Thursday, December 24, 2009

I Stole a Dollar




I stole a dollar. It wasn't so much outright theft, as much as it was theft by omission.

I was standing in the checkout line at New Flower Market and the check out lady was scanning all my crap. She had a box of crackers that wouldn't scan. She leaned over and asked the cashier next to her how much the "never-scanning crackers" were again (apparently it was an ongoing problem.)

The other cashier said "99 cents. I think."

She shrugged her shoulders and punched in 99 cents. I was pretty sure the crackers were $1.99, yet for some reason I said nothing, and I don't know why. I'm not a dishonest person - except for that thing with the cheerleader, but hey, she said she was 18. In fact, I had already ran back down one of the aisles to retrieve the code for some organic rolled oats ($1.29 a pound, thank you very much) and would have had the perfect chance to substitute the code for the regular oats if I were so inclined, which I'm not. So it really bugged me why I chose to say nothing. I had plenty of time to have said "Hey, you know what? I think those crackers were actually x." Nope, nothing doing. I just didn't do anything.

Of course when I got home the crackers were all broken from repeated attempts at running them across the scanner, but then again, they always are - and I knew that'd be the case when I put them in the basket. That doesn't make it right.

So last night as I passed a Salvation-Army-Bell-Ringer-Guy I stuffed a dollar in his kettle. Hopefully all is well with the universe once again.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day




No I haven't seen the movie, I just thought it'd make a great blog title..

It felt great to be off for four days over the Thanksgiving weekend. My parents, sister, and her family all came into town. My parents stayed with me and my sister, et al., camped out at my brother's house where we all gathered for the traditional Thanksgiving rituals (eating, napping, eating, tv, napping, etc.)

I got up Thursday morning and hung out with my parents long enough to drink a cup of coffee and then headed out the door for a ride. I felt guilty about leaving them alone at my house, but, hey, we've all got our priorities, right? Nah, they didn't mind and it made them happy that they weren't imposing on me (by keeping from riding) so that's how I justified it. Besides everyone knows by now where cycling fits into my scheme of things. (Recently I met some friends out of town and I told them I'd be there Friday night. They wanted me to stay thru Sunday, but I told them I couldn't - that I had other obligations. One of them said "I know what you're going to do.. you're going to ride Friday after work, then come here, and then leave Saturday morning so you can ride that afternoon when you get back home." Umm, I guess that means I got busted?)

Anyway... I cut my ride short on Thursday, only doing about 20 miles, but it was still great to get out and ride on such a beautiful day. In fact, the whole weekend was nice. I managed to log in 110 miles over the four days. So, on Thursday as I rode around the Veloway, I didn't notice the Christmas tree (pictured above) until lap #4. Had it been there the whole time? Hmm.. I suspect it was the handy work of the Hill County Inline Club, but I'm not sure. The roller blade club is always doing some kind of "fun thing" at the Veloway - candy at halloween, baskets and egg hunts at Easter. Since Thanksgiving at least three more trees have been decorated around the three mile loop of the Veloway. Although its been skipped from time to time, it's good to see the tradition continue.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Will My Mango Tree Survive the Winter?



Woke up yesterday morning at 5:30.. walked out onto the front porch (in my underwear) and took a deep breath. It was a cool, crisp morning. I had every intention of riding before work. I clicked on the TV long enough to catch the weather and the current temperature was 37 degrees. I went back to bed. Today was more of the same, except it snowed. Big, giant, corn-flake sized, fluffy white things fell from the sky. Very few actually hit the ground. None stayed around.

Tonight I met Nancy after work for Mexican food, tequila, and about two hours worth of "catching up". By the time I got home, (approx 30 minutes ago) it was near freezing. Currently it's 60 degrees inside my house and I just built a big, roaring fire. However, I don't know if my mango tree is going to survive the night, let alone the winter. I put a garbage bag over it just now, but considering how little it's manage to thrive (and how little I've watered it, or even looked at it) over the summer I somehow don't think it's gonna make it.

I've had avacado plants (ne, trees) that have made it a couple of years but usually manage to succumb to a late spring freeze.. and that's the most "unkindest cut of all". If it's gonna die, then you expect it to happen in January or February - not in late March.. at least not in Texas.

The biggest problem is that I'm what you'd call a "tough love" gardener. I pretty much throw the plants out into the yard and if they make it, they make it. If not, then it was never meant to be. Had my mango plant/tree shown a little more initiative over the summer then maybe I'd feel a little more compelled to actually do more than throw a garbage bag over it. Oh well, you reap what you sow.. I'll keep y'all posted on how it goes. It's time to throw another log on the fire so I gotta go..

BTW, it's STILL 60 degrees inside the house.. if I had to rely solely on the fireplace for heat, I'd totally be screwed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

How hard is it to screw up sweet potatoes?

Apparently not very hard...

A while back we were hanging out and getting ready to BBQ.. I firmly believe that there's a time and place for everything so I have absolutely no problem slapping some burgers on the grill and cracking open a couple, ok, a lot, of beers.. However, I always try to mitigate my losses and do as much damage control as possible. This means that while I'm not above bustin out some 1/2 pounders on the grill, they're prolly gonna be comprised of either ground turkey or bison.. So while I'm at the store buying whole wheat buns, organic ketchup and what not, I really had a craving for something decadent.. I figured some "fries" would really complement the whole backyard burger theme, and as I stopped by the freezer case I noticed a bag of "sweet potato" fries and I thought what better thing to blend in with the whole "naughty but nice" theme of the evening. At first I cross-referenced the price of what appeared to be approximately 2 sweet potatoes peeled, cut & chopped into roughly "french fry" shapes vs. the price two actual sweet potatoes and decided the manual labor involved was well worth the extra three or four dollars the bag of frozen orange slivers commanded.





Unfortunately it wasn't until I got the bag home (and was searching for cooking instructions) that I discovered their dirty little secret.. Although the bag was festooned with proclamations such as: "0g of Trans Fat" and "Low Sodium" and "An Excellent Source of Vitamin A", my attention was quickly drawn to the ingredient list, which I had not noticed at the store since it had never occurred to me that sweet potatoes would ever contain anything other than, well, sweet potatoes. So, what exactly are your "sweet potato fries" comprised of? Read on if you dare.. (from the actual packaging): "sweet potatoes, canola oil, and/or sunflower oil, and/or safflower oil, modified food starch, rice flour, cornstarch, dextrin, salt, dextrose, xantham gum, leavening (disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate), colored with turmeric and oleoresin paprika." For me this was what you call a "WTF?" moment.. Several months later my only question at this point is "Why?"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rainy Day Flats (or This is Gonna Suck)

I've had flats while cycling and have had to walk some distances, so I know what it's like. I've even tried the "tie the tube in a knot trick" - it doesn't work. I've also had complete strangers just give me a tube (talk about a humbling experience) so I'm pretty sympathetic to most people in need of a little help. This weekend I ran into the two following situations:

