Friday, July 18, 2014

My Bicycle, the Long Haul Trucker

A few months ago... I bought this:

Long Haul Trucker

The first time I was ever exposed to the Surly Long Haul Trucker was through one of my best friends Aaron Green. He, with one of our other close friends rode one of these across the country in 2008. Upon their return, I was able to take a closer look at his bicycle. At that moment, it became the bicycle of my dreams.

The LHT is a no frills bike built for the purpose of moving anything you can mount on it. This bicycle is so beefy. The chromoly steel frame and fork make for a really comfortable ride. I've ridden into really bumpy asphalt, potholes, gravel, and the bike takes it without any problems. The rims and tires help a lot with that too. I feel at times that I can just ride over most anything without having to worry.

When I bought the bike, it came with Velo Orange Fenders, Surly Racks (front and rear), Silver Bar End Shifters, new cables, Shimano XT Brakes, and Cane Creek SCR-5 Brake Levers... basically, I bought it all set up awesomely. Obviously, the former owner of the bike is awesome. All it was missing was this:

Brooks B17 Saddle Long Haul Trucker

The Brooks B17 Saddle... After purchasing the bike, the first modification I made to it was to buy this saddle. A few days later, I dropped by the West End Bike shop and asked if they had any extra chains and inner tubes lying around. One of the guys said yes and helped me rig the chain to the bottom of the saddle.

The Review

The Good
The Long Haul Trucker is a truly solid bike. You can mount almost anything to it, the clearance for panniers is really great. Its the kind of bike you could ride across the United States, or just ride down the street to get groceries with. Its paint job is powder coated, doesn't chip, it takes some effort to even actually scratch the frame. Makes for a great touring and commuting bicycle.

The Not So Bad
There's really not that much to say about what this bicycle isn't lacking. The chainstay clearance and wheel base proportion does make turns a little on the wide side, however this doesn't mean that this bike isn't nimble, I've made some ridiculous turns on this. Its a bit on the heavy side... this bike does hold a lot of stuff... a lot. Speaking of heavy, I believe this bike is about 40lbs, maybe less. I have to carry this bicycle up and down three flights of stairs everytime I choose to ride it, and its totally worth it.

Overall
Surly makes great bicycles. Their brand speaks into every bicycle they produce. Surly owners tend to have a nod in passing to other Surly owners. I like to call this the "Surly Nod." Its akin to the nod a bearded man gives to another bearded man. On the road, this bicycle demands respect. Everyday, I get on this bike, it gets respect. I find myself looking for reasons to ride bike.

Every time I ride this bike, I'm thankful.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Heading and the Wind

I imagine coming into the world. With light shining through my eyelids, eyes burning, perceiving light for the first time, not having words for what it is. Being helpless, yet, not knowing it; being in pain, yet, not knowing it; being loved, yet, not knowing it.

I imagine growing up, being guided through school. Gathering words to articulate feelings I haven't felt, learning new things about the larger world beyond me. Wanting to play and yet, be left alone. Being told what it is to have a successful life. Being pushed, molded -- casted.

I imagine finding out the cast wasn't made for my material, my being. How the path of high school, college, and a career didn't quite fit my heart. Feeling disconnected from those who had followed a path that I didn't take... then eventually reconciling differing lives. Feeling unbecoming.

The switch. I imagine graduating from high school, going into college, getting a good job, moving up the ladder, moving to another career, falling in love, getting married, moving out of an apartment, getting a condo, getting in debt, selling the condo, moving into a house, having a child, having a dog... having all these things because I followed a path. Yet, I didn't.

Aaron Delani in Portland

Things don't always happen the way I plan. I guess it doesn't help that I haven't planned anything in a long while. I recently moved to Portland Oregon. The thought of moving to Portland, living in Portland never really crossed my mind until one of my friends invited me to live up here.

So I made a move. Tried finding a job in a trying market, which at times left me feeling helpless and despaired. Being away from my family and friends was wearisome as well; and although I never wondered "why I am here?" always thinking to myself, "I am here, and this is what I'm going to do." I can't say that this journey hasn't had its difficulties... its all been burdensome... but I've never been happier.

Being on my own feels like being born into a world I was somewhat familiar with, and the light shone through my eyelids still burned; I could hear the world I was to be a part of in my mother's womb, then being born with all the deafening audacity of the world booming into my ears. Being born is dissonant freedom, as is independence. Independence for me meant to have a willingness to pursue living. To be unguided and humbly seek guidance, to think and do by will and choice. Pursuing a being outside of me, I prayed for a direction, prayed for a way to make things possible... prayed to discover what the hell I'm doing with my life. Prayed to live, only to discern I was only surviving... and that is only enough.

I guess this is what you call a transition.

The Heading, the Wind

My life at times feels as though its a book writing itself. At times, I feel as though a minor character in my own story. At times, I've become the voice, the narrator in my own life telling myself what has happened, then giving insight to this unlikely protagonist with the voice of Morgan Freeman.

I've seen myself I've become the person whom I've cheered for in movies, hoping I survive the tale. These parts of the story usually take place when I'm faced with uncertainty and odds against my will. I'm not a hero, not even in my own story... and yet, I cheer, hoping that I will make it through... then polarizing myself at times as the villain, the victim, or the erroneous judge.

