Forest fires and bikers

I’ve been watching the KTLA online feed of the North fire. The fire crossed the 15 near the Cajon Pass and is traveling unhindered on its way. The wind funnels up the pass and drops down onto the flat. I don’t think it will bode well for any homes in its path.

In another life well-lived, I spent 4,000 hours of helicopter flight time on forest fires in northern Canada. A lot of it came back to me in a huge rush while watching the feed. I had to load a mapping program to follow the progress of the news helicopters as they patrolled the perimeter with eyes high in the sky. The resolution of the camera from 8,500 feet is phenomenal.

There were no DC-10 airtankers back in the old days.

But I digress.

I couldn’t resist centering the map over a former favorite watering hole.

The usual suspects were in Fontana at a biker rally. One p.m. (that’s right, one in the afternoon) came and went, and, being the irresponsible, thirsty louts we were, we saddled up and headed for the 10. At the 215 we turned south and pulled off at La Cadena. For the uninitiated, it’s the home of the Club 215, a peeler bar renowned for nothing in particular but for being two stories high, with a balcony.

It was also on the way home, if you took the slight detour I outlined.

We liked the place because we could get out in the fresh air, wander around, and watch the sights – of which there aren’t many in Coulton. The girls liked it, too. Since we were the only ones in the club at that early hour, they wandered in and out to chat. I won’t go into details, but by early evening, it was long past time to herd the lads home.

I knew that, because beer bottles began floating down from the second story balcony to explode in the parking lot. Seeing as I was the only illegal in the club (I checked – there were no Canadian girls performing), and being of sound mind, I made an informed decision.

It was time to roll.

With the able assistance of a couple of the ladies, we managed to get the boys down the stairs without anyone falling down. Out in the parking lot, it was an entirely different story.

Tommy threw a leg over his Sporty, collapsed the kickstand, put both feet on the pegs, and headed on his way, eager to be in the wind. The problem was, he hadn’t bothered to light the fire. He promptly fell over with both feet on the pegs while still gripping the bars.

Much laughter ensued.

Eventually, we managed to get Tommy untangled and out from under his Sporty. We made sure to keep him on the bike as we helped him up. Once we got him straight and level, I started the engine, put it in gear, and slapped him on the back.

Away he wobbled.

It was a simple matter to head south on the 215, hit the 60 at Box Springs, and meander on down the road on the 10 to the 62 turnoff. I got to ride sweep to clean up the debris on the way home.

It was an uneventful ride on a normal California day under sunshine and blue sky.

I miss it sometimes, but not often, now.

Life’s twists and turns

In another life, when I was much younger (well, all right then, back in the dark ages if you must know), I was gifted with a Smith Corona portable typewriter contained within a leather case. It came along with a couple of LP recordings filled with typing lessons.

El Pee? What the hell is that?

Shortly thereafter, I hied off to my grandfather’s, ostensibly to teach myself to type. I’m certain it drove him to the drink listening to those lessons, hour after hour, ad nauseam. I would have been twelve, or perhaps thirteen, a mere shadow of my more modern self.

I beat beat beat those keys into submission all through high skool, where I was encouraged to write by a forlorn English teacher with nothing to do and nowhere to go, banished as she was to a lunch-bucket town in the middle of nowhere, man.

Life got in the way, as it usually does, when I, along with several confreres of like mind, skipped town, never to be seen or heard from again. I traveled the world, crossed borders – some voluntarily, others by force of personality or some such – and generally nailed down an easy life free from the confines of dumbassery but for the inhumanity of man I encountered and may have participated in during my grand tour of sand and sun.

It was a good life. It more than paid the bills and then some. I was able to stash the cash until gross dumbassery finally caught up to me in the form of workplace morons. Eventually, in the mid-90s, I made good by means of a temporary escape. I had the good fortune to end up in an adobe in the middle of a desert oasis. Imagine my delight when I discovered it to be populated by photo shoots, wardrobe people, models, various and sundry hangers-on, and a waitress named Annette.

