From where the sun now stands, I shall ride no more, forever.
It was the late great Kenny Rogers (is he still alive?) who so eloquently crooned, ”You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run”. With this sage advice in mind, I’m quietly setting my motorcycle riding cards face down on the metaphorical table and heading for the exit.
I don’t have any horror stories to tell. Never been in an accident so serious I couldn’t just pick the bike up and ride home. Never popped a wheelie on the interstate past a cop or anything like that. Really, when it comes right down to it, the motorcycle was as safe and reliable a source of transportation as any car I’ve owned (and the gas mileage was incredible).
But I just couldn’t help being terrified of it.
Right before I bought the bike, I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course here in WA. It’s an awesome way to get some basic instruction and avoid the skills exam, but much of the classroom instruction is about all the ways you can die riding. They really hit you over the head with it, so that by the time you’re done your noggin is filled with gruesome images and stories about decapitated and crippled riders. The first thing I did afterwards was go out and spend a bucket of money on the best helmet I could find and a full crash suit (blue Aerostitch Roadcrafter sized to fit a short overweight man - look for it on craigslist soon).
As I started riding I would meet other motorcyclists, and along with some encouragement, they would invariably want to stress to me just how dangerous riding a motorcycle was. I’m not exaggerating when I say that most of them had a first hand account of a harrowing near-death experience, and often could tell of a friend who had not been so lucky.
A short while ago, Anna had an acquaintance die in a motorcycle accident. This poor man had lost his leg below the knee as a teenager due to a similar incident. Decades later he decided to take up riding again as a kind of life-affirming therapy. He was killed not long after.
I’ve had my share of auto accidents over the years. None of them injured me physically and a few of them weren’t even my fault. All of them could have been fatal on the bike.
So I was too afriad. Lots of people aren’t, and more power to them. Each person does their own algebra and decides how much risk they are willing to assume. Along with the stories of death and dismemberment I’ve heard riders tell of magical trips up lonely roads to Alaska and blasting through desert highways with the wind in their hair (Yes, there are still places where you can ride without a helmet). So with the greater risk comes the greater reward.
I sold the bike on craigslist a couple of weeks ago as part of a class project and was glad to see it go. The new owner, a nice lady from Bellingham, had been riding all her life and was just as happy to take it.
Financially, this 5 year long motorcycle experiment was a minor disaster. Needless to say I didn’t recoup anything like what I paid for the bike brand new. And then there was the cost of maintenance and eqipment, etc. But I wanted to try it really badly, and I did, and now I don’t want to do it any more - and there is certainly some value in that. So that’s how I’m justifying it to myself.
The man holding up the bunch of late harvet semillon is Paul. He’s the craigslist guy I bought my grapes from.
Paul (professional drafter - we’re everywhere) had the clever idea of seeing if anyone else would like to try making wine from actual wine grapes. Several of us craigslist junkies eagerly responded and together the group comprised a substantial enough order to actually get on a grape growers radar.
You can make wine from anything that will ferment. I usually try to use the rhubarb that grows in my backyard. Rhubarb wine is really mostly water and sugar since the taste of rhubard is overpowering, and the fruit (root? tuber? vegetable?) contains little juice or sugar.
I’ve never succeeded in making it taste good.
So I applied the first rule of every hobby: If you can’t succeed at something, take it to the next level.
All I needed was more equipment, higher stakes, and a bigger time commitment. So I ordered 100 pounds of Cabernet grapes.
These are pictures Paul took of the top secret vineyard where the grapes were grown. The vineyard is secret because I forgot to ask him what it’s called.
Picturesque isn’t it?
Although a hundred pounds of grapes sounds like a lot, my order is actually an almost insignificant portion of the load you see here. Paul picked these up from the Columbia valley somewhere I believe and hauled them back and crushed them himself. Didn’t charge a penny (I still had to pay for the grapes, however).
These are the buckets of crushed grapes. In total I picked up 12 gallons of crushed grapes and juice in three 5 gallon buckets.
Sitting on the floor of my kitchen.
The crushed grapes don’t look that appealing, but the juice has an incredible flavor. Nothing like Welch’s from the grocery store. My first thought was “I can’t believe they don’t just sell it like this!”
I used two 7 gallon plastic tubs for the primary fermentation. Hard to tell from the picture but the must is bubbling away inside giving off carbon dioxide. The smell at this stage was amazing. It was a warm grapey yeast odor, like I was baking fresh bread and making fresh jam simultaneously.
