Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I know some people have religious issues with this holiday, which I think is a bunch of bunk. I put it in the same category as people who have issues with Harry Potter.

Kids get dressed up as ghosts, goblins, witches and...spiderman, run around the neighborhood and consider it a success if they come home with more candy than they could ever eat in a year. None of them goes out promoting witchcraft or demons or whatever. Sure, I get a little irked when little Johnny or Susie isn't happy enough with what I give them and looks in the big tub of stuff I have for something better, waits around hoping for more of whatever it is, or worse, sticks their hand in the tub, grabbing more, but rude kids are the exceptions and not the rule. I don't care much what the origins of the holiday were back in the dark ages. Today it's grounded in fun. If you and your household want to suck the fun out of it and excuse yourself from buying $20 in candy to distribute to neighborhood kids, and seeing how cute little Bobby looks in his clown outfit and little Susie looks in her princess getup...whatever.

Me, I'll hang at the front door, hand out candy and have fun with the kids. I seriously doubt my religious belief system will be any worse for the wear.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

and here I thought I was a fanatical right winger

20 percent of me is still all screwed up (but which 20 percent...that's the question).

Your Political Profile:

Overall: 80% Conservative, 20% Liberal

Social Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Ethics: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal


lions and tigers and gators and dawgs and oh my

In a way, I'm happy that I don't get all caught up in college football. I don't need more sports induced emotional upheaval. Here in the South, it's the closest thing to religious fanaticism I have ever witnessed. People live and die by their favorite college football team, and whether or not they attended said school is of little consequence. Well, I take that back. If you did attend the University of Florida, or any SEC/ACC/Big East school, you are more than likely a fan of that school's football team. I went to Villanova, and occasionally here the Wildcats' football score makes it into the paper (and even less occasionally, they actually get it right and it's listed under the 'East' section), and if we won, it brings a smile. We weren't a huge football school when I went there and we still aren't. It's not a huge deal if we lose. It's the people who didn't attend any of those schools, and adopt one, and get fanatical about it, that puzzle me...but if that's their thing, more power to them.

So it's with that kind of perspective that I watch college football. The games are pretty good...very good in some instances. Given my druthers in an SEC game, I'd rather see Florida win, because I live here, but it's not ruining my day if they don't. This past weekend I watched the Florida/Georgia game, sometimes called the world's largest outdoor cocktail party. The game has been played in J'ville for decades (except recently for two years when they rebuilt the stadium when the Jaguars were born in the 1990's). In the 80's, the Georgia Bulldogs dominated the rivalry. In the 90's and this decade the Gators have had the upper hand, to the point where the rivalry part of the game was waning. Gator fans didn't hate Georgia like they used to. They felt sorry for them. Georgia fans started whining about the venue, saying it's much closer to Gainesville then Athens, and holding the game in J'ville was more like a home game for Florida than a neutral site. I too, felt sorry for the Bulldogs. I would have liked to see them win...a few times, more to stop that whining so the game stays here than for any other reason. I like the tradition. I like the event that comes here annually, and seeing the craziness that comes to town with it. It's a great atmosphere.

So the game started, and Georgia scored first. In an apparent "orchestrated" move, the whole Georgia bench stormed the field. They got penalized for the excessive celebration, but it seemed to fire up the team, and piss off everyone on the Florida side of the field. Georgia went on to win that game, which only served to piss off the Gator Nation that much more. They didn't feel sorry for the Bulldogs anymore. The hate was, and is, back. The rivalry is back. The snarl is back, and as much as I don't care who wins or loses, I love seeing the passion back in this game, even if I'm just a spectator. It had become a milquetoast affair, and it has life again. Thank you Georgia Bulldogs, for stirring that pot that's been on simmer far too long.


Monday, October 29, 2007

the weekend in review

Congrats to the Red Sox, and all you who are Sox fans. I think Papelbon should have been the MVP, but that's splitting hairs and wanting good stuff for the home grown boy from Bishop Kenny High School. I wanted to see more fight out of the Rockies, but you get what you's over already.

A-Rod says he doesn't want to be a Yankee anymore. I guess that's bringing class balance to the force or something. The Yankees insulted Joe Torre, so he'd leave. That left the Yankees a bit more classless. To balance that, A-Rod leaves, bringing the total class quotient of the organization up a few notches. Now Mrs. A-Rod can sport her "Fuck You!" t-shirts in another venue, and at the after-parties in another town's gentleman's clubs in her husband's company. I guess this is what happens when $72 million isn't quite enough to feed your ego. In his defense, Yankee fans never appreciated A-Rod, so I can see him wanting to thumb his nose at the whole town...and he can.

The Dolphins and Giants played a sloppy game for the folks in England, in the first regular season game played across the pond. Looking at yesterday's slate though, weren't most of them sloppy? I mean, If you weren't watching New England or Indy play, you weren't exactly getting a highlight reel. It's what the NFL is being reduced to this year...two really good teams and the rest of us. People want to say what those people in Wembly saw wasn't really representative of the NFL. I'll contend, yeah it is. That ugly game is becoming the rule instead of the exception.

The Jaguars won a mess of a game in Tampa for state bragging rights. No Dolphins, you don't count. The thing is, being the best football team in Florida right now really isn't saying a whole lot. At least Matt Jones finally caught a touchdown pass. He vowed at the beginning of the season not to shave his beard until he did. That thing was starting to have a Rip van Winkle quality to it.

