Saturday, April 25, 2015

I love German engineering

The car I mentioned in my previous post [I'm still getting used to the sound of a flat me, it sounds much more awesome when you stomp on it]:

confessing to the ether

Been in a funky state of is a mix of good things, bad things, and awkward things, and I think my brain is tired from keeping it all sorted out.

Good things: My car finally came in after nearly seven months of waiting [Porsche Targa 4S, with the Carrera Powerkit upgrade, of course]. Will and I are still pretty much retired, still loving spending time with each other, still appreciating life and what it took to get here. The landscaping is settling in nicely [yay for drought tolerant planting], animals [dog, cat, and snakes] are doing well. Been doing cool things with some very cool people [drives with good friends! lunches and dinners with like-minded people! indoor skydiving! car enthusiast gatherings! cheering on friends at motorcycle races! track days!].

Bad things: One of my closest friends continues to deal with the aftermath of a cancer diagnosis...I'm lucky to have them in my life, and it's so damned frustrating to see a good person have to go through this crap, and I feel helpless. In my own life, I keep running into the repercussions of my twice-broken and many-times-sprained ankle...some days it just locks up and won't cooperate, other days it radiates annoying sonar pings of pain from the sight of the most recent bone damage, and sometimes the muscles/tendons are just weak enough to keep me from being very graceful [cue zombie lurching]. A nasty bout of food poisoning that took both of us out for a couple of days, though poor Will got hit much, much harder by it.

Awkward things: This 3-4 month period is always odd for me [at least from 2009 and on]. A few close friends have fallen off the radar as their lives evolved...a natural progression of life, but it still aches. I've been missing my parents a lot lately...Mom would love the car and the back patio, Dad would love the house and the animals in the area, both would love Will and what we've built together. A thousand random things that still cause those pangs of nostalgia and loss, and for some reason they've been compounding lately.

Another awkward thing: A friend of ours is going through a divorce. Never pretty, rarely easy, and this one has some familiar circumstances: they'd been together for a decade or more, the other strikes up a close friendship with someone at work, ends the marriage, says it was a long time coming and they just need to be alone, then a suspiciously short time later is in a relationship with the work person. My friend is dealing with a lot of the same stuff I did, but with added complications: a child and life in the era of social media. I still remember that awful night when I found some pictures online that I wish I hadn't, confirmed suspicions I didn't want confirmed, and learned that someone else was using the same pet name for him that I multiply that by Facebook and the resulting web of friends and acquaintances and it gets really, really painful for my friend. The weird Venn diagram of "people who knew about the affair" and "people who didn't" and "people who enabled it and covered for them" and "people who aren't okay with it" and "friends caught in the middle" gets even worse when social media is involved. They are amazingly resilient and will come through this an even more brilliantly independent and self-aware person, but damn, it sucks to see them going through it. And it sucks to see the same stories repeating over and over and over...

So yeah. Good stuff with some weird stuff thrown in, which then makes you feel guilty for being down when there is so much good stuff in your life. Luckily I've got myself surrounded by folks who understand that you can be down even when things are good...that makes it easier to feel it, acknowledge it, and then move forward. I can honestly say that this period in my life is one of the best for the people I have around me...good, strong friends who have traits and abilities that I admire and I aim for in myself. So now, in large part because of lessons learned from my past, I can appreciate what I have in the present, even when I'm feeling out of sorts. It's not so much a "quit your whining" situation as it is a "whine as much as it takes to get it out, then enjoy what's out there".

[And sometimes "enjoying what's out there" can be as simple as a mid-afternoon nap on a grey and drizzly day. :^) ]

Monday, March 23, 2015's true.

So Darwin just started growling and barking at nothing...we tell him to hush, send him to bed.

A little bit later: sharp boom, then a shock that rolled from one side of the house to the other.

Good dog. We're sorry.

[Earthquake hit a little bit ago. Small one, currently estimated to be only M2.94, but it was centered only a mile or two from us...neat.]

Monday, September 08, 2014

coastal cruising

An awesome day yesterday. We had a relaxing morning just chilling together, then we geared up and took the new bike out. We headed south down 17 to Santa Cruz, up Highway 1 along the coast, lunch break in Half Moon Bay at one of my favorite places, then back along 92 to 35/Skyline to 9 [the classic route]. Ended up putting about 120 miles on the bike, and it was a blast...while it's definitely the biggest sub-four-wheeled vehicle we own, it is surprisingly maneuverable and brilliantly made for cruising, with serious power to vroom and pass and hit the twisties [which is quite interesting on a huge bike like that]. Though for folks who've seen the CHP do amazing things on their R 1600 motorcycles [the less-commuter, more-business version of ours], that shouldn't come as too much of a surprise... :^)

We've even managed to fit Will's car and all five bikes into the garage in a way that requires minimal shuffling to get something out when we want to, at least until January, when everything is thrown into chaos again and the game of Tetris to fit things in becomes more challenging. Crossing fingers the second garage gets finished in good time...

