Tuesday, June 30, 2009

cell phones

I've blogged before about my dislike for cell phones. My biggest beefs about them are people driving while using them, or rather, using them and attempting to perform something akin to driving, and having a 24/7 leash by which the world believes you at their beck and call.

Well for the last few days, stately Lumberyard manor has become cell phone dependent. We had a lightning strike near the house Friday, and while everything else seems to have survived unscathed, the home phone line did not. A call to AT&T left us believing it'd be fixed by Monday. When the wife called them Monday afternoon to find out why we still have no home phone line, they informed her it was fixed. She asked what part of fixed meant when you tried to call our house, you still got a busy signal, and when you turned on our phone, you still got no dial tone. The answer was, we'll get it fixed by....get this...Thursday. She started to ask if the technician who "fixed" the line tested it, by maybe...oh I dunno...calling the house and see if he got through. She could see that quickly turning into..."It'll be fixed by next Monday." Nothing good was coming out of that line of sarcastic questioning.

So we're using cell phones for our communication with the outside world, and I gotta tell ya...compared to a land line, they suck. When I use mine from time to time when I'm away from home, it doesn't really hit me. Now that I've been using nothing but a cell phone for several days, there's no comparison to a land line when it comes to quality of the conversation. There's all kinds of reception issues and words that get dropped out and sounding like you're in a tunnel that you just don't deal with in a home phone, and this from the company that claims more bars in more places. I wonder if they're talking drinking establishments, because they aren't delivering in the connection quality department.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Mikey Jackson

I don't like that anyone has to die. I mean, in John's world, we'd all live forever and stop aging at about 25 years old. Having said that, there are some celebrities that I'm sad to see go, and others rate little more than a shrug.

Michael Jackson falls into the latter category, and I don't know if that surprises anyone more than me. The reason I say that is...the world seems to be in mourning. It's splattered all over the front page of our paper. There's a tribute on the evening news. I enjoyed some of the guy's work, but I never counted myself as a huge fan. I don't own any Michael Jackson CDs, or albums for that matter. Still, I appreciated Thriller...the artistry of it. Maybe though, since I wasn't a huge fan, and then you throw all the "little boy" controversy on top of that, and when I think of Micheal Jackson, the term "greatness" doesn't exactly follow. I'm not really in mourning. There's no sense that the world lost someone of great magnitude. His family will miss him, as well they should. I won't. I can honestly say, after all the fanfare dies, I won't waste another minute thinking about Michael Jackson.

Like I said, I don't wish death on anybody, but Jackson's affects me about as much as some poor crack addict dying in a gang related shooting downtown.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

baby it's still hot outside...

...and maybe that's not such a bad thing as we prepare to take the traveling bike show out of state for the first time.

Training continues for the slew of long distance rides I've managed to sign the youngster and me up for this year, and the next one is the first where we really have to travel.

To be honest, the reason for the trip isn't the bike ride. We haven't been back to Pennsylvania in almost 3 years, and it's past time to go socialize with the family. Some have traveled south to see us in that time, but we haven't been up there. I did schedule the trip to coincide with the MS Bike ride in Lancaster though, because I wanted to take the youngster on a ride through Amish country. I think it'll be an experience both of us will remember. We're only doing one of the two days though, because I really don't have much time to spare. When you're only up there a week, and there are lots of family folks to visit with, spending one of those days biking stretches the schedule enough. Two days would have been impossible.

It will be warm and the fact that it's hot here while we practice is actually probably helping the training effort. I should find some hills too, because this will be our first real encounter with those, but we'll just have to deal as they come along. I'm looking forward to the challenge, and I hope it's a memorable day for all the right reasons.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Heeeeeeeeeer's Ed!

Ed McMahon, the definition of a late night TV sidekick, died early this morning. Black armbands for all my friends.


Monday, June 22, 2009

baby it's hot outside

Yowza it's hot out.

Saturday morning we went for a bike ride. It was the first organized MS Society training ride down A1A along the ocean. Very pretty but pretty warm, even if we did finish before 10:00 a.m.

