Nov 07 2013

The Line

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The Line.

By Robs Muir, Nov., 2013.

The Line. The right track. To the sprinter it hardly matters, a few technical turns during a maniacal kilometer or two through the centre-ville. The track specialist knows the Line, yet it never varies; it remains fixed on the planks, lap after lap. For the rouleur crossing the Loire Valley, or one of the peloton stomping through the wine grapes in Northern California, or the randonneur facing long rollers across scores of miles, these riders seldom see the Line.

The grimpeur–the escalade spécialiste–studies the Line. So too does the descendeur–the plunging décroissant spécialiste, the madman who plays the piste all the way to the base. It is said few can combine these two specialities successfully. Yet for the true Keeper of the Line, these two skills are but different sides of the same black-gloved fist thrust defiantly high above a reverently-bowed head.

It’s easy to see the sweeping Line in the descent. Here, the Velominatus generally lets G work its impressive magic. The hands gently ride on the drops, the index and middle fingers calmly touch the hair triggers while all around is noise and fury. Precise attention to the Line brings maximum velocities and the reptilian brain slingshots the organism out of each compressible switchback. ‘The Falcon’ knew the Line; admire Paolo Savoldelli as a blur.

For the grimpeur, life is harder. The ascent brings a slow and relentless suffering, and the frontal cortex is free to ponder the moment. Rule #6 to the contrary, the climber is left with but two stark choices; either dwell on the pain, or observe the Line. The former is self-defeating, the latter binds the observer with the unspeaking brain stem. Therein lies strategy.

How best to thread the Line from bottom to top? As with descents, moving to the inside of each turn shortens the distance–a worthwhile endeavor. Those steepest hairpins, though, can kill the cadence when the tarmac climbs above twenty percent. Do you head toward the top of each tight turn, knowing that you’ll need to climb that much anyway? Or should the Pedalwan observe the unwritten Rule known by some as the Center Line Rule (CLR)? When the road’s your own, following the Middle Way might lead to enlightenment…

And here’s where a contemplative climber can discern the Line threading somewhere in between. Anticipating the next turn, the grimpeur can see the subtle Line that sweeps first from the bottom, then gradually to the CL, pushing upwards to the top of the curve, and completing each turn near the mid-point again. Imagined targets in the road–a pebble there, a shadowed divot farther along, that tar snake up ahead–can bend the Line ever so slightly and bring it more solidly to mind.  Each turn brings a slight variation of the superior Line, and–like a mirage–it seems to drift as one approaches.  Yet, in the process, this precise observation distracts the conscious mind from the pain that lies too, too near the surface.

The Line becomes the locus of control and the focus of attention. The kilometers melt and the summit nears.


Originally published by, 2013.

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Sep 24 2008

In Memoriam: John H. Muir

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 John Harry Muir died in Santa Rosa on September 17, 2008 following a period of declining health complicated by pulmonary distress.  He was 79 years old.

Born on September 15, 1929 to Oliver and Grace Muir in Los Angeles, California, Mr. Muir lived for a time in Panama before his family returned to settle in Red Bluff.  The son of pioneering walnut and almond growers in the northern Central Valley, John attended schools in Red Bluff, including Red Bluff High School where he met his future wife, Carol Joan Todd, while exercising their musical talents in the school band.  After graduation, both John and Carol continued their education at Chico State College (now the CA State University of California, Chico) where John studied both architecture and engineering,  while Carol pursued her degree in home economics and teaching. 

John and Carol were married in 1951 while still attending college at Chico State.  During this time, they started their family with the birth of their first son.  John received his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, and after several jobs working on major construction projects, John and Carol eventually relocated to Palo Alto, California, after John was accepted into Stanford University’s prestigious graduate engineering program.  By 1956, the family had grown to include their first daughter, Denice, and their second son, Todd.

After earning his Master’s degree in Civil Engineering, Mr. Muir’s growing career involved him in very significant engineering endeavors in hydro-electric specialization.  The family moved many times from job to job, from Rosemead, California, to Yuba City, California, to Page, Arizona, to Miwok Village, California, to a huge isolated home on the MacKenzie River near Eugene, Oregon, and Omaha, Nebraska.  It was during these many moves that John’s third son, Mark was born in 1958.  John was justifiably proud of his contributions to major civil works projects, including the Feather River Dam, the Tri-River Project and the Glen Canyon Dam.