I came away from church yesterday being humbled. The message for the week was about how we tend to tout ourselves for doing good stuff, and feel like we're better than someone else. I was immediately brought back to the 'greedy bastard' post from Friday, and the motivation behind it. Guilty as charged. I want my total money raised for that bike ride to be bigger than it is now, and really, it's for no purpose than to make me look better in the list of people raising money for that push me a little higher in stature. I doubt anyone would notice really, except me, anyway. (Then again as we all know, it is all about me.) It's not like there's a published list anywhere, except for the top 5, and they're so far above me it doesn't matter (#5 on that list raised over $7,500). The cause will eventually get its money, whether I get the credit or not. I should be happy with that. I will be happy with that.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

being a greedy bastard

OK, I have absolutely NO right to whine. The deadline for contributions to the MS Bike Ride is the end of the month, and my family and friends have come through like I never expected. All of you RAWK! The grand total right now is $3,275.00. I remember back in February when I said I'd think about doing this thing and the team captain said she hoped everyone could raise $1000, my eyes got wide. I thought..."shit, no way". At the time, I was also trying to convince myself I'd be able to bike 150 miles, and almost thinking the same thing about that part of the deal.

In the end, I pedaled well over 150 miles and we raised triple what she asked. We all rocked.

Here comes the whiney part. Several people who sponsored me work for companies that match contributions. The one I work for is one, but not the only one. These people told me they turned in the necessary forms, and most of the corporate matching stuff came through. Still, I'm $125 short. That could push the total to an even $3,400 if these companies (and mine is one here too) would get off their butts and send in the checks, but they're being slow about it. I suppose in the end, they'll eventually get the money to the MS Society, and everything will work out...or at least I hope so. I just wanted the little web page to say I raised $3,400 dollars. I guess I'll have to settle for $3,275...and no, that's not so bad.


Make a Difference Day

"If you want to change the would, shut your mouth and start this minute." - Cracker

Tomorrow is National Make a Difference Day. The youngster and I will travel to some warehouse in downtown J'ville to help an effort to pack backpacks with donated books and presents for underprivileged kids. Neither of us are great wrappers or packers. Last year they put us on trash detail. We unpacked boxes and took all the trash generated from the project to a huge dumpster. The point is, we did something. Something is being done this Saturday all over this country, in tons of little projects like ours. None, in and of themselves, make a huge impact on society, but all together they brighten the days of many. Are you doing anything?


Thursday, October 25, 2007

why nobody will ever figure me out

Reason 1 - I've been living with me for 50 years and I can't do it, and I'm not a stupid person.

My favorite new TV show is Pushing Daisies. It's a quirky comedy about a guy who can touch dead people and they come to life. If he touches them again, they die again. If he lets them live more than a minute, someone/something else dies in their place. I'm not sure what it is about this show that has me captivated. Why is it I know when this show comes on and try to watch it? It's a definite sign I'm not spending enough time in the gym.

OK, I know a few reasons. First of all, it's a comedy. Everyone who knows me knows that's my genre. I love the Earl/30 Rock/Office trio on Thursday night. There are other new comedies though. Why this one? Granted, it's not CSI : Poughkeepsie, or CSI : Seattle, or CSI : Anyplace Else. I've been CSI'd 'til I could puke. Same with Law and Order. At least it's not Law and Order : Transvestite Bank Robbers Who Say Nie. The fact that 'cop show' is decidedly not my genre has had an effect on how much TV I watch anymore....less and less.

Still, this is a strange show. It has a narrator, who rarely uses names. The main character is mentioned only as "the pie maker" (right now, I couldn't tell you his name) and he works in a pie shop called The Pie Hole. His love interest is a girl he brought back to life by touching her, but now he can't touch her or she'll die. The writing is clever. Maybe that's it, because if it wasn't, I'd be grabbing the remote. The background and story lines are very surreal, even bizarre...kind of an Edward Scissorhands meets Twin Peaks kind of feel. No, none of it is the least bit believable. It's a twisted fairy tale kind of feel. I just can't figure out why it's grabbed my attention...because it has. For that reason alone, it probably won't last.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

feeling like a total slug

I'm still not feeling like my old self. It takes a while for me to get over this kind of crap once I get it. Sure, I can function in the workday world, but I'm still coughing and sneezing and trying to keep it all away from any co-workers, so they don't suffer. In cube land, that isn't all that hard.

It does keep me away from the gym though. I'm afraid if I start pushing my body, it might push back and land me back on the couch for a few days, and I don't want that. I suppose it'll tell me when it's restless enough to go sweat again, but the mind is ready. It's saying, "You haven't done a damn thing for a week. The pounds are coming back and you're getting soft."

Several years ago I went through a spurt, where I started going to the gym and getting myself in shape. I was in a routine, much like this last year. The thing that killed it - I got sick, stayed away for a few weeks and never picked the routine back up. I'm not letting that happen again. Well, this time is a bit different too. Granted, the next MS ride is a year away, but I need to get the youngster and me I won't stop. I have a mission.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

la la la la la la la I can't hear you


Why did J.K. Rowling have to out Albus Dumbledore of Harry Potter fame?

I didn't need to know he was gay. I guess I really don't care, one way or the other, but the guy died in the 6th book, and his sexual orientation and/or romantic life were never part of any plot line. The article in the above link explains that in some Q and A session, Rowling was asked if Dumbledore ever finds true love. She explained he was gay, and "was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald." It was his "great tragedy". Wouldn't "no" be a sufficient answer? Did we need that kind of detail? I mean, we never saw romantic involvement for Minerva McGonnegal, Severus Snape, (though Snape had a thing for Lily Potter), Sirius Black, Crabbe, Goyle, Draco Malfoy (or Lucius Malfoy, for that matter - perhaps he was gay and Narcissa was just window dressing, cuz you know he worshipped "you know who"), or Professor Sprout or any number of other characters but we have no similar speculation about them. The only romantic relationships that really mattered to the story were those of Harry and Ginny, and Ron and Hermione. There were a few others thrown in, and they enhanced the plot, but that's not the case with Dumbledore. Whether Albus Dumbledore is straight or gay lends absolutely nothing to the story. It's not like she needed some edgy detail (oooooooh, let's make him gay) to sell more books for cryin' out loud. We've seen his office in the movies and you gotta admit, his decorating ability leaves him far short of Fab 5 material for Queer Eye. Did he need a sexual preference at all? It really doesn't make any difference, so why did we have to throw that into the mix?


déjà vu all over again

I watched last night's Jags/Colts game from the comfort of the couch, and just sank deeper and deeper into it. No, going into it, I didn't think we were as good as Indianapolis, but I did think, at home, the Jaguars could take 'em in a game. Things had to go our way, but it could happen.

