Thursday, February 26, 2015

Errata et Cetera

Errata et Cetera


I once knew a Texas oilman named Jimbo Collins who told me, and I quote, "The only mistake I ever made was one time when I thought I was wrong and it turned out I was right." Now that's confidence. Or arrogance. Or something along those lines.

Brianna Bleachteeth (not her real name), my waitress at the Dang Cafe in Morro Bay, probably isn't the best resource to consult regarding nuclear power plants. I should have fact checked her story on the Wigglypedia or somewhere. Cuz those twin smoke stacks I saw from the Dang Patio were not remnants of a decommissioned nuclear facility like BB claimed. The nuclear plant is still in operation just a mile or two from there. Those smoke stacks are actually leftover from an old gas power plant, if my Wiggly experts are correct.

The nuke facility (not exactly precisely prezactly built on a fault, but just a Colin Kapernick heave or two away) was recently upgraded to withstand a 7.65 magnitude earthquake, heh-heh. That's good. Now if we can just persuade the 7.64 magnitude EQ-induced tsunami to spare Morro Bay, we're all set.

Like most people, I am totally confused about nuclear power. The experts are not afraid of it and they really do know more than the rest of us. But can we trust the process? Human error tends to creep into the execution of even the best, smartest plans. A little error in this case can last centuries.

To be sure, we're screwed if we keep burning coal and gasoline. And we cannot power all our toys and conveniences with solar and/or wind. We would basically have to pave over a few states with panels and turbines and even then, we're not in great shape on cloudy, still days. Carbon sequestration? Probably worth a try, but the same old human error problems would threaten to poison our drinking water. The law of unintended consequences hangs over all these decisions.

I wonder what Jimbo Collins would say, if he is even still around to say anything. My guess is that he would be in favor of keeping all the wells going in which he has negotiated some kind of override and try whatever else we wanted to try as long as he could get a piece of the pie. He's funny like that.

Speaking of pie, on Saturday, March 14, 2015, I and a small group of ex-science teachers are holding the First and Probably Only Pizza Pie Pi Festival here in San Juan Bautista. For those of you who were not snoozing away in your puberty years, and/or have not subsequently transformed your brain cells into pudding with alcohol and television, you probably remember how to find the area of a circle. For that you need the contant "pi" which most of us abbreviated as 3.14 but can be extended to 3.1415 or even further to 3.1415926 et cetera et cetera.

Maybe you are starting to get the picture. March 14, 2015. 3-14-15. Yeah. See this month's AARP Magazine for more fascinating details. Anyway, we're getting together at the Pizza Factory at noon. The 9:26 p.m. time is too late for retired folks and 9:26 a.m. is way too early to have a slice of pizza pie. Hence the noon hour. An appropriate prize will be awarded for the nerdiest t-shirt.

You are welcome to stop by and festiviate. Fair warning: you may be asked to find the area of the surface of your pie pan. Calculators and Smartyphones are not allowed.

Peace. Love, and Radii,

Friday, February 20, 2015

Santa Barbie Land

Santa Barbie Land


The cool morning fog had nearly lifted by the time I exited Hwy 101 and headed south on Hollister Avenue into Goleta CA. Goleta is a suburb of Santa Barbara, a sprawl that includes Isla Vista and UCSB.

I was starved due to the previous night's grab bag dinner, so I pulled into the first strip mall shopping center on my side of the road and started scouting for breakfast. Dismounting, I pushed the Dream Machine along a crowded row of businesses. Sushi. Subway. Phone store. Beauty salon.

Just as I was approaching the salon, with its neon signs flashing "Nails" and "Waxes" and "Tints," the door popped open and out came Little Miss Perfect, Santa Barbie herself.

This early 20s girl was just the right height, just the right shape, < 5% body fat, tanned, toned, waxed tantalizingly bare except for her shining straight brown just right shoulder length perfectly trimmed model hair, color-matched, with upper and lower nails perfectly formed to easily slip into expensive slithery garments. She probably had perfect teeth, but I couldn't tell you that because she didn't show them to me.

She smelled really good. Her battery operated green eyes, though, were avoidance tools, focused on some plane unattainable to those mere mortals who poop and pee.

As she passed - glided - in front of me, her perfect little nose wrinkled slightly, disapprovingly, as if to announce "eww, it sweats" not to me personally but to me as part of that general population of beasts that are not shaped, waxed, toned, trimmed, polished, and related to hedge fund managers.

