Friday, June 29, 2007

the NBA draft (part deux)

OK, I lied. I watched the damn thing, or at least the first 12 or 13 picks.

Not in, I didn't seek it out. I did, however, go to the gym, and when I walked in, it was on both TVs and it was just starting. I was the only person there, so whoever left it on the televisions had gone home, but there it was. I made no effort to find something else to watch. I just got on the stationary bike and watched the first two picks everyone knew were going to happen. Then Al Horford went to the Hawks and so on. I'm happy for those kids...not just the Florida kids, but all of them. They seemed like hard working young men realizing a dream. Now, will I watch them play in the NBA? If it's on when I hit the gym, I suppose, like the draft, I'll make no great effort to find something else (like I would if the Lifetime network was on). I won't go seeking them out though.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

MS Bike Ride update

As of today, friends, family and co-workers have helped me raise $1,500 for the MS Bike Ride in September.

Woooo Hooooooooo!

A big THANK YOU goes out to all who are helping me do this thing.


the Italian Club

Long ago in a galaxy far away....before there was a lumberyard, immigrants came to America from Europe. Among those were the Italians. Like the Irish, Poles, and various other groups, they weren't exactly welcomed with open arms. They coped by sticking to themselves; forming little communities where they were welcomed among their own. For social outings, they had clubs. They'd become members and pay dues and go to these places where they would eat, drink and be merry.

Today there are still holdovers from that day. The parents belong to the Italian Club close to where they live. Their 50th anniversary party was helf there. We've gone to eat with them there on a few occasions. They still pay dues to the place. When you go in, there aren't many people under the age of 60, and I'd venture to guess at least half aren't really Italian, but they all seem to be friends and they enjoy each other's company. Some old guy is singing Louis Prima and Frank Sinatra songs. As Willy Wonka would say, it smells like old people and soap....and Italian food.

Last night the wife and I went out to dinner...a new seafood place near the World Golf Village. We drive into the parking lot...lots of Caddys, Buicks and Mercedes. We walk in and there's this old fat guy on stage with a microphone singing Sinatra. No band or anything...he's singing along with some recorded music, and I'm thinking...what? did we hit karioke night? Cuz the guy ain't all that good. We sit down and order...macadamia nut encrusted mahi mahi for me, and I have a beer. The wife orders coconut shrimp and a red wine, and we observe. The wife notes that it's a nice open place...lots of room...probably a good party spot. I looked at her and said, there's lots of room because they need space between the tables for old people with walkers. Most of the place is well over 60. There's a huge table of...probably 16 people, who apparently have been there a while. They're old..and hammered. The guy on stage is pretty much playing to them, but it becomes more obvious that it's not karioke night. he's the hired entertainment. He's singing Englebert Humperdink and the hammered old folks are trying to dance. Some are doing better than others, but the wife, only half kidding, suggests I help one old lady back to her seat before she hurts herself. I'm thinking, I've never seen my mom that drunk, but if I did, this is probably what it would look like. Then the wife looks at me and says, "This is the Italian Club. Your parents would love this place!" And she was right.

The place looks like it's catering to the older tourist crowd from the World Golf Village. Upon further inspection, there was a sign at the door advertising the entertainment. He was billed as "Big Joe", and he was singing lots of stuff from the 50s.

To be fair, the food was very good, and not outrageously expensive. We'll probably eat there again. The atmosphere isn't unpleasant. It was just funny how you can take a place that looks completely different and serves seafood instead of spaghetti, and turn it into an Italian Club clone.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

the NBA draft

Everyone here is going gaga over the NBA draft. It's pretty funny because any other year, most would be hard presed to know the event even occurred, let alone who may have been picked in it to play for an NBA team.

This year, however, the Gator players who have won two national championships are all looking for jobs. Three are projected to go high in the first round, perhaps in the first 10 players picked. Everyone is all stoked. They're planning draft parties.

Maybe it's because I'm really not a Gator fan. I enjoyed watching those guys play, and I wish them well in the NBA. I won't sit glued to a T.V though and watch where they get picked, and which teams they got to, along with everyone else. I mean...after's still the NBA draft.



Tuesday, June 26, 2007

bike fitter dude

As much as I goofed on the whole concept, I will admit my appointment with the bike fitter dude was beneficial.

I was still soaking in the experience of Saturday morning's ride, and recalling all the things I had seen and heard, trying to digest it all. It was a bit like drinking from a fire hose, but one I needed to get my feet wet in.

After the ride though, I went home, showered and ate something, read a bit of the paper and went off for my noon appointment with bike fitter dude. I also was supposed to get the bike tuned, so I was there a little early. They took the bike and put it in some kind of stand, and the guy I bought it from was asking if I rode it I liked it...small talk. I told them I'd been riding quite a bit, and about the practice ride and my slightly intimidating first ride in a group. Meanwhile this guy in a red t-shirt is milling about, not saying a whole lot. He, you may have guessed, turned out to be bike fitter dude. The guy doing the tune up hands me the bike and says he just lubed the chain, so I'm good with that for at least a month. I'm thinking...since I never do that, I guess I ought to in about a month...and what else might I be neglecting on the bike?

So bike fitter dude introduces himself, and puts my bike in this stand with rollers under the wheels, has me get on it and spends...probably 20 minutes tweaking where my seat and handlebars are with respect to me...which was the main purpose. He'd have me pedal for a while...then he'd have me stop and make some measurements with respect to where my knee was over the pedal, and move the seat two centimeters. Then we'd do it all again and he'd move it back one centimeter. Then he watched how much I was reaching for the handlebars and move them three centimeters. Do it again and make another minor adjustment. The guy who sold me the bike is asking him questions about why he does this or that. I guess he aspires to be bike fitter dude II. He asks me if it's any better, and to be honest, I can't tell, so I told him so. Maybe I will after 30 miles or so, but after pedaling on these rollers for 5 We'll see.

