Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Travelin' light

At least the Youth athletes turned up this morning! I spent a pleasant hour pack-riding with them, saw the early morning sun over Purcells Cove then headed off for a couple of hours on my own. It was sunny, slightly cool in the shade, no wind. a true float day. Legs felt OK, there was even some leg-speed in there somewhere (surely not, and don't call me Shirley) and my knees had the good sense to know I was on a good thing and quit whinging. I hit TIBS after 50 miles and pretty much inhaled an almond croissant, which is why the Americano is standing on an empty plate!

Last week Dan stayed for a week and we had the opportunity to get some rides in together. It was time for clipless pedals so I took a pair of Shimano M520s off one of my fixies and put them on his mountain bike. Of course, he had the typical first-time users' crash: he rode up to me, stopped dead, couldn't get his feet out and fell over in slo-mo, like Wile E. Coyote. All I could do was watch!

Hey, who hasn't?

After we got that crash out of the way, we had a good ride on the BLT trail, and followed it up the next day with a evening traipse through Shubie Park. He's definitely getting the hang of clipless and it's improving his riding: in Shubie was actually making me work a bit to stay on his wheel. So much for stealing candy from babies and beating up 11 year-olds on the bike.

But travellin' light? Apropos of what, other than being my favourite Billie Holiday song?

Well, one day I had to work all day, despite having Dan at home so I did what a whole generation of parents has done and left him under the care of the electronic babysitter; the TV. What he did with his time was undertake a Star Wars marathon; while I was at work he got through Episodes I - V and we finished off Episode VI after dinner.

Like father like son? I've got a bad feeling about this.

I was quite envious really; who wouldn't want to have a free day and spend it watching an entire canon of movies? And which ones would you pick? Star Wars, a la Dan, is an obvious choice. I suspect Son #1 would go for a Star Trek marathon. I would go for maybe the Bourne trilogy, or maybe the Ocean's 11/12/13 trilogy, but only if you were in a Matt Damon mood! Perhaps Bond? A Kill Bill double feature? Austin Powers? Bee-have. A colleague said he'd watch Lord of the Rings. Perhaps. Maybe the only way LOTR will ever make sense to me would be if I were to settle down on the couch with a metric ton of popcorn and an adult diaper and just watching the whole damn thing.

Anyway, Dan pointed out that in the Cloud City scene in The Empire Strikes Back there is a fleeting glimpse of a guy running down the corridor carrying a canister and, somehow, this guy has been immortalized as an action figure. I tried to find a pic of this one on-line but typed in "Star Wars Leia's Metal Bikini" by force-of-habit and was momentarily side-tracked (if by momentarily you mean a good chunk of the afternoon).

See what I mean? Schwing!

I got to wondering about what would you carry in your canister if the Empire suddenly too control of your gas-mining station in the clouds, or perhaps more realistically if you had to lave for any reason. What would you take?

This wasn't quite as academic an exercise for me as I've done this quite recently. What I ended up taking was whatever would fit in and on my car. It looked something like this;

If you ever wondered what the internal volume of a 2000 Hyundai Elentra is, that was it,

plus three bikes on the car rack.

Not quite up to Paul Simon's standards ("hop on the bus Gus, you don't need to discuss much") I'll grant you, but life has a poor record at imitating art.

Of course, now I have the Ninja, I'd have to pare even this down a little more (well, a lot more).

Bikes? I know I can get a two-bike rack on the Smart; either a 1 1/4" hitch for a Thelma or maybe a Yakima roof system. I'd have to say the Carrot and Old Bess, but I'd take a couple of spare wheels, including the eccentric White Industry's ENO fixie, 'cos Old Bess can take it (Old Bess can take anything!).

In the car; clothes; some nice shirts, trousers, couple of jackets. I'd have ti get rid of all those race t-shirts, but we all have way too many of those. Basic running kit (one of everything for all weathers), ditto cycling kit. I'd junk most of the jerseys, just keep a few. My volunteer jacket from World Du's, it'll pretty much do every weather I'm likely to see, even if I'm fleeing an apocalypse in the Ninja.

The only thing missing from the Hyundai/interval volume picture is my Japanese Peace Lily, otherwise known as the Drama Queen for her habit of wilting at the slightest provocation. She's my bastard red-headed step-child with whom I have a love-hate relationship. I'm not as attached to the Drama Queen as Nicholas Angel is to his in Hot Fuzz, but I'd be loathe to see her go, so she comes with me. She'd take up most of the front seat of the Ninja though, but I suppose one has to make sacrifices; after all this is what the exercise is all about.

Should I have advance warning of the coming apocalypse, then in prep I'd get a lap-top so I can play my DVDs. Of course, perforce I'd have to a junk a bunch - maybe only keeps those suitable for a movie-marathon on a rainy afternoon? Or I could rip them all to an external hard-drive. I've done that to my music already but I bet buddy from Bespin didn't have time to rip >100 movies to disc before a vengeful wave of stormtroopers ransacked his quarters. Books, kinda hard to rip those to the E-drive, but they take up so much space. Natch. I'd have to hope the public library survived or spend a lot of pre-apocalypse time (and money) getting them all on a Kindle.

This illustrates on of the problems in my life in general. I seem to spend way too much time and money re-acquiring what I lost or left behind in the many moves I've made. Goodness knows how many times I've bought From Russia With Love from second-hand book-shops (Leeds, London, Aberdeen, Virginia, Halifax), or maybe how many different versions of Mission impossible or Star Wars (NTSC VHS, PAL VHS, DVD, don't make me go Blue-Ray, please).

As well as losing a lot of media in the last 23 years, I've also lost pretty much everything else. Some I willingly (or near as dammit willingly) gave up. Some, my Mother likely trashed. As much as I lightly refer to the Drama Queen as my red-headed step-child, at home I was quite literally the bastard black-headed step-child. I suspect, though I dare not ask, whatever didn't make the first cut when I left for Poly was unceremoniously flung in a skip. I do wonder, however, how much of my step-brother and step-sister's stuff remained at the family seat during our respective Uni years. More than mine, I'll warrant. Why? I'm at a loss, but as much as mater refuses to countenance it, some step-children were more equal than others chez Pickering. From my perspective the unifying quality amongst the Favoured Ones was a certain, how shall we say, Caucasian-ness. Hey, just simple cladistics: grouping things by outward characteristics!

So, I'm already travellin' light. All have have from high-school is this CD, The Cure's Kiss Me, Kiss Me Kiss Me. I'm serious. I may appear to be a hoarder, but all I have from 1982-1988 is this single CD. I did have my scientific calculator for a while too, but it eventually got dropped in one too many beakers of buffer!

From before this time, I have Sooty, a rather threadbare hand-puppet from when I was a small child. Don't ask me how Sooty survived the culls and moves, but he did.

Third on the list of old stuff is my Crest CC jersey, which (incidentally) still fits.

Add some bike-tools (really, I don't have a photo of my high-school girl-friend but I have a pair of 20 year-old 15mm cone-wrenches and a pin-spanner!) and that's it. I suppose my GSCE certificates must be here somewhere, not that there'll be a pressing and urgent need for me to prove a B in O-level Religious Studies in 1986! Not much to show for a life. I've always prided myself by thinking I'm not too much of a materialist and I think this pretty much proves it. However attached I get to stuff, no mater how much stuff I acquire, life has a habit of periodically paring my shit all the way down again. Stuff this lot in the Smart Car, which cynics would say has the same internal volume as the Bespin dude's canister, and I'm good to go.


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