10.31.2004

More on Frank and the Red Bean

Here in Mount Pleasant Washington DC (just 2 miles from the White House) there is a main street with a strip of businesses to service the community. Like most urban strips there is a disproportionate number of liquor stores and "bodegas." There are also a few too many Salvadoran restaurants for my taste as well, but, I guess that there are enough Salvadoran in this area to keep each business afloat, one or two good ones would suit my occasional needs, but 9 bad ones and a few okay ones makes a trip to the strip more like a trip into the third world. At times it can be a "roll of the dice," even my stomach of steal has lost the intestonal battle with what day old slop was sold as today's fresh meal. In addition to the multiple "bodegas", Salvadoran Pupusarian joints, there are also a few too many "JUNK STORES." Don't get me wrong, I love The Dollar Store more than the next person, but these places are one step lower, thus creating a disservice to the community. Selling substandard knock off products that may not last the trip to the car. The future TARGET that is planned to open a few blocks deeper in Columbia Heights will aid in giving the people a higher quality option. I am all for "mom and pop" but I am also for a better product.

In addition to all of the Laundromats and nail places there are also a few other establishments.

On Mount Pleasant Street there is the Mount Pleasant Building. A beautiful 100 year old apartment building, said to be the first apartment building in the neighborhood. This building was beautifully restored some years ago and has been well maintained, in addition to its appearance it has opted to change with the neighborhood. On the ground floor there are two restaurants; Tonic (formerly known as Bella Roma now under the Tonic name and management) and Red Bean (which formerly housed the small little organic market, The People Garden, which just could not compete with Whole Foods stationed just a few miles away in two opposing directions) Red Bean is newest on the scene. It is a project that involves local character Frank Connell. The Washington Post Magazine has been covering the saga which is Frank's life. It is all very interesting while also being very sad. Personally, I would have to say that the Post is pulling their punches. If they are telling this much, I fear that it may very well be much worse.

Here is today's posting in the Washington Post Magazine on THE MISADVENTURES of FRANK CONNELL

Mt. Pleasant also lost its neighborhood Baker a few weeks ago. The poorly run Heller's Bakery has closed its doors. Not sign of any changing of hands...as this bakery has changed hands several times and has changed very little on each new owner. A bakery could do well in this neighborhood.

10.30.2004

Political Signs....
In this Political Season we find that people often decorate their lawns with various signs in an effort to inform and educate their neighbors of....well....of their political views.

Here is a link to some images of a person's homemade political signs that are worth a look.

I am not positive
but I feel that the creator of these signs may have also brought the world the MEESE IS A PIG T-Shirt and the THIS IS NOT A FUGAZI T-SHIRT t-shirt

10.29.2004

THE ONLY COSTUMES TO WEAR THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!

CHECK THEM OUT!

Some of them are almost too scary to look!


This Tuesday may prove to be more scary than this Sunday, Halloween itself!
Red Bean, Stone Soup, and maybe a little too much of the Happy Juice

The Washington Post has been running an article on local personality Frank Connell. It is a fun little piece of PR that documents the efforts of some merry prankster named Frank and his attempts to start a Cajun burrito joint with his cousin Mike (who answers to cousin mike) on the main strip here in Mount Pleasant. It is a sad story to see unfold in front of your eyes, plays out with a sad piece of drama. What could be a good resturant and maybe the future of two young men's lives (well, one young man Cousin Mike and the already ageing Peter Pan that we know as Frank Connell) may rapidly turn out to be lost money to a unknown number of investors. For me, Frank would not have been a horse to bet on...as he is surely a long shot.

The latest edition the activities of Frank play out like that of some common crackhead or junkie as he appeals to the local bank to cut him some slack on his constantly over drawn account due to some personal stuff that no one needs to hear all the while demanding to know why it is taking so long to get approval for a business loan. Sad to say that this man is a better cook than a businessman. And his tongue is more likely to get him a handful of change on the corner than a loan at the bank. He would make a skilled "artful dodger."

I have encountered Frank many times over the past many years, usually in more of a party situation. Well, maybe me getting a drink at the bar and Frank toasting the world like it is New Year's Eve, every night has that wreckless attack like it is his last. In my younger years I may have had more patience; maybe even pleasure, in the antics of such a character, but as my bar adventures are fewer and fewer between I do not want my hours in the pub to be wasted by a self absorbed clown with an alcohol soaked liver telling me of his misadventures (only to forget that we ever spoke the next time I encounter him)

gotta roll
fatherhood calls

if Red Bean had a liquor license I would head over there tonight to catch the next act
but...


see BARFLY is Mickey whatever his hasbeen 80's superstar name was
BOO AT THE ZOO!



It seems that Halloween is not a day, but a month these days.
Which is great as I started to think it was a holiday that had been lost for the kids and only maintained by the adults.
I was wrong.
The kids dig it! The costume thing is awesome for them....and the candy....well....who can say no to the candy?

the above shot is of Dean and myself at the National Zoo for Boo At the Zoo
basically
Trick or Treating at the Zoo
Get to check out all the animals at night doing some sort of Halloween thing.
Promoters are there trying to get our kids addicted to their products by handing out freebees!

That shot is funny because it was a free shot that was taken by AOL and posted (along with any other shots taken) on their web site.
Personally...
I am not sure if images men in skirts with little boys should be circulating on the internet.

oh....
and yes
I have the legs for that skirt
but I most definitely do not have the stomach for that shirt
AIGA: Get Out and Vote!
a bunch of designers putting down their cigarettes and coffee and telling you to vote


I stole this link to the AIGA: Get Out and Vote Poster presentations from joe foley's Blog

10.28.2004

Doc Oc teaches the kids how to BLOG!
not sure if it gets you where you need to go
dam JAVA or whatever high fi designer crap they used to make that site
Multi-tasking

So this afternoon I took the dogs into the woods after work
not only did I have the dogs by my side, but I had Grant on my back
at 9 months he is almost too large for me to manage
perhaps a few more months and a few more pounds
a few more back aches and a few more advil
fall is in all of its multicolored glory
the dogs were racing around in a maddening way
looking to find what sort of trouble they could find
was it the lunar eclipse from last night
the approach of Halloween this weekend
or that Roscoe and Brutus just do not get the work outs that they did when there were no kids around to soak up all of Lisa and my time
as I walked I figured that I could make a few phone calls
normally it is not my thing
but I figured that my conversation with its natural pauses, changes in tone, and varying vocabulary may give Grant the impression that I was talking to him
although he has heard all the cycling stories that I was sharing with Snoopy

it was a good hike
that is one of the nice things about not taking a long ride after work (by long I mean longer than my basic commute)
got home early enough that even with the early sunset I was still able to get out into Rock Creek park with plenty of sunlight and also plenty of time to get out and get back

snoopy and todd are headed up north for a cross race
somewhere in new england...
hope they get some nice mud

Landcruiser SOLD!
well, actually
I ended up donateing this old truck to the American Kidney Foundation
very glad to see it go
actually
prefered giving it away rather than selling it
as I feared that there were so many problems that I may have not been able to share the long list with the perspective buyers
I did try to be honest....
but I am only human and was not forever completely honest on every issue
in sales....honesty is not the best policy!
as honest as I was....I think I most definitely shot myself in the foot
best to play ignorant if you want to make the sale
guess I did not want to make the sale

10.27.2004

When I was a small blue eyed boy with a blonde-ish brown Bruce Lee bowl cut in the second grade my father took me to the football field of Bethesda Chevy Chase High School for my first soccer practice on the Our Lady of Lourdes CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) Soccer team. Soccer was new to this country and our team consisted of an amalgamation of a few different grades. Most of us had never heard of soccer nor had ever played anything more than the basic activity in gym class. We were a rag tag group of kids, but the Bad News Bears was a top box office hit in that era so we were En Vogue. After that first season with the Lourdes (OLOL) team I was picked up by one of our opposing teams of that year. FLANNERY. I had remembered them from the year prior....it as not just the fancy gold uniforms...they were better organized. Our lead player was one of the youngest and the smallest on the team...they ran plays...we ran the swarm. It was not hard to remember our opponents the FLANNERY TEAM as Dennis Flannery was not only the name of the coach, but also of their second grade star player. Our coach Bill Kirvan put me on man to man coverage of Dennis. I had been instructed. "STICK TO FLANNERY LIKE GLUE IF HE GOES TO THE BATHROOM....YOU GO TO THE BATHROOM!" It was like an assignment sending me off to war. Bill Kirvan with his Steve McQueen good looks and his game winning hook shot....he was the coach of all coaches with his wide hand wave in his little VW bettle with the horse hair seats. It was a fond memory of our game against Flannery.

(Bill Kirvan would remain an influence in my life as my basketball coach and as the father of the children who had the Kool Aid house in our neighborhood. I am sure that as he grew more familiar with soccer he grew to be the powerhouse coach for soccer that he was for basketball)

I had been scouted out. There was a league developing fast and furious and this was a good team to get on. So I did. I left the instruction of Bill Kirvan for the guidance of Dennis Flannery. We were older and the structure made sense. After all third graders should be paying attention when their coach is talking to them, not picking at the grass like some sort of who knows what taht children of that age tend to do. The league was the Montgomery Soccer Incorporated or MSI...their jerseys unlike our Lourdes jerseys had numbers and various sizes.

