Thursday, May 28, 2009

bring on the next ride

This weekend, a neighbor and I are taking on the next charity bike ride challenge, the Tour de Cure. It benefits the American Diabetes Association and, like the MS ride, is something that's done all over the country on different weekends. It's not just a J'ville thing.

It's also a lot like the MS rides in that you have lots of options for distances. It's a two day event, but you don't have to do both days. On day one you have an option of 100 km or 100 miles. At the Saturday finish line there will be some sort of food festival thing. I'm not sure what to expect, so I'm keeping the expectation level low and hoping they surprise me. If you do day two, you can do 100 km or a fun ride of about 14 miles. We're doing the 100 mile day one and skipping day two. Well, we might come out for the fun ride, just because, but we'll have to see. We're lucky, in that the start line is all of about 4 miles from home, so we can go out there on a whim if we feel like it. After all, we're already registered for the ride. We'll just have to see if we feel like getting out there on Sunday.

Once we get this on under our belts, it'll be half of my charity ride season for the year. I'll do two MS rides - one in Pennsylvania in July, and then the one that started me on this kick in the first place, J'ville to Daytona and back in October.

Next year, I think we'll be scaling back a little bit. I love doing the rides, and they're for great causes. My fundraising ability, though, for that many different events, just ain't up to par. I think I'm spreading myself a bit thin, and to make any kind of impact, I need to focus on just a couple of two.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day

Every year I say this in some way. Every year I mean it.

I have a list...a list of men I served with, who died in the service of this country. I'm not being sexist. I served with women too, but to my knowledge, none of them have passed away, either while performing some duty for the country or not (although one of the women went on to pilot the space shuttle).

I take this weekend to remember them, and the sacrifice they made to keep this country what it is. Too many treat it like a three day weekend for the beach or barbecue and nothing else, and take for granted their ability to do these things. They are ignorant to the sacrifices made on their behalf.

Those men, and many men and women like them, are the cost of freedom. Their families are still paying it, and it isn't cheap.

I'm indebted to all of them, and so is every American citizen.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

when the max isn't really the max

So Barak, can you explain to me what a 'supermax' prison is? Pardon my ignorance, but I didn't know we had those. How is it diferent from a not-so-super, ordinary 'max' prison? How much more 'max' is it, and why? Do we, by any chance, have 'superdupermax' prisons that are even more 'max'? Just curious.

Yes, I realize Barak didn't make the term up, but it is pretty funny, or at least I think so.


Ron Mexico is free

Mike Vick received his get out of jail free card, yesterday. I went to the gym last night and, not the American Idol finale(thank God - those people were on the other side of the room) but ESPN News, followed by the beginning of a basketball game where it looked like Cleveland was taking Orlando to the woodshed...surprise! Guess I should have kept watching. Back to ESPN though, where Vick was all the talk. What does this mean for his NFL career? Where will he go? What kind of impact can he have? How good will he be after two years in prison?

I don't want the guy to be unemployed. I'm OK with him playing football. He did his time and now he should be able to go out and make a living. I just don't want him doing it for my team. I don't care if he goes to one of our rivals and turns into the reason they beat us. I still don't want him here. I want the men on the football team representing my city to be decent human beings...ones who know they are role models and take that responsibility seriously. I want good citizens.... that are damn good at football. This guy held dogs under water until they died. He trained them to fight each other until one killed the other, and enjoyed watching them do it. When accused of it, he shrugged it off and said it doesn't really matter because "Everybody lub Michael Vick." No, Mike, we don't lub you...and it doesn't matter to me how damn good you might be at football, I still don't want you on my team, representing my city. You're a bad human being.

Now you might ask, what happens if Vick comes out and transforms into a model citizen. What if there is a Mike Vick foundation that supports animal shelters, and he begins tutoring inner city school kids, teaching them to say "love" instead of "lub", and serving up food in homeless shelters. Would that change your tune, Mr. Lumberyard?

