Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Continuing Weirdness

I rented a motorcycle for a short break from all the work we've been doing.  My wife planned to spend my ride in the hotel relaxing. Things went pear shaped. Details to follow when I get a moment. 

It was a hell of a ride around central Florida on an 800 pound Indian Chief Vintage. That the starter had an issue on a brand new bike is a story for later. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas With A Biorhythmic Triple Negative

When I was a youngster we used the term "biorythmic triple negative": to express a deeply messed up day, when you seemed to be stuck in an endless repetitive cycle of bad luck, when it felt like the gods were crapping on you from a great height. Let me say from the outset I know biorhythms don't get any scientific respect and I have no interest in numerology  but I have found the term useful to express my frustration on those days or in those times when everything seems stacked against me.

From The Skeptic's Dictionary:

The belief in biorhythms is based more on numerology,testimonials and the Forer effect, mass media hype, and intuition than on scientific study. The belief originated in the nineteenth century with Wilhelm Fliess, a Berlin physician, numerologist and good friend and patient of Sigmund Freud.

Apparently Fliess had an obsession with 23 which he called the male cycle and 28 which naturally he ascribed to women on what was called their lunar cycle. It's what people do when they seek to make sense of an insensible universe. Anyway last week the universe seemed to have it in for me personally and that inclined me to feel the universe was sentient and malevolent and I was the target.
Flamingo Crossing, Key West
Key Lime Sorbet, Flamingo Crossing, one of my favorite things

From the cycle tourist:

Since the period of all three cycles are different (23, 28, and 33 days), the interaction of the three cycles overlaid on top of each other is rather complex.  On the day of birth they are all at their day 1 position (at mid-point and moving upwards.  They are not in this exact configuration again for 21,252 days (23 x 28 x 33) or 58 years and 66-68 days (depending on leap years).  (Who says life begins at 40? Looks like its 58 to me.) This 21,252 day cycle is known as a biorhythmic span.  There are 4,327 days on which one or more of the three phases is critical.  That leaves 16,925 days of mixed rhythm or "normal" days.  When more than one cycle is critical it is referred to as double-critical or triple critical.  These multiple critical days are especially unstable.

The holiday weekend started somewhat unfavorably when my wife went to check the bank account and discovered the credit card company had double dipped a several thousand dollar payment and had charged our business account and  our personal account. My wife went apoplectic on my only night off last week. It was a pleasant romantic evening called to celebrate the completion of the 911buddy app and wish it well on its journey to seek Apple's approval for the iTunes Store. A very long call to US Bank solved half the problem and we were preparing to go to Key West for a movie and dinner at Sister Noodle when our downstairs housemates knocked on the door to report a leak from their ceiling. It turned out our air conditioner was not draining and water was everywhere. I rolled up my sleeves, or would have had I had any, forgot the movie and tackled the air conditioner coils, my favorite occupation of a night off.
The drain was clogged and the coils were flooded and blah blah blah. We had pasta at home and sank a bottle of wine, planning a quick start at the bank to finish off the failed credit card payments and spend Christmas Eve afternoon at home before I went to work. Fat chance. 
Wet vac borrowed from a neighbor to suck out the drain

From "The influence of biorythmic criticality on aircraft mishaps:"

Critical states of the three biorhythmic cycles have different effects on groups of 
people with different characteristics. For pilots, the 
study revealed no significant influence from Biorhythms by 
straightforward application of critical days, as observed 
in previous research. Significant resuits at varying levels 
between a = 0.15 and 0.03 were obtained when considering 
different age groups among pilots. The intellectual cycle 
was found to be irrelevant in connection with aircraft 

That  night we didn't sleep well, blame the alcohol or racing thoughts trying to plan a zero dollar marketing campaign for the damned app we ended up getting up blearily just in time to reach the bank minutes before the second duplicate payment went through. Four checks bounced and my wife was still madder than a wet hen even though we stopped the second payment. I envied the elderly Cheyenne at home snoring on her second nap of the morning as we got back into the car as my wife tried to figure out in her head how to transfer business payments now made on our personal account  from there to the business account. Then she called the credit card company as we drove to Marathon and half way over the Seven Mile bridge the call center supervisor gave up the fight and agreed to refund us the bounced check fees. That lightened her mood somewhat, but the driving patterns were slow and unpredictable and my mood was getting grumpy. The first gas station at $2:10 a gallon of regular was completely jammed so we went to Home Depot to pick up the wine cooler we had ordered. Our first 24-bottle cooler had lasted eleven years and recently stopped maintaining the wine bottles at a cooler temperature but the replacement was here to rescue us and our wine! My wife was excited.