Saturday I ran into a man was stopped and fiddling with his rear tire. Since I was at the end of a 40 mile ride I slowed down a bit and asked him if he needed any tools or a pump. "I need a tube," he said, emphasizing the tube part. "I've got a pump and a patch.." I offered, thinking he had run out of CO2. He something about "a problem with the side wall.. and it wouldn't help, but thanks anyway." So I rode on thinking "gee, some people really have hang-ups about patching tubes". As I pedaled along it suddenly hit me.. He didn't have a tube! He had tubeless tires and a problem with the sidewall was keeping it from sealing properly so a patch wouldn't have done him any good without a tube to patch. Der! Now I get it! Had I understood the situation in the 3.5 seconds in which our conversation in passing took place I would have told him that just around the bend was a garbage can where he could probably find a tube in pretty good condition, needing maybe a single patch. Garbage cans along bike paths are used tube repositories, because, some people really do have hang-ups about patching tubes. Unfortunately I was too far ahead by now to convey that bit of wisdom and my left knee was not about to let me do another 3 mile loop to circle back around. Shortly thereafter he was able to procure a tube from another roadie and I presume finish his ride without having to call for SAG support.

The other situation was two guys out riding in the rain on Sunday. They were pretty much the only other cyclists I saw on the Veloway that afternoon since the temperature was around 56 degrees and it had been steadily drizzling rain all day. I saw them riding along on a couple of laps and eventually caught up to them as they were now walking. Not really wanting to stop and lose what little body heat I had generated, I still asked if they needed any help. Hey, it was the proper thing to do. One of them pointed to his rear tire and said he had a flat. "Is is tubeless," I asked with Saturday's Duh Moment still fresh on my mind. "I'm not sure what it is," he said, adding "it's a rental," as if that should explain it all. "We've already called for someone to pick us up, but thanks anyway," the other guy said, perhaps sensing my desire to keep moving. So I waved at both of them and rode on. Man, what a miserable walk back to the parking lot (and wait for a ride) that must have been. But, I bet as they sit around talking over a couple of beers it'll be one of those things that start with "Remember that time we..."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Clueless?



A local blogger had a post recently regarding two incidents where cyclist ignored police barricades. In one of them it seems a college-aged girl went around the barricades and proceeded to ride right through the middle of a movie set. It goes on to state: "During the day we had several bikes approach but generally they would make some attempt at eye contact with me, I would send them East / West if the movie was active, tell them OK to the next cross street otherwise. I just don't understand how these two could have a thought process that said none of this applies to me."

I can really sympathize with that.. I frequently ride at the
Bicycle Veloway which just so happens to be across the street from The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. At least once a day someone will pull into the Veloway parking lot while looking for the Wildflower Center. Most people quickly figure out they are in the wrong place simply by observing the crowds of spandex-clad cyclist and roller bladers hanging around. The majority of them never even have to get out of their cars to come to this conclusion. Some will get out, walk up to the trail head, read the sign and turn around. Every now and then they approach someone and ask a couple of questions, but more out of curiosity/amusement than confusion.

So on Saturday as I sat by the trailhead I watched an older woman get out of her car and begin walking down the middle of the Veloway. I kept waiting for the little "light bulb" hovering over her head to blink on, but it didn't. Not even as she passed the trail map, or the signs that state "No Walking or Jogging on Veloway". Nothing seemed out of place to her even as several cyclists whizzed past. Had she made eye contact I would have said something like, "Are you looking for the Wildflower Center?"


Instead she kept her head down and walked with a very deliberate, purposeful stride that indicated this is something she's done a million times and knew exactly where she was going. She walked a ways down and out of my sight, but apparently at some point she turned around came back. I saw her walk back up to her car, get in it, and leave. Never once did she look puzzled, confused or say a word to anybody. I can imagine her going back to her friends and neighbors telling them that the Wildflower Center is nothing but bunch of exercise nuts or something... I'm just amazed how some people never clue in and yet somehow manage to blunder through life without a scratch.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Blogger just auto saved a blank page over my draft!

Here is my complaint.. has this ever happened to you (especially if you use a laptop)? I posted it under their "help" forum before and I'm doing it again. I just lost over an hour's worth of composition.. I will NEVER type a post directly into blogger ever again. I should have learned by now to type it in notepad first.

Anyway.. read on:



When composing a blog if I select text (to change a font, etc.) by using the "Shift" key and "Arrow" keys to highlight the text it will DELETE MY TEXT if I arrow down/up past the end of the text. The Autosave will save a draft which is essentially a BLANK PAGE!!! ARRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!! This Sucks!!!!! This needs to be fixed and I've complained about it before.

Try it for yourself.

1. Start typing a blog (or cut and paste is a couple of paragraphs of something)
2. Arrow up to top of post
3. Hold down "Shift Key" and press the "End Key" to highlight first sentence of blog
4. (While still holding down Shift Key) press the Down Arrow Key to highlight the next couple of lines
5. Keep pressing the Down Arrow Key and eventually everything you just entered will disappear

Then you get the joy of having AutoSave save a blank page. What's the purpose of having a "draft" if it cannot be recovered?

FYI it doesn't happen when I use a mouse to select the text, only when I use the arrow keys (which I often do since my mouse isn't always plugged in on my laptop). I really really really wish someone from blogger/google would address this.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Chile Rellenos

After watching Rick Bayless do an episode on Chile Rellenos I was inspired. He demonstrated several different versions of stuffed peppers but one method in particular caught my eye. He used some Anaheim peppers and wrapped them in corn husks to hold the whole package together.






Here is my version using Pablano peppers instead:

First I roasted a couple of Pablano peppers on the grill until the skin was charred and papery. Don't do this indoors unless you want your house filled with a very pungent aroma (rivaled only by a Doobie Brothers concert.) Then I cleaned and seeded the pepper and removed the stem.

Next I made a sauce using a couple of chipotle peppers (the kind that comes in a can coated with Adobo sauce) and some fresh chopped tomato. As I blended the tomatoes & chipotle peppers I added in a little water, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and a tablespoon of BBQ sauce for sweetness.

I peeled and deveined a handful of large Gulf shrimp and coated them with some of the sauce before grilling them. Once the shrimp were cooked, I chopped them in bite-sized chunks along with some white onion, added some grated Jack cheese and tossed the mixture with remainder of the sauce.

In the meantime, I had some dried corn husks soaking in water which were then rinsed off and spread out on a plate. I placed a Pablano pepper on each husk (actually I overlapped a couple of husks because the peppers were so big) and spooned in as much of the shrimp/onion/cheese/sauce mixture that the pepper would hold. Then it was simply a matter of rolling up the husks in to little packages and tying them up (with strips of shredded husks) before placing them on the grill for about 10-20 minutes, until the cheese melted and everything got all toasty. Give it a try with your own twist and let me know what you come up with.. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh Hellz Yeah..

