Friday, December 26, 2008


Once again I find myself being slack with my updates. Sorry...again.

Anyhoo...I essentially wrapped up my work travel just before Thanksgiving, and then my non-work travel started. First, there was the Thanksgiving excursion down to Mom and Dad's. Then, I jetted off to the UK to spend my birthday in the country I was not born into, not in this life anyway. Now I'm back at Mom and Dad's only to head off to Costa Rica tomorrow to spend my New Year holiday in a country I've never been to before.

I'm excited.

Everyone I've ever known who has traveled to Costa Rica raves about it. I was invited to join my very good friends and colleagues Ross and Tori, along with their significant others, and Foxy Nick. Others were invited but have found reasons why they couldn't make it. Matt wins the 'I have to travel the farthest' award by making the long journey from the YouKay. It's going to be a great group.

I've never gone anyplace warm in the winter. I've never felt the need to. I love winter, generally, and have found snowboarding and snowshoeing good ways to stay active during the long winter months. This is going to be a switch. The temperatures are due to range between 70-75F (20-23C). Shorts and t-shirts in January! I guess I'll learn how the Floridians feel.

So, since I probably won't be posting again for a while, let me take the opportunity now to wish everyone happiness and prosperity in the New Year! See you in ought nine.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Protect your eyes.

I just got back from a fantastic trip down to North Carolina. It was work related, but it hardly seems fair to call it work. I was down there in conjunction with Trek Travel on their 4 day demo trip. There was actually a great deal of work involved. Part of that was due to the rides I had to lead. I got to ride trails in Pisgah National Forest, and Dupont Forest. Both absolutely amazing places to ride. The colors on the trees were astounding.

My roommate Darren went with me. I'm pretty sure he had a good time. Now, Darren is a guy's guy. He's popular with the ladies, has a lot of diverse interests that require lots of toys (mountain biking, dirt biking, etc), and he's an all around good guy. The only issue I openly have with Darren is his use of the word 'bitches'. It became my mission during our trip to try and encourage him to use another, less demeaning word...You know, like 'broads', or something. To try and encourage him to stop, I tried many tactics. A short, yet stern 'HEY!', a more pleading 'Seriously...please.', and sometimes brute force with a punch to the arm.

I thought I was making real progress. That is until we arrived at the home of my beloved parents on the way back north. This part of the story is important to remember for a bit later on. Keep reading...

A quick sidebar: anyone who knows my folks will understand where I owe the credit for my sarcastic wit. My father has a particularly biting sarcasm, and since his stroke it seems to be the one thing that has become more accute. I'm not sure he has much internal censorship. :~)

My family is very boisterous, and Thursday night dinners are shared with my brother and his family. This has become a mini-tradition since my brother was hit by a drunk driver two summers ago. A family meal is nothing short of a workout. There is copious laughter. I mean real, solid belly laughing. The kind that makes your face hurt.

Darren and I arrived at mom and dad's on one such Thursday night. Just after we finished our meal, I was holding my dad's hand when I noticed that his nails were getting long. His stroke has meant that his left hand doesn't really work, so he can't cut the nails on his right hand by himself.

This was the conversation that took place:

Me: Dad your nails are getting a bit long. They need to be trimmed.

Dad: No, they're ok.

Me: Not really dad. Why don't we trim them?

Dad: I keep them that long in case I have to scratch some bitch's eye out.

*Hysterical laughter from the table ensues. I think Darren was laughing harder than anyone.*

Me: You have no idea what you've just done, dad.


My father used to be a minister.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rough couple of days

No post in a while, and this one won't be long because frankly, I'm just not in the mood. But, since enquiring minds have been wanting to know, I'm giving an update here.

1) The job I was hoping for in the Trek UK office didn't pan out. Not because someone else was hired, but because the needs of the marketing department changed between the time the job was posted, and now. So, it's off the table for the time being.

Silver lining: They didn't hire someone else for something I was obviously qualified to do, and there's a very slim chance (although I refuse to let myself believe it) that the subject will be revisited in the coming months.

2) Apparently, despite no family history of it, I have vitiligo. As some of you know, I developed some itchy patches of skin on my legs and elsewhere that were depigmented. All cursory research I did about vitiligo didn't mention anything about it starting out as a rash, but after my dermatologist visit this morning, it appears that's what I have. So, I now have to have some blood tests to check for a thyroid condition or some auto-immune disease.