Saturday, September 06, 2014

additions to the stable

Been a busy few weeks for the two-wheeled part of the Lawton stable...traded in one for another and added two new rides.

The trade-in just happened today: we traded in the Ducati Diavel Strada for a BMW K 1600 GTL Exclusive edition [basically a package edition with bells and whistles included]. It's a beastly big thing, but is awesome for two-up riding [as we found out today, and will confirm tomorrow :^) ].

The new rides are "300cc Italian bikes"...aka Vespa scooters. Breaking my ankle again caused some permanent soft tissue damage in my left ankle, so I'm kind of screwed when it comes to shifting or trusting my ankle to support me and a bike at stops [it gives out randomly, sadly]. That left me with the option of retrofitting a paddle shifter to an existing bike, going with a CVT/automatic [like the Honda CTX700], or getting a scooter. I'd ruled out scooters entirely; I need to be able to hit highway speeds, which pushed me towards the 500-600cc range [BMW, Bergstrom, etc.]...and those were too wide for me to flatfoot comfortably with my bad ankle.

Then a friend told us that Vespa had a 300cc sport edition with an 80mph top speed, so we checked it out...and ended up with two of them, one for me, one for Will [who had been looking for a smaller-engined bike to go with his others, something that he could ride all the way to the edge and just go nuts with].

Vespa GTS 300 Super Sport SE
[vroom vroom]
Things are getting a bit cramped in the garage right now, so "Project: Second Garage" is in the works, with "Project: Remove Cabinets in Current Garage to Make Room Until Then" ["Project: Make Room" for short] scheduled to happen some time in the next few weeks. We've got one more trade-in/trade-up coming [which is why the new garage is needed, so everything that should be sheltered can be], but that won't be happening until January-ish...we don't think the new garage space will be ready in time, but absolute worst case, a couple of the motorcycles can take a place of honor in the game room in the house until it is. :^)

Now I just need the weather to cool down a bit so I can get out there and get some miles on the scooter...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

our first commissioned painting

Back in June, Will and I headed to Vegas to have dinner with Scott and Ken of The Crystal Method and some of their close friends and family, before we all headed over for their show at Drai's, celebrating their 25th year of doing what they do. It was an awesome time, with Ken's mother, father, wife, and brother joining the group at dinner, along with their manager and some close friends and collaborators.

During the various conversations of the night, we found out that Ken's brother Frank was an artist who had done some paintings for the band and their album inserts in the past. We kept in touch with Frank after the event, and I talked with him about helping us commemorate that awesome evening...ideas were traded back and forth, inspiration struck, and then it was time to wait and see the finished product.

It arrived today:

Original oil painting, 24"x48", Artist: Frank J. Jordan, 2014

Around the table you'll see me and Will at the front right and left, Ken and Scott [next to me], Ken's wife Janine, their manager Richard, Ken and Frank's mother and father, their management rep, some of their close friends and collaborators, and the artist himself playing the waiter.

Serious thanks to Frank J. Jordan for the patience, talent, and time he put into this...I can't think of a cooler way to commemorate an amazing night.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

that wasn't the cat shaking the bed

Fairly good size quake [6.0] about half an hour ago...time to watch the Facebook feeds blowing up. :^)

[Will's going to be bummed that he slept through it. <grin> ]

Friday, August 15, 2014

dragons and dwarves and zombies and soldiers

Hanging out with my people in Las Vegas for SOE Live...first time here, having a lot of fun. It's very cool to meet people in person and put a face to the screen name, and the panels and gatherings are chock full of good info and upcoming stuff to get excited about.

Ooo, and freebies. Geeks love their freebies.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

a good way to spend a day

Spent the afternoon at a Porsche event, driving a 911 Turbo S and the upcoming 918 Spyder on Sonoma raceway.

The camera angle doesn't do it justice. That engine bay behind the seats is sex on wheels.
Fun. So much fun.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

that was fun...

Will and I just had an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience: we had dinner with The Crystal Method, then got to hang out with them behind the scenes at one of their gigs. And party with them. Lots of dancing and partying.

It ended up being a last-minute thing, with about a week's notice...we were on the list to hang with them for "a Vegas show", but no idea when it would be [we were crossing our fingers it didn't conflict with any of the copious travel Will has been doing for work]. We get a call last week, saying there was a spur-of-the-moment show happening in Las Vegas, could we make it? We had about a day to decide/arrange things, and we were already burning our "dog/house-sitting" credit with a friend for a trip coming up in a few months, so it was looking like we were going to have to say "thanks, guys, but we'll pass on this one and catch up with you a bit later on". Then Will saw an article online about this show being their 20th anniversary celebration in their home town of Vegas.