After that the wife wanted to go to a farmer's market, and guilted me in to going along. We got there at noon and stayed all of maybe 20 minutes. We got some fruits and veggies, but didn't spend much time looking because the heat was awful. I felt for the people manning the booths, because they were supposed to be there from 12:00 to 4:00.

Sunday I went out for a 30 mile ride after church. I learned my hydration lesson a few weeks ago though, and made sure I had plenty to drink. I took gatorade with me and when that was done, I stopped at parks and filled the water bottle. Got home around noon and spent very little of the rest of the day outside. At least on a bike you create a little breeze. I saw people out running and...more power to 'em.

The rest of yesterday was father's day stuff (bike riding gloves, size XXL - what were they thinking? much better than a tie but need to downsize just a little) and puttering around indoors. I bought a new router for the home network, and as easy as they say it is to set up, it seems to take a while to get all the wireless devices to talk to the ting. Got the wife's laptop, my work laptop and the Wii working with it. Still to be conquered, the youngster's i-touch.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I'm not a facebook person. I'm not a myspace or twitter person either. I guess I'm not much of an online social networker. This little rant factory called a blog is about as far as I go. I've got enough shit going on as it is without another place in cyberspace to keep up with. As it is, if you read here much, you've seen the numbers of blog entries take a fair dive over the last 6 months or so. That's partially because I don't have that much to say, and partially because I just don't have the time.

One of our friends, though, is a facebook fanatic. She has her page and shares pictures with the world through it and keeps in tough with friends and family around the country. She loves it, and thinks the wife and I should too. She's also one of the wife's best friends. Her kids are friends with the youngster. Her husband is my bike riding buddy. Every time we see her, she asks when we're going to get on facebook. For the last year the wife had school as an excuse....too busy with school to get into all that. Well, school's over now, and we're back to...when are you going to get on facebook. I think they have some kind of recruiting contest going on, and that's part of the agenda.

The wife...really has no desire, but doesn't want to hurt her friend's feelings. The wife sees computers as a necessary evil and the web as a place to find a menu for a restaurant if we've never been there. It's not a social outlet, and she doesn't want it to be. If she's on the web for more than 15 consecutive minutes, it's like alarms go off and she needs to come up for air. She sees no reason to have a page on the web to communicate with a friend she sees or talks to on the phone at least three times a week.

I...just can't be bothered. I don't need another thing to keep me busy. I have enough of those as it is. I see it as a black hole to suck in a bunch of time I just don't have.

The youngster...has a facebook page and expends constant effort making it "better". I check it out every now and then (although I just let slide the comment from some lady gaga girl from school who wants to "ride your disco stick."). He keeps up with school friends with it.

Yesterday though, the youngster came home and said...Ms. Betty said she'd give me a $10 McDonalds gift card if I make facebook pages for you two, so I need some pictures. (Bribery - the tool of the desperate.) The wife immediately said, "No, you won't. I don't want one." Frankly. I'm pretty apathetic about it all. If he wants to put it out there, fine. I don't care if there's another place in cyberspace with my name and picture on it. I won't be maintaining it, or personalizing it, or spending the time to figure out what I can do with it though. Maybe he will.


Monday, June 15, 2009

or maybe I gave golf too much credit

I thought I was all kinds of sore Friday because I went and played golf for the first time in ages Thurdsay night. What I didn't realize was...I was sick, and getting sicker. I left work early Friday, got home and shoved a thermometer in my mouth and confirmed, I had a fever. I went to bed and woke up at 7:30 to the wife asking me which can of Campbells sounded best.

Spent the vast majority of the weekend either in bed or on the couch (where I had my own Star Wars/Harry Potter marathon), and didn't leave the house until yesterday afternoon when I started to feel better. Today...much much better


Friday, June 12, 2009

I guess I didn't give golf enough credit

For the last two years, ever since I started on the bicycle craze, my golf game has been going to hell. On a Sunday afternoon, if I have an hour or two to kill, I'll go bicycling long before I'll go to the driving range. My rationale is/was....it's much better for me. Golf isn't real exercise.