Twice a day I “punched the cap” which just meant mixing the crushed grapes with the juice so that the color and flavor would get completely extracted.
This was a fun day. The parents came over and we pressed the skins to get every last drop of wine. The press was rented from the local brew equipment store. It was too cold to do it outside, so we just set the thing up in the kitchen. Worked great.
The press is a surprisingly crude and seemingly unsanitary way to deal with a food product, but they’ve been doing it this way forever.
When fermentation was completely finished, I siphoned (or “racked” for those in the know) the wine into glass containers just big enough to hold the wine. The goal is to keep the wine from having too much contact with the air.
Currently, the wine is resting comfortably in a corner of the basement next to an old mattress and some drywall. Just like the pros do.
Now begins the long period of waiting. Traditionally the wine would go into oak barrels until it is ready to be bottled, but glass will have to do. I tasted some of it and it already tastes pretty good, so I think this batch might turn out ok.
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Jay > Jay Stainbrook ******************* Bremerton WA 206-***-****. I think that should be enough information to find me in your system
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Maricel > By the way, I hope that you are aware of your payment options so you can easily manage your bills. We accept all methods of payment including: Cash Check, Money order, Automatic debit from your checking account. Most major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. You can also make a one-time payment or set up automatic monthly payments online at Customer Central.
Maricel > We want our customers to be amazed with the choice Comcast offers, excited by the innovation Comcast provides and satisfied with the service and reliability of every interaction with Comcast. Our goal is to provide you with a consistently superior customer experience—whether at sign-up, during the normal course of business or during a service visit. The Customer Guarantee lets you know what you can and should expect from Comcast—and what we’re doing to hold ourselves accountable every day. For more information about Comcast Customer Guarantee, please visit http://www.comcast.com/Corporate/Customers/CustomerGuarantee.htmlMaricel > thank you for waiting, Jay.
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Unlimited Text Messaging Theatre Presents: "Jay Goes to a Movie"
Jay: Cinerama is showing a bunch of classic films in their original 70mm format. Wanna see one? Tue, 9:54a
Anna: Mayyyyyybe. Tue, 1:10p
Jay: Awesome. Show tomorrow night at 9. Tue, 1:32p
Jay goes by himself to see 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Jay: Totally psyched. Screen is huge. Three rows back on aisle. Wed, 8:54p
Anna: Looks like it was meant to be! :) Wed, 9:23p
Jay: Intermission - Man, tons of freaks here. Wed, 10:47p
Anna: Um, well its a wierd movie in a wierd part of town on a Wednesday night. I think you’re at the height of freakyville. ;) Wed, 11:30p
Anna: And honestly normal people would just buy a big flat screen and watch it on hd with netflix Wed, 11:31p
The next morning
Jay: Well I did just pay $12 to see a movie for the millionth time. Thurs, 12:36p
Anna: No, supposedly it was a million dollar experience, right?! Thurs, 12:37p
Jay: Billion. Perfect movie. Enormous screen. Outstanding sound system blasting Strauss at ear drum crushing levels. That look an old film print has - like listening to the beatles on vinyl no matter how much clearer the mp3 is. Thurs, 12:39p
Anna: Well, music is different. I like that authenticity better. But a crackly poppy screen? That’s just annoying. Unless you have old fashioned real-butter popcorn to complete the experience. Thurs, 12:41p
Jay: Huge bags of it. The print wasn’t as bad as that. Just “vintage” enough to have that patina to give it some gravitas. The scenes set to blue danube were the highlight for me. That movie must have blown peoples minds clean off in 1968. Thurs, 12:45p
Anna: Oo, I hope it was as impressive as your vocabulary… Thurs, 12:48p
Freshness is all that counts. Go ahead and buy gourmet whatever if that’s what they’re buying at your country club or if the packaging matches the color of your Lotus. Stale gourmet coffee still tastes stale and fresh cheap coffee still tastes awesome.
I bought Top Pot because I heard that Dave Matthews eats donuts there sometimes, and that’s as good a reason as any.
Step 2: Grind the coffee.
Fill the grinder to the top with coffee beans. The goal is to be pretentious not to save money.
Use a burr grinder not the spinning blade kind. The spinning blade kind makes as much dust as ground coffee and you’ll be crunching and chewing your way through your morning brew. Set the grinder to the coarsest setting.
Step 3: Eat a bowl of Apple Jacks.
Step 4: Break out the vacuum coffee pot.