File this under "It's about freaking time.."

Warner Brothers Music back on YouTube

I've complained bitterly, okay, more like bitched muchly, about companies that can't grasp the concept of free advertising. The last 5 CD's I've bought were because I heard a song either on YouTube or MySpace. I'm glad they've finally reached some kind of agreement. I bet they will see an increase in sales very quickly..

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Riding in the rain

It's been raining all week (yes!) which means I haven't ridden since Monday. Some of the "not riding" was due to the weather and some of it was due to me just being lazy. The rain is long over due since we are only two years into a predicted ten year drought. Today's forecast called for an 80% chance of rain and so far it has not disappointed. It rained for most of the night last night and when I finally got out of bed around 10am this morning it was still drizzling. I was finally starting to go stir crazy so I decided I was going to ride today regardless. I loaded my bike in the rain and set off for the veloway.

I was afraid the veloway would be closed as the city sometimes barricades off the parking lot during flash flood threats (which we have now). Parts of the veloway are in what used to be an old creek bed and although the track is paved it is also designed to facilitate storm run off and drainage. I passed through several showers on my way, but as I got just South of Slaughter Lane the rain stopped and as I pulled into the parking lot of the veloway I was relieved to see that it wasn't closed. I was able to ride for an hour and a half without rain, but it didn't mean I was able to stay dry. Several of the drainage areas had little creeks flowing through them which were about a foot deep.

Navigating these areas requires a bit of skill. Most people just ride through the water as usual (having dirt and water spray up their backs, soaking their shorts) but after watching some of the more experienced roadies I noticed they didn't have the "dirt stripe" and I too wanted to be stripe-free. There seem to be two popular ways to achieve this. One way is put your weight on one foot (left foot for example) and while keeping your body perpendicular, lean the bike at about a 45 degree angle underneath you. This directs the spray of water out and away from you. The other popular method utilizes the same logic however the rider keeps the bike straight and instead leans his body off the bike at angle. I prefer the first method personally. I just feel more in control that way.

So, between the drizzle, humidity, standing water on the track and the little man-made stream crossings I was pretty much soaked by the time I was done. I wanted to ride a bit more but some really dark clouds were creeping in more and more from the East and finally I decided it was time quit while I was ahead. I loaded up the bike and headed home. Oddly enough, just I crossed North of Slaughter Lane the proverbial bottom fell out. It was like the eye of the storm was centered right above the veloway.

I'm so glad I rode today and that I decided to go through with it regardless of the weather. It would have been very easy to just sit at home in the big comfy chair and watch it rain. Instead, I actually feel like I accomplished something. So the next time you are jonesing for a ride, check the weather radar and if it's raining in Austin, load up your bike and head to Bastrop or Pedernales or where ever it isn't raining. Make your own luck.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Handwriting Sucks

One of my coworkers sat back in his chair and let out a long, exasperated sigh.
"What's up?" I asked.
"I've been working here too long," he said.
"What makes you say that?" I asked, pretending to be interested.
"I just realized I can actually read what you wrote down on the log sheet," he said.
"Ooh, that's not good," I replied.

My handwriting sucks. Its gotten worse over the years as I've worked more on computers, typing and all, and really no longer give a shit. I'm not in school anymore so who am I trying to impress? My attitude is: if you don't like it, then don't make me write. I quit attempting to write in cursive sometime in high school. If you want to read anything I've written, you're gonna have to settle for block printing and even then it's something akin to Sanskrit, which means it might as well be in cursive. I've also found it's not so much a problem of legibility, as if I could just take extra time to make it clearer, it's a loss of motor control. The actual dexterity that it takes to make the letters on the paper seems to have diminished greatly over the years.

The biggest problem I've experienced so far is writing checks at the grocery store. Sometimes I think I'd be better off just voiding the check and starting over after a couple of attempts to make "Safeway" resemble some part of the English language. However, after having worked in a grocery store for seven years, I can tell you that the only part of your check that matters is the number(s) you write in the little box - the rest of it could be in Spanish and no one would care. I once wrote a check in orange crayon (true story) and it cleared my bank.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Us vs. Them

Yesterday's blog by the The Bike Noob touches on a rather volatile subject regarding cyclists and traffic laws. Let's face it, most motorist HATE cyclist with a capital "H". As a cyclist and motorist I've seen the situation from both sides of the fence. Motorist hate cyclist for running red lights/stop signs, blocking traffic and the like. Cyclist see motorist as antagonists and are often assaulted verbally and physically by them. That's why I'm a mountain biker. My only concern is angry land owners (huh? no trespassing? I didn't see any sign, I swear), the occasional militant hiker and over zealous parks police. I do ride on the road from time to time and spend lots of time at the veloway, which is closed to traffic.

On the road (and thus in my car) I drive the speed limit. Ok, maybe I'll drive like 5mph above the limit on the freeway, but only on the freeway. I stop at stop signs and come to a complete stop before turning right on red. And, believe it or not, I'll actually stop when the light turns yellow instead of speeding up, well, usually, unless it means stopping so abruptly I'm afraid of getting rear-ended, or it causes everything to go flying forward (ie, crap on seats and in the floorboards.) So when I'm on my bike I naturally tend to follow the same rules. I just ingrained and I don't even think twice about it.

I'm not a prude so I think my tempered driving habits stem from my younger days of hotrodding - which usually meant doing things we weren't supposed to be doing and therefore not wanting to attract any unnecessary attention to ourselves. I've gotten two tickets in my entire life: one for running a red light downtown (but not on purpose), and one for an expired/non-existent inspection sticker (in regards to said hotrod). Like I said though, I'm not a prude. Heck, I've been hauled to jail more than once, but I've just learned over the years to "minimize my risks" by not doing deliberately stupid things.

I think the biggest issue concerning cyclist vs. motorist is just that, one vs. the other. I'm amazed at how many people just don't understand it's not an "either or" type of thing. I'd guess probably 99% of the cyclist you see also on vehicles and drive on a daily basis. Likewise, 99% of the red-faced, angry motorist a cyclist encounters are probably his next door neighbors and Sunday school teachers - and are probably some the nicest people you could ever meet.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Creamy Cucumber Soup



A coworker was making a salad and I could smell the cucumber as she was cutting it up. It gave me craving from something chilled and creamy. I wanted soup. I'm not a big fan of cold soups but I thought I'd give it a try anyway. After doing some recipe searching on Google, here is what I came up with...

In a blender combine:

2 Cucumbers peeled, seeded and chopped
1 Avacado (ditto)
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt & dash of cumin
1 cup of milk (more or less)

Blend the crap out of it and let chill for a couple of hours. The avacado gives the soup deep green color and a smooth texture. Next time I think I'll experiment by adding a little chicken stock or white wine to help reduce the concentration of the mixture.



When is a farm not a farm?

