25 October 2010

Maria Nieves (Cano) Bond

The preceding post is a piece I wrote as part of a Eulogy I delivered at my grandmother's funeral on Saturday 23 October 2010. Her struggle is finally over, and she is in a much better place now.

Rest In Peace.

There Is No Alzheimer's In Heaven

There is no Alzheimer's in Heaven,
This much, I know for sure,
No confusion 24/7,
So far death's the only cure,

But I know when she meets Saint Peter,
At Heaven's Pearly Gates,
He'll know just how to treat her,
Even if she hesitates,

Whether Bond or Cano,
Maria or Nieves,
You all know that they'll know,
Better than any of us,

That when they made her, they broke the mold,
As my grandpa says,
And he picked her with which to grow old,
And spend most of his days,

With her he made three children,
Three daughters of their own,
Their house was but a building,
Those five made it a home,

These are but a few,
Of the many reasons that,
She now looks down at you,
From Heaven, with her cat,

She's hanging with her family,
Those who've already passed,
And she wants to see us smiling,
As we celebrate her past,

Because there's no Alzheimer's in Heaven,
Of this I am quite certain,
No there's no Alzheimer's in Heaven,
Her time on Earth, has drawn its final curtain.

19 July 2010

Two-wheeled Adventures The Third (Part I)

Editor's Note: This behemoth of a post is long in coming, and I was waiting to post it in it's entirety, which is why it was not up before. Rather than continue that wait...here is Part 1. Enjoy!

Every once in a great while, trips that are planned take on a life of their own, and become adventures of epic proportion. More often than not, the main character in those particular adventures is yours truly.Where does this story begin? Does it begin at about 1500 on Sunday, 25 April 2010, when I started my recently purchased motorcycle and rode it off the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry, shortly after we docked in Bridgeport, CT? Or does it begin at about 1020 on that same day, when I finally met the man who would sell me that motorcycle? Perhaps it begins at 0130, when I was still in Washington, DC.

As many of you know, I had been without a motorcycle since late January, and didn't like it. As the weather started improving, and my truck remained thirsty and cumbersome as ever, I straight up loathed not having a bike. The problem with replacing my last one was that I had not yet gotten reimbursed for the demise of my latest one (yes, the second since September, for those counting). I found one, on an internet forum that I frequent, which is devoted entirely to the model of motorcycle of which I am now (again) the proud owner. That motorcycle is the Yamaha YZF-600R (picture below), which has the speed of a sportbike, yet allows for a more upright seating position than the GSX-R, R-6 or others of that type. I need all of that room that I can get, as I am not a small guy, and I don't just ride for ten minutes every other weekend. The 600R is called the Thundercat in Europe, because the Europeans like to name their bikes, rather than just use the numbers and letters, as we do here in the US. Those of us that have come to love these Thundercats often refer to them affectionately as 'Cats, and that is what I will use from here on out.
Which brings me to the bike itself. This 'Cat in particular was (and is, don't worry Ben) in fantastic condition. The detail and care put into maintenance and cleaning couldn't have been better. Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself. Before we can talk about the 'Cat itself, we have to talk about its location, which became a focal point in the adventure. You see, this particular 'Cat used to live on Long Island, which, for those of you who aren't geography majors, is no-freaking-where-near DC, much less Springfield, VA. However, instead of being a deterrent for me, that gave me an idea. You see, Long Island, and specifically the part where my 'Cat used to live, is very near to CT, which I had not visited since January of 2009, when I retrieved my belongings from that particular vehicular debacle. That meant that I had not seen some people for quite a while. In particular, my close friends Moireen and Brian. Those who know me well can already see the mental wheels turning as I cook up another scheme...