Thus began the scrambling.

Long story short: we found someone to watch the dog and the house, and we headed to Vegas Tuesday afternoon. The flight was a good one, one that could have been so, so much worse...we were seated next to a woman holding her five-month old baby. But she was awesome company; we shared stories about traveling and the Louvre and Paris and Normandy, and her little one was amazingly well-behaved. The two times he started to fuss [take-off and landing, when the change in air pressure bothered him], she soothed him quickly and he quieted down almost right away.

We lucked out. Big time.

Got into McCarran with no troubles, and grabbed a cab to the hotel while exchanging texts and emails with Sadaf, the seriously awesome woman who was wrangling everything [crazy respect for her...what she does a tough job, and she rocked it]. We were staying at The Cosmopolitan...I'd not stayed there before, so I had no idea what to expect. Interestingly eclectic decor, like they were trying for a New York "urban couture" fashiony kind of the wallpaper in our bathroom:


The band were staying in the same hotel, so dinner location was easy: downstairs. We headed to The Henry and met with Sadaf, then hung out for a bit waiting for the rest of the gang arrived. We had no idea what to expect, but it turned out to be even better than we could imagine...the group ended up being Scott and Ken [aka The Crystal Method] and Sadaf, a few friends of the guys, and Ken's wife, mom, dad, and brother. A much more intimate and personal gathering than we expected, and we were lucky to be a part of it.

It was a fun, chatty, interesting, and relaxed dinner; everyone was just so frickin' cool and genuine and down-to-earth. Ken was a brilliant host, making sure to introduce us to everyone, telling them we were "with the band". Lots of good conversation with Ken's brother Frank [a musician and artist] and his parents, interesting talks with Scott about Fantasy Island plots and how the EDM scene has grown and changed over the years. It was truly mind-boggling to be in the cab from the airport and see billboards for Tiesto and Avicii and Benny music is now not only a club staple, but DJs and musicians are *headlining* huge shows. It's an awesome thing to see.

We had to actually reign in the dinner fun to head to the club, since it was getting late...we peeled off in twos and threes and headed over. A surprisingly short walk for Vegas [where distances are really deceiving], and ten minutes later we were in the guest line, watching a poor guy stressing about not being able to find our names [seriously, he seemed like he was going to get in trouble for the confusion...I guess there were some troubles with the list that night, so some high-power people were getting really upset].

It all cleared up with minimal fuss, so up we headed to the rooftop to Drai's Beach Club. Palm trees, a swimming pool, and waitresses in skimpy bikinis and sailor's caps [the guys working there were in less revealing attire, a serious double standard, I think]. Can I just say how cool it is to be the ones going behind the ropes?? I could definitely get spoiled by it.

The aforementioned bikini and sailor's cap.

A fuzzy panorama of the view from the Beach Club.

And so the party began. Many bottles of vodka, tonic, cranberry, and tequila were consumed, and copious limes were sacrificed to the tequila gods. The opening acts were excellent, there was much dancing [and drinking] and mingling [and drinking] and a surprising number of good conversations were had [and drinking]. A very large number of very genuine and fun felt like a big family, and they were all going out of their way to make sure we were a part of everything. Phone numbers exchanged, email addresses traded, hugs given, and much dancing and bouncing and swaying and complete enjoyment of the music.

Our hotel, The Cosmopolitan, "just down the street" from the club.

Caesar's Palace across the street [that's Ken in the lower right and Janine in the spangly headband].

The Bellagio. We had some amazing views of the water show from up here. Bonus shot of Will trying to avoid being photographed. :^)

I'm sure it goes without saying that Ken and Scott's set was AWESOME. A mixed set of some of their own stuff and some DJing, some old, some new. It is always cool to watch a DJ do their thing, and these guys worked hard while making it look easy. High, high energy from them and from the crowd, and they were crazy interactive with could tell they love what they do.

Scott on the left, Ken on the right.

It was hard to get a good picture of this...that's Janine on a raised platform on the side of the stage, dancing and absolutely owning a hula hoop. She rocked it.

Really good crowd, very high energy.

Another DJ kept it going after Scott and Ken were done with their set, and the party lasted until about 4:30am...we were going to go out with Frank and some friends after, but it meant he would have had to drive us to and from our hotel and we didn't want to cause complications, so we begged for a raincheck and made our way back to the hotel. Before everything ended, Janine grabbed us for a photo with Scott and Ken:

I love how it looks like Scott is photobombing his own picture.

And so we all said our goodbyes, with us thanking them many many times for such a terrific time...then Will and I made our way back to the hotel, to try to grab a few hours of sleep before we headed back to the airport and back home. It was an experience that we will remember for a very long time...and one not without its aftermath:

Tequila is a cruel and wicked master.

An absolutely awesome time that we would do again in a heartbeat.