When is a farm not a farm? Apparently quite often... I picked up the usual assortment of frozen organic veggies at the store a while back, and as I was getting ready to rip open a bag of broccoli I noticed a box on the back that was stamped "Product of China".

WTF?

The front of the bag said this was a "mom & pop" farm in Washington with nice pictures of rolling hills and dells (or is it dales?) and lots of happy cows and what not. What gives? I felt cheated. Honestly, if I wanted Chinese broccoli (not that there's anything wrong with that) I would have gone to Walmart and simply picked up the cheapest thing on the shelf. I very specifically picked a US farm that grew organic vegetables only to be the victim of the flim-flam shim-sham.

I picked up the package and began looking for clues. Ok, they say their farm was "headquartered" in Washington and that it was "started" in 1972, but no where on the package do they literally state: WE DIDN'T ACTUALLY GROW THESE VEGETABLES.

Now, in all fairness their website states the following: "...we're a leading grower, marketer and distributor of a wide range of delicious organic products..." However, most of us don't have internet access as we are standing there in the grocery store. So, the moral to this story is be careful of what you buy and a little googling can go a long way in making you a happy consumer.

BTW, when you buy shrimp/shellfish you do look at the ingredients don't you? It may contain more than just crustacean goodness.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Major Bonkage

This morning I was reading the Bike Noob's blog about Common Newbie Mistakes and it reminded me of something that happened on Sunday...

Yesterday I noticed a man and woman riding around the veloway together. The were only a couple, out of tons of other people, riding on the weekend. Other than noting the fact she was wearing a dress shirt with spandex shorts I really didn't pay them much attention. A lap later I saw them again, they were off the bikes and he was helping her walk up a short (but very steep) incline. By her body language I could tell she had just hit the wall. She had bonked. As I passed by on the next lap they were sitting in the shade near the same spot. Another lap later and they had abandoned the bikes and were walking; he was helping her and a roadie had stopped and walked his bike along with them to provide moral and physical support if needed.

As I kept riding along I realized I didn't see any water bottles in their hands nor did I see any attached to the discarded bikes. I did notice that the roadie had at least one bottle on his bike, however I couldn't tell if it had water in it. I remembered seeing a relatively new looking water bottle at the entrance that someone had discarded the day before. When I got back around to the entrance I rode past the bottle, slowed and turned around. I stopped and picked up the bottle. It seemed clean enough. I could rinse it out as best as possible, fill it with water and she could use it to dump on her head (or even drink some if she was desperate enough.) I thought about it for a moment and changed my mind. Surely they were close enough to the parking lot now that it wouldn't matter anyway. Instead, I rode on.

About the time I passed them again another rider had stopped and was offering assistance and/or water so I didn't feel too badly but I did have a twinge of guilt and wondered what exactly it was that made me change my mind in the first place. Why didn't I stop and help? I don't know.. A few minutes later I encountered a mountain biker who was ferrying one of their bikes along side his as he rode with one hand on his handlebar and one hand on the other bike's. We've all done that as kids, and it never really works for long, but it was inspiring to see this guy at least trying. After the couple made it back to the parking lot and (presumably) got everything squared away I saw the man practically running back along the track to retrieve the other bike. Man, what a miserable, long day it had been for them.

I hope the woman was/is okay. I applaude the roadie who stopped and walked with them, the mtb'er who ferried one of their bikes, and the woman who stopped at the cross-over to check on them. I feel bad for not offering to help, but it's not so much what I didn't do (I'll have to make up for that later) as it is what these caring people did do. They deserve a shout out.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Pains is currently in the CD player and the jury is still out on this one. Not sure how I feel about the whole distorted-twee genre just yet. Overall it's pretty much "my type" of music, but I don't see the point of producing such a crappily sounding CD that one would think it was recorded with a cell phone. I really wanted to like Wavvves as well, but just can't bring myself to wade thru the noise just to get to the good stuff. I came across Pains while watching FuelTV's segment on some surfer chick. They are coming to Austin this fall with the Plain White T's and I think they'll be much better live when all the noise and distortion is for real.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bastrop to Buescher (riding the park road)

I had been threatening to go ride the park road that runs between Bastrop State Park and Buescher State Park for about a month now. After running through all the usual excuses (it's too late in the day, it's too hot, I'm too hungover) I finally decided to "just do it".

I left the house on Saturday morning around 11 which for me is about as early as it gets, but it wasn't early enough. The temperature was already well into the upper 90's and I still had a 45 minute drive to Smithville. It was 100 by the time I got there. Both parks, with the exception of the swimming pool at Bastrop, were completely deserted.

I'll embed the video footage I shot below. The park road is great for novice to intermediate level cyclist since it is low traffic and contains just enough hills to keep things interesting without wearing you out. I only saw 4 other cyclist that afternoon and all 4 were mountain bikers. I guess the roadies have enough sense not to be out in the heat. I completely drained my 70oz camelback around mile #8 so I'm really thankful the road is only 11 miles long. If you go "out and back" and circle around both parks you can extend the ride to 25 miles or so.

Some parts of the video are a bit jiggly since I'm holding the camera in my hand as I ride.



Cycling Park Road 1-C (www.youtube.com/mx4789) - if you have a youtube account please log in and rate/comment/subscribe on youtube as well.

Friday, June 26, 2009

You're not gonna use these are you??


Cost of getting chipped tooth filled: $426.00
Freaking out at collection of bizarre implements
in waiting room: priceless


When I mentioned the bit about "what if dentists had pliers & drills as part of their logos" in Monday's blog, I had no idea how true that could actually be... I snapped these cell phone pics on Wednesday while waiting to get my tooth filled/fixed. I couldn't stop laughing the whole time I was there. I can't imagine how many kids must sit in this waiting room in sheer terror.



You got to admit it though, this guy has a wicked sense of humor
.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I know math isn't supposed to be fun, but...

There's one of those "Kumon Learning Centers" in the office park where I work and quite frankly I've always found their sign to be a little disturbing. I mean, if you are going to have a smiley face as part of your logo then shouldn't it actually be "smiling"?



What if the local dentist office had a drill and pair of pliers as part of their logo? Or if the doctor down the street had a big giant syringe out front? How attractive would that be? Maybe it's just me but the little face on this sign just doesn't strike me as good advertising. Instead the message it seems to convey is "Come to our center and we'll destroy your self esteem twice a week."

Some Days You Just Suck.

Yesterday I hit the wall at around 30 miles. I simply ran out of gas and could not physically turn the pedals over another time. It was hot, but no where near the 100 degree days I'm used to. I don't know why, but I just didn't have the legs for it. 30 miles is my usual weekday after work ride and sometimes I sprint the whole thing. So to be bonkin' on a Saturday or Sunday at the 30 mile mark, well, basically sucks.