In the meantime though, bike fitter dude says, "So today was your first ride in a group. What did ya think?" And I told him about trying to learn everything and be considerate to the people who are behind me. He gave me a lot of information, most of it reinforced by what I read when I went googling "paceline etiquette". Most of it was stuff that comes with when you ride in a faster group (which he assured me I would, soon) and you break off the front, don't stop pedalling. Move back slowly, and if you are the last guy in line, tell the guy moving back that you are last, so he merges behind you slowly. If he realizes too late that you were the last guy, he's going to be pedaling like crazy trying to catch up after he gets behind you and the gap opens up. Try very hard not to use your brakes..ever. If you have to slow down, try to sit higher and let the wind slow you. It all seems to be stuff to help your neighbors in the line and keep it all intact.

He told me about clipless pedals, which he recommends I step up to when I feel comfortable doing it. They snap your foot in the exact same position on the pedal every time, which makes for a more exact fit and more efficient cycling. I'll do that...eventually, I guess. Right now I'm not sinking any more money into the whole bike thing. Those pedals also mean specialized shoes that snap into them...and that expense can wait.

I asked him about bike maintenance, and he showed me how to lube the chain and spokes, and told me to never ever use WD40 on my bike. It breaks down too easy, leaves gunk all over the sprocket and chain, makes a useless mess that will contribute to premature wear. Told me I really should have some little repair kit on my bike to fix a flat if I'm in the middle of nowhere, especially since I'm going more than 40 miles on a ride now, which made sense. So I did spend a little money...lubrication stuff and a small repair kit, but I really need that stuff if I'm going to get serious about this bike thing.


Monday, June 25, 2007

the line dance

I went to college (the first time) during the disco era. Everyone was sick with Saturday Night Fever and doin' the Hustle. I...was not. I, when it came to music, was more...the Who, Lynard Skynard, Little Feat, Frank Zappa, the Grateful Dead, Eric Clapton, Talking Heads, ad nauseum. I didn't disco. I didn't know any of the steps, and still don't...and that's OK. One Friday night in those late 70's though, I found myself at a party where the brothers Gibb were stayin' alive on the stereo and a bunch of people were doing that dance thing, flinging each other to and fro. This girl came up to me that I knew...but not very well. She was very hot and she asked me to dance. Overcome with the thought of very hot girl asking me to dance, I said yes without thinking. She led me to the big, cleared out part of the living room where people were dancing, and it hit me. Alarm bells started blaring in my slightly inebriated brain.

"Dude, what the hell are you doing? You got no business being here. You don't know how to do this and are about to make a huge ass of yourself."

I made some feeble excuse, apologized and walked away. Granted, not a proud moment in lumberyard I buried in the deep recesses of my brain.

Saturday morning I drove to the MS150 practice ride, for which the turnout was far larger than I imagined. I figured...25-30 miles. The hard core bike folks won't be there. Way too short for them. Many of the people who need the practice won't be there because they're procrastinating. The remainder would be people like me...curious newbies. I was so wrong. Hundreds of people were there from grizzled veterans to newbies like me, on every manner of two (and I saw one three) wheeled vehicle. Most had done this before, because they wore company jerseys from past MS150 rides. Most also had road bikes much like my new one, but there were mountain bikes, recumbent bikes, and I saw one beach cruiser. Ouch...good luck with that one. There were even a few road bikes built for two.

The start was scary in itself. All these people trying to not run into each other as we headed into the two lane bottleneck of an entrance/exit for the parking lot we were in, getting our feet into pedals and get out on the road. Most had what I later learned (thanks to the bike fitter appointment at noon) are the clipless pedals, that you need special cycling shoes for. I didn't know what they were at the time, but they looked very tiny and weird to me. In any case, you still have to clip into those a lot like the things I slide my feet into, and lots of people doing that together going the same way is a bit intimidating for me...the newbie. I saw one guy fall over when someone in front of him stopped. I managed to get by unscathed. I was, however, intimidated by the whole cluster of bikers trying to get started, and forgot to set the trip odometer, so I had no idea how far it was to the halfway point.

Then we get out on the open road..A1A south along the ocean, which is a pretty ride. Lines start forming at different paces and a little bit down the road I hitch on to the end of one and....nice wind break. I'm actually drafting and life is good. I'm cruising along and the speedometer thing is saying 21.5 miles an hour, and it's hardly any work. WOW! This is so cool!

Then things start happening. The girl in front of me (nice butt) is pointing out sticks and road kill on the side of the road. Nice of her. Then I realize everyone in the line is doing that, and yelling different "SLOWING" when we were coming up on someone slower than us and slowing down a bit. I look behind me and realize I'm not the end of the line anymore. More folks have joined on and I'm now somewhere in the middle, and I'll bet the folks behind me are depending on me to do...well, something like what this girl in front of me is doing, and we're cruisin' pretty fast...and it hits me. I know this feeling and I haven't felt it in a loooong time. Where do I know this from? Ooooh Yeaaah. I remember. I'm waay outa my league and it's Saturday Night Fever all over again.

"Dude, what the hell are you doing? You got no business being here. You don't know how to do this and are about to make a huge ass of yourself."

Unlike Saturday Night Fever though, I hung in there this time, even though I felt like I had "NEWBIE" plastered on my forehead. I mean, I am what I am. I worried less about the nice butt in front of me and more about what was expected from the people behind me. I started learning and doing the hand signal thing, and yelling "SLOWING" when we did. It took a few times to realize they were yelling "CAR BACK" when there was a car coming up behind us, but I finally got that and repeated it like a good lemming. I also learned this line thing has a name. It's called a paceline. (After I got home, I googled 'paceline etiquette' and learned a lot more, so if you're interested, you can do the same. I won't repeat all that here.)

I hung with these people for about 10 miles, and then, as quickly as this big line formed, it dispersed. One group took off faster and the rest sort of disintegrated, and I found myself by myself for the last part of the ride to the gas station that was the halfway point/rest stop. I got there, and most of those people knew each other, and were talking..catching up since last year maybe. I needed to get going, because after the ride I had other places to be. I remembered to set the odometer for the trip back (so I know it was a little over 14 miles each way), and set out alone.

