Thursday, July 30, 2009

one of those jobs

There are jobs out there, and you know the kind....the ones you would have to pay me an inordinate amount of money to perform. I came across one of those while reading this story about the shuttle's return.

In it, they talk about the Japanese astronaut, returning with the shuttle. He's the first Japanese astronaut to spend an extended period of time in orbit, and was testing a new kind of antibacterial, water absorbing, odor-eliminating underwear.

"He's bringing back the used undergarments for scientific analysis."

How would you like to be on the analyzing end of those shorts?


you say 'tomato', I say RUN

Let me start with...I like tomatoes. I like slices on burgers. I like them in salads. I have no real problem with tomatoes. What I have a problem with is tomato plants, and the people who grow them, starting with my parents.

My issue is the number of tomatoes that come off the average tomato plant, and the inability of the owners of those plants to consume what they produce. The inevitable result of that is the arrival of the tomato pusher. You know who I'm talking about because if you aren't one, you've run into them.

"You like tomatoes, don't you? Here, please take this truckload off my hands."

Every time I see my parents, I get more tomatoes thrust on me than I will eat in a year. I have neighbors who are the same way. They get insulted if I won't take their tomatoes. I don't know how grocery stores sell any in the summer. I haven't purchased a tomato in eons (or, OK...since February). I throw away more than I eat. They keep giving me suggestions on how I could serve/eat even more tomatoes and to be honest...I'm not that crazy about them. I like them with certain other foods, but I don't just pick up a tomato and eat it. I wish I did. My summer grocery bill would drop to almost nothing.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

cycling as a spectator sport

I've never considered cycling much of a spectator sport. I probably kept up with/watched more of the Tour de France this year than any other, but still I wasn't glued to it. Bicycling has always been something I love to do but don't really care to watch someone else do. I can think of a few other activities that fall into that category, but I digress.

Not helping at all was all the doping controversy stuff. It just made me shake my head. Why do people think they can get away with cheating? Even if they do, in their heart of hearts they know...any accomplishment is a lie. This year I got into it a bit because of Lance Armstrong. I didn't care so much about him winning. I just liked the story of him coming back and giving it a shot.

Now, I have this. The race is over and done. Alberto Contador won and Armstrong came in third (which I thought was pretty freakin' amazing, all things considered) and they're on the same team and they rocked. Still, they don't like each other and now, they're sniping at each other. I know...huge egos are part of any sport. It's not just a cycling thing. This, though, is just stupid. Can't you guys just smile and be happy with your accomplishments, and be happy and have some respect for your teammate? Contador, you got scoreboard, dude. You won the thing. You need to be happy and leave everything else in your rear view mirror. Armstrong, you won seven of them and came back to take third place. You have nothing to complain about. You both kicked butt. Do you have to keep picking at each other? Just be proud of what you did, and not busy getting your bike shorts twisted in a wad, egging each other on. If it ain't doping, it's being crybaby pansies. I'd say you're acting like a couple of little girls, but that'd be an insult to little girls. Don't give me any of that, "But he said" crap. Grow up! Is it any wonder I don't make a habit of watching you people ride?


Thursday, July 23, 2009

To Paradise and Back


OH MY GOD DAD What’s that smell???

The youngster and I did the MS Bike ride in Pennsylvania. I’m not ready to say it was better or worse than the MS ride we do here at home. It was definitely different.

First there were two MS Chapters doing the ride. There was the Central Pennsylvania and Delaware Valley Chapters. I thought that would mean we were doing the same route, but no. We shared some of the same rest stops and parts of our route was the same as theirs, but parts were different. I have no idea why.

Second, there was no universal organized start time. The stuff I got said we could start from 6:30 to 8:30. I took that to mean the mass start would be at 6:30, and stragglers could leave up to 8:30. We got there at about 6:25. I expected to be stopped and directed to park somewhere, but no. We drove right through the start line to a nearby parking lot. There were just a few people there. I’m thinking, “Where the hell is everybody? Are we in the right place?” Turned out we were. We got our stuff together and headed to the start line, and waited for someone with a bullhorn to show up. There were all of two groups waiting there. It soon became apparent that nobody with a bullhorn was going to show up, and those two groups were only there because some of their friends hadn’t shown up yet, and they were waiting for people. No organized start. No police help. Just get up and go when you’re ready. The youngster caught on first, saying, “Dad, I think we just go.” I was being stubborn waiting for someone to tell us to start. Then, after seeing a few other people leave, I conceded, “I think you’re right. Let’s go.”