Silver lining: it's not cancer, and I had a physical the other day which showed that I have perfect blood pressure. I had to have blood drawn for that this morning and hopefully I won't have to get stuck again for the new tests ordered by the dermatologist.

So that's my big news. I'm in a bit of a funk as a result, as you might guess, but I'm trying to keep things in perspective. Things could obviously be worse. I'm still not in a very good mood right now, though.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Singlespeeding Is Dead

I'm not ready to write about my Singlespeed World's trip. I'm afraid that, like many post 24-hour racers, I have a bad taste in my mouth about it because it's too close to feel the enjoyment at this point. Truth be told, the weekend pales in comparison to Aviemore last year, but the bar was set so incredibly high during that trip that I'm not sure anything can top it.

There are plenty of people who have good things to say about Napa and SSWC08, I'm sure. I certainly did manage to have some fun. But, I can't help but feel disappointed by the whole thing. Maybe it's my fault that I didn't find more enjoyment. I didn't go into the weekend with a sour thought about it. I was actually really looking forward to it. In the end though, Napa is not a place for the outdoorsy at heart. As a result, there was a shadow of being outsiders (pun intended) that seemed to loom over everything. I suppose this is the singlespeed way though, so maybe I shouldn't whinge about it.

The trouble is that singlespeeding appears to have died. There were lots of people there, but where were all the singlespeeders? Where were the late light festivities that take over a town? Where were the various groups gathered at the local watering hole? Where were the parades of bikes on the street at all hours? Where were the Surly boys? WHERE ON EARTH WAS THE LATE NIGHT, DOWNTOWN DERBY!? As The Most Beautiful Man in the World pointed out, Napa is not the place that a bunch of dirtbag bike riders are generally seen, and it showed.

I could have happily spent my whole time in Santa Cruz riding around the trails there that I love, and exploring new ones.

The upside of the trip was very obviously getting to see the Brit Brood. It was so nice to have everyone on my side of the pond and in an area that I am familiar with, for once. I finally got to repay a very small fraction of tour guiding and chauffeuring kindness that so many have shown to me.

And dinner at Cosentino's place (Incanto in San Fran) was...Well, Sara put it best when she said that it makes you not want to eat anything else because you know nothing will be as good.

I'm posting out of order again. I should really summarize my early August before this. Maybe I'll get round to that when I write UK Snippet #2, if there is one.

Oh, here: I was in Madison for a very long time. Then I went to California.

Hooray! Job done. More to follow.


Or not.

I saw sheep in Napa, so that was good.

Sheep Are Great, and Bikes Are Ace.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

UK Snippet #1

Rather than one long post, maybe I'll break things up about my trip, which is now a few weeks gone.

The first leg of my trip was spent with Sara. At some point in the past, Sara and I started a running joke about being old spinsters, living in the same house, with lots of cats. We'd have a front porch on which we'd sit, probably holding a cat. Or a shotgun. Maybe both. We'd wear wide-brimmed straw hats and have a regular flow of visitors from our pool of 'boys'. It would sort of be like Thelma and Louise, without the crime and the plummet off a cliff at the end. Or the fake Southern accents. Well, Sara would have a Southern accent because she's from the South of England. That's entirely different though. I would not have a fake Southern accent, English or otherwise.

Anyhoo...During round one of the trip, we had one mind-numbing experience after another. Normally, the term 'mind-numbing' suggests the kind of rush one might experience while riding a roller coaster, then BASE jumping, then skydiving. Well, those things pale in comparison to what WE did! Here's a summary:

Day 1

-I arrive at stoopid o'clock in the morning, am fetched by Sara from the airport, and driven to her house
-Cup of tea (after getting the tour)
-Sit on couches
-Watch Top Gear
-Fall asleep
-Wake up
-Watch Top Gear
-Cup of tea
-Have chocolate
-Deano came over, so we went to the pub

Day Two

-Cup of tea
-Drive to Deano's for bike riding
-Post-ride cup of tea
-Back to Sara's
-Sit on couches
-Watch Top Gear
-Fall asleep
-Wake up
-Watch Top Gear
-Cup of tea
-Have chocolate
-Drive to Biff's
-Cup of tea

Day Three

-Cup of Tea
-Ride with Biff
-Drive to Sara's
-Sit on couches
-Cup of tea
-Watch Top Gear
-Have chocolate

Day Four

-Cup of tea
-Watch Top Gear
-Drive to the Fisk house
-Cup of Tea
-Pub quiz
-Cup of tea

Now, you may have noticed a bit of a pattern leading up to the arrival at Rob and Chris'. In summary, it involved eating, tea, chocolate, Top Gear, and napping. During the third night, the spinster conversation came up again. Sara observed that we were experiencing a preview of our future lives.