Then I watched our excuse for a receiving corps drop David Garrard passes. Then I watched David Garrard get knocked out of the game, putting it in the hands of Quinn Gray. Then I watched Quinn Gray get picked off by Bob Sanders, which ultimately resulted in seven more Colts points. Then I watched Quinn Gray get dropped in the end zone for a safety for two more points. Somewhere in that mix, even I (in my teal colored specs) figured out things weren't going to go our way, and not feeling all that good, I went to bed. I woke up this morning to read our one bright spot, Maurice Jones-Drew, also got hurt, but I don't know how seriously, yet. Worse than all that, I saw my team trying to be a finesse team when that's not what they are. They wouldn't do the things that got them where they are...or were, before last night. They stopped trying to run it right at the opposing team. Yes, the defense wasn't going to give them that, but you have to go in and take it. You have to be the physical team that got you to this point. You can't fool anyone by trying to be what you aren't...because you aren't!

Then there's the fact that everyone knows our receivers suck as a group. I've pretty much lost hope for Matt Jones, and Reggie Williams caught all of zero balls last night (but at least he tries). So much for those #1 draft picks. Oh and we're only 20 freakin' million dollars under the salary cap (so I know it's pretty tight), which might explain why, when the Dolphins dangle Chris Chambers in the face of the Jaguars front office, they declined the trade for a second round pick in next year's draft, an offer the San Diego Chargers leaped on. Tell me again how you're doing everything you can to put the best product on the field. That, and you won't what in my mouth? Yeah, color me just a tad frustrated.

So where does that leave my team? Like the Tuna once said, the game tells you where you are. Like I said yesterday, it leaves us one of many chasing a wild card spot. It leaves us well under the radar, and deservedly so. No, the season isn't a wash. No, we're not ready for a fork. We do have a tough road to hoe, and depending on how bad the injuries are, it might get ugly. We go to Tampa and New Orleans next, which are very winnable games if we're not too banged up, but after that it gets tougher. If we are living with Quinn Gray behind center for any length of time, we are ready for a fork. Shove it in. We're done. Time will tell.

It could be a whole lot worse, I suppose. We could be the Dolphins.


Monday, October 22, 2007

in that "you gotta get back to work" mode

I'm in that grey area...not feeling quite up to the world, but been out of the office for too damn long and need to get stuff done, so we're grinning and bearing it. Probably about 80% of my normal lumberyard self, but improving over time.

I was supposed to go to the Monday Night Football game...Jaguars vs. Colts, but I gave the ticket away for a donation to the MS Bike ride. I need to stay home and some of it on TV, so I sent out an e-mail at work, offering the ticket up for a donation. Already got a taker. Someone will donate $50 to the MS Society, and the company will match the bottom line is the MS Society will get $100 for my $50 ticket. Not too shabby.

Spent the majority of Thursday, Friday, and the weekend on the couch or in bed. The wife is more than ready for me to be productive again, and frankly, so am I. I'm still not hitting the gym anytime soon, so I'm feeling like a slug, but a slug that doesn't need to feel worse again. Once I'm back to 100%, I'll start working out again.

Tonight's game, even without a lumberyard presence, is huge for the Jaguars. If they can pull out a win, it means a tie for the lead in the AFC South division with the Colts, and the de facto lead because of the head to head tiebreaker. If they lose, they are once again playing catch-up to the Colts, an all to familiar position. It also makes them one of any number of teams chasing a wild card berth into the playoffs, because winning the division, while not impossible, is highly improbable. It immediately takes them out of the national spotlight as a team to watch...just another pretender in a field full of them. Oh, but if they win....

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

coming down with the fuckits

It's been a while since I felt like crap. I thought maybe it was because I was being more of a healthy person, exercising and all that. Well, so much for that.

Started feeling like crap Tuesday. Yesterday I took the day off and felt a bit better. The youngster had the day off school, so we did his orthodontist appointment and went for a short bike ride, and then I napped...for a damn long time. Went to bed early and woke up this morning with a very sore throat and that attitude....the one where you really don't give a damn about just want to sleep. It's a symptom more than a disease, I guess, but I've always called it a case of the 'fuckits'. I got 'em bad about now.

Catch y'all when they go away.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

when you turn your car on...

Some commercial slogans just catch on and resonate, and they end up on t-shirts and shit. Some don't. I'm not sure why.

I was watching TV a few weeks ago, and there was this Cadillac commercial, and it used the line, "When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?" At the time, I thought, that's pretty clever. Nice job, whoever thought that one up. I saw it a few more times and thought the same. A few days ago, I heard it on the radio...from some announcer that put no feeling into it whatsoever...just read it off some card, and it lost everything. All of a sudden, it just sounded cheap and used and....time to retire. Maybe that's what did it, and is the reason (epiphany comes while I type) I feel this way. Maybe it was that one announcer that sucked the staying power right out of it. Maybe that kind of slogan has to come with a little bit of acting like you mean it. Now, whenever I see/hear it, it's like "enough already" and it's a fairly new and clever ad campaign. The magic and longevity of "Where's the Beef?" is nowhere ot be found. All that money and cleverness invested, and at least for me, it's time to move on.


