Charly and the Waves


A wave was as opposite of Charly’s nature as it was possible to be.  Charly, he chewed metal nuts for breakfast.  The he turned on all the chainsaws in the house and screamed with them.  Before showering, he pulled all the hair out of his chest, to show the water who was stronger, but by the time he finished showering, it had all grown back.  A wave, it is something very different from Charly.

When it is not as big as a hammer, a wave is soft as a caress. A wave is sensuous in shape, in movement, in color, in surface, even in the way it collapses and disappears into the sand.  If you surrender to a wave the forces of the Earth, they reveal their mystery to you: they show you the secret place where intersect the weight of your body, your momentum, the wave’s momentum, the angle of its surface, the power of the wave, the name of the force that keeps things on the surface of the water.  That place of magic changes every second.  You have to listen with your skin.

Charly, he did not know surrender.  He did not respond to mystery.  I had been around him long enough to realize he had the sensuality of a dog who protects a junkyard.  He had the seduction abilities of big, fat nail that you step on with the heel of your foot.  I did not and do not understand how a girl as beautiful and sensual as Milagros had any interest in him.

In any case, waves were so much the opposite of Charly that once he tasted them, he developed a hunger that did not stop.  The more he consumed the waves, the more he needed them.

Except from Chapter 27, “Standing in Isabel’s Doorway. ”

Photo courtesy of

La Carretera Panamericana – Tocayos Part 2


Photo courtesy of Panoramio

As we rounded the last house on the street, the blue waters of Playa Norte finally revealed themselves to me.  I stopped, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath.  The morning breeze, thick with the ocean’s moisture, gently caressed my face like a mother’s hand.  Seagulls squawked overhead, and the warm, bitter aroma of guano that pervades the Peruvian coast drifted into my nostrils.  I opened my eyes and took a long, loving look around.  There was the small park with the tiny lawn, the half-buried white stones, the cluster of nicely painted houses.  There were the black cliffs above my house and the thatched patio that jutted out over the rocks.  There was the royal blue Pacific, sparkling through the mist, undulating with swells slowly making their way toward shore, tumbling over themselves into sparkling white foam, and rushing in a hush onto the sand.  During the last month of school I had dreamed of this moment at least once per class period.  This humble but lovely creation of God had been responsible for a full grade point off my average.  And now it was responsible for letting me forget all about politics.

Excerpt from Part 2 of Tocayos, which I hope to publish in the Spring of 2016.  Part 1 is published here.


Springer in the Moonlight



The ride home from Palmer Lake normally takes 20 minutes, but at night I slow down so I can dodge the deer who like to play Spook The Biker along that stretch of 105.  That’s a perfect road for a Softail, and at 45 mph the ride lasts even longer.  The moon was out tonight, lighting up the edges of the clouds.  I’m scared of the dark.  Less so outside than inside.  But when the moon is out I am comforted by something that feels like the mother energy of goddesses.


Photo courtesy of

I’ve ridden Route 50 across Utah and Nevada a few times.  It’s always best on an FX Softail such as a Deuce, Night Train, Standard, Custom, or Springer.  I wish Harley would go back to designing elemental motorcycles like the FX Softails instead of putting all its energy into making its baggers more and more like cars.

I’ve traded my FX Softails for baggers so often I’ve come close to despair.  I always go back.  I love riding the FX Softails so much I want to ride them more.  So I trade them for baggers, which let you ride farther and longer.  But baggers are different.  Even the Road King, a Bagger Lite, is different.  The difference is subtle, but it’s important to me.

I’ve got an 05 Springer, now.  Instead of forcing it to do 600-700 mile days, I’m going to try something new.  I’m going to imagine being satisfied with 300 or even 200 miles days.  Ride the two lanes, not the highways.  Ride nice and slow.  And stop when I want to.

I’d like to ride the Springer under moonlight across Nevada’s Route 50 with that attitude.  Bucket list for sure.