Ya know, it might (not that Vick cares what I think). I can't say for sure, but it very well could. Maybe the day comes when he cares, not necessarily about what I think, but about his place in, and contribution to, society. Maybe he shows us all he's found his conscience. Let's cross that bridge when we come to it.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

taking the excuses

The weather here's been miserable since Sunday and there's no sign of it drying out anytime soon. We need rain, so I shouldn't complain, but could we get it in smaller doses? This is the third straing day of high winds and rain, and just that nasty raw feeling.

Because of that, I've been cozing up in a in being one. I needed to get to the gym last night, but by the time I got home from work, doing a few errands on the way and being just a bit soaked, I just ate dinner and vegged. I wasn't getting back out in that mess again, except to take the dog out. Some things need to be done no matter what. It was a good excuse not to go to the gym (or at least I thought so at the time), but it's an excuse nonetheless, and exercise didn't get done.

Tonight has to happen. I will get there. Then I'll be riding this weekend, and hopefully between two or three rides, I'll total one hundred miles. That way I'll feel a bit better about the next weekend, when I'll do that same hundred on Saturday.


Monday, May 18, 2009

the pied piper, revisited

A while ago I blogged about my new bicycling recruits, all under the age of 16. Well, it's fallen off a little. I'll keep the same names for consistency's sake, but the group has dwindled to Me and Bob and our kids. The others like the concept, but don't like getting up early on a Saturday morning to ride, and as we head into summer when the temperature climbs into the 90's in the afternoon, early on a Saturday is the only time to train.

Bob's sons, Ishmail and Seymour both have bikes now. Bob took his boys out for 20 miles last weekend while I was working, so we discussed this weekend. He said he didn't think Seymour, the younger of the two and the one who really just started riding, was good for any more than 20 miles, yet. Ishmail probably wasn't ready to go much farther either. Still, Bob and I are doing 100 miles in a few weeks for the Tour de Cure, so we need to go farther for training. The plan was...we'll get up early and take the youngster, Ishmail and Seymour on a route we knew to be 23 miles. Then we'd drop the boys off and go farther on our own. We decided we'd go east and cross the intracoastal waterway bridge to the beach.

So we got up. After a lot of organizational work (dad, where's my water bottle...does anyone else need a granola bar...has anyone seen my sunglasses) we were finally off. We got most of the way through the 23 miles when Ishmail started asking questions. How far are you going without us? You're going over that bridge? Can we go? I started explaining that the bridge is pretty big, and once you cross it, you have to cross it again to get home, and it's quite a climb. He was undaunted.

By the time we got back home with the kids, the plan had changed. Ishmail and the youngster we coming to the beach with us. I wasn't worried about the youngster. He's done that bridge before, more than once. Ishmail though, I thought was biting off more than he was ready for.

I was wrong. Ishmail got over the bridge...twice...and made it back home. The little man was determined, and it was pretty cool to see. Granted, he was wiped out when he got home, but he made it...for a total of about 51 miles on the morning, easily the farthest he's ever been on a bike, and impressing the hell out of both me and his dad. The youngster passed me going up the bridge...both ways...showing that the kid is getting better at this than his old man. I knew that day was coming. I just didn't know it was here already.


Friday, May 15, 2009

playing catch up

Well, I did get back into the gym routine, and this weekend there will be bike riding. Two weeks until the Jacksonville version of the Tour de Cure, a ride to benefit the American Diabetes Association.

My neighbor and I are only doing the first of the two days, but we will do the 100 mile route. Since I was a total slug last week, I need to get some training in this weekend and in the upcoming week, because really, that's about all I have left before the 30th. It's not something you want to cram for the week of the ride. In fact, I want to do next to nothing that week, so I'm fresh that Saturday morning.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

sure Barak, let's re-evaluate that gay military policy thing

I love how people who have never been in the military are the ones who can't figure out what difference it makes, and take it upon themselves to decide how people in the military should live. They, of course, think "don't ask, don't tell" is silly, and can't see why, other than prejudice, an openly gay person shouldn't be allowed to serve in the military.