This brings us to my travel arrangements. Complex, yet simple, the biggest variable was that I do not know the New York City Subway system at all, and did not bring a map. My first leg began Saturday morning, when I drove my truck into work and parked near the shop. Following a very lucrative day at work, I then drove into Arlington to attend the moving out party hosted by Blake, my coworker, and his girlfriend Amber (whose housewarming party should be a good time, so definitely come if you are invited). I stayed until the end, and then made my way back into DC, where I re-parked and changed clothes in preparation for my journey. At about 0100, I began my walk to Chinatown, carrying my new Saddlemen TS3200 Deluxe Sport Tailbag (review to follow at some point), which I was HOPING would actually attach to the bike I was about to purchase, because otherwise, travel would be rather difficult. Now when I got to the address on H street, NW, as instructed, I did not immediately see a bus, but I was early, so I just stood by. I began to get curious, when it was about 0145, and there was no bus, as I was told to arrive no later than 0130, so I walked to the corner of 5th and H. What I saw completely threw me off guard. Now I don't startle too easy, but I was most definitely ill-prepared for the sight which met my eyes as I rounded the corner. This was not a bus from Chinatown, this was a CHINESE BUS. (Ok, it was technically an American bus, as it was made by Bluebird) Let me tell you, I was the only "round-eye" on the bus-in-question, or BIQ, and it was PACKED. This shows my inexperience in the travels by methods other than Planes, trains, and automobile. The last time I took a bus that was not a part of a trip with which I was in a large group was probably when my family went to Barcelona, Spain by bus in the mid-90's. Even that was set up by the MWR from the base we lived on (I'm pretty sure, anyway) and was a bus from a military base in a largely occidental area. So I walked forward and placed my bag in the luggage area of the bus, then made my way aboard, with about 50 of my new best friends. Well...not exactly. Perhaps people of my particular complexion don't take that bus too often, but no one seemed happy to seem me, least of all the guy I had to ask to move, so I could sit next to him in the third-to-last seat available. I can honestly tell you that I foresaw NONE of this. In my mind, as I booked my ticket with ease a few days before my journey, I was thinking, "What kind of idiot takes a 0200 Sunday morning bus to NYC? I'm sure it will be mostly empty." And I was WRONG. But I digress.

After taking my place aboard the bus, and promptly passing out. I next awoke somewhere in New Jersey, as we traveled up the asphalt that makes up the Jersey Turnpike, and then again as we crossed one of the many bridges in NYC, which to that date, I had been on the ground in one time before in my life. So I started to watch through the windows of the bus as we careened through the city of New York (I don't have a chance of telling you where we actually were) in a series of dizzying lane changes and maneuvers that made me question my mode of travel for the morning. This whole time, I am wondering how long til we get there, and then we began to stop. Once again, I don't know where, only that we did, and people other than myself got off. I stayed on and hoped for the best, as there weren't any instructions given that I could understand. Finally, we did arrive at the prearranged destination, an hour ahead of schedule. Not bad, though traffic is certainly light during our hours of travel, which did help.

I was now faced with the challenge of finding a subway station in a city in which I had almost never been, and without much of a clue as to where exactly I was located. I used the method I thought most appropriate, I guessed. As Patton said, "A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week." And thus, I set off. I could see the sun still rising, and therefor had an idea of which Cardinal direction I was heading, and I had checked out the maps while still at home. With this half-assed information, I went South. I also urgently had to go 10-100, which, as Sally Field could tell you, is better than 10-200, but neither were possible for me where I was. For the city that never sleeps, NYC must take a pretty good nap on Sunday mornings, because I only saw about 5 people in the little less than a half mile I walked to the East Broadway Subway Station. On my way down Allen Street, I came to a number of intersections, but didn't recognize the names of any streets, so I continued on my way. It is a bit embarrassing to say, but must admit that the main reason I recognized Canal Street was from playing the Incredible Hulk video game on Xbox 360, that my brother Jamie has. Canal Street came across my past numerous times while I was leaping about the city destroying things. On that Sunday morning, I figured it was a significant enough street to be in the game, so it must lead somewhere. I headed East on Canal, and after only a couple blocks, I came to the aforementioned East Broadway Station. This began another adventure in and of itself, because evidently, they were doing track maintenance on the Northbound tracks from East Broadway. Guess which direction I needed to go? YEP. So I had to take a train East to Brooklyn, then disembark, and await yet another train to go back to Manhattan on a different line. This was relatively easy, and though I am typically able to comprehend things very well, I feel the NYC subway system is not that hard to navigate, even though it is magnitudes more complex than that of DC, which is the second only to New York's in terms of scale.