My whole week had been like that..
Monday: hot & windy so I bailed out early (plus the prior weekend had been pretty productive so I wasn't too bummed about it).
Tuesday: grocery shopping.
Wednesday: hot & windy, flatted on 7th lap and chipped a tooth while eating fig newtons on lap 8. Still finished out the night with 30 strong miles.
Thursday: hot & windy, grunted out the standard laps.
Friday: BBQ with family.
Saturday: hot & really windy, barely finished 15 miles before I had to deal with umm, some "digestive issues". Sooo glad they got porta-johns at the Veloway.
Sunday: hot & windy and pretty much bonked after a miserable tedious ride. When I finally stopped to gasp for air and fellow biker as me how it was going. "Sucks" I replied. "Well," he said, "a crappy day on the bike is better than no day on the bike." I have to agree with that.

Now I'm off to go get my bike (drum roll please) so I can go out and do it all again this week.

video
(..then who would make the sandwiches?)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Big Yellow Death Trap

I ran by the house yesterday to pick up my bike and related crap so I could ride after work (which turned into a BIG GIANT SUCK-FEST, but that's another blog) and I ended up sitting behind a school bus in traffic. I couldn't help but notice that in all these years school bus design has changed very little. The biggest mystery to me is why don't school buses in Texas have air conditioning? The bus was idling there at the red light, some of the windows were up, some were down, and the little fan mounted above the visor was pointed at the driver, spinning like crazy.


When I was in Jr. High we lived less than 2 miles from the school which meant the school district wasn't obligated to provide transportation but did so anyway. However, it was the barest definition of "transportation" legally available. Since we did live so close to the school (although in a small town 2 miles can mean a lot of woods, creeks and very pedestrian un-friendly roads) we were on the "2nd run" on the bus schedule. This meant that the bus picked up a load of kids, drove them all home and then came back to the school for another load. It also meant you got home almost an hour after all the other kids did.

Our bus was a total POS - complete with holes in the floor and non-functioning windshield wipers. I guess the school's logic was to put the crappiest buses on the shortest runs so if they broke down the kids could just get off and walk. During one thunderstorm our bus driver (who was also the science teacher and track coach) made one of the boys squeeze between him and the side window, and I'm not joking, stick his arm out the window and manually work the windshield wiper so he could see. Air conditioning? Non-existent. Heater? Only when the bus got up to top speed (around 50 mph) the heat from the exhaust, and much of the fumes, would blow up through the holes in the floorboard. Seats next to holes were primo real estate in the winter.

One time, and why I have no idea, I reached under one of the bus seats and found a plastic baggie full of a white, powdery substance hidden under the seat. Yep, I know what you are thinking and trust me I was thinking the same thing: Score! I walked around school for several hours convinced that the mafia was going to show up any minute and demand their "stuff" back. Finally I did what all good seventh grade, TV police detectives do, I cut open the baggie, dipped my finger in it and tasted some of it. What I was expecting "it" to taste like, and how I'd recognize "it" anyway never actually crossed my mind (nor did what I'd actually do with it either). Turned out to be laundry detergent, bleah. Mom pretty much had a spaz-attack when I told her what had happened. Note to self: Add this to the list of "stuff we don't tell mom about".

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday - June 12th 2009

Weigh in at 157.4 pounds

Breakfast:
1 cup of coffee
1/2 cup of oatmeal

Midmorning:
Another cup of coffee
1 slice whole wheat toast w/ cream cheese

Lunch:
16oz gatorade
Turkey & cheese sandwich (w/ lettuce, tomatoes & avacado)

Early Afternoon:
16oz gatorade
1 table spoon peanut butter

Mid Afternoon:
1 cup of coffee

-- Cycling: none. Day 2 off. --

Supper:
Crackers & cheese & ham
2 slices of pizza (left over from Austin Pizza Garden last week & frozen)
4 bottles of beer (12oz Carona - yeah and I still lost 3 pounds this week)



Austin Pizza Garden

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday - June 11th, 2009

Weigh in at 158.6 pounds

Breakfast:
1 cup of coffee
1 egg (transmogrified in microwave) on whole wheat toast

Midmorning:
Another cup o' joe
1 plum (organic)
1 table spoon of peanut butter

Lunch:
Salad (organic: romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, red bell pepper & 1/2 avacado w/ ranch dressing)

Early Afternoon:
Coffee
1 banana + 1 table spoon of peanut butter (god i love that stuff)

Mid Afternoon:
1 kiwi fruit/thingy
16oz of gatorade

-- Cycling: 30 miles (1 1/2 hours) at 'balls out' near-race pace effort --
2 fig newtons

Supper: (at
Cypress Grill restaurant)
Salad (w/ grilled chicken breast, mixed greens, pico de gallo, cheese & chipotle ranch dressing - muy bueno!)
3 glasses of white wine (Cypress chardonnay)


video

Marshall Ford Swing Band - Cypress Grill * Austin, Texas

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday - June 10th, 2009

Wednesday - June 10th, 2009
Weigh in at 158.8 pounds (WTF?? How did I gain a pound?!?)

Breakfast
1 cup of coffee
1 5oz cup of yogurt (Organic Peach)

Midmorning:
Another cup of coffee
1 banana (finally killed off the last of the bunch)

Lunch:
Fiesta Salad (actually I just made that up.. it's really the rest of the spinach with some black beans and corn - topped off with salsa left over from last week's breakfast taco binge)

Early Afternoon:
Another cup of coffee
1 table spoon of peanut butter

Mid Afternoon:
1 small apple (where the hell is the rest of that banana nut bread/cake???)
1 piece of wheat bread w/ peanut butter

-- No biking today --

Supper:
Crackers & cheese
4oz grilled tuna steak
1 large scallop (grilled - was 2 but the other one fell apart)
1 cup of green peas (simmered in old skool aluminum pot on grill as fish cooked)
Finished off the rest of the wine & beer (about 2 glasses each)

Tuesday - June 9th, 2009

Weigh in at 157.8 pounds

Breakfast:
1 cup of coffee
1/2 cup oatmeal

Midmorning:
Another cup of coffee
1 rather mushy banana (I think the ones in the frige have "gone over to the dark side")
1/2 slice of banana nut bread

Lunch:
Salad (spinach, bell pepper & approx 3oz of grilled steak w/ organic ranch dressing)
1/2 baked sweet potato (olive oil & kosher salt)*

Early Afternoon:
Another cup of coffee
1 table spoon of peanut butter + the other half of the slice of banana nut bread

Mid Afternoon:
1 32oz bottle of Gatorade (melon flavored)
Another table spoon of peanut butter

-- Cycling: 30 miles (2 hours) at moderate/hard effort --
2 fig newtons while riding

Supper:
Crackers & cheese
2 glasses of wine (Beringer's cab sav, chilled, mixed with a little water)

5oz grilled lamb steak (not sure which part of the lamb it was though..)
1 cup mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, beans & what not)

1 bottle of beer (Shiner Bock 12 oz)


