Tuesday, September 30, 2008

old navy

On Sunday I got an e-mail from an old Navy buddy I keep in touch with, but hadn't seen for over 15 years, and the only reason I know it's been that long is because the youngster was a non-entity then. He flies for a company that sells flying time to different corporations or people with huge amounts of money, like a rent-a-corporate jet.

The e-mail said he was flying into St. Augustine (same airport the bike ride begins and ends at) around midnight and, if there were no schedule changes, would be here around lunch time.

We did manage to meet for lunch, and it was so good to see him again. We've both gotten a bit older, but I've definitely changed/aged more. He still has all his hair, and looks like he can still fit into jeans with a 28" waist. He runs quite a bit. I'm not exactly a slouch, but he's definitely got me beat in the fitness department. It was great to catch up though. The last time I saw him he had one son. That son's in college now, and he has two more. We talked about things we've done since the last time we saw each other...old friends we still keep up with.

The military does that, to some extent. It puts you with people you share some trying times with, and you depend on each other, and it builds lifelong bonds, and I'm grateful for that. It wasn't until I started this paragraph that I remembered, in 1983 the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon was bombed as we were coming into port in Israel, and we had to fly up to Beirut to help bring in doctors, medical and fire fighting supplies. You could see the tracer bullets flying, and it was pretty damn scary. The guy in the seat next to me when we flew up there....was the same guy I had lunch with yesterday.


Monday, September 29, 2008


I haven't said a whole lot about my Jaguars yet this season, because I haven't been sure of what to say.

Going into the season, they were onhe of the trendy picks to make it to the Super Bowl, but that all but disappeared after the first game, when they got tore apart by the Tennessee Titans and lost most of the starting offensive line.

Well, now it's four weeks into the season, and the record is getting better, but that's just what's on the surface. The offense is getting better, and healed as well, but the big problem is the defense. Ever since Jack Del Rio became the coach, defense has been the team's bread and butter. It's what the Jaguars have been known for.

Then in the off season, we let Marcus Stroud go to the Buffalo Bills, saying we were taking our defense in a different direction. Was it intentional that the new direction be backwards? Then the defensive coordinator left to be the new head coach in Atlanta, but we supposedly scored this major coup by getting the Redskins' defensive coordinator when he wasn't promoted to the head coach there. So far, I haven't been too impressed.

This year, the initial focus was the offense, because the line got creamed the first game. Everyone was wondering when the offense would get better and we might start winning. It the meantime, the defense lost it's teeth somewhere. I hope someone's out looking for the jar where they keep them. Those guys can't stop anything. You can kind-of shrug when you can't stop Peyton Manning. Not a lot of people can. Matt Shaub and the Texans though? Please! They made Shaub look like Tom Brady yesterday, and didn't sack him once. The quarterback pressure wasn't non-existent, but it wasn't anything to take notice of. The coverage on receivers was worse.

Yes, we won, so I shouldn't whine too loud, but it took overtime...to beat the Texans....at home. The Steelers come to town this Sunday, and they're a tad better than Houston. I hope we figure out what the hell happened to a defense that used to stop people. For the time being, it's looking more like a turnstile.


Friday, September 26, 2008

the credit crunch - looking at it from the bottom

One thing I still don't understand, and I realize I'm looking at this from the little guy's perspective, and not having the big picture, or a frame to keep it in if I did.

I keep hearing about the credit crunch, and how nobody's lending anyone money, and banks need to be bailed out, and all that. Dubya talked about it on TV. Both Presidential candidates are making a huge deal out of it.

If that's the case, why is my mailbox still swimming in junk mail from banks (including WaMu yesterday, and they just went nipples up) trying to give me a credit card? Why do I still turn on the TV and hear people on car and furniture commercials screaming "GOOD CREDIT, BAD CREDIT, NO CREDIT, WE DON'T CARE!" ?