I rode back by myself, which was OK. It was much slower going because it was into the wind, and it all seemed to be slightly uphill. I got passed by two pairs of riders, but that was it. The long fast line never caught up with me. The biggest surprise to me was that I was, and stayed, ahead of the main body of riders. There were speed demons well ahead of me too, but most of the folks were behind. In fact, I got back, got in the car and headed back to A1A on my way home. As I traveled south on A1A, I saw the huge body of riders traveling north, finishing their ride.

Overall....huge learning experience that I will probably expound on more later. I did walk away thinking...I need to learn more about this group riding thing before I attempt that again...and like I said, I googled and have been asking more questions of people who've done this before. I'm working on it.


Friday, June 22, 2007

scouring the vast lumberyard community for...a recipe

Our token neighborhood gay couple likes to party, and when they throw one, it's an event. These guys go all out. There are champagne fountains, kegs, way too much food, and contests. I'll never forget one time I was standing next to this topiary looking thing, not really paying attention to it, when the person I was talking to said.."Oh my God. It's shrimp." On closer inspection, they took a wooden pole and shoved two lettuce heads down onto it. Then covered each lettuce head with jumbo shrimp on toothpicks. Very inventive, and not cheap.

So in August they're having an NFL season kickoff party, and everyone is to come dressed in the colors of their favorite team. They wanted to have everyone bring a dish that represented their city, but there are too many Jaguar fans and not enough from other parts of the country, so some of us were 'assigned' teams to bring a covered dish from. My problem....we were assigned the New England Patriots. I guess Pats fans are scarce in the hood. Therein lies the dilemma.

The wife's from South Georgia, and all I know from food in New England is clam chowder...and I can't see bringing soup as a covered dish. I need something people in New England would typically bring as a covered dish...something that says New England, or maybe more specifically, Boston, but is incredibly easy to make...cuz I'm no great shakes in a kitchen.

Li'l help?


Thursday, June 21, 2007

bike fitters, brain surgeons, dentists...all the same thing

I had no idea.

I mentioned a few days ago that I had to take my bike back to the shop for a tune up and, while I was there, the real bike fitter would do whatever it is he does.

Well, I figured, since this guy wasn't there on the day when I bought the bike, maybe I ought to find out when he is there, to make sure I don't miss him I called the shop and asked about this coming weekend. The story was, "It's his day off, but I'll have him call you, or..what's your e-mail address. I'll have him get in touch." Well, OK. Whatever.

Didn't hear from him, but the guy from the shop called today. "Can you be here at noon on Saturday? He has an opening then."

Excuse me? He has an opening then? What? Is he fitting me into a cancellation? I had no idea you needed an appointment to see the guy at a bike shop that adjusts the seat to fit, and makes sure the pedals are just so, and whatever else he does. I guess he's that much of an allen wrench specialist, and only shows up for the amount of time he's booked. Does this mean I could be in for a learning experience? All I have to say is, this had better be some kind of bike fitting.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

innocent until proven guilty

I know things don't look good for Ron Mexico. I, myself, think in the end, he's going down for this whole dog fighting issue. I believe the guy is guilty as hell. In the unabridged lumberyard dictionary, if you look up skank, there are two pictures, depending on gender. There's Skanky Spice and Ron Mexico. Ron makes appearances under several other unsavory entries as well. My opinion doesn't matter though. The guy is innocent until a court of law finds him guilty. Until then, it's all a bunch of allegations.

So while some might be upset that Nike won't acquiesce to the Humane Society's demand that they drop the guy, I applaud them. The president/CEO of the Humane Society has no business asking them to do so. Once Ronnie's tried and if he's convicted, then I can see the point. Then, I don't think Nike will need much prodding. Right now, nobody has proven the guy did anything wrong. Let the judicial system do what it's supposed to do and then react accordingly. Let's not make the same stupid mistake Duke University made, by cancelling a whole lacrosse season and suspending students based on allegations, only to find they were unfounded. As unlikely as that may be in this case, you still have to go with the assumption that it is possible.

Labels: ,

don't let anyone tell you what to like

This is a true story, even if I don't have all the details. I read it in Car & Driver about 15 years ago in a barber shop, man. It's gotta be true...

About 20 years ago, this guy in California had an idea for the design of a car. He liked the old two seat convertibles of the 60's...the Triumphs, Fiats and MGs of the era, but they were known for being finicky cars. You'd either better be or know a good mechanic, because keeping it on the road was work. What if you had something like that, but it was dependable too? He drew it all up and pitched his idea to the big three in Detroit and got tossed out on his ass. Apparently they listened, ran it through focus groups and whatever they have and determined America didn't want this car. He took his idea to Japan. Mazda bought into it and it became the Miata. In no time Mazda dealers had waiting lists for this new car. A reporter talked to the designer about why America's car makers couldn't build a car like this and he told the guy...they could have. I brought the idea to them first. The reporter went to General Motors and was told something like, "Yeah, we see they have waiting lists for that car, but we're not sure why. America doesn't want that car." The man sounded like an idiot. Twenty years later, Pontiac is building the Solstice, and other GM manufacturers have similar versions of the same car.

This morning I'm reading the paper and there's a story about Harry Potter haters...those that won't be lining up to buy the new book or see the new movie. First on the list are book snobs, who were put off that the Potter books had squatters rights on the top of the best seller lists. They had their place in the sun. It's time to move on. The best seller list should be filled with better books....books people should like. Authors who couldn't compete with Potter were/are put off by the fact that the top slot on the list had an "occupied" sign on it. Finally, someone decided to make a new best seller category called "Children's Books", so Harry & Co. could have the top spot there, and leave the "real" best seller list for more serious endeavors. Soooo, we'll have this thing called a best seller list, but it won't be the things that people are buying. It'll be the things we think people should be buying. What kind of shit is that?