*groovy way to do sweet potatoes: split in half length-wise, drizzle with olive oil & sprinkle with kosher salt, wrap individual sections in foil, place on grill as soon as possible (while coals still getting hot or as soon as gas is on) and turn frequently. Potatoes are usually soft and ready by the time the meat is finally cooked.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Monday - June 8th 2009

Weigh in at 160.6 pounds

Breakfast:
1 cup of coffee (2 spoons of sugar & 2% milk)
1/2 cup oatmeal - plain w/ a little (okay a lot) of salt

Midmorning:
Another cup of coffee (actually 1/2 cup b/c it got cold and I poured the rest out)
1 banana

Lunch:
Salad (handful of spinach, chopped tomatoes, bell pepper, 5oz can of tuna & creamy basil dressing)

Early Afternoon:
1 cup of coffee
1 table spoon of peanut butter (organic peanuts/sea salt)

Mid Afternoon:
1 apple and another banana

-- Cycling: 30 miles (2 hours) at moderate/hard effort --

Supper:
Crackers & cheese (6 whole wheat crackers & colby-jack cheese slices w/ a little horseraddish thrown in for fun)
1 glass of wine (Llano Estacado's pino grigio)

1/2 grilled chicken breast + 1 handful of steamed broccoli florets
1 + 1/2 bottles of beer (12oz Carona)

Monday, June 8, 2009

On being "good" (or debauch no more..)

Organic or not? When and where possible I try to buy organic produce and related products. Sometimes the price difference is just too much and I'll go for the regular, genetically-modified, pesticide-laden version instead. One of my coworkers enjoys pointing out (and correctly so) that just because it is "organic" doesn't mean it is pesticide free, and I agree with him. After all, Arsenic is just as deadly as any man made poison, however, while that's nice it's not the only reason I go organic. I find that many organic products have less crap in them. I don't mean that in the way of fecal coliform but rather in unnecessary ingredients. Ever compare the labels of "regular" ketchup and organic ketchup? At least I can recognize the stuff they put in the organic ketchup - things like tomatoes, water, vinegar, sugar, salt. The organic peanut butter I buy has the following ingredients: organic peanuts, sea salt. That's it. Two things and I know what both of them are.

I'm not going to get into the whole thing about the nation's food supply and all that since it's been beaten to death by everyone else so far. I just wanted to say that I'll buy organic when and where I can for two reasons: it's the lesser of two evils and I don't need a degree in chemistry to read the ingredient list.

So anyway.. after a weekend of debauchery that did not involve anything organic, but instead saw the likes of Taco Bell*, pizza, pancakes, ribeyes, Shiner Bock and more than one glass of cabernet, I decided this upcoming week I'd be "good". "Good" means getting on the scale and actually looking down at the numbers. Good also means whole foods, no take out and actually cooking the things I eat, not just reheating them. Unless of course it's salad or something that would get all wilty in the oven. We'll see how it goes and I'm gonna post the daily totals/results so I'll have to be accountable. Wish me luck!

*(Me at drive thru: "Um I'd like 2 tostadas & 1 bean burrito please, oh, and what do you have that will mix with gin? Sierra Mist? Ok, give me a medium one of those too.")

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Butterflies Eat Poop

Butterflies Eat Poop (and other observations of a five year old)

I was gonna write a book full of witty things and such but faced a couple of major obstacles:

1. I'm not witty or even remotely funny
2. I don't know (or have) any five year olds

I'm pretty sure these things are what they refer to as "deal killers"... crap!


...and someone else has already beat me to the t-shirt idea.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I said whoa!

I replaced the brake pads on my truck last weekend. The auto shop wanted $400 to do a brake job and the "quickie" brake places only charge $99 (at least to get you in the door). I checked out the prices for parts online and the only way the $99 companies can make any money is to use absolutely the cheapest parts available and somehow I felt that brake pads made from cardboard and paper towels was probably not a good thing so I decided to do the job myself. After watching a couple of "how to" clips on youtube I went to the auto part's store and got Ford's "motorcraft brand" pads ($65 for the front and $55 for the rear.) I have some basic tools at the house, but generally every project costs more than normal because I usually end up having to buy at least "one of everything" (hammer, pliers, nails, screwdriver, beer) to accomplish the task.

Here's basically how things went:
Go to auto part store buy brake pads ($130) and c-clamp ($10)
Go back to store and buy a floor jack ($25)
Jack up truck, take wheel off
Spend 20 minutes trying to break loose a bolt and destroy the socket wrench
Decide I'm gonna need something big and beefy to remove bolt
Put tire back on, drive to store and buy heavy duty socket and breaker bar ($30)
Jack up truck and remove tire once again
Discover that 3/4 inch socket only strips out bolt
Go inside re-watch video and realize the bolt is an 18mm (that's metric - on an "American" car?? I blame the Canadians for this one)
Debate putting tire back on car and going back to store once again
End up watching another video and notice that they don't remove this bolt at all
Go outside remove the two correct bolts and replace brake pads in less than 20 minutes
Realize that this would make a nifty youtube video, grab camera and film other side




Brakes, Bikes & Beaches (Oh My!)


Dear Youtube & Yahoo.. thank you for offering to "remember my password" and/or "leave me logged in", but you see, the deal is I don't want you to do that. I keep unchecking the stupid little check box every time I log in and yet, somehow you just don't seem to get the message. I know you are not listening because every time I return to log in there is the little check in the box again.




Dear Flickr & Youtube.. please enable partial search matches. In the old days we called them "wildcard" searches and used an asterisk (*) to indicate our intentions. It would seem like you would have figured this out by now, what with all the kvetching from your users about it on your various blogs and what not

Okay, I'm glad we finally got that out of the way. Now I can move on to some more important things such as totally random crap..

I replaced the brake pads (front & back) on my truck (blog & vlog to follow).

I rode 650+ miles in May.

Did not get to schedule trip to Cayman Islands for June (or at all).

Going to Port Aransas (gulf coast) 1st weekend in August with Nancy.

Going to Port Aransas (gulf coast) 2nd weekend in August with my brother & his family.

Will probably go nuts and spend $$$ on a road bike (that I was originally going to go nuts and spend on the Cayman Island trip.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dead Letter Office

Wow! What a beautiful day. A cold front blew through around noon on Saturday and the weather today is down right pleasant. This is what we call "patio weather", meaning it's not too hot (or too cold) to find a spot on some Mexican food restaurant's patio and sample the margaritas.

I rode Saturday morning and barely managed to squeak in 30 miles before the front hit. Got rained on just as I loaded up the bike and headed home. Sunday was cold & windy and pretty much overcast until late afternoon. I'm glad I broke the long-sleeved jersey out of storage (read that: pile on laundry room floor) because the wind was blowing right through my short one. I was able to crank out 40 miles on Sunday but not without a lot of hacking. It seems my allergies have mutated over the last year(s) and now instead of the sniffly sneezy itchy eyes/nose it just heads straight to my lungs in the form of phlegm.

