Brr-Dam

OldColoradoCityIt was 16° F (-9° Celsius) when I left Perry Park at 7:45 this morning on my way to the Pikes Peak BMW Club meeting at Mother Muff’s Kitchen in Old Colorado City.

The Gear

Base layer for my torso was a thermal turtleneck from waaaaaaay back in the day.  The thing is warm, itchy, and indestructible.  Next was a thin cashmere V-neck sweater.  Cashmere is warm, feels softer than a baby’s butt, and can be had cheap at Jos A. Bank.  The combo is surprisingly warm, but leave the pipe and David Niven accent at home.

Over the top of the sweater I zipped up another old favorite, a fleece jacket from The North Face.  Finally, my trusty Klim.

I covered by bum and netheregions in the quick-dry UnderArmor motorcycle shorts, which are, oddly enough, cozy warm.  Then a pair of Hot Chilis.  Then a pair of casual BMW riding pants with the rain liner in.  Thermal socks.  Aerostich Combat Touring boots.

Under my Arai helmet but over my Klim jacket I worse a fleece balaclava, and just about pulled my back out making sure there were no leaks around the collar.  I put on an ancient pair of Dainese winter gloves, and turned the heated grips on my R1200RS to High.

Once you get all that gear on, the only cold weather hassle left is dealing with the fogging lens on your helmet.  Easy enough to manage, though: keep helmet open until you pick up some speed, and open it each time you slow down.  The RS has the stock shield, which directs plenty of air at my helmet, so that approach worked well for me.  Dealing with fogging would be more of a hassle on a bike with a full fairing.

The Ice Cream Headache

It was a sunny morning, but the Front Range was completely frosted over.  I didn’t take a picture, but this one is pretty close to what it looked like the entire route from Larkspur to Old Colorado City.

FrontRange

http://sergiophoto.photoshelter.com

It took about 5 minutes for the ice cream headache to show up.  It wasn’t the worst I’ve had, but I did have to concentrate to get past it.  My setup had no air leaks anywhere, and the heated grips kept one side of my hands warm.  The topside did get a bit chilly, but never numb.  The tips of my thumbs went numb, and my feet felt about as chilly as the top of my hands.

The only other rider I saw was a guy in jeans and a hoodie riding his 600 home along I-25.  I wonder what the story was behind that early morning ride.

Mother Muff’s Kitchen

I felt immediately comfortable with the crowd from Pike’s Peak BMW club.  Craig, Lee, and Bek were kind enough to invite me to sit with them.  It’s always nice when the locals are friendly to the new guy.  Made me glad I rode up there.

Mother Muffs is the red storefront at the upper right:

MotherMuffs

By the time I left, temps had warmed up to the low 40’s, so I stowed my gear, slipped on my flip-flips and Hawaiian shirt, and rode home singing Gypsies in the Palace.  The temps in Larkspur were only 36°F by the time I got home (around noon), but it still felt downright tropical compared to the first part of the ride.

Old Colorado City somehow manages to hang on to its low-rent charm at the foot of Pikes Peak.  I always enjoy riding down there.

OMR

Recovering My Passion for Work

 

DavidLeeRoth

Back in May of 2014, in what I had not yet realized was another futile attempt to triumph over workplace adversity, I wrote these paragraphs:

Today’s buzzword, and I hope it’s yesterday’s buzzword soon, is passion.  Management wants us to be passionate about our work.  Sure.  Passion is a powerful motivator.  While it lasts.

Sorry boss, I lost my passion for build 12.  I’ve got a thing for ham radios, now.

I’ll leave passion for the bedroom or perhaps the garage, and take old-fashioned reliability to the office.  Which means that plenty of the time work is going to feel like anything but passion.  That’s why they called it work in the first place, in case some of you young punks were wondering.

Ride to the Sun Reunion: Tropic, Utah

I was a boy whistling in the dark.  A year later I quit.  I feared that after 35 years I was done with high tech.

Not long after, I started doing some contract work for Ericsson.  At first it was just a few hours a week.  But I started to feel better.  I increased the hours to 20.  Then to 30.  In December I agreed to 40 hours per week and during January and February I worked quite a bit more than that.

How could I go from being so discouraged I could barely glance at my computer to being so motivated I didn’t want to stop working?  Eric Berridge has something to say about that:

In today’s customer-driven market, it’s easy to overlook the employee experience. But if companies allow customer focus to override their care for their employees, they will lose the very force that enables customer success.

