Friday, January 30, 2009

Grandmother had Class!

I got word today that my grandmother died this morning. She was 101 plus 4 months. She lived a good life...better than most.

My grandmother was a classy lady. Because of her, I am who I am today...good/honest/independent. She was all of these. Most of what I am... a science geek/mountain biker/international teacher/ because of her.

I'll miss you Grandmother! You were the best!

Mimbres Man

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Stupidest Job I've Ever Had

Digging into my archives...

I've had some stupid ones. One of the worse was a construction job with an independent contractor at the Tyrone open-pit copper mine. I was a laborer and my job was to loosen stuck valves on one of the tailing dams. My tools consisted of a bucket of diesel fuel, a giant spanner, and a 20 lb sledge hammer. My “uniform” consisted of: blue jeans, T-shirt, a classic US Army field jacket (that I ruined on this stupid job), boots, gloves, and a hardhat. It was in January when daytime temps might be in the 40’s and hard blowing wind making the chill factor in the 20’s. Unpleasant conditions for a New Mexican.

I’d walk down the line, pour about a pint of diesel into the top of the valve, walk to the next valve about 20 yards and do the same thing. I’d do this to about 3 or 4 valves, then walk back to the first one, put the spanner on the big nut, and hammer the piss out of it with the 20 lb. sledge. It might take 10 or 20 hard blows to knock the valve loose. After it was turning, I’d walk to the next one and repeat the procedure. There were at least 50 valves to loosen.

I decided it sucked so much after the first day, I didn’t show up for the second day. I wanted nothing to do with that kind of work. Besides, the foreman was a jerk and the pay wasn’t worth it.

But this isn't the job that made me want to go back to college to finish a degree. It was another stupid job after this one...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More Pics

I just want to post something. Here's some pics I've taken over the past couple of years. These were taken with my Canon A530.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More Sailing

More sailing on Saturday. Nice day out on the water. The sail to El Saco was easy and calm. In the evening we had a stiff breeze, swells, and chop. Dan had the rails in the water coming back. He had to back off the main sail. He probably had the boat at its max hull speed considering the condition of the sails and rigging. I sat up on the rail on the bow and got plenty wet and cold. Kind of stupid on my part, but the cockpit was full.

My 15 year-old brother-in-law Oscar and I snorkeled some at El Saco. The water was cold. Fish I saw; a flying grenard, a snapper, and a local food fish called lebranche. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me when I saw these creatures.

We were beat when we got home about 8:00 PM.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Get Gila Proven in your own Mimbres Man T-shirt

I have Mimbres Man T-shirts available. These are the 2008 version. They have a small, world-famous Mimbres Man logo on the front (best logo in the bicycle industry!), and a larger logo on the back with the words "Mimbres Man" and "Gila Proven" on the back. If you're not Gila Proven, you need to be, or you can just be a poser. If you want one, they come in men sizes, M, L, XL. Color is charcoal as shown.

I have also screens for women's specific T-shirts, they come in S, M, L. They have only the logo up front, and nothing on the back. They are in a military olive drab color and very sexy!

These are limited runs, so let me know.
Send an e-mail to: for details.

These T-shirts are genuine...of the highest quality, printed in the Mimbres territory of New Mexico and distributed from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Debating a new bicycle

Thinking about buying a new bike, but not really sure if I need one because I really like the two mountain bikes I have. Both bikes are titanium, therefore incredibly light and fun to ride (BTW, it is still super fun to ride light bikes even when you are a Clydesdale like me). Even as old as these bikes are, they are works in progress. Currently I am trying to get the Merlin to under 20 lbs, and the Litespeed (travel bike with S & S couplers) under 23 lbs. This past fall/early winter, I bought over $2000 worth of bike parts to rebuild and upgrade the Litespeed and I even bought a new rigid carbon fork for the Merlin!

Why do I want a new bike? I am not sure...Cycling is a major focus and part of my life. People associate me with bicycles...but incredibly, the last brand new bike I bought was way back in 1992. Bicycle technology has changed big time over the past 17 years. In the last 5 years alone suspension designs have majorly improved. They are more reliable and have more travel. Frame design has swoopy lines from hydroformed aluminum and scandium, and there has been a huge shift towards carbonfiber. Upper crust CF frames weigh less than 3 lbs (1.36 kg), therefore making sub-18 lbs (sub-8.18 kg) road bikes the norm. Full suspension mountain bikes with weights less than 23 lbs (10.45 kg) are now easily attainable.