The Harry Potter series may be children's books, but make no mistake. The series isn't a best seller because children are reading it. A whole host of adults are too. (Yes, me included.) If the new book sells better than any other book, doesn't that make it the best seller? Don't put it in it's own category because you don't like that it kicks your ass. What if golf did that? Jim Furyk is now #1 in the World Golf Rankings. Yeah, there's Tiger, but we're tired of seeing his name at the top and since nobody can compete, we stuck him in his own category. Jim's got the top spot now. If you can't compete, shut up and either write a better book or wallow in the world of also ran. If you want to be on top of a list, but you can't sell as many books as J. K. Rowling, call your list something else. Maybe call it "books critics think you should like", but don't call it a best seller if it isn't.

Then the list of haters came down to loonies who think the books should be burned because they promote the occult. They have polls where they asked kids, and some wanted to try the spells in the books. Ooookay then. When the spells don't work, doesn't that pretty much debunk the occult? When kids read Superman comic books, are they tempted to outrun speeding bullets and leap downtown skyscrapers? I don't think so. Let's work the concept of fiction into their budding young minds.

Speaking of books, I got this Alice Cooper autobiography for Father's Day, and I love it (but I don't know if it's on any best seller list). I'm not sure if you have to like golf and rock n' roll to enjoy it, because I do...but I'm about a third of the way through it. I won't tell you to like it though. I'll just tell you that I do. One piece of advice from Alice on betting on golf...the more outrageous the bet, the faster you should walk away. "Show me a guy who wants to play you straight up with a 5 iron and a rake, and I'll show you a guy who can shoot 72 with a rake."


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

even my imperfections aren't perfect

We are a strange family in many ways. One of those ways is religious. In most families that go to church on Sunday, it's the mom that gets that ball rolling. She's the one who badgers everyone until they get out of bed, nags them until they get ready and gets them all out the door on the way to a Sunday service. In our family, I'm that person. I know it's unusual, because I've had it commented on by several of our friends, who seem to think it's a good thing. I don't consider it good or bad. It's just how we have evolved, and that fact that I'm the morning person in the house probably has more to do with it than any religious conviction.

Part of that comes from how I grew up, and the fact that, when I met the wife, I went to church on Sundays and she didn't. Even well into our marriage, it was just how it was. I got up on Sunday and went. She slept in. That went on until one day, I did something that was more than a little selfish, and we got into this argument. She threw out the old addage about how I thought I was sooooo good, and went to church every Sunday feeling all righteous and shit. I came out with something I guess she never thought of, but seemed so obvious to me.

No, I don't think I'm all that good. I know I'm not. I know I have a lot of flaws and I'm just trying to do the best I can. I'm as broken as anyone else out there, and I am looking for some improvement. I can't think of anyone better to ask for help in that endeavor than God. I don't go to church because I'm a great person. I go to church to ask for help in becoming a good person, and to thank God for the help I've recieved so far. If God can't help me get there, nobody can. A big part of my reason to go to church on Sunday is my admission to God, and to myself, that I need to step up and do my part, but I know I need help.

The next Sunday, she went with me. That was about 15 years ago, and she's been going ever since. We both know we're far from perfect, and we never will be. With help though, and some effort of our own, maybe we'll be a little better people than we were yesterday. That doesn't make me better than anyone else...except maybe better than I was yesterday.

Where'd that all come from? Ellen, at "The Reign of" to the right, there, posted something today that was kind of insightful...about admitting to herself she was "broken". After reading that, this is where I ended up.

Labels: ,

so Eldrick's a daddy

Congratulations to Tiger Woods and wife Elin on the birth of their first little one, a baby girl.

Now that he has a child, maybe he'll figure out how to treat them.

Labels: ,

Monday, June 18, 2007

modern technology and bikes

I have a beef. I'm sure the people who design traffic lights will get right on it, because they're all loyal lumberyard readers.

Traffic lights and bicycles don't mix. I suppose if I get off my bike and use crosswalks, it would work better, but I was trying to stay on the road and obey the rules there, leaving the crosswalks for pedestrians. This works great until you get to a traffic light, especially one where you want to turn left. They all have that thing under the pavement that senses when a car's there, so you get a left turn arrow...and in many cases, get a green light at all.

So I'm at a light, waiting to turn left. One of the things about going out early in the morning is there isn't much traffic, especially if you're on a side road waiting to turn onto a major thoroughfare. I'm sitting there, on the far right side of the left turn lane, and there are no cars next to or behind the freaking light doesn't know I'm there. Cars come to the intersection from the side opposite me and suuuure..they get a light, but mine's still red. The major road gets it's turn, but I stand there...still waiting. I've been working on having a decent ass for months now, and nobody will drive up to check it out. I guess it still needs work. Finally I gave up and ran the light during a break in traffic, because I wasn't going to wait until someone decided to drive up behind me.

Maybe I don't really have a beef. Maybe I'm supposed to use the crosswalks. I don't think so, though. I just can't see one of those long lines of bicyclists using the crosswalk. I think I'm supposed to be on the road and following the same rules as cars. I need to brush up on my bike rules.


the weekend in review

Saturday morning - 48.12 miles. I considered a few laps around the neighborhood to make it an even 50, but decided that can wait until next time...which will be in 2 weeks. Next week the MS Bike Ride people are having a "kickoff" practice ride, with support vehicles and rest stops and whatever else they have at the real thing. I'm going to do that, because it'll give me a feel for what it'll be like in September, but it's only 25-30 miles. (I'm having a hard time with the fact that I just said that. Back in December, if someone would have told me I used the word "only" in conjunction with a 25 to 30 mile bike ride I would have told them they were insane.) I might just have to make it longer on my own, but we'll see. I also have to take the bike back to the shop after that, because it'll be a month old. They told me to bring it back after a month so they can adjust cables and stuff after I ride it a I will. They also want me to bring it around when their real bike fitter is in the house for minor tweaking, so I'll call and see when that is. I hope he's there sometime Saturday.