The only things missing were the cats, straw hats, and the front porch. Bring on spinsterhood.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The US CBP-Confuse, Befuddle, and Perplex

CBP is supposed to stand for Customs and Border Protection, but after today I have decided that the title of this post is more fitting.

I've just come back from another trip north of the border. Now, we have this customs broker in Canada that the company works with. They are great. They know their stuff, they give us detailed, step by step directions for every aspect of our border crossing, back and forth. They answer their phones at all hours of the day and night, even on weekends. In typical Canadian fashion, they are overwhelmingly nice. They've never steered us wrong.

Equally as adept at their job is the Canadian border agency. I drive up to the commercial truck window, stretch my arm out of it's socket in order to hand over paperwork to the guard who is at 18-wheeler height, answer a couple of questions, drive around and go inside for a stamp on some paper, and leave. Easy peasy.

On the opposite end of the scale of international bureaucratic efficiency, is the US CBP. I now believe that the CBP is like the Internal Revenue Service. A recent complication with the IRS made me realize that the right ass cheek doesn't know what the left ass cheek is doing. In the end though, it's still an ass. This now applies to the CBP, as well.

I've done border crossings for work at least once for the past 4 summers. With the help of the brokers, I've never had a major hassle. The longest it's ever taken me to cross has been maybe an hour, on a busy day. Today, I pulled up to the booth that was too high for my car, actually had a friendly border guard (an extreme rarity), and presented my paperwork as usual. He told me he had to double check something. I explained what my previous experience has been: they put a little stamp on this one document that proves to Canada that I have returned to the US with my cache of bikes, et al, still in the trailer. This guard told me that no, they keep that document and hand me over something else.

During no other crossing, has this been the case.

He then refers me inside to talk to one of the agents there. She then tells me that I need some blahdeeblah form blah blah 4455 blah, and a blahblahblah manifest, and a US broker to import me (!?). She wanted to know when the last time I crossed was. I said May. She looked at me with utter shock.

"This form is still good, but you also need these others. Didn't they tell you this then?", she asked.

"No. And they didn't tell me when I crossed HERE two days ago, either."

"You crossed HERE!?", she exclaimed.

"Yes, and they never told me this. Nor has any one else at any border crossing between here and Vancouver in the last 4 years."

"Well, they should have. This has been a policy since last summer.", she told me.

So, she then proceeded to tell me that they were going to admit me back into the US this time, but that she made a notation in 'My File' indicating that they issued a one time exception since no one informed me of this, but in the future if I try to cross without the blahblahblah, and the blah blah, and a brokblahblah, that I would not be permitted to come back into the US, and I would be sent back to Canada.

After hearing that, it occurred to me that this wouldn't be so bad. I digress...

These are the people who are responsible for making sure that our Freedom(TM) is protected at our international borders; to defend our country from all of those Canadians who are sneaking across and taking all the luxurious jobs like toilet cleaning, and hospital bio-hazard disposerer. I feel quite sure at this point that it wouldn't be very difficult to smuggle just about anything into the States given how completely oblivious to THEIR OWN policies the CBP are, and the fact that at nearly every crossing I've been told a different story, or given a different stamp on the paperwork, or had to open the trailer before going IN to Canada, or yelled at, or...The list goes on.

I'm nervous every time I move back and forth. Not because I'm guilty of anything, but because I never know what sort of idiot I'm going to have to deal with.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Usual Routine Plus

So I got to do some more downhilling over the weekend. Two runs, anyway. I was too busy helping other people have fun to do any more than that.

Yesterday was a bit of a washout, so DaveO and I packed up early to start driving home. I'm still a bit on UK time, so I knew I wasn't going to drive straight through, and I opted to stop West of NYC for the night in a town that's not too far away from where I used to live in Jersey.

Since I'm making a concerted effort to eat better and consume veggies every day, I've eliminated the usual search for tuna sandwiches from Quizno's and Subway in favor of spinach salads. With that in mind, I stopped at a grocery store in town here to find their salad bar. Every grocery store in the world seems to have a salad bar these days, except of course for the ShopRite in Clinton, NJ. They had some pre-made jobbies, but they looked horrible and I'd rather go out to the closest field and munch on some tall grass than eat iceberg lettuce. I wrote off the idea and prepared to exit the store and go over to the Quizno's, when I remembered the Jetboil.

