Narcissus' Echo

Thoughts, tears, rants, ruminations, hopes, fears, love(s), and prayers of just another being passing through this wracked sphere...

My Photo

A round peg in a world of square holes...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Mountain Lion Helmet Cover

This one had me rolling on the floor in stitches for a while :D

From MTBR forum:

AZClydesdale: Walt - Put one of these* over your helmet and get back up there on Sunrise!!!! They will see you as one of their own.

*Not a real head of course, but a eco-friendly head made of fur from your winter coat.

IBIKEAZ: You may get screwed. Wearing one of those might get you in trouble if there was some male hooligan mountain lions looking for action.

AZClydesdale: I'd rather be mauled.

SunDog: The foreplay would equate to a mauling.

AZClydesdale: Mee-Ouch!

SunDog: I wonder what the N.A. Shaman would say of the offspring?

File photographs of shot mountain lions:

This gentleman is Brian Williams. The mountain lion weighed at 220 lbs (100 kg). Click on the picture for a write up of the hunt.

A fearsome adversary indeed. Shaolin Kung Fu, Akido, Taekwando, Judo, Karate, Steven Seagal Signature Underpants, whatever you have, unless you are armed with a shotgun or high-power rifle, a fully-grown cougar will make wantons (or sushi) out of you.

The puma can run as fast as 30 mph (50 km/h), jump 20 ft (6 m) from a standing position, vertically leap 8 ft (2.5 m), and often weigh more than 150 pounds (70 kg). Their bite strength is more powerful than that of any domestic dog. Puma claws are retractable and they have four toes. Adult males may be more than eight feet long (nose to tail), and weigh about 150 pounds (70 kg). In exceptional cases males may reach as much as 200 pounds (~91 kg). Adult females can be 7 ft (2 m) long and weigh about 75 pounds (35 kg).

Pumas can kill and drag prey about 7 times their own weight. They normally hunt large mammals, such as deer and elk, but will eat small animals, such as beavers, porcupines or even mice, if the need arises. They hunt alone and ambush their prey, often from behind. They usually kill with a bite at the base of the skull to break the neck of their target. The carcass of the kill is usually then buried or partially covered to protect it for several days, while the puma continues to roam and comes back for nourishment as needed.


Friday, October 28, 2005

Dear Amy,

I've been in a relationship with a lovely woman for two years. Six months ago, she gave me an ultimatum. Now I have two weeks to make my decision: marry her or break it off forever. She's crazy about me, and my family and friends adore her, and all would be ecstatic if I took the plunge. The problem is, I am just not passionate about her. A friend's father once told me "it doesn't matter who you marry." I find that really sad, but if it's true, what am I waiting for? -- Down to the Wire

Romeo and Juliet were overprivileged freaks. Until 2000 years ago, according to the historian Stephanie Coontz, "the theme song for most weddings could have been 'What's Love Got to Do With It?'" Sure, sometimes love did follow, but for thousands of years, writes Coontz in Marriage, a History, people married for sensible reasons, like keeping peace between France and Spain. For commoners, matches were not typically made in heaven, but in three inches of manure: "My daddy's pigs and your daddy's cows forever!"

Back in the 1550s, when it took two to do a lot more than tango, divorce was about as common as cell phones. In those days, putting food on the table meant chasing it, killing it, skinning it, then turning it on a spit over a fire, and there was a bit more to housework than despotting the water glasses and wiping down the microwave. Since the laboring class usually married in their late 20s, according to Lawrence Stone and other historians, and "growing old together" could mean making it to 40, a marriage might have lasted 10-15 years, at beast. These days, with some gerontologists predicting that living to 120 will soon to be the norm, if you pledge "till death do us part" at 25, you could be promising to spend 100 years together. (You might serve a similar amount of time if you murder several of your neighbors).

Love isn't the answer, it's the problem. As Coontz observes, once people started marrying for love, they started getting divorced for the lack of it. Nobody wants to ask whether it makes sense to tell another person you'll love them until you drop. Yes, it could happen. Everybody's got a story of that one couple, still madly in love at 89, and chasing each other around the canasta table. Guess what: They lucked out. You can't make yourself love somebody, or continue loving somebody after the love is gone; you can only make an effort to act lovingly toward them (and hope they don't find you too patronizing). Love is a feeling. It might come, it might go, it might stick around for a lifetime. It's possible to set the stage for it, but impossible to control--which is why people in the market for durability should stop looking for love and start shopping for steel-belted radials.