It was a new era. There was some sort of SOCCER EXPLOSION. PELE was in contention with LUKE SKYWALKER for the coolest guy in the universe award. Okay...my chronology may be off. Luke Skywalker may have still been in the studio, but you get the basic idea. Soccer was IT! All of the kids with any sort of European heritage had such pride. Their "football" was reclaiming the name from our football. This is not to say that most every kid in the 3rd grade other than me knew all of the words to HAIL TO THE REDSKINS. Afterall everyone watched football, collected football cards, played football, but that football was pick up and not the pad and helmet game that we saw on tv. Soccer was the game the kids were playing on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at every high school and elementary field in the tri-state area. It was all the rage and all the buzz. Teams had reputations. Coaches had identity. Every team was known by the coaches last name, not the team jersey color, as the team color was random and not chosen. But, the team name...that was determined by the team's coaches last name....and everyone watched out for the team's coach's son. Our team was no different. Denis Jr., which no one called him, we just called him Denis, was the star....and agile skilled ball handler with a keen sense of the game and an excellent leadership ability as well as know how to create plays....all at the standard age of a third grader.

okay...
this drunken red wine induced rant is starting to wander
my words are headed towards a Brazilian immigrant and his golden cleats rather than an over enthused mom and her well worn work boots, laces never tied, and her baggy paint covered jeans.

more later
do not want to risk waking my younger son Grant whose crib shares a space with my computer


back....
it is the next morning
let me see if I can regain my train of thought and finish this idea
as it seemed to be a good one last night


Our Flannery team grew and changed. There was the unsuccessful merger with the Saban Team (French father to Ariel Saban, the coaching personalities did not mix) Then there was the move to the "Select League." It was an emotional time. Basically the team went from a gathering of friends to a team that had try outs, recruitment, and CUTS! We became a traveling team with mandatory practices and games on both Saturday and Sunday. Dennis Flannery was an excellent coach that stressed fitness and skills as well as sportsmanship and teamword. We always ran a great deal and always concentrated on our drills and everyone treated everyone with the basic respect. It was an odd time for me....I was a bit of an introvert...well, okay I was a geeky kid without being popular, without many friends, and without fitting in with the rest of the group; some things never change. Yet, I managed to maintain on this select traveling team and fit in the best I could.

During these many years on Flannery I have many great memories. I can recall trying to keep stride with Mr. Flannery as we did our pre-practice mile runs. And I can also recall the cheering and support that was offered by Mrs. Flannery. She was at every game dressed in her casual garb. She was cheering and screaming with great passion. Mrs. Flannery like most parents was involved in setting up the fields, providing orange slices for halftime, and Cragmont soda at the end. But, somehow it seemed that Mrs. Flannery did not have time for the social banter with the other parents, she was too engrossed in the game. She did not just cheer and support for her son Denis, but she cheered for everyone on the team. It was humorous to watch her "mime" each trap, kick, and pass with her body as the ball moved up and down the field. I remember dribbling the ball up the sidelines or going to take a kick and having her run along side of me giving positive instruction and moral boosters all the way. There were times when she showed up at practice. Mrs. Flannery always got a kick out of my running with my mouth open rather than breathing through my nose, but over the years she accepted that it was my style. There were post season parties...sometimes at Shakey's pizzeria and sometimes at the Flannery House in Chevy Chase. These parental figures had a strong impact on my life.

Then as High School approached I grew tired of the select league and made the decision to quit Flannery so that I could move to an Open team and get that coveted center halfback spot that I had no chance of winning from Dennis. I moved to the less star studded Nolen team. Many of these players were the "rejects" from the move to select that happened some many years earlier. It was back to the Bad News Bears for me, perhaps a crowd that I better belonged to. We lost most of our games. I scored more goals than I had in the years prior, but my skills diminished. Enjoyed being one of the "stars" and did not mind moving to one game a weekend instead of two or three; the long weekend tournaments were not missed at all either.

Bethesda was still a bit of a small town back then and we belonged to the same Parrish as the Flannery family so our paths crossed from time to time. There were always pleasant exchanges. Then High School and then College came about and soccer moved to the high school and college level and so did I, although I managaged to make my college team for 4 years of varsity and my high school team for one year of junior varsity. During those years I would run into Judy Flannery more than Dennis senior. Either going into the grocery store, the library, or seeing her working at the local Racquet and Jog store. At each meeting she always went through a great inquiry of how I was doing and what was going on. I loved to talk about myself so I always loved these encounters. She was someone I respected and it tickled me to have her so interested in my "goings on." I had heard about her running growing into Triathalons, but never on these meetings did she route the conversation to herself. But rather, if I ever asked about such things she would give a short response and then bring it back to me. Always giving me a good boost to my moral and self confidence.

As the years passed our meetings grew to be more and more sparse. After college I heard more and more about Judy's successes in the world of sports. At parties I would see some of her daughters, the younger Megan and Shannon. They knew me as the kid whose parents got married in their back yard while they were in Europe. This was true, my father had married his second wife in their backyard while she was house sitting for them while they were overseas for the summer. I would ask about their mother, and their family and they would keep me informed. When their mother was mentioned in Sports Illustrated for her Master Triathalon achievements we knew that she was doing something big!

Then some years later while Lisa and I were just boyfriend and girlfriend we went traveling in Southeast Asia. While we were gone unknown to us Judy Flannery was hit and killed on a training ride on her bike. The specifics of the circumstances are unclear. As I heard it....basically, a car driver was drunk, too drunk to drive so he had his underage unlicensed 15 year old take the wheel. They were headed down River Road when the cyclists were coming the other direction. The father grabbed the wheel and forced the car into the oncoming paceline. The lead two cyclists were able to split to each side. Judy was in a tuck and was hit head on. Killed on impact. There had been no time to respond. The driver got a nominal fine. The story got blurred. The child passenger in the back seat told one initial story, then edited his tale. There was a service and a memorial, athletes from all over the area and all over the globe attended to pay their respects to this model athlete and friend. When I got home I was greatly saddened to hear this news of this family friend. My father had saved the newspaper clippings for me and shared with me an account of the services. I cried. I cried for many reasons. I cried because death is sad. I cried because a family lost its mother. I cried because I man lost the women he loved. I cried because I lost a friend. I cried because I would never see this person again.

The stories my father shared with me of all the men and all women that Judy was able to touch and inspire. I learned that this relationship that I had with Judy as a child was similar to the relationship that she shared with athletes of all ages and skill levels until the time of her death.

In my youth that soccer experience was a big part of creating who I am. My coaches had a great impact on developing my sense of self. Judy falls into that same set of influences. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to see a film called "JUDY'S TIME" This film is a short documentary created by Erin Flannery, the eldest Flannery child. Erin was a student at USC getting her masters in film when her mother was killed in this 'accident.' It was a touching piece, well produced, certainly as interesting and emotional to those who knew her and to those that did not. The story covered the tale of a women going from housewife to a World Class level triathalete. In this film the identity of Judy's personality was presented eliquantly. Again I cried. It was sad to see that so many people felt the same feelings of grief and loss for her senseless death. Again I mourned in my head for her loss of life and for her family's loss of her.

need to get back to work
I have babbled enough
I will be crying without a job if I do not get back to work


maybe I will proof this later
and try to make some edits so it makes more sense
have not read it
so I have no idea where it meanders
Trek to Athens

A film maker from Harrissonburg Virginia had the ambition to make a film documenting the quest for the Olympics with a concentration of Trek East Coast Hometown Heros Jerimiah Bishop and Sue Haywood. There journeys were long and impressive but did not take them to the Olympics. Nor did the bicycle manufacturer Trek opt to sponsor the making of the film so the film became OFF ROAD TO ATHENS. Jason Berry also created several films documenting the Shenadoah Mountain 100. I most definitely will be watching and waiting for local showings of this film.

here it is Wednesday
halfway through the week
best to try and get out a Race Report from Saturday's event before the information is less than timely
and before the details of the event are forgotten and blurred with all of the other races and rides of the months before


Race Report: Panorama Paranormal 6 Hour Mountainbike Race

Usually at this time of the year it is to be expected that any race report to be written would be covering the trials and tribulations of cyclocross as this is the season of pumpkins, leaf piles, and cyclocross....but NO! There are still mountainbike races to be raced, and I raced one last weekend just outside of Charlottesville Virginia; The Panorama Paranormal 6 Hour Race.

Somewhere towards the end of the summer a friend and frequent riding partner, Chris Redlack sent me the link to the 6 Hour mountainbike relay event and asked me if I wanted to team up with him as a Clydesdale Duo. Without hesitation I gave Chris a full hearted YES! But, unlike my promises to race the 12 Hours of Lodi Farms and the 24 Hours of Snowshoe with him....this was a promise that I was determined to keep. As the race day approached I watched the weather channel and endured the rain on my short 15 minute rides to and from work but could not find a solid reason not to ride this race. Sure I had not been on any dirt to speak of since the Shenandoah Mountain 100 nor had I been pounding the pavement of the bike trails surrounding the city, but a flat semi-technical mountainbike course relay with laps running roughly a hour each would not demand much training or prep...just a couple of cans of Red Bull could do the trick. So as the weekdays passed by I spent a few hours cleaning up my bike, packing away enough cold/cool weather gear for 4 laps, and set a few cans of Red Bull on ice.