Granted, I haven't actually tried to get credit lately, but it sure seems like people are still trying to give it away.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

day two of the MS ride

Day two actually began the evening of day one, when the youngster was using the hotel blow drier on his shoes and shorts. For whatever reason, he didn't pack a second pair of bike shorts. The blow drier gave up on him after a while, and had to cool off before giving it a second try. He never did get everything completely dried out, but it was better than soaked. I put the rest of the Saturday clothes in a bag so the wife could just bring them home and throw them in the wash. They were very wet and plain ol' nasty, with a 'racing stripe' up the back from riding in the rain.

We got up on Sunday morning and put on dry clothes, for the most part. My shoes and the youngster's shoes and shorts were still damp. So were the gloves. It was looking like the day was bringing more of the same weather as the day before. We were both a bit sore, so we took some Advil, before even leaving the room. We went down to breakfast and someone had an i-phone with the weather radar on the display. Things were looking bleak. There was only one blob of rain on the screen, but it covered most of the way home. We just shrugged, accepted it and headed out to the start line...where it wasn't raining yet.

We got underway, and the clouds were around, but didn't look threatening. Then the sun came out. The wind, still steady out of the northeast and in our faces, wasn't near as strong as the day before. Things were looking up. We got through the first few rest stops and kept truckin' steadily north. Going north on A1A, the youngster was leading. I asked if he wanted to trail and let me block the wind, but he declined, saying there really wasn't much wind anyway. On we went, at a steady 16-17 miles an hour. We started passing people. I didn't know it at the time, but as we did, they started falling in line behind us. I could see shadows that weren't ours at one point, very close behind, so I looked back, and yelled up to the youngster to try and keep it steady, speed-wise. He was now pulling a line of riders. He did a great job, staying in front for about 5 or 6 miles, into the next rest stop. Three guys from the line behind us stopped him and thanked him for pulling.

We then struck out on our own, and leaving one rest stop, the youngster got a flat tire. All the rest stops have bike shop support, so there were people there to fix the flat. All was good, and about 20 minutes later, we were back on the road. On the way to the last rest stop, the youngster started asking...how much farther?

Leaving the last rest stop the complaining started. "How much farther?" "I'm soooo tired." "I don't think I can finish." I kept offering words of encouragement, and he kept protesting, but he kept pedaling too, so we were still getting closer, and there was less than 10 miles left. Finally we were in Saint Augustine, pedaling through neighborhoods, and I think he knew there was light at the end of the tunnel. He stayed fairly quiet, and we turned onto the road leading to US 1 and the airport. Inside I was saying, only a few miles left. We got it made.

Then behind me I heard, "That's it! I'm done! I quit!" I turned around and asked what happened and he was getting off his bike. He had another flat tire. We had less than a mile to go and he was walking his bike and ready to stop. It was the same tire as before. One of the motorcycle support guys pulled up and asked if he could help. Between us, we got the tire taken care of. We felt around the inside of the tire to see if anything sharp was there, maybe from the first flat or whatever, but felt nothing. We got back on the bikes, and finished the ride. The wife and some neighbors were there at the airport, and the youngster was grinning from ear to ear as we pulled into the finish line. We received our medals from a woman in a wheelchair, with MS, and she thanked us for riding. We reset our odometers at the beginning of the ride. At the end, his read 171.50 miles and mine read 191.35, the difference being the extra stretch I did Saturday for the century ride.

On the way home, he told me, "Last year when I said I wanted to do this, you made it sound like it would be really hard. It was harder than I thought it could be." When we got home, we unloaded the car and took showers. It was then my skin let me know we didn't do sunscreen on the second day...because we were expecting rain. I got a bit burned, but the youngster, not so much, and I was thankful for that. Sunday evening we went out to eat, and he brought a pillow....to sit on. Sunday night I had to talk him out of sleeping with the medal he got. The little yellow wrist band, that identified him as a rider in the MS ride (everybody had to wear one) is still on his wrist. (He has a $10 bet with some girl at school who has one from a local amusement park on her wrist...to see who keeps their's on the wrist longer.) You couldn't pry that off with a crowbar. Just like you couldn't pry this "father and son" weekend memory away from me, for anything.

Now he's talking about...next year when we do this...and he stopped sitting on a pillow last night.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

what took so long?