The U.S. Open - I don't get why people are surprised when some unheralded guy wins that thing. This year it's Angel Cabrerra. Last year it was Geoff Ogilvie. Three years ago it was Michael Campbell. The USGA turns it from a test of golf into a run of good luck. It's not golf. It's a crap shoot. He who gets lucky the most times on the greens (because hitting those holes ain't skill) wins. It's as simple as that. People want to know why Tiger can't win from behind. It isn't because he isn't the better golfer. As much as I dislike the guy, I have to admit he is the better golfer, and he was yesterday as well. He just wasn't the luckier golfer.

The Jaguars are rumored to be interested in the services of one Dante Culpepper as a backup to Byron Leftwich. I'm on the fence with that move. I used to think David Garrard could lead this team, given the chance. Well, he had his chance last year and fell flat on his face. Yes, given time to learn not to try to do everything himself, he could get better, but I don't want to hear anything about how he's ready to be the starter. He's not. He's a good backup though, and with him, we know what we have. With Culpepper, I'm not so sure. I'm not ready to throw Byron Leftwich out as a starter either, but if he falters, maybe having Culpepper in the wings isn't so bad...if he can be the player he was a few years ago. There's just a lot of uncertainty in the whole situation...but I guess we'll see.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 15, 2007

Donovan Darius....C-ya

I'm in mourning.

Donovan Darius has been a Jaguar since 1998. I remember when he was drafted in the first round in 1998, the quote from Dick Jaruon, then defensive coordinator, was that he'd bring "violence" to this football team. He did that and more. He is known for being a big hitter, but in J'ville, he is known for a whole lot more. The guy is very involved in the community, he's very involved with the fan base, and he's just an all around good guy...the kind of guy you want fifty of on a team that represents your city.

He does a bunch of charity work, and is now in the middle of a fund raiser for a children's hospital. He has an event each year where he goes bowling (yes, I said bowling) with pretty much whoever, in the way of fans, wants to show up. Donovan Darius put a great human face on the organization that is the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars cut him yesterday, and I don't get why. He was classy about it all, saying he understood that it's a business, thanking the fans for our support, and the team for doing it now which makes it easier to catch on with another team. The talking heads are all saying, "Yeah, I saw it coming. He's getting older and the Jaguars drafted Reggie Nelson to play safety and..." I get that. I get that he's older. I get that he's been injured the last two years, but last year someone broke his ankle. That's not a factor of getting older. It's just bad luck. The bottom line is, in my opinion, our defense, and our locker room, is far better with him than without him. Donovan Darius is still an awesome football player. Yeah, I like the guy and don't want to see him go and....well...I just have a hard time envisioning Donovan Darius in a uniform that isn't teal.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

the U.S. Open hypocrasy

I've ranted about it before, and the only reason I'm doing it again is frankly, I got nothing else on a Thursday. Well, maybe I do, but not for this forum.

The U.S. Open starts today. The tournament is run by the United States Golf Association, the same folks entrusted with the rules of golf in this country. These people consistently say they don't talk about or concern themselves with scores.....and they consistently lie. Every year they take a very tough Par 72 course and doctor the shit out of it, wave a magic wand and designate the shortest Par 5 hole(s) as the newest Par 4 hole(s), lengthen Par 3 holes so you need driver to get to the green. Presto change-o, it's now a much longer, faster Par 71 or Par 70 course...and then say they don't care about score.

If that's true, why did you go through all that trouble? Why can't the players play the course as it was originally designed? Why can't they play a normal golf course?

Why? Because you don't want to see someone win at 15 under. You like the idea of the winner of the U.S. Open finishing 5 or 6 over par. You take Par 5s and call them Par 4s. That's not a test of golf. That's score manipulation in its crudest form....and there's absolutely no reason for it if you really don't care about score. You created a 288 yard Par 3 hole this year. There will be guys playing this event that will use driver on that hole....and not reach the green. These are the best golfers in the world, and some won't reach a Par 3 green with driver. What kind of shit is that?

Someone needs to remember the only word in their title that differentiates them from any other organization out there is GOLF, and get back to playing the game we all know and love.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

cycling update...of sorts

There's this guy at work...'Jack'.

Jack's a big cycling guy. He's done this MS150 thing several times. He does 4 or 5 100 mile rides a year. The proper term for those, I have learned, is centuries...even though they have nothing to do with years. He rides after work and does a ride every Saturday morning with several other people that's somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 miles, the middle of which involves a substantial bridge over the intracoastal waterway in Saint Augustine. He croses that bridge twice, because that's about where he turns around to come home. Yeah, it's one of those single file lines of cyclists like the one that passed me a few weeks back, doing 25 miles an hour or so. It's a bit out of my league, for now. He won't be doing the MS150 thing this year because he'll be in Canada, but we've talked about it. Jack is one of the people boosting my confidence, telling me if I can ride 40 miles without stopping now, and I keep training, I'll have no problem with what I'm trying to do in September. He's given me a few pointers along the way, too.

Jack's also a golfer. He played on a college team twenty-something years ago, and is still pretty good. Last week I asked him if he wanted to play Thursday night and he declined. He was going on vacation through this week. He was going up to the Carolinas someplace to do a bike ride up some mountain. It was 'only' about 70 miles, but it was all uphill. He'd be home midweek though and would love to play this Thursday if I'd set it up. No problem. I had an after work foursome for this Thursday...nine holes after work in a company league thing.

So yesterday afternoon, I get an e-mail from Jack. "Sorry, won't be able to play this Thursday."

Short. Sweet. To the point. Shit! Damn you Jack. Now I have to go find someone to take your #(*^#%*%$@ place. Shoulda known better than to expect you to play while you're still on vacation. I'm running Jack down all over the place, complaining about how the last thing I needed to do was go find a fourth to play golf. I'm asking most of the people I know who play. Since it's a company league thing and it's very cheap, all are either already playing if they want to, or can't. I'm complaining about how Jack left me in a lurch and I get to one guy who can't play and...