Cheyenne, Shrimp Sound Studio
Cheyenne used to enjoy  her downtown outings, here at Card Sound studio

From procato.com "Biorythm Calculator and Predictor:"

Important ideas tend to spread rapidly in the scientific community. Dr. Hermann Swoboda, Professor of psychology at the University of Vienna, read Fliess' work while still a young man, and by the turn of the century was himself researching, lecturing, and writing on biorhythms. Swoboda, who detected a periodicity in the occurrence of dreams and thinking processes, and in fevers, asthma, heart attacks, and the outbreak of illness, believed his own investigations confirmed Fliess' observations on the 23-day and 28-day cycles. Swoboda contributed to the theory the notion of the "critical" day, when the cycle shifts from high to low or low to high; a day of instability and usually of some stress for most people.

WE were in line to pick up the wine cooler when my wife asked a Home Depot employee about doggie pads, sometimes used to train dogs to pee in one spot (preferably not your bed). A customer in line ahead of us cornered my wife and told her exactly what to get at Publix and how to use them. Great my wife said, that should be helpful. So we picked up the cooler, stripped the outer box off and squeezed the thing in its inner box onto the back seat of the oh-so-capacious Ford Fusion. We also got the correct size filter for the air conditioner and bought just one to make sure it would fit properly in the future. The previous tenant bodged the filter fitting to make it easier to replace and that allowed a lot of dust insider to cover the coils. We were going to Do It Right. Then we went to get gas at another station also at $2:10 and there were no lines there. I filled the tank with less than twenty bucks. Things were looking up.
Key West Bight
Key West Bight, a sunset cruise is on my list of things to do again in 2016

From lobsangrampa.org:

Bio-Rhythms play an important role in everyone's lives, and in spite of this the majority of people don't realise and are missing out on something really remarkable and practical. In the Far East they have been using Bio-Rhythm wheels for centuries. However, Dr. Wilhelm Fliess was one of the first Westerns to observe and record Bio-Rhythms. Knowing how these cycles flow you can plan ahead and avoid really bad days or becoming hyperactive on a really good day. This is not science fiction, it's as real as the air you breath.
Do you remember when you had your last really bad day? when everything seems to go wrong regardless of what you did? This is known as a cautious day, also could be a double or triple caution day, either way you can really forecast such days and plan events around them. You are up to five times more accident prone on such days.
Everything in life goes in cycles, it's even written in the Christian Bible, Ecclesiastes 3. So knowing when is the best time, we can achieve more and avoid the really embarrassing days.

So riding high on the wave of success we stopped at Publix in Marathon for some last minute shopping, us and just about every single year- round and winter resident of that unhappy city. It was like visiting the mainland for Thanksgiving's Black Friday with no parking and crowds of people. I was told later that Key West was even more unhappy with vast crowds and endless lines so what do I know? I felt overwhelmed especially when my wife said perkily "That wasn't so bad was it?" Of course not dear.
Triumph Bonneville
My Bonneville, something else to be grateful for in a world rapidly going

From Scientific American:

A new study finds that around the full moon humans get less shut-eye and their slumber is not as deep, even if sleep is restricted to windowless rooms free of environmental and time-based cues—such as those found in a sleep lab. The findings, published today in Current Biology, suggest that restful sleep takes a hit during a full moon as well as a few days before and after the phase. Still, no one has any idea why that would occur or what biological mechanism could be at work. The authors found that during and for the few days around the full moon—the period in its monthly phase cycle when it is brightest and appears in the sky from sunset to sunrise—it takes about five minutes longer to fall asleep, sleep duration is reduced by 20 minutes and slumber is not as deep.

