotash. If you've never been, it's ridiculously good and reasonably priced, fresh herbs grown by the sidewalk seating for their smoothies, and a mix of old school comfort food and vegan/vegetarian takes on the same.

We ate in the annex this time, I don't know if this is an expansion that has happened since I last ate there or if it's just the first time I happened to be seated in there. I wouldn't say it was exactly quiet, but it wasn't nearly as noisy as the main dining area, so that was a bonus.

Then afterward we went over to the park with the dragon before I took Mo to Finding Dory.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Say Peas!

So left to her own devices, Mo might spend the entire weekend playing the same YouTube video over and over. Or she might get bored with that and just sit staring at the wall. Don't judge, this behavior is more common than reported because unlike our house, most homes have a TV and if you stare at the wall the TV is on, nobody knows.

With prompts, there's painting, stickers, coloring (she loves the 'adult' coloring books, I think specifically because it specifies that it's 'adult' on the cover). And she does like to go to the movies, though she rarely suggests it. And it turns out, while garden chores are generally a loss, she likes peas well enough that she's actually a pretty good gleaner when you put her on the last of the pea vines.

We were giving her a hard time for lack of progress based on her tendency to freeze a lot, and the lack of peas getting in the bin. That's because for every pea that went into the Rubbermaid, three or four went in her mouth. When I went to show her how many she'd missed on the vine, I could only find one.

I've stumbled on the movies as a weekend outing for us. I don't have a TV but I really enjoy the big screen experience. I think it's the focus that intentionality brings, along with the full immersion environment. The audiophile claim that records sound better than CDs depends largely on the quality of your turntable and cartridge, and the quality off the DAC hooked to your CD transport. But when you drop a needle on a record and there's only maybe fifteen minutes of music coming up, you actually listen to it.

So basically every pay day, I slot two $20 bills into the movie fund. That allows a once a week trip to a matinee with sodas for the two of us. Two tix, nine bucks even, a large Sprite for her, large Coke Zero for me, $10.20 (I know, that's obscenely expensive soda, the way I rationalize it is it's actually part of the ticket price—we could share but I don't like Sprite and that's her favorite). Occasionally there's a small popcorn in the mix because CineMark's phone app sends me coupons for a free small popcorn with purchase of a fountain drink when I use their 'CineMode.' Which is basically just an app for silencing your phone during the movie that's built into the app I use to look up showtimes.

Mo will sit well through pretty much any movie but I've learned a few things about how to select what I take her to. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, for instance, she was fine while it was action. War in the Middle East, that's some action. But the later parts of the movie are mostly office politics and romance two concepts she really doesn't connect with. Star Wars, comic book adaptations, The Revenant, horror flicks, it's really no that hard to find something I can enjoy watching with my kiddo.

She's actually expanded my horizons some. I've always liked the comic book films, and we saw Deadpool three times in the theater. Batmeh vs. Supermeh, Captain America Civil War, that sort of thing. Alice Through the Looking Glass is fun (not truly a Lewis Carroll story, just his characters), and I doubt I'd have seen that on my own. Jungle Book, never would have picked that if I didn't have Mo in mind. And most surprising to me, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

I never would have seen the turtles without Mo's influence on my show selection. When it came around the first time (when I wasn't much younger that Mo), I dismissed it: that looks stupid. Fair enough, but so are the Three Stooges, see also the Beverly Hillbillies, etc. But like those examples, Turtle Power turns out to be hilarious. And I know Mo enjoyed it because she laughed out loud and clapped through most of it

Most recently we took in Warcraft. Comic book adaptations have no excuse for mediocrity: Superman, Batman, Spiderman, etc., you have a gazillion storyboards right there in the comics you already sold. And you can tell from sales and fan feedback which ones resonated most with audiences. But a movie based on a video game, you're starting from scratch on your story. Mo loved Warcraft, but I'd say it was more than a little predictable, and a bit frustrating because every chance to resolve conflict was bypassed in the end in an obvious play to extend to sequels the first movie really doesn't call for. Angry Birds, honest to goodness, did better on that front (speaking of stupid movies my daughter and I laughed our heads off at).

But stupid is not always a good thing: look at the Trump candidacy, which would be funny if it was just a movie. It's kind of Springtime for Hitler except it's actually happening.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Nelson Marathon

So usually the Nelson is kind of a hit and run for me and Mo.

Our friend K said she'd never been to a big museum before. And it was her birthday weekend. But she had a bum knee.

But it turns out they have scooters you can borrow for free. And that was all it took for K.

She said she didn't need to make it a long outing, but damned if she wasn't reading the plaques in depth. You can hit the high points or you can focus on a section but you can't, I don't care who you are, you can't do the whole of the Nelson including the Bloch addition in one go. It's not the Met but it's a down payment plus a few points towards a Met.

So the attempt was made to do it all. After four and a half hours, we had maybe done a third to a half of what's open now (there's a big wing of the old building that is closed for remodeling). Not counting the outside, because there is more outdoor art at the Nelson than there is indoors at most museums for cities our size.

But K's scooter odyssey gave me a clue for my Mom. I remember going to the Nelson after church when I was growing up. She's still got scar tissue from those outings because my Dad didn't warn anyone and we were all in foot damaging church shoes. There's no reason anyone should wear shoes like that to church, they're probably a lot of why we all seem to need special shoes and orthotic inserts and such by the time we're 30 years old in this family.

Anyway, the scooter. My Mom wasn't super impressed with the idea. Said she'd probably hit someone. It's not a Camaro with a fifth of tequila in the cup holder.

Then there was the objection that 'I don't know that much about art.'

Who does?

It's not a test, it's art. You like it or you don't. It gets a response out of you or it doesn't. The black on black Mark Rothko the Nelson has is bullshit as far as I'm concerned. But I've seen Rothko paintings that definitely moved me, I'd even go so far as to say I'm a Rothko fan. The next person, maybe even my Mom, might look at that black on black mess and really feel something. And I guess in fairness, feeling irked that it doesn't really say anything is feeling something, just not something that warrants precious wall space in a world class museum.

Molly definitely got to thinking we were never going to be done. Like I say we usually are there an hour or less, and at four and a half hours, she had froke out several times thinking isn't it time to go?

Meanwhile K had killed the battery on one scooter and gotten a replacement.

I can tell it's going to take some work to get Mom to the Nelson even with scooters. But that will give Mo a chance to forget the time she thought we'd never leave.

I mean, how can you not want to come to a place where basically for nothing you can look at a few billion dollars worth of priceless art?