Finally Saturday arrived....

There had been fleeting notions of heading off to Yoga in the morning with a fully packed car and driving straight out of town from there, but....that would have taken more preparation then I tend to possess. So, instead I spend the hours before noon Saturday morning with Dean chasing me around the basement and Grant trying to crawl behind me as I ran about the house gathering various cycling glasses, gloves, and skull caps. Eventually I resolved myself to departing with what I had. If there were shoes, lights, a helmet, and a bike I was good to go. As it turns out I managed to fit two bikes inside the spanking new Honda Element, with the front wheels off....with the seats left at standard extension. It was an impressive fit.

A few minutes after noon I was mobile!

The drive was nothing shy of pleasant. It amazed me how much more pleasurable it is to drive a car where the stereo is louder than the engine, the defroster and wipers clear the windshield, the heater heats the car, and the seat is more like a massage chair than a tractor saddle. The Landcruiser was quickly forgotten. It was all about the Honda Element now! The money saved on gas was spent at Wendy's. I figured I would grab enough food for lunch and for dinner.....a Single Classic, a Spicy Chicken sandwich, and a four piece chicken seemed to be enough. Cold cokes were in a cooler along with various other snacks. I was set. With the radio playing I drove forward on towards Charlottesville, before Wendy's could be more than a speck in my rear view mirror I had already finished both sandwiches and was devouring the greasy fried chicken. My stomach ached...was it hunger or was my body rejecting this meal. Assuming it was hunger I ate right through the pain. Clydesdales run off a different sort of fuel than different athletes.

Arrival was painless....even with the standard I-66 bumper to bumper traffic here and there I was able to arrive at the race site in under 3 hours. Minutes after my arrival I met up with Chris, moved my car along side of his and we began the pre-race prep. In an illogical fashion I went from task to task never finishing suffering from that prerace panic. Chris offered to flip a coin to see who went out first....I opted to go out first just to give me something to do. I hate waiting around. Chris did not dispute my offer, he tends to be pretty mellow about such things. With the bike ready to ride I slipped into my gear and headed to the startline....the race start had been delayed 20 minutes.... More anxious time to kill. I HATE LATE STARTS! Sure, I tend to arrive late, but I like to arrive, get on my bike and race....all of that standing around time just makes me more anxious.

More and more people started rolling in late.....
The field grew rapidly as the late start time grew more near.
Anxiety grew greater and greater as I thought about the competition, the trails, my bike, and my current level of fitness.

The race started with the classic LeManns, which means that the racers line up and run to their vehicle , which in this case the vehicle is a bicycle.

With the racers lined up I stood a few racers back in the pack. With the promoters count back from five I felt myself running in the front with a few others....it was less then a sprint....not even a mad dash. I got to my bike and entered the single track within the top ten of the pack. Once in the woods the racers settled into a bit of a groove. Each twist and turn was completely foreign to me. Never knowing what was going to be around the bend I respected the pace of the racers in front of me, but was feeling anxious just the same. At times I tried to convince the racers in front of me to pass when they could, but I did not do much to get around anyone on my own. With a few costume wearing riders around me I tried to find a rhythm. A racer in a lion cosutume seemed to be pacing well and I followed on his tail, literally. As we made friendly passes around each racer in front of us the not so cowardly lion (who later turned out to be a bear and not a lion at all) managed to break his chain. Then I moved forward and further catching another set of riders and accepting the pace of another racer right in front of me. To my displeasure when following closely on another racer's tail we went over a little dipptee-doo and through some rocks....my rear wheel hit harder than it should and I flatted out!

Bummer!

I pulled over, dropped to my knees, and cried out to the gods...WHY ME! WHY ME! WHY ME! Then went to my pack and and pulled out a spare 29 inch tube and began the process of replacement. One by one all the racers sped past me. I was that joker on the side of the trail. Even the lion had repaired his chain and was moving past me. Luckily for me this is a 6 hour race and a flat repair tends to take not much more than five or six minutes, so I regained composure and assured myself that the race was not over yet. Eventually with the flat repaired I was back on the bike and rolling on the trail again. It would be safe to say that I went from the front 10 racers in the group to being one of the last 10 racers. In a matter of time I got back into a groove and started the process of reeling in and passing the racers in front of me. The course was a pleasure. Nice tight winding single track, dense woods, a little rolling up and down, but no climbing....a good course for a CLYDESDALE! When lap one was over I passed the metaphorical baton off to Chris and he started rolling...wondering to himself...what took this guy so long! There had been not time or reason to be long winded about why my lap was not as fast as all those that rolled in before me.

With Chris out doing his lap I figured I had 50-60 minutes to do with as I pleased. As it turns out what I pleased to do was to get out of my clothing that was soaked with sweat, stream crossings, and mud and get into a nice and dry set of socks, shirt, and tights for my next lap. Then made sure to get another spare tube for the next lap, while cleaning my chain and checking my bike for any needed adjustments I was dismayed to discover that my rear wheel's hub was drastically loose....I raced around in search of some cone wrenches. In the search I got tired of hear the reply, "not here...but at home I have all sorts of tools" to my question about whether or not they had a set of 15mm cone wrenches...how idiotic..I am not taking a pole about who owns what....I am trying to fix my bike....I refrained from responding sarcastically to each ignorant response and went about my search. Eventually I was able to borrow the tools needed for the job from friend, rival, and fellow Clydesdale Bill Davis. Had not seen Bill since he stole victory from me in the final seconds of the Fairhill Classic in late August. He was good enough to share his tools. As I worked on my bike I learned that Bill is recovering from some knee surgery, thus causing him to take it light and race in the COED class with his wife. We said our good byes, wished each other luck, and soon enough I was at the START/FINISHLINE lining up to waiting for Chris' return from lap one. With two laps down I could clearly see that we were below the hour lap average thus assuring me that glorious 4th lap. There was no way of knowing our status with the other Clydesdales or the rest of the field overall, but I resigned myself to riding as hard as I could and accepting our place with those faster in front of us and those slower behind us.

The course and the campgrounds had a wonderful Halloween atmosphere. Discounts were given to racers in costume; there was Fat Bastard with his wife Wonder Woman, Death was on the Course, a Pimp...and of course a Ho...and a few others. The promoters had set up a large fire pit near a projector playing the latest and greatest kids films with a SPOOKY Halloween theme, I think I caught Shrek and Harry Potter in the background as scurried around before the departure of each lap. The grass roots atmosphere offered the potential for friendliness and bonding, but the two person format offered little time other than racing, repairing, fueling up only to rinse and repeat. The geared Karate Monkey Held up well. The first flat was the only flat and the hub stayed tight throughout the race, the Karate Monkey Single was there waiting to be ridden, but I did not feel the urge to spin the single....more over....I did not feel like rattling my bones without a front shock......

The course was slick and wet and got to be more wet and slick as the night dew began to collect and as each racer dripped and drained water from each stream crossing. There were endless opportunities for crashing...luckily I kept the risks and the crashing to a minimum. By the third and fourth laps I had a good idea of the sections I had to approach with momentum and which sections were best left for dismounting and hiking. There were some very odd mulch pile obstacles on the course. Each was ridable, at first I had thought them to be senseless....but as the night grew cooler the warmth of the composting mulch piles became more prevalent, thus giving an extra Halloween-esque feel to these mulch mountains with steam shooting out various peaks. The warm steam coming off the mulch pile reminded me of childhood and how as a child I would try to ride my bike up and over similar such obstacles...now as an adult I do not seek out such things as frequently, I became grateful for them reintroducing me to some of the simple pleasures that adults do not look for in life. Such as clearing this mulch pile, an obstacle that a logical adult XC mountainbike racer would go around and not over. The course as a whole was not unlike Schaffer Farms or Lodi Farms; which made it a great place to race, but not really a set of trails that I would make such a long trek to simply ride.

Rolling into the finish and passing through the smoke machine I found Chris waiting for me with a beer in hand. I looked to the clock and saw that my time for my fourth and final lap was just at one hour. I had failed to set the course record time on my last lap. Guess stopping to chat with Phil Rice out on the trail set me back a few minutes. But, I could not resist, as a parent and a clydesdale I have always found a a great appeal for the forever friendly and competitive Phil Rice. On this night Phil was containing his competitive side and flexing his parental side by racing with his daughter. I could tell that she was getting a bit flustered, not sure of her age, but I think she is a tall third grader. Any way you slice it ,it is impressive that she is out there and equally as impressive that Phil would opt to bond with his daughter rather than duke it out with the fellas. Perhaps I will be riding and racing with Grant and Dean in my future...we can only hope!

