Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Hard Truth About Bicycle Touring

The hard truth is that the limit of one's initial capacity to ride long distances is not just one's stamina but also one's ability to endure the seat. The organ most challenged is not the lungs or heart nor even the legs, but the butt.

Thus far I have reached Nishkina (spelling?) on the Glenn Highway, a day short of Glenallen. Thus far I have begun to acquire the initial stages of stamina and thus am able to ride longer and further each day. And the Glenn Highway is now carrying me north from the Chugach Mountain Range which has turned south following the coast, giving me flatter country to ride through. At least that's the theory.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another "Progressive" Against Zionism

[click on four outward-pointing arrows for full screen]

David Duke, the Grand Dragon of the Ku Kux Klan, speaking in support of the Muslim cause against Israel. Can't get much more progressive than that....


Friday, June 24, 2011

Trip Journal - Layoff Day

[a two-stage bottle rocket, suitable for attacking targets in Asia]
How to make a bottle rocket: http://www.lnhs.org/hayhurst/rockets/

After one easy, and one moderate day of bicycling, I have taken a day off to rest. I was even more out of shape than I thought. Last night I had muscle spasms in my left leg which was no fun at all. One always gets them with insufficient stretching, but it is unusual to get them this soon in the trip.

I was making a pleasure out of a necessity this morning by watching early rounds play at Wimbledon on the motel room television, and found that I kept dozing off. I missed whole sets. Dozing in the morning after a full night's sleep is a sign that I was more tired than I thought. Last night I even dozed off while sitting on the pot.

Plus, as usual, I have badly overloaded the bike at the outset. Why can't I learn the basic lesson to bring only what one will need and not what one might need? Every bicycle trip for as long as I can remember begins with an overloaded bicycle and sending a box of seemed-necessary-at-the-time stuff home.

The bicycle as it stands when loaded is painfully heavy. I am going to go through my luggage and send home as much as possible. Even cherished right values will have to be foregone. I brought a notably large and heavy digital SLR camera and a second lens for it in addition to a small pocket camera. The theory was that a long bike tour alone would be the perfect time to really learn photography. That is a laudable, correct thing to do. But not necessary. It would be good to teach myself Spanish on this trip too, but I am not going to carry a Spanish textbook. The DSLR and the extra lens for it go home.

I am carrying too much food as well. The whole point of going on the easier Alaska Highway instead of the all-but-unpopulated Cassiar Highway of 2008 is to be within a day or two of services, to carry credit cards instead of luggage. I do not need two weeks supply of granola with me. That is just crazy.

I do not need a spare bicycle chain. I have never broken a chain in all my years of bicycling. It goes home. I do not need five extra notebooks to write in. I do not need any. I can write as well on this computer as in a notebook, even if it isn't as sexy. I will transcribe the work I did in Le Taha'a and send home even the partially-filled one. I can save whatever I have written to Google documents. It will be a lot safer on their servers in Cupertino than on my bicycle.

I don't need the nifty nylon briefcase-style computer carrying case. It is for carrying the computer on airplanes, in cars and such. I am not even using it. It goes home.

I have a box of stationery and no envelopes. After I write a few letters today, it goes home. I have a two fountain pens and two ballpoints. I even have an extra plastic bottle of ink. Half of all that will go home. I have two pairs of bicycle shorts. One, though brand-new, are useless because they constantly hang on my legs and make it all but impossible to swing my leg up to mount the seat. The other, though badly worn and still too small, will stay. If the seam in the butt gives way as I fear it may, I can sew it up by hand.

I have four quart bottles of rubbing alcohol for spraying black flies and mosquitoes. This is post-trauma over-compensation. They made me so miserable back in 2008 that I have over-prepared for them. Two bottles will surely get me to Tok and more bottles if need be. Two can stay here. So far there have not been many bugs, but I am still near towns with their mosquito abatement districts. Further out, there may be more. Or it may yet be too early in the season for them.

Conversely, I do not have enough water with me. I ran out of water well before reaching Palmer and was quite thirsty when I got here. As soon as I got to the hotel-cafe-liquor store here and got a room, I bought and downed three small orange juices and one large Budweiser. Enjoyable as that ending was, it would have been better to have had sufficient water with me. Maybe I can empty and wash out the rubbing alcohol bottles and fill them with water.

