The Smell of Water

We could smell water.  Large cottonwood trees formed a green line above the tan landscape disclosing the winding path of a hidden stream.  This was exactly what we were looking for.  We ducked behind the ridge to avoid being seen.  We talked with excitement and gave thanks.  We were one of several scouting parties sent to find a new home suitable for our people.   Despite years of prayers, the water and game in our ancestral territory were growing scarce.  Our families were slowly perishing in the hot country seven days’ walk to the south. 

Suddenly, an arrow slammed into my back.  It’s sharp flint punched through my ribs and lodged in my sternum.  I fell forward, gasping in shock.  I heard shouts and the sound of bodies falling.  My hands raked the ground, uselessly seeking my bow, uselessly seeking escape.  Shadows moved over me, but I couldn’t see their sources.  I thought urgently of my wife and young son until a second arrow tore through my heart.


“Painting is Finished”

“In 1911, the Dadaist painter Duchamp and the sculptor Brancusi toured the Paris Aeronautical Exhibition.  Duchamp was highly excited by all the new forms on display, the engines, wings and other paraphernalia of flight.  The two artists stopped to consider a propeller, with its subtly backswept airfoil blades carved in blonde laminated wood, varnished to a high gloss. ‘Painting is finished,’ Duchamp at length announced to Brancusi.  ‘I can do nothing as good as this propeller, can you?'” 

(quote from Kevin Cameron in “Cycle World”)

Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase No 2


Attack Ships On Fire Off the Shoulder of Orion

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe; attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.”

 … “All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain.”

Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi movie, “Blade Runner” was released in 1982, appreciated by an initially small but ever-growing audience.  In his memorable end-of-life soliloquy, Roy (Rutger Hauer) laments that his extraordinary  extraterrestrial experiences would be lost like tears in rain–a very human sentiment…especially for a replicant.


A Taste For Adventure; Light on Common Sense

It all began with TOS, a commercial spaceship conceived in the Reagan era

Orbital Sciences Corporation was founded in 1982 by three young guys just out of business school with little experience, no money, a taste for adventure and an obvious lack of common sense.  They and the daredevils that joined them made a foolish, long-odds bet consistent with Bob Dylan’s lyric, “When you ain’t got nothin, you’ve got nothin to lose,”

Nevertheless, Orbital grew to become a pioneer of the commercial space age:  The company’s initial product, the Transfer Orbit Stage was the first space system funded by a Wall Street financial offering.  Pegasus was the world’s first commercially developed launch vehicle to reach orbit.  Orbital’s subsidiaries, ORBCOMM and ORBIMAGE, pioneered the use of small, low-earth-orbit satellites for data communications and remote sensing.  Orbital’s Antares launcher and Cygnus autonomous cargo vehicle deliver supplies to the Space Station on a routine basis.  Its Ground-Based Missile Defense boosters are locked and loaded to swat down anything North Korea launches this direction.


Sedona MOA Getaway

MOA = BWW Motorcycle Owners of America

The forecast said that rain was likely on both days of the Sedona MOA Getaway.  Long gray tendrils from five distinct showers filled the horizon ahead; an interesting sight characteristic of late summer in the southwest.  I rode toward them–east toward Sedona.  Patches of blue fueled hope that I might thread a dry–or mostly dry–path through.  On the Prescott side of Mingus Mountain, though, sprinkles turned into solid rain, forcing me to stop under a gas station awning to struggle into my rainsuit.

Naturally, the rain then soon stopped…and that was the end of it.  So eighty BMW riders from the western US and Canada enjoyed a weekend of marvelous scenery, great roads, interesting bikes and friendly companionship under a bright Arizona sun.


Movin’ On Up in Tuzigoot

Our home with its view of the river in the tony Skydeck neighborhood

“It’s taken several years of political maneuvering and favors, but my wife and I are moving up in the world.  We’ve persuaded Tuzigoot’s head honcho and the pueblo housing committee to approve our move to the most desirable neighborhood in town.  The perfect home became available last week when a great uncle stepped off a cliff.  Thanks to our careful preparations, it was quickly decided that his widow should move out to stay with her oldest son and that we should move in!  

We’ll never tire of our prestigious new address and our new home’s sweeping views of lush corn, squash and bean fields irrigated by the Verde River.  We’ve planned a small sunset party to get better acquainted with our new neighbors.”


“The Rational Optimist”–Intro

An interesting looking piece of flint jutted unnaturally from a hard clay bank a little off the highway near Barstow, California.  Its sharp edge sliced me as I carelessly dug around it.  A young UCLA professor later confirmed that I’d discovered a crude, human-fashioned cutting tool.  I’m probably the first person to hold it since it fell from the hand of its maker over 10,000 years ago.  I’m certainly the most recent victim of its long-idle but still-keen cutting edge.

Punctuated but relentless, the accelerating rate of human progress is cause for optimism


BMW International Rally–Salt Lake City

Today was the final day of the BMW International Rally in Salt Lake City.  It was a great event thanks to tireless work by its organizers.  Unfortunately, it was also memorably hot, topping 100 degrees each day and lingering over 80 well into the evenings as fairground campers tried to sleep.

Mornings were pleasant, but by afternoon, all the shady spots–the beer garden in particular–were crowded.  Evaporative cooling vests sold out fast.  Many resorted to cowboy air conditioning–a wet bandana around the neck.  Electrically-heated vest sales were slow.


GT 750

My cousin Mark has a thing for the GT750, and I may have caught the bug from him.  Suzuki produced the GT750 from 1971 to 1977.  The bike was innovative in several ways.  Some hit.  Some missed.  It was the first water-cooled motorcycle from Japan.  For that it got the nicknames of ‘Water Buffalo’ in the US and ‘Kettle’ in Britain.  Today, almost all big-displacement bikes are water cooled.  It was a two stroke.  Today, almost no bikes are two stroke.  It was also a triple; an early member of a small and still quirky club.


The engine is the focal point of any motorcycle.  This one’s got bigger-than-life character.