Any excuse I make, the flat on the first lap, the bonding with Phil, or the need to pass all of the other racers who blocked my momentum there is no taking way that Chris was the fast guy on our two man squad. Someone had to be faster and someone had to be slower.....on this day Chris was the fast guy which on a two man team made me the slow guy. We ended up taking first in Clydesdale, beating the next team by one solid lap. Days later when the results were posted we learned that we finished third overall, which is an added bonus. It is always great when the Clydesdales are able to show the other classes that we are not just bigger....but on some days and on some courses we are also faster.

Perhaps next year I will make the Panarama the tale end of the season and Lodi Farms the beginning....rounding things off with two very similar events that offer some of the great comeraderie that mountainbiking is all about. Oh! When I go to the Panarama Paranormal next year.....I will bring Lisa, Dean, and Grant for the event as well. It most definitely was an atmosphere that shows the world that mountainbike races are not just about bikes.

10.25.2004

TOMORROW!
A Wonderful PRE-HALLOWEEN DC Tradition!

There are few days in Washington DC where you can find this type of energy....
Head down to 17th and P Street tomorrow evening before 9PM to catch the High Heel Races! (Drag Races)
Not sure if I will be headed down there as I am nursing a cold
but
if I am at half strength and the lisa can handle the kids
expect me to be standing on top of the McDonalds checking out the madness!

10.22.2004

MORE STUFF STOLEN FROM THE HIPPIE BLOGGER

this VIDEO will get any and all cyclist pumped!

RADICAL RIDER!
.



David Chappelle's RICK JAMES Soundbites.....



.
What is this?

I am not sure what this is....check out the video and tell me!

is it a lawnmower that is missing the blade attachments?
it looks cool
although I feel I would never need one
I also get a feeling that I have to have one
Laws and the Bike....

It is strange how there are these "alledged laws" for the bike. Like the idea that they can take your bicycle away for commiting a traffic violation or for riding your bicycle on trails that are marked NO BIKES.

Here is an article about some disgruntal Critical Mass riders who had their bikes taken at a protest at the RNC in September, New York Post article

stumbled on this from the HIPPY CYCLIST

what are the real laws?
what are a person's real rights?
There is an age old question...
How many bikes does a cyclist need?
the answer is simple
Just one more!

(this same measurement has been known to work for musicians and guitars)

This guy who goes by THE WEASEL wrote briefly on this topic. I thought that I would expand...

I have been riding bikes for years, many years, nearly my whole life. Now I do not have all the bikes that I have ever ridden, but I do have a collection of bikes and parts from riding over the last decade. Just as a photographer may have a variety of photo related devices, the cyclist may have a different bike for each scenario....

There is the video camera, the 8mm film camera, the Polaroid Land Camera with its PACK FILM, and the new age Polaroids that shoot the color pictures and the minature photos as well, then there is the 35mm and then maybe a 35mm that is used for strickly manual operations, then a Pin Hole camera, then a few old Brownies that collect dust on the shelves right next to the.....

Okay...

I am not a photographer but I was able to create a simple metaphor for people to understand why it is impossible to walk in my garage or basement without literally tripping over a bicycle or some random bicycle parts. Each and every bicycle has a place and a purpose.

With that said....

I want a new cross bike...my 59cm Jamis Nova is a tad too small
the proper fitting of the 29inch wheels and the 22inch frame of the Karate Monkey has ruined me on the sizing of all my 26inch mountainbikes and even my road bikes!
New Car and a New Way
Peanut Butter and Honey
recently I purchased a new car
"OH WHAT A FEELING!"
it is a great feeling
walking in
and
then driving away
no money down
financed the complete purchase
how liberating....

now
after looking at my current savings I have decided a few things
I need to stop spending so much
I need to start bringing my lunch and breakfast
(peanut butter and honey, yogurt, and some fruit)
and
I need to put some of my crap on eBAY
THE CITY MUSEUM!

Last night Lisa and I went to a "function" at the City Museum
our original intention was to get a baby sitter and go to view the exhibit while shaking hands, mixing, mingling, and eating free food

we were less than prepared
tried to arrange a sitter
but my mother was sick and the other standby had obligations
so we went to this function with the boys; Dean and Grant
going to a cocktail affair with children is a different experience than going without
instead of looking people in the eye while talking to them my eyes are on my wandering children
instead of grazing and feeding myself I am gathering food and trying to feed my sons
instead of reading and learning about the city, I am trying to teach my sons about the city and about how to behave in a museum (just because you can climb and jump off something does not mean that you should or are allowed to)

so our stay was short and moderately sweet

we are members of this new City Museum so we will have to go back again
it seems like they made some very strong efforts for an interesting and interactive museum experience
looking forward to diving deeper into it
would love to stuff some of that information into my brain

10.21.2004

PUMPKINS
COSTUMES
and CYCLOCROSS

intro.wav

Fall is here
the leaves are changing colors
leaving a carpet of multicolored slickness for hikers and bikers alike
the dogs respond to the change of season with a crazy dog smile and a heightened energy as they race to catch the squirrels one last time before they hibernate for long cold season
winter is creeping in
the days are growing shorter
I am already getting fatter
starting to ride less
already eating more

packing my headlamp for that post work ride, yet riding straight home just the same

as usual I have lost cycling momentum
burn out?
or maybe just shuffling my priorities
lisa is supportive of my interests
but no need to take advantage of her generosity
time to get her back into YOGA
been able to force her to go a few times
soon she will be able to motivate herself

Halloween is around the corner
already been sneaking some snacks from the sugary snack packs purchased for the would be trick or treaters!
looks like I will be plump like Tom Turkey for Thanksgiving
fat like Santa for Christmas
right on time to be cherubesque for NEW YEAR"S EVE; oh how delicious I look as the BABY NEW YEAR in a depends undergarments and nothing else!

last night I tuned my Geared Karate Monkey with front shock for a 6 hour duo relay race in Charlottesville this weekend
racing with Chris Redlack
it should be some healthy competition
if not just between us
Chris unlike me has not been slowing his riding, as a matter of fact his speed, strength, and endurance are still climbing
that is why I will send him out first!
I am imagining the first rider will do one more lap then the second
which is just fine by me!
working on a bike....even if it is the most simple of adjustments has a great organic pleasure to it

I have been on the cross bike
have yet to race
once again spokes need to be replaced on one of those none Clydesdale Specific road/cross wheels
always do this same thing....hop into cross late and wish there were more races for me to do

ah.....
my favorite part of the season....PUMPKINS!
last night I carved my first pumpkin
then I baked up and toasted some pumpkin seeds
half of the seeds with Olive Oil and Salt
the other half with Olive Oil and Old Bay
OLD BAY! not just great on chicken, corn, and crabs
OLD BAY IS GREAT ON PUMPKIN SEEDS
watched THE PUMPKIN
CIRCLE
with Dean a few times already

The Pumpkin Circle is a great book and video written, directed, and staring a friend of mine's father inlaw; George Levinson
it is a great little piece of educational entertainment
with a great Seasame Street flavor
wonderful for parents and children
Dean and I watch and read the video and the book, and not just at Halloween time
as Dean grows older, old toys, old books, and old videos become new ideas as his concept of the world around him has grown and changed
Grant is at the earliest stage of understanding.....mostly tasting and smiling
Grant is not only crawling....but climbing the stairs...with an intensity that you would think he was training for an assault on Everest!

that is my day
this is my life

it all pays off

this morning Dean snacked on the toasted Pumpkin seeds
and
tonight as he and his diminutive friends gather in costume for an evening approach to the National Zoo for the Halloween spectacular....BOO AT THE ZOO
there will be seasonal decorations on the windows and a carved pumpkin on the porch

can not wait to head to the ZOO tonight
for some reason it is fun to go in the ZOO at night
even more fun when you are allowed to go in at night and are not in fear of breaking some sort of Federal law

CHECK OUT George's films online
another Bush Bashing Animation piece....

More Harm than...

this one is by my friend Rob Myers
he created this for the MOVEON.org campaign
it is worth a look
a nice little tribute to SOUTHPARK
all the voices are actual sound bites of the current (and hopefully soon to be former) president

10.20.2004

Landcruiser....BE GONE!
okay
it should be that easy
but for some reason it is not


last night I had my time wasted yet again
some poindexter with his son came by to waste my time and try to nickel and dime me
a total waste of my time
I held up sending in the TITLE to the American Kidney Foundation for one day because this loser sounded so interested
he was interested.....interested in wasting my time

NOTE TO SELF: NEVER SELL YOUR OWN CAR AGAIN
(already forgotten)


this guy came over with his son and a flashlight
they looked this thing over
all over....every inch of this old truck

and then offered me half my asking price

when my asking price had already dropped to half of my original price
at 3,200 I had a mess of interested buyers
had I tried for 1,000 even (like my brother had recommended) this truck would be out of my life
but the slow decline in price did not help to draw in customers
what an asshole!
in the process he was trying to justify his low balling offer by explaining to me what my tax deduction would be worth in cash
honestly....
I don't give a rats ass!

perhaps in the future I agree to meet with any interested buyers
but ask for a viewing/test driving fee
20 bucks each for an opportunity to climb under the truck, sit in the truck, and have me drive the truck
for those who want to drive it....40 bucks!

would anyone do this?
I think not....
well, maybe the actually interested few....
there would be a clause that the 20 dollars would be part of the final payment if and only if that individual decided to purchas the vehicle for the agreed price

okay
now I am dreaming
but at least there would have been less time wasted with jerk offs whose time would be better spent channel surfing between PIMP MY RIDE and AMERICAN CHOPPER!

now I need to send in this TITLE
and hope that I do not get another ticket before this wonderful old truck gets towed away!
TIPPING

from www.britannica.com

tip
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): tipped; tip·ping
Etymology: perhaps from 6tip
Date: circa 1610
transitive senses
1 : GIVE, PRESENT
2 : to give a gratuity to
intransitive senses : to bestow a gratuity


and then this

gra·tu·ity
Pronunciation: gr&-'tü-&-tE, -'tyü-
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -ities
Date: 1540
: something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service; especially : TIP


somewhere along the line society has forgotten the meanings of these words; TIP and GRATUITY

not sure where but somewhere in recent history the notions of voluntary and beyond obligation have been forgotten

don't get me wrong....I tip....but, not in all cases
and in many cases I tip when I feel it most definitely is not deserved

Coffee Shops have to be the biggest extortion artists out there when it comes to tipping...

