My cAnnonbaLL

a kettlebell training log, and
a launch pad for aberrant missives

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not Martha Stewart

If you need to wrap a parcel for shipping, just cut up a brown paper bag.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  It works.  This would also make you feel less bad about forgetting to bring your own shopping bag that one time and failing to get the 5-cent bag credit.

The box being re-used (and I insist on a hyphen here) once contained truffles from XOX, from a client, who, by virtue of having brung me said truffles, automatically upgraded himself to A-List status.  I had kept the box, which had been sitting around, until now, when proper etiquette dictates that I must return a watch that Mr. Army Ranger Dude from North Carolina had abandoned at the studio.  Men tend to leave their personal effects behind when they visit me.  But I don't blame them for being obedient.  As a rule of thumb, remove your watch before cleaning and pressing a kettlebell.  As a rule of the fourth digit, remove your ring because I don't like your jewelry scratching my kettlebell handles.  I don't have a rule for the middle finger.

What I don't get is why people keep forgetting their Sigg bottles.  Those things ain't cheap, and you buy them to be all eco and shit ... Perhaps Blue Bottle, not water, is what we all need more of.  Meanwhile, I can be the glorified version of the old Chinese lady digging through garbage for plastic bottles.  I will make a fortune re-selling the stuff that you people leave behind.  Mr. Army Ranger Dude got lucky this time because he's my muse for tonight.  However, I may not actually hit the post office until I see a comment below that says, "I shall not learn how to swing a kettlebell from watching YouTube videos."  

Posted via email from Mandarin Menace Lite

Friday, July 9, 2010


A year and a day later, I was finally back at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, a truly lovely patch of awesome that is part of the Mid-peninsula Regional Open Space District.  Despite the overcast skies that often mystify tourists visiting "sunny California" - the drive down along Highway 1 was at once spectacular and subdued - the Day Star did break through the cloud cover to illuminate my eastward path along Purisima Creek Trail, brilliant sky blue above, brilliant jade green below.  It was like walking into a Miyazaki film. 

I was here on July 4th, 2009, with a friend.  It could be said that a puppy dog is a girl's best friend, and since I had neither a puppy dog nor a best friend, the guy that I dragged along would turn out to play that endearing role most fittingly; it is how I will always remember him.  This place holds memories and secrets - stuff that you just casually leave behind, and only revisit when you happen upon the same tree, hop over the same log, walk across the same bridge, and come to acknowledge, almost reluctantly, that time has slid under your nose like a slug.  What is memory but time resurrected?  As if on cue, I recalled how, a year prior, I had picked up a plastic bottle that someone had left on the trail; how we went down to the creek to touch the water; how, when we came upon a clearing, my friend had announced, with typical sarcasm, that the fresh air made him want to smoke a cigarette.  It was also at that same spot that he whipped out the shitty first-gen iPhone to see if the satellites could find us.  And the answer was, yes, GPS worked - one bar, no thanks to AT&T.  

At 1,600 ft I checked my modest Android phone, and thanks to Verizon, I also had a one-bar connection to the real world from the jungle.  On a whim, I decided to send a postcard to my friend.   During my 1,000-ft ascent, I had come across these bright and slimy objects called banana slugs.  They are compellingly, single-mindedly yellow.  For what evolutionary purpose I know not, for these guys do stand out and are quite easy to spot, and I'm not aware that their natural predators (raccoons, ducks, salamanders, according to Wikipedia) dislike bananas or yellow foods.  "But they roll the slugs in soil to bind the slime."  You know, like how you'd roll a mochi ball in shredded coconut to coat it.  Sort of.

Apparently the Pacific banana slug, being the second largest terrestrial slug, can grow up to 9.8 inches long.  That is longer than LONG.  And while we're on the same train of thought, I would also mention that Ariolimax columbianus "gnaws off its penis when disengaging from sex."        

The redwood forest in the preserve constitutes the southern tip of the Pacific coastal forest belt that is the banana slug's natural habitat.  I snapped a couple of pictures to show that I WUZ HERE!!! - one sent to my friend, the other to my mother, and both being shared here.   I thought about taking a video, but when creatures move at a glacial pace, staring at a still photo for five seconds will have pretty much the same effect.  Stare any longer though, and you will realize that this is really a yellow straightneck squash in camouflage, because some vegetables don't actually want to end up in your stir-fry, so they pretend to be a slug.

And that concludes my great adventure of July 5th.  

Gear: Vibram FiveFingers Sprints 
Distance: ~ 6.2 miles
Elevation Gain: ~ 1,000 feet
Post-Snack: Straus soft-serve at New Leaf Community Market / Half Moon Bay
Warm-up: 1,776 kettlebell swings on Independence Day

Posted via email from Mandarin Menace Lite

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Clear-Cutting For Portion Control

Ever seen a stump of an ice-cream pint? 