Its not just new frame technology, the big trend now in mountain biking is big wheels. I never jumped into the suspension fray, and now I'm not sure what do about the wheel size thing. Big wheels do roll faster (well they cover more ground for each revolution). I've ridden with people on them and they do go fast. They seem to climb really well too. A lot of the Great Divide riders use them, in fact I saw my first 29" wheeled mountain bike in 2005 when Matthew Lee won the Great Divide Race. Still to this date, Matthew's is the only 29er I've ridden.

Being sentimental, I really like titanium bikes as well as nice steel bikes. But for now, living by the sea, I think steel will be way more maintenance. Titanium is still, for the most part, is crazy expensive. Its a big out-lay of cash that I am not sure if I want to spend that way right now.

Then there is the real waffle-factor; what kind of bike to get? A classic touring bike, a big wheeled mountain bike, a regular wheeled mountain bike, a XC racing bike, an adventure bike, a cool cruiser mountain bike either 29" or 26" wheels? There are lots of options and choices. All I know is, when I get on my Merlin single speed and ride, I zone out and get into the flow state quickly and easily; I am suddenly places and I don't remember the section of trail I just came through. Bottom line...I love that bike! I am very loyal to it. We've been everywhere together!

Not really sure what to do, but knowing myself the way I do, I will probably get nothing in the near future and put everything on hold once again. Ugggh! I think the smartest and fiscally conservative thing to do is to rebuild my Litespeed and my Merlin with the new parts waiting in New Mexico, and see how I feel about them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Historic Day

I don't follow American politics much these days, but though I primarily teach science, I thought it important to allow my students to watch the United States of America swear in its new President, Barack Obama. I really wanted them to witness a peaceful transition of power as opposed to the violence and repression that Chavez in implementing here in Venezuela.

After some experimenting, I found that MSNBC had the most reliable streaming coverage (its my default news page anyway). I hooked my laptop up to the video beam projector and let the students see history in the making.

As an American ex-pat, I felt Obama's speech was pretty good. He said what had to be said; America needs to unify and rebuilt, stay strong and regain the world status it enjoyed in the past [before President G. W. Bush].
I got teary-eyed a few times mainly because I am proud of my country, and proud to be an American, but also I was proud of (most) of my students who seemed to take a genuine interest in the events we watched on the Internet.

I hope our new President does the right things and I hope and believe he will be good for the United States, and for the world.

Goodnight Grandmother

Christmas 2007

I got an e-mail from my mom saying that my grandmother is in her last stages of life. She might die tonight. She said her good-byes to my mom (her primary care-giver). She's been around for 101 years! And she's had a pretty good life! Better than most.
I love my grandmother...she'll be missed, but this is a blessing; both for her and my mom. My mom is tired too. She needs a rest.

I don't want to sound morbid or anything, but as of 21 January I haven't heard if she's passed or not (kind of like the old Saturday Night Live..."Gen. Francisco Franco is still dead!"...guess you have to have been of my generation to get that joke). I am okay with this...she had her good bye with me in August and like I said above, she's had a good life...better than most people.
She's been a great influence on my life..she's the biggest reason I never did drugs, and eventually went back and finished college. She has been a terrific grandmother! A woman of class and distinction. Though once she called me a heathen for not going to church! She pulled no punches.
She enjoyed her daily afternoon toddy of Wild Turkey until about 2 years ago.
She will be missed!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Monarch Crest Ride 8-8-08

Last summer I rode the Monarch Crest with my friend Steiner and his friend Chris. We shuttled up to the start at Monarch Pass, 11,300 ft (3500 m),. This classic route climbs to about 12,000 ft (3700 m) before it starts descending. Instead of just one trail, the Monarch Crest ride is actually several trails and jeep roads tied together to create this 38 mile offroad route. It was a good ride. Certainly more challenging than I expected. My Litespeed performed flawlessly.
BTW, last time I was on Monarch Pass on a bicycle was in 1981 on my way to Canada from Mexico.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Teachers that Influence Our Lives: A Tribute to Mrs. Naomi Garwood

I work in a profession where most of my colleagues are highly educated. Most of us have two maybe even three professional degrees. Some have even more. Most of us have hours beyond our graduate degrees, yet in our profession, we are almost second class citizens. Most of us are extremely caring. We are passionate about what we do. Yet a lot of people do not hold our profession in high regard. It is a profession where every layman has an opinion and considers themselves an expert and thinks that they have a better way or a better solution.

Teaching is a rewarding career, but it can be extremely frustrating, political, very stressful, and difficult. Why would anyone want to do it? Some say, "June, July, and August". Sure the breaks are nice, but also necessary. I think anyone would go insane without them, and in reality, a lot of teachers will have second jobs during the summer and/or will be taking summer classes, working on their masters degrees or gaining more post graduate hours, in order to claw their way up the pay scale.
Teachers are important! They shape our lives. They mold our minds. They make us think. They influence who we are to become.
In my days as a grade school student, I can think of my favorite teachers, teachers who had a real positive impact on my life; unknowingly putting my life on a path I didn't know I was on until much later. Looking back, the teacher who influenced me the most, the person who gave me a curiosity about science and of a world of travel and adventure, was my 7th grade science teacher; Naomi Garwood.