Well, in the process of thinking like that, my golf game has gone downhill, to the point of being barely existent. The last time I played was early March. before that was the summer before. Last night after work I played nine holes, and.....damn I'm stiff! I guess it's just different muscle groups or whatever, but I definitely worked something last night I haven't worked in a while, because it's not moving so well today. Maybe I need to diversify a bit, and get to the driving range/golf course a bit more often.


Monday, June 08, 2009

in some ways, I'm still a newbie (but in this case, it saved me $10)

My bike's in the shop. After the 100 mile trek in the blistering heat, I decided to send it in for a tune up.

I brought the bike to the shop last Wednesday, hoping to get it back before the weekend so I could ride Saturday or Sunday. It's the same shop I always take it to...also where we bought the youngster's bike.They said they were swamped, and I wouldn't get it until this week. OK, not that big a deal.

So today, they guy working on my bike called me. The conversation went something like...

bike guy: Have you ever changed the chain on this bike?
me: No.
bike guy (sounding a little incredulous): You've got 5900 miles on this bike and you've never put a new chain on it?? (The "...you moron" was left off the end of the question, but it was definitely implied.)
me: Well, no. Why?
bike guy: Well, you should change the chain every 1500 to 2000 miles. Now, it's beyond replacement.
me: What does that mean...beyond replacement?

I'm thinking, that's what he'd do if it's in bad shape. He'd replace it. Beyond replacement sounded ominous.

bike guy: Well, if you change the chain every 1500 to 2000 miles, the rear cassette will last forever. If you don't change the chain though, the chain and cassette start to wear together. If I put a new chain on it now, the cassette will ruin it. You're at a decision point. You can either keep the chain and cassette combination you have until it breaks completely. If you do that, it'll just feel a bit rough until it fails. The other choice is to put a new chain on it, but you'd have to replace the cassette as well.
me: So, how much is that?
bike guy: The chain is $60. The cassette is $110.
me (the words "breaks completely" resonating in my brain with the accompanying picture of me stranded in the middle of nowhere with a busted chain): OK, I guess we go with the new stuff.

After I hung up, I did the math. If I'd have changed the chain every 2000 miles, I'd have spent $180 by now. More if I changed it every 1500 miles. As it is, I'm spending $170. By waiting until I had done irreparable damage, I saved $10. What a deal!

Also, after I hung up, and thought about it for a minute, I started to wonder. My bike has been to that shop for a couple of tune ups, and the wheel replacement after my New years Eve accident. So, this guy has seen that bike several times, and most of those after the bike had 2000 miles on it. Why was this the first time Mr. Incredulous asked me about the chain? I mean, how did we get to almost 6000 miles before he recommended that I get a new one?


virtual pomp and circumstance

About two years ago, the wife was presented with a situation at work.

She had a job that required a bachelors degree, even though she didn't have one. She had been doing it for years and the requirement was added later, so she was "grandfathered" in. That was OK, until they moved her out of that job for two years, to work on a special project. When the project was over, they informed her and several other people who worked on the project that they couldn't have their old jobs back, because they required a bachelors degree. None of these people had one. They could find a lesser position to fill, get the degree or they could accept a severance package. This was where we were two years ago. Yeah, very nice.

Some took the severance package. The wife started researching online schools. She looked at one a few other people at work had used. She called the people at the school, which is an actual university in Nebraska with an online program, and worked out a course of study. She had a two year degree, and they accepted the work she had done there. Work would help pay for the tuition..somewhat, but hey, somewhat was better than nothing. She started her second student career.

Now, after about a year and a half of no weekends, cramming more than we could into not enough time, lots of sweat and quite a few tears, it's done. She finished a week ago. She turned in her last assignment last Sunday and got the grade for it yesterday, pretty much sealing the deal and keeping her on the dean's list, no less.

She still has to apply for her degree and they will mail it to her, but all the courses are done and there's nothing left to do but smile...and pay off the student loan.