The weather was perfect. Temps started in the high 60s and maybe hit 80 by the time we finished. Not much humidity. Lots of sun…no rain.

First part of the ride…mostly downhill…and the youngster’s smiling. “I love this hill thing!” I blinked and we were about 5 miles into it. I’m thinking…dude, we gotta go back up at some point, and it won’t be fun. We learned real fast that there would be a whole lot more shifting in this ride than anything we do in Florida. I was really appreciating that I wasn’t riding my old bike with the lever shifters on the down tube. That would have been a killer. It all seemed like a much smaller scale than the ride at home, but some of that was because of the staggered start and not everybody on the same route, and some was because it really is smaller.

The scenery was amazing. Again, not really better or worse than home (I mean really, going down the beach on A1A is pretty nice too), but definitely different. It was really cool for the youngster, who had never been out there in farmland and rolling hills before. He kept saying, “Dad, just look to your left (or right). You could make a whole calendar of pictures on this ride.” I didn’t say, “Yeah buddy…people do.” But I was thinking it. We went through covered wooden bridges and passed a whole lot of horse and buggy riding Amish folks. We saw Amish people in the fields and one guy pounding something on an anvil. We saw tons of barns, some with hex markings. One guy was riding this scooter looking thing with big bike wheels, but you had to push it…no pedals. It was a beautiful ride.

With the cool scenery comes reality though. We came in very close proximity to a bunch of barns, maybe ten yards from cows in those barns, and the youngster got his first smell of very fresh cow manure. That’s when he took one hand off the handle bar, buried his nose in his elbow and yelled, “OH MY GOD DAD! What’s that smell?” He complained for a little bit, and then mused about how we were going to smell when we finished. Then there was the reality of the whole horse and buggy thing. Those buggies travel the right side of the road, like we do. Unlike us, horses don’t wait for rest stops and use the rest room. Avoiding chunks wasn’t so hard, but the stuff ground into the road…no way. Realistically, none of that is staying with your tires for very long, but the youngster’s were new, and he whined a little about that. Last, but certainly not least, were the hills. After that first little downhill slide, came the first uphill part, then down, then up, then down, then up, then up some more…etc., etc., etc. Sometimes you could build speed on the downhill part and gain momentum for the next uphill part, but lots of times there were stop signs or lights at the bottom of the hill (or a covered bridge, and you couldn’t fly through those…wooden slats for road), so you had to stop at the bottom and start from scratch and head back up. About 40 miles in, the youngster said, “Dad, you said there’d be hills, but you didn’t say it’d be all hills. It’s all up or down. There’s no flat.” The kid was right. I underestimated that part, and how hard they’d be.

They didn’t provide us with a route map, although I know they existed, because I saw them at rest stops. I couldn’t read them then, because I didn’t carry reading glasses with me. They probably had them at some table at check-in, but I didn't look at the time. Here, you can download a map from the website for the ride, but it wasn't on the website for the ride up there. I did, however, e-mail the organizers when I got home and requested one. I hope they come through. I expect we went to the town of Paradise, since it was part of the name of the ride. I know we went through the town of Intercourse, because we had lunch there, and I saw signs (and no, contrary to what you may think, Intercourse and Paradise aren't the same). Other than that, I have no idea exactly where we were.

They called us "the orange people" because of the jerseys we wore. They were the ride jerseys from the ride we did last fall from Saint Augustine to Daytona and back, and had orange sleeves and sides. The youngster overheard people at one rest stop say, "We're doing OK. We're keeping up with the orange people." Yeah, like keeping up with us means you're doing OK. Nobody told them it was our first attempt at that kind of topography. Then one of the later rest stops came with a cheering section, they welcomed and bid farewell, "the orange people."

Unlike the ride at home, you come to a fork in the road about 40 miles in where you decide to ride 75 or 100 miles. I like making that decision toward the end, evaluating whether or not I feel good enough to do another 25 miles. Here, that wasn’t an option. We got to the rest stop at 90 miles and people who had done the ride before were talking about the last 10 miles…and that it was all uphill. It wasn’t all uphill, but it was close. We were paying for that first downhill part of the ride, and it was hard. It was easily the most difficult ride I’ve ever done. It finished at Millersville University, where it started, which was nice for us one day riders. Supposedly the second day route was different. Maybe the two chapters just switched routes. We didn’t stick around to find out.