I unloaded the wine cooler and swept it up the flight of stairs to it's new resting place, preparatory to opening the box. Cheyenne, not wanting to shit upstairs where I have laid out a large dog box to make life easier for her weakening hind legs, had taken a copious dump in the driveway. Which would have been fine had not some vehicle chosen to use my drive as a turn around, crunched the dog eggs methodically and squished them everywhere. I got out an old towel and my bottle of bleach and set to work, picking up and bagging what was possible and wiping clean what wasn't which was most of it. Beleive me. when a car squashes a dog turd it goes everywhere.
It was a full moon Christmas night, in every respect like this, with predictable consequences

 From iconceive.com:

Some six decades ago a young Slovakian doctor named Eugen Jonas made an astonishing discovery — that women have not one but two fertility cycles. In addition to the hormonal cycle (one that the medical scientific community widely accepts) Dr. Jonas found that women have another fertility cycle linked to the cycles of the Moon called the Lunar BioRhythmic Cycle.
The nature of the Lunar BioRhythmic Cycle is very similar to how the moon affects the ocean as seen by the changing tides. The effect the moon has on the female menstrual cycle may also affect a woman’s peak fertile time. It has been observed that many women conceive not during their expected and charted hormonal ovulation period, but rather in line with their lunar peak.
Dr. Jonas established that the time of fertility occurs during the same phase of the moon as the one in which a woman was born. He also found that the gender of the child is determined by the position of the moon during the time of a woman’s fertility. In addition, he found that conception during certain phases led to pregnancy complications, owing to less than ideal gravitational forces coming into play.
Wearily I washed my hands and then went to deal with my wife's Christmas present to herself, the wretched wine cooler. I got the box open and wouldn't you know it, inside the the perfectly formed box the cooler looked like it had been attacked by a madman with a hammer. The corner was crushed, the door was broken off its hinges, it looked like some daft bugger dropped it in the warehouse in Shanghai and said bugger it to himself before sticking it in the box and sending it on it's merry way. I don't blame him really. We have too many luxuries as it is, but my wife, like the cooler, was crushed.
Cheyenne, Key West
A younger more active version of my beloved

From Wikipedia:

According to the theory of biorhythms, a person's life is influenced by rhythmic biological cycles that affect his or her ability in various domains, such as mental, physical and emotional activity. These cycles begin at birth and oscillate in a steady (sine wave) fashion throughout life, and by modeling them mathematically, it is suggested that a person's level of ability in each of these domains can be predicted from day to day. The theory is built on the idea that the biofeedbackchemical and hormonal secretion functions within the body could show a sinusoidal behavior over time.

The last I saw of her she was on the phone to Home Depot starting another round of phone round robin with a major corporation trying to figure out how to get the cooler returned and replaced. I slunk off to work.
Sunset is always a pleasure in the Keys 

From biorythmcalendar.com:

Transition days are the day when a biorhythm cycle changes polarity. At mid point and end point in each biorhythm cycle, the cycle sharply moves back to zero point and changes polarity. That is called a transition day (or caution, or critical day). As the cycles constantly change polarity, we experience life’s ups and downs.

A double transition day is when 2 of your cycles change polarity on the same day. This day may be difficult, especially if both cycles are changing polarity in tandem (going in the same direction)..

A triple transition day is when 3 of your cycles change polarity on the same day. Triple transition days are rare, occurring once every 7-8 years.

The toughest days are multiple transition days closely following each other.

As  you can imagine the night at work was filled with calories and drunks, cakes and disturbances as people succumbed to their worst instincts. But of course most people don't, most people aren't on the line to 911, most people really do have a Merry Christmas.
Some of us just have to get through our own biorythmic triple critical days and try not to go all negative.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mallory Square 2014

From a little more than a year ago this essay. I publish it today because in part I want to encourage myself to go back. I just need to make the time, dammit.