I arrived at the 34th Street Station, which was plenty of miracle for me at that point in the venture, and headed briefly East, though Penn Station was to the West. I had seen on the Subway maps that the Empire State Building was just a few short blocks away, so I figured I had to at least try and get a picture, which you can see on the right. The only other time I was in NYC was in 2003, which means that every time I have been in that city, the Empire State Building was the tallest building there. It amazes me that the Washington Monument, which I spend most work days looking at, is only a third the size (roughly) of the ESB, including the antennae at the top. I am also interested to see the completion of One World Trade Center, or Freedom Tower, which is due to be completed in 2013. As I continued back towards Penn Station, which happens to be the busiest passenger transportation facility in the United States. It is also attached to Madison Square Garden, which allowed me to snap another picture of a cool place, without deviating from my path of travel.
Also captured in the picture are numerous, typical, NYC taxicabs, but we all know Pedicabs are much more awesome...As you can see, NYC is waking up from its Sunday morning slumber, by now it is a little after 0830. I stopped, for a bit of breakfast in a quaint little cafe run by women from India. I can't recall the name, but there were large M's all over the place :). I made my way into the bowels of Penn Station, and located the Long Island Railroad ticket counters. After purchasing my ticket, I promptly wandered around looking for somewhere to sit. When my train finally was ready to load up, I made my way aboard, located an empty row of seats, placed my bag and myself on it, and passed out. I hardly awoke when the conductor asked for my ticket, and didn't wake again until a good hour later. I stayed awake for the last couple stops, until it was time to disembark in Ronkonkoma. I then collected my things and moved out to the main entrance of the station, where I awaited the arrival of my new 'Cats' now previous owner. The meeting culminated with us both standing on opposite sides of a Dunkin Donuts and asking the other one what else he could see, all while being on the phone while separated by about 25 yards and in plane sight...
So now I am in the home of Ben, and his wonderful girlfriend Danielle, while we go over the paperwork, look at the bike, talk about things, and then actually complete the transaction. I got my tailbag all loaded up. Thankfully, the bag fit on my bike great and attached fairly easily. We then set out in a two-vehicle convoy to Port Jefferson, where I was to board the ferry to Bridgeport, CT. You can see in this picture, how dreary of a day it was out. I will point out at this point, that this was probably the first time my new 'Cat had seen rain. Ben took excellent care of it, and had it nicely enclosed during any inclement weather. Then, I came along. Bought it. And promptly rode it off in the rain. What can I say, I'd rather ride than not, even in the rain. Here are a few more pics from the ferry. The one on the right is the bow of the ferry (my 'Cat was nestled safely about 20 feet under that lifeboat), and on the left is the shoreline of Connecticut, as we made our way towards it.

We were ordered to reenter our vehicles and prepare to unload the ship, and we did. (Being on a motorcycle gives you rockstar status on a ferry, by the way. First on, First off.) I then stopped to check my directions and update Moireen and Brian on my status. This is where it all went wrong.