Matt Millen is out in Detroit. Clay Aiken is out, telling the world he's gay. The only thing that's news about either of these is they should have happened years ago. What's next, Jon Stewart admits to having a slightly liberal viewpoint?


day one of the weekend - rode hard, put away wet

We got up at 4:45...or I did, and made the first of a few attempts to motivate the youngster, but he finally got there. I packed the last of my stuff, and got everything in the car. He finished with his bag. The wife got up and took 'before' pictures and we were off around 5:30, with a stop at McDonalds for the youngster's version of breakfast.

The St. Augustine airport (the starting line) is all of about a 15 minute drive from home. We were in front of it well before 6:00, but the traffic was incredible, and the lack of organization getting us parked just made it worse. We missed the team picture at 6:30. So did one of the team captains and about half of the rest of us. Would have been nice, but no biggie.

We set off at 7:00, and immediately had to restart at a railroad crossing, less than a mile down the road. Doesn't the railroad know we have a bike ride to do? From there it was pretty smooth sailing. The wind was out of the northeast, and we were basically headed south. The youngster was kickin' butt...first rest stop...skipping the second...third rest stop....we were cruisin', and having a blast.

Somewhere south of Crescent Beach, the drizzle started. I thought, "If it just stays this way, it'd be great, but looking toward the south, I know we really had no hope. It was going to rain. The only questions were how long and how hard. That's about where these pictures were taken, just south of Summer Haven along A1A.

It was pouring when we stopped for lunch. They had PB&J sandwiches and turkey wraps. The turkey wraps were wrapped in foil, which helped keep them dry. The PB&J got a bit soggy. Still, we ate, and by the time we finished, the rain subsided some. I had to wring out my gloves before putting them back on, but it didn't help all that much. Don'cha just love putting wet clothes back on? Something about that just doesn't feel right.

We set out again, and somewhere as we headed south, we discussed the extra 20 mile loop to make Saturday a century ride. The youngster was really doing well, but he decided he didn't want to go the extra 20. At that point, I wasn't going to push. The weather was nasty, and I really wanted him to be as fresh as possible Sunday, so I relented. He said he'd be fine finishing without me if I wanted to go for it, and I saw no reason why he wouldn't be, so we decided to split up when we got to that point.

Then the rain really started coming down. We pedaled through a neighborhood just north of Daytona (Ormond Beach, I think) and the roads were flooded. We were splashing through and keeping moving, but we were drenched.

It subsided when we got to the point where we split up, so he headed on to the hotel and I turned back north...right back into the rain.

Sunglasses are so useless in the rain, but when you're riding in it, it's not easy to get rid of them. I did a lot of looking over the top of them with my head down. That way I could see the line at the side of the road through them, and I could see a little of what was in front of me over them, but I was almost flying blind. I got to a rest stop and ditched the glasses, and made it the rest of the way through another stretch of downpour to the hotel, where the wife and youngster were waiting in the pouring rain. The wife took a picture of who she thought was me, but when we looked at it, it was someone else. To be honest, in that rain, I could probably have kept the picture and said it was me, and nobody would have noticed.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

we did it

Well, we survived and both finished the entire ride, even though the youngster had a flat tire with less than a mile to go on Sunday…and still sits on a pillow at dinner. More in the coming days…

Thursday, September 18, 2008

time to put up...and shut up

I'm taking some time off before and after the ride this weekend....so....see ya Wednesday-ish, if not before.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

am I the only one in the country who doesn't get the joke

When did lipstick on pit bulls become a trend? I realize I'm out of it, and all that, but...who knew?


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

a prime example

Lindsay Lohan gets headlines for trashing Sarah Palin on her facebook page.

Yeah folks, this is news...because Lindsay Lohan is just the mature moral compass whose opinion we need to look to when it comes to who should be running the country...for the few days she's between rehab attempts.

Thank you so much Hollywood.