I obtained it from a friend of DaveO's who works for Jetboil as an engineer. The first time I saw Dave make hot tea earlier this year during a cold event, I immediately wanted one. I thought of all the Yorkshire tea I could consume on the road with one of those. I could finally become a real caffeine junkie after all these years of not drinking coffee.

The Jetboil was packed into the trailer sometime in May, and after plans to camp during my Indiana trip were flooded out, I didn't have a chance to use the Jetboil as I'd hoped.

Until last night.

Failing in the salad bar department, the store did redeem itself somewhat by having cans of my favorite organic lentil veggie soup. I bought some, and a can opener, and had a sense of excitement about an addition to my usual hotel routine, which normally goes as follows:

-Find hotel
-Talk desk clerk into cheap rate
-Check in
-Drive rig around to the side door
-Sneak dog into hotel
-Feed dog
-Switch on TV
-Flop on bed
-Open laptop
-Eat tuna sandwich

The rest of the night consists of catching up on Cheeky, emails, chats to anyone who is around, tv watching, dog walking, and sleep.

Last night, I changed it up a bit and instead of the tuna, I cooked hot soup in the Jetboil. And it was ace. It took about 2 minutes on very low heat.

I now have ideas about cooking pasta, and veggies, and lots of other healthy things. I think this will become particularly handy next week when I'm back in Quebec. Despite having practiced my French, I'm still not up to speed.

Hopefully I won't set off any fire alarms, or burn the hair off my hands during ignition.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

7 Pounds in 5 Weeks

I'm overdue for another long post, which I'll get to at some point. For now, I'm posting to make known a mission that I've undertaken with Sara the Randle. We've decided to lose 7 pounds by Singlespeed Worlds, which is in 5 weeks' time. It's a reasonable goal, and it will involve much bike riding and eating right.

Of course, between now and then is the little issue of work. The bulk of my August will be spent in Wisconsin for the Trek dealer show. My riding will be somewhat limited, but I will be literally sweating my ass off, so that should help.

Weigh in was this morning. There's no way in hell I'm posting how much I weigh, but I will indicate how much I've lost when I have a chance to step on a scale next. Maybe I'll borrow mom and dad's scale for a bit, in the interest of consistency.

Bring on the carrot sticks!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Jimminy Christmas you can't live forever!

My sister reminded me that it's been a while since I wrote anything. The Most Beautiful Man in the World had done so also. Apologies to both for having been quiet in the blogosphere.

Hmm...It appears that it's been a month since my last post. So how about a brief summary of happenings since then?

-I came back from Canada and had my allergies flare up almost as soon as I crossed the border. I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to my own country.
-I discovered the joy of Tim Hortons: hot tea, bagel, and a donut for less than a fiver.
-Frazier got to swim in 4 of the Great Lakes.
-I (mostly) avoided Midwestern floods.
-I bought Ikea furniture and moved into my new place.
-I saw my niece graduate from high school. I'm now one of those people that says "I remember holding you when you were just a baby".
-I did not ride my bike very much.

One good thing about being busy is that it leaves little time for run-ins with People I'm Bound To Hate.

That's some of what I've done. But let's move on to what I'm looking forward to!

Our dealer show is rapidly approaching which means I'll be spending nearly all of August in Wisconsin. I missed the conference call during which our room arrangements were decided and apparently Ross said she wanted to room with me so that she could stab me in the jaw. Our logistics lady thought this was a good enough reason for me to room with her. Ross promises that it will really hurt, but has offered to puree food for me so I can at least stay fed and watered. Ross says it's going to be incredible. I have my doubts, but it's mostly about how well she'll puree the food.

There's a little matter of a trip to the UK over July 4th weekend, too. I've chosen to spend my Independence Day in the country from which The Colonists broke away. I think I'll drink lots of tea while I'm there.

Monday, May 26, 2008

True North

It's the eve of my return to the US. I'd have to say that, despite a midway bump in the road, my trip to Canada has been a blast. I can't believe that I get paid to do stuff like this.

Over the weekend I was in Collingwood, a ski town that sits on the Georgian Bay. I love ski towns in summer. I can't quite put my finger on why. They have a certain atmosphere, and the landscape changes when it gets out from under the veil of snow. After that it was back down towards Toronto for another demo yesterday at a conservation area with it's own little ski hill. I got to ride up to the top of the escarpment and snake back down for a short blast.