Here, let me make it clearer for you. Women serve on ships now, but they have their own separate quarters and showers. Why? Why can't we just put everybody, regardless of sex or sexual preference, in the same showers? Why can't they all sleep together? What's the difference between that having openly gay and straight men in the same showers?

If it was just a matter of working together and doing a job, I don't think anyone would have a problem with that. It's when you introduce the idea that you sleep, and shower, and live together that people like me get uncomfortable.

Now, before you start calling me a bigot, a homophobe and a hater and whatever else, consider that a ship is essentially a prison. It has no bars, people are there by choice and get paid for what they do, butt on the flip side, there are no visiting hours and definitely no conjugal visits. Entertainment consists of what you can watch on TV (movies and on ship programming) and working out in the ship version of the exercise yard. People are isolated for weeks at a time and with no way to get anywhere off that rock...errr...ship. Unless the idea of drowning appeals to you, you're essentially in confinement (and the wife can't understand why, to this day, the whole concept of going on a cruise does not say vacation to me...go figure). Noting the similarity? Consider what happens in prision when someone drops the soap (and don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about). Then, tell me I shouldn't be concerned about that, but when you do, please also tell me why....OK, besides because I retired from the Navy and never have to ride a ship again.


Monday, May 11, 2009

the weekend in review

I'm feeling like quite the slug. I haven't had any exercise in a week and that needs to change. Ordinarily, I wouldn't be all that concerned...just pick up where I left off. Now though, the concern is...I have to ride 100 miles on the 30th, and I have to be ready for that. Well, I don't have to. You never really have to. I mean, I could sleep in that Saturday and act like there is no ride, but I said I would do it...and I will.

The reason I haven't done squat in a week is the Players Championship...and Mother's Day...and the youngster's birthday, which fell on Mother's Day this year. The tournament meant getting to and from work is a real time consuming bear...and I had to work Saturday. No time for bikes, or the gym. Then Sunday, it was Mother's Day brunch and the youngster's time there either.

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, because I'm not. I enjoyed the weekend thoroughly. The tournament is always fun, even if I have to work part of it. I brought my college roommate with me, and he got to watch quite a bit of it. He's not much of a golfer, but he stayed around the first tee and watched most of the field start, standing his ground on his little piece of bleacher seat while Tiger teed off and the crowd swarmed, and did a fair amount of people watching....and now that they moved the tournament to May, when it's much warmer and women wear less clothing, there's much more of people to watch. Mother's Day, and youngster turning 16, was also a lot of fun. We did Mom's Day brunch at the World Golf Village....very yummy.

Now, it's just time to pay the piper...and I need to get on the stick (not that I ever use cliches).


Friday, May 08, 2009

if you're out and about tomorrow

If you happen to be at the Players tomorrow, stop by and say 'Hi'. I'll be at the entrance by the first tee, handing out programs (tee sheets) and telling people where to go, which is something I do exceedingly well.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

swine flew

People are complaining about this thing being over hyped and all over the news and causing a panic. I disagree.

For years I've been hearing people propose crazy impossible stuff, and the answer has always been, "Sure, when pigs fly!"

Well, now that they have, everyone's waiting for all that other crazy impossible stuff to happen, and honestly, that's pretty scary.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

sour grapes

As many in my vast reading audience know, I ride a bike...a lot. I also enjoy golf, although I'm a better bicyclist than golfer, mostly because any 5 year old can ride a bike where people spend lifetimes unsuccessfully mastering golf. I lean more toward the 5 year old.

I also subscribe to a bicycling magazine. One reason I subscribe to the magazine is that last year I picked up their annual buyers guide issue, and was impressed with the wealth of information. I was so impressed I thought they deserved eleven dollars of my hard earned cash to get their magazine in the mail every month for the next year.