"Well, you know why Jack can't play, don't you?"


"Dude, the guy had a heart attack on his bike ride. He started having chest pains. They rushed him to the hospital. 100 percent blockage in one artery. 80 percent in another. They did angioplasty and he's fine, but he's still in the hospital. He should be home by the weekend."

Damn...I'm still a bit shocked, and feel more than a little stupid.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I swear, I'm getting a fuckin' jar

Mike Ditka and the NFLPA

Over the course of the last week, I've caught ESPN News a few times while working out. One of the stories playing out is old NFL players who are physically, for lack of a better word, handicapped, and the NFL Players Association's willingness, or lack thereof, to help them.

Mike Ditka did a few interviews with some guys from ESPN and his basic story is...these guys played in the NFL, helped grow the game, didn't make a ton of money and now, they're 60 and they can't move and they're broke. Meanwhile, the NFL Players Association has a bazillion dollars. They are responsible for these guys. He's criticizing the Players Association because they aren't doing enough to help the situation.

In simpler terms, the argument is, these guys need money. You have money. You need to help them.

No, Mike, they don't. Bill Gates has money too. So does Al Gore. He's spending a ton of it air conditioning the inside of his house with the windows open. Why aren't you knocking on their doors? I'll give you a hint. Pissing people off and demanding that they help you, simply because they have the means, isn't your best strategic option.

Let me separate what they should do and what they have to do. Sure, it would be a wonderful gesture, and a PR coup, to help these guys. They played in the NFL. They helped make the game what it is. The NLFPA should help them. It's the right thing to do, not to mention the smart thing to do. They aren't on the hook for it though. These men were men when they did what they did. They signed contracts and made their own decisions. They're living with the results of their decisions. Granted, the guys who played in the 50's didn't make much cash. Neither did my dad. The guys today make a lot more. I make more than my dad did too. That doesn't mean he's banging on my door asking for rent money.

They're trotting out Brian DiMarco, ex-Jaguar as their poster kid, because he asked the NFLPA for money to pay his rent or he was getting thrown out of his house. I'm sorry, but I saw Brian DiMarco on TV when he played here. He was riding a Harley that was worth about the same amount of money as a small house. If he'd have bought the house instead, he wouldn't be cryin' for rent money. He made 1.3 million dollars in one year. I don't make that in a decade. You don't squander a million dollars and then get on TV, crying about how you can't provide for your family. There's more than one issue with DiMarco, but one of them is a financial planning/personal responsibility thing.

I realize some of it...a lot of it, is a medical issue, and the NFLPA should take that burden on. It's not an entitlement though. They owe nobody anything. Still, financing that issue is the right thing to do.

The young players are getting in the act too, saying "We should help these guys." Well, who's stopping you? Put your money where your mouth is. You get a million dollar signing bonus. Who's stopping you from taking 10% of that and putting it in a retired players medical fund to help the men who need it? Stop talking about what should happen and make it happen.

"If you want to change the world, shut your mouth and get on with it."

You don't need the NFLPA to do that. You can do that all by yourselves.

Labels: ,

Monday, June 11, 2007

me on the new bike

The youngster took this picture for my fund raising page on the MS150 site before I went riding Saturday morning. Everyone else seems to have them, so I figured I should too. Maybe some kind soul will look at the page, have pity on me and donate. I'm glad he got up early to get the 'before' shot. The 'after' picture would have looked a bit worse.


the weekend in review

The weekend started off with a bang...of sorts. The sky was clear Friday evening and at 7:38 we watched the space shuttle streak into the sky. That never gets old.

Then I went to the gym and worked a bit. Got up Saturday morning and did a little over 45 miles on the bike. I'm getting more and more confident that this MS150 thing in September won't be all that bad. It's going to be hard. I know that. I'm finally believing myself when I say I'll be ready for it though. The MS Society is having a kickoff training ride in two weeks...between 25 and 30 miles. Piece o' cake. They sent out an e-mail, calling it a "free" training ride, which made me chuckle. So, the ones I'm doing on my own aren't free? When I read it though, it made more sense. They're going to have support vehicles and stuff there, making it look and feel like the real thing...I guess to give newbies like me an idea of what the real ride will be like. That stuff comes at a price.

Yesterday The thermometer read 98° on the back porch in the shade. I noticed the water was running in the downstairs toilet and was looking at it when the youngster asked what I was looking at.

"The toilet's leaking water. We're wasting water."

"Oh, mine does that too."

Wonderful. This, for me, is a major ordeal. Admittedly, it also points to one of my major flaws. I'm not Mr. Fix It. I believe there's a reason God created plumbers, and that's for me to pay them to take care of plumbing stuff. Same with electricians, and whatever else I don't know jack about, and don't have the time (and frankly, the inclination too) to learn. Still, I can do this and it needs to be done now...we're wasting water...and after replacing floors and buying a bike and seeing the youngster's I went to Home Depot and bought the guts for two toilets and replaced more leaking.

Then I went and hit golf balls in the heat. I need the practice and it went well, but I came home I hit the shower before grilling burgers for dinner...and doing a quiet evening at home. We're just so Norman Rockwell.


Friday, June 08, 2007

the Beckhams in Hollywood

Rumor has it the Beckhams are second guessing their move to Los Angeles. If you're English, you know what I'm talking about. If you're American, you're probably asking "Who?"...and that, apparently, is a big part of the problem.

The soccer team in L.A. hired David Beckham, soccer star in Great Britain, to come and play for them in hopes of bringing some visibility, publicity, whatever to their sport...and team. The move has pretty much been met with a thunderous yawn. The Beckhams go from being the big fish in a smaller pond to staring at the "No Swimming if you're a nobody" sign, and the snooty maitre d' from Ferris Buller's Day Off asking, "You play what, now? Dave is having trouble passing himself off as Abe Frohman, sausage king of Chicago.