As I was heading out the door on Sunday I stopped to sift through the CD pile and see what caught my eye. Found a couple of them that deserved to be back in rotation..

Currently in the CD player is: Dead letter office by R.E.M. (haven't heard that one in ages)

Others I brought along are:
The Stone Roses - 2nd coming
Anberlin - New surrender
The Lemonheads - It's a shame about Ray
The Click Five - Greetings from Imrie house

Okay, I'm kind of embarressed to admit I like The Click Five (I know, it's totally gay) but how often do you get to indulge in some good, old-fashioned "power pop"? I found this CD due to an Orlando tourism commercial they used to run on TV a couple of years ago. It was the one with the theme parks and in the back ground was a catchy little ditty about "...something something time machine.." So I googled it and then bought the CD. It really is good once you get over the stigma.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Badge of Courage (or Be it Resolved..)


I've got these brown spots on the back of my hands. They are tan lines from wearing bike gloves. They are usually more noticeable in the spring before other (gloveless) outdoor activities, such as swimming, equalize the suntan on my arms, hands and rest of my body. After 19 year of cycling I've gotten used to it, but some people make comments every now and then. Mostly guys will point out that it looks stupid or goofy, but that's ok because the chicks dig them. I'm amazed at how many complete strangers will come up and ask what kind of sport I'm into. I kinda like them. I consider them to be a brown badge of courage. Ok, maybe not courage, but certainly one of endurance.
It's been summer for about a month now. I noticed it one day when I left the house for work and instead of the usual cool mornings we'd been having the temperature at 8 o'clock was in the 70's. Overnight it became summer. We haven't had any cool mornings or evenings since. Now they daytime highs are consistently hitting the 90's. It's okay with me, though. I consider 70 degrees to be "cold".
I guess the thing about depression is that you don't always recognize it until it's over. I woke up this morning and some how things were "different", things just felt better. For the past couple of nights I've actually started having dreams again. Last night I had this big long convoluted dream about SD cards (seriously!). I'll spare you the details. Anyway... like I said, this morning things just felt different as if coming out of a fog or something. My last couple of rides had just been laborious, tedious, suffer-fests where I've barely been able to turn out 15-20 miles at a time. Today was a great day. I put in 51 miles and just smiled the whole time. I think there had just been so much negativity going on lately that it was really dragging me down. Yesterday I was resolved to not let it bother me anymore, that and the fact I quit taking allergy medicine. The allergy medicine was keeping me sneeze/sniffle/itch free but it was making me so groggy in the mornings and though I was sleeping all night I constantly felt tired and burned out. You dream during R.E.M. sleep and if you are not dreaming then you are not getting the restorative deep sleep that your body needs.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What's on your i-pod?

I love comedy and humor, but as much as people say I'm a "funny guy" (no, not like that) I can't ham it up or be spontaneous on stage or put on a show. Any perceived humor on my part is based or more witticism and such. So when I saw Steve Kardynal's post on his Ipod (Steve is a member of the Dirt Humor troupe) on youtube, I wanted to reply but there is no way I could stand in front of a camera and lip sync. So I had to figure out a way to do it "my way" and here it is. Watch his version first and then watch my reply.

Steve Kardynal (dominater005 on youtube):


My video reply (mx4789 on youtube):

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Funny Games

Just saw the American remake of Funny Games (or at least most of it, I couldn't finish watching it - I saw the original German version so I knew how it was going to end) and I had to think: what's the point? Naomi Watts did an excellent job of acting in it, and at first I was absolutely amazed at the similarity to the original but a quick check of IMDB shows that Michael Haneke (writer/original director) actually directed the remake as well. Which really makes me wonder "what's the point?" Was it just to make an English language version? The remake was almost identical to the original they may as well just have dubbed the first one in in English. Hmm.. actually I was wrong the remake wasn't almost identical it was identical (the below was taken from IMDB):
*Director Michael Haneke also directed the Austrian original:
Funny Games (1997).
*The production crew used the blueprints from the 1997 original. The set of the house in the 2007 American remake has the same proportions as that of the 1997 set.
*The film is a shot-by-shot remake of the original.

Now don't get me wrong, the film is good and well done, but if you are going to watch it, do yourself a favor and watch the 1997 German version. Something about it being in a foreign language (and reading subtitles) makes it all that much more creepy. I just don't see any point for reinventing the wheel.

...and this film is creepy. *shudders*

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Roadrunner, FML (almost)

Thanks to all those years of ninja training and cat-like reflexes I narrowly avoided munching a roadrunner yesterday while zipping along on the bike at 20mph. Sucker ran right out in front of me and was almost toast. If it had run right across the track it wouldn't have been so bad, but instead it ran down the track at an angle. Whew. Close call. Coulda swore I saw the bastard smirking as it ducked into the brush. Do birds smirk?

Somewhat related... logged 325 miles this month on the bike so far. Max speed 28.7 mph - and that's actual hammering under a load (not coasting down some steep hill or something.) Average speed yesterday (over 28 mile ride) was 17.1 mph, not too bad for a fat guy on a mountain bike...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mountain Biking at St. Edwards Park



Mountain Biking at Saint Edwards Park in Austin, Texas. The park is located in the Bull Creek watershed. It is the first place I ever mountain biked in almost 19 years ago. We've logged thousands of miles on those trails over the years. Sadly, many of the trails no longer exist since much of the original tract of land (about 95%) is now off limits to practically everyone due to endangered species habitat. Not that there's anything wrong with that..

Spring! Bam!

According to the rose bush, winter lasted exactly 2 months (and that's fine with me.)


video

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I just got "spanked" by YouTube..

Dear mx4789,
Your video,
Mountain Biking at Saint Edwards Park, Austin TX, may have content that is owned or licensed by WMG.
No action is required on your part; however, if you are interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit
the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.

Sincerely,- The YouTube Team

Okay.. the "No action is required on your part.." part means "we've just deleted part of your video" but we've worded it in such a way that you won't freak out and go check your account. I knew something was up when it took almost an hour to upload a 2 minute video. Wow! They must have some kind of carnivore-type of software. My video was up less than an hour and only had 1 hit before it got flagged. Anyway.. be warned, big brother is here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

CD's that have accumulated in my truck.

I'm really good about getting things "out", such as dragging out old cassette tapes to listen to, pulling photo albums off the shelf to peruse - I'm just not so good at putting things "back". Here's a list of the CD's that have slowly accumulated in my truck over the past months...

