Friday, August 31, 2012

We're Screwed

I had never been in a Coach store until today.  Even after today, I've only been to an outlet Coach store. Drove all the way to the desert outlet in Cabazon to look for a few things and the experience of being in an outlet Coach store was a 15-min realization that civilization is pretty screwed.  It was as if a Boeing 747 landed on Interstate 10 and unloaded its passengers from some Asian country just in front of this desert outlet.  Women in their 30s buying ten $159-handbags, husbands six $120 purses, middle-aged women opening store drawers looking for a particular color purse.  What fucking recession? At least 100 people were shopping in an average sized store front.  A checkout line for people purchasing 3 items or less and a separate one if you're buying 25 handbags.  It was also a rare sight to see people buying $1200 worth of leather good and paying cold, hard cash!  Plastic accepted, of course but they brought a planeload of cash across the Pacific.  Thing I couldn't figure out is whether these people are reselling them or giving them away to family and friends.  I've walked by other Coach stores before and didn't really see more than a dozen or so clients in there but I suppose an outlet is a special place -- even if it's in the middle of the California desert.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Other Side

Last night, I took the kids for a bike ride on the Pacific Electric Bike Trail but this time going east from Rancho Cucamonga.  We did the westward ride Sunday afternoon from East Ave to Arrow Route in Upland so they wanted to do a "different" route the following day.  I previously had not gone more than a couple miles on the bike trail into Fontana but this time we rode about 7 miles to Juniper Ave.  The demographic on the bike trail east and west of the I-15 is very distinct but that doesn't bother me at all.  What bothers me is the difference in the way the two cities, Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana seem to treat the bike trail.  In Rancho, it seems to be a place where families walk, jog, ride and the upkeep of the trail is excellent.  On the Fontana side, the first obvious difference is the apparent lack of planning where the street crossings are basically done at your own risk.  In addition, I was really worried about getting a flat from the numerous broken bottles and glass that littered the trail in several places.  Thankfully, our short ride concluded with no incident and as we headed home to our car, it was already dark and I was really surprised by the number of people who ride at night -- with lights on, of course.  I know it's still summer but I do wonder how many of them will be around as the weather gets colder.  It's probably safe to say the kids and I will be riding west more than we'll be riding east.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Old Telo Time Trial Certificates

I used for ride with the Southbay Wheelmen when I lived in West LA.  The Telo Time Trial course is in an industrial park in Torrance and the club hosted these monthly time trials all year just so everyone could gauge their progress throughout the racing year.  Well, given the oh-so-slight improvement from 22.47 mph (March 1994) to 22.62 mph (August 1994), it's safe to say I sucked at individual time trials.  But I kept on riding because cycling is life even after a 13-year hiatus from 1998 though 2011.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Premium Rush (2012)

Over 25 years ago, a relatively small budget movie Quicksilver starring Kevin Bacon and Larry Fishburne (yes, before he became friggin' Lawrence) brought the world of bike messengers to popular culture.  So I dug out my VHS copy a few weeks ago as soon as I saw the previews for Premium Rush, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (above).  The plot for this one was fairly simple, bike messenger carries unknown package to a destination, bad guy attempts to intercept package.  The goal is simple -- get the package to destination  in time.  The cycling sequences were excellent but the overall message that the movie projects about cycling to the subconscious of the general public is unfavorable.  Cyclists break all rules of the road as shown through scene after scene of bike messengers navigating through traffic dealing with taxis, pedestrians and other cyclists.  I struggle with that as I teach my kids that the responsibility of riding a bike and following the rules of the road like cars do.  Kids and I saw the 930am showing today so we didn't have to pay full price for something that definitely belongs in the Netflix or Redbox category.