In that issue, there was a contest. It was a caption contest, and I know I won't do an adequate job of describing the picture, but it was a photo of a guy going off a very high cliff or platform into a body of water. I can't remember if it was a lake or a pool. I seem to remember an audience in the background. He and his bike were becoming separated in mid air. It was basically an "Oh shit!" moment, as man and bike plummeted toward the water below. I entered said contest, not really expecting to win. I don't remember exactly what I wrote, but the premise was that the guy was oblivious to the danger he faced. In fact, few people get or enjoy my humor, so, like I said, I didn't expect to win. I just couldn't resist trying, because if it involves winning free shit, I just have to try.

It's now a year later, and in this year's buyers guide, they showed a picture of the guy who won, the bike he won, and the winning caption. Here's where I have an issue. The winning caption was.....

Still, it beats golf.

Excuse me? I thought I'd get slammed to the mat by something clever and witty. I don't mind that I lost, but I lost to...."Still, it beats golf"??????

You must be shitting me!

First, it ain't that funny. Second, what does that say about sports envy, first of the guy who wrote it, and then of the magazine that called it a winner? Third, and maybe this is just a personal pet peeve, I have an issue with anybody or anything that has to bad mouth someone or something else for the expressed purpose of looking better by comparison. Bicycling doesn't beat golf. Golf doesn't beat bicycling. They're apples and oranges. Now, golf has a bigger following than bicycling. On any given weekend, there are a bazillion more people plunking down somewhere between $30 and $500 to play a round of golf than there are cruising bike lanes. You'll find far more people in this country glued to television sets during a golf major (or even this week, during The Players) than have watched the Tour de France..ever, even if you accumulated all of them throughout the years. I would wager that in any given year, more people in this country watched the PGA Tour golf tournament in Milwaukee than watched the Tour de France, or any other bike race. That's not a criticism of either Tour or the city of Milwaukee. It's just the way it is. So what? It doesn't mean you need to take a swipe at golf, for God's sake. It's more popular than bicycling, but they are different animals entirely. It doesn't mean you have to hate golf if you're a bicyclist.

I don't particularly like NASCAR, but I love the fact that a lot of people enjoy it. Those people are buying tickets to races, spending their weekends in places like Daytona and Talladega. They're not crowding my bike lane, or making it impossible for me to get a tee time. If everybody liked what I like, I'd never get to play golf or ride my bike, because the crowds would be unbearable. As it is, it's not easy finding a nice morning tee time in J'ville on a Saturday. You need to do a fair amount of planning ahead. Still, when you get out there early on a Saturday when the sun's coming up on the first tee, reflecting a little off the dew on the grass, and you duck hook that first drive into the trees and get that lucky bounce that somehow sends the ball back into the fairway, there's nothing like it. I love bicycling, and I really love it when I do it with friends, and my son. That doesn't mean I want the whole world out there bicycling, and it certainly doesn't mean I have any disdain for people who don't share my interests. Thank God I can still hop on my bike on a Saturday morning and just go, and not worry about a competition for space in the bike lane.

I put this together with what I observe on weekends when I ride, when bicyclists are quick to yell at cars when the drivers get what they perceive as a bit close (and I'll be the first to admit, that's a bit scary, but they guy behind the wheel never hears a word you scream), or slide through a stop sign, while cyclists ignore the same sign...but that's somehow OK...and I have to ask myself...are hard core bicyclists basically an angry bunch with an inferiority complex? You don't see quilters taking pot shots at golf, do you? Can't we all just get along (to quote Rodney King) and just enjoy what we do for fun? I mean, that's why we do shit like this, isn't it? We're having fun, aren't we?

Can we be happy about the fact that we're all different, and enjoy different things, and not be jealous about the fact that more people like doing something that we don't?

Thank you for plodding through my rant. I'll get off the soapbox now.