You have one of these right? I’d tell you where to get one, but then I’d have to come down off my high horse.
This is Excaliber - the magic glass filter. Coffee should never touch anything but glass, stainless, or ceramic mugs with sayings on them.
pour the ground coffee into the top bubble. Note to self: Buy cell phone with better camera.
Fill the lower bubble with water and turn on the stove.
Step 5: Brew the coffee.
Optional: Clean your stove first.
Step 6: Stir as necessary.
Step 7: Wait.
Step 8: Remove from heat.
Step 9: Enjoy a pretentious cup of coffee.
Discuss Radio Head’s latest album and laugh at what you heard on the Republican debate last night to complete the experience.
Ensign Crusher, engage! That’s me at the helm of a graceful sailing vessel tasting sweet salty freedom on our beloved Puget Sound. As you can see I simultaneously embody both Captain Ahab and the great white whale. What wonderful sights am I gazing at as I stare off into the wide watery unknown? What noble thoughts do I ponder as I steer this ship of adventure? Is that really how fast my 5 o’clock shadow appears? I will answer these questions and more.
It was Anna’s good friend Kelli who invited us to join her and her mother on the boat, which belongs to an English gentleman they have known for many years. Actually I suspect she only invited Anna. Anna of course wanted to take Simon and her mother, and I forced my way on by the time honored tradition of not going away and not taking a hint.
The captain of this vessel is quite an interesting man.
He lives aboard the vessel and single-hands it most of the time. He’s amazingly spry for his age and shamed all of us by not only doing all the work on the boat but also kayaking in and out of the harbor as necessary so that us lazy young people could enjoy ourselves on the island.
He was born in India and at a young age moved with his father to the Falkland Islands where the family had gone to seek work during the great depression. As a young man he lived in Africa before enlisting to fight WWII. It didn’t really seem appropriate to ask him too much about the war, although I was very curious. After the war he got a medical degree and became a psychiatrist. He and I both agreed the world had gotten too automated and electronic, and we bemoaned the plight of modern man and his soulless digital tether to the interwebs. This is a very easy perspective to have while making your way through rolling waves via wind power, but since you are reading this on my tumblr blog most likely linked through a twitter post shared via facebook there is a small amount of hypocrisy on my part.
Simon had a great time as we cruised out to Blake Island and hiked a ways along the trails there. He had all the courage of someone who has never fallen into the ocean, although he did look Davy Jones in the eyes once or twice as he pranced around the rocking boat ignoring the cries of “Sit down! What are you doing? Put your life jacket on!”
Yours truly manned the helm for a good portion of the trip out to the island, and Kelli did duty on the return trip. I’ve always wanted to get a boat and this trip might just have pushed me passed the tipping point. It really is a shame (almost a crime) to live so close to a beautiful body of water like the sound and never get out on it. Thanks Kelli for the opportunity and for the pictures.
This is the first episode I ever saw, and is therefore a sentimental favorite. I stumbled on Mystery Science Theater when I was 11 or 12 visiting my grandparents house. They had acquired one of those old school satellite dishes that gave them dozens of channels (mostly scrambled) scattered across different satellites. Without the aid of the internet there was no way for me to know when the show might be on again, so I spent the rest of the vacation trying to find more episodes, but to no avail. It wasn’t until a couple years later when we got cable that I saw it again.
This episode features the original cast, so Tom Servo’s voice isn’t familiar. I think maybe this predated TV’s Frank as well.
4. Future War
I just stumbled across this episode on Netflix a couple of weeks ago and I couldn’t stop laughing. The movie is an absolute riot, with toy dinosaurs attacking a JCVD wannabe. I still chuckle when I think about the flashlight.
This is the only Mike Nelson episode on my list. Although the show plays pretty much the same with either host, it always seemed like Mike was the copy and Joel the original. More jarring is the loss of Trace Beaulieu as Crow and Dr. Forrester. The host segments on this one are almost cringe inducing.
3. Warrior of the Lost World
MST3K peaked in season 5 and this is one of the best ones from that series. This movie is so awesomely bad you can’t believe it. watching it you’re almost as entertained by the movie-making train wreck as you are by the riffing. What were they thinking with that stupid talking motorcycle?
2. Fugitive Alien
"He tried to kill me with a forklift!"
Joel Hodgson’s last episode is hands down the funniest of all time. Mitchell is the most unlikeable hero ever devised, and they tear him to shreds. I’ve seen it a couple times and it still makes me laugh out loud.