A pint is a single serving.  But sometimes, rationality gets the better of me and I decide that rationing is the way to go, just in case I get trapped under the rubble after an earthquake right next to the freezer.  While efficiency dictates that I eat straight out of the container, the undulating topography of the frozen surface, an inevitable result from eager scraping and scooping, never fails to throw me into deep anxiety, because it is messy, unfinished, undone.  I prefer the clean-cut look.  So I often find myself sculpting the ice-cream with my spoon, ironing out the creaminess and transferring the surface irregularities to my mouth.  Of course, it never looks perfect until you hit bottom.  Yes, it is flat there.

So here's a new tack.  Just chop the damn thing in half.  Use a sharp knife, make a quick, clean cut as in Kosher slaughtering, divide and conquer.  In one fell swoop, better storage aesthetics and multiple fell scoops are created.  Saran wrap is advised to protect the exposed ice-cream.     

Posted via email from Mandarin Menace Lite

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It Pays To Not Shit Your Pants

The price of laundry in my building just went up by 100 percent.  Granted, I've lived here for over a decade and therefore have been spared the travails of going to a laundromat, but still, this "facility" is in the fucking garage, where the air is not particularly good, especially when SeƱora Building Manager (who is a nice enough lady) chooses to ignore - or perhaps she really doesn't understand English - the "No Smoking" sign.  

These washers are brand spanking new, Energy Star and all.  I am happy to support ultra-efficiency - pay a little more, no big fucking deal.  It's good to use less water and less electricity.  (By the way, I always use cold water.)  The landlord should save money in the long run, right?  So why did he not pass on the savings, but instead introduce this tiered pricing system based on Soil Level?  

It is not apparent to me that when there's only one price that people would automatically choose the heavy cycle.  I have always been a conscientious launderer, being the exemplary individual that I am.  Therefore these new machines are pissing me off big time, especially when there is no guidance on what Light, Medium, and Heavy soil-ness mean, except for what might be deduced from here.  Light day, medium day, heavy day for kettlebell workouts?  Light flow, medium flow, heavy flow?  Cat hair?  Dog fleas?  What???  
It's like 2 AM and I need some damn quarters.

By the way, some of you know that I have started this other blog, and I will keep using both, just so we can be schizophrenic about it.  Please leave comments and generously Share / Tweet / Like.  

Thursday, April 1, 2010



oh jester, oh fool
behold! such enduring cranial structure
mandible jarringly articulate
temporally fused
with dirt
that foul mouth shuttered
shit! shit! shit!
impression unshattered
of teeth
reminiscent of smile
all in your head

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Prey-lude To Roadkill

If you look closely, you will see that this bird is bleeding.  I was walking up Fillmore on my way to my favorite scoop shop, Three Twins Ice-Cream, when I saw a collared cat bounding down the street, bird in the grip of its teeth, obviously having a field day.  The cat reminds me of one sweet cat that I used to play with, but this one is trim, more athletic, a ready plunderer.  No wonder, considering it is being let out like a dog and allowed to hunt like a cat, with the proud owner in tow, who obviously was also having a field day.  The owner-dude chased the cat around the corner.  Trophy discarded.  The freed prey hobbled over to the wall for its photo op, contracting into its own huddle.

Now don't get me wrong.  I do not like pigeons.  Especially when they shit in front of my building, fueled by the bread crumbs that the building manager's wife likes to throw at them.  (I will never be caught dead feeding pigeons in the park, not now, not when I'm 90 and old and decrepit and crumbly.)  I also have no problem with how the food chain works.*  We shouldn't circumscribe the free expression of basic animal instincts, mine or yours or our companion friends'.  But we, as human beings, can do better.  If we're in the business of domesticating canines and felines and feigning civilized behavior, then the following applies: dog owners should pick up, scrape up, scoop up whatever consistency presents; and cat owners - if your toy-pet or pet-toy has halfway bitten through a bird, it is your responsibility to put the victim out of its misery.  It is the decent thing to do.  I would extend the same courtesy if I'd accidentally - or not so accidentally - run over your cat.  