She disappeared and I continued, suddenly a lot more interested in the Cajun Kitchen Cafe and breakfast. I, as you know, heart breakfast.

Santa Barbie Land was, is, and ever will be jampacked full of Santa Barbies. They wiggle and sashay out of the woodwork. I must say I enjoy their presence in an oh-my-the-scenery-here-in-Santa Barbie Land-is-most-delightful way. At my age and in my perpetual state of exercise-induced revery, the Barbies are lovely in the same way as the carefully tended landscapes and viewscapes in Santa Barbie Land parks.

The trees and flowers in Alice Keck Park, for example, are particularly compelling. Trees there are immense and stretch their long, thick, leafy branches high into the Barbie blue sky, seemingly begging to be climbed, the better to see the brown mountain backdrops and the shining blue peaceful ocean.

It's important, however, to keep these sceneries straight. If a stinky old coot like me were to park his bike beneath a sycamore and climb upon it, most likely no one would pay me any mind. If, on the other hand, I became careless and happened to proceed to climb upon a Santa Barbie Land Barbie, mass panic would ensue. I would be instantly arrested, handcuffed, straight-jacketed, shot full of thorazine, tossed in a paddy wagon, and driven to the County line, to be dumped in a ditch and abandoned.

Honestly, that happens all the time. You've seen those old southern California guys sitting on the side if the road, staring, with grass in their hair. If I weren't so accomplished in the art of scenery compartmentation, there might be I.

Besides tree-and-girl watching, while in Santa Barbie Land this week I sought self-improvement at the Santa Barbie Museum of Art. The museum featured an exhibit of Italian paintings, including some by Santor Botticelli. He lived and painted in the late 1400s and is famous for his amazing likenesses of Muvva Mary and the baby Hay-zoo and cherubs and classical-style Barbies. Back in the day, Barbies were allowed to be somewhat chubbier, judging from Santor's work.

Probably his most famous painting is "The Birth of Venus," possibly the definitive Barbie of her time. But something happened to Botticelli's classic treasure upon arrival in Santa Barbie Land. Evidently, there was a snafu at the Santa Barbie Museum of Art. Where Santor's painting should have hung, three modern versions took its place. I have included them for your viewing pleasure below, for your self-indulgent, self-promoting, self-serving, self-improvement pleasure.

Remember, they are just part of the scenery. If you find them offensive in any way, just wrinkle your perfect little nose. After all, when in Santa Barbie Land, do as Barbies do.

Peace, Love, and Santa Barbie Culture,

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chilly Hilly

Chilly Hilly


Befuddled was I this a.m. when the sky was not sunny and I - shudder - had to wear a jacket. Sigh. Life is so complex.

By 11:30 or so the marine layer lifted and the breeze had only a hint of a chill. That's when I began the 18 mile very moderate uphill stretch along Hwy 1 to its intersection with Hwy 101. Occasionally the road flattened out in a shaded canyon and my sweaty shirt wasn't keeping me warm. Zipping and unzipping my wind vest was the order of the day for a very nice chilly hilly February bike ride. On 101, it was an all downhill zoom to the beach, zipped up all the way.

Gaviota State Beach is not the prettiest campground on the coast, but it's in the perfect spot for my allotted mileage budget. So here I am, all camped out and pretty sure I'm in for a windy, cold night followed by a still, foggy, chilly morning. No big deal, but I'm not looking forward to packing up a wet tent.

This is my last night before I arrive in Santa Barbara, which means a cheapskate, clean-out-the-food-bag dinner and breakfast in camp. Usually when I get to this point I say "no way I'm eating this junk," but Gaviota is isolated. I can't just chuck all these scraps in the trash can and walk down the road to a diner.

So here is what I ate for dinner tonight. Several mouthfuls of cashews-peanuts-craisins-raspberries gorp, a packet of tuna with some quasi-smashed crackers, a huge mound of Fritos (the big, wide dipping Fritos are approximately 7 to 9 times tastier than the stupid little skinny ones), a crunchy granola oats and honey knockoff brand energy bar, a bowl of raisin bran with powdered Nido milk (that's the best powdered milk on Earth - I estimate that Nido is 10 to 20 times better than Carnation), all washed down with campground spigot agua flavored with tangerine EmergenC powder.