DeSean Jackson - ultra maroon

OK, in the general scheme of things, it really didn't matter that much in last night's wild Dallas/Philly football game. After all, Philadelphia scored on the next play anyway, and Dallas still won regardless of that....BUT

Football isn't anywhere close to rocket science. Get the ball over the goal line....the key word being "OVER". Don't be worrying about the cute end zone dance you've got all choreographed and plan to execute in a few seconds. Get the freakin' ball over the line first. Have an ounce of focus. Do NOT flip the ball out of your hands a step before you get there...and then have the balls to hot dog in the back of the end zone like you actually did something.

I know, I know. If they were rocket scientists, they'd be workin' at the cape. He wasn't the first and I'm sure he won't be the last, and I'm also sure there are ways to look like a bigger idiot. I may have actually executed one of those in my lifetime. Then again, maybe not.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

doin' the math

I was looking at the route for this year's MS Ride. It's slightly longer than last year's, and I was hoping to use that fact to get the youngster to do the 100 mile first day with me. My logic was....well, last year the route was 80 miles, so to do the hundred, I only had to do another 20 miles. This year it's 84, so we only have to do another 16. It's not that much more, after already going 84.

The logic seemed pretty good, until I looked at the map, and realized the extra loop to do the hundred mile ride is exactly the same one we did last year. Just because the rest of the ride got a little longer, this part didn't get any shorter. Yeah, I could probably still make the argument with the youngster, and he might not notice the difference, but that would just be sooo wrong. I'll just keep my mouth shut and hope he'll do the extra 20 miles with me...assuming I'm up for it when we get there.


Friday, September 12, 2008

this is pretty good

Sometimes the comics are just great! It's hard to see here, but click on it and it gets bigger.

And they say I don't have a sense of humor about my politics...

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I guess when things get real, it cuts both ways

For me, the thing last night was exciting. Getting the jerseys and seeing people from last year, like I said yesterday, makes it all very real. I can't wait for next Saturday. I wish it was tomorrow. For the record, I like last year's jersey better than this year's, but this year's is cool. I'm sure there will be pictures afterwards so you can form your own opinion. That may be a psychological thing...just being partial to the stuff from my first year doing the MS ride.

For some people though, I guess making it that real was too much. I'm talking about people who registered to ride with us (I'm sure for the first time) and last night realized...omigosh, it's a week away and I'm not ready.

They do our team check in at a local restaurant/bar. Last year I just walked in, got my shit and walked out.

This year I hung out for about an hour...had a beer and an appetizer and talked to people. I don't know if this happened last year, because, like I said, I didn't stay long, but...several people came in just to apologize and say they weren't going to make it. They couldn't raise the money, or they haven't been training, or whatever.

I guess it's not a new phenomenon. People start with the best intentions and then don't follow through. New Years resolutions are chock full of this stuff, and honestly, this ride is no small undertaking. If you don't train and get yourself ready, it could be a scary thing.

For years I said I wanted to do this ride, but I'd never do anything to make that happen. I just didn't realize people would actually register and then not go prepare for what they said they wanted to do.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

when things get real

Today's the day things start getting tangibly real for the bike ride. It's check-in day....when I turn in my little envelope that has whatever cash I've collected, and sign the paper saying I'll definitely ride and raise a minimum of $200 (no biggie...already have over $2000), and they hand me the jersey I'll wear and the number to affix to it and my bike. I was number 444 last year. This year I'll be 32. I know that because a few days ago in the mail I received the tag to put on my overnight bag, which they transport to Daytona. It has your number on it, so they know which bag to hand you when you get there. I also have a copy of the route we'll take (longer than last year). Things you can touch are now coming into my possession, and making it all very real.

That's how it felt last year anyway, and I'm sure it'll be the same this evening. I mean, both years I signed up to do this thing in February, and I started training, but it all seemed so far away. Even through the spring and summer, as I trained, people would ask when it is, and the answer was always..."Oh, it's still x weeks or x months away." It was an abstract thing out there in the future.

When you go and see the people, and they hand you something tangible, like the clothes you're going to wear, all of a sudden it's...damn, I'm really doing this, and it's about a week away.