You see, Ben did some excellent electrical work on the 'Cat while it was in his care, and it took only about an hour ride on the ferry for me to drain the battery by leaving the switch for the heated hand grips in the on position. For those of you that don't know about motorcycles, the battery is 12V, just like a car, but much smaller, which means that it takes a lot less to drain all the juice out. Furthermore, many bikes are not supposed to be jumped the same way you can jump a car. Evidently, Thundercats are one of those bikes. When the guy who worked at the parking lot my 'Cat came to rest next to attempted to jump it, it didn't, to say the least. I then pushed my 500 pound (before my luggage was attached) motorcycle UP the exit ramp of the parking garage, and attempted to pop the clutch and start it that way. It did start, but evidently, the battery was so dead, that it would not stay running at that point especially with something else electrical wrong as well. Exactly what else was wrong became the problem which consumed the better part of the next 36 hours. Now I have neglected to mention a significant fact in this story thus far; not only was my 'Cat's battery dead, but my cell phone was dead as well, and guess who was an idiot and didn't bring the wall charger? Yep, that was me. I had a car charger, but no car. Not one of my prouder moments, to be sure. That fact becomes significant because I could not even call for assistance, because I didn't have my phone, and although the girl that worked at the parking lot was gracious enough to let me use hers, I didn't have any numbers of people that could help. One of the first numbers I called was the previous owner. Now I know that he did nothing wrong, and did nothing but awesome work in both care and maintenance on the 'Cat while it was his, but tell me you wouldn't feel exactly like I did in that situation. I purchase a vehicle, sight unseen, and ride away, I get about 50 miles, and said vehicle won't run anymore. I tell you what, I was about pissed off at him! Especially with all of the horror stories my family and friends had said in the days leading up to my trip, it only made sense that some random guy I didn't know had taken my money and left me high and dry. But I tell you this now, there are good people in the world, and Ben and his girlfriend Danielle are on the short list. After finding out that I was having some major technical issues, (around 1930 on Sunday evening) the pair of them drove from their home on Long Island, West through NYC, and then East to my location in Bridgeport to try and do anything they could to help me out. People that I had only just met, yet they did a lot of driving and spent a lot of hours in the car, simply to try and help me. They were not the only rescue party, however, nor even the first to arrive. I was able to get my phone to turn on long enough to get Moireen's number out of it, and she and Brian, just as they did in November of 2008, set off to rescue me on one of my vehicular adventures.

To be continued....I promise...

26 June 2010

All, attention all, the King of Nighttime Pedicab tours has returned. That is all. Now back to your regularly scheduled programs...

22 March 2010

MNATM: In Bruges

Now this movie is one of the most under-appreciated of all time, in my humble opinion. Colin Ferrell stars as Ray, a rookie contract killer whose first job goes a little less than exceptionally. With Ralph Fiennes as the perennially, potty-mouthed Harry Waters, and Brendan Gleeson as Ken, Ray's partner and mentor.

This film is a dark comedy, and it can be sad at times. The story behind Ray and Ken's flight from England tugs at the heartstrings, and makes you think a bit as well. Many people will perhaps not find the same degree of humor in this film as I do, but if you appreciate the pithy dialogue, particularly by Colin Farrell. Farrell, who is allowed to speak as he normally does, being that his character is from Dublin like Farrell is in real life, provides most of the humorous quotes that can be drawn from the movie.

The two main characters, Ray and Ken, are sent to Bruges, Belgium in order to avoid the trouble with Ray's first job. Ken immediately falls in love with Bruges, being that it is the most well preserved of all medieval villages in Europe. (Actual fact, check it out on Wiki and other sources) Ray, however, is not exactly impressed with the fantasy world of a village held back in time some 500 years, and lets Ken know that quite often.

Whether you like culture and fun, or dwarves and midgets, this movie is worth at least one viewing, though perhaps two or three are in order to truly appreciate the interplay between the characters.

MNATM: Repo Men

I saw this movie last night, partly because I was interested, and partly because it was the only thing playing at the time I was at the theater. I left feeling that I had been sufficiently entertained, though with questions.

In the future (year unnamed), people can be repaired much like a computer can now. Upgrades, replacements, faulty parts removed, brand-new shiny technology installed. All of this sexy medical care does come at a hefty price, but fortunately, there is a payment plan... If you can't afford the cost of a new heart, you can always make monthly payments, just don't fall behind.

The film starts the way it continues for much of its run time; in action. The main character's name is Remy, played by Jude Law, and he is a futuristic "field technician" whose job is the same as the guy who takes back your car when you default on the payments. The only twist is, the products he is charged with retrieving are inside the body of their ill-fated, former owner. From livers to lungs, kidneys to heart, a job is just a job, and the artificial organs, or ARFORGS, must be returned to the company which created them. The things about that is, most people who have a newly created organ didn't get it for the fun of it, and most end up dead.