Photo Blog: Following Missus Fender Bunny Up Mt Bierstadt


It’s known as Colorado’s easiest 14er, but it’s still a 7-mile round-trip with a climb from about 11,400 to 14,000.  You actually have to descend a couple hundred feet before climbing back up, but who’s counting.  If you really care, see the map here:

Map of Mt Bierstadt

Three months ago Missus Fender Bunny, in her early 50’s, was released from an 11-day stay at the hospital weighing 98 lbs and unable to climb a set of stairs.  Since then she’s been doing about 30 minutes of weight lifting three times a week plus some calisthenics now and then.  Not what you’d call rigorous preparation for high-altitude trekking.


Here she is on the part of the trail that descends from the road to the marshes.  Mt Bierstadt is the round mound on the top right of the picture.  The map said it was 3.5 miles away, but it felt a lot longer.  I googled “altitude factor” to see if there was a way to multiply mileage by elevation and ruggedness of terrain, and found this:

Altitude multiplier

It reads more like a gut-level multiplier than anything scientific, but made me feel better.

The lower part of the hike is a pleasant stroll through marshlands.


After what feels like a mile but is probably less, you cross this stream …


… and begin the ascent.  While climbing we met some really nice locals.


We met a ship’s captain from Virginia who was recovering from open heart surgery.  He’d prepared quite a bit at sea level, and was having a blast hiking up the mountain with his son.  One couple kept me in stitches.  The guy was from Japan and full of exuberance, his companion was an American woman with a wicked sense of humor.  I heard the term “Coloradans” for the first time, but I assured her it was not a widespread trait.  We met more than one couple on their first date, which left Missus Fender Bunny in shock:

Are you kidding me???

One couple was hiking up with their 5 month old baby!

When’d you bag your first 14er, George?

The dogs were cool.  Lots and lots of dogs, but hikers were great about picking up after them.

The vistas from the other side of the river were cool.  Here’s a view across the marshes and the road:


Missus Fender Bunny and I stopped for breakfast at a midway point that felt like it was another mile up the road, so it was probably just another 1/2 mile up the road.


We stopped for secondsies a little higher up the trail.  And 11sies beyond that.


After a long zig-zag up the shoulder, you reach a large field of tundra scratching out such a meager living between the rocks that it would have made the Koch Brothers weep with joy.


This part of the hike feels kinda long since it keeps going and going.  Suddenly, you get to the ridge line and can look over the other side.


At that point, if you have any sense of self-preservation, you take a Left and hike along the ridge line to the foot of the summit, where you are met with a wall of rock:


This is one of the spots where your imagination takes over with vivid images of broken ankles, arms fractured backward at the elbow a la Steven Segal, and other reasons to turn back.  Which Missus Fender Bunny considered doing for a moment or two:


But she’s a tough broad, and in spite of feeling a little queazy about scrambling up the bone-breaking, spine-shattering, skull-crushing rocks, she made it the rest of the way.

The summit is loads of fun because it’s full of friendly, happy people:


We agreed to take photos of the couples up there only if they promised to flex.  They insisted on returning the favor:


The hike down in the afternoon was spectacular, too:


Given our level of conditioning, if we hadn’t stopped to take pictures or stop for meals or to chat with all the friendly people on the trail, we probably would have hated the climb, LOL.  It took us about four hours to get to the top, and about 3 to get back down.  Anyone who hikes regularly at altitude could cut down that time by quite a bit.  If they wanted to.  But why hurry?


It was a real treat, and Missus Fender Bunny is already planning our 2nd 14er!



Repost: Welcome to the OTN Garage!

Sun Microsystems once said it would keep its blog posts online forever.  But it didn’t count on being acquired by Oracle. So just in case the meaning of “forever” changes again, I’m going to repost some of my favorite OTN Garage posts.  Here’s the first one.

Welcome to the OTN Garage!

Originally Posted 24 May 2010.

The OTN Garage should evoke the feel of your Dad’s favorite hangout: his garage.  A typical American garage in the 60’s and 70’s was full of projects, tools, tips, friends, and beer.

I realize this image doesn’t apply across all countries, but the American middle class garage was such a terrific institution that the world should claim it as its own.

The OTN Garage will pick up where the BigAdmin Blog left off. The BigAdmin Blog brought news and resources to the few, the proud, the chitos-munching sysadmins who kept Sun technologies running through the night so the rest of us could read the Sports Page on our laptops first thing in the morning.   I’d include a link to the BigAdmin blog, but it’s no longer available.