Now a family of six, Mr. Muir relocated to Southern California again, this time to Hacienda Heights, where John entered his new career within large engineering corporations.  As a project estimator, Mr. Muir assumed major responsibilities in increasingly-complex engineering works.

Eventually, John accepted a post as Senior Estimator with one of the world’s largest engineering companies, the Bechtel Corporation, whose world headquarters was located in San Francisco, California.  The family settled in Walnut Creek, California, and for the next twelve years John and Carol raised their children while John commuted into the City.  Mr. Muir’s engineering career led him to specialize in large metropolitan transportation projects in major cities throughout the world.  At times, his job involved spending many months living in Southeast Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong.  It was during this time, that John grew to love both world travel and culture, and he could expand his fascination with cooking and world cuisine.  For the remainder of his life, John took every opportunity to travel, eventually visiting over fifty-seven different countries.

John Muir’s life was characterized by his unique talent for identifying and solving problems.  Overcoming a physical handicap after contracting severe double-pneumonia as a child in Panama, John would go on to accept and solve monumental projects in his professional and private life.  After raising their four children through high school in Walnut Creek, John took on the task of designing and building an award-winning home on an reputedly unbuildable lot in the Berkeley Hills, when no other architect dared to touch the project. 

That personal project finished, John and Carol relocated to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where John became Bechtel’s Senior Estimator for the, then, world’s largest civil airport.  In the late 1970s, this was an exciting two-year adventure and they used this opportunity to further explore the world.

While in Arabia, Mr. Muir was already planning his most ambitious project yet.  After fulfilling his two-year contract, John and Carol chose to relocate to the California wine country to build a luxury inn and start a new career as innkeepers.  When no suitable land was available in Napa or Sonoma County, John bought the second oldest mansion in Sonoma County, and with the help of his family, restored and rebuilt the John Patton mansion in Healdsburg, California, now Madrona Manor—a California State Historic Landmark.  John and Carol would be owners and innkeepers of the very successful Madrona Manor for fourteen more years, with several sons and their daughter working along side them.

John and Carol became respected members of the Healdsburg community, where John continued as a leader in Innkeepers of America, and Carol became the President of the local Historical Society.  Eventually, they retired in 1999, selling Madrona Manor and eventually moving to Oakmont in Santa Rosa, California.

John Muir is survived by his wife of fifty-six years, Carol Joan Todd Muir of Santa Rosa, California, by his brother and sister-in-law, Hugh and Joann Muir of Mineral, California,  his son and daughter-in-law, Robs Muir and Candi Johnson-Muir of Claremont, California, his daughter and son-in-law, Denice Richards and Tom Richards of Petaluma, California, his son and daughter-in-law Todd and Terri Muir of Healdsburg, California,  his son and daughter-in-law, Mark Muir and his wife Diane, of Cloverdale, California and by his grandchildren, Christine and Ryan Muir, Mike and Galen Muir, Stephanie and Jennifer Muir, Katie, Andrea and Matthew Fitzgerald, and his great grandchild, James Muir.

A family memorial was held on September 20, 2008, in Santa Rosa, California.

Memorial remembrances may be sent to Carol Muir, 135 Oak Shadow, Santa Rosa, CA 95409.  Memorial donations in the name of John Muir may be sent to Petaluma Hospice 416 Payran Petaluma, CA 94952 (707) 778-6242.

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May 06 2008

An (Old) Stonemaster Interview…

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cover  Years ago, I was interviewed by a small climbing journal called MotherRock.  Ten years ago, this interview was installed on a server (permission granted) and has since been moved to my local server.  MotherRock seems to have moved on…

  Google has misplaced info on a valid location of “Interview with a Stonemaster: A Conversation with Robs John Muir”.  Here, then, is a valid URL:


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May 30 2007

Patricia Johnson Memorial Service…

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I have posted some pictures from the memorial service to my Picassa photo service. You can find these images at the following URL:

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May 17 2007

The Life of Patricia Johnson…

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obit051607.jpgPATRICIA JOHNSON
Patricia Elizabeth Squires Johnson died in Claremont on April 8, 2007 following a period of declining health. She was 87.