Note: I'm far less apprehensive about it this year. At least I have a far better idea of what I'm in for.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

just fitting the pieces together

The Patriots are in no rush to sign a quarterback. Vince Young is in no rush to play quarterback. They should talk. Sounds like a match made in heaven.


stepping into weird world

I went to the gym last night. When I walked in the door there were two people inside - a guy and a girl. I've never seen them there before. They were obviously friends, and they were messing with one of the treadmills. They were wearing tight fitting t-shirts and pants...the stuff you see in German music videos...not loose workout stuff. When I walked in the room, the guy walked up to me and in broken English with that sing-songy Swedish/Scandinavian accent he introduced the girl (I don't remember her name, but it was not a normal Susie or Jane name) and still in that sing-songy accent, asked how she could have the big biceps....only it came out..Howcan she haffthe big biceps? It felt like I was on Saturday Night Live, with Hans and Frans looking to pump me up, or in Trading Places with Jamie Lee Curtis on the train with her rucksack.

First of all, I don't have the big biceps, so I'm not exactly the expert. I go there for cardio work, for the most part. I'm trying to be healthy and live longer (and survive a major bike ride). I'm not looking to be Mr. Muscle Beach. I told them as much, and they left me alone after that. Second, I couldn't help but think they were messin' with me. I mean the accent was sooooo over the top. The thing is, the whole time they were there, I don't know what language they were speaking, but it wasn't English, and it wasn't German, because I can hang with a little Deutsch. If they were messing with me, they never broke character, and they stuck around for about 20 minutes after I got there.

The whole thing was just a bit...bizarre...


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

the spin begins

Oh, the Jaguars can still be a playoff team with a decimated offensive line in the first week of the season - NOT! Well, maybe, but it'll take a whole lot of luck and stuff to fall their way.

OK, maybe that's a glass half empty view, but did these people watch the game Sunday? We have no starting guards. Our starting center is still about four weeks from playing, due to injury. We make our living running between the tackles....where guards play. We're going to be pulling in guys off the street to replace the injured. There are reasons they were on the street and not in NFL uniforms at the beginning of the season.

I realize only one guy, Vince Manuwai, is definitely out for the season. We might get Mo Williams back at some point. The fact remains though, we have to play games between now and then, and an offensive line that needs to work as one unit to be effective is going to be porous when two of the guys have never worked with the others, and are basically roster cuts from other teams. Our running game is going to suck. David Garrard is going to spend some time on the ground. Spin that any way you like, and it still comes up ugly.

Buffalo is coming to town this weekend, and their defense is pretty good. Indianapolis is next on the schedule, and we know how good they are. Teams don't start the season 0-3 and make the playoffs. I'm not saying it's a lost cause. It's possible that we pull those games out, and I'll be hanging on that in my teal colored glases, but the reality isn't all that good. I'll go, and pull for my guys, and I'll hope we win. Until we get some kind of protection up front that can give Garrard time and open holes for a running game though, my expectation level won't be all that high.


Monday, September 08, 2008

now that was offensive

As the Jaguars season once again starts in a hole, my expectations have been slashed more than usual. It's one thing to lose the opening game of the season...again to the Titans...again to Jeff Fisher...who again gives me every reason to dislike him because again, his team kicks our butts. It's another to lose it the way we did.

I can't chalk it up to incompetence. Most of the team played pretty well. The one place we sucked, and it pretty much took everything down with it, was the offensive line. The reason the offensive line sucked is because apparently there's nobody left to play there....in week one. The starting center went down in preseason and won't be back for a few weeks. One starting guard got hurt in pregame warm ups. Another got hurt in the game. One second string tackle is in the hospital after getting shot last week. Another guy got hurt in the game, but came back to finish it. At one point, the five guys playing the line were the only five guys we had left.

When that happens, it stands to reason you'll have no running game. The backs can't run when there are no holes in the line. The passing game is going to suffer because your quarterback has no time. Garrard got sacked seven times, and he's a pretty mobile guy. It could have been worse.

