To California and back. A winding tale of deals that never happened, pigeon attacks and fashionable socks

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A picture of me during my visit to San Francisco. Before anyone mocks my fanny-pack, let me clarify that it's actually a fashionable urban cycling carry-all, which I'm currently reviewing. That aside, if you're going to make fun of my Mom Jeans, and their 18" zipper...go ahead. Take your best shot. I've heard it all before.

After a week away, I'm finally back. Although my return was not as eagerly awaited as that of the McRib, I still take comfort in knowing that at least one person out there excitedly awaited my return. And that would be me. Reactions to my travel aside, I'm happy to report that my trip to the west coast was particularly successful, although it did get off to a rough start. During my first day, I visited the corporate headquarters of a large bicycle company in hopes of securing a large stable of bikes for me to review on this blog. Sadly, I was told by the receptionist that they had never heard of me or my blog, and that I would be removed by the authorities if I didn't leave in ten seconds. Somewhere between seven and eight seconds, I decided to leave and pursue my next business opportunity. I made my way into San Francisco in order to meet with Rice-A-Roni executives, regarding a possible gastronomic collaboration. I mean, if Mr John Prolly (proprietor of that one popular blog) can have his own SPD sneakers, I think I'm at least entitled to my own signature flavor of boxed rice. Sadly, I didn't have any contact information for the Rice-A-Roni headquarters, so I simply got on one of those cable cars and asked the operator to "take me to the promised land", by which I meant the Rice-A-Roni headquarters. Sadly, the cable car operator misunderstood my request, and thus stopped at a small massage parlor called The Promised Land a few blocks away, insisting that I would receive the services I was looking for therein. I told him that that was not the kind of collaboration I was looking to a part of, and told explained just how many bloggers have their own signature products these days. I further explained that without merchandise, I'm useless. The man shrugged, rang his little bell and kept going, ignoring my pleas. It was then that I learned that those cable cars make like six thousand stops, and not ONE of them is the Rice-A-Roni headquarters, or that park at the beginning of Full House. So be warned, those cable cars are a huge rip off.

After this ordeal, I felt dejected. I would have no stable of bikes as a result of this trip, and it suddenly became clear that I would never fulfill my dream of having my own flavored rice. So while others bloggers have multiple products with their name, and many have collaborated with cycling companies all over the one dream in life had been denied.

I would also not be having a sensual massage of any kind, which was for the best, but I still felt like a looser among losers.

A mock up which I intended to present to C-level executives at Rice-A-Roni world headquarters. The flavor of my signature rice, by the way, would have been inspired by the tastes and smells of my beloved hometown of Bogota. It's for this reason that the most prominent ingredients would have been dirt and diesel fumes.

The prototype for my very own cycling high-tops, which have now been rejected by six manufacturers. Even Geox, a company that has a farting shoe on its cycling team's jersey, rejected my proposal for signature footwear. At a time when everyone is taking on some kind of collaborative project, being rejected by a farting shoe has been tough for my morale.

Due to my ongoing failures while in California, I felt dejected. Having been left with nothing to do during my time in San Francisco, I went to a local park and sat among the homeless men and women of city. I figured that this was as good a time as any to catch up on some light reading, so I asked the bag lady sitting next to me if she had any reading suggestions. As she barfed into an empty coffee can, she handed me a printout of a paper written by Julian Bleecker. Bleecker is a technologist who holds a PhD from the History of Consciousness Program (yes, such a thing exists) at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In that paper, Bleecker predicts (among other things) that objects (rather than people) could soon start blogging, and will thus provide essential data as part of the public discourse around numerous subjects. In particular, Bleecker speaks of "blogjects" (objects that blog) like pigeons and airplanes, which could disseminate data like their flight paths and toxins they encounter via blogs. This may sound crazy or foolish, but consider the fact that the volcanic ash cloud that held me prisoner in London last year had a Twitter account, which could have easily derived its tweets from actual data about said cloud (rather than the so-so humor from whoever started the account).

Upon reading about all this, particularly the part about a blogging pigeons, I panicked. And how could I not? While some American cyclists are upset about the fact that immigrant laborers (in the form of Colombian riders) could potentially be taking jobs away from them...I (an immigrant) now found myself in fear of loosing my status as an almost-leading blogger to a pigeon. Can you imagine? At least automotive companies grant their workers some dignity by replacing them with something robots, whereas bloggers will apparently be replaced by birds. As I see it, your worth as a human being can best be gauged by how lowly the object that replaces you is. In the case of an automotive worker being replaced by a robot...that would make them pretty awesome. Being replaced by a bird? Not so much.

The Internet Systems Consortium is already testing the actual pigeon that will one day replace me. Pictured above, Pigeon #458322, will base most of its blogging content on what most road cyclists already think about while they ride, which entails angrily mocking cyclists who have not been riding as long as they have, and thus don't "deserve" the equipment they have. In their view, these riders have not yet earned the right to have an opinion about anything bike related. As such, most posts will be devoted to Johnny-come-lately riders who are young and have only owned a bike for a couple of years (like the kid pictured above...who is a total poser only recently started riding). Keep in mind that "Johnny-come-lately" status is granted on a sliding scale, and applies only to people who have been riding fewer years than the person (or bird) making the judgment. So if you have only owned a bike for a couple of years, or you're a young Asian kid, prepare for the fecal tempest that will be unleashed upon you by blogging Pigeon #458322 once I'm replaced. Said fecal tempest will be unprecedented, and will easily beat any other in the past, including the time that the Crash Test Dummies put out a Best Of album. Oh, and in case you're wondering, I'll probably be one of the blogging pigeon's biggest targets...and I'm not even Asian. Or a kid.