It is hard to remember a lot of details about 7th grade, when a person is 12 years old , especially when they are now was a long time ago. But I remember Mrs. Garwood as a kind lady who loved teaching science. She seemed old at the time, but looking back at it now, she was about the same age as I am now.

Mrs. Garwood was the first person I knew that had lived outside the United States. She and her husband had worked as international teachers in Thailand and in Bolivia. I remember her talking about Bolivia in class. I remember being in awe by these stories. I believe she showed us slides of the giant Nazca drawings in the desert of Peru. I can vaguely remember her showing us slides of all sort of interesting things she saw and did in South America. It gave me a real curiosity of the place.
Today I was yakking to my high school students about what they need to do in class today, to be prepared for university in the future. Somehow I got off on the tangent of the convoluted tale about my days in college and of how I became a teacher and the people who influenced me the most in choosing my profession; my grandfather, an educator/administrator for 60 years! And Mrs. Garwood...a teacher who loved science, loved her students, and loved adventure!
My first few years as a teacher, something was gnawing at me. I was never satisfied where I was. I was always wanting a different experience. I loved/love the Navajo Indian Reservation. It was/is as about as close to a South America-like experience as one could get without leaving the comfort of the USA.

After a few years on the Rez, I moved back to my hometown and tried public school and found it sucked! The students I had were enjoyable and good for the most part. There were some messed up students coming from messed up situations, but I could deal with that. I could accept that...It was my job to try to make things better for the student. What was really horrible about public schools were the administrators! EGAD! I could not take it after a while. I quit and tried my hand at entrepreneurship. When that failed, it was back to school teaching eventually, and I decided to go back where I was the happiest...the REZ!

My second gig on the Rez was great, but still there was this thing gnawing at me. I wanted more. I wanted to go to South America like Mrs. Garwood. So one day, I started the process, took the leap and went to a job fair and landed in Venezuela (boy howdy!). I met the woman of my dreams here and have had a great number of adventures...except I have not seen the Nazca drawings in Peru...yet.
I have kept Mrs. Garwood in my mind my whole career. I always wanted to be a teacher like her; caring, interesting, competent.
After my students left today, I had a free period, so I did an Internet search on Mrs. Garwood. I found her obituary in the Albuquerque Journal. She died on September 3, 2008! I was shocked! Mainly because she had died so recently, especially when I was in Albuquerque in August. I cried right there at my desk. I felt so sad, and felt a deep sense of loss. I had no idea she lived in Albuquerque. If I would have known, I believe I would have tried to contact her. It would have been nice to visit with her and tell her of her influence on me and my career and life choice.

Thank you Mrs. Garwood!
You'll be missed.

PS: I still have that small Bolivian wool rug/wall hanging you gave me at the end of the school year.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Went sailing today with Daniel and Marino. Daniel bought the sail boat a couple of years ago, but it was in pretty bad shape and got even worse because of neglect. Finally during the Christmas break, Daniel and Marino recovered the boat from where it was tied up, and took it to Marino's place where he had his crew clean it. Boy howdy! What a difference! The boat still needs quite a bit of work, but is now sail-able.

We sailed a broad reach to Playa El Saco (motored the last mile since it was a direct headwind into the beach), had a killer lunch, then did some snorkeling (murky water due to the time of the year...did see some fish though).

Things were working pretty good until a strong wind ripped the mainsail on the way home, then it was motoring. The sail was dry rotted from sitting in the sun for such a long time and would have needed replacing anyway. Now Daniel and Marino will need to find a new sail.

Overall was a fun day on the water.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Tomorrow is the 12th anniversary of my dad's death. He died alone at home. I am the one who found him about 12 hours later. That was really sucky! One of the worse days in my life. One of those days where everything changed for me.

I went into a weird funk, and it took me nearly the year to get over it. This funk included hiding from creditors in L.A., shutting down my business after filling out my largest, final, glorious purchase order...from R.E.I. no less! Escaping L.A....circumnavigating the shiprock in NW New Mexico by mountain bike (my Merlin...maybe one of the few people to do such as journey around that volcanic neck) and seeing an eagle (I took it as a positive sign that I needed to return to the Rez) in a 1972 VW Westfalia van because I had no money for back on my feet financially by landing a new job on the Navajo Indian Reservation...having the worst Thanksgiving ever (completely left town without a word, dead dad, brother out of town and sisters live out of state)...Christmas rolls around and I finally say fuck it about family time and commitment, I am going to do something that makes me happy.

