Have fun storming the castle!

The half-fast fall colors tour had its second incarnation of the season. We postponed due to weather and it was the right choice.

After a leisurely breakfast to let it warm up a bit, we headed off through the former Badger Army Ordnance Works, now being restored as prairie by multiple owners. This version of the route took us on a few miles of dirt road, sometimes with gravel, sometimes with scattered rocks, sometimes just rutted dirt with fallen leaves to hide the ruts. We met a car. They must have been lost, because we saw them again minutes later, going the other way.

Picture a little shaky due to riding on rough terrain

After lunch we rode past a stone silo and some more stone work that always reminds me of this scene from “The Princess Bride”.

The afternoon featured hills, as we are on the edge of the Driftless Area.

While the colors may be one day past perfect, it was still a beautiful fall day

It remained warm enough for hors d’oeuvres and wine on the back porch of the cafe overlooking the Wisconsin River.

The Wisconsin River, over Pinot Noir

After a day of rest we joined the last Bombay Bicycle Club ride of the season. The ride started 10 miles from my house and was only 40 miles, so I could ride from home to meet them. It has always seemed weird to me to drive my car somewhere in order to ride my bike. It makes sense after work (see Wednesday Night Bike Rides) when you want to get somewhere out of town before it gets dark, but on Sunday morning, with a meetup time of 10, there was plenty of time to do the laundry and get to the start point.

There was a car show going on at the meet point, with a bit of everything (including a matte black Lamborghini roadster – looking at pictures just now, I’d say it was an Aventador – nothing like a stealth car that can go >200 mph [>350 km/h] and 0-100 km/h in ❤ seconds [Ed. note: some browsers change less than 3… < 3… to a heart emoji, sorry]). There was also a Model A Ford and some Chevy IIs, later renamed Nova – another good story, as the Nova had poor sales in Mexico and GM didn’t know why until someone told them “No va” means “it doesn’t go”. Major corporations then learned to check languages other than English before they named cars and other products, and also to use made-up words.

It was 60 degrees (15.5 C) and warmed up to 75 (24 C) as the day went on. We rode out into a brisk headwind and returned into that same wind, as it was a circular route. We seemed to get short-changed on the tailwinds today – but if miles are equal, time certainly isn’t.

Tomorrow may be the last warm day for the year (unless the front comes early), with the temperature dropping 2o degrees by Tuesday and that could be it for warm weather for this year. Then comes the dark and wet season until snow comes to brighten things up.

Sun early, then clouds as I left the house – all of the light seemed to come from the trees. Sun returned within the hour.

Happy birthday to an 80 year old who helped introduce me to cars. Luckily, I outgrew that and turned to bikes;) since the Italian car mentioned above costs about a half million dollars more than my Italian bike.

Pumpkin Spice

I used pumpkin spice the way it is meant to be used. I went out to the farm and picked a pumpkin, cut it in half and removed the innards, washed and roasted the seeds.

I baked the pumpkin, cut-sides down, let it cool, then pureed it in the blender until smooth. I added cinnamon, freshly-grated nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt, sugar, evaporated milk, and eggs.

Meanwhile, I cut butter into flour with a bit of salt and sugar. I mixed in ice water until I could work the dough into a ball that would barely stay together, flattened it into a disc, and put it in the refrigerator to rest for a few hours before rolling it out and par-baking it. I poured in the pumpkin mixture, baked it, let it cool to room temperature on the kitchen table, then put it on the back porch to chill.

I whipped cream with some powdered sugar and vanilla. Slicing the pie, I added a dollop of cream and ate it for breakfast with a shot of espresso. That’s where the espresso belongs – alongside the breakfast pie, not mixed into a soft drink that lacks only carbonation to make it spicy pop. A 12 oz Starbucks pumpkin spice latte contains the same amount of sugar as a 12 oz Coca-Cola (per their respective websites).

But remember – pie, like beer, ain’t just for breakfast anymore. Now to read the paper and wait for the sunrise.

Pumpkin Spice – where it belongs


It is fashionable among right-wing candidates to call out “the elites”, usually meaning people who don’t agree with them. Jonah Goldberg, the thinking person’s conservative (no, that is not an oxymoron), posted an interesting analysis today (October 20).

He quotes J.D. Vance (Republican Senate candidate in Ohio), who said “The elites plunder this country and then blame us for it in the process” and Blake Masters (Republican Senate candidate in Arizona), who said a liberal cabal runs “newspapers, and television and schools and universities – and you better believe they control Big Tech, too”. He quotes Masters as saying that progressives hate America and “the very idea of a sovereign nation”. By the way, Vance has a net worth estimated at $7 million, and Masters $18 million. I don’t know about you, but in my world that seems pretty elite.

Goldberg goes on to point out that both have a major financial patron in Peter Thiel, a billionaire tech entrepreneur, co-founder of PayPal, venture capitalist, and holder of passports from three countries, in the process of buying a fourth (passport, not country). Goldberg also refers to him as a proponent of “seasteading”, the plan to build artificial islands in international waters so you are bound by no country’s laws. Thiel donated $1.25 million to djt’s 2016 presidential campaign, was a member of the transition team, and has spent over $28 million so far in this election cycle, including donations to candidates who supported the January 6 coup attempt.

Vance has called upon the US government to “‘seize the assets’ of ideological enemies that lawfully exploit tax laws to amass wealth”. Thiel has a Roth IRA into which he put $1700 – his investment of that IRA in the company that became PayPal increased its value to $5 billion, according to ProPublica. If he holds the IRA until 2027, that money will be his tax-free.

So these guys who rail against the elites and Big Tech are bankrolled by a Big Tech elitist (can you get much more elite than being a billionaire, holding multiple passports, and building your own island so you can be a sovereign nation unto yourself?). They proclaim their “patriotism” while in league with someone who is prepping to leave the country behind.