Monday, October 15, 2007

the weekend in review

Dang...nobody willing to weigh in on the Super Chicken vs. Pokemon issue. Either you're afraid I'll shred you for picking the Pokemon thing, or it's really that much less significant that the Ginger vs. Mary Ann debate. My gut tells me it's the latter.

Took the youngster and a neighbor cycling Saturday morning. The weather was perfect, and we did a fairly slow 25 miles. By the end, the youngster was still good to go. The neighbor was beat, and that's OK. He's not in great shape yet, but we're just starting, and I was amazed we went that far. I was expecting someone to tell me to turn around and head home after 8 or 10 miles, but they just kept pedaling. When we got to 12, I turned us around. I don't want to wear anyone out and discourage them. I may get more recruits before next year's ride. I'd like to get a whole neighborhood contingent, but I'm not getting my hopes up. Whatever happens, happens.

Went to the Jaguar game yesterday, which means I have little left in the way of voice. The boys scared me for the first quarter, but came around and played a great rest of the game. The whole town needed to see the Jaguars stomp on the Houston Texans one time, and it happened. That should take care of worrying about TV blackouts for a long time to come. I know. In some towns that's never a concern, and good for you guys. Here though, it seems like a weekly issue. Next week the Colts come to town for Monday night. That one's sold out, but there are lots of tickets left for the rest of the season.

Baseball - don't you just gotta love the Rockies? I'm no Rockies fan, but what those guys are doing in the post season is improbable and wonderful. Could we be headed for the first snow out in World Series history? (Wait, I seem to remember something like that in Cleveland....tho I could be wrong.) Still, that could be fun.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

a lumberyard survey - you knew the job was dangerous when you took it

Let me start by saying, I know it isn't the great Ginger or Mary Ann debate, but it's close. Well, maybe not.

The youngster and I had this discussion last night. It arose from watching Earl, 30 Rock and the Office. In some segments, there were spots of Jerry Seinfeld, talking about cartoons, and what makes a good one. He mentioned (and sang a bit of) the theme song from Super Chicken. The youngster asked me what a Super Chicken was, and I told him. Even found a bit of classic Super Chicken on You Tube. From the choices, I'm sure you'll figure out who argued which side, but I'll throw it out for the Lumberyard Nation...

Super Chicken and Fred or Ash and Picachu?

I mean, come on. 40 years later and you can't even argue that the quality of the animation is better in Pokemon cartoons, let alone the quality of the story, or dialogue. Can you? Pass the Super Sauce, please.


the last of the MS Ride pictures (I think)

The first one is on the road, on the way to Daytona. It was into the wind, but we had no rain yet, and I'm feeling really good about it all. It feels like I've trained enough, and I'm pulling a group, and all's right with the world. I'm looking and feeling like one of those real cycling people. I think I'm the only person who can still see the word 'rookie' stamped on my forehead.

This is from the finish line in Daytona after 100 miles in wind and rain. If you look real close (you probably have to click on the picture to see this amount of detail), you can see the helmet is wet, and the socks are soaked and filthy. I don't look all that tired, but I am. I'm anxious to get to our team tent and show off the patch that says I did the 100 mile ride, instead of the standard 80. I had talked about maybe doing it at the team dinner Friday night, and nobody thought I would, especially in that weather. They asked if I was serious and I said, "I don't know. I've never done this before, but if I get to that fork in the road, and I feel pretty good, I'll go for it. Anyone think they might go with me?" I had one "maybe", but that was it. I knew the others doubted my resolve, and I knew none of them did it. My one "maybe" finished the 80 miles after I finished 100, so I was all full of "na na na na na". Lots of other people did the century ride - just nobody else from my team. Some guy wiped out in front of me while high five-ing somebody on the sidewalk just before this was taken. Word to the wise. High fives are cool, but make sure you still ride the bike.

This one is making the turn onto the runway at the Saint Augustine Airport, where they hand you your medal, and people are clapping, and the reality of the feat you just accomplished hasn't quite sunk in yet. Your calves, thighs and yes, your ass aches. This is what I look like after two days and 181.67 miles on a bike The one thing I want to do more than any other, is to get off that bike, but I'll ride it back to the car because I really don't want to walk it through the parking lot either. It's dark's about to rain, again. Yes, I wore different clothes on Sunday, unlike some. I, too, thought our team jersey was very cool, but not cool enough to spend Saturday evening in the hotel room sink with a bottle of Woolite, just so I could wear it two days in a row.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm not complaining, but sometimes I wonder...

The youngster is a runner. He always has been. When he played little league, his coach used to make the kids run if they made mistakes. That lasted one practice with the youngster. He started making mistakes on purpose, just to run. Everyone else still ran for screwing up. His punishment was changed to push ups.

When he got to high school this year, I was wary about letting him play sports. His academic record up to this point hasn't been stellar, and I wanted him to get on decent footing academically before he started worrying about extra-curricular stuff. Sports are important. Grades are important-er.

So he started his Freshman year in August, and I crossed my fingers. Truth is, he's done great. Somewhere this summer, he had responsibility and initiative injections when I wasn't looking. He's a conscientious student all of a sudden, and I'm very far. (Never let your guard down.)

So a buddy of his runs cross country. The youngster is a natural for that. He's little and fast, and can run all day long, and loves it. His buddy said they could still use some guys and asked the youngster if he wanted to run with them. Long story shorter, he's now on the team. He runs for about an hour or two after school every day. It's a good thing. He can use the exercise, and he's participating in school sports, and all's cool. He's going to get a uniform, and a green polo shirt that he can wear on Fridays that lets him stand out a little...good for the self esteem.

The only thing that bugs me is...they have a meet today, and the youngster isn't running. He says he's the fourth fastest kid on the team (or rather, usually comes in fourth when they run in practice), but he's not going. He's not going because he doesn't have a uniform yet. Because he didn't start until October, he'll be lucky to get a uniform before their last regular meet of the year, but it should be here in time for "districts". That's November 1st, and it's the last thing they do.