Currently in the player: Owl City - Maybe I'm Dreaming



CD's loitering amongst the rubble in the floorboard:

*Farewell - Isn't this Supposed to be Fun?
*Dashboard Confessional - Dusk and Summer
*Jack's Mannequin - Everything in Transit
*U2 - Boy
*Echo and the Bunnymen
*The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
*Crash Test Dummies - God Shuffled his Feet
*Ochestral Manouevers in the Dark - Best of OMD
*4 Non Blondes - Bigger Better Faster More
*Gin Blossoms - New Miserable Experience
*Paul Westerberg - 14 Songs
*Johnny Cash - American IV the Man Comes Around
*The Wall Flowers - Bringing Down the Horse


Other things of interest include: bike helmet, backpack, 4 pair of bike gloves (!), sleeping bag, pillow, life jacket, no less than 3 fishing rods/reels, 1 pair of underwear (don't ask), water shoes, sunscreen, a big container of Morton's salt (handy for ice days), 2 pair of shorts, laptop computer, big heavy coat (no longer needed, same for salt), tackle box, 3 baseballs and a nerf football.


Monday, February 23, 2009

The Silent Wind of Doom

"Clear your mind of whimsy. Learn to sway like the ginkgo flower." - The Angry Beavers (episode: The Silent Wind of Doom)
The wind is teaching me patience. A cold front was slated to come through around noon with wind gusts from 30 to 40 miles an hour. I hate riding in the wind (and cold) so I got ready and left the house at 9:30 hoping to avoid the whole thing. No such luck. It started to rain and then 4 miles into the ride the front came through much earlier than predicted. The wind picked up and literally blew me all over the place. My normal reaction is to stand up and power up the hills, but the wind was making it impossible. Finally I had to give in, sit back down on the saddle and dump a bunch of gears. As I sat there spinning, slowly winding my way uphill, I began to relearn that sometimes finesse is better than brute force; patience is better than instant gratification. I said "relearn" because this lesson is first thing mountain bikers discover. Brute force doesn't work in the rocks and dirt, you have to use finesse or you will simply spin out. Maybe the biggest lesson in all of this is that I haven't spent enough time in the dirt lately (both figuratively and literally). A little humility goes a long way, but needs to be experienced every now and then for us to remember what it is.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Things to do with tax refund..

Things I might do with my income tax refund:



  • Get brakes fixed on the truck

  • Buy a refrigerator

  • Buy a water heater

  • Buy the following CD's: Snow Patrol, The Airborne Toxic Event, Owl City

  • Buy a new DVD player (see the old one)


Here's a little "Red Meat" for your diet:



Saturday, February 14, 2009

A long and winding post.

I haven't done any old fashioned stream of consciousness blogging in a long time. I was looking back at some of my myspace blogs and I love the fact that I can go back to just about any particular week and tell you what was happening at that time. For me the blogging was/is more of an online diary and notes to myself as opposed to some great proclamation to the world. It's just that the diary is open for anyone who cares to read it, that's all. I quit blogging pretty much about the time I started vlogging and even that seems to be slowly grinding to halt. I enjoy youtubing - I'm sure there's a name for browsing videos on youtube, but I don't know what it is. Anyway... the videos I like the most are the vlogs (ordinary people rambling on about their day) and the sketch comedy clips such as Smosh and ShaneDawsonTV. There's also quite a few how-to or self-help videos on things like repairing washers, or making hot sauce. I only spend about 20-30 minutes on youtube (early Saturday & Sunday mornings) while the coffee is percolating and there is really nothing on TV. I'm not a big Internet surfer. I've pretty much lost interest in maintaining a myspace account because myspace has gotten so bloated with ads, add-ons, apps and flash-esque crap that it is cumbersome, slow and clunky. Pages take forever to load, if at all. Many of their add-on and 3rd party gimmicks set off my firewall and virus scanner so I've all but stopped logging in. Besides, I like the ease of use and styling of blogger much much better. I have my own domain, but don't have a website hosted anywhere anymore. I used to, but it got axed during a round of spending cuts one year. Now I just have the MX record pointed to an email only host for like $5 a month.

It's 11;30 Saturday morning and I'm still sitting here waiting for the temperature outside to warm up. We've had spring-like weather for several weeks now and today is like some kind of cruel joke. It's been 48 degrees for some time now. I'm about to put on the tights and long sleeved jersey and go ride as soon as I put in my contacts and retrieve the two eggs bubbling about in the pot of water on the stove. I like hard boiled eggs because they require no tending to. Just plunk them in a pot of water and let it boil. No stirring or watching or any of that mess.

[several hours later...]

I'm back. Rode for a couple hours and mashed out a little over 21 miles at the veloway (and into the wind). It's now a balmy 51 degrees in Austin, Texas. Got a pot of coffee percolating on the stove and it's starting to make the gurgling and bubbling sounds that tell me I'll soon be smelling that intoxicating aroma of french roast. Okay.. maybe not intoxicating, but it does smell good. My sister-in-law got me that coffee pot for Christmas. It was completely unexpected and totally random. I've had other coffee pots in the past but this one is stainless steel and the whole thing can be disassembled easily and put in the dishwasher. My kind of pot. It reminds me of my grandmother's house in Mississippi. She would often be up as early as 5am cooking breakfast and prepping the kitchen for the rest of the day. As a child I was somewhat frightened by the noisy contraption and it produced a strong, thick black coffee that not even half a cup of milk could temper.

And now for some totally random crap:

On the way home from the track I heard another song by
The Airborne Toxic Event - I'm soo getting that CD. I also want to get ones by Snow Patrol and Owl City.

It's Valentine's Day. This time last year I was in love and started working on this poem:

The angels coil in fear
The angels run in fear
The angels refuse to hear
a cry for love the angels refuse to hear
a prayer the angels will never hear


a love that will never be
even though I give you all
a total consumption surrender of me

and in a moment of utter despair
I beg for forgiveness
but the angel refuses to hear

I'm watching Jacques Pepin on PBS whip up some concoction on the stove whilst killing time waiting for the Tour of California to come on in an hour.

Yesterday was Friday the 13th and there must have been some kind of harmonic convergence because my phone which sometimes doesn't ring for weeks suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree. We had arranged happy hour with co-workers and former co-workers on Friday. My sister-in-law called to invite me to dinner at
Ranch 616 where she had made reservations for no one in particular. I couldn't go since I was already committed to happy hour. Funny part was that Ranch 616 was my first suggestion for happy hour location. It's a bit pricey so it got pooh-pooed by the budget conscious amongst us. Then Nancy called to see if wanted to meet for drinks after work and once again I had to take a rain check. We're gonna meet Monday afternoon at Guero's Taco Bar for margaritas and general loitering on Congress Avenue. It promises to be fun.

PS: spell check didn't like "gonna" (slang for "going to") and instead suggested I use "gonad". What?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

ZOMG! LMFAO..




This actually made me laugh out loud at work.. It seems some joker(s) hacked into a couple of the road-way construction signs and put in a custom message. I still crack up everytime I think about. This shows there is still some hope for humanity. Here's a link to the story.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

What I did on Saturday

81 degrees on January 3rd... who'da thunk..



Mountain biking along the Wolf Mountain Trail loop at
Pedernales Falls State Park (Texas). Nothing extreme tho.. I'm too old and fat to huck.