While some of you are probably wondering why I'm concerned about this whole "blogging objects and animals" business, since no bird could ever replace the writing talents of a human (particularly one as bright as me), I beg to differ. After all, my experience in cycling is restricted to its lowliest levels. I've never raced, I've never trained, I've never owned a fixed gear bike, and thus can't even do sweet skidz. The bulk of my experience is in semi-lengthy rides (which include a mid-ride nap), and my semi-epic commuting. With this in mind, I'm fairly certain that an average pigeon could amass my level of expertize in roughly two months by merely learning how to use an RSS reader, and buying a very tiny bike (which oddly enough would only be slightly smaller than mine). Depressing.

With this information still marinating in my feeble mind, I walked around trying to think about some of the things that have cheered me up throughout my life. Things like:

- My beloved miniature dachshund

- Memories of how my mom allowing me to sport my mullet sans sideburns for a few years during my youth

- That shot of Heahter Thomas coming through the swinging doors during the intro credits of The Fall Guy

- The time last year when I realized that a kid I hated in high school was now working at a cart in the mall, selling remote control helicopters

But it was not to be. Even after going through this list of items which normally take me to my happy place (much like the cable car operator thought he could drop me off at a happy place that grants people happy endings), I was still depressed. The thought of a being replaced by a pigeon who can do sweet skidz (while potentially wearing Skidz) was simply too much to bear.

In the spirit of full transparency, I should now tell you that when my family moved to these United States, we were very broke, so I would often go to a local TJ Maxx store, and rip the free stickers that came with Skidz pants and Body Glove shirts, only to turn around and sell them to kids in school. Much like Robin Hood, whose stealing was warranted due to the fact that he gave to the poor, my stealing was warranted too...because I would use the money I made from selling the stickers to buy things like Anthrax records, and Slayer shirts. So in the grand scheme of things, everything evened out.

So...because I could be replaced by this Skidz-wearing, skidz-doing pigeon, my mood hit an almost all-time low. As such, I needed to think about the one thing that usually brings my mood back up (even when memories of Heather Thomas can't). That, of course, is my interactions with fellow human beings whose awesomeoness approach mine. Lucky for me, this trip had one such interaction, since I was able to meet one Mr Stevil Knievel, proprietor of the famed All Hail The Black Market blog, and purveyor of fine cycling apparel. Before I tell you about my time with Mr Knievel (he insists that you address him as "Mister" when you meet him, and that you bow before him), I think I should tell you that if you Google "Stevil Knievel", you are bound to find plenty of pictures of this young man, who has that very name on MySpace.

Stevil Knievel impostor. The real guy would never shred on an axe as sub-par as this one.

In case you're wondering, I found these images on the Google because I wanted to know what the Stevil looked like. I figured that would make spotting him in a crowd much easier, since we were set to meet in a busy San Francisco intersection. Why were we meeting in a busy intersection you ask? Because bloggers never meet in secluded places, in fear that the other person may be there to attack or murder him. It's happened countless times already. The idea is that you get the other blogger's account name and password, kill him, and later that week post on his blog saying that you'll never write again because you got a job at an off-shore oil rig, and that everyone should read this other blog instead. Boom. In doing so, you just doubled your readership, and thus doubled your chances of getting a signature box or rice or messenger bag with your blog's name on it*. So in order to keep things civil, and to make sure things were on the up-and-up, a neutral area of town was chosen for the meeting by us both. These are the type of precautions you have to take when you write a highly regarded blog.

*My attorneys at Goldberg, Rosenberg & Sandberg LLC have reminded me to mention that this scenario (where a blogger has killed another) has allegedly happened before. It's very important that I say "allegedly", since these cases are still in the midst of litigation. By the way, if any bloggers out there are looking for legal representation, here's a tip: Simply look for a law firm with more "-bergs" than the Tour of Flanders. That's a joke, and I can make that joke because my ethnic background grants me comedic immunity.

Image courtesy of the Speed Metal Cycling Corporation

Anyway, upon meeting Mr Knievel, I was saddened to discover that he is not a 16 year old with a Justin Bieber haircut (as the images I had found through Google had suggested). He is not a doughy kid who shreds along to Lamb Of God records on Friday nights. It was pleasant to meet him anyway. Our secret rendezvous was scheduled for a rainy San Francisco afternoon. I wore a red rose on my lapel and he, being the hopeless romantic, wore a patch of the Danzig skull with googly eyes on his jacket (it was Valentine's Day). Through the crowds of tourists, hipsters, and homeless men defecating in their pants, our eyes met. We said hello. We then proceeded to stroll through the rainy streets of San Francisco, which made me feel like we were reenacting the last part of the intro to the TV sticom/masterpiece Friends. Suddenly, the show's theme song began to take on a new meaning for me. I felt like I was stuck in second gear. It just hadn't been my day, my week, my month or even my year. But Mr Knievel was there for me when the rain started to pour.

Additionally, he had given me a fashionable pair of socks. And at the end of the day, what more can you ask for in life?