So, I'm not complaining. The youngster really could use the exercise and the outlet for some energy. The practices are good for him. It's just...why do you go through all that trouble, and you can't even use the kid until the last event of the season? Can't we get a uniform before the end of the month? He doesn't seem to mind, so I'm not saying anything. I don't really want to stir the pot, just because I think the system's a bit flawed. He's looking forward to getting his green polo shirt, and running at "districts". I guess I'm just being a dad, and wanting it all for my kid. I would like to see him get to participate sooner. If he's going to go running every day, there ought to be more of a payoff. Maybe I'm just looking at it wrong. For him, the running every day is probably enough of a payoff, and if he's satisfied, I need to be too.

He just started practicing a week and a half ago. Maybe by districts, he won't be fourth fastest, and shock the hell out of everybody, including me. Who knows. Then again, that's just me, doing it again. He'd be satisfied just to run, and I'll be satisfied if he does, too.

ps. He got his uniform today, and if he would have brought the rest of his running stuff to school, he could have run in the meet. At least he's good to go from now on.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

what's happening to me?

"And you know that you're over the hill
When your mind makes a promise that your body can't fill"
- Little Feat - Old Folks Boogie

The wife and I went shopping last night. She wanted a new lunchbox for work, and I agreed to go along, so we went to the outlet mall. The store she wanted to go to was no longer there, so we walked around looking for any place that might sell small lunchbox-type stuff. I got to a cookie store...with huge delicious looking cookies. Back in the day, I could devour a dozen without blinking...and not gain a pound. Lately, in my couch potato phase, I've tried to back off because one bite of a cookie could send me promptly to obesity. Last night though, I looked at them, and thought...I'm exercising a lot. Why not. They were 'buy 3, get the fourth free', so I got 2 that I liked and two the youngster would like. The wife declined. She was on her way to some gourmet cooking store, still hoping to find a lunchbox, even if the gourmet place could never produce one with the Archies on the side.

I left with 4 cookies. She actually found a lunchbox at the gourmet cooking store. It's red and made of neoprene, and is supposed to have great insulative qualities. I took to calling it the 'red wetsuit apparatus.'

In any case, we got home and the youngster and I tore into the cookies. I....could barely finish one. It was delicious, and I savored every bite, but I looked at the second one and thought...I just can't eat this. Maybe tomorrow. Damn! I get myself in somewhat decent shape and allow myself white chocolate and macadamia nut decadence, and I can't even finish it. What's wrong with me?

Over the hill? I think not.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

more MS Bike Ride pics

The first picture is from the start at the Airport in Saint Augustine on Saturday morning before the ride, everybody anxious to get going. I'm anxious to see if all that training was enough, and I'll actually make it to Daytona, and for the sun to come up.

The second picture is from the road. That was southbound on A1A on Saturday. On the other side of those bushes on the right side of the road is the beach, and the Atlantic Ocean. It was about 55 miles into the ride and we were fighting a bit of wind out of the east....OK, a lot of wind out of the east.


the Bronx is burning...again

Ah, it's fall, and the Yankees are no longer part of the playoff picture. All's right with the world.

I hate the New York Yankees. I don't hate them for the money grabbing players. If someone throws cash at you, you're stupid not to catch it. I don't hate them for the obnoxious Yankee fans. I live in Florida, surrounded by some of the most obnoxious fans alive...Florida Gator fans. Even surrounded by those idiots, I manage to pull for the Gators when they play Tennessee, or LSU, or Eastern North Jacksonville Country Day School. Still, I'm a Yankee hater. I don't hate them because they win, because frankly, they don't (as evidenced It's George Steinbrenner that makes me hate the Yankees. It's the fat kid in a candy store with a fatter checkbook mentality that irks me. I want a gum ball, and a jawbreaker and a chocolate bar and a lollipop and a lemon drop and that taffy, and the licorice and, hell, wrap up the whole store and give it to me cuz I want it all and I can buy it. Ya just want to smack him upside his head and tell him to stop it. I hate that 'buy a team' mentality. It's one of the things I think is very wrong with baseball. Conversely, I love it when that spoiled asswipe of a man fails.

I am also the bane of Yankee Fan's existence, because their retort is always, "You're just jealous, because he doesn't own the (insert your favorite team here)." The problem with that argument is that I don't have a favorite team. I pull for different teams in different situations. Come the post season, I pick who I'd like to see go all the way based on any number of factors, and I root for them. That team is never the Yankees. I don't love a team. I love the sport. George Steinbrenner is a cancer in the sport of baseball.

Now he's probably going to fire Joe Torre, the current Yankee manager, because they didn't get far enough in the post season. I say it, George. Cut off your nose to spite your face. You don't deserve Joe Torre. That man has been nothing but class in what, without him, would be a class vacuum. Take one of the few redeeming qualities of your ball club and dump it. Go ahead. Shove him out the door. Let him go somewhere he'll be appreciated. Too bad Billy Martin isn't around anymore or maybe you could bring him in to kick around one more time. What an ultra-maroon.


Monday, October 08, 2007

I hope this means we're drying out

The weekend was a wash...literally.

I got up Saturday morning, hoping to take the youngster on his first real bike ride (ie. something over 15 miles) on his new bike, but the rain was coming down in buckets. By 11:00 it stopped, so we went on a shorter ride, venturing not very far from the house because of the threat of rain. We got in 13 miles though. It's hard to remember (but I have to) that when I started in March, I wasn't jumping on the bike and doing 30 miles right out of the gate. I started slow, and the youngster will have to as well. He's in pretty good shape already, so we don't have to start too slow. With some luck though, we'll be taking on a few more recruits, and with them, we will start with 15 mile trips and move up from there.