Then, since I had an extra day to kill, I headed to Niagara Falls. I've never been, and from what I always heard it was better on the Canadian side. It was a mere 70 kilometers away from where I was, so it seemed like it would have been a waste not to go. When I got there, I decided to ride over at night to take some pictures.

Friggin' ace. Today, I went back.

It's unbelievable to see these things. I kept thinking about the fate of the water as it moved along the river ahead of the falls. The river is very wide, and deep, and absolutely crystal clear. I've never seen a river that large with that much clarity. Then, as it nears the edge, it's like all sound disappears from the flow, and it doesn't return until the crashing roar at the bottom. It's a tremendous display of gravity and nature.

I rode my bike both days to get pictures. The parking costs were pretty high nearer the falls, and I didn't really want to pay to park since I couldn't be gone very long with Frazier in the car. As I was riding to the falls from a park today, I had one of those feelings of really loving the bike, and it's versatility. I parked for free, in a place where i could let the dog run and swim, and had a beautiful ride along the river on bike path the whole way. It was awesome.

I decided to come to Sarnia, where I'll do my border crossing tomorrow, and stay on this side for one more day. I had spotted a lakeside park on Google Maps that would make for another nice place to exercise Frazier. I stand in awe of the Great Lakes.

I even saw sheep up here! A few times. And, very few examples of Why I Hate People. None worth mentioning, in fact.

Far be it for me to display no cynicism, however. There are a few annoying things about Canada:

-Too much country music
-Ridiculous gas prices. It cost me at least $100 to fill the tank. Every time. It's around $1.30 per liter.
-Dual-language signs, required by law. But, Quebec doesn't observe this. Everything there is in French only.
-London. This place just doesn't give off a good vibe, and I had to go there 3 times (it's where the Day of Shit happened).

Er, everything else is ace. I can't wait to come back. There really is more to Canada than Whistler.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Series of Unfortunate Events

There's been something in the air lately. I think it's the fine particles that get thrown into the air when the shit hits the fan. It seems that everyone I know has had some dose of bad luck in the last week. Present company included. For my part, here's what happened:

-On the way to Onterrible from Montreal, Frazier decided to go wading in some really gross ditch water. It had been standing for a while, so it had that nice green, oily sheen on top. I had to give him a pseudo-bath using a jug of water and some spray shampoo I had the good foresight to bring with me.
-After arriving in Ontario, I got ready to leave for an event 70 miles away only to discover that I didn't have my phone. I'd walked Frazier through a grassy field earlier in the day, so naturally I had visions of my phone ringing away with no one there to hear it (does it make a sound?). I did a panicked search to no avail, and was late leaving for the event.
-As I exited Highway 401 to head to the shop, there was a cop in front of me who suddenly decided to make me pull over. Again, he was IN FRONT of me, and I was on an exit ramp, so I wasn't speeding. He then proceeded to lecture me for 10 minutes on how unsafe it was for me to not have wing mirror extensions on the car to see around the back of the trailer. In that tone of superiority that cops can get, he said he wasn't going to give me a ticket, but he could have. I guess I was supposed to kiss his gracious feet. As a result of this stop, I was late to my setup at the shop.
-When I got to the shop I noticed that the Touareg had a flat tire. I'm sure this happened when I had to pull off the road for the cop.
-The wheel key is missing from my car, so I had no way to get the wheel off so my sales rep could take it and get it fixed. Instead, they decided to take it to a local VW dealership to have them remove the wheel. Of all the wheel keys they had, not one of them was right for a 2007 Touareg. I guess they change them every year, or something stoopid. So, I had to leave the car, and the trailer down in London. My rep game me a lift back to the Random Canadian's house since I'd left Frazier here.
-It's unseasonably cold, and all of my warm clothes, and dog food, are in the car.
-No one in London, ON had the right tire to put on the car, so I had to leave yet another day while they had one sent from Toronto.
-A neighbor found my phone, but couldn't get it back to me until last night. The time that he said he'd bring it over came and went, so I walked down to his house. Evidently, he'd forgotten all about it. BUT! I got my phone back.
-Frazier appears to have conjunctivitis. And I'm sure he's hungry.

Things appear to be improving slowly now. I'll head down soon with Chrissy to get the car, and then head directly to my event tonight. Frazier will get food