Mr Bean Does Mallory Sunset

The question was: where are the best conch fritters in Key West? Now in the ordinary course of things answering a simple question like that should be simple, no? Not, as it turns out for me. For a start I had absolutely no clue who sells the best fritters in Key West. So I asked around, as you do. The most assured answer I got was the stand at Mallory Square at sunset.
I am not a huge fan of crowds thus I am not often to be found at Mallory Square at sunset. The paradox is that I actually quite like the celebration. I am tired of hearing the story about Tennessee Williams toasting the setting sun's superb performance, not least because I remember Mallory Square when it was a dying commercial wharf and not the neatly tiled tourist venue that it is today. The place where the performers hop for tips in no way resembles it's origins, and that's okay. It's now a place to buy dust catchers, to drop a tip in a tip jar, and it's a place to buy conch fritters it turns out. It's not a place where intoxicated writers take their friends, and one can't help but feel those conversations might have been just a little bit more fun and perhaps we have missed out. Well bugger; but we do have cyclists nowadays.
We are approaching that time of year when Key West turns its back on children and adults take up puerile behavior for themselves, so it is fitting that the sunset welcomes children. I have spoken with parents who like raising their children here because kids it seems can live out Tom Sawyer fantasies, wandering freely around town. Washing up at Mallory Square it seems.
And adults pay attention to them.
The world might be a better place were kids in charge you might think, as you watch an adult insert himself into ... a tennis racquet?
He was successful In his endeavor, which you might think is not a marketable skill but these exhibitors make a tidy living I am told in a town where the city is planning to build dormitories for city workers who, the mayor says, cannot afford to rent an apartment of their own on their wages.
Some people eat fire, herd cats, swallow swords, juggle and joke.
The sunset celebration is an organized non profit, assigning spaces, renting the square from the city. I overheard one participant complaining to another about an enterprising yet rather unkempt guitarist who showed up with his instrument, a chair and a rather off key singing voice. He was however viewed as letting the side down as he lacked shoes and a shirt and was apparently a stranger to clean running water and soap.
My goal was at the southern end of the square and I made a beeline as I am not terribly given to shopping and my life has all the dust catchers I need for ornamentation. The task was simple, buy some fritters, take a picture, eat the things and then bugger off to check out some juggling.
So far so good, I got six of them for seven dollars, added some ketchup and the man's home mixed mustard, and I ate them standing up.
The mustard was stinging hot, the fritters were crispy outside and full of sweet ground corn inside as one expects. There were chunks of white rubbery mollusk of course. But here's the thing: A hush puppy even when upgraded with pieces of conch is not something you write home about. There are so many things I'd rather eat, that I find more desirable than deep fried corn... Frankly I am no great connoisseur of conch and when I lived in California, abalone that Pacific delicacy that also comes in its own shell, much adored by west coast gourmands, left me cold. Conch salad, a mixture of cold raw conch strips marinated in citrus might as well be tripe for all the joy it gives me. Cracked conch, a deep fried steak of the stuff coated in breadcrumbs depends on the batter for its flavor. So conch fritters, more economical in their use of the precious imported meat are the fall back position for those as want to claim aquaintance with Key West's legendary culinary and sporting symbol. But these are worth the taste and I'd eat them again, nicely crisp, piping hot with real pieces of large conch and a spicy mustard to dip, they are a worthwhile taste.
Naturally the story doesn't end there. Like Mr Bean on his elaborate lunch break I managed to find myself doing three things at once and made a hash of them all...
The sun was certainly heading for the horizon so while I balanced my fritters in their mustard sauce I pointed my camera hither and yon...
...at people also working to catch the moment...
...which could have been more spectacular considering the anticipation it's descent had engendered.
Will Soto the original sunset celebrator still juggling after all these years:
Which was about the time my fritters attacked and found me completely unprepared. It was a sneaky thing but the mustard slipped out of the end of the cardboard tray while I pointed the lense. The first I knew of my loss of control was when I found I had yellow goop on my fingertips which led to the discovery of a puddle of gruel down my front. I'm not saying its certain but I am pretty sure my mood took a dive when I saw baby shit down my front. I took a paper towel, and then another, then my tide stick which travels in my man purse with me as I have a tendency in this direction when I get distracted. I thought I did a pretty decent job by the time I was done.
Anyway walking around with evidence of an unfortunate scatological accident on my shirt was a buzz kill. I abandoned the celebrants and rode home to Cheyenne who was alone to greet me as my wife is away wasting taxpayer dollars at a teacher conference. My dog promised not to give me grief if I took her for a walk immediately. Who was I to disagree with an urgent Labrador request.
Much less stressful, in the dark with no vendors, no crowds and no conch fritters. I am growing fonder of them the further I am from them. I might have to go back and get a second impression. Next time hold the mustard.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Sugarloaf Walk 2010

First published on this page in March 2010 I like this story because it reminds me of the powerhouse my dog was. These days she is enjoying retirement with a lot of sleep and no walks at all. She politely declines when I offer to take her on the road to her favorite spots, but Cheyenne has always had a mind of her own. And just because she's old that hasn't changed. I rub her head because she likes that, then I rub her chin until she drools and then when she turns her head away I hope she starts remembering all the fun we had after I got her from the pound. This walk was rather too much fun, and I annoyed my wife by making us late for an appointment, but It was all done with the best intentions, whatever they were.