For future reference for my fans: When traveling light, a two liter soda-pop bottle from a food market or convenience store makes an excellent canteen. It is cheap, light, readily available, well-made, good-sized, has a well-designed and reliable screw-on plastic cap. It is designed to withstand interior pressure from carbonation, so it will not readily leak from the cap nor will the container crack or puncture. One can pour out or drink the soda-pop sold with it as one prefers. What it lacks in class it makes up in utility.

Only two paragraphs after speculating that it is too early in the season for flying pests, a mosquito has found its way through the window screen and onto my arm to bite me. Whereupon I returned the kindness by squishing her into a digusting small black mass of bug guts.

Conversely to everything I ought to get rid of, I really do need to get sunscreen and insect repellent before leaving Palmer.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Early Travel Note

[Not the moose I saw]

In view of my advanced age and corpulence I am starting off slow and, in the Rappaport tradition, tapering off. I have gotten as far as Palmer, on the Glenn Highway 42 miles from Anchorage.

The good news is that I saw a moose. She was beautiful but shy. She watched me warily from some bushes in a vast marsh alongside the highway. Moose like marshes because they prefer eating marsh plants. It was also clear that the marsh protects them from predators. No wolf, bear, wolverine, or man can make much headway in a marsh. Unless the man is penis-deficient and needs to shoot things to compensate.....

The bad news is that tomorrow will contain some scary-sounding sections of road.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Good News, Bad News

[Many years to come]

I got the results of two days of cardiology testing yesterday. The good news is that the results of all the tests were normal. Which means I am likely to live a good many years to come. And also that I have no reason not to set out for Alaska and the lands of the northwest of the world.

The bad news is that I plan to continue being as much of a pain in the ass to as many people as I can.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Mobile Blogging

I am setting out on a bicycle trip next week. With any luck I will be gone all summer. I will try to keep in touch from the road.


Friday, June 03, 2011

Sounds Like Horseshit But It Would Be Funny If It Were True

[Shagetz unt a maidel?]

Sent to me by an Orthodox (Sephardic) rabbi in Israel:

It could happen!

It is interesting to note the following in the family tree of Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William:

Kate's mother is Carol Middleton, daughter of Ronald Goldsmith and Dorothy Harrison (both Jews)

The parents of Dorothy Harrison are Robert Harrison and Elizabeth Temple (both Jews), the latter a descendant of the Myers family (traditional English Jews in the 19th century)

Bottom line: Princess Kate is a Jew on her matrilineal side, and as a consequence, the future king of England will be a Jew according to Jewish Law and tradition.

Jules and Jim

I just saw 'Jules and Jim' last night on Netflix. It was directed by Francois Truffaut in 1962 and is considered a classic of the French New Wave. I didn't get it.

What was so wonderful about Catherine that either of them would have been so devoted to her and willing to obey her every whim? And willing to put up with her childishness and self-centeredness? Why would Gilberte be such a hapless doormat for Jim?

So many men had died in the War that there were far more women than men in both France and Germany in the 1920's. Given the gender imbalance why would Jules, Jim, and Albert and all the others have been following Catherine around like dogs following a bitch in heat? She was far from the only woman available. There would have been plenty of women interested in them and they would soon have been distracted from Catherine and her verbal abuse and craziness.

French women are often shown in film as arbitrary, childishly unto insanely self-absorbed and willful and whimsical. They are shown as under the impression that being pretty and sexy entitles them to indulge every momentary whim, regardless of the consequences to themselves or others, even unto Catherine's pointless murder-suicide of herself and Jim.

Real Frenchwomen are not like that at all. Real Frenchwomen strike me as practical and reasonable. French housewives are considered the very model of thriftiness and prudence. I wonder if the film image of Frenchwomen as snotty willful children is not a result of the continuing impact of 'Jules and Jim' on subsequent French cinema.

The contrast of the ease, simplicity, and happiness of pre-War France with the tortured complexity of post-War seems exaggerated unto silly. Whether it is to be regarded as realistic or as a mere representation of the director's feelings, it is stupid either way. Life is not a cartoon.

However much it is a beloved classic of the French New Wave, 'Jules and Jim' doesn't work and I don't recommend it.