Yeninko of the Umlaut

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Well Crap, I Guess I'm Going to Norway.

In the motorcyle forum on Craiglist, some dude posted pictures of his road trip through Norway. The text is in Norwegian, but the pictures speak for themselves.

Monday, June 27, 2005

How to Throw a No-Hitter on Acid

He went to sleep in the early morning, woke up sometime after noon and immediately took a dose of Purple Haze acid. A bit later, how long exactly he can't recall, he came across Mitzi flipping through a newspaper. She scanned for a moment, then noticed something.

"Dock," she said. "You're supposed to pitch today."

Ellis focused his mind. No. Friday. He wasn't pitching until Friday. He was sure.

"Baby," she replied. "It is Friday. You slept through Thursday."

And so it begins.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sunny and 76 Degrees

David Lynch of Dune and Twin Peaks Fame provides the weather report for Los Angeles. Daily.

Hey David, what's with the do?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Iceland, Ho!

My roommate (housemate? Apartment-mate?) is in Iceland at this moment and she put up a blog of her travels around the little country. There are some incredible pictures.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Look At The Time!

Combining brevity and time, I give you a link to the Human Clock.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Updates Everybody!

A few updates:
  • To spare you all that really don’t want to read about my new project bike, I’m going to start a new moto blog, Yen’s Bikes. There is a link to left at the bottom. Strictly about my motorcycles, all philosophical mutterings that include motorcycles and life will continue to be found here.
  • I have had a bunch of posts in various stages of disrepair and I am posting them all now. That should be a total of seven posts that I’ve managed to spell check and clean up. Sorry to all of you who waited on baited breath for my next post.
  • After reading an article on blogging I will refrain from ever saying 'It's on my blog' when asked a question. To anyone I've ever said that to,a thousand apologies for that inane bit of tripe.

Also, I Don't Suck Cock.

I have very little in way of dignity or pride. I find that both get in the way of honest, or certainly comic, conversation. I have always been willing to make a clown of myself as many photographs and testimonials document. However, I have always had a line in the sand. Something things I would not do, things that went to far. As I’ve gotten older there have been less and less things on the wrong side of that line. At the moment the only two things I can think of are wearing spandex biker shorts and wearing a Speedo.

And now I need to get a Speedo. As per a previous post I need to become and adapt swimmer. Having found a swimming pool a block from my apartment (thank Alex) and after speaking with Nathan about swimming classes I must now cross the Rubicon (a body of water!)as it were.

I’ve though long and hard about this and I’ve decided that wearing swimming trunks to do laps in is going to look at least, if not more, ridiculous than wearing a Speedo. With the Speedo I might achieve a slight measure of anonymity.

But seriously, there is no way I’m going to wear those gay ass Spandex biker shorts, that is just to far.

The Remora and The Shark

There exist an interesting relationship between the Remora and the Shark. Remoras are commonly found attached to Sharks, using them as transport and protection and also obtaining food from fragments dropped by them. The relationship between Remoras and the Shark host is one of commensalism, the Shark they attach to for transport gains nothing from the relationship, but it also loses little aside from some extra drag while swimming.

This is like the relationship between Semi Trucks (A.K.A tractor trailers, big rigs, or 18 wheelers) and motorcycles. You may imagine, just as the young skeptical Remora might, that latching on to something so much larger and powerful would be dangerous, but quite the opposite it true.

First Semi’s provide shelter from buffeting winds. Drafting behind a Semi truck reduces wind resistance to nearly zero. Additionally, if one is to find oneself on the Bay Bridge with wind gusting across it, simply sidling up to the side of a Semi greatly reduces the lateral pressure.

Much more importantly is the protective value of the Semi. Car drivers have a healthy respect for a Semi, a respect not often shared with motorcycles. After all, bumping a motorcycle likely isn’t going to do the car driver much harm, while any sort of interaction with a Semi (the cause of 50% of car fatalities) is. As a result there generally is a bit of space in every direction around a Semi, a safe zone as it were, a zone not unlike one we might expect to see around a Shark.

Lastly, Semi drivers are less likely to make sudden moves while driving. For example, a car driver may not think to check if a motorcycle has appeared on his right before turning, but generally speaking Semi drivers use their indicators and must wait till space is available to switch lanes, giving the nimble motorcycle rider plenty of time to react.

And this is why the relationship between Remoras and Sharks is like that of Semi’s and motorcycles.

The End.