I drove 6 hours down from the Rez, made a stealth raid on my brother's house where I had some of my touring and camping gear stored, made a sandwich, got out the door before anybody got home, and headed to Big Bend National Park in Texas.
I finally started feeling better about everything after 7 days alone in the chihuahuan desert. My funk began to disappear. I toured on my Merlin from Christmas day (1997) till New Years Day (1998). An arctic cold front swept across the west and reached far down into Big Bend territory. It was really cold!

Each day was an adventure. First night, I was laying on the ground in my bivy sack/sleeping bag (no tent...too heavy). I was trying to read when I heard a twig snap...I lift the hood of the bivy sack, shine my maglite outside and I was face to face, about a meter away, to a little grey fox. He kind of blinked his eyes from the light turned and pranced back into the desert.

On day 3, after a very cold day on the bike, I left my stuff at my campsite, I rode my unloaded bicycle from Ernst's Tinaja campground to the hot springs (about 10 miles one-way). When I got there, I was the only person there. I stripped off my clothes and jumped in the hot water naked. It was blowing snow flurries! It was great! I was cozy warm in the water, the Rio Grande flowing just a couple of yards away, Mexico just on the other side. It had a real romantic/rustic/adventure feel about it. I had the place to myself like that for about 1 1/2 hours, then some guy came...probably from Alpine, and he ruined the experience for me. Of course he wanted to talk. After a few minutes, I decided I better get going, so I got out, dried off quickly, got dressed in my smelly bicycle clothes, and took off. No need to warm up the muscles because of the soak in the hot spring. I got back to my camp just before the sunset. It was cold! I crawled into my sleeping bag and bivy sack, cooked some ramen noodles while laying down in my bag. Ate, then hunkered down from about 6:00 PM till 8:00 AM. It was too cold to do anything else.

The desert was kind to me...on day 4, I was riding down the River Road when a couple from Austin in Toyota 4-Runner stopped to talk to me. They gave me a smoked salmon that they had got for Christmas. That was great! That evening I camped with a couple from Albuquerque where we shared the salmon, they made spaghetti and had a bottle of wine.

Eventually I crossed the river (paid $1.00 for an old man to paddle me across in his boat) rode into Mexico for a couple of days where I eventually met a nice family. I stayed in touch with that family until I moved overseas. I still think of them from time to time, but I doubt I'll ever see them again due to 9-11.

My point of my rambling story is, this is how I finally got over my dad's death. It was all very personal and internal. Going to places like Big Bend is way better than going to any church or cathedral. I am not a churchy or religous person, but I enjoy beautiful places and feel a real connection to certain places. Shiprock, the Rez, and Big Bend are places I love and feel a connection to.

Bridgestone RB-2

Bridgestone RB-2

This is my 1992 Bridgestone RB-2. I bought it new, out of the fact it was the last new brand new bike I have bought.

Though somewhat obsolete by today's standard; 23 lbs, 7-speed, downtube shifters, still rides like a dream...silky smooth.

This bike is in storage at my mom's. Sometimes I wish I had it with me, but I like keeping it in New Mexico where it won't rust, and where it enjoys wide-open roads from time to time (when I am in the USA).

I am planning a Tran-America tour in 2010 and this bike is a candidate bike for the trip. Unless I get a new bike, it is down to using the Univega Gran Turismo which has racks, old school 27" wheels, and 5-speed, my Litespeed Toccoa mountain bike which has plenty of gearing and S & S couplers, or this bike. If I use the Toccoa or this bike, I'll pull a BOB trailer instead of using panniers.

Update: This post is getting lots of hits. Here's a link to an earlier bit I wrote about this bicycle.

Update (17/09/09): This entry gets a lot of hits...
When in New Mexico this past summer, I took the RB-2 out for a ride. Funny only about 5 years ago people turned their noses up at this bike, but now all I got were comments like, "Wow! Great bike!" or "Cool! Where'd you get that bike?" or "Sweet!" It was like driving a classic Mustang. I knew when I bought the bike back in 1991 or so, it was a cool bike. Now with all the cookie cutter, look-alike aluminum or carbonfiber bicycles, this one stands out. Still an excellent bicycle. Still rides like a dream, and it still makes me happy when I ride it.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Found this little mantis today. It was only about 3 cm long. Very cool.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

First post of 2009

Been busy, also no Internet signal, and not having very much interesting to say. My painting project is done for now. Here's a pic of the contrasting couch and the orange-y wall. The couch is actually a tone or two brighter (mustard). Camera didn't quite capture it. Anyway, I am done for now...vacation is over, start back to work tomorrow.