The thing is, unless some of those guys get healthy in a week, it's not going to get any better next Sunday. It'll be what it'll be but damn that was a hard thing to watch...and all that playoff talk is just that right now. Talk.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

I don't know how those CSI people do it

...or people who work in a morgue, or do autopsies, or whatever. After about a year and a half of bike riding, the stench of road kill is still a very nasty thing, and the shoulder of the road,which is my playspace is where it all resides. I figured after a while, it wouldn't faze me anymore, but damn it does. Seeing as all those animals have pretty much the same smell, I can't imagine people being any more pleasant. I suppose this theme was accentuated by the fact that it was pretty warm out there for a lot of miles out in the country today, and a whole lot of small furry dead things were extremely ripe.

The large ride is in two weeks, and I did a solid 63 miles today to get ready. I found out that's called a metric century, because it's 100k. A year ago I did it a couple of times in preparation for the MS ride, but I didn't know it had a name. After doing the 100k Katie Ride in April, a friend who's really into biking congratulated me on doing the metric century, and it only took me a few minutes to figure out what he was talking about. I'm quick that way.

Anyway, I think I'm about ready. I'll probably hit the gym a few times this week, and maybe ride next weekend, and then rest the last week before the real thing.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Hello Captain Obvious

I get lots of unsolicited e-mails from local bike shops. I'm not sure how they get my address, but they do. Anyway, I was poking around the internet last night, off a link I got from one of those e-mails. From there I came across the Florida Bicycle Association. I'm sure they're a great organization, and I may read more on their site when I have the time, and perhaps actually join. They seem to be promoting bike safety programs in Florida, which is a good thing. Poking around though, I saw they're selling bike jerseys. Proceeds, of course, go to their cause. The back of the bike jersey has this graphic of the new Florida 'Share the Road' license plate. Is it just me, or....if I'm riding a bike and wearing bike clothes, a jersey and spandex shorts, a helmet, the whole bit, (which in and of itself means I'm more than just a casual rider), does the world need to read "IBIKE" plastered across my back to get the message?

I'm thinking, no.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

a tragic wake up call - part 2

Some of you may remember a while back, I talked about Jack, a coworker of the wife's who found out he was HIV positive.

Jack never made it back to work. He's been sick for a few months, staying at home with his mom moving in to help out. Things were looking better. The wife called him occasionally to talk.

She called Tuesday morning, and Jack didn't answer his home or cell phone. She did some investigating and found out he was in the hospital. He passed out in the shower and an ambulance came for him. She went and saw him, and he said he'd call later....but never did. She came home from work and told me about it over dinner, and wondered why he never called back.

Jack died Tuesday. The wife is still having a tough time with it all. If you are prone to prayer, please say one for Jack...and his family.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

just a few things

Hanna's projected track seems to be improving, at least from my point of view. You can never be sure though, and those things change every time they get updated. Now, if everything goes right, it'll keep tracking farther right until it just stays over water and dissipates into nothing.

Watched a fair amount of the Republican Convention last night. My stomach is a little more cast iron when listening to those folks than it is listening to Democrats. I'll say this though. Having Keith Olbermann be a commentator for the Republican convention is a lot like what you'd get if Fox had Bill O'Reilly cover the Democratic show. I dunno, maybe even worse. Maybe Fox did have O'Reilly cover it. I didn't watch Fox. In any case, what a slanted, venomous load of liberal propaganda you got served if you caught the show on MSNBC. That man is so far out in left field he's foul. Fred Thompson gives a pretty good speech addressing John McCain's qualities of courage, integrity, and the kind of hope one has to have inside to endure in a POW camp, among other things. Afterwards, Olbermann comes out with something like "So he just painted John McCain as a nice guy with a gun." (not a direct quote I'm sure, but very close.) Excuse me? Hello, Captain Random. Maybe Thompson mentioned the word gun. Maybe he didn't. If he did, it certainly wasn't a highlight.

Having Joe Leiberman talk about John McCain at the convention was a coup. I'm not a huge Leiberman fan, but you have to admit, having the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee from eight years ago talking up the Republican ticket at their convention is pretty much unheard of. As much as I may not be a huge Leiberman fan, he must be one of mine. Some of his points, especially the idea that John McCain is his own man and not a George Bush clone, and Obama knows it despite what his commercials tell us, came right out of the Lumberyard yesterday. It's OK, Joe. I don't mind at all.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I wasn't all that worried about Hanna...