I've always thought a marriage license should be like a driver's license, renewable every five years or so. If your spouse engages in weapons-grade nagging or starts saving sex for special occasions--like leap year--well, at the end of the term, give them bus fare and a change of clothes, and send them on their way. But, what about the chi-l-l-ldren?! Maybe people who want them should sign up for a "delivery room to dorm room" plan, with an option to renew. It's counterproductive to preserve some abusive or unhappy family situation, but maybe more people would buck up and make parenting their priority if they knew they just had to get through 18 years on family track: "We're very sorry you're in love with your secretary, but there are children involved, so zip up your pants and take the daddy place at the dinner table."

Some people do have to settle. They're afraid to be alone, or they aren't brave or creative enough to thumb their nose at convention, or it's closing time in the egg aisle, and if it's male and willing, they'll take it. According to your friend's father, "it doesn't matter who you marry." Maybe it doesn't matter to him because he's one of those guys who really just wants a tidy house, regular sex and hot meals--and he never figured out how he could come close with carryout food, topless bars, and a cleaning lady. Do you have what it takes to hold out for a woman who really lights you up? You might--providing you don't need another half to be whole. If you let this girl go, you may feel empty, bored, and lonely for a while--but it beats marrying her and feeling that way for a lifetime. Maybe if you can't order up "happily ever after," but if you try for "realistically ever after," you might find "happily ever now."

Amy Alkon can be reached at

The purpose of love, sex, and marriage is the production and raising of children. But look about you: Most people have no business having children. They are unqualified, either genetically or culturally or both, to reproduce such sorry specimens as themselves. Of all our privileges, the license to breed is the one most grossly abused. (Edward Abbey)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Passion burning

Inspiring tales of personal battles, joys and triumphs. The dedication of these folks is infectious. More than anything else, losing weight through exercise is vastly superior to those silly diets that are nothing more than fads perpetuated by con men to the lazy. Slim and fit are two very different categories. You may have lost 50 pounds through Jenny Craig, Expressions, or even the silly low-carb diet, but the slimmer you is just as unfit as the fatter you.

Don't just get slimmer. Get leaner and fitter.

All right, let these guys tell their own stories now.


Well, the last few days my weight has been within a pound +/- of 165 on the scale. This is an important weight in that 4.5 years ago I weighed 100 pounds more.

I've been riding a lot this year, having moved up from sport (insane, hard, challenging, rewarding...) to expert (scary fast real athletes, longer courses, more bonking, cramping, puking and so on likely...) and gotten onto a road bike to boot. The last few years here in Santa Fe have reawakened an intense passion for cycling. It had been 13 self destructive, high stress, poor diet, no excercise crappy quality of life, years in NYC. No doubt I learned a lot, miss my friends & family, the culture, the people, the resources and so on, but my wife and I had reached our saturation of it all. We headed out in mid-2000 and haven't looked back. Prior to NYC, I had been professionally competing & performing bmx freestyle and really active. Went to college and began the long self destructive slide. Smoked 2 packs of Marlboro "reds" for 10+ years of that time, besdies the above mentioned self destructive habits. Oh, and booze? Yep, not like a drunk, but a heavy drinker no doubt.

My recent weight hadn't really sunk in until my wife started culling through our vast digital photo collection, and found a few real "dooseys"! I can't believe how little definition I had, how puffy & downright cruddy I looked.....

Picture in winter 99/2000 upstate NY, note bubba-hunting hat:
(quite a contrast, my marathon-running sister in law & me!)

There are much worse ones than that, but there's no need for that!

Anyhow, I basically kept the goals short and attainable. I remember thinking, "man, when I get down to 235, I'll feel a lot better". And I did! Then 220, 215, 200 (!) 185, 175, and now nearing a target of around 160. I have changed my diet to some extent, and when I eat I now eat healthy proteins & fats, few complex carbs, good greens & veggies, and minimal booze, caffeine, sweets and other seratonin-level changing foods & drugs. This alone helped a lot, and boosted energy. Combined with a steady amount of hard riding, and some not-so-hard riding, and the racing, I have finally combusted 350,000 calories more than I ate in the last 4 years. Simple, huh? LOL

Not looking for anything here, but hope to encourage the folks out there that are interested. Patience and patience and some care in what you eat will do worlds of good!

At Tour of Canyonlands race in Moab, frst regional Sport level race I ever won, this past April. Note: I'm down 12-14 pounds since then....


July 8th 2002, I had an acute Pancreitus attack. ICU for 11days. Then 32 total in recovery. 1 in 4 chance of dying right up till the end, per my lab work. Was drinking myself to death, plus partying too much. Stopped all that stuff cold turkey. Not a drink since. Wasn't as heavy(180lb), but now I'm 165, and have never been as fit. NEVER ever wanna go back. I'm about to be 46yrs next month.