Explain to me why I need to spend a super inflated price for a cup of coffee and then tip the worker on top of that? Sure the HIPSTER with all the tattoos and piercings at STARBUCKS is doing a wonderful job of pouring my basic house blend....but what are they doing differently than the person behind the counter at McDonalds who is also serving food and coffee with the same robotic smile? At McDonald's they want you to give the money to the kids at Ronald McDonald's House....not into the employee's pockets. Yet, for some reason or another we all feel this great social pressure when we are in coffee shops to give the remainder of our change to the Cool Cats behind the counter.

I have to deal with a smarmy attitude and give up my change!??!?!
YEP!
and I do!
why?
cause I am scared!
scared that people will think that I am not a good member of society

Now there are other areas of the SERVICE INDUSTRY where tipping makes perfectly good sense....but is so often overlooked by average consummer. I will dip into my personal ethnography and recall two jobs that I worked that often got me tips....but not often enough; working as a mover and as a mechanic in a bike shop.

Gulliver's Movers
To all those who do not know; it is customary to tip a mover. It is also customary to tip a furniture delivery person or anyone else who is doing a similar type service; (as in this morning I tipped the guy who delivered the wood for my deck, I did not tip him for the delivery, but rather for him helping to move the wood and concrete bags from the alley into my backyard. For this he earned ten dollars, which is not much, but if he gets 10-20 bucks for each of his deliveries that day....well....he may have earned himself an additional 50-100+ dollars; as a mover we were happy to get 10-20 for 6-8 hours of exertion; no tip after a 12 hour day...that hurt) When working as a mover I was often the guy who headed the crews. So when it came time to handle the paper work I usually had a good idea of who was tipping and who was not. Either way things were going I tried to slip in as tastefully as I could that it is customary to tip the movers. Phrases like, "Oh, you are writting a check...you can include the mover's tip in the final tally and we can get the boss to settle up with us back at the office." or if there was damage done and they were trying to weasel out of some of the final billing...."oh, mam, I am sorry about the scratch on your floor..we try to avoid such things, but these things do happen....maybe you can take a percentage of the tip for the workers and use that money to buff out the scratch."

You get the basic idea, the phrases were all customized to the situation. As a crew leader I was well liked....everyone was treated fairly...the tips were always spread equally (some crew leaders did not split the tips fairly...some kept the tips for themselves) And the workers always like to hear me come up with these lines in the end, in the background I would hear, "oh, cool, joe (L implied) is gonna take care of us!" The boss back at the office frowned on such behavior..in fact I got reprimanded indirectly for such things....but in the end I felt it was my obligation to educate the public one by one on the customs of using a mover. Remeber these people use a mover once every 7-10 years, while I was a mover everyday. They knew to tip in a resturant....some had to learn to tip when using a mover as well.

at times on a big move....

I would try and get a subtle hint that "pizza and gatorade" often aid in the moral of the larger moves. With a little skip in the worker's step things move quicker with less error (damage.)

Big Wheel Bikes; Capitol Hill Location, Eastern Market

The bike shop was a tad different...

Each day, mostly on weekends there would be a parade of weekend warriors with their low end bikes looking for a quick adjustment. After the first couple hundred of free adjustments I realized that these people had purchased their bikes elsewhere....were getting free service from our shop....and were more than likely never going to spend any money in the shop. The tighening of the handle bars, adjusting the seat, fixing the front wheel were all done with a smile in the hopes of earning their future business. Till finally I realize...this is taking time away from sales and repairs....something must be done. So I came up with a little phrase, "our repair minimum is seven dollars an fifty cents, I don't feel that this adjustment merits that, but if you want to contribute a few dollars to the mechanic lunch fund we would be very grateful...."

The repair was done, two or three dollars came our way....and we had pizza or subs headed our way come lunch time.... The potential customer left feeling good about the situation as 3 dollars is better than seven fifty and we got a rapid increase in our hourly wage. This barter system extended...there were locals who had services...and we did fair exchanges for services. I gave the local sports club big discounts and serious hook up in exchange for a free gym membership. The girls down the block at the coffee shop got free adjustmenst for an occassional free coffee...and so on...and so on....and so on....

what is my point?

is it that I like to get tipped
but that I do not like to tip?

no, not at all
as a matter of fact I feel I am a good tipper
as a father of two I realize that our table can often make more work for the bus boy or the waiter
so we tend to be generous with our tips, even after we try to clean up some of the damage

but there are times where I feel that tips are not needed or services are unnessecary

the coffee shop is one
but
when lisa and I go to a nice hotel....I hate using the Bell Hop
it blows my mind that I need a dwarf with a hump to carry my bag and hold my key
while I a young and strong and could carry this guy and my bags to the room with no hassle at all

where am I going with this?
back to work
where I do not get any tips!
but do not expect them either
although it would be nice


10.19.2004

Cross Race Practice
Wednesday of last week I got an email inviting me to an informal CYCLOCROSS practice with my brother and a friend over at an elementary school in Glover Park right by my brother's house after work on Thursday. The meeting time was 5PM. I get off work at 5PM. It is seldom these days that I leave until shortly after 5pm. Last Thursday was no different.

Thursday's quitting time came around and I figured that even if I showed up late I could still get a few miles in on the bike and it would give me a different route home than I usually take. With the whistle blowing I slid down the dinosaur and onto the street where I mounted my Jamis Nova Cyclocross bike and headed down M Street towards Georgetown. It my hands on my brakes and my eyes on anything and everything around me I split lanes and ran lights until Georgetown proper was behind me and I was ducking into the woods of the Glover Archebald trails. The trails were fast and hard, but I took them at a moderate pace to avoid injury to myself and the bike. Rode a few sections of these urban trails and popped out just two blocks from the Stoddard field where my brother Marc and his old college buddy Mark Drajem were already racing around the unmarked course. Without time to think my brother came straight at me and between breathes uttered, "we have already started....hop in!" With my backpack still on my back I jumped on my brother's rear wheel. I did not stay there for long. Quickly I dropped a few yards back, then a few more, tried to get into a groove and stay close enough behind him to get an idea of the course layout. A few laps into this cross race practice I found myself a tad further behind my brother, but still gaining ground on Mark Drajem. My objectives changed, now i set my sites on a more rational goal, to reel in Drajem. I maintained focus and picked up the pace where I could. Tried to stay fast and efficient on all the tight turns and stay fluid as I cleared the various barriers with a classic Cyclocross dismount and mount. With salavia blowing from my lips like cob webs I mahsed on forward and further.

The setting in the park was a tad humorous.

In addition to Marc, Mark, and myself all dressed up in our lycra knickers, skin tight tops, and mushroom helmets there was a women's rugby team practicing, couples picnicing, dogs running leashlessly, and the standard park dwellers reading their papers or paperbacks. In this mix of urbanites doing their urban thing we were clearly the weirdest of the weird. As cross bikes are such a small subculture of the cycling world it must have been a tad amusing for them to see us on grass and dirt on what appeared to be road bikes. Then add in the dismount/mount steeple chase manovers over the barriers or running up the stairs with the bike on the shoulder...well then things are definitely looking a tad weird...but only slightly more weird than women playing rugby. Then it must have been more funny for them to see me try to make a tight turn around a fence....my rear wheel started to slide out...I managed to regain stability....hammered the pedals down to keep momentum....and clipped the fence sending me flying off the bike and making a loud cymbal-like sound. I tried to regain my rhtym, but my front brakes were no longer working....I was out of the game.

Okay....

