Jan 7, 2013

My Red Shirt

   The best, longest lasting, most comfortable shirt I own was 25¢. I bought used ten years it out of absolute necessity brought on by unplanned cold weather. It was dawn and I needed something fast. And there is nothing in the world quicker or more convenient than a yard sale across the street. I also needed something I could wear in a mountain bike race. What better than a solid red St. John's Bay chamois shirt size large tall? It got me through Single Speed World Championships and we bonded.
   The shirt was missing two buttons on the front when I got it, but it's such a good shirt that it had sewn-on spare buttons. Move the very top button down, use the spare and I am good to go. Just yesterday another button came off. Since it was quite literally hanging on by a thread I was able to save this one. The shirt has other more obvious problems so I'm not worried about the button for now and the button is safe next to my bed.
   I have never once thought about what it looks like. It hasn't been beyond my yard in years and only my family every sees it. In addition to the missing button it has several sizable latex paint stains from painting the house, a ripped hem on the front and a few other forgotten stains. And it is red. Solid red-red. Not exactly a real looker. Technically, it would be super fashionable with hipsters. But what is a hipster doing in the yard with a rake? They have cooler shit to do so the neighbors know that I am just wearing a ratty shirt.
   But I love that shirt. Lighter than a jacket, it is the perfect weight and has pockets on the chest for my iPhone. I thread the headphones cord through the button front and it's almost a "technical garment." It's not. Made of 100% cotton it is far and away from a technical garment. The fit. The weight. The fact that I don't care if it gets dirty, torn, stained, ripped or even abraded. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Nov 14, 2012

Making Stuff

Making stuff. Making stuff with my hands and creating. Those are things that turn me on and fill my soul. I put a bandaid on my finger tonight and couldn't quite recall what happened. It wasn't a cut, it was more of a spot rubbed raw. Ah yes, I was filing metal in a tight spot and repeatedly ran my finger into an adjoining steel part. Not with intention, not with self destructive behavior. That spot is there as a badge of honor for working with my hands and creating. Coincidently, I tuned into my favorite YouTube channel and found the video below - so inspiring. And if you don't find it inspiring I'm pretty sure the guy will give you a beat-down.

Witching Hour Transference

(Sounds of rattling around, a light turns on)
What are you doing?
I can't sleep.

   Fantastic. Now I am awake. Non-scientific studies have proven that the one sure way to get a song that is stuck in your head is to sing it out loud to a another person. You know, the horrible song that is like a cocklebur on your shoelace - hopelessly entangled in your brain and you have no idea where it came from. Somehow the brain cells that stored the memory of Billy Joel's "Piano Man"burst and the contents have filled your conscience mind. But the memory is looping. Sorry, now you may be playing the chorus "Sing us a song, you're the piano man - Well, we're all in the mood for a melody - And you've got us feelin' alright". This phenomenon has a perfect word used to describe it - EARWORM.    
   My personal witching hour is 2:30 to 3:30 AM CST. Precisely. If I'm going to wake up in the middle of the night ruminating it is during this one hour window. Ruminate is another perfect word by the way. It too sounds inherently evil, psychological and problematic. They don't have to be bad thoughts, just untimely and looping like that song stuck in your head. At times the thoughts are welcome - a creative solution to a problem,inspiration or good memories. And at times they are unwelcome - anxieties, conflict or bad news. In either case they are there and you can't not think about them. Much like the fact that there is no way to get this post out of my mind until I post it. Or at least sing it out loud and successfully transfer the thoughts to a unsuspecting blogosphere.
   As quickly as she woke up, I hear the sounds of slumber - deep breathing and legs twitching. Both sweet, but annoying since I am the one who is now awake. Transference occurred. I look at my clock (OK, my iPhone - clock just sounds more literary) and it is 3:21 AM. My wife sang the lyrics "I can't sleep" and they are looping in my mind.
   The brain is a funny thing. Hugely complex and clearly unexplored. Working in the background while your body is in sleep mode. I would embrace the presence of mind, the clarity of thought, if it wasn't 4:30 in the morning.