The OTN Garage will continue to do that, but it will add news and resources for developers of Oracle Solaris, Sun hardware, and related technologies.  And it will draw on the terrific resources of the Oracle Technology Network.

The focus of the OTN Garage will be similar to that of the Oracle Solaris Community Newsletter and the sysadmin- and developer-related resources that are being made available on the Oracle Technology Network.

In upcoming blogs, look for news about useful content, resources, and events.   This is the place where we will, as Nike likes to say, Write the Future.

– Rick

Systems Admin and Developer Community Lead for the Oracle Technology Network

The Beaches of Tocayos


Photo courtesy of Aaron Chang

The primary beach in Tocayos is Playa Norte.  In the sequel to Tocayos, which I have not yet published, much of the action takes place in a second beach, which I refer to as Playa Sur.  Playa Norte and Playa Sur are fictional locations, of course, but they are inspired by two actual beaches, Punta Hermosa and Villa.  This can get a little confusing, so here’s a table:

In Tocayos In Peru
Playa Norte Playa Norte beach, in the town of Punta Hermosa
Playa Sur Villa Beach, in front of Villa Beach and Tennis Club

The actual Punta Hermosa in Peru has two beaches, Playa Norte and Playa Sur. Tocayos remains true only the actual Playa Norte.  It was the gathering place for surfers heading out to Pico Alto:

Pico Alto is a monster wave that breaks over a submerged reef a kilometer to the west of my family’s beach house. The reef requires so much force to make a wave that it breaks only a few times a year. Semana Santa is one of them. Every year during Semana Santa the surfers, the very best surfers from all the beaches north and south of Lima, they come to Playa Norte.

They arrive in ones and twos, driving Beetles and bathtub Volvos with long, skinny surfboards strapped to the roof. Some belong there, some do not, but they all gather along the malecon overlooking the beach, just below my house. There they walk back and forth, in a study of the ocean, each other, and their own hearts. Some go back to their car and check their glove compartments for lost bars of wax. Then they check the seams in their front seats for the keys they lost last summer. They untie and re-tie their bathing suit strings. They walk back to the malecon and warm up their muscles. They stretch their bones. They walk back to their car and examine their surfboards, still on the roof racks. They examine each other’s surfboards. They invite the other surfers to examine their surfboards. Anything to keep from thinking about what is going to happen to them.

Villa, the inspiration for the fictitious Playa Sur, is closer to Lima.  It’s known for its beach and tennis club, and its really nasty surf.  The only beaches I’ve found, read about, or seen pictures of, that has breakers more hollow and vicious as those of Villa are Sandy Beach and the shore break at Waimea.  Both are on Oahu.  The Wedge, in Southern California, is a body-surfing E-Ticket, but not as vicious as Villa.

Outside, the waves in Villa are big, hollow, powerful, and impossible to board surf. A few board surfers tried surfing them when I lived in Peru, but their broken boards washed up on the beach and they seldom ventured back out.  When that lip hit your board, it was all over.

Inside, the surf is just as hollow but thick with sand.  The wave scoops up sand from the bottom like a commercial fishing trawler scoops up fish.  I could seldom get through the middle section of Villa without carrying a fistful of sand back to the beach in my shorts.  The only way around that was to get lucky enough to ride an outside wave all the way to shore.  Since the big waves usually closed out, that almost never happened.


It’s hard to appreciate the appeal of body surfing from shore.  You almost never get to see the action.  Board surfing is much more exciting to watch.  But if you’re drawn to the heart of a wave, body surfing is pretty cool.  This picture is not of Villa, but the wave resembles an average size wave at Villa.

Needless to say, I surfed Villa with Duck fins or Churchills.  Without them, I couldn’t get enough force to slide down the face before going over the falls.  I have gone over the falls at Villa, and one time I hit the sand so hard I couldn’t walk for a week.  The calcification still shows up on xrays of my spine.  They also came in handy for dealing with rip tides, though we actively looked for rip tides.  They helped us get through the surf quicker.  Carlos didn’t surf Villa much, but when he did, he did it without fins.  Carlos was a purist.  And a fish.

There’s a lot more action in Playa Sur in the sequel to Tocayos.