All in all, this movie seems to be a cautionary tale about an almost Orwellian future, which has been created by the "Union," the name of the super-corporation for whom the Repo Men work. The film also includes all of the obligatory futuristic devices, body scanners, retina scanners for access to secured locations, and the like, yet all transport in the movie is done in the same manner it is today. Remy drives a VW Toureg of some sort, and there are many other standard vehicles as well. As I said, I was sufficiently entertained, and certainly puzzled at times. The ending is a trip, but as promised, I won't even hint at it here. Enjoy!

Monday Night At The Movies (Intro)

What follows will be the first post of a new series on my blog. I have decided to write movie reviews and post them here. But here is the catch: I'm not going to review every crappy movie that comes out simply because its new or made a lot of money. My reviews will focus on movies that I find to be greatly unappreciated, especially considering the pleasure I get from watching them. Any suggestions or comments are always welcome and appreciated, and if anyone has a movie they would like included, by all means just ask.

I will do my best to avoid anything that spoils the movie, so there is no need to avoid reading so as not to ruin your own experience.

PS: I don't read movie reviews, nor do I like them (ironic, right?) so any similarity between a review by anyone else and my own simply means we feel the same way about the movie.

09 February 2010

Ice In My Veins

Hard as iron, cold as ice,
Fuck with me, pay the price,
You can't cut what does not bleed,
You can't take, what I don't need,
Raging like a earthquake,
That would make your heart shake,
Some day all the world will finally see,
I'm the g-bread man, yo, you can't catch me,
Running all out like a cheetah on attack,
Pile more on, you'll never break my back,
Like Atlas, I've got the world on my shoulder,
Try all you want, I can get more colder,
Put up a wall, no, I can't be stopped,
Like it or not, yo, you just got dropped,
Hatred and hunger course through my veins,
Blood washes over like the cleansing rains,
Open your mouth, taste it, drink it down,
Fuck what you heard, I run this town,
Look into my eyes, you think I'm delirious,
I'ma laugh when I say it, Why so serious?,
My words are my weapons, they're gonna slice you like a ginsu,
You've got words too, they can and will be used against you,
This is no court, we've got no judge no jury,
Just a man on his own, full of hate, full of fury,
I don't need your love, I don't need your pity,
I don't need you to find me in the middle of a city,
Like a lone wolf, running free,
Look around, what do you see,
I'm not running from you,
And I'm not running to,
Anything, just running to be free,
Just running to be me,
You just don't know the cost,
You don't yet know just what you lost,
But when you find out,
You'll never doubt,
I will always be me, still
No one else but Iron Will,
Cold and unyielding, like a glacier in the north,
Try to cut it open, no water will pour forth,
More than that, more than half, lies below the surface,
Not in view, to be seen, like you even know the purpose,
Got a chip on my shoulder and its not a damn cheeto,
I'm no James Bond, won't see me in a tuxedo,
But fuck all that, you won't see me at all,
I won't even answer when you try and call,
Dripping down the cheeks, the tears from your eyes,
Hidden just behind them, is the bullshit and lies,
Not my problem, I just don't give a fuck,
I've put my pack down, I've dropped my ruck,
Ima check out now, and you'll finally see,
There ain't nobody quite like me,
So go ahead, give up, and close this file,
I'm just going to keep on livin', Big Willy Style

21 January 2010

Lesson for the Day

So today I learned that if the District of Columbia decides to replace street lights with more efficient ones, they will. What they do while in the process, is put the new lights in place, covered by burlap or some such material, while the old ones are still working. The interesting part of all of this is, DC in its infinite wisdom, decided to put the new lights, RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE OLD ONES! At the corner of 11th and M streets, NW, there is currently a new set of lights, covered, blocking the view of the old ones...awesome. Good job DC.