*A tenuous tie-in to the health care debate (+ Darwin + Buddha), but I will attempt ... Compassion FTW, yes.  Universal health care?  Largely anti-evolutionary, if you ask me. We are getting very good at managing and eliminating physical pain, but until we confront and dissolve the root cause of suffering - attachment - we will stay on the same karmic wheel as the pigeon and the cat and the cat owner and the people of Congress.  Just so our little bird does not die in vain, I will make three points to send it off to its next incarnation: 1. An enlightened mind does not get attached to tax dollars, because the IRS will collect anyway; or to life, which will end anyway.  2.  Compassion is a trait of evolved human consciousness; it does not engender a "right" to health care, or to anything else, for that matter.  3.  I am totally okay with the idea that I may end up as roadkill someday; nobody owes me any expensive extraordinary measures to keep me alive.  Just clean up the mess afterwards and don't ruin another person's ice-cream appetite.  That's all.  C'est la vie.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Not A Fan Of Facebook

Since Google rolled out Buzz a couple days ago, anyone who is someone in the tech world seems to have an opinion on what, if any, impact Google's highly integrated social networking platform (integrated with Gmail that is) has on Facebook's valuation. In my mind, there are three types of observers: people who have a vested interest in the product (investors, employees), other "market analysts" and "thought leaders" in such matters, and finally, the users, of which a sub-category is, for no lack of a better word, LOSERS.  

This is my opinion of Facebook as an end-user of Web 2.0 applications.  I don't have bucks to make, nor numbers to crunch, but for sure I must be a data point in the company's monetization model, right? Or, is "my type" of users mostly irrelevant, the way I'm a bank customer getting free checking for life but my bank doesn't ever make a penny out of my three-figure balance?


And each iteration more so.  Obviously Facebook's strategy is to grow its user-base by relentlessly streaming who's-friends-with-whom info on the News Feed.  It is Facebook's assumption that the typical user is so relentlessly mercenary that has been such a huge turn-off for me.  It is insulting.  I have no issue at all with networking and respectfully making use of connections.  It is entirely within Facebook's capacity to make it a powerful social networking engine without denigrating the meaning of friendship.  Restoring status updates as the default stream would be a great start.  I find it absolutely refreshing that I can hide the Buzz following-follower info from my public Google Profile.  It is not about privacy at all; rather, for once, we can regard ourselves not as part of a numbers game, but as individuals who perhaps have something to share during the day that is of interest or import to other connected beings.  

I put it this way because we all need distraction sometimes from life itself.  But if you really care about productivity and not wasting your time in front of the computer on pseudo-social causes or sedentary leisure, consider this:

As of 11:50 PM, Thursday, February 11, 2010, the number of fans belonging to the following Facebook groups:

  • I Don't Care About Your Farm, Or Your Fish, Or Your Park, Or Your Mafia!!!  1,737,215

  • I Bet We Can Find 1,000,000 People Who Support Same Sex Marriage  1,664,544

  • I Bet Stanford Can Find 100,000 Fans Before Cal Can!  2,027

  • I Bet Cal Can Find 100,000 Fans Before Stanford Can!  8,563

That there are so many haters of Facebook apps says less about the users of those apps than Facebook's presumptuous notion that their usage is anything remotely newsworthy.  In all likelihood Facebook does not even presume that; after all, it's run by very smart people.  It is blatantly forcing that information upon your News Feed to entice you to click on the brown baby calf.  There must be a certain demographic group or personality trait that is associated with susceptibility to the mooing of the brown baby calf - congratulations, Facebook, for that is your golden calf.  

I support same-sex marriage, but I don't BET on anything to make a statement.  Unfortunately, many Facebook "Pages" and "Groups" only amount to virtual pheromones that give the impression that you're of a certain ilk, that may be of significance as a filter or deal-breaker if you're actually going to mate with someone, but are otherwise inconsequential as a force or even indicator of social change.  To the person who started "1,000,000 Strong Against Sarah Palin" but only hit 21 percent membership target - you're a loser picking on another loser.  GET A LIFE!  

PSA: If you really believe in marriage equality, follow the Prop 8 trial here and support Courage Campaign with your money and activism.  

The red and blue / "gold" comparison proves, definitively, that better Facebooking results do not translate to superiority in anything else.  

I have never minded the "Sponsored Links" that I see on Gmail's web portal.  And if Buzz must come with Google Ads, so be it - it would be a thousand times better than the dumb-ass targeted ads that Facebook advertisers generate with my birth date, gender, and other personal info.  Again, it's not a privacy issue for me; this is just bot-made nonsense.  But I find utterly yucky and icky and distasteful and insulting the language and tone of those ads.  "Are you an 18-year-old idiot?  If you are, we have free crap reserved for you if you qualify.  Hurry up!  Offer expires at midnight."  Really?  REALLY???  Just because an ad picked up on my age doesn't make it a smart ad.  People who click on those ads are fucking losers.  

I have been a disaffected Facebook user for a long while, so I welcome Google Buzz heartily as an alternative, and so far I have nothing bad to say about it.  The bugs will be fixed, and I am awaiting the mobile app for my phone.  If, as I suspect, Facebook's monetization strategy is to capitalize on losers doing what losers do, then my opinion is entirely irrelevant to the stakeholders, which is fine by me, because Buzz will pick it up regardless.