It was during that interlude that I deigned to take up with writing again. Cheap trash, I called it – the writing, not the women. It was good practice (the writing), though, and much needed. Everything I had learned in my early years was long gone, disappeared like a Mexican university student during a corruption protest.

I started at the beginning, willing myself to learn all over again.

Five years later, I hung up on the job and hit the road. For six years I rode North America and the parts of Mexico I liked. I had adventures. I hung out with the occasional diner waitress. I cleared my conscience. I lived life again.

I’ve been writing now for twenty years. I’m still learning. I still churn out cheap trash. Except now, there’s a small difference. People are buying it – in what I consider to be substantial quantities. Go figure.

So, I packed up one more time and moved closer to a known civilization. I am living happily ever after. I still pound away at a keyboard far removed from that first Smith Corona, alone in a room with my imagination. I still manage to hang out in diners while keeping an eye open for the occasional waitress.

Ain’t life grand?

Useless twaddle

In another life I spent six years roaming around North America and Mexico sitting on a motorcycle. I dug in in a small town in SoCal, where I became enamored of the local flora, and more than a few of the fauna – if you’ll pardon the expression. I managed to get tangled up for a brief time with someone who was working her way towards an associate degree – whatever the hell that is. (Don’t bother writing back. I know what it is. It’s nothing – at least where I come from.)

Procrastination and life got in the way of this person. Subsequently she mentioned that she needed two papers, both due in a couple of days. I already knew that the papers were only five pages, or, in my life, what I considered a walk in the park. She went off to work, and six hours later I came up with both papers completed and in the required MLA format.

I have no idea whether she handed them in, or not, because I found myself accused of having plagiarized both of them. I hadn’t, of course. Who the hell can’t pound out five pages of meaningless, original horseshit for a college in America? (If you can’t, don’t bother telling me about it. I can.)

But I digress. The reason is in the chart below, where I learned that I could have charged 40 bucks a crack. You’ll find the link at the bottom of the image.

It is official. I am bored.*

This morning, I made my very-early a.m. cup of green tea with the usual substantial infusion of fresh ginger root. I sat to do several paragraphs, and then, so eagerly anticipating that first sip of green tea nectar, reached to put cup to lips.

Imagine my shock when all I couldn’t taste was hot water. It is absolutely, terrifyingly unimaginable, is it not?

Please send condolences, cards, letters of commiseration, flowers and/or treasures to Box 13, Nara Visa.

Note to self for next time:

  1. Put ginger root in cup.
  2. Put tea bag in cup.
  3. Place cup under Tassimo.

* Or, suffering from early-onset Old-Timers’ Disease.

Jambo from NBO

News from my old stomping ground, Embakasi, isn’t looking good today. Embakasi is the former name for NBO (Nairobi International Airport/Jomo Kenyatta) before it went modern.

Back in the dark ages on the Dark Continent, I recall the approach to Embakasi some time after midnight. The first thing that caught my attention was the decided lack of lights visible across the city. (Well, all right, that’s probably not the first thing.) I summoned a taxi and was quite amazed at the number of people camped out around fires on the road into the city.

Thankfully, I had a reservation at the New Stanley. Without that, and the Israeli girl I met and got to know, I’d probably have jumped ship, so to speak. Unfortunately, I can’t locate any of my time-travel photos of the New Stanley.

Oh, the stories I am reminded of. Perhaps another time.


Polar Electro straps and wrist bands are cheap trash

The T31 transmitter on my Polar Electro has broken at one end and is now unwearable. After dutifully trolling the internet for this cheap trash POS, it is apparently a common problem, not only for the heart transmitter, but also for their cheap trash POS watch bands.

Rather than pay prime replacement rate for a Polar Electro T31 cheap trash POS, I have decided to fix this cheap trash POS Polar Electro T31 myself.

Good luck getting me to ever purchase another cheap POS manufactured by Polar Electro.

Should you ever need to replace the battery in this thing, there are plenty of videos covering instructions on how to replace the transmitter battery. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for a new heart transmitter, considering the battery is only a couple of bucks.