We’re not alone in recognizing the importance of prioritizing the employee experience. This year, nearly one-third of companies cited employee-facing initiatives as one of their top objectives. They know that employee experience is just as important as customer experience in achieving business results.

Innovation is essential to improving employee experience, but innovation is not just about ideas. You have to combine it with data, design, and an employee culture willing to adopt it. Low adoption of new tools and processes causes repercussions that are felt across the entire organization. Talk to employees to find out what information they need and the best way to see it—they will be more productive and will spend more time giving customers what they want. Don’t just invest in new technology; take the time to understand your culture and give your employees a better experience.

Eric Berridge, CEO of Bluewolf, The State of Salesforce, via CIO Cloud Alert

This is not a blog about Salesforce.  I just happened to be reading the report, and found the introduction by Eric encouraging.  Perhaps companies will realize that caring for their employees is not only the decent thing to do, but a competitive advantage.  Perhaps technologies such as those recommended by Eric will put back some of the humanity that earlier technologies took out of business processes and, as a result, the corporate office.

Ericsson doesn’t need any such technology.  They never forgot how important employees are to the success of both their customers and the corporation.  Everyone I met at Ericsson in Kista, their Sweden HQ, was not only competent, but warm, helpful, and welcoming.  Even to a contractor from another country.

They weren’t just being polite.  Ericsson has a corporate culture that nurtures trust instead of fear.  Enthusiasm instead of apathy.  With trust, you get collaboration.  With enthusiasm, you get innovation.  You get people’s best work, and you don’t even have to ask for it.  Two people in particular made that possible for me: Geoff Hollingsworth (@geoffworth) for inspiring leadership and Deirdre Straughan (@DeirdreS) for gifted management.  They don’t have to use buzzwords, employ best practices, or create team bonding events.  They are the real deal.  I know it.  The people who work for them know it.  And the team they built from vendors, employees, and contractors was dedicated, agile, and eager to help each other out.

If you’re curious, here’s the website a few of us on the team launched, and the new blog:

We’ll be doing a lot more during the rest of the year, and I’m going to be … ah … jumping in with unbridled passion.

DavidLeeRothJump_sm

Rick

Milagros on Lalo

 

basketballplayer

Image courtesy of Pinterest.

“Now listen to me, even though I am a girl,” Milagros said seriously. “I’ve been watching basketball games ever since I was little and I know what I’m talking about. Will you listen to me?”

Charly nodded.

“Good!” She punched him in the arm. “You are so cute when get mad. Most high school players and coaches have never seen Lalo play at his real level. It’s quite shocking, really. It takes the wind out of most boys. “But it won’t take the wind out of you, will it?”

Charly shook his head.

“I didn’t think so. You are simply too American to quit. No matter how spectacular Lalo is.”

Charly the American, he did not know whether to like what Milagros said or not like what she said.

“So that’s what you have to do: not quit.  Lalo will score more baskets than you, but you cannot give up. Never, no matter how hopeless it looks. You must continue to fight.  At one point he’ll wonder why you want it so badly, and he might just let you get close enough to make it fun.  To study you.  Once you’re close, he might decide he admires you, and be a gentleman about it.  So you two can compete again.  Provided you don’t insult him.  If you do that, he will demonstrate his superiority in the most devastating way.  You don’t want to experience that.”

Excerpt from Chapter 38, Volare, from the novel Tocayos Part 2, which I will publish in the summer of 2016.

The Buses of Barranco

peruvian-bus

This bus is from El Salvador and a lot newer than
the buses in Barranco, but it’s the closest I could find
to how the Peruvian buses of that day were painted.

Many different buses traveled Barranco’s boulevard on the cliff, so we had to study each one with carefulness.  They were not the modern German-engineered buses that travelled the boulevards of our neighborhoods with their destinations written in large, clear letters over the windshields.  No, the buses that travelled Barranco were bent in many places.  They had been repaired so many times that more of their parts had once belonged to other buses than to them.  Their fenders were crooked. Some were held on by wire and whatever welds you could buy for a few beers. And yet, they worked.  What perhaps looked to Charly’s American eyes like something about to collapse into a pile of metal, looked to me like mechanical wonders, traveling monuments to the indomitable character of the Peruvian cholo and his struggling, proud, and resourceful barrios.

There were so many different buses.  Some that were red and had round shapes, with magnificent radiator grills built in the 1930’s, steered out of the boulevard’s flow of traffic and came to our stop with their destinations painted under the windshield and around the side windows.  You had to read fast!