As Goldberg concludes, “If you clear away the bull of Vance and Masters’ rhetoric – bring a shovel – the basic argument is that ‘elites’ are a monolithic bloc of overlords. Never mind that both Masters (who has a law degree from Stanford) and Vance (a law degree from Yale) – are elites and that Thiel is a member of the Olympian elite. What these politicians really mean is that they want to be the elites running things.”

Do it again!…with feeling!/A Fine Fall Morning

Here at the half-fast cycling club, we believe that anything worth doing is worth doing well…and again.

We didn’t always feel this way (about the second part), but riding across North America twice changed things. Of course, we also believe that beliefs, like selves, shouldn’t be taken too seriously. We don’t place much stock in belief.

With that in mind, we decided that the fall color ride, being one of the highlights of our year, might be twice as fun if we did it twice. On Tuesday, October 18, we decided to put that to the test. Finding two available dates was surprisingly hard for a group that is mostly retired. [By “mostly retired”, we don’t mean like “mostly dead”. We mean that most of us in the group are retired.]

And so, on Tuesday morning, after a breakfast that couldn’t be beat, we headed off into the sunrise. It was a fine fall morning…

“Little Tricker the Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear” written by Ken Kesey, produced and read by Dad [so says the CD box] (with “Arkansas Traveler”, composed by Sandford C. Faulkner, performed by David Grisman & Jerry Garcia, and “The Harder They Come” composed and performed by Jimmy Cliff. )

Or maybe we didn’t. It snowed a bit on Monday, with a temperature that never got out of the 30s (<4ºC) and winds that stayed in the teens all day. The forecast for Tuesday was more of the same so, one by one, folks found other ways to spend the day. We rescheduled for a day when it is supposed to be about 40 degrees (F) warmer.

What to do? I made my own breakfast and coffee instead of going out with the gang. On the road early, temperature right at 32 (0 C), a strong wind making the wind chill some number I don’t care about. Why do I own warm cycling clothes unless it’s to ride when it’s chilly?

It was a beautiful morning. The colors are past their peak, but don’t tell that to the maples in their Serrano chili red, or maybe it was Ferrari red, or maybe crimson or scarlet or a red with no name. It was a red that made the sunlight different when I passed those trees; a red that made the sky around it bluer; a red that made me realize I don’t know what red means.

Alas, none were close enough for a good picture. As the kids’ book detective Cam Jansen would do, I said “click” and took a picture that only I can see.

One of these days, we will head out for the final group ride of the season. You’ll read it here first (since you won’t read about it anywhere else, ever).

One spun a time…

Back in the days before streaming services, before the internet, before TV, before radio, before rural electrification, we had to entertain ourselves on long winter nights.

Back then we also made our own clothes. Folks in these parts raised sheep, sheared those sheep, cleaned and carded the wool, and then spent those long winter nights spinning, weaving, knitting, and crocheting.

Most families had only one spinning wheel and spinning was a shared task. Therefore, the family would sit about the living room (or perhaps live about the sitting room), coming in out of the cornstarch to warm their mukluks by the cellophane on a cold winter’s night. One would spin wool into yarn while spinning yarns, while the rest of the family would listen.

“One spun a time” was literal – while one spun, that same one would tell a story. [And you wondered why storytelling is known as “spinning yarns”.] When electric lights and central heating came about, and families no longer had to stay in one room for light and heat, people forgot the origin of that phrase. Time took its toll and people began to start tales with “Once upon a time…”. (This type of mis-hearing is known as a Mondegreen, from the mis-hearing of an old Scottish ballad line “They hae slay the Earl of Murray/And laid him on the green” (but heard as “And Lady Mondegreen”, which now makes it sound like two people were killed.))

It is in that vein that I share with you one of our tales of ancient history.

Wisconsin’s heritage is thought of as mostly German, Norwegian, Finnish, Polish, Ho Chunk, and Ojibwe, depending on what part of the state you’re in.

Less well-known is our Pacific Island heritage. We all know that Pacific Islanders explored vast tracts of the Pacific by outrigger canoe. We know of far-flung inhabited islands and marvel at how people got there. But did you know about the town of Kaukauna, WI? Most of us pronounce it as “Kuh KAW nuh”, but it’s really “Ka OOH ka OOH na” and means “Big portage”. How did that come to pass?

Ancient peoples exploring the Pacific were caught in a strong westerly and blown to what is now California. Landfall was believed to be just north of San Francisco. They left their canoes at the shore and began to explore inland, figuring they would explore this island and return for their canoes when they reached the other side. If the island were big enough, they could build new canoes on the other side. Little did they know what they had stumbled upon.

They made their way across the land, marveling at the size of this island. Long discussions ensued about the wisdom of continuing the trek. After much debate (and much more walking) they eventually arrived at the Mississippi River near its confluence with the Wisconsin River (now the town of Prairie du Chien). They built canoes (outriggers being unnecessary here) and began to explore the old-fashioned way. They made their way down the Mississippi to the Wisconsin River and from there to the Fox. At this point, mutiny was imminent. Had they continued a bit further, they would have discovered Green Bay and perhaps found their way to the Atlantic Ocean. The group decided to settle in the Fox River Valley in what we now know as Kaukauna, WI. Exhibiting their wry sense of humor, they named this place for the “Big portage” of over 2000 miles required to get here.

In case one has any doubts as to the veracity of this history, we refer you to Brief of The Onion as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioner.

I was going to save this post for a cold winter night, but everyone is now referring to the case for which the brief cited above was written. By “everyone” I am specifically referring to my favorite Washington Post columnist.