Rants and Raves

Some Book Updates

Here are some titles I’ve gone through since my last update. I’m still doing my alternating cycles of non-fiction then a detective/pulp or other fiction.

A History of America in Ten StrikesA History of America in Ten Strikes by Erik Loomis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

good history and overview- shows impact right up to today

A good one that turned out to be timely as we are now at Labor Day weekend.

I read this next one a few months ago.

How to Be an AntiracistHow to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A lot to digest. And a lot of homework for me to be a better ally and an antiracist



A popular and timely book: (well, it shouldn’t need to be timely, but it is). Well-written and thought-provoking.



And here are some of the mysteries:

Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins, #1)Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars





I’ve read other Mosley books, but not any of the Easy Rollins series. They were in my “to read” list after watching Luke Cage when it came out on Netflix and they dropped so many interesting titles in references on the show.

A Red Death (Easy Rawlins #2)A Red Death by Walter Mosley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Still engaging with the characters.

Lucky at CardsLucky at Cards by Sheldon Lord
My rating: 4 of 5 stars




I think this one was a Lawrence Block title and I breezed through it. Pretty fun pulp. Looking forward to his Scudder series at some point.

And another recommended read:

What I Talk About When I Talk About RunningWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 5 of 5 stars



More Mask Stuff

Some people have asked where I got the masks that they’ve seen me wear in my selfies from the bike. Most of those are Eliel Cycling Masks. These are great for my rides.

Quick notes on the Eliel: thin material, like jerseys. Great on rides and during runs. They come in 5 packs too.

The only downside that I can think of is that on my rides that are longer than 2 hours, they do tend to stretch a bit so when I’m on my way home on the bridge, the wind can sometimes blow the mask off my nose. This is likely my fault if I’m on a 2.5 hour+ ride because I pull the mask under my chin when I eat/drink more.

I also got two “Pandanas” recently from Pandana USA based in Boulder. I just got them so I’ve only worn one once on a ride but it worked really well.

I tried the Coolmax one on a 2 hour+ ride that was a mix of SF “summer” and real summer and I wound up keeping it on the whole time like I do with the Eliel masks. It was fine.

The ear hole things on the side helped too when I got back to the windy bridge, but I didn’t really need them.

I’ll try my non-coolmax one soon and report back. I highly recommend these so far.

FYI – We also have two from Rickshaw Bags in SF which we wear while doing less strenuous stuff.

Oh, and shout out to the Paceline Forum for the Pandana info. I found them via an older thread.

What I’m Listening To (when I have time)

During the times of ‘Rona I’m not listening to podcasts as often as I was previously. I’m not commuting so I’m not listening to them with any regularity (or reading in the same way). But I do try to fire up something to listen to a few times during the week.

Here are some of what I’m listening to and have queued up. Below that are my old “regulars” that I still recommend and like (maybe with a note or two)

Queued up:
Winds of Change. Recommended to me by multiple people, mostly because of novelty, but many because they know I’m from SA and SA has a special place for Scorpions trivia.

Bumping up in priority: Scene on the Radio (multiple recs, seems very timely with what’s going on right now).

New for me:
The Reset Button from Dylan Tweney*
The Adulting Well Podcast*
*I work with both of these podcast creators. Not sure why I feel a need to disclose this, but hey.

My regulars:
The Moment with Brian Koppelman (I’m getting selective w/ episodes – but I’m a big fanboy)
The Cycling Podcast – due to time conflicts, I’m getting more selective with the episodes as well- but I still really enjoy this.

Media consumption has been tricky lately. Have you been keeping up with your podcasts and reading in the same way as pre-quarantine?

I’m (unreasonably) scared of certain routes

I recently tried a route I’d been scared to do previously. I had no problems, I didn’t cramp up, I took it easy and had fun. I’m not sure why I had waited so long to do it, other than being scared.

My fears come down to: cramping, getting stuck, flatting somewhere remote, running out of water (see cramping), worries I’ll slow friends down, etc.

But when it comes down to it, the worst that could happen (other than a wreck) would be:

  • Getting a cramp and having to sit down for 10 minutes
  • My friends may need to ride on and I’d catch up with them at a cafe or another day (aka getting dropped) – not that I’m riding with anyone right now
  • getting stuck and Senol having to come get me with the car

But all of the routes I’m freaked out about unnecessarily, I’ve done most of them or big parts of them. I’m ready to knock more off my list.

  • Hawk Hill (yes, an oldie but I used to be freaked out by this long ago)
  • Muir Woods to 1 – and back to Mill Valley via 1
  • 4C down 1 to Muir Woods back to 4C 
  • Stinson Beach
  • Mt Tam
  • Alpine Dam
  • 17th St up to Clarendon to Twin Peaks
  • Up Clipper to Twin Peaks

(strikethrough means I’ve done those rides)

Mentally I think my desired routes involve Highway 1 and wanting to explore out that way. And I’m scared of not being able to get back up to Panoramic or up out of Muir back to Mill Valley. But like I said- I’ve done all of the big routes or routes that connect to most of the “1 rides”. I just need to get over it and try them.

Ordering Coffee in the Time of Covid

I mentioned online that I’ve been trying to order coffee beans lately instead of roasting my own like I usually do. I’ve been trying to support some local businesses and I’ve listed some of them out for you here. This list is by no means exhaustive, I just thought it may be useful.

I’ll try to add more soon.

SF Specific

Others I like:

Oh, The Watch!

A follow up to the previous post for the book!

I forgot to mention that the reason I read had the book to read was that it was a birthday gift. I had a big birthday recently and the book was a gift from my besties. BUT – tied to that was big special gift from the girlfriend. She gave me a really nice new watch.

That watch? Well, it’s a really nice model from Kobold. The model is named after the author of that book- the explorer, Richard Byrd.

It’s a great model- a no-date automatic reminiscent of a classic like an Explorer I. I think it fits me well.

From Kobold’s site:

The new Kobold Richard Byrd Automatic pays tribute to the great American naval aviator and polar explorer Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd. The watch features a black DLC-coated stainless steel case with domed sapphire crystal, screw-down crown and screw-locked caseback. It is powered by a Swiss automatic-winding movement

I didn’t mention this in the book review, but Byrd was really famous during his lifetime and only faded from American memory towards the end of the 20th Century. But back in the day he was a very well-known explorer and a household name.

By the way- I’m always hesitant to blog about watches because it can come off as douchey, but I really like timepieces and watches. I also don’t post watch pics because my phone snapshots don’t do the watches justice.

Alone : The Classic Polar Adventure – *****

Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure

Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure by Richard Evelyn Byrd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A relatively quick read and very interesting even though I was worried I wouldn’t like the book’s story (it was a gift). The afterword was a welcome addition which helps provide some historical context and insight after the tale had ended.

I think it was interesting timing that I read this given what is going on in the world right now with Covid-19. In particular, this account of the author being alone in the Antarctic had a few passages that seemed very relevant to today.

eg: being solo and trapped inside and keeping to a schedule -the author was to be taking weather readings at regular times and had to maintain his hut/base- extreme WFH? Even Scott Kelly (astronaut) wrote about this recently in the NY Times.

Another example was a passage about a previous expedition with a healthy crew in isolation, but one day they opened a crate of old clothes and all of them got sick.


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