I Panicked

When I was eight or nine years old I went to a Baptist church camp outside of LA for ten days. For the most part the entire thing was awful. Church thrice a day and rules to make the mind numb. There was a pool but it was so small that the entire camp couldn’t all go at once. In fact it was so small that each cabin got only one day that they were allowed in the pool during the whole time there. The day my cabin was allowed to go I found myself being tortured but a nice Christian boy. Despite my size now, I was never a tall child. I just kept growing after everyone stopped. This kid was older and larger than me and decided it would be fun to drown me, which he proceeded to do with gusto. Now you might imagine that if you were in a pool dunking someone repeatedly that you’d stop when the lifeguard walked by and you’d probably be right, but then, you’d be an amateur. This kid would dunk me under the water, wrap his legs around my neck and hold me down until the lifeguard would pass out of site. I have no idea how long this lasted, but needless to say it felt like and eternity in the Baptist pool. When I finally managed to bore him he let me go at which point, exhausted I sank like a rock. One of the other kids helped drag me to the edge of the pool where I proceed to cough and heave up water as I hung on the edge of the pool. The life guard finally managed to come around and notice me and said, “Get off the ledge, you can’t hang on to the ledge like that.”

Because it is convenient, I blame that incident for my poor swimming skills and my general fear of large bodies of water, or at least large bodies of water where I can’t touch bottom. The story of my brother being dragged out to sea by a riptide and finally coming ashore two miles down the beach as well as the movie Jaws (“Are there sharks it the bath tub mom?”) all combined to keep me scared and, as a result, make me a terrible swimmer.

And that is why surfing has been, until recently, such a huge success for me. I finally felt safe in the water. The wetsuits buoyancy, the sense of camaraderie, the presence of like minded individuals of all levels together and mostly my enthusiasm for what I denied myself for so long came together to make me feel safe in the water. One thing I did not realize however was how much reliance I had put in being attached to the board itself.

Surfing, for the beginner, or at least this beginner, is a lot of work. There is a lot of paddling going on. Getting past the break water is by far the most significant hurdle. While upper body strength is key, there is also a certain finesse required to make it out. And it is exhausting. So exhausting that I often would take breaks after catching a wave where I could drop by board off and simply jump into the sea to frolic until my arms were a bit rested. Then back to the board for more surfing.

This Sunday I went out with a surfing buddy located of Craigslist. We hopped in the water and each managed to get out past the breaks. After a while I decided to ditch my board and coming out noticed how strong the tide was. Standing up to my chest in water I was unable to take a single steep forward toward the shore. I struggled for a moment, then hopped on my board and began paddling in. Traveling on the surface of the water the current had little effect on my momentum and I quickly made it to the beach, ditched my board and jumped back in to swim. My new surfing buddy, also tired, joined me for a quick dip.

At some point I got a mouth full of water. I tried to stand only to realize that was deeper than I had thought. I remembered how strong the tide had been getting out and thought maybe we had been pulled out to far. And I basically lost it. My mind started racing and I panicked. I called to my buddy and said I though we were getting pulled out by the tide and that in any case I was panicking. At first incredulous, she told me to relax, and remember that I was buoyant, that the tide wasn’t going to pull us out that I should calmly swim toward shore. I laid on my back, focused on the sky and did the backstroke. Within a minute I could touch bottom and a wave of relief passed over me. Then a wave of total and complete embarrassment. A wave that continues to roll over me even now.

A few things I realized from that day.
  • My mind was the enemy. Rather than take the evidence at hand, I took suppositions and inferences about what was happening and let them take over. I’m a fit adult. I can tread water for hours in a wetsuit, there were a dozen people within shouting distance on boards. Linda Mar is a beginner beach and as such is very safe, strong tides and all. If I had simply turned to shore when I missed bottom and swam rather than thought about it I would have been fine.
  • I can not replace enthusiasm with skill. I love surfing, love to be in the water. I know the theory of surfing and how I should behave in the water. That is not the same as being skilled or practiced in those theories. I am a poor swimmer and all the enthusiasm in the world does not make up for that. That lack of confidence in my swimming abilities is dangerous to myself and to others.
  • The buddy system is not a joke. A calming voice was all it took me to act.
  • I need to practice swimming and I need to do so ASAP. Pushups does not a swimmer make.
  • I found that laying on my back and looking up at the sky was a better way to swim calmly. As I was initially trying to make it to shore I picked a building to focus on and swam toward it. However, swimming ten feet seems like nothing when looking at an object half a mile away. By flipping on my back I couldn’t see how little headway I was making, and as a consequence couldn’t worry about how little it appeared.
Honestly I’m not sure the point of posting this because, as I mentioned the whole experience is massively embarrassing. It’s like panicking on a roller coaster. However, having said that if this is useful information to any one, I’d feel remise in not sharing it with other.