Born on June 16, 1919 to Freeman and Ruth Squires in Ontario, California, Ms. Johnson was raised in Santa Monica. She attended a progressive high school in Santa Monica where she excelled in art, theater and dance. After moving to Claremont following high school graduation, she attended Chaffey College. It was there that she met her future husband, Roger Johnson, while both exercising their singing talents in the school choir. In 1941, she married Mr. Johnson, whose parents purchased the land that became Claremont’s beloved Johnson’s Pasture. Continuing her education, Ms. Johnson graduated from Santa Barbara State College (now University of California, Santa Barbara) where she majored in art and education.

Like many others at that time, Ms. Johnson experienced a life clouded by World War II. She lived on Balboa Island with her husband for a year while he was stationed in Santa Ana. Her first son was born while Mr. Johnson was serving overseas in the European Theater. After his return, they raised their family in Claremont among citrus groves and the cultural tides of the 50s and 60s.

Ms. Johnson supported her husband’s decision to leave his insurance business in a midlife career change, during which he returned to school and became a college professor. She had taught elementary school in Lancaster following college, and she returned to teaching during the 60s. Eventually, Ms. Johnson became a Miller-Unruh Reading Specialist in the Pomona Unified School District where she was named Teacher of the Year.

According to her family, Ms. Johnson was vibrant, bright and compassionate and possessed a sharp and witty sense of humor. She loved trips to the family cabin at Big Bear Lake, beach and desert camping trips, rock hounding, hiking trips to the Sierras and spending time with family and with a wide circle of friends who became extended family.

As an artist, Ms. Johnson worked with friends Phyllis Case Bennett and Caryl Shelton. In 1993, the Mt. San Antonio Gardens retirement community chose her watercolor, “Poinsettias,” for its annual holiday card.

Ms. Johnson was particularly close to her sister, Phyllis Partridge, with whom she formed a business so that they could keep in close touch when Ms. Partridge moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“She is warmly remembered by her many nieces and nephews—some official and some not—as their very special ‘Aunt Pat’,” wrote the family in a remembrance.

Ms. Johnson is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Ken Johnson and Wendy Losh of Claremont; by her son, Mike Johnson of Claremont; by her daughter and son-in-law, Candi Johnson-Muir and Robs Muir; by her grandchildren, Mike and Galen Muir, and Trevor and Whitney Losh-Johnson; by her sister and brother-in-law, Phyllis and Bill Partridge of Maryland; and by many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 26, 2007 at Claremont United Church of Christ, Congregational, 233 W. Harrison Ave., Claremont.

Memorial donations may be sent to The Prison Library Project, c/o The Claremont Forum (inside the Packing House), 586 W. First St., Claremont, CA 91711; the VNA Hospice, 150 W. First St., Suite 270, Claremont, CA 91711-4750; or the “Youth Trips” fund of the Claremont United Church of Christ, Congregational, 233 W. Harrison Ave., Claremont, CA 91711.

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Apr 15 2007

About my URL…

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For the time being, I’ve chosen to not muck-around too much with DNS and registrations. Using my Time-Warner cable account, which does not provide any static assignments, I’ve registered this server with, yet another fine dynamic DNS system. This localhost is a.k.a.,, and points to the WAN address of my gateway router. The localhost is config-ed within the DMZ on the router, and client software on the server appears to do a good job of updating any changes to DHCP made by the ISP.

I’ve opted to let my Mac be a Mac, and the OS X version of Apache (v. 1.3.33) is running on port 80. Pointing a browser to results in a simple splash screen, giving one the option of going to the port 80 site (which was cobbled-up using iWeb), or going to this WordPress site (now) running on port 81. Port 81 is serving these goodnesses: “Apache/2.0.59 (Unix) PHP/4.4.4 DAV/2 mod_ssl/2.0.59 OpenSSL/0.9.7l”.

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