A Short Walk On Sugarloaf Key

For once I started out on a walk properly equipped. I had sprayed myself with mosquito repellent, and "slathered" ( I hate that word) suncream delicately upon my face and loaded two bottles of water and a plastic bag into my back pack. The lingering breezes of a late cold front had inspired me to consider finding the end of a particularly mysterious, winding trail on the south shore of Sugarloaf Key.There were two cars parked at the trail head, one a work van which I suspect belonged to this dude probably hunting for bait while shouting on his cell phone in the marshes. His bicycle was parked, unlocked where I could have stolen it. The Keys of an era gone by, unhappily.Cheyenne and I have walked the trail, old State Road 939A several times but this time I wanted to get to the end, which I had measured as four miles away. An hour and a half I figured in delightful mixtures of sun and shade.The fish float is a popular decorative motif in the Keys' wilderness.Someone abandoned a package of bait along the trail. We were forty minutes into our walk when Cheyenne sniffed and passed on by. Sun cooked whole shrimp are not to her taste, it seems.It was time for a pause that refreshes. I put my baseball cap into a plastic bag and filled it with water.I used to own a collapsible nylon water dish for dogs but we live in a brave new economic world and a plastic bag has lots of re-usable uses. And it's cheap. Ha! here come the owners of the other car at the trail head. Sensible people using bicycles instead of ambling.
However when you walk you get the time to look around and enjoy the view. Looking north:Or you can stop and try to take a picture of mangrove snappers swirling in the not completely clear waters.Yes, I know, I missed the fish altogether. Cheyenne was still frisky at this stage and hunting for smells in the bushes.
Lovely isn't it?
More water for Cheyenne.I have to confess to a small oddity in my life. I grew up reading Italian comic books and much to my surprise when I started going back for visits I discovered a book stall in Terni where they sell old copies of my favorite stories. They are lightweight and easy to read and usually I read them late at night at work when I'm tired and pictures are a relief for tired middle aged eyes. I happened to have one in my pack and because I had forgotten the paper I amused myself with Tex Willer for twenty minutes while Cheyenne napped.The Hand of Destiny was a rip snorting adventure set in New Mexico and in case you were worried Tex and Kit Carson put the evil doers to rights by the end of the episode.
By which time we had to get a move on to reach the end of the trail.Some kind person put out three heavy duty benches where I figured the trail was soon about to end.Nope, no end in sight and I decided not to spend time wandering the enticing salt flats. I checked my cell phone and to my horror discovered we had been walking for two hours and no way was I going to be home before my wife. I knew we were close to the end, open water was opening up on either side of the trail and I could smell salt air blowing. Finally, two and a half anxious hours after we left the kennel at the trail head we reached the end of the trail.It was not a very exciting end, I had hoped for a small beach with perhaps a sturdy home made bench set under a mangrove to admire the view...I could see Big Coppitt across the waters of Saddlebunch Harbor but that was it, nowhere to sit, no guest book to sign. We turned around.
Like mountaineers who summit Everest we turned to retrace our steps with all the let down that success brings in it's wake. I realized now I was going to hear from wife on her way home and I was going to have to point out I was lost somewhere in the mangroves. It was not going to be a pleasant conversation. Which was the moment I realized my shadow was no longer at my side.Oh God! I thought as I stretched out alongside her, I've killed my dog. From here the walk turned into an endurance trek, not so much for me as for my 8 year old dog. It was hot and sticky and she was panting. I picked her up and carried her 73 pounds as long as I could through the sunny patches of the trail. I found a plywood sheet and attached a piece of found fishing line and tried to persuade her to sit on it as I pulled. She was having none of it. Measure my concern by the lack of pictures. We staggered on until the damned phone rang. It went better than I had hoped though I suspect she was laughing at me, not with me. She agreed to drive to my car and meet on the trail. The sun was heading down to the horizon, shadows were lengthening and I was starting to feel lonely and not a little stupid. Finally...It was the best feeling in the world to ask that time worn cliché of a question: "How was your day?" after Cheyenne had finished greeting her savior with a wagging tail and jumps of relief. So we walked on with renewed energy ( and no more dog carrying thank God, my arms were falling out at the sockets) and my wife prattled on about her day at school and a tobacco whistle blower called Victor somebody who had told the girls about the true dangers of smoking...and my mind wandered off glad that this monstrous expedition had been reduced magically to it's proper proportion of just a family walk in the woods before dinner.Who knew you could end up walking eight miles through the mangroves and never be out of the wilderness? I do, now.