I managed to mix up two 25 minute warm ups into one story

but

this story is not so vital that it merits a proof read
as my job has job things to do
not just blog things

back to work

just to let you know
bikes are still part of my day to day life


Political Cartoons: Best of....Top Ten (but only have three or four so far)

Leave it to Bush

(funny, very odd, yet funny still)

This Land is Out Land

Pirates and Emperors

an awesome commentary and great entertainment for grown ups of the Schoolhouse Rock Revolution

MOVEON.ORG
some of these were nothing shy of awesome

FREE RANGE GRAPHICS
these guys make intellegent and entertaining FLASH animation movies

in the comments sections please add to the list
would be fun to get a greater compilation of the Internet Movies that entertained us
and kept us from doing our duties at work

MORE HARM THAN...
this is a piece by my friend Rob Myers
he created it for the MOVEON.org competition

10.18.2004

"back in the day"

I always feel sorry for the people who use this "back in the day" saying...
TODAY IS THE DAY!
and if you do not feel that way
well
you may want to try to tweek your daily program to feel such
life is cumulative
and
those days are part of who you are
and if you want more days like them....
they are there for the taking!

Courier Days...."cool times?"

There was a comment to an earlier post from a friend out in Colorado, Tim Faia.

Tim and I have known each other for years, we have managed to maintain contact through different stages of our lives even with 2,000 plus miles between us. In the earliest stages of our friendship Tim was living in Ocean City Maryland just a block away from a house the was the summer home to a gathering of my college friends. During this time I was working as a bicycle messenger in Washington, DC. Those were wild times, but honestly....those times would have been just as wild had I been painting houses or working as a short order cook at the Tastee Diner. A great deal of the energy and passion that surrounded that job had to do with the energy and passion that a person in their early 20's carries. Being that it was summer I managed to spend a fair amount of time at the beach, enough time that some of the people down there thought that I was living there myself. Tim who was a cycling surfer was always intrigued by the occupation of the bicycle messenger, as a competitive racer Tim currently maintains a curiosity for this occupation. All of his ideas are correct....there are great things about this job....other than the pay check and the risk. There is a great freedom to riding around on your bike all day, but....

let me post Tim's comment...for a direct response

Are you longing for your courier days? Seems like a cool time, the crew down in Denver is less core than the D.C. group I met through you and Markus.
Tim | 10.15.04 - 7:18 pm | #


No, Tim, I am not longing nor have I ever longed for those courier days.
I can ride my bike through the city and take those same set of risks any time I want. I left the courier industry to be a mover....a job that offered similar freedoms, but gave me money for the hours I was there. As a commission courier there were times when the hourly average was low....not just for me....but for all....I hated being there and not making money. For the last year or so as a messenger I was working for two companies simultaneously to make sure that I was not riding around without packages in my bag, but even that left me hanging in the park more than I felt I needed to. Some couriers live for the endless hours in the park, head to Dupont Circle or Farragutt North and by 10 am you will see some gatherings of messengers, some of them will already be toasting the day with a 40, others may be rolling a joint, while some are just waiting for their pager to go off or for their name to be called on the radio. It always seemed like there was plenty of time after work for hangin with the fellas....I did not need to start catching up with my bar buddies first thing in the am and my bar interests could wait until the sun set.

There are some people that make money as messengers, but they are few and far between. For the most part messengers are living hand to mouth, in small apartment, in group houses, Washington DC is a very expensive city. It is unlikey that very many messengers could own a house and support a family on their messenger income. There are those that do make it work, but many of them have an additional source of income. Very few of these people will ever see a retirement check, the paybacks of a 401K or even an IRA. Many of these people live off the radar....many not paying taxes and even more living without health insurance....can you imagine living such a dangerous lifestyle without health insurance?
(I can...as I did!)

Sure there are the couriers who work as a messenger so that they can stay fit to race bikes, live in this fine country of the USA without papers, have the freedom to play music and have their band tour when ever they choose, stay home and paint or write when they wish, stay in bed and sleep off a painful hang over, or live, act, and dress as they wish. But, for the most part, these people are showing up for work early and staying late, with more commitment and less freedom than your average businessman with a tie. Rain, Snow, Sleet, or Ice and the courier needs to be there....if they are not there....they are not getting paid or they may lose their position in the hierarchy of their company. Consistent couriers are giving steady work, flaky couriers are used to pick up the slack, and the friends are fed and get to ride the Gravy Train!

In a personal email with a friend who owns a Courier Company in San Francisco (pete's blog about his business)we chatted about his dream job; Pete has just started a MUSIC BLOG, where he reviews bands and shares his opinions on vary artists with his readers. This is a just for fun, but Pete would love that to be his job....my feeling is that most any dream job over time becomes just a job.

In some ways I feel that the messengers who are still out there "doing it" would not mind having other options. The "Lifers." as they are often called, are not all wrapped up in the romance of the career, but rather are showing up to work to make money and pay the bills. There are some great things about the messenger industry. It is a colorful gathering of personalities. Many of these people are making the world a better place by sharing their artistic talents, voicing their political opinions, contributing to the cycling culture, or just by being good people. But, more likely than not these people would still be colorful contributors if they were working another job.

There is a sad fact that our time at any job has it cumulative advantages. At any job the longer a person is there, the more they learn, thus the greater possibility of advancement. A laborer shows up on the site and starts by carrying boards and nails, then starts to swing a hammer and use a saw, before they know it they are framing a house and so on and so on.... In the industry of the messenger the employee learns the city, memorizes the clients, gets more savy and more strength on the bike...and then what? There is very little room for movement...a courier can shoot for the "TOP DOG" position with their company, but what next? Dispatcher? Sales? Who knows? There are so many companies out there because at some point the presidents of these companies were working for a messenger company and felt that they could do this all themselves...Now there are a hundred companies....and not quite enough work to keep them all busy.

okay....

this BLOG was yet another topic that could not be tackled in one post
this is a topic that could be a complete sociological work in itself

I do not have the experience or the know how to write this work
but I do have an opinion
and well....
since I have an opinion, as unthought out as it may be, I shared that opinion with you

MY LIFE ROCKS!
I AM WHERE I WANT TO BE
I AM DOING WHAT I WANT TO BE DOING
a poem...

"I think of days of yesterday
with nothing better to do
than ride a bike and have some fun
and drink a couple of brews...."


the poem went on along the same lines
the message was far more poetic as it rolled off a stranger's tongue as we did tequila shots at the "Deuce" (the 2AM club in Mill Valley, CA)
this odd drinking partner had just been released from prison earlier that day
on his trip down the coast from Northern California he passed through Mill Valley and settled in for the night
where he joined up with me and another for a night of excessive drinking

I have the complete poem written down
it was an eloquent piece that summed up his life locked up
and stressed the pleasures of life that so many of us take for granted
the things we can do, but don't
these are the things he wanted to do, but couldn't

it was a strange passing
short as it was
I reflect back on that meeting from time to time
somehow it helps to keep it all in perspective

10.15.2004

For those of us who grew up on EDUCATION ROCK....this cartoon short ROCKS!

check it out!

Pirates and Emperors

it is really quite clever!
and informative

it would be a great trailer to preface any Michael Moore film!
(I should not have said that...it may desuade some from viewing it)
Screw Bush Alleycat!

SCREW BUSH ALLEYCAT
Saturday Oct 23,04
Logan Circle 3PM
$5.00party&prizes


an alleycat is an informal urban race
often set up in a courier style format
all on open roads
all use at your own risk

cycling is a dangerous sport
I recommend that you stay in your car
drive home and play video games
cycling is not worth the risk
A few things to get you closer to that SINGLE SPEED that you have been craving....

SINGLE SPEED COG

close out on a SINGLE SPEED FRAME

SURLY BIKES, 29' Potential Karate Monkey or the standard 1X1

then there is the "poor man's single speed" (from the mind of Keith Bontrager)

or you could buy my old Huma Huma Nuka Nuka Apuha ah
make an offer!

what else is there in the world of single speeds?
oh course....Sheldon Brown!

that should be enough links to wet your appetite

10.14.2004

St Mary's College of Maryland and St Mary's County....
where drinking and driving was a varsity sport....not just on the college level
but at the high school level as well
here is a Washington Post article on the subject
there is mention of the local "college bar" The Green Door
respect...
common courtesy...
or as they told us in bible study, "do unto others as you would like others to do unto you."
(okay, I went to catholic school, not bible study)

I have rambled on about the law and my interpetation of it
but it seems like people don't seem to get it
these laws were created because they can not behave

even the Ten Commandments were created to keep people in line
these laws were written by the same people who created god
sure....who knows....there could be a god...
but the idea of god is something that was created to help to control the masses
in the time before Big Brother
people had to create an idea that would keep people in check


the Ten Commandments are really so basic....I can not believe that we even need them
the same is true of laws
one would think that everyone would know the killing and stealing are wrong...but I guess not
so some religous folks told this story of some guy going up a mountain and coming back with some tablets
(we have all seen Charleston Heston portray Moses)

I do not have the time for this
some people are stupid
most people are stupid
empathy does not exist in all
how can someone think that it is okay to steal from another
what is the rational or the justification?
it is greed and nothing more

when working at a bike shop years back I use to pick the brains of some bicycle theives
some of them never realized that the prior owner had spent money on this bike
then no longer had the bike
and may not have the money to buy another bike
then there were those who bought the stolen bikes (bad karma bikes)
they could not make the logical leap that it was pretty much the same thing
if no one bought stolen bikes
there would be far less bike theft

but that is a soap box for another time
I have work to do

wish I could blog while I ride my bike


I own a car.... as a matter of fact I own two, along with my wife's car I have access to three cars!
(currently trying to sell the '84 Landcruiser...wanna buy it?)