It rained on and off all weekend. Sunday morning I thought it might be done, but as soon as I tried to cut the grass, it started again. The ground was so wet I was squishing as I walked through it. You could see my mud footprints behind me. Grass doesn't cut very well when it's that soaked, but the field that was my yard had to be harvested. Finally got that done after the absolutely awesome Jaguars game. OK, it was Kansas City, who isn't very good, but it was in their stadium, which is a tough place to play, and the Chiefs scored their only points on the last play of the game. The Jaguars, if they can keep playing like that, will be a playoff team this year. Yeah, I'm getting my hopes up again, and looking at the world through teal glasses.

This morning I took the dog out, and I could see stars, and Venus in the eastern sky. maybe, just maybe, we'll have a few dry days.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

it really can stop raining any time now...

...or we won't be bike riding this weekend. Yes, I can ride in the rain. I proved that last weekend. I don't have to though, and I can prove that this weekend.


the king is dead, long live the king

OK, so we finished the MS Bike Ride, peadaling 181 miles in nasty weather. What do we do now? Do we go to Disneyworld? NO!

We start training for next year's MS Bike Ride. I left work early yesterday to go to the bike shop before it closed because 1) my bike was ready and 2) the youngster's new bike was in and he needed to be fitted for it. I got there about when the wife and youngster did. He went in and they adjusted the seat and handlebars for him. He rode it around the parking lot and we were done. I put mine and his in the back of the rolling video game, took them home and we went out to eat, since the wife had no food preperation time.

It was sprinkling (it's rained for a week here), but as soon as we got home, he wanted to ride. He stood outside until it stopped raining, came in and announced the fact and begged to go out and get used to the bike. So we did. He and I rode around the neighborhood. We did part of the golf course on the cart path first. Then he wanted to get out on the road...out of the neighborhood, but I vetoed that. It was getting dark. We could get in a lap around the neighborhood, but that was about it. He really did need to get used to the bike, and how you sit on a road bike. He spent a bit of time going through the gears, and getting used to the brakes, dropping his hands in the bottom of the handlebars and shifting/braking from there. Then when he had it pretty much figured out, he kicked it up to 24 miles an hour and left me in the dust...or what dust there would have been if the roads weren't wet. I caught him, but it took a minute, and he had this huge grin on his face.

"I really like this."

"Yeah, I thought you might."

I think we're getting very close to the time where the youngster starts doing some things better than his dad, and this is first of those things. I can see it coming.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

on the road in the MS Bike Ride

Yeah, it was only 30 miles into the ride. It was into the wind, but it hadn't started raining yet, so I was still a happy camper. I wasn't smiling so much 70 miles later.

A friend figured out how to get around the watermark on the proofs and get me this small version of the picture. I don't feel bad about swiping it, because I will purchase the .jpg file of this, and one other picture the guy took.

I will whine a little though about his pricing. He wants $23 for a link to download this .jpg file. They took a team photo. He wants $70 to provide a link to download that. OK, a 5x7 print is cheaper, and I don't want to sound overly cheap, but damn. I know he gives his profits to the MS Society, and while that's commendable, am I the only one who thinks that's just a tad excessive? I mean, you have these people who have been training all summer, committed a weekend to do this ride, more than likely contributed a fair amount of their own money to the cause already, and probably were involved in a few other fund raising initiatives that support the cause. So the thought becomes, take these people for $70 to get a team picture in a digital format? Thank you very much.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

the fine art of sagging - NOT! (tales from the ride, part 2)

I opened my eyes Saturday morning to the wake-up call phone ringing at 5:30. I knew there was a pancake breakfast starting at 6:00, but I really wasn't all that interested. I just wanted to findmy bike and get organized and make sure I was ready to go at 7:00. Eating a huge breakfast wasn't on my agenda. All I could think of was the resulting stop at a porta-potty several miles down the road and thought, "No thanks." I had a banana from a snack table.

That's one thing about this ride. There was no shortage of food. They had food at every rest stop. It was mostly fruit - apple slices, orange slices, banana halves, PB&J sandwiches and then stuff I guess cyclists usually consume. I heard one guy actually say, "That's the problem with this MS 150 thing. I come home and weigh more than I did when I started." At one rest stop this little kid was walking around offering everyone "gels." In my ignorance, I asked someone I was riding with, "What's a gel?" He looked at me a little incredulous and said, "If you don't have any, get some." OK, but that didn't answer the question. Then I got more of an answer from someone else. It's a sugary goo substance that's supposed to give you more energy. I asked how you consume it and they said just open the packet and squirt it in your mouth. Well, I'm up for almost anything, so I did....and that shit is gross. It's very sweet. I couldn't finish it. I threw the packet away. I'll make do on the energy I already have if that's the alternative. Back to Sunday morning though.

I got downstairs, got my bike and went outside. There were remnants of the day before. They had tents in the parking lot from different companies, including ours. The day before they had food and drinks for the folks finishing the first day ride. Sunday morning they were shells, flapping in the wind. There were small piles of folding tables all over, and collapsed piles of folding chairs, blown by the same nasty wind. People were loading their luggage on trucks that took it back to the St. Augustine airport, and under one tent, people were offering cold water to refill water bottles, all in the dark. There was a lot of talk about the wind, which had picked up from Saturday. I heard one guy say half his team said "the hell with it," rented a car and drove back to Saint Augustine. It was raining on and off, so I sought shelter under one of the tent shells with a few other folks until the ride started.

Before I go any farther, I should explain the SAG vehicle, because it plays a big part in Sunday. This ride is very well supported. All along the route there are motorcycles that ride with you, looking for riders in trouble. There are vans from various bike shops to help if you have a flat, or some other mechanical difficulty, and there are SAG vehicles. SAG stands for "support and gear" but the volunteers driving the vehicles basically look for riders who aren't making it, and give them a ride to the next rest stop. They are primarily vans and larger SUVs. The term is even used as a verb, as in, "We decided A1A was too hard, and sagged to the next rest stop."