Friday, August 24, 2012

(Not) A Fair Fight

I've always been on the fence when it comes to Lance Armstrong.  Until yesterday.  Let me explain.  When he won his 5th Tour de France title, I wasn't sure I would put him up there with 2 other cyclists I admire -- the great Eddy Merckx and the ferocious Bernard Hinault, who each had won 5 tour titles during their careers.  When he won #6 and #7, I was resigned to the fact that ok, he's at least as good at Merckx and Hinault.  The total number of tour wins is really relative to the competition of the era.  For example, Hinault had to fight with Greg Lemond and Laurent Fignon, both great cyclists, for a couple tour wins during his reign.  So yes, Lance, in my mind joined Merckx and Hinault.  Whether he used performance enhancing drugs is a different issue.  Never tested positive on hundreds of tests during his career so at the very least, I consider every one of Lance's wins legitimate.  I've always suspected his use of EPO -- but I thought every other pro cyclist of his generation did too so it was a wash.  Nonetheless, he was tested and passed.  Case closed.  Then comes the US Anti Doping Agency in 2012.  Why they are investigating him seven years after his last tour, who the hell knows.  Then yesterday, Lance basically said he will stop fighting the USADA.  No mas.  From all accounts I've read, this is not a fair fight.  Two other news items this week made me thinks this world is pretty rampant with people who abuse the powers they're given and consequently, the people they preside over never get a fair fight. The skateboarder in Venice who got beat up by four LAPD officers for allegedly resisting arrest for skateboarding in the wrong direction.  The high school principal in Oklahoma who refused to give the valedictorian her diploma because she uttered the word "hell" in her speech.  Armstrong has never backed away from a fair fight and he thought this USADA process was not fair.  Hence his decision.  Hence, my decision.  From this point forward, I am rooting for Lance.  I'm rooting for every victim out there who had suffered unnecessarily because of this social epidemic called abuse of power.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New Hours (2012)

As we approach the 3rd week of the new school year, I can't help but think how my posts have slowed down considerably.  Sam's in high school at Los Osos and JJ's settling into 7th grade.  New teachers, new books, new friends, new hours.  The routines we had since summer started on the last week of May had changed considerably.  No more late nights, we haven't hiked since school started.  So on our way home from dinner tonight, I had to take this photo near the intersection of Baseline Road and Day Creek Blvd.  The sign is for some city public works facility but I like what it represents at this time of the year.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tangoes Type Set

Tangoes is a really good game to exercise ability to visualize the inner composition of objects and shapes.  It's a game where the playing field is somewhat level between adults and youth and is strictly based on the ability to interpret the abstract.  But I get bored with the game aspect and decided yesterday to come up with an alphabet set using the game tiles.  The guidelines I used in creating this set are simple.  Each letter must have some resemblance of the actual character, stay within a 2:3 base-to-height ratio and more importantly, there is no right or wrong answer.  My rules, my interpretation, my alphabet.  With the kids starting school last week, I figure it's time to start working on some of my art again.  Historically, for me at least, the end of summer means starting to get back into all these art projects I've had but didn't have much time to work on.  After all, summer is about enjoying the outdoors and outside of photography, most art happens indoors.  In case the set is not obvious, here's the sequence below.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Contrasting Exhibitions at PMCA

What looks like a Romulan mining spaceship crossing a wormhole boundary is actually a piece of artwork by Layer (an architectural firm owned by Lisa Little and Emily White) on display at the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA).  This work (above) occupies the museum lobby and is pointed toward the San Gabriel mountains are it protrudes out facing north.  The work is obviously digital in origin and while it may have been executed by humans and assembled by human hands, it is machine-made.  Currently showing at PMCA is a comprehensive display of Edgar Payne's plen air oil paintings (below) from the early part of the previous century.  The galleries exhibited several themes to Payne's works -- the Sierra Nevadas, the Alps, the Southwest and ships.  I cannot help but contrast the works by Layer against those of Payne, separated by about a century in time.  Intuitively, I would be excited with the more modern work but Payne's Sierra Nevada mountain and Southwest painting were something to behold.  Layer's drawings, computer generated and all, may have some interesting algorithms behind them but somehow felt lifeless.  I almost felt the same emotion looking at Layer's works that I experience when I look at a visually and mathematically interesting graphic of a fractal.  While they may represent our best guess at how nature can be described via math and algorithms, I don't feel artistic emotion towards either fractals or Layer's works.  Art is about the human experience, right?  I may also have been biased by two of Payne's subject because I felt I had been there in the landscapes that he saw and painted.  The question remains.  How do you make digital art more "human"?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Just When I Thought...

...that is was going to be a boring election cycle, Chick-Fil-A president opened his trap in opposition to gay marriage.  Nothing like a catalyst for progressives to get off their asses and work this election to keep social conservatives and the religious right out of our bedroom and our personal lives.