Then I ground-squirrel-and-raccoon proofed my remaining food on a tree limb and put the Dream Machine in the "garage" for the night before building my drought-conscious votive candle campfire. I'm all set for sunset.

Peace, Love, and Crickets on the Beach,

Sunday, February 15, 2015




How many times do I have to re-learn this. Anything can happen, but it hardly ever does.

Friday I was practically paralyzed by the alarming guidebook description of the Harris Grade and the triskaidekaphrenic comments of a couple of wornout old codgers. Stupid! I mean, I COULD have had a massive coronary halfway up. I COULD have been smushed by a texting teenager in a Gorilla truck. I COULD have burst both lungs and/or squirted all my bodily fluids out my ears at once in the middle of an S-turn. But did I? Of course not! I scurried up that sucker in 30 minutes no sweat.

The last time I rode that grade I was about 40 years old and in the best shape of my life. Do I have any memory of the climb? Nope! It must have been easier then, but that was before the internet and way pre-Smartyphone and if I wrote any journal notes, they are long gone. So once again, I fell prey to a trailside psych job. But no worries, I may be forgetful and I am old, but I am still mighty.

Actually, everything worked out perfectly, as everything is prone to do. Yesterday I got to watch the NBA Saturday night special, showcasing my man Zach Levine's levitating rubber band man twisty pretzel yogi dunks and Steph Curry's record breaking 3-point shooting performance. And in a couple of hours I should be able to catch the NBA All Star game from Madison Square Garden. I'm a happy lad.

Some of you no doubt were busy spending your hard earned money on Valentine's Day hijinx. What I have to say about that is hahahahahaha, talk about a psych job! Hahahahahaha.

I could probably blast all the way to Santa Barbara tomorrow if I wanted to, but why would I hurry past all that beautiful beach? Most likely I'll hit the hot spring at Gaviota and enjoy a picnic sunset in camp before cruising in on Tuesday.

Peace, Love, and Everything,

Friday, February 13, 2015




Today was the fourth time I have ridden through Guadalupe CA on my way down the coast. Every previous ride I arrived right at noon on a hot day, sweaty, thirsty, and woozy. This time was no different - call it deja wooz if you like - so I had to stop for some hot grub and cold drink.

Guadalupe CA (pop. 7,000)  is about as close to an actual Mexican town as you can get without crossing the border. You can't buy Chiclets on the street, but everything else is quite reminiscent of a small town down south. One main drag, seven or eight crumbling Mexican food restaurants that have been there for decades, a gas station, a feed store, tired, dusty people staring out at life. Everything was exactly as I remembered it except for one new eatery in an old, used-to-be-a-taqueria building. It's name? Falafels.

Falafels? I had to check it out. The whole menu was burgers and fries and ice cream, fixed by a Greek guy and his Mom. I was starving so I ordered a double giant burger and crinkle cut fries and a refillable lemonade. I had to do something about the wooziness because there were still more than 20 miles and the steep-ass Harris Grade to go.

Well, all that Greeky grub didn't work. I was caught in the grips of a Guadalupe wooze vortex and I couldn't get out. A couple of old geezers gnawing on burgers at the next table asked me where I was heading. When I told them, they said, "Naw, you don't want to do that. Harris Grade's too steep for my F-One Fitty."

Hmmm, maybe they had a point. It was time for a reassessment. I whipped out the Smartyphone and consulted the Googlie goons. Sure enough, there was another way to work this day to my advantage. I climbed back into the saddle, finished riding through Guadalupe and hung a left on Hwy 166 toward Santa Maria.

Now Santa Maria is not my favorite place. It's kinda like somebody fed Hollister some human growth hormones, or maybe they deflated Bakersfield and shoved it closer to the coast. The people are nice enough, but they seem to have forgotten they live in California. Hello? Wake up, fellas, Wichita is like, WAY over there in the middle of the country. Are you LOST?

But one thing Santa Maria does have is a Motel 6 and that, my friends, is my go-to cure for sore knees and a woozy head. So an hour after escaping the mysterious Guadalupe time-space -culture warp, I landed in Faux-Wichita-Santa-Maria, where I nap and I munch and I think good thoughts about the Friday the 13th that coulda been worse. Truth is, except for one short but steep climb and the ridiculous for February hot temps, it was a pretty good day. I just have to accept that in my 64th year, on a hot winter day, 30 miles of recreational riding are quite enough. After all, this is not a j-o-b, you know. This is a vacation.