Heres me in late April 02. Um...I'm on the right. Shining Rock wilderness in Pisgah. Hell, I "thought" I was in shape. Shiiiiiiiit.

Me last week. I attribute me rediscoverying riding 100% to my turn around. My bloodpressure is super low again(after being on heavy meds 2yrs ago). Resting HR in the high 30s. No more Gout in my knees and feet. All from the bike.


I myself have lost 50lbs since my lazy couch potato days. I feel so much better and happier now. I was in my late 20's and weighed around 185lbs and was feeling like crap. My weekends and weeknights were full of TV watching and potato chip eating. I knew it was time to lose some weight when even the 36" waist jeans were uncomfortable. I stopped eating the high fat crap and started walking for 30-45 minutes a day. The weight started to melt away and after a year I had lost almost 20lbs. I then moved onto riding my old ten speed bike and that got me losing a bit more. Then I got my first mountain bike and lost a bit more. As my mountain biking experienced increased so di my level of effort and my addiction was in full bloom. Fast forward two years and I'm riding a GF Sugar and a GF HooKooEKoo and had lost 50lbs. It's been about 3 years since I hit that mark and I'm stable at 135lbs. I tend to hit close to 140lbs in the winter and then I drop down once the riding season starts. I still watch what I eat, but I'm not as deligent as before. I'm not eating all kinds of high fat crap, but I also don't stop myself from enjoying nights out and such. It's all a case of moderation for me and all the riding helps with that...

Here's me before:

And last year with my fiance:


In the last 13 months or so I went from 205lbs (right) to this morning weighing in at 142lbs. In the pic on the left I was about 157lbs, I still weighed less with my son on my back. It was nice taking a 25mile MTB ride yesterday and seeing the top local rider from last year pulling in a good 5 minutes behind me on the climbs.


Here's a picture of me on New Years of 2004 at 223 lbs, and the one right next to it is in May of 2004 at 173 lbs. I'm currently around 180 and hoping to drop five more pounds in the next two weeks. I agree with other posters that I had to find what works for me. I tried the Atkins thing, but I love noodles and rice too much for that to work.

Here was my plan: Each week I set a weight loss goal of 5 pounds, and I made sure to get around 1200-1400 calories each day. On top of that I bike commuted to work 13 miles round trip each day. I also began running on a treadmill. I actually kept on track and lost 50 pounds in ten weeks! I know it was probably way too fast, and I may have caused myself some short term damage, but I'm 100% healthy today, no problems.

One of the greatest motivators to lose weight for me, was my mountain biking. I took off half a year in the beginning of 2003 from riding, and really lost it, healthwise, and when I started back up again, it was hell making it up the hills. I was always last up with all my buds having to wait for me. I figured if I lost weight fast and hard it would be so painful to lose weight that I would never want to let myself get so far out of shape again. It's worked so far! I wouldn't recommend what I did to most people. Again, it's what works for you.

Cops and robbers

From the humor section of the October 5th 2005 issue of Fugitive Watch News (



A man is going down the road, and gets pulled over by a highway patrolman. When he gets up to the car, he tells him that he was speeding. The man is shocked, but not startled by being pulled over because he is always speeding. While the highway patrolman is standing there, he sees that the man has 9 huge knives in the back seat. He asks him what they are for, and he tells him that they are for his act, and he is a juggler. The patrolman does not believe him, and tells him to prove it. So he gets out of the car, and starts to juggle the knives. At the same time, 2 men are driving by and witness the two on the side of the road. One of them looks to the other man and says, "Man, I am sure glad I quit drinking, those sobriety tests these days are rough!"



From Mesa, AZ...

ATTORNEY: Officer, how far was the the defendant's vehicle in front of you?

OFFICER: Approximately one-half mile.

ATTORNEY: Can you see clearly for one-half mile?


ATTORNEY: Well, Officer, I'm in doubt that you can clearly see an incident that is occurring one-half mile away. So suppose you tell us all again just how far you can see?

OFFICER: Well sir, on a clear night, I can see all the way to the moon.


An Illinois man, pretending to have a gun, kidnapped a motorist and forced him to drive to two different automated teller machines. The kidnapper then proceeded to withdraw money from his own bank account.


Fire investigators on Maui have determined the cause of a blaze that destroyed a $127,000 home last month--a short in the homeowner's newly installed fire prevention alarm system. "This is even worse than last year," said the distraught homeowner, "when someone broke in and stole my new security system."