You Are Not a Beautiful Unique Snowflake

Last St. Valentines Day I found myself in my car listening to this bit on NPR by a Philosopher who goes by the name of Alain de Botton. He was speaking on the celebration of love on and he made an interesting point that I quote below:
We might say the most romantic thing we can ever do is prove worthy of love. That we have to prove worthy is something of taboo for us. After all, we like to think of love as a birthright. Our deepest wish is to be loved for who we are, just for existing. But this flies in the face both of experience and the largely forgotten insights of Greek Philosophy.
And ain’t that the truth? Raise a glass to philosophers everywhere. We don’t deserve love simply for existing. Any more than we deserve fame or fortune. Rather we must strive to attain theose qualities that make us lovable. He goes on:
'When we love someone', said Plato, 'we can only ever be attracted by goodness. Love is a natural response to sensing virtue in someone. Kindness, intelligence, sensitivity, strength and so on.' Now a key part of this theory is that not everything in us is good and therefore not everything in us is worthy of being loved. Half of us at least is dominated by malevolent passions.
He goes on to note that perhaps a better way to celebrate love would be to reflect on what makes us less than loveable.
This starts to hint at what a properly romantic day should be for us. One where we focus hard on how we often prove less than loveable in our ordinary behavior and try to do something about it. A romantic day would mean addressing our tendencies to sarcasm, anxiety, anger or self-righteousness.
I’ve linked to the full three minute audio and the full text transcript for your perusal.

The Three Wars

I read an article once by Bruce Sterling in which he discussed the fundamental types or styles of war conveniently breaking them down into three categories which I will briefly describe for you.

The first type of war is nuclear. There two potential opponents to a nuclear power state. The first would be another nuclear power state (think Pakistan and India or the USSR and USA). The second would be a nuclear power confronting a non nuclear state (Israel and Syria/Egypt/etc.). In the first case the risk and cost retaliation is so high that you cannot effectively fight a war against a nuclear power and can only resort to wars by proxy (see Afghanistan, Angola, Central America, Southeast Asia, etc.)

In the case of a nuclear power confronting a non nuclear power, the nuclear power inevitable also has a significantly larger conventional military (tanks/artillery/aircraft/etc). For example, Israelis army is vastly superior to that of it neighbors, such that the use of nuclear weapons would be an unnecessary use of force considering the loss in standing on the international stage, the local and global ecological disaster, the contamination of any conquered territory.

So for all intents and purposes nuclear war is primarily a threat. It is a diplomatic technology to keep states from fighting the second type of war, which is Conventional war.

Conventional war means exactly what is says. War using conventional or traditional means. While this may include some weapons that produce blast larger that some nuclear weaponry (fuel/air explosives and so called bunker busters), conventional weapons for the most part consist of artillery, aircraft, infantry, missiles, tanks or items specifically made with a military purpose in mind

The examples of conventional wars span millennia so I’ll not bore you with examples

The third type of war has many names: Unconventional warfare, guerilla war, asymmetrical warfare, terrorism, etc. Asymmetrical warfare probably best describes this style or war. Generally one opponent is significantly stronger than the second, so much so that any sort of conventional war is an impractical form of resistance. Some examples of this would be any sort of insurgency for the past to today including many failed and successful revolutions. The American Revolution, the P/IRA in Northern Ireland, the Viet Cong forces in South Vietnam, the Mujahidin in Afghanistan and the Contras in Nicaragua all fought asymmetrical wars. The tactics of the weaker party include hit and run, ambush, remote controlled bombings, terror attacks intended to effect political changes, assassination, sabotage, etc. While generally viewed as repugnant for of warfare on the international stage, when given no other option people will resist in ways that will accomplish there goals.

As it stands today, the United States and its potential enemies are in is a unique situation. The first form of warfare is not an option. Since we possess nuclear weapons, any state attacking us with nuclear weapons would find themselves attacked with an extensive arsenal of nuclear weapons as noted earlier. Nuclear wars will not be fought or if they are they will be such a calamity as the world has never seen. The second form of warfare isn’t a rational option either against the US either. The United States has such an overall military advantage in training, technology, experience, funding, and equipment that there is no force on earth at this time, that has any reasonable expectation of defeating the US military. Not only does the US have the overwhelming advantage in every area noted above it also has the ability to project that force almost anywhere in the world. The second form of warfare is not an option for enemies of the United States.

This leaves the third option. And for that there has been no demonstrated effective counter measure in thousands of years short of the extermination of non-combatant enemy populations.

Friday, June 10, 2005


I guess you all get to be the first to know. I am the proud new owner of a 1985 Honda VF 700 Interceptor. Like the one pictured below it is red, white and blue, so if you have any Bush Cheney stickers send’em in. Unlike the image below this one looks like it's bee sitting in the sun for quite two decades, has a pair of chewed up tires, ripped seat, a dead battery, a chain rusted as all hell, etc. Needless to say getting this thing running will be a learning experience.

I would like to take a moment out of this post to thank Dave for suggesting I take the Into to Motorcycle Mechanics (MOTO 60) class offered through SF’s City College and taught by none other than the lovely Lisa Duke (2004-2005 Motorcycle Department’s Female Teacher of the Year) as well as locating this very inexpensive new (old) project bike for me.

Incidentally, as I’ve mentioned to everyone I know, I’m running a motorcycle clinic in my back patio on Saturday mornings (9am to 2pm-ish) so if you are interested in learning to ride, tuning your bike or just hanging out, feel free to drop by. The BBQ is always hot and Nathan and I could use the company.

I better go call the owner at let him know I’ve already transferred the title.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Some Observations Regarding Fuel Systems and Life.

The are two main systems for getting fuel into an engine. The first is a fuel injection system which consist of a fuel pump and a series of a sensors that measure ambient temperature, atomospheric pressure, engine speed, etc. and simple computer to determine the optimal flow of fuel to keep the engine running at peak performance. The fuel injection system is the more advanced of the two and is used in nearly all vehicles produced today.

The second fuel system uses gravity to draw fuel into a system of floats and bowls. These floats and bowls control the supply of fuel to the carburetor which uses the Venturi principle to mix fuel and air which is then fed to the engine. This system is less efficient and significantly more polluting. The 1990 Subaru Justy was the last passenger car sold in the United States with a carburetor.

However, an interesting difference in the systems is how the engines react to a loss of fuel. In the fuel injection system the fuel simply runs out with a brief series of shudders as the vapor burns off and then the engine stalls.

With the carburetor based fuel systems, as the fuel runs down the bowls stop refilling with fuel and as a result the carburetors pull in an imbalanced ratio of fuel and air to the engine. The result is the engine begins to sputter and start. The carburetor will continue to try to empty the bowls of every drop of gas. As evidenced by anyone who has run out of gas in an older car, this can last for miles. As the first indications of trouble appear the driver may realize that something is wrong but the heart of the car keeps struggling to run until the source of fuel is completely consumed or the driver kills the engine.

In this way relationships and carburetor fuel systems are similar. I think rare is the case where a relationship ends over a single sudden incident. Rather the relationship starts and sputters, until the engine collapses or the driver takes control and pulls over. And this I think, is in the nature of love and some fuel systems.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Napping and it’s Consequences.

So yesterday I spent most of the day hanging out with Nathan and working on my motorcycle. We met up with the Alex, Amanda and Alyssa for lunch at the Connecticut Yankee at around five. After that the three A’s all spoke of resting and napping and Nathan went home with other plans. Now, I’m a big napping fan but It was like six o’clock on a Saturday and I had greater plans. Nonetheless, I went home after being asked to call them later in the evening to do the hang out thing part duex. With nothing better to do and with a bellyful of milkshake I thought maybe I could lay down for a moment as well so as to be well rested. I even thought of setting my alarm but figured I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep much less sleep for and excessively long period of time. That was at 7:30pm. I woke at 2:30 am and have bee awake ever since. It’s been a while since I saw the sun come up so that is cool but what the hell is with all the fowl in my hood? I swear I can’t figure out why they don’t wake me every morning.

Speaking of which if anyone has a BB gun I can borrow the pigeons are getting to be too much with all their bird shit and incessant cooing. At first I thought it was sort of romantic and sweet but after a few weeks it just sucks ass.

Anyway, I have no idea what the hell just happened to my sleep schedule but I suspect it is something bad.

Jesus Christ, blogging really is about reporting the most inane parts of your life isn’t it.