12 January 2010

Let It Flow

Always swimming, slipping, sliding,
through the water, ever gliding,
Try to catch a wave,
No words of yours can save,
Underwater, never breathing,
Feel that heart, ever beating,
Water is beautiful, ever changing,
Splashing, pooling, rearranging,
Dive right in, feel that wet,
Hit the wall, another set,
Hundreds, fifties, catch your breath,
Or sink to the bottom, wait for death,
Water crashes, water falls,
Swim the breaststroke, swim the crawl,
Butterfly and backstroke too,
Grandma breast, whats he up to?,
Frozen water, hail and snow,
Where'd it come from, where's it go,
Be like water, Bruce Lee said,
Rising slowly, over your head,
Immerse yourself, let it go,
Only then will you truly know,
Its too late now,
You've gone to far,
You say, "but how,"
I wonder who you are,
I am Will, always will be,
In the water, water's in me,
Peaceful as a glassy lake, violent as storm,
Pieces of my heart you take, thats just not the norm,
Ne'er again will you feel love from me,
Nor do you deserve,
Any kind of sympathy,
Your life just took a swerve,
I am still Will, always remaining,
Big Willy style, spirit never waning,
None can catch me, no one is allowed,
Reach up into the big sky, try to grab a cloud,
You can do that first before,
You'll e'er have me anymore,
For I am the one, of which they will say,
He is the One, that got away.

08 January 2010

Two-wheeled Adventures Part Deux

Though the time frame between my posts has been great, my next adventure on my motorcycle happened not long after my trip down Skyline Drive.

On 14 November, I was a regular guy (ok, no I was still me), but I was on my way to work when I ran into a little speed bump. Alright, scratch that, a speed bump (read 2005 Nissan Altima) ran-the-fuck-into-me! Those of you familiar with Backlick Road in Springfield, and that awesome mixing bowl we have will be able to place this story best, but I'll try to explain as best I can. If you take the Backlick Road exit off of the Franconia-Springfield Parkway, and then take a left, you will pass through a strip mall type area, and then the road goes to the left, but there is a fork to the right. If you go right, the one lane turns into two, and then both lanes turn right and aim towards the on-ramps for 395, 495, 95, and God-knows what else. Now that the scene is set, the story can begin....

Well you see, what had happened was...I was in the left lane, and therefore the outside lane in a right hand turn, the NIQ (Nissan In Question), was in the right lane. Then, as it happened, we were both in the left lane, and he clipped my rear tire. This caused my bike to spin 90 degrees so it was perpendicular to the lane I was in, and it slid a good distance on its left side. I actually saw this coming, and this is where my inexperience came into play. I watched the car come over into my lane, and I honked my horn. It seems so insignificant and trivial now, I honked my horn. What I should have done was nail the throttle and gotten the hell out of the way. I didn't. I know why I didn't, because the road was wet from rain that morning that had stopped only an hour or so before, and I was going into a curve, so I didn't want to be going to fast.
I could have been very seriously injured in this event, but I wasn't. There are a few reasons for that. 1) I was wearing as much equipment as I had at the time. Helmet, gloves, jeans, motorcycle jacket with armor in it, and boots. 2) I got off and away from my bike as soon as I felt it start to go down. I hit the ground and tucked and rolled.
All in all, it could have gone a lot worse, I could have been run over by a car that was behind me (Thank You for stopping), I could have hit the ground at another angle and broken something, my bike could have landed on me and crushed my leg or other parts of me. But none of that happened.
We left my bike laying in the lane, which was very helpful for the police to determine cause in the accident, and they judged accordingly. The other driver, who turned out to be a huge asshole, aside from hitting me, was issued a summons for improper lane change or some such thing. Far more significant was that his being at fault made his insurance policy pay for the damage to my bike, which turned out to be totaled. They also replaced my jacket, and helmet. I ended up getting everything I spent on that bike back, and I found another one! I went from a 2000 Yamaha YZF-600r with 29K miles on it, to a 2002 Yamaha YZF-600R with 22K miles on it, and I paid less for the new one. There is not really a downside to that, except that I didn't have a bike for almost a month while I was looking for the new one.

I suppose thats all for now.

Thanks and Congrats

I'm taking this opportunity to give thanks. Yes, Thanksgiving may be over, but mine was shall we say, less than positive. I am thankful to those who have stood by me through the time that I have known them, especially in hard times when I need it the most.

On another, more pleasant subject, though I have told them congrats in person, and some of you may not have a clue who they are, Brynn and Eric, two of my dearest friends are now engaged and I wish them the best. Sometimes, things do work out. Good Luck guys, and congrats again!