The drivers, they were artists of the transport.  Each had his own scheme for colors.  Red, yellow, and green like the Amazon parrot.  Yellow, purple, and green for El Senor de los Milagros.  Always three colors.  Because two were not enough.

For some, even three colors were not enough, so they hung beads of even more colors along the top of their windshields.  And those drivers who had a brother or a tio who owned a muffler shop, they roared past, their engines free from those restraints of civilization, accelerating with a loud, staccato blast, and decelerating with a spine-tingling, gurgling sound of something being sucked away.

And if the beads were still not enough, you could always add purple pinstripes that curled and ended in little explosions of sparkle the color of gold. And hang religious medals off the driver’s visor, glue blue and cream plastic statues of Mary the Mother of God to the dash, and paint prayers to patron saints in scroll along the top and bottom edges of the windshield.

Excerpt from Cerro San Cristobal, Chapter 37 of Tocayos Part 2, which I will publish in the Summer of 2016.

Chivas in the Garden

violence

Painting by Baron Dixon, courtesy of Fine Art America.

The maids quickly put down their cooking utensils and hurried out of the kitchen.

He swiped his hands across the kitchen counter and knocked everything onto the floor.  Bowls, ladles, vegetables, and a rolling pin. It didn’t make enough noise, so he walked along the rest of the counter, past the stove, and to the other counter, knocking over pots, lids, utensils, bread pans, tins, and anything else that wasn’t attached. The pots and utensils bouncing on the tile floor made a tremendous clatter. He then moved his attention to the cabinets, and opening them one by one tossed everything out. Dishes, glasses, bowls, flour sifters, measuring cups, coffee cups, a spare tea set, spices, salt and pepper shakers, glass candleholders, tin candleholders, a wad of candles, and flower vases of all shapes and sizes bounced off the countertops or lower cabinets and smashed into pieces on the hard floor around his feet. Some broke on the edge of the countertop and shattered with a pop, spreading shards in all directions around the kitchen, covering the island with chunks of glass of every shape and size. He kicked aside the pieces that fell beside his feet, crunching over the glass and ceramic crumbs with the leather soles of his shoes. He pulled the decorations off the walls and flung into thin air any implement that appeared breakable or liable to make noise. “That woman doesn’t know what she is dealing with,” he said coldly.

Except from Chapter 35, Chivas in the Garden, from Part II of the novel Tocayos.  I hope to finish editing it by Summer 2016.

Father Bartolome vs Canseco

riot

“You there!” Father Bartholomew shouted, pointing a wobbly finger at Canseco.

Four boys stood up.

Father closed his eyes and said a prayer. His large hands were trembling, and he could not hold his index finger steady. The boys were making sport of it.

“Was it me you called, Father?”

“Yes, Father?”

“At your service, Father!”

Father Bart’s sermons, no matter how diplomatically he phrased them, revealed an affinity for the poor that disturbed the civic leadership of the communities to which he was assigned. That was bad for the Catholic Church, and worse for Father Bart. His superiors worked hard to keep him alive during a time when Catholic priests were getting assassinated for the content of their sermons. They moved him from parish to parish well into his 70’s. Finally the Cardinal of Lima told him that if he wished to continue risking life and limb, he may as well try his hand at educating the boys of La Virgen del Pinar.

Excerpt from Chapter 34, Ghecko on God, in Part II of Tocayos, which I hope to publish in 2016.

Father Bartolome

oldman

And, as so often happens in Catholic school and horror movies, a figure materialized on the teacher’s platform. No one saw or heard him walk in. A little unsettled, one by one we, the students, we turned in our seats to face the apparition. He was a towering man in a dull black cassock and crisp white priests’ collar. His giant hands clasped a bedraggled Bible against the front of his body. He was completely bald. He was ancient, and his old cassock hung thinly over his broad, bony shoulders, the sleeves not long enough to cover his arms or hide his powerful hands. Though 2 meters of height, he stood straight as a redwood. A priest that tall had to be North American, I thought, but his leathery skin was more olive than pink, and his features were almost indian, his eyes almost black.

He studied us with great concern, and remained silent until the last student had turned around.

“I am Father Bartolome,” he said in a voice that crumbled like old wood. “I am here to teach you social justice.”

Excerpt from Chapter 33, Burguese’s Lower Lip, in Part II of Tocayos, which I’ll publish in 2016.  Part I is available from Smashwords.