It is interesting when I get into an arguement or a debate with a car drive or even a car driving coworker about cyclists on the road and the cyclist's need to obey the law these people fail to understand that I unlike them exist in both worlds....the world of the confinement of the cage we call a car and also the liberating machine that we call the bicycle. Being able to travel in each or the other gives me a perspective that these most people do not understand....I can see both sides! I live on both sides and understand both angles.

So when a car driver tells me that they are sick of cyclists running Red Lights or blowing through Stop Signs, well, I can see their point; no one wants to run someone over or deal with the hassle of wiping some random cyclist's blood off the windshield or pick flesh out of the grill. But, in the same respect I think it is ignorant and arrogant for them not to look into the mirror and see how they are driving. The cyclist has opted to modify the rules of the road to make their travel more safe and more efficient. While the car driver can not see that. This same driver that asks the cyclist to obey the laws fails to see that they are bending most of the rules themselves and asking for a more annoying delay filled situation. If I were to obey the laws as a car while on the bicycke I would take the whole lane, make complete stops at each light or sign and then block traffic as I moved forward accelerating at a cyclist pace. Thus forcing the cars to line up behind me.....no....remember....you have asked the cyclist to obey the laws like a car which will dictate that the car is not permitted to pass the cyclist. Each and every day I ride to the right hand side of the lane, accepting that the car driver is going to go around me breaking the double yellow line to make their pass. This double yellow line indicates that this is infact a NO PASSING ZONE, but since it is a bicycle ...the car gets to re-evaluate the law to expedite things. Well....that is just what the cyclist is doing when they roll through a stop sign like it were a yeild sign...trying to increase rather than impeed the flow of traffic. Sure there are times where I take the whole lane, I feel it is my responsibility to protect my best interest, ME. So I take the whole lane removing the option to pass if I feel that there is not sufficient room for a car driver to make the pass. There are winding sections of road with blind curves where I feel I need to think for the thoughtless car drivers. There are also stretches of road where it would be unsafe for me to ride all the way to the left due to pot holes that would be a hinderance to a moon vehicle, so I avoid those as well, not to mention the gutters and grates that also exist on the right side of many roads.

It is true.... as gundog99 said yesterday
These car drivers do not realize that I am a person to them I am an obstacle and a hinderance.
In some cases the car driver may not even realize that they are acting aggressively to someone that they actually know.

I have had near death experiences with friends, friend's parents, and co-workers behind the wheel of an agressive car.....all in situaitons where I was in the right and they were in a hurry uncaring of that person on the bike, which happened to be me. In one case the driver of a Mercedes with Diplomat tags spared my life because her daughter was in the passanger's seat....
When the mother stepped into DEATHCAR 2000 mode the passanger Isabell said..."no, mother....it is Joel!" The mother asked...."What is Joel?" and Isabell motioned with her hands "This is Joel." My life was spared. Apply a French Euro accent and the conversation makes much better sense and then ask Isabell about touring with New Order and she will tell you how it was in a matter of fact way...."so and so (one of the nameless band members...as Ian Curtis is dead) loved me." Okay, that story much like the first is a tad bit of a location joke. But, it gives an example of the dehumanization of the person on the bicycle, they are a faceless obstacle not a living breathing human being with family, friends, and a purpose to this world.

I still joke with one of the editors here at work about one of the times where he layed on his horn and moved to run over me and my friends as we crossed over a busy street on our bicycles in the crosswalk.

Years ago I had a long list of Public Service Announcements, one of them not unlike a commercial from the Church of Latter Day Saints. The one where a Jeep passes a cyclist too close and sprays mud on him. The cyclist gets a little angered and then catches up to the Jeep driver along side of the road in need of a repair. The cyclist considers taking the crow bar from the car driver's hand and beating the man to death, but instead takes a deep breath, removes his helmet, and offers what assistance he can. There are several messages there.....
maybe even the potential for an adult film found in the boy on boy section at your local video store.....but that is another story.

I think that this public service announcement should be made. People need to open their minds and realize that there is a human on that bicycle and that they are comprised of skin and bone, not surrounded by crumple resistance side panels with driver's side airbags etc. That person has just as much right to the road as the car driver does. I am sorry that this person is 5 minutes late to meet their friends for happy hour, but that should have nothing to do with me and my time on the bike.

enough on this
this rant went everywhere and no where
I have had blogger's block for some time
and
my posts have been meandering about a tad too much
need focus
must get focused
Public Service Announcement from your average housewife/homemaker....

It seems that the soccer moms are not all stupid security moms buying into all the propaganda and hype that the current administration is pumping out to try and convince us that we need them.

No, here is a mom who is able to speak some sense about how she feels about George Bush.

CHECK IT OUT!

it is worth your time

10.13.2004

Hang it on the wall....
Each day as I get ready to get on the bike I slip into the appropriate gear for the temperature of the day then head for the door....
bike with air in the tires....CHECK!
backpack.....CHECK!
helmet.....CHECK!
lights.....CHECK!
middle finger....CHECK!
mouthful of spit....CHECK!
chip on my shoulder.....CHECK!

The prior post about being a victim of terrorism is a post that can be written and rewritten everyday by each and every cyclist. On my urban rides I find that there are so many car drivers who intentionally pass me too close in an effort to make some sort of statement. Then there are the ones who take it one step further. As if it is not dangerous enough with people who are

(in addition to being forced off the road....I have been hit and given false information....run over only to see the car burning rubber as I stumbled to my feet.....crashed on my own only to have my bike get run over by on coming traffic, only to see the car keep on going....the list goes on)

Most often it is the usual case that a car does not feel that the cyclist should be on the road, that the cyclist is holding up traffic. Well, the CYCLIST IS TRAFFIC. Ironically, cars do not get angered or frustrated at the illegally parked cars or the double parked cars as much as they get pissed at the cyclist who is going along following all the rules of the road. When the words are exchanged it is always funny that the speeding car that rolled through the stop sign feels so high and mighty about my need to obey the law on my bike that they failed to look in the mirror to witness their own set of infractions. The speed limit is 25MPH on most city streets. The sign says STOP, not SLOW AND GO!

okay
this post is more difficult that I thought to bring to surface
best I try to write this at a moment when I have more time
lunch is coming to a close
and I have work to do

maybe a more clear headed reader can finish this thought in a more organized fashion in the comments section

thanks
and
thanks to all that reminded me to slow down and put it in perspective

more later

10.12.2004

Victim of Terrorism?
What is terrorism?
If one group singles out an individual of another group and makes an attack upon them or there property....is that terrorism?
Yesterday, Columbus Day, while I was riding my bike home from work I was directing myself towards the section of Beach Drive that is closed during weekends and holidays when I took my usual path through the tunnel rather than the bike path through the National Zoo. The sidewalk path in the tunnel is a tad narrow and it can be sketchy with the tile wall by your side, but I have gone through this tunnel so many times on my bike that I take it at full speed; always alert for obstacles (trash) in my path, trucks with obnoxiously wide side view mirrors, and bikers or runners who have also opted for this tunnel option. Yesterday was a day like any other, I made sure that there were no people headed my way when entering the tunnel and sped on through on my Jamis Nova Cyclocross bike. About half way through the tunnel I felt a whoooshing of wind past my face, heard a sound that resembled a rubberband wizzing by my ear, and felt something strike my left wrist. My body ran an immediate body check for damage as my eyes scanned the bike for damage, it was not clear if I had blown a tire or if someone had run over something that got crushed and shot inadvertantly in my direction. I checked my arm at the point of impact. Everything seemed in tact. Somehow I managed to stay on this path just wider than half a sidewalk. The bike was still rolling and so was I. As I exited the tunnel and merged back onto the bike path I ran an algorithym in my head of what could have just happened. With little more than guessing I decided that I had been victim of someone's idea of a prank. I had been hit by bb gun! Lucky for my it did not strike me in the face and only grazed my arm. Everything had happened so fast. There was no shout! No horn! No vision of a gunman. Yet, without any facts I maintained my hypothesis. Someone had shot me with a CO2 bb gun. This is not such a far fetched idea....especially in this town. As I rode forward I fantasized about what I would do if I caught them. I love these little fantasies, it can be quite a rush and cycling can have a bit of a mindless balisticness to it. Various fantasies all with the same superhero results passed through my head. As I approached runner and cyclist coming the opposite direction I watched for any behavior that may indicate that they too had been assaulted, but no one was behaving in any manner to detect such. Once on Beach Drive I considered going to the Park Police station to report the incident, but such things tend to take time and offer no change so I opted to spend my time pedaling rather than chatting up officer friendly. I have learned that they listen and they listen long, they may do this because they are really bored or because they want to inconvenience the complaintant so much that they never try such things again.
So I pedaled down Beach drive checking out the creek by my side wondering why the creek turns this deep dark black color in the fall and what someone would think would come of shooting a cyclist with a pellet gun.

10.11.2004

the experience of a new car...
everyone talks about that "new car smell"
well, that smell can be purchased in an aresol can or the shape of a christmas tree
for me the experience of the new car is completely something different

as I walk to my new car I am not overly concerned about checking the area surrounding the engine for various leaking fluids thus accessing the problems of the day
when I go to unlock the door I can go directly to the driver's side rather than going to the passanger side unlocking the door then leaning over to unlock the driver's side then walking around
when I go to start the car I do not monitor the battery meter, cross my fingers, pump the gas, and utter the mantra, "come on....come on...come on...."

then once the car is started I sit
as the car warms up I program the stations on the radio
when I hooked up the radio I inverted the connection mistakenly so the radio does not hold the settings
once the truck is started I head down the road
like an airplane pilot I pay close attention to the gages
but not all gages are accurate....is the gas gage telling the truth today?
is there really half a tank?
while checking the gages I listen to the engine?
is the engine running healthy today?
yes?
good, the engine does love the cool fresh air
then as I drive down the road I keep a safe distance from the cars in front of me
stopping distance in '84 was different than in '04
if the rain comes down the wipers do not quite clear things like I would hope
but that is how things are in this truck so I accept it and drive on the edge of my seat
then when it gets dark I turn on the headlamp
better use the brights....
not exactly the technology of today
just as my HID lamp for mountianbiking released in 2004 is superior to the head lamps of 10 years ago
the lighting technology of cars has also improved
but...
this is driving a truck with character

currently I am pleased to have an '04 without character
Superman Dies...

This morning I was saddened to hear that Christopher Reeves had died this weekend past, Christopher Reeves was best know for his portrayal of SUPERMAN. As I sipped my coffee I listened to NPR's brief summary of the passing of Christopher Reeves; his life as an actor, his tragic equestrian accident, and life after the accident where he had to deal with full body paralysis....while the words played in my head my son's played in front of me....Dean with no irony was wearing his Superman PJs cape and all, completely oblivious to who Christopher Reeves was or even what the Superman movies are. It was not quite clear why I am so saddened by this passing....I was never a Superman fanatic, although I did enjoy the films, Christopher Reeves is not one of my favorite actors, although I did find him to be good in Death Trap, no perhaps it was just the notion of all the things that can go wrong in life. People have accidents and injuries all the time, for some reason it takes someone in the public eye to suffer such an accident for people to take notice. I looked at Dean in his Superman jammies and Grant in his green fleece and hoped that they could somehow be protected, that they could live long prosperous lives without illness or injury not to mention something as catastrophic as the injury that Christopher Reeves had suffered.

My next thought was fleeting. I thought of death and dismemberment on the bicycle, not to my sons...but to myself. This is a thought that should be fleeting as to over think it would act to keep a rider off the bike and on the couch. I thought of all my crashes and all my near misses and thanked my lucky stars with a superstitious sign of the cross. For years I moved through traffic like Superman racing the train, now as a father and a slightly more mature individual I take it a tad easier. Risks are still taken, both on the streets and on the dirt trails, I can not stop living for fear of death, but I need try to stay respectful of the risks at hand and be thankful for each crash that I walk away from. I want Grant and Dean to live full and active lives....they will take risks....my heart will stop....there will be trips to the hospital....skinned knees, black eyes, perhaps a broken bone...hopefully nothing more....life is fragile. Live it Love It! Appreciate it while it is here, but don't let fear keep you from flying.

back to work
as I must appreciate my job
just as I appreciate life



I just remembered....
last night before I tucked Dean into bed I grabbed the digital camera
when we got into the bedroom I had Dean stand in a few Superman poses in his Superman jammies
odd...
all this super stuff and I had not known of the Superman death
SUPERMAN FLIES AGAIN!

/>

10.08.2004

Jockey's Ridge or Jockey's Bridge as Dean was calling it
It is funny that my three year old son is always trying to make sense out of words and the English language
Not knowing what a ridge was he assumed that we were saying bridge.
And when he sings the "Spiderman Song" he always says, "Spiderman, Spiderman...does what ever a spider can DO."
As to you and I we understand that the "DO" is implied, to him ending it with "can" just does not make sense.
He is a little genius. I best pull out the video camera as his vocal talents have yet to be documented.

a couple of bike mechanics flew a plane at this site some 100 years ago



I did a 10 second Photoshop to get us all in the same picture
as that was faster than cloneing Dean and Grant
Now don't think I am soft....
I am stepping out of the office for a second to hand off a bag of shirts (colar and T) to that same homeless guy in front of the McDonalds
Originally I only wanted to give food to his dog King
but, I needed to clean out some of my closet and drawers and figured that some of these shirts were too nice to clean my chain and would suit this man and his homeless crew better
the shirts are all new and nice
I have so much and others have so little

which all falls into one of my many personal life philosophies...

GIVE A LITTLE....GET A LOT!
Irony and Inconvenience
Our family vacation to the Outer Banks was planned around the closing to prepare for a temporary move of Dean's pre-k class at the Rosemount Center. Our choice of the Rosemount Center was not some sort of bleeding heart notion of introducing Dean into a multicultural world by having him be part of the 4% paying/4% white population of this multi-colore multi-cultural multi-lingual HeadStart program, but rather this school's proximity was just 2 or three blocks away from our house. Sure it is great that Dean spends his days exposed to different cultures and different languages, but that is just a positive side effect to the proximity of this school to our Mt. Pleasant home. Well, this over 100 year old building with its Spanish archetectiure is getting some sort of facelift (or perhaps asbestos removal....I do not know), while the renovations are being done the school has moved to the Trinity Campus over by Catholic University (oddly enough Trinity is where Alex DeCall goes to college, Alex is a young girl who grew up in Anacostia and was tutored by my step mother Joyce as a young child and moved into my parent's house for her high school years so that she would have a better educational opportunity, she did not get pregnant....so I guess it was a success.) The campus is not far, maybe a few miles, just across town....too far to walk perhaps a tad too hectic to pull Dean in the bicycle trailer. Thus the introduction of the Honda Element into my life.

Here it is Dean's first week at the new location. As mornings are part of my Dad duty obligations getting Dean to school is part of my routine. Previously we alternated between hiking the dogs in the woods of Rock Creek Park with riding his bicycle down the recently renovated Mt. Pleasant alleys, but now we load up the car and cuss in traffic. So here it is International Walk to School Week and I am for the first time ever driving my son to school rather than walking, is that a tad IRONIC? Isn't that fucking fantastic! The trip is a total hassle. I am now all bound up in a cage and forced to move through the logicless cattle call which is commuter traffic. Last night I tossed and I turned as I played through my head the different driving styles I witness on the roadeach day and will witness for the next 9 months. For the most part people are just not performing on the top of their game (if they are at the top of their game I think that there should be IQ tests as part of the driver's permit process...to these people's credit, I feel that they are more likely assholes rather than idiots although I still feel that they would score low on these test.) The route that I take is a well traveled commuter path that has NO PARKING SIGNS DURING RUSH HOUR that are supposed to clear the path for this cross town commute. Needless to say this path is not cleared. Cars are parked and double parked along this route, cars are stopping and waiting for their friends or girlfriends to get dressed and come out for the drive to where ever. The single path that remains available is blocked up by people waiting to take Left Turns where the sign clearly marks....NO LEFT TURN, the double parkers, the women (and maybe a few men) putting on lipstick and missing the green light, and the people just sleeping on the job. This is their commuting route, this is their daily practice, each day these butt plugs slow the flow of traffic with their same inconsiderate actions. Each inconsiderate driver punishes themselves and other like them, making the same obnoxious illegal actions each day thus causing the flow of traffic to slow and stop perhaps not realizing that they are in fact the problem and that if they each just did things the RIGHT WAY it would be better for them and better for others. So simple that you would think that the simple minded would be able to grasp this, but NO!

The idea of loading Dean up in the Burley Trailer and towing him to school each day behind the bike was a fleeting notion. This route is dangerous for me solo on the bike, so dangerous that I feel it would be irresponsible for me to try and take him in rush hour traffic on these city streets through Columbia Heights and Petworth (DC's version of Compton, but my fear is not the indigenous people as I would think that the man with the AK47 is still asleep at this time of the day as his business tends to take place in the dark of night.) The sidewalk route would be an option, but that would be a hypocritcal hinderance to all who are traveling on the sidewalks each day, as I can not stand the people who choose to take the sidewalk on the bike I can not become one of them...especially with a two and a half foot wide trailer being towed behind me, no matter how cute Dean may be. Not to mention the time that it would take to assemble the Burley trailer and link it to the bicycle and then disconnect the trailer on my return and disassemble it so it can fit in my garage would end up taking more time then to hop into my shiney new Honda Element (did I tell you that I bought an '04 Burnt Orange Honda Element, AWD with Manual Transmission?) So this will be our next 9 months!

that is my morning
this is my life

all in all it is not that big of a deal
but
it just brings the thought to surface that we should never take anything for granted
especially the daily conveniences that could quickly become inconvenient

did I mention that it shortens the already shortened dog walk in the morning
and makes already late arrival to work even later?
well
now you heard it