We had a party Saturday night...just some close friends and a few of her coworkers, but it was nice. Sunday afternoon we went to the grocery store. In the car, she looked at me and said, "I don't know what to do with myself. I have all afternoon." I'm sure we'll figure that out. It's a great problem to have.


Friday, June 05, 2009

what a legacy to leave behind

I guess it really doesn't matter after you die. I mean, what do you care? You're dead.

Still, after having the Kung Fu show and Kill Bill movies being part of the things you would have been remembered for, the last thing I'd want when I leave this planet is to be remembered for being the naked guy dead in a hotel room with a rope around his balls. David Carradine's family is vehemently denying he'd commit suicide, trying to defend his dignity, but when it gets out that that's how they found you, what's the point? Whatever shred you had got choked with the chicken.

Kinda takes the wind right outa your legacy. Might want to take that under advisement the next time you're...oh, I dunno....alone and naked, considering the pros and cons of hanging yourself in a closet with a rope around Mr. Happy.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

when things get really drastic

The things you'll do to raise money in bankruptcy. General Motors is selling it's Hummers.

In downtown J'ville, women (and some men dressed as women) get arrested for that.


Monday, June 01, 2009

crampin' my style

Lessons from the Tour de Cure...

The ride...kicked my ass. I finished it, but that was probably the hardest thing I've done since I don't remember when. It was also one of the more painful (and yeah, it ranks well above being waterboarded on the torture meter, Ms. Pelosi).

I'm coming to the conclusion that rain, when I did the two 100 mile days for the MS rides, was actually a good thing. It may have been wet and miserable, but at least it was cool. Heat is worse...a lot worse, if you don't make the right preparations. I learned a few things about that though, like drink water and gatorade early, even when you don't think you need it. When it's hot out, do it early and often. I didn't do enough. At about the 70 mile mark my thighs started cramping. I had to stop for about 10 minutes on the side of the road between rest stops. Then, for the last two rest stops (75 and 90 mile marks), I had to really stop and rest. I drank a lot of water and gatorade those last two stops, and had a few bananas - the potassium is supposed to help prevent cramping. At the last rest stop, I literally could not get off my bike without help. Every time I straightened my legs, the thighs would cramp and I'd have to bend them. As long as I kept them bent, I was OK. A guy from a bike shop that was there for bike support knew what I was dealing with. He helped get my bike out from under me, and told me, "I've seen this plenty of times. All you can do is chug water." One of the SAG vehicles stopped, and the driver asked if I wanted a ride to the finish line. The bike shop guy said, "Don't do it, man. You're 10 miles from the finish line. You'll hate yourself if you get in that van." In my heart, I knew he was right. I got this far pushing through the pain. Giving up now was out of the question. The volunteers manning the rest stop gave me some motrin. That helped get me to the finish line...under pedal power...photographic evidence below. That would be the youngster and friends super soaking me when I got there.

We stayed at the finish line for a while. I had one celebratory beer (probably a mistake) and then more water. They had a shaded pavilion, with tables and chairs set up for dinner, so we stayed there a while and tried to decide what we'd do for dinner. It was free at the pavillion for me and my neighbor, who rode with me, but the families would have had to pay $20 a head, so we stayed to see what the fare was. They were unimpressed (more with the price than the food...my neighbor had kids who were too old to eat free, but too young to get anywhere close to $20 worth of eating in), so we left for a restaurant. Even still, when we drove away, my left leg started cramping again.

I heard other people talking about cramping, and one thing I heard mentioned was salt tablets....as in, "I took a salt tablet and that took care of the problem." Salt tablets? I haven't heard of people taking salt tablets since....Deep Purple was playin' 'Hush' on the radio. Memo to self...research that. Maybe there's an answer in there somewhere.

Two days later, my legs are still a little sore, but that's to be expected. Despite the ample use of sunscreen, I'm a litle bit burned, but not drastically so. I can't imagine what I would have looked like if I hadn't used it. I think I'm pretty much over the ordeal. Yesterday my thighs were still a bit tight, but I think I'm all better now. It was just a painful lesson to learn.