Beckham's wife, the ex-Skanky Spice of Spice Girl fame is apparently put off, because the paparazzi don't have time for her in Britney Spears and Paris Hilton's world. Her plans for a reality show based on...well...her...are being met with indifference by the networks.

I don't know what it is about soccer in this country, but it doesn't stand a chance next to our football, basketball, baseball, or even golf and racing. Maybe it's because other sports already command the big bucks when players sign contracts and play them, so kids gravitate to them. The best athletes play them. Kids see football and basketball players sign multi-million dollar contracts...and, because of that, they'd rather be like Mike than bend it like Beckham. Soccer gets the leftovers who haven't learned to use their hands...and trotting Dave and Skanky Beckham across the ocean doesn't do a lot to change that.

David Beckham was supposed to bring soccer to America. So far, America seems to be asking, "What else ya got?

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 07, 2007

can't think of right words to say

A very dear friend of ours lost her mom (or in her case, mum) unexpectedly this week. I'm grasping for words where there really aren't any.

I'm usually pretty good with words. I'm not a professional writer or anything, but I can get a thought across. Here, I just feel....downright helpless. There's nothing I can say to ease the hurt and loss. I'm usually pretty good at fixing things or making them all better and here, I got nuthin'.

She's going to cry, and hurt, and grieve no matter what I, or any of her other friends do or say. As much as I wish there was more we could do, all we can do is be there for her...and let her know we are.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

what started the whole biking thing

Those of you that have kept up with me for a while know...this whole bike thing didn't start as a bike thing. It started after Christmas when I, already a tiny bit overweight and outa shape, hit a scale and was shocked. I was more than a tiny bit overwieght...more than I had ever been in my life. All of a sudden, my doctor's words were coming back to haunt me..."If you don't do something, you'll keep getting bigger and bigger and soon you'll be staring at 250 pounds. Well, I didn't get there, but the trend was disturbing, and as I get older, it seems the trend in that direction is getting easier and easier. I figured I had to do something to stop that. So I started going to the gym...something I've started many times before. You who, like me, have had several attempts at quitting smoking know what that kind of drill is like. It took me several attempts at quitting smoking before the latest one...and so far it's lasted over 10 years. (It also adds to the whole poundage thing, but that's another story.) Going to the gym to lose weight has lots of false starts, too.

So I started going to the gym a few nights a week to improve my health. Then I got approached on this whole MS150 thing, which is something I've told myself I wanted to do for a long time and never did anything about. I thought...this is the perfect time. I need to lose weight and get healthy. I'm doing the gym anyway. I've always said one day I would do that ride. Why not do it now? I'm certainly not getting any younger. So I started riding in my attempt to do the 150, and so far that's going well. Both training and fund raising-wise.

At the beginning though, the quest was to lose weight and get healthy. The get healthy part seems to be going well. I don't know how you get to be sure about that. I haven't seen Mr. My Doctor since I started, and think he'll be a bit surprised, but will he tell me I'm healthier? I dunno. I feel healthier. The weight part though, has been disappointing. I thought...once I started exercising, the poundage would just slide off. Not so fast, bucko. Then I consoled myself with the concept was moving around. The fat was becoming muscle. Nice concept...maybe it's true. Finally though, the pounds did start coming off. It's not happening as fast as I thought it would, but it is happening. Thirteen pounds and counting as of last night when I stepped on the scale at the local Winn Dixie....wooo hoooooooooooooo!


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

settle down people

It's probably not near as big a deal in other parts of the country as it is here in Florida. Billy Donovan, once and future coach of the University of Florida basketball team, is being blamed for everything from the fall of the Orlando Magic basketball team to the upcoming hurricane season, which will be all the worse due to his waffling on where he will be employed in the near future.

I'm not a Gator fan. In fact, I wasn't pleased at all when last year, on the way to their first basketball title, they took out my Villanova Wildcats in what was our best hope in 25 years of getting to a final four. I like Billy Donovan though. From what I've seen, he seems like a good guy. He seems honest and sincere. When he talks, I tend to believe him. I think he looks a little silly in his current situation, but I believe he got caught up in a whirlwind Orlando Magic courtship and said yes before he knew what he was doing...and a day later realized that for him, it was a bad move. I think he slept on it and now wants to be back where he was. OK, not the smartest way to handle the whole situation, but better than going forward with a mistake.

Now, in the wake of all that, I'm hearing that he should be blamed for the fall of the Orlando Magic. Anything bad that happens to the Magic franchise now rests on Billy Donovan's shoulders. Why? Because of the events of two days in the offseason? (Well, not quite the offseason, but it is for the Magic.) Over one weekend, he was named the Orlando coach and then they realized they had to find someone else. Come on, people. It's not like they lost a lot of time in the coaching search. If he would have said no on Friday, they'd be in pretty much the same boat. Did some big coaching prospect disappear in that time span? Is Stan Van Gundy busy all of a sudden? NOT! Maybe 200 people bought season tickets based on Billy D being the new head coach. Those people haven't even got the credit card bill yet. They can get out of that move in a heartbeat, if that's what they want. What did the Magic lose in all this that they had before the weekend began? Nuthin'. Got a little more egg on their face, maybe, but that's about it.

True, there were legal fees paid to lawyers who drew up contracts and a lot of trouble gone through on the Magic side for Billy Donovan. True, his whole coaching staff at UF went through a lot of emotional upheaval and uncertainty. So did the new recruits who commited to play at well as the rest of the basketball team. Those people have something to be upset about, and deserve an apology at the very least. That's the extent of it though. Don't go believing the polar icecaps just melted away because Billy Donovan changed his mind about coaching the Orlando Magic.


Monday, June 04, 2007

so Billy D wants a mulligan

This story is a long way from playing out, but apparently Billy Donovan is having second thoughts about moving from Gainsville to Orlando. The Gator Nation is jumping for joy, because the assumption is he's going back....but not so fast.