...but I'm changing my mind. I thought this thing was supposed to pretty much turn right and stay out to sea, but the longer it churns in the same spot, the stronger it gets and the closer it gets to me, and a lot of people I care about.


it's pretty accurate....so far

Your Issue Profile: 32% Obama, 68% McCain

When it gets down to it, you tend to best match John McCain.

But he's not the perfect candidate for you, and you may not be sold on him yet.

Obama shares a good number of your views too, so you might want to give him a second look.

It all comes down to which issues matter to you the most.


separated at birth?


the pettiness of jealousy

As many of you know, I have issues with the Democratic party. Lots of them. One of the bigger ones is the perpetuation of class envy. Nobody is ever supposed to be happy with what they have. If they are, someone is quick to point out...but look at what he has...or being fair...what she has. They have more than you. They have more than you and that's not fair. Nobody talks much about how they ended up with more than you. Nobody talks about sacrifices made, risks taken, or blood, sweat, and tears. It's just...look at them...they have it better than you. You should have that too. It's not fair to link that with what I'm about to say, because it's a different context, but it is the same concept.

At work, we have a guy who has Multiple Sclerosis. When he was diagnosed, he was a mechanic. He had worked on golf course equipment for seven years here, and was a really good employee. He kept working as a mechanic until the disease progressed, and it was determined that it really wasn't safe for him to be working as a mechanic. The company could have just cut him loose, but they didn't. They decided to give him an aptitude test. The results put him in a class to learn a computer language and design software. He did that for a few years and now he's a project manager. Somewhere in there I started working here, and before the disease got too bad, he taught me pretty much everything I know about how to play golf. He's been with the company for about 20 years. He's a conscientious guy. He works hard and does a good job. Frankly, there are people who could probably do the job better, and he knows that....and he spends somewhere around 12 hours a day working...to make up for some of the things he doesn't do as well. In the end, he's competent at what he does, and won't make excuses for his disease.

There are people who have been here far less time, and don't work the kind of hours he does, and they're jealous. They're more educated than he is. They have degrees he doesn't. They want his job. Implicit in anyone's job is a contract. You agree to do a certain kind/amount of work for a certain amount of compensation, monetary and otherwise. What anyone else may or may not be getting has nothing to do with that, not that you really know what they may or may not be getting, but that's another subject, too.

The disease has progresses to the point where he doesn't walk any more. He uses a wheelchair to get around. In the last year, he's started using voice recognition software, because he's losing control in his fingers. Voice recognition software is pretty good stuff, but it's not perfect. In the last year, most correspondence from this guy has spelling errors in it, especially when it gets technical and the software doesn't know what to do. In other cases, it gets a phonetically close word, but it's not what he wanted to use. I'll grant you this. The guy should probably proof what he sends out and fix all those errors, but he doesn't.

That has led to some of the cruelest crap I have ever witnessed from the petty and jealous, who coincidentally, are the same people I have called whiners in the past. The guy with MS doesn't work in our building, so he doesn't hear any of it, but it's cruel just the same. They spend hours making fun of the spelling or grammar errors in his e-mails and documents, and then wonder aloud why he has a job they so obviously want. No, they would never use the word "counsel" instead of "console", but if you try...even a little bit, you can figure out what he's trying to say. He's doing the best he can with what the world has given him, and really...if you give a little and work with him, it doesn't affect his job performance. You can read what he sends out and easily figure out what he's trying to say, even if it isn't spelled out the way it ought to be.

Realistically, unless I (and everyone else who does MS walks and bike rides) can pedal my way to a cure pretty soon, this guy only has a few more productive years left in the work force. We can either work with him and make them as productive as possible..or mock him and make ourselves miserable with jealousy...and in the end make him miserable too.

People have choices.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Gustav and tires, and less than three weeks to go

The real Gustav news is happening in Louisiana, and I'm thinking God's listening to me. I've been watching what's happening in New Orleans, and while it's not good. It's a lot better than what it could have been.