I imagine myself as a vessel at times, for all my hopes, my dreams; floating on the ocean without a heading being and thrust by the wind. Everything about who I am is in this ship, lost in a vast and desolate ocean.

I imagine that there is a crew on this ship. My family, my friends, those most dear to me. They've become a part of me, they've reflected to me who I've become and sometimes who I was. They tell me to steer. They tell me to lookout ahead. They support me, they raise my sails. The vessel moves as I catch the wind.

Without them in love and loyalty, life in the vessel would be so bleak. There would be no room for love or companionship. There'd be no use for drink, or food, or art... there'd be no use in screaming "BEAUTY, BEAUTY, I CAN SEE IT IN FRONT OF ME; CAN YOU?!" Joy would be the whisper of the narrator in my mind saying, "beauty, beauty, it is." In many ways, everything I would need to survive is on this ship.

Twenty seven years on the water, finally, I'm realizing what courage and bravery means. I've casted my sail, not knowing where I would go. As my vessel moves, I scour the ship to find out what is missing for me to live. In the vessel I find empty boxes; and its terrifying to know something may be missing. Of all the words I've learned, bravery has felt like the one that often eludes me. Bravery to me is what it feels like to pursue the void despite the odds and courage is knowing how treacherous the journey can be, yet continuing to adventure to seek the missing. This is my heading, despite the wind.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mom, Dad, and 40 Years

Mom and Dad

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a portrait of my mom and dad... today, they've been together for 40 years, I couldn't be more blessed. I can't even imagine how they raised us four siblings and not have gone crazy for it. My brother, sisters, and I turned out okay... So I'm pretty sure they're doing something right.

Family

Their encouragement throughout the years has been seeing their love for each other, and love for us kids could overcome even the most terrible arguments. They raised us kids to be both independent and family oriented; a bittersweet dichotomy of us all moving on, moving apart from each other as a family divided tethered together ties of love.

Family

I see them with my nieces and nephews and how much love they show to them, and every time I see this, I remember them doing the same with me and my siblings. My mother, the steadfast; my father, the playful one. Taking turns with playing with the little ones.

I'd be lucky to even have half of the affection my parents have for each other; or meet someone who I somehow can't live without. They've set the bar pretty high.

I love them both, even when they're far away.

Edit: they dated for 6 years and have been married for 40 years.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Why Film?

I wanted to take some time to write about film, about how I feel about it. Its easy to just say that I like it. Sometimes language doesn't suffice. I want to tell you what is it about film, or analog photography, that makes me enthralled.

Imagine yourself in an empty room. Four walls, two windows on one side. Dark wood panels surround you, three walls painted in an ocher yellow, the floors a red mahogany. Look up in your mind's eye, notice that the ceiling is absent, just wooden trusses and the panels that keep the rooftop. There's a warmth that seems to envelop the space, lit in a haze. You walk toward the window to your left and look out; you see a yellow tree.

You breathe slowly. One. Inhale. Two. Exhale. Vapors cloud before your head. Without a thought, you turn to your right and step outside of the room and look out. The wood creaks beneath your feet. You stop before the four steps that led you away from this lonesome cabin. It is the afternoon, the light passes through the trees. You breathe.

Light Through Trees

This is how I feel when I look at this image. Maybe it takes a certain kind of imagination, but the idea is there.

An image to me is a captured moment; whether it may be a painting or a photograph, these moments have a quality to them. Within every image, intrinsically, there's an idea. A wisp of thought, like smoke. Each image could tell some sort of story, or provoke an emotion. Being able to capture these moments have always been a hope for many. I think of this as I compose a photograph, or as a painter laying paint, that what is happening in my mind is a moment that is faster than the reality where my body resides. As I take a photograph, or gently hold a brush and paint, I'm making an impression of this moment in my mind.

There's a certain quality to these ideas because of meaning. The intentions behind it. I do believe that it is true that one could capture an image, a good image. With the proper tool, the right light.. anyone could capture a good image. But what makes an great image, in my opinion, is the meaning behind it and the thoughts or emotions it inspires within me.

The medium used to render such images is important. The fidelity of the idea counts on it. Film, like other analog technologies is somewhat romantic in this sense. Silver is sensitized through a chemical process and is prepared onto a cotton laden gelatinous sheet in complete darkness; where the next moment it should ever see light is when you've released a shutter and exposed it. The silver reacts to the light and moves in an organic manner. It goes through another process to erode the “tagged” silver, and fix the silver that should remain on the film, forming a negative. A process so similar to its earliest conception. Its a faithful process that has a distinct character to it... and each film is different. Its not even a perfect process, and its become somewhat of a novelty

Film has a quality to the images it's able to capture. There's not just grain, but also some form of dimension to the image. I like to think of a similar relationship between sound and a vinyl record. Vinyl reproduces sound so well (given the appropriate environment and speakers) that it has a warmth and seemingly natural tone to it. When I listen to music on it when I get the chance, I feel as though I'm hearing what the artist meant when he or she strummed that chord, or sang in such a way. When I look at silver gelatin prints, or glass plate positives, or even chromogenic print, I feel the same way. I hear these analog processes whisper an idea in a wisp, like smoke, welcoming me to understand them. Without a medium to be faithful to the image, I feel as though the meaning could be lessened or even lost. The analog process is still the best way to capture an image photographically.

I am not against digital photography at all. I just find that photography doesn't progress in the ease of doing it, but the quality of mind and medium used to bind it.