True, when the cigar smoke clears, I expect that to happen, but there's a bunch of legalese between now and then. The guy signed a contract with the Orlando Magic. They have to let him out of that. I suppose they will. I can't see them holding a coach hostage when he doesn't want to be there. He hasn't said so publicly, but the whole world knows he's having second thoughts. That can't be healthy for a NBA team. Then again, maybe they can still convince him that Orlando is where he really wants to be. Maybe. Maybe not. If he decides he really wants to be in Gainsville, the University of Florida has to take him back. That too, I suppose, is a no brainer. The guy took them to the national championship the last two years. Why wouldn't they? It all has to play out that way though, and as many surprises as there have been in this drama so far, why not a few more?


trying to make up for lost time, and getting burned for it

Saturday was a washout - literally. This wasn't a bad thing. Tropical Storm Barry came through and dumped some much needed rain on us. The fact that I needed to do yard work and wanted to go bike riding didn't matter all too much. The youngster and I made the best of it, going to see Spidey 3 at the IMAX theater at the World Golf Village. Haven't seen the other two three-quels (Shrek and Pirates), but nobody I've talked to that has, had anything good to say about them. Spidey, though, two thumbs up.

Sunday, we went to church early, hoping to get everything done we didn't do Saturday. It was beautiful and sunny...not too hot. The youngster and I did the yard before noon, and right after that, I went riding....33 miles. Not 40, but I rationalized that yard work was a workout in itself, so 33 was plenty. Besides, the post tropical storm winds were pretty brutal when headed into them. Going downwind, of course, was a breeze. It wasn't until a few hours later that I started to feel it...and realized I spent a good three hours in the sun with no sunblock...and the time has come to pay.

I'm not all lobstered out, but my arms are red and pretty uncomfortable. I'll live, but there's another lesson learned. Riding for a few hours between 7:30 and 10:00 in the morning ain't the same as doing it at 1:00 in the afternoon, and while the long ride will start early, it will easily run into the afternoon.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

rain, rain, get outa my way

A first in my training regimen....frustration, in the form of tropical storm Barry.

In the "all about me" world, today was supposed to be my first real ride on the new bike. Sure, I've ridden the thing a few times this week, but it hasn't been out on the open road for lots of miles in one stretch yet. This was supposed to be where I see the difference...where I see why I spent the big bucks...where the more comfy, lighter ride helps me go farther and faster.

Then, rain...and more rain. In the past, if I didn't ride on Saturday mornings, it was my own damn fault. We had company in town or whatever, but I controlled whether or not I went. Now, I'm rarin' to go, and it's pouring out there...and I don't do the riding thing in pouring rain.

Yes, the fact that we're in a bit of a drought, and really need the rain, hasn't been lost on me. I know all that. But, in the "all about me" world the weather is supposed to be more considerate. It's supposed to finish before I ride or hold off until I'm done.

It might clear out by tomorrow afternoon and I can make up for it then, but still...that's not quite as convenient for my very busy schedule.


Friday, June 01, 2007

white bike shorts

OK, so color me naive. I really had no idea.

I should stick this in my biking lessons learned entry...and maybe I still will.

I was talking to some folks at work about the ride, and one member of the group has done the MS 150 before. Someone asked me if I had those cute little bike shorts yet, and I said, "I do, and yes they're pretty skin tight which may not be the visual you want, but that padding stuff makes a huge difference."

The girl who has done it before asked if they were white...and I said, "No, they're black."

"Oh thank God," and she started giggling.

"Ummmm...why? What am I missing?"

Well, the gist of the discussion that ensued was....white bike shorts leave absolutely nothing to the imagination. I got to see some photographic evidence...emphasis on the graphic. It was one of those joke-like e-mails that makes the rounds with pictures of a bike team in white shorts, and another in red shorts. No, I won't be buying any of those.


My peeps are coming through

The other end of this whole bike riding thing (a recurring theme here in the lumberyard since sometime in February) is the goal....besides riding 150 miles in 2 days. We're raising money to beat MS.

So far, some of you and many others are rockin'. Yesterday we (as in you guys, me, and lots of people who have never seen this blog) have raised over a thousand dollars in the effort. OK, there's a bit of corporate match funding in there as well, but still...thank you for helping me help those who live with MS every day, and those looking for ways to stop others from having to do the same thing. We're all kicking some major ass.

do you believe in..ummm...Magic?

So Billy Donovan is leaving the Florida Gators to coach the Orlando Magic. I will say I'm surprised. I'm not shocked, and while most Gator fans are upset, they shouldn't be. You guys had a very successful coach who took your team to two national championships in the last two years. Of course the next level is coming looking for him. Orlando works out well for him too. It's close enough that he doesn't even have to move his family if he doesn't want to.

He'd be nuts not to give the Magic a shot. Even if he crashes and burns, monitarily, he's set for life. He could walk back into Gainsville and the Gators would welcome him with open arms. So would just about any college program in the country. If he succeeds, he can be one of the only guys to win basketball championships on the college and pro level. Of course, his kids will love the new Universal Harry Potter theme park, too. I'm sure that swayed the decision.

Now, will that make a lot of new Orlando Magic fans? I'm not sure. I, for one, follow college basketball quite a bit, but have no interest in the NBA. I'll watch an NBA game if I'm in the gym and it's on, but I won't specifically go looking for one. I have no favorite team. I don't like the hip hop/"gangsta" culture the NBA embraces. I don't like the fact that the NBA considers it OK for its players to use illegal drugs. I don't like the "there's no team in I" attitude of many of the players. If that's your thing or you don't mind that aspect, go for it. It's just not for me. This Donovan move won't change that. I'm not that much of a Gator fan. I followed them and liked pulling for those kids..because it was those kids the last few years. They were on TV here a lot and you just felt like you knew them...and they were good kids, and Donovan seems like a good guy. Once they all split up in the NBA though...I won't even know where they went.