The lesser Gustav news was happening right here in North Florida, where we got just a bit of the wind and rain from that bad boy. Yes, it's that big. No, we didn't get anything close to what they're dealing with west of us, but it definitely stole a bit of the sunshine.

It was in that mode that I got up Saturday morning and headed out for 50 miles of biking enjoyment. I thought if I got out early, I'd beat the stronger winds coming midday. I pressed on the tires and noted that they were far from flat, but they could use a little air. I decided to be lazy. I'll get them when I get home, before I go next time. They'll be fine for now.

I took off and..damn this feels harder than normal. It's all good though, because I'm training. So what if it's a little harder. It's just a little more work for the legs. I looked at some flags on my way, and they were only affected by gravity. No real wind to speak of. I pedaled through some standing water, which usually leaves a thin wet strip on the tire. The strip was noticeably fatter...quite a bit fatter. The trip seemed harder than normal, and I still don't know whether to blame the tire inflation, or maybe I was just tired or something. I got through the first 35 miles or so and started to head home...and it hit me. The wind had kicked up big time, and it wasn't in my favor. I plodded along, grabbing the hook part of the handlebars to get lower in the wind. Still, I was pretty slow. I passed a guy standing by his bike. I asked if he needed help, and he declined. A little farther down the line that same guy came riding up next to me, and commented on the wind. We talked a bit, and he fell in behind me. he stayed there until we parted company. He turned around and rode with the wind. I made it the rest of the way home.

When I finished, it was 52 miles and change...and I was beat. I went again this morning..for a shorter ride. I only went 30 miles. The wind situation was pretty much the same, but I did pump up the tires before I left. The trip was a lot easier, and I'm certain that had something to do with it. Maybe the fact that I only went 32 miles played a part too.

A little less than three weeks to go till the youngster and I take on the two day ride. I'm not as apprehensive as last year, but I am getting anxious. I kind-of wish it would hurry up and get here.


political desperation

I see it on both sides and just have to shake my head.

First we have McCain and Palin, where I do see the move to pick a woman running mate as a bit desperate, and a lot like pandering. It looks like a move to grab some of the Hillary voters and it very well may be. I've now heard Sarah Palin speak, and I feel better about her than I did before, but I'm far from sold. She's eloquent, and she speaks to all the things I believe in. I like her. She's feisty. I just don't know if she's Vice Presidential material. I honestly had to laugh watching C-Span, when they took callers after her speech. Some woman from Boston, who identified herself as an Obama supporter, actually said (and this is almost a word for word quote), "She says she's for family values, but she's pro-life. She can't be for family values. She's anti-family."

Now there's a heap of intelligence just shining through. I looked at the wife and said, "You wonder where they come from? There's your answer."

From the Democratic side, I see desperation in Obama's hope to tie John McCain to George Bush. There are a lot of things Bush has done I agree with. Many things he's done I don't. I think that would be the same for most conservatives. Still, I thought John McCain would have made a better president eight years ago when he ran against George Bush. I think so now. One thing I know is John McCain is a far cry from George Bush, and any attempt to paint them as the same guy is an outright lie...and I have an issue with liars. I see Obama sitting there saying "It's 4 more years of the same thing." Not only is that the lazy brainless play. It's flat out wrong, and Obama knows it.

I think Obama is a fairly intelligent and eloquent man, and I've really wanted to like the guy, but when it comes right down to it, every time he opens his mouth on an issue, I find myself disagreeing with him. He says he speaks to the people ignored by the present administration. Well, I feel ignored by the present administration, and I like that. I hope the next one ignores me just as much.

Therefore I find myself in my normal rut again. I'll keep listening to both sides, but I feel stuck. On one side I have someone whose policies are the opposite of what I think they ought to be. On the other I have someone I can tolerate, but he does things that leave a bad taste in my mouth as well. As much as I think there were better choices for McCain out there, I'm still willing to give Sarah Palin a shot because when it comes right down to it, the only other real choice isn't something I can support. Politicians. Can't live with 'em. Can't shoot 'em.