Before we even started, people were talking about sagging, and how if it gets too nasty, we can all sag to the finish line. There was just a lot of nervous, anxious talk about the ride home, because everyone there knew it wasn't going to be about enjoying it. It was going to be about surviving it. The second day started promptly at 7:00. Some folks were anxious and wanted to leave earlier. I heard a volunteer with a bullhorn saying several times, "Don't leave before 7:00 if you want any support. The police blocking traffic, the volunteers at the rest stops, the motorcycles and support vehicles are all working off a 7:00 time table."

There's nothing that says you have to start at 7:00. Many slept in a little and started later, maybe hoping the rain would let up. At 7:00 though, the great mass of bicycles slowly moved out of the parking lot in the twilight, onto the route. You don't move too fast at this stage. You're surrounded by bikes and it's everything you can do just to get a little comfortable space. I settled in behind one huge mass of riders, letting them break the wind as we went north, and stayed behind them to the first rest stop as the sun came up. They stopped there, and I kept going. I didn't feel the need to rest, and I kind-of wanted to get away from large groups.

Again Sunday there was rain, but not the stuff coming in sheets like Saturday. There was an occasional light rain, but I could deal with that. The one thing I noticed was I could hear the chain in the sprockets of my bike - some gears more than others. Cycling is usually a very silent thing, but on Sunday, that, and the noise of my thighs sliding up and down against the number affixed to the bar from the seat to the handlebars, kept making me wonder if something was wrong with the bike...until I figured out what it was. By the way, I was number 444 for the ride. The chain noise though, made me think the bike needs a major tune up when I get it home, which is where it is now.

There's a bridge on the Sunday route north, over the intracoastal waterway, going east into Flagler Beach. One with grating on the crest. Saturday we crossed it going west. Sunday, it was dead into the wind. Getting to the top was incredibly hard. At the top, again there were volunteers advising everyone to walk the grate, and we did. Going back down the bridge on the other side, it's fairly steep. On a windless day, you can hit 30 miles an hour easy. Sunday morning, I went down without pedaling for a while. I got up to about 12 miles an hour for a second, and then started to slow back down before I started pedaling again. The wind was pushing me back that hard.

Again, going north, the wind was very strong, but more out of the east than north. I've never been so grateful for beachfront property, and the bigger the better. When you could see the ocean, the wind was incredible, and you were pelted with a mixture of light rain, sand, and salt water. When there were condos between you and the ocean, it was a momentary respite. Like I said yesterday, I saw none of the bad accidents, but I did see their results. Several times, especially along A1A, there were ambulances along the side of the road, attending to someone in a bike accident.

It was at the rest stop on the north end of the A1A leg that I met up with a few other members of my work they exited a SAG vehicle. One was one of the co-captains. Her husband was another. They were among those who opted against the leg up the beach, and caught a ride. I did not chastise, but at the same time, I vowed I will never do this ride and sag anywhere, unless for whatever reason, I don't have a choice. I'm not making any judgement of those who do sag. I just know I won't, unless I have to. I rode with them on the downwind leg to Hastings, and we flew. I don't think we ever saw speeds less than 19 miles an hour, and that's including the fact that my legs were feeling the effects of two days of constant bike riding. I was sore, and getting more so with every mile, but at that point it didn't matter. We were flying. We pulled into the rest stop at a ranch, just east of Hastings, and heard two things. One was that the last rest stop on the way home was closed. That made sense, even if we didn't like it. It was at a church, and after all, it was Sunday. They may need their parking lot. The second was that our other co-captain, her husband and another team member were in a SAG vehicle, trying to go to that closed rest stop, so they were probably riding the rest of the way home.

We left the ranch and made the turn northeast toward Saint Augustine....and the rest of the trip home was defined.

The wind was incredible. It made me hearken back to the practice ride, where some people wanted to do a 40 mile loop instead of the 54 mile loop, because the wind was so bad. Sunday made that practice ride look like a cakewalk. The wind was worse, and my thighs, calves and butt ached. I struggled to see the speedometer hit 15 miles an hour. Most of the time it was around 12 or 13, and it got down to 9 on more than one occasion. Everyone you met up with, either slowly passing them or having them slowly pass you,made light of the wind, because it was all you could do. You dealt with it and tried to laugh a little, and just wanted it all to be done.

I got to the church that was supposed to be the last rest stop and, lo and behold, it was a rest stop. There was food, and water, and a guy from a bike shop who sprayed my back sprocket with some spray lube stuff, which quieted down the chain. There was also my other co-captain and her husband, and the other team member, who sagged that far. I rode from that rest stop most of the way back to Saint Augustine with them. At the airport, it was much the same atmosphere as in Daytona. Small children were in the road disbursing medals for completing the ride (the one in the picture below) and people lining the street, some in wheelchairs, all applauding. Again, the reality of what you did, and everyone you did it for, hits home.

Now, when I look back, and think of where it started back in March, and all the weeknights in the gym, and the early Saturday mornings, the sense of accomplishment is overwhelming, and the fact that what I did is part of something that helps so many people...I don't know how I could not do it again. This may have become an annual part of my life now. I think I've done a fair job of describing the actual ride, but there's no way I can do justice to what you feel when you finish it in that atmosphere. I don't have the words to convey what that's like.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

the rain, the park and other things (tales from the ride, part 1)

I'm posting a link to the route we rode, so if you want to follow along cartographically, you can. It basically goes from Saint Augustine southwest to the small town of Hastings, then east to Crescent Beach and south to Daytona...and then does the reverse for the way home.