A man walked into a Topeka, Kansas Kwik Shop and asked for all the money in the cash drawer. Apparently, the take was too small so he tied up the store clerk and worked the counter himself for three hours until the police showed up and grabbed him.


In Ohio, an unidentified man in his late twenties walked into a police station with a 9-inch wire protruding from his forehead and calmly asked the officers to give him an X-ray to help him find his brain, which he claimed to have be stolen. Police were shocked to learn that the man had drilled a 6-inch deep hole in his skull with a Black & Decker power drill and had stuck the wire in to try and find the missing brain.


Police in Los Angeles had good luck with a robbery suspect who just couldn't control himself during a lineup. When detectives asked each man in the lineup to repeat the words, "Give me all your money or I'll shoot," the man shouted, "That's not what I said!"

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Cycling and cycling-related write ups are now mirrored on another blog. Link to it added to the sidebar as well.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Marin Headlands Solo Night Ride

Jumped on the 3:05 PM Northbound CalTrain to San Francisco on a lazy Saturday afternoon with my bike. Arriving in San Francisco 95 minutes later, the temperature was a crisp 57 F (13.9 C).

Track of the ride (red line), overlaid with 1722 track points (blue "line") from the GPS unit. Direction of the loop portion is clockwise.

TOPO!'s elevation profile of the track.

6 miles later: Crissy Field. Fog rolling in from the Pacific Ocean. The Golden Gate Bridge lost in the fog. A view without the fog.

A panorama.

Fog lifting over the Golden Gate Bridge.

After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and having climbed up Conzelman Road to the Coastal trailhead (elevation 580 ft), the sunset over Gerbode Valley in the Marin Headlands greets me. McCullough Road is on the right.

After bombing down Coastal trail--a sunset over Rodeo Lagoon. The thin strip of land is Rodeo Beach, and beyond that, the Pacific Ocean. Fort Cronkhite and the Headlands Institute are on the right side of the beach.

A panorama.

Dinner by Rodeo Beach.

Waiting for darkness.

Miwok trailhead. The same, but taken with flash. The view during the day.

Lights on helmet: two Cateye HL-EL400 LED lights and one Light & Motion ARC Li-ion HID light.

Beginning of Bobcat trail illuminated by one Cateye HL-EL300 handlebar light, and two Cateye HL-EL400 helmet-mounted lights.

Light & Motion ARC Li-ion HID helmet-mounted light turned on and warming up (takes 15 to 30 seconds to achieve full brightness).

Summit of Bobcat trail: elevation 914 feet. Switching over to Marincello trail for the downhill into Tennessee Valley. View of Marin City and Sausalito.

Another view of Marin City, Sausalito and Richardson Bay. The pillar of light is not from God, but from the HID lamp.

Tennessee Valley trail. The right branches off to become the portion of Coastal trail that leads to Muir Beach. Elevation 100 ft. Current temperature 44 F (6.7 C). View during the day.

Tennessee Beach. Sign says: "WARNING! Dangerous cliffs and surf." Repeat to yourself, "What I can't see, can't hurt me," and you will be just fine.

Cliff edge and the beach below.

I wait. Now the night flows back, the mighty stillness embraces and includes me; I can see the stars again and the world of starlight. I am twenty miles or more from the nearest fellow human, but instead of lonliness I feel loveliness. Loveliness and a quiet exultation (Edward Abbey).

On the way back, a short detour to "The Tunnel" to snap a couple of pics. Barry-Baker Tunnel is a one way, half-mile long conduit leading in and out of the Marin Headlands that serves as a fallback alternative for tired, exhausted or injured cyclists.

Inside the tunnel. Bicycle lanes on either side. The light at the end of the tunnel is that of an approaching train vehicle. The east end of the tunnel is lower than the west end by 100 ft.

Passing by Crissy Field again on the return leg: Golden Gate Bridge at night.

Caught the 12:01 AM train.
Reached home at 1:58 AM Sunday.

Total distance: Cyclo-computer 43.84 miles (70.14 km) / GPS 42.34 miles (67.74 km) / TOPO! 43.03 miles (68.85 km).
Total elevation climbed: Altimeter 3060 ft (933 m) / GPS + TOPO! 3015 ft (919 m).
Temperature range: 57 F to 44 F (13.9 C to 6.7 C).
Fluids consumed: 2 liters.

My neck is a little sore from having to support the helmet-mounted lights over off-road terrain during the night. The next time I do this, I will gladly fork over US$18 for 6 Lithium AAA batteries to reduce the weight of the two Cateye HL-EL400 LED lights on the helmet by 33%. Every little bit helps.

A group night ride may be in the works next time: