Thursday, May 31, 2007

oh, and because I know you were all worried...

...the youngster finally got his collared shirt back.

Labels: the research after you spend the big bucks

Got smarter on bikes and bike parts on the internet..too late since I already bought one, but it's better to be smarter anyway. I do that a lot....go buy something and then go research whether or not what I did was smart. Maybe one day I'll straighten that process out, but I obviously haven't yet. I didn't do bad with what I bought. Most of what I read on several bikes by reviewers seems to come from people who routinely ride 75-100 miles in a shot, and a few hundred miles a week, and are trying to find ways to shave another 10 grams from the weight of their bike and be somewhat comfortable. I'm nowhere near their league.

I read several reviews on different bikes I looked at when I was picking mine out, and others just for comparison. There seems to be a recurring theme. All these guys spend a few thousand dollars on a bike and then start replacing pieces of it. They dump the stock saddle because it's not comfortable enough. They dump the stock wheels because they're too heavy. By the time they finish I would think they've paid for another bike. I don't know. Maybe when I start riding 100 miles at a time (don't hold your breath) I'll get all that, but for now...I'm liking my bike with all the pieces/parts that came on it.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

if your friends are there then everything's alright

I hope today will be a lighter highway
For friends are found on every road - Elton John

I cannot tell you how long I've been searching for those lyrics, or more to the point, that song. I had heard it on the radio in my teens and never really since. It's not a particularly long song. It's simple. Most of the meaning in it can be found in those first two lines. It was just something I remembered and really liked. Whenever I'd think of it, in a music store or Walmart, I'd pick up whatever they had by Elton John (because as I remembered it, it sure sounded like him, but I wasn't sure - for all I knew, it was someone like Loudon Wainwright), looking for the song I thought was called Friends, and as it turns out, I was right, but I wasn't having a lot of luck. I'd stick to the older stuff because, as I said, I heard it on the radio in my teens and as the youngster is quick to remind me...I'm older. I could only sorta remember some of the lyrics, and it was a real fuzzy sorta - so Google-ing on what I remembered wasn't cutting it. I'd search Elton John discs online occasionally when I thought of it, but never with any success...until about a month ago. I was doing a nostalgic BMG music run ('best of' compilations from Todd Rundgren, the Pretenders, the Motels and Nick Lowe)...where if you're going to buy, you want to buy in bulk to save money in the long run, and again it hit me to try to find it. Lo and behold...success. They had something called Chronicles Series: Rare Masters, and I looked and there among the tracks was Friends. I listened to the clip and...yessssssssssssssssssss, that was it! No, I'm not crazy. The song really does exist. It arrived last night and I listened to it on the way to work. Maybe it was just the whole "Eureka, I found it!" thing, but it literally brought tears to my eyes.

On a side note, it's a two disc set I haven't been all the way through, but the track just before Friends is a slower, far more simple version of Grey Seal (compared to what's on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road), which I like a lot.


Monday, May 28, 2007


First there's Saturday morning. 41 miles! More than halfway to 75 in one shot, which in itself is sweet in my book. All of a sudden, 75 miles isn't seeming so bad. It was the first time I've come in contact with one of those long lines of bike riders going the same direction I am at the same time and place..and it was just a tiny bit demoralizing. I'm cranking along, doing my thing and behind me I hear, "On your left."

The next thing I know, I'm getting passed (on my left, of course) like I'm a couch potato....over and over again. I look down at the little speedometer thing and I'm doing 18 miles an hour, so these guys gotta be doing 22, 23 easy...maybe more...not looking like it's a struggle at all. I know they have that whole drafting thing going on, but still....dang! They came and went though, and I just stayed the course and kept pedaling. Those guys are on a whole different plane than I am.

It's kind of a neat thing out there early on Saturdays. The only other people you meet are other people running, or walking, or biking. Everybody smiles and waves, like you're all part of some loosely organized group. You start seeing some of the same people, and smile and wave, say "good morning", even though you really have no idea who they are.

Getting close to the end, I was cursing the little speedometer/odometer thingie, because it kept quitting on me. You could tell it knew I was still moving, because the display never died...which it does when you stop for about a minute. It was still there, but it read zero and the milage froze. I'd smack it a few times and it would work again for a while. The thing was, it was reading about 38 miles for the trip, and I desperately wanted to make it say 40 before I quit...and I did. I rode a bit extra, and kept smacking it every time it stopped...and pretty much willed it to crank over 40...getting to 41 when I hit the driveway at home. So yeah, I really did more than 41, but how much more, I have no clue. I just wanted to know I did at least 40 miles, and I know that.

When I do this whole bike deal, I get salt on my eyelids. I'm not sure if its from sweat that evaporated or tears streaking off the sides of my face, but my money's on the sweat thing. It doesn't bother me at all until I stop. I guess, up until then, the sweat is streaking off my face too, but as soon as I stop, gravity starts working. The next thing I know, my eyes are burning from the salt that was on my eyelids, but is now making its way into my eyes. Saturday, when I finished, I just put the bike down, went inside, soaked a tissue and rubbed my eyes to get rid of it. That worked more burning. It left my eyes all red though, and when I walked the rest of the way in the house, the wife was all concerned. She's constantly worried that I'm biting off more than I can chew. "How far did you go? You look awful! Are you sure you should be doing this? Are you sure you're OK? Your eyes are all red and you look like hell." Well, I looked like hell because I just rode 41 miles. The eye thing, I explained. After sitting for ten minutes and a Powerade, I looked and felt fine...or relatively fine. Rest and Powerade can only do so much with the raw material they are given.

About then I decided to do something I told myself I wasn't going to do. Ever since I started on this quest to finish the 150 mile ride, I told myself I was doing it on the bike I had....the Trek road bike I bought in 1984, when I was still in the Navy, teaching flight school and riding a lot. To this point I have been riding that bike..and it was the one that made it 41+ miles...but it was creaking and groaning at the end...more than I was. was creaking. I thought...this old bike may not make it until September and at the rate I'm riding it...maybe I should update the ride. I went to a bike shop and "looked". That's really all it took. I saw what new bikes are like compared to what I was riding and....oh man! Then there was the sticker shock, but...oh man! Bikes have come a long way. I discussed it with the wife, who was all over the idea. "You go out there every Saturday morning any more, and ride a long way, and your bike is more than 20 years old. Get something new." Part of this though was a new commitment. If I got something new, it would mean that this whole bike riding thing can't stop after I do this ride. If I'm making that kind of investment in equipment...this better keep happening long after that ride ends. I thought about it for a while...and really...I should keep doing this. Of the methods of exercise I have practiced, biking is the least like drudgery for me. I get out there and ride. The scenery goes by at a pace that keeps my interest and I can lose myself in the fun of the ride...something that running could never do for me. It's a whole lot easier on the knees than running too. I am slowly losing weight and there's no denying I'm healthier, so that's all good stuff.

So we went back to the bike shop, and I am now the proud owner of a sweeeet new bike. Didn't pay quite what it's listed for in the link, but it wasn't cheap, either...and unlike the picture in the link, mine came with pedals. Let's just say this whole bike riding exercise is costing me more than I ever imagined, but it's also probably very good for me as well. They put me on a training thing and fitted the bike to me and everything. It weighs almost nothing. One thing I didn't have the nice gel padded seat that I bought for my old bike. I asked the guy in the store about why did this expensive bike not have a cushy seat, and should I swap them out. He said that as I ride farther, the smaller seat (with less padding) that's on the new bike will be more comfy, and the butt padding in the shorts should be sufficient for its purpose. The gel seat would be good for someone just starting to ride distances, but as you get a "road butt", it wouldn't help much and just weighed more. I'll be the judge of that. I rode the new bike around the neighborhood yesterday for a while...not a long ride but just to try it out longer than the little "test drive" at the shop. I busted the neighborhood 25 mph speed limit more than once (granted, by only half a mile an hour and down wind). I really didn't want to get off the thing. It will make the long ride a lot easier on me...and will be part of my Saturday mornings for a long time to come. As Napoleon would's a very sweet bike, but no, it's not going off any jumps.

The old bike isn't going anywhere, though. The youngster wants it. He's figured out that road bikes aren't much for jumps and tricks and stuff, but they can go a lot faster with less effort. We lowered the seat as much as possible and it's still a bit big for him....but we can keep it until he grows into it. He won't beat it the way I've been, and if he does, maybe it'll take him long enough that it'll be time for him to buy a new bike.


Friday, May 25, 2007

cycling and doping

I just want to be clear on this.

Unlike some, in my short yet very stellar cycling career, spanning distances of up to thirty-six miles at a shot, so far, I have never taken any performance enhancing substances, unless you count orange juice and a banana before heading out on a Saturday morning. I expect to go much farther than thirty-six miles before it's all said and done. My promise to you all is that I will do so without Human Growth Hormone, steroids, or any other substance banned by whoever it is that bans these things...unless they put chocolate on the list. If that happens, I may need to cheat.

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the growing up never stops (and I guess that's a good thing)

I'm back off my all too high horse now. I'm OK. Really I am.

The youngster is now officially a week into summer break. He's started his mandatory summer reading and is off having a blast. He's also staying up later, which is a new thing for wanting to be up later than mom and dad, who have to work the next day. So far he's butted up against mom & dad's bedtime, but not past...until last night.

A girl (does it always start with a girl?) in our neighborhood went to his old school and will be attending his high school. Last night she had 4 girls from their old school over for a sleepover, and asked the youngster if he wanted to go bike riding with them for a while. The youngster and five girls. How could he refuse? How could I not let him go? He put on a shirt with a collar (where'd that come from all of a sudden) and left around 8:00 on his bike and I went to the gym. At 9:30, my phone rings. It's the wife, clearly peeved, because she's called the youngster several times and he's not answering his phone. It's dark. He's somewhere on his bike. Where the hell is he?

So I went trolling through the neighborhood in search of...until my phone rang again. The wife called the girl's house. Crisis over. He was there watching some show. She talked to him and told him to turn his phone on and turn the volume I went home. Yes, I cut the gym thing short, but there wasn't much sense in going back.

All was OK with the world, until 10:30 when the wife decided it was time for him to come home. She tried to call him again, and went through the same drill. She called the girl's house and nobody answered there either, but he called back a few minutes later, and was told to come home.

He called from his cell phone while riding his bike home...I guess to have someone to talk to in the dark. I opened the garage and waited for him in the driveway. He showed up...without his collared shirt. He's wearing his t-shirt (which was under the collared shirt) which has all the girls names on it in orange (hopefully washable) marker and...eye liner.

"I can explain. They attacked me."

Oh, and I'll just assume you hated every minute of that. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing the part where you struggle or fight back when attacked didn't happen...much. I'm no expert on eye liner, but I imagine he would have to be very still for that part to have happened.

"OK, but we have a few things to discuss."

To be honest, in the driveway, in the dark, I didn't notice the eye liner part. I may have missed it altogether, except he told me about it and asked how to get it off, and if he looked all "emo". Oh, like I know. The makeup removal expert was in the house and steaming, and I don't even know what "emo" is....let alone if anybody looks it.

We went over ground rules for any future outings like save the wife's sanity. When you stop riding your bike and settle at a single location for a length of time, we will know that location. You will call and tell us. Your phone will be on and the ringer volume loud enough for you to hear it, because when we call, you will answer. If we can't do those things, we can't have the fun of nights like these.

Yeah, I know...we're just in the early stages of that battle.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rosie, you ignorant slut

Yes, the lumberyard has a right wing soapbox, and I'm once again climbling aboard.

I didn't see the whole thing, but I've seen portions of the little tiff on The View between Rosie O'Donnell and Elizabeth Hasslebeck. From the piece I saw, I came away with...Rosie is a rude, shortsighted, ignorant bitch. The fact that some may find her unattractive or question her sexual orientation has nothing to do with it. The fact that I completely disagree with her shouldn't, but probably does. I realize this puts me in the same camp as Donald trump, but I can't help that. It is what it is. I can still point to the distinction that I don't cover my follically challenged head with a bad toupee (or is that really his hair).

Iraq - it really is this simple.

Before this war, we were faced with a despot who made it impossible to confirm or deny the presence of weapons of mass destruction in his country. He played a shell game with international inspectors and would let them do their job, or not, on a whim, which was to ensure there were no such weapons in Iraq. Whether he had those weapons or not, he wanted us to think he did and could successfully hide them from us, and even if he didn't, everyone knew he coveted them, and in time would have them. He was successful enough in making us believe he had them that everyone was of the opinion that he did, and something had to be done sooner than later. What that something was, was a matter of debate. Judging from the past, he also had no qualms about using them...see the Kurds in his own country. He also backed Islamic militants, paying the families of suicide bombers to reward them for their sacrifice.

So we had a choice. We could sit on our hands and do nothing because, as the rude shortsighted bitch so eloquently announced, Iraq hadn't attacked us. (Apparently people only become our enemies after they plow planes into a few of our skyscrapers and kill a lot more Americans than this entire war has. I suppose Pearl Harbor taught us nothing either.) We could do nothing, or negotiate, or play with cigars and stain dresses, as we had for the entire 8 (Clinton) years prior and be in the same place we were..the psychological hostages of a tyrant. Then we could be shocked when the mushroom cloud appeared over Los Angeles, and/or Chicago, and/or New York. Then Rosie could play the other side of the same argument, asking why we didn't see this coming and somehow prevent it. Where was our intelligence? Didn't we see Saddam building nukes and handing them to Mustaf Herod Upyor Pupr? Why didn't we stop this train of events years ago when we could have? Think I'm wrong? See 9/11.

Or we could do what we did, which was to try and stop all that before it happens. Yes, that means going there and fighting. Yes, that's a real hard thing to do. Yes it takes a commitment to do more than we thought we might have to do to reach the end. Yes, Dubya gets annoyingly smug about it all. No, we don't get to make the rules about how the war is fought, or who gets involved. We deal with what's thrown at us. War gets messy that way. Yes, we made a bunch of mistakes in the process that hindsight is so good at magnifying. No, that doesn't mean we throw up our hands and give up. Yes it costs...lives. Yes it costs...budget dollars which we'd like to use elsewhere.

Contrary to popular belief, the best things in life are not free, but then again, the best things in life aren't things, either.


the party house

Stately lumberyard manor is in a fairly nice community, with a golf course, a pool, a small but adequate gym and somewhere in the neighborhood of 750 homes. They come in several price ranges/sizes, and if you cut that distinction in half, stately lumberyard manor would find itself squarely in the bottom half. We're not in the smallest house in the neighborhood, but we're small compared to some of the more palatial abodes. It's all very tasteful, except for the stripper poles. (Not really, but I love the line from somewhere left of Parkwood, and it fits.)

Across the street from us (and down a house or two) once was the party house. The couple that lived there had two sons. One a college graduate and one in college. They also had a pool. Most Friday nights found us and many other folks in the neighborhood sittings around their pool, in conversation and in toxication. Sometimes that phenomenon found itself stretching to other nights of the week.

Then the party house folks moved on up, to the east side, to a deeeeeluxe apartment in the sky...or at least to the other side of the neighborhood. They sold their house during the housing bubble market and bought a bigger one in the same neighborhood. We still see them. In fact, Mr. Party House was my sometimes cycling partner, who I have since left in the dust. We just don't see them as often as we did when they were across the street.

Last night I went to their house to retrieve a salad bowl we left there from a party a few months ago. I was going to be gone...oh...15 minutes. 20 max.

That house has a way of sucking you in. The gravitational pull is something to behold.

I was greeted by Mr. Party House. We found the salad bowl, and I thought I was getting out, but..."Do you have time for a beer? It's #2 son's birthday."

Well, it was 9:30 and it was #2 son's birthday...and #2 son is a friend as well, so suuuuure, I have time for a beer. And so, one became two, and two became three and now it's 11:00...lumberyard bedtime and I still have to take the dog out and do a few other household chores and I escaped (with the salad bowl), leaving Mr. Party House still up and drinking Jim Beam with both of his sons, #2 son's girlfriend, the bartender from the golf clubhouse and Mrs. Party House...and he's holding down two jobs because he's getting out of the Navy soon and has already secured a civilian job, and is now doing both until his military retirement. He was up this morning well before my 6:00 wake-up call. How he makes it through the day after semi-routinely doing nights like that I don't know. I realize it's an admission that I'm a wimpy, cheap date (or just getting older), but 3 beers and up past 11:00 on a something I pay for in the morning. I make sure I don't pay often.

In all that though, I got neighborhood "delinquent kid" scoop. Apparently yesterday was the first day the public school kids were out for the summer, and our neighborhood celebrated the occasion with not one, but two calls to the local police. First we had two kids, age around fifteen, who showed up at the pool, drunk. Not just tipsy drunk, but pukin' dog drunk. One got sick in the men's room. The other got outside the pool grounds and threw up on the hedges. Nobody at the party house knew who they were for sure, but the rumor was they live in a house being rented down the street I've seen those kids. They ride skateboards a lot, but the youngster has never hung out with them, so I don't really know them. Still, I'm not about to condemn them on the basis of rumor. One of them, though, while their parents were out of town, took the family car for a drive and totalled it. I didn't know that until last night either. Then there were kids hiding in the bushes next to one of the greens on the golf course, sneaking on the green when shots were hit and stealing the golf balls. The cops found them, chased them back toward their homes as they were spilling the evidence down the street. I hope this isn't a harbinger of things to come.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

and Pedro is still the leading contender

Another Tuesday evening in the gym...another forced viewing of American Idol. It's down to two now, so I guess it means more. Yes, I actually had to watch and listen. Well, maybe I didn't have to, but it was that or, watch the other TV with the sound off, which was airing the manufactured suspense leading up to the NBA lottery, or stare at the wall. Anyway, this is what I came away with.

Sweater vest guy - He gives "bland" a bad bad name. Two years from now, in the best scenario, he's doing jingles for McDonalds commercials. I can hear it now. "Two two all beef patty patties." He could probably get away with a Christmas album, but really, after Clay Aiken, do we need another one of those? (Impressed, aren't you? I remembered Clay Aiken's name. There's a clue of what it means to win this stupid thing. For every Carrie Underall there's a Clay Aiken. He's been reduced to the answer to a trivia question.)

17 year old girl - two years from now, she'll have a platinum album and many of the songs will make the rotation on Radio Disney. Maybe she'll get a gig in Atlantic City, or a sitcom.

Bottom line, neither becomes the international superstar of stage and screen, not to mention class president, that is...

...and he's only 17, has a sweet bike, and is really good at hooking up with chicks. Plus he's like the only guy at school who has a mustache.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Who, who, who, who,...who let the dogs out?

Apparently, or I should say allegedly, Ron Mexico did.

For those who may have missed it, Smithfield, Virginia police raided a house on an animal cruelty tip, and found evidence the dogs in the house were used for dog fighting. Later it was discovered that although he didn't live there, the house was owned by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, aka. Ron Mexico.

Mexico claimed ignorance (which in his case isn't a stretch, so very believable at first blush). He had relatives living in the house and had no idea what they were doing. Then local convenience store workers and others in the community refuted his story, claiming they had seen Vick often in and around the hood.

Now, I'm all over people being innocent until proven guilty. The guy deserves his day in court. Just ask the Duke lacrosse team. I thought it was a little over the top that some congressman in California had to jump into the fray. He's "outraged that one of the National Football League's superstars is affiliated with such a heinous enterprise." Well, hold on, bucko. Let's get it past a jury before you go being outraged, and if it does, we can all be outraged. You're not all that special.

On the other side of the coin (and what prodded this blog entry), we have the ludicrous comments of one Redskins running back, Clinton Portis, who basically said, dog fighting ain't all that bad, and we should all back off Ronnie. In Clinton's hometown in Mississippi, there are dog fights on the back streets all the time. Oooookay then. I can just see the entire state of Mississippi cringing every time this guy opens his mouth. He's not exactly chamber of commerce material. Defending Mexico, he said if he were convicted, "You take a positive role model...and put him behind bars for no reason, over a dog fight." Now there's an exercise in brilliance. You GO Clint. We shouldn't be sending people to jail for training dogs to kill each other (and just about anything else) and turning them loose on each other for entertainment, and certainly don't persecute this positive role model...Ron Mexico....let's see. The guy showed the whole Georgia Dome he thought they were number 1 with his middle finger, he had the Ron Mexico/herpes incident, he was shown on his girlfriend's MySpace page holding a blunt on top of her head, and then there's this dog fighting allegation. On the other side of the page, there's his vast body service examples (not mandated by a judge)? Anybody? Examples of Mexico giving back? The Ron Mexico foundation for the homeless? crippled children? unwed mothers? victims' families from the Virgina Tech incident (seeing as how he's a VT alum)? photo spread of him building homes with Habitat for Humanity? working a soup kitchen? I'd mention big brothers and sisters, but that's just plain scary. Anything? Can anyone help me with this?

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Monday, May 21, 2007

the Anna Nicole diaries

Surfin' over the weekend, I found this link. It's supposedly some of the more titillating bits of the Anna Nicole Smith diaries someone paid a bazillion dollars for. Yes, I know...why did I bother? It's a bit like the train wreck you have to look at. Serious morbid curiosity. I'm not proud of the fact that I went looking, but I did. Before you go there though, be advised it's very X rated.

What I did get out of it is, if this is really her diary, the high school dropout part shines through. The spelling/grammar is pretty bad, and it makes me feel a bit sorry for her. I'm getting a picture of someone who wasn't the sharpest tool in the box, and because of that, was seriously exploited by a lot of people (and sure, call me another blood sucking pig for including the link, but at least I'm not profitting from it all, not that that rationalization makes me all that much better). The second part is I doubt it really was her diary. All the entries they show are signed by someone named Robyn...which was neither her stage or real name. I'm smelling a very poorly disguised hoax.

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return of the slug...still getting back to real life

My brother and his wife left and I did the gym last Tuesday. Then all the youngster's graduation stuff came along and we weren't home until after 9:00 Wednesday or Thursday. Short story long, I didn't hit the gym after Tuesday, and was feeling like quite the slug, but come Saturday morning, I was biking...dammit! I didn't know if I was up to picking up where I left off, but I was at least going to start back up again. If it was only 20 miles, so be it, but I was getting up and out there.

I called my sometimes work-out companion, who's been absent the last few weeks, got his answering machine yet again. Again, no call back, so I was going it alone. So I went...and I went 33 miles, but came home feeling awful. On the trip back through the neighborhood, I saw my sometimes workout companion and we agreed, instead of me calling every Friday to see if he's going, he'll call me when he gets back in shape and feels like he can keep up and wants to try. (In other words, I've been kissed off.) I really shouldn't have bit off 33 miles maybe, and still had to cut the grass (because workouts weren't the only thing ignored with company in town). Got that done, with help from the youngster (we tag teamed it) and showered and...really needed a nap. Napped for a very long time and didn't feel all that much better when I got up.

After dinner, I realized how I was I do when I have the flu. It's been a while, but that's what it felt I grabbed the thermometer and...lo and behold, maybe not the flu but I was running a fever. That explains a bit.

Short story even longer....I selpt most of yesterday away and feel a bit better today, and no I'm working. We'll see if I make it all day, but I believe it was the little engine that could who said, "I think I can, I think I can..."


Friday, May 18, 2007

one of the best times of his life

It's something unpredictable
But in the end is right
I hope you had the time of your life - Green Day

Yeah, any more, that song is as much a graduation song as any graduation march. It gets played at most of them in some way shape or form, and was last night.

Last night was the youngster's rite of passage from 8th grade to High School, complete with diploma. Yes, my fear was still present, and I looked, to make sure his was more than a blank sheet of paper. He did pull through..yesssssssssss. There were tears and hugs and speeches filled with emotion and inspiration. The youngster looked at the wife with her eyes bloodshot welling up yet again after it was over.

"Mom, don't you dare cry."
"But look at Mrs. So-and so, and Mrs. So-and-so."
"Yeah, but they're not my mom."

Today they're having a class party, and after that, it's over. Sure, he'll see some of his buddies over the summer, and three others are going to high school with him. They'll do movies together and meet up at different places for fun, but that'll be it for a lot of the kids he spent the last 6 years with. He doesn't realize yet what that means, and he'll miss some of them more than he knows, but that's part of growing up.

In the meantime...we already have his required summer reading books.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

American Idol flashback

Last week, just before the relatives arrived, I went to the gym and exercised my way through yet another episode of American Idol...the first, thankfully, that I had seen since they were still weeding out people for the current season of contestants. They were singing Bee Gees not only was it American Idol, but it was American Idol stuck on disco...a personal hell for me that even Radio Disney can't touch. So, now my question for those of you that follow the show is...

Who the hell is 'one trick pony' sweater vest guy, and how'd he get this far in the competition? He flat out sucks! Maybe it's that I don't think that beat-box crap is anything more than that...crap, and he insists on inserting it in everything he sings. Please, tell me it isn't that you can't get enough of that. I heard enough as soon as he started and asked someone in the gym, "What the hell is that?" They explained, "That's what he does." OK then, let him do it in the privacy of his shower. It could be that, or maybe it was something else I didn't like. Maybe it's that he can't sing either. Maybe it's that he has the stage presence of Mr. Rogers. Whatever it is...who keeps this guy on the show? According to Yahoo news (which is where I found out that crap has a label...beat-boxing...huh), he's one of the last two standing.


by the hair of his chinny chin chin

Last night was the youngster's graduation banquet for getting out of 8th grade. Tonight is the actual graduation. It's a big time for him...more than I realized.

It is a big deal in most Catholic schools...leaving 8th grade. Some of the kids have been in that school since pre-K, while others have come and gone. The youngster started 3rd grade there and has been there ever since. I finished 8th grade in a Catholic school (St. Anthony's, if memory kinda serves), but graduation wasn't anything I remember. We had moved to California for the last 6 months of my dad's Air Force career. We got to beautiful downtown Atwater, California over Christmas vacation and left the summer after I finished 8th grade. I never got past being the new kid, and we were gone...and it wasn't a whole lot of fun. Being a military brat, I definitely was never anywhere long enough to make it feel like the family the youngster has, and the emotions I saw last night as they all realized they were going their separate 4 different high schools. I'm really happy he's had that atmosphere. It really was a big deal, and I think he benefitted from it. He'll still be with some of his peeps in high school, but others will go elsewhere.

At the end of the dinner, they got their yearbooks and report cards....and he squeaked through. We had our first talk about how high school can't be like that...and I think at the end of this year I saw progress, but I know that doesn't mean I (or the wife) can sit back, relax and let him go forth on his own. Not yet.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

the mouse that roared (tales from The Players - part 3)

I like Rory Sabbatini's spunk, but he needs to get a bit higher in the food chain before he opens his mouth. Last year at The Players, he and his wife made an issue of slow play. He was playing with notoriously slow Nick Faldo, and his wife followed the group wearing a t-shirt that said "KEEP UP". When asked for his reaction to the t-shirt, Faldo said something like (not a direct quote 'cuz I can't remember, but close) "It's a shame she had to bring their bedroom issues to the course." This year Rory was all over Tiger Woods.

I don't know how many caught it, but the guy was tied for the lead at The Players after Thursday, and Tiger was far down the leaderboard, barely making the cut on Friday. Rory proclaimed he liked the 'new' Tiger Woods, because he's very beatable. Then Tiger came back, after hearing the comments with something like..."I've won 3 tournaments this year, which is the same amount he's won his entire career, so I guess I like the 'new' Tiger too." Slam! Rory then proceeded to slide back down the leaderboard the rest of the tournament, finishing tied for 44th while Woods scraped his way up to a tie for 37th. Beatable maybe, but not by least not yet.

We were sitting at the green on 13 on Saturday, up against the ropes. The youngster was very close to the hole when Rory came through and just missed a putt for birdie. The youngster heard him talking to his caddie as he walked away. "That's ridiculous! Hit a putt that good and it doesn't go in." Well, I can say this because I have first hand experience...if it doesn't go in the hole, you didn't hit it that good. If you'd hit it better, you'd get better results. End of story, Rory.


getting back to real life

I hate getting out of a routine, especially when it comes to working out. I am not, by nature, a workout maniac. It doesn't come all that easy for me. So when I disturb the routine, it gets harder to jump back in. I went to the gym Tuesday night before my brother showed up and then blew it off until two days ago...after he left. I rationalized that we walked a lot at the tournament, so that was better than nothing....and it's true. I showed him and his wife pretty much the whole Stadium Course at Sawgrass, several times over. We did walk a lot, and it was better than nothing. It was no workout though. Jumping back in ain't easy, but I'm getting there.

Getting back to work...well, first there's the first day back after vacation shit....the backlog of e-mails, and stuff everybody left sitting "until John gets back." Then there's just that "out of it" you're not quite finding the groove (though some may call it a rut) you were in before you left, and you're just trying to make it all fit again. Again, I'm getting there.

Eighth grade is just about over. Tonight is the graduation banquet and tomorrow is the actual ceremony. I think the youngster is going to squeak by...or at least I haven't heard anything to the contrary, and I would expect that I'd have been talked to by a teacher or principal by now if there was an issue. I'm sort-of waiting for the shoew to drop though...and kick us all in the ass. I'm holding my breath and crossing my fingers.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sean O'Hair (tales from The Players - part 2)

I said a bit about it yesterday, but I wanted to expound, because I've heard it debated now and while I can see both sides, I agree with only one. Again, this is a whole lot easier for me when it isn't my checkbook, but still...

Sean O'Hair showed a lot of guts going for the pin on 17 in this year's Players Championship. One of the problems with Tour golf is that the purses have gotten so huge that a guy who can play well can earn a very good living and never win. He can finish in the top 30 or 40 most of the time, and cash-wise, he's pretty set. Therefore he can be content to do that. Just play well enough and never leave your stuff hanging out there...just play boring golf. Professional golf needs more Sean O'Hairs, to go out there and entertain, to bring a little jolt to the game. Yeah, he paid for it. The move cost him three quarters of a million dollars. I'm thinking though, if he keeps playing like that, he's going to win more than he's going to lose.

Now, if he could play a round of golf in under five hours, he'd be really kicking butt. I couldn't believe it when we were sitting in the seats behind the 18th green, there were three groups left on the course and Sean and Phil were still playing 15. That last 45 minutes dragged forever.....


Monday, May 14, 2007

you're not so sweet (tales from The Players - part 1)

Real quick because I'm actually going to play golf...

The tournament was great. I took the youngster out Wednesday with some of his friends and loaded another pin flag with autographs. Again we followed Tiger for a while. This time we were there when he finished 18, in a sea of kids. He signed about five things as he walked by. The youngster got close but not close enough. The disappointed boy next to him yelled out as Tiger left, "You're not so sweet!"

Spending four days with my brother and his wife was great. We don't get to spend that kind of time together, and as I have documented before, he took a while to grow up. He had some drug and alcohol issues, and has gotten past them and become a great guy. It was just nice to hang with the person he's become.

If you watched the tournament, you saw Sean O'Hair go for the pin on 17 and melt down. I felt so bad for the kid. I admired the fact that he wasn't content to ride the tournament out in second place and tried to do something to shake things up. He paid dearly for taking his shot, and it's easy for me to say when it isn't my checkbook that's affected, but at least he had the balls to try.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

my brother comes to town

My brother and sister-in-law come to town tomorrow for The Players.

They are huge Philadelphia Eagles fans. (I know, it's not quite like admitting he's working the gay bars, giving blow jobs for a quarter...until he runs out of money, but it's pretty close.) He has a conversion's Eagle green. He sent a Christmas card with a family picture...they were all in Eagles jerseys. He lives in Eagles gear. My mom honestly doesn't know if he owns clothing that has no Eagles reference on it.

The last time they came down was for a Jaguar/Eagles game...and it was one of the worst days I ever spent with him. The Jaguars kicked butt. (In fact, the Eagles have never beaten the Jaguars.) We sat next to each other and as much as I wanted to yell and cheer and all that, I stifled myself because I didn't want to rub it in. My brother was in agony, and I couldn't celebrate. Although it was much better than a Jaguar loss, it wasn't exactly enjoyable.

This time, we can sit on the same side of the fence, so to speak. There are no conflicting interests. It's just us going to a golf tournament and having a good time. Not only that, but I get to play host and tour guide, because I actually know how to find everything at the tournament. We're going to have a blast.


the ripstik

All of a sudden I'm feeling all gnarly.

A bit of background. There are, that I know of, two brands of caster board. There is the ripstik that the youngster has and the wave, which a friend of his has.

The youngster was introduced to the concept by his friend and learned to ride the wave, but I didn't realize there was a difference. Both of them called the thing a ripstik, so that's what I went and bought...and what the youngster is now pretty good at. I still thought they were basically the same...until yesterday. I guess the degree of difficulty is higher with the ripstik, because the youngster's buddy can't ride it. He tried and wiped out. Now...the 50 year old dad is feeling like he's got mad skillz.


Monday, May 07, 2007

September keeps getting closer

Saturday - 35.6 miles! The wife is impressed, but not sure I'll be able to build up fast enough to do 150 miles by September. When I got back Saturday, she asked if I was sure I could do this. I'm sure. I have a whole lot of reasons for making sure I can, first among them are the people it'll help. Second is the people who are helping me help, and somewhere behind those are the two pounds I lost trying. I keep reminding myself that the long ride is really a series of 10-12 mile rides that you rest in between, where right now, I'm going 35 miles straight. That's supposed to make me feel better about it all. Once again I rode alone. The guy who said he wants to train with me bowed out Saturday morning, and said after doing so for the last three weeks, it's going to kill him to try to work up to 30 miles, but he is going to try to catch up. The problem is, while he's catching up, I'm moving forward. I have to. I have to be able to do the long ride come September.

The Kentucky Derby - I don't know jack about horse racing, but somehow I always manage to see this two minutes of television every year...and this year was no exception. Watching Street Sense go from way back in the pack to winning the thing was pretty cool.

Went to the gym last night and caught Roger Clemens on ESPN News announcing that he's a Yankee again. George attempts to buy yet another championship. I really have nothing big against the Yankees....except this, and this makes me hate them. If they need someone, throw more money at them than anyone else can. This is everything that's wrong with Major League Baseball. Well, not everything. There's still that stupid DH rule (personal opinion only - Baseball players go to bat and play the field. If you don't do that, you're not a baseball player.), but this is a lot of what's wrong with Major League Baseball.

We did the youngster's birthday celebration this weekend, even though he doesn't turn 14 until Thursday. With tournament week and relatives coming, we thought we should get the birthday thing done first, and he wasn't objecting to getting some stuff early. He got his ripstik, and is already pretty good with it. He's carving turns all over the place with it and starting to try tricks. Surprise, surprise...after much youngster prodding, I tried riding the thing and can actually do it. I'm just not quite as comfortable as he is on it, and before you, there is no video available to prove I can do it. Don't hurt yourself trying to picture it any more than I did trying to ride it. I finally got the hang of it though.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

quick hits on a Friday

I didn't watch the GOP debate thing last night. The election is a year and a half away. I'm going to like, stop liking, hate, start liking, love, stop liking all these folks more than once between now and then...except Hillary. She's still a few rungs below Britney Spears on my list of women capable of running the country. Besides, we rented Night at the Museum last night (and I'll grant you, that could have been the title of the debate as well). Got three quarters of the way through before the youngster's far, I like it.

What happened to the Mavericks? That was the biggest meltdown in NBA history. Well, if it wasn't, it was pretty damn close. I noted Hollywood finally discovered bay area basketball. Kate Hudson, Woody and Snoop Dogg showed up in Oakland. Must have been "roll your own doob" night at Oracle Arena. Speaking of that, I hear the Vegas over/under on Golden State Warrior starters who got blunted after last night's game currently stands at 4. How do they prove that? The NBA doesn't allow pee tests for pot. In the meantime, Dirk "MVP" Nowitski pretty much was a poster boy for every criticism of European players in the NBA. In the biggest game of his life, he played soft and pretty much gagged it away. Now in the Olymic game with their rules, the Eurpoean players kick butt.

Next week is Players week. I'll be taking the youngster on Wednesday to get autographs from all the golfers (except Tiger), and my brother and sister-in-law Thursday through Sunday to actually watch the show, part of which occurs inside the ropes.

Tomorrow continues the bike training. Since I actually lost two pounds, I've gained even more motivation and will shoot for something better than 30 miles. We'll see how that goes. Meanwhile, the guy who was going to train with me hasn't made it in a few weeks. I keep calling and getting the answering machine. I called last night to see if he wanted to ride tomorrow and got the answering machine yet again, and he never called back, yet again. I guess, sometimes when you try and try again, and beat your head against the wall and all you get is bloody, (like I read recently) it's time to move on. Still, I won't give up on him. If nothing else, it'll keep reminding him that he said he wanted to do this. Guilt can be fun.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

where there's smoke

For about a week now, the smell of smoke in the air here has been undeniable. The reason is the horrible wildfires in south Georgia and now cropping up south of us as well. People are being evacuated from their homes, and some even losing them to the fires. Fire fighters are exhausted and still giving everything they have to combat the problem, and while rain would go a long way in helping, we haven't had any to speak of in months (which is part of the cause) and there's none really on the way.

Please keep the fire fighters, families who are being evacuated and those who have lost everything in your paryers...and if you can spare it, send some cash to the American Red Cross, who has volunteers in shelters helping the folks who have been displaced.

Yeah, we're putting up with a bit of smoke in the air, but these folks have far more to worry about.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

is anything really ever good enough?

I remember when I started playing golf. I had a good friend who played. He wasn't a great golfer, but he was a whole lot better than me. I remember going to play with him, and watching him warm up...hitting balls relatively straight and far, but not quite consistently. I remember thinking...that's all I want. I just want to hit the ball well enough to play a decent round. I don't need to be good. I just want to go out with friends on a Saturday morning and not be a spectacle...not be someone who holds the group up and has the ranger yelling at us to speed up.

Well, I got to that point, and I discovered handicaps, and I didn't have a legit one. I always just said '36', because I knew that was the max, and I figured I fit there. Then I thought, it'd be great to be good enough to have a real handicap. I don't care if it's 20 or 30 or even 35..just something that really represents me as a golfer and not just....the maximum, because it's all they can give me. So I practiced, and lo and behold, I got good enough to have a real I should be satisfied. Shouldn't I? But no. Once there, I thought, wouldn't it be great if....on to the next goal. Now, when I play with that good friend who put up with me when I was just starting, I consistently score better than he does, and still, I'm not satisfied. Still, there is no contentment. I want to get better, and once I do that (assuming I do), I imagine I'll want to get even better.

So while I'm making this story about golf, it relates to just about anything. Is there ever a "good enough"? Is satisfaction that hard to come by? Once we get to a point where we wanted to be, do any of us just rest on that and say...there. It's what it is and it doesn't have to be anything else? I think we all get there and think..."yeah, but wouldn't it be cool if...." There are some, but they have deadlines. If you try to reach a certain GPA in college and you do that, or even if you don't...graduation comes and time's up... you're done. You don't get to go back and make it better. The things that don't have a specific end though...the things we think can always be improved upon....I wonder if we ever think....that's good enough.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

more serious than death?

Quote from a news article on Josh Hancock...

"Just three days before his death in a freeway wreck, the sport utility vehicle of Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was clipped by a semi rig in what police said could have been a far more serious accident."

Am I missing something here? The guy died. How do you have a more serious accident than that?

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the semi-annual shit swap

This past weekend was the semi-annual neighborhood garage sale in our neighborhood. You're not supposed to have your own independent garage sale, or yard sale, or whatever else you're trying to sell. You're supposed to do it on the day designated for everyone to do it...all at once. This makes for a real circus atmosphere.

Personally, I'm not into the whole garage sale thing. The idea of sitting in my driveway, surrounded by stuff I bought and now consider crap, begging strangers for a quarter to haul it thanks. The wife and youngster will walk around the neighborhood looking through everyone elses crap to see if there's anything they can buy cheap to temporarily occupy space, until they decide it's crap and either throw it out, or save it for the next semi-annual shit swap day....hence the name.

Yes, there are people who come from miles around to buy stuff, but by and large, the neighborhood becomes a parade of golf carts and walking traffic...people going through their neighbors' shit to see if there's anything interesting. (which brings up another topic...the need to travel by golf cart which has been modified so it will never be used as a golf cart, but that's another day), but that's If they like something, they give their neighbors a few bucks and take it home, use it for a few months, and display it in their collection for the next semi-annual shit swap. So the merchandise makes the rounds...the same shit...going from house to house. You can see the stuff if you pay attention. I remeber sitting in that chair in the Jones's back yard...and now the Smiths are selling it.

For me it's more of a traffic nightmare. Somewhere between the SUVs with trailers and golf carts, there are accidents waiting to happen and getting out of there requires a huge amount of patience. Once out, don't dare try to get back home until after noon, when all the curious are safely back in their homes, with someone elses shit.


more stuff

The bike training is going well. I'm up to 30 miles, but when I do 30 miles, I can really feel it into the next day, so I know I still have a long way to go. If this is any indication, the second 75 mile day will be hell if I don't step it up a bit. Right now, getting up the morning after I do 30, the last thing on my mind is doing another 30. On the better side, the original intention that began all this is starting to see results. This all began when I stepped on a scale the week after Christmas and didn't like what I saw. Then I started going to the gym. It was after that when I made this bike riding commitment, thinking, among other things, it would help in my quest to lose a few pounds. That wasn't really happening. I was working out and riding more and more but the weight wasn't going away. I consoled myself in thinking...maybe it's shifting to healthier places, and besides, I must be in better shape, and all this is for a good cause, even if I'm no lighter. Well, I stepped on a scale this weekend and yes, the weight part is starting to work for me too.

The draft - apparently I'm not the only one a bit dismayed at our passing up of Brady Quinn. It is the subject on sports talk radio today. The bad part is we got a really good guy and he's being overshadowed by the fact that we could have done better.

Next week is Players week, so I won't be blogging much. My brother and his wife are flying in from Philly, and I'm taking off from Wednesday through the weekend to watch golf with them. It's going to be a lot of fun.