The trip down wasn't too bad. The wind was always a heavy factor out of the east, so the trip from Hastings to Crescent Beach was hard, but not as bad as I expected. Maybe it was because our legs were still fairly fresh. Maybe it was early enough that the wind hadn't built up much steam yet. I don't know. I just know I got to Crescent Beach, and on to the lunch rest stop at a park on A1A, and thought...half way there and feeling great. Going down A1A along the beach was difficult. The wind was more of a hazard to just riding in general and not so much an "in your face" thing. You could see riders ahead of you, all leaning toward the beach. I didn't see any, but I heard tales on both days of horrific wrecks and injuries, almost always involving riders in large groups and the wind,resulting in collisions involving multiple riders. I rode sometimes by myself and sometimes in groups, but rarely in a group of more than 5. The route down makes three trips over bridges over the intracoastal waterway, two of which have metal grating at the crest. This was a little unnerving the first time, but I just got used to just trying to not change direction or speed. Just keep moving.

In Ormond Beach, you make the decision. A left turn takes you down a road through neighborhoods that parallel A1A, and eventually gets you to the hotel which is the first day finish line. A right turn takes you over a huge bridge over the intracoastal waterway, and then another right takes you north through Tamoka State Park. This is where the rain really started. I, as you know if you read the last post, took the right. As I pedaled up the bridge, the rain came down harder, and harder. At the crest of the bridge I was soaked. As I went down the other side of the bridge, I wasn't pedaling. I was holding my back brake and pumping the front, trying to slow down to make the turn north at the base of the bridge. The brakes were wet, but they worked enough to make the corner. Going north, the rain was so bad I could barely see. All of a sudden I felt my feet, as if I had stepped in a puddle and stood there. I looked down and I was pedaling through standing water. If there would have been a pothole, I'd have been thrown. Luck was with me though, if you can call pedaling away from your destination in a driving rainstorm luck.

Eventually the rain stopped, and I could actually enjoy the ride through the park. It was beautiful, with overhanging trees along the road, dripping residual rain on me as I pedaled through. Those bike clothes dry fairly quickly, but my shoes and socks were a different story. Going north, there's a rest stop. That's where you get the patch if you do the century ride. I stopped, got my patch, and looked back to see riders turning onto the road, heading south. I asked the lady handing out the patches, "Which way does the route go from here? I thought we keep going north." She looked at me and shook her head, and explained. The route does indeed go north. Some people pedal this far to get the patch and then go back south, because it's shorter. If you want to go 100 miles though, you continue north.

How bogus is that? If you're going to do the century ride, the patch is nothing more than a memento for the achievement. Without the achievement, it doesn't mean much. Yeah, I suppose you can show it to your friends and brag about what you didn't do, but deep inside, you know it's all hollow.

Anyway, I continued north and picked up the original route, and the last bridge, with grating, over the intracoastal, back to the beach side. This time, there were volunteers on the bridge, warning riders that the grating was slick and there had been several accidents, and they advised you to walk over the grating. It wasn't easy in bike shoes, but I took their advice..and I'm still in one piece. The rest of the trip to Daytona had some rain, but was fairly uneventful. I passed a lot of people here, because most of the folks I saw didn't do the century ride. They were just slower riders, finishing the normal 80 mile trip. This time when I saw the turn to go back and do the century loop, I took the left, toward the finish line. I really just wanted to be done. I got into Daytona, and there were a few volunteers along the way who yelled out, "Almost there! Only four more miles!" I looked at the odometer and it read 98 miles and I thought, "Four more miles my ass. This thing says I only have two." Regardless of the odometer though, the hotel was still four miles away.

Pedaling into the hotel parking lot at the finish line was so emotional, on a few levels. People are along the street, holding their hands out to give you a high five as you ride by, and the fact that you just rode a bike 100 miles hasn't even sunk in yet. Many people with MS are there, thanking you for riding. My friend Rob was there, in his wheelchair. His wife caught up with me as I finished, and gave me a big hug, thanking me for riding. The wife and youngster were there, and the youngster looked at me and said, "I know you're all sweaty and stuff, but I don't care." and gave me a huge hug. The fact that I rode that far hit me after a shower, in the hotel room as I sat watching college football with the youngster, and I looked at him and said, "I actually rode a bike a hundred miles today." He smiled at me, and said, "I know." and gave me another huge hug.

Tomorrow, the trip home...


Monday, October 01, 2007

I did it!

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

-Theodore Roosevelt

There have been very few times in my life where I felt more like the man in the arena. If any of you looked at the weather between Saint Augustine and Daytona this past weekend, you know it was ugly. There was a monster wind out of the northeast (but more east than northeast...thank God for small favors) and sheets of rain. There was an option to ride 100 miles the first day, and I took it (hence the century patch). About two minutes after that decisive fork in the road, the bottom fell out of the sky. I couldn't have been more drenched, but I finished it. Sunday, I took the normal route home. There wasn't a 100 mile option on Sunday, and that's a good thing, or I may have stupidly tried it again. Sunday, the wind picked up even more, but the rain died a bit. I hit some, but nothing coming down in sheets like Saturday. The last leg of the ride went from the small town of Hastings into Saint Augustine...and it's all heading northeast...right into the wind. I was seeing speeds of anywhere from 9 to 15 miles an hour...and not getting passed by many other riders. It was brutal.

I started the odometer before leaving Saturday morning and when I finished Sunday afternoon, it read 181.67 miles. Today, I'm just sore. The wife looked at me last night and asked, "All that training and you're still sore?" Well yeah. All that training helped me finish the ride. It didn't stop it from hurting. If I knew what the two days were going to be like, and how I'd feel when it was done, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. It truly is one of the most rewarding weekends I have ever spent, on a whole lot of levels. Again, thank all of you that were part of it with me.