Oh by the way, the Oceano raccoons ain't what they used to be. Must be the video games and the medical marijuana and the rap music -they're content to hang out in the trees with their earbuds in - it's the end of an era.

Peace, Love, and Rejuvenation,

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Easy Breezy

Easy Breezy


I started this trip from Paso Robles mostly because a) I am out of shape, b) every escape route from San Juan Bautista involves bad roads and hard climbs, and c) Warmshowers members Mike and Karen kindly agreed to let me park Spugly in their Paso Robles driveway for a week or so. I am trying not to exceed 30 or 40 miles in any one day to minimize the shock to my heart and other various organs/muscles. So far, so good.

My waitress at the Durn Restaurant in Morro Bay this morning was friendly and efficient. "Durn" is not a disparaging term here. That's really what the place is called and it's durn good, if pricey. But hey, it's practically right on the water so rent must be sky high. From their patio, you have a great view of Morro Rock and the weird smokestacks leftover from the nuke plant.

According to the waitress, Brianna Bleachtooth ( not her real name), the smokestacks from the Diablo Canyon plant are scheduled to be removed in the near future, greatly improving the patio view.

The ride to Oceano was mostly easy today, with bright sunshine, mild temperatures, and a tailwind all the way. There were lots of bikes on the road and happy, friendly, waving riders. A pretty simple day, really.

Hopefully, the infamous Oceano Campground raccoons won't try to shred my gear in search for my secret Raisin Bran stash tonight. My plan is to hoist it up high on a tree branch as if the marauders were Sierra Nevada black bears. Raccoons are fierce and smart, like park bears. We shall see.

Tomorrow will test my legs and lungs. It's just over 40 miles to Lompoc and right at the end is the Harris Grade, a tough climb for my current slobbish retired guy winter condition. I think I can, I think I can.

Peace, Love, and Sleepy Sleep Sleepy,

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Brutal California Winter

Brutal California Winter


Comes a time for a retired man to do the right thing and take a stand. The yakking heads and climate-denying, war-glory news stooges can work (pardon my language) all they want. I, however, am going on vacation.

"Vacation from what?" you may ask, temporarily overcome by the silliness of your undertakings. Goodness. Must I explain?

A great, massive, hunkering cloud of stress must be dodged when you have deliberately dedicated the remainder of your days  to practicing the fine art of relaxation. It's a skill few have mastered.

Consider breakfast, for example. Not breakfast in general, not commonplace, scurry-off-to-the-office breakfast. But REAL breakfast, prepared and eaten reverently at the same pace Sun rises and Earth spins and Cat stretches. This cannot be executed properly in the oh God, Brittany has a fever, what are we going to do, kid-sitter panic sort of state of mindlessness experienced by the work (sorry) zombies. No, it must be done with the clarity that only premium grade leisure can provide.

The problem, if you want to call it one, that arises when a nobly retired man has learned to thoroughly dominate the copasetic production of breakfast is variety of setting. You can eat it at the kitchen table, you can eat it on the porch, or you can eat it at the table in the yard just past the porch. That's pretty much it. Unless, of course, you choose to pay someone else to fix the vittles.

So all of this, as you may have guessed, is a long way of saying I need a vacation so I can eat breakfast in some cool new places.

Like The Wild Horse Cafe in King City CA by golly. Today I enjoyed the top sirloin and eggs special  with a bottomless cup of java for 10 point 85 dollars. This hearty repast fueled my journey on the Dream Machine from Paso Robles CA  to Morro Bay CA. I needed all of that and an 8 ounce bag of pistachios to grind over the Coast Range rollercoaster on Hwy 46 and  Old Creek Road. One serpentine stretch with an 8% grade coming down toward Cayucos required almost constant braking to avoid the dreaded oh no I'm flying off the mountain all the way to the Spacific Ocean scenic biker splat. Not copasetic. I squeezed just fine, but I'm single-finger typing this evening on my Smartyphone despite severe hand cramps. When the cramps start to get a little too annoying, I simply remind my hands that they, too, are on vacation and they really should relax.

Morro Bay State Park (right next to the recently decommissioned Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant that the federal dunderheads built right on an earthquake fault!) has an aromatic hiker/biker camp in the eucalyptus trees which will serve as home for tonight. I can't wait to wake up tomorrow to see what Mother Whimsy has in store for breakfast. It's gonna be great.

Peace, Love, and Winter in the Land of Gold,