Oct 30, 2012

Flo The Barista

   What is your limit? How much are you willing to spend on a coffee drink? Vente whatevers are as high as five bucks and a organic, sustainable, shade grown, biodynamically farmed, Rainforest Alliance accredited cup-o-joe can run you about $2.50. Would you pay seven, eight or nine bucks for your favorite coffee beverage? Everyone is racing to the top, but what happened to the American standard cafe coffee served by Flo? Does the 50¢ bottomless cup of coffee exist? Maybe not, but we can keep the coffee shop alive. Flo and her Bunn coffee maker  have evolved and we are now served by baristas slinging siphon brewed luxury coffee drinks. On a core level, the coffee shop itself is alive and well  - a variety of folks belly up to the counter swilling coffee drinks getting ready for the day, taking a break or visiting with friends. Make time to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee in a coffee shop. Just sit. And chat up your barista. Along with other simple pleasures, our busy lives threaten the extinction of the coffee shop. Slow down and take time to enjoy the simple pleasures.

Oct 29, 2012

Latte Art

   I have been served a coffee drink with art on top a grand total of one time. It's not that I don't appreciate the artistry, I just don't drink lattes or any other froth topped wonder fuels. However, I did recently have a cortado complete with latte art while in Minneapolis. The place and the timing were so right I was enchanted to point of weighing out what exactly it would take to remain there. Relocating and finding a new job seemed like too much so I enjoyed the moment to the best of by abilities. The one thing on my mind in that moment was that coffee. Ahhhhhh, presence of mind.
   Seeing a cortado offered on a menu is rare and I only know the drink from brief travels in Spain. Of the two items on my agenda while in Minneapolis, one was to go to a snobby coffee joint. I wanted to understand the hype. And it was mostly hype until I had that cortado. Strong, delicious and beautiful to look at, I "got" it. Typically a latte will be roughly eight parts steamed milk to one part espresso - pretty thin. A cortado is in the same steamed milk and coffee mix family, but a one to one ratio of milk to espresso. It's a smallish drink, but enough to get you revved while looking stylish. And, if you're lucky enough to be served by a loving barista, you get latte art.
   Part of my new found love of the cortado is only loosely associated with coffee. More than anything, it is the singular focus coffee brings. Focusing and enjoying a single thing is the real pleasure, not necessarily the coffee. OK, coffee can be damn fine too.
   During my travels in Minnesota I also enjoyed what was probably the worse coffee I've ever had. Thin, decaffeinated and only warm to the point where it could be sipped with a straw. But the straw sipping octogenarian company was good. I had the privilege of joining my grandmother and her friends for three o'clock coffee in their assisted living cafeteria. I listened, laughed and my fear of my grandmother in a nursing home was eased. Slightly. Later it was reported that I was such a good sport and that I was such a hit because I talked so much. I have never, ever been described as talkative. This turns out to be as rare as coffee art on top of coffee drink and just as enjoyable.

Oct 21, 2012

Toe Pull

So genius. So simple. The face of public restrooms was forever changed by my friend Renato. I'm not much of a germaphobe, but the implanted mental picture replays every time I use the men's room in a public space. Again, I warn you. If you don't want to know, or are germaphobic, stop reading. Renato shouted in his Guatemaleness "hey man, don't touch that doorknob, man. Holy shit, now you just touched the last guy's dick, man!" Toe Pull claims that 70% of public restroom users don't wash their hands after using the bathroom. With that in mind, the last thing in the hand of 30% of users was their genitals. Dick to handle, or vajayjay to handle all day long. Introducing - TOE PULL! A revolutionary way to open the restroom hands free! So genius. So simple. Such a relief. "Eliminate 100% of handle to hand germ transfer."

Lay Lady Lay

   SPOILER ALERT: If you love "Lay Lady Lay" by Bob Dylan you may want to stop reading. Consider yourself warned - you may or may not find this destructive. Or, maybe you know. It wouldn't be the first time the world knew what I thought to be secret or sacred. Since I have a sole follower I feel like I can speak freely so I'll let it rip assuming that the public at large knows. Lady was Bob Dylan's fucking dog. Crushing.
   Curiosity is a dangerous thing, delving too deeply can shatter blissful ignorance. Peer into the depths below the surface of the golden pond and the luster may be tarnished or the choir might just stop singing. Lance Armstrong has been dethroned and yet another glittery icon is not gold. But even more surprising and more unnerving, the source of the iconic artwork for Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" album has been revealed - see video below. Go ahead, it's a great piece and not entirely destructive. In fact, it has enhanced the legend the way Heart of Darkness enhanced Apocalypse Now. This has made me think about exactly what this symbol means to myself and how it has stood the test of time. The artwork, the band, the songs and all of the associated memories are still golden to me. Unharmed and forever safe. Hold your simple pleasures close to your heart and reflect on what they mean to you. Never let them tarnish and be careful not to unravel.