I’d have to agree with the youngster, who said, “I couldn’t do another day of that tomorrow. I’d be dead.” Overall, it was an enjoyable day and I'm very glad we did it. It'll be a while though, before we pack up the bikes and head back north for round two.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

see ya on the flip side

This blog hasn't been a daily thing for quite some time now, but it will be unusually quiet for the next two weeks, as I will be vacationing...nowhere near a useable internet connection. We'll be at my parents' house most of the time and that means one dial up connection that interrupts the phone service. I won't be jumping on that thing at all, if I can help it.

Take care of yourselves.



I may be all alone in the world or part of a very small minority, but I don't find Sacha Baron Cohen the least bit funny, and I'm a comedy guy. I love comedy.

I watched about 5 minutes of Borat, and found it boring and contrived. It tried way to hard to be funny and just wasn't. It was actually hard to watch. I sympathized with the people he was...abusing? exploiting? embarrassing? humiliating? making generally uncomfortable? I certainly wasn't laughing. The clips I've seen of Brüno don't give me any hope for improvement. I certainly wouldn't rush out to a theater to see it, and may pass even when it hits television. It just seems insulting, or embarrassing, neither of which is.....funny. In my mind, it's pretty analogous to making a movie of someone exploiting a mentally challenged person and calling it "Let's Laugh at the Retard." Before anyone gets all offended, please note I didn't call anyone mentally challenged or a retard, I'm just saying Cohen's work hits the same 'bad taste' chord in me for the same reasons that hypothetical movie would.

I guess to each his own. The youngster thinks it's hilarious. I heard someone say that, "a lot of people are just too stupid to get Sacha Baron Cohen." To that I the high school sophomore thinks he's hilarious. The guy with a couple of college degrees, and daily works with computer logic that would make a lot of people's head spin, thinks he's pretentious, elitist, contrived and not at all humorous. Yeah, stupidity is my excuse.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

can we get just an ounce of moderation?

Hi Iran,

I sympathize with you. I really do. I understand you feel like you got jobbed in the election and the wrong guy is leading your country. I don't know if you're right or wrong (because I doubt an honest vote count is even possible now), but I get that. Honest, I do.

I get the protest marches and the feeling of frustration. What I don't get is marching through the streets yelling "death to the dictator". Don't we have enough killing going on? Why is it always, "Go straight to death! Do not pass GO! Do not collect $200!"? Personally, I don't like the guy. I don't think he's helping your country and the world's opinion of it. He takes ignorance to a new level, easily surpassing the liberal view of George Bush (which I disagree with, but understand) in this country. Being stupid isn't a crime punishable by death though. Like you, I'd love to see a changing of the guard and more moderation in your country, but death is a bit extreme. Two wrongs don't make a right, and don't prove yourself to be just as bad as the guy you're trying to get rid of by stooping to his level.

How about "exile for the dictator" or "dictator for dog catcher"? As long as he's not running the country, is that a suitable compromise?


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

of course, it's all speculation for now

Ok, so Steve McNair and his girlfriend are found dead in a love shack he rented in Nashville. Both have been shot. There's a gun present that she bought a few days earlier. They've been dating for about 5 months. According to friends and family, she was very happy, and was getting ready to sell her furniture and move in with him.

My speculation is she believed he was leaving his wife for her, and that belief was recently shattered. How much he led her on and how much of that was all in her head, we'll never know. The realization that her life really is high school dropout/waitress at Dave & Busters/soon to be former sex toy for former NFL star hits her smack in the face. She's more than a little pissed off. She buys a gun and...then there's the rest of the story.

Of course, here in J'ville, what's the huge part of this story? The psycho bitch from hell fatal attraction local. She immigrated here from Iran and went to Orange Park High School...before dropping out and moving to Tennessee. Thank you so much for putting us on the map in such a flattering light. OK, I'm overreacting a little. Of the 20 years in the woman's life, she resided in the J'ville area for all of 3.

Then there's McNair, who, in light of the sordid circumstances of the whole event, is being eulogized by just about everyone who ever knew him...his old coach, his agent, former teammates, his neighbors, his dog, his neighbor's dog, his paperboy, his paperboy's dog, his paperboy's dog's fleas....everyone is stepping up to say what a great guy he was, and how he "ought" to be remembered. I have no doubt he did a lot for the communities in which he lived, but he did this too, and it's all part of the whole. In the words of Willy Shakesphere, "methinks thou dost protest too much". Then again, I shouldn't be so judgemental. When I become perfect and can lord my superiority over others, I'll be sure to let you know. This is all speculation anyway, and even if it's true, we'll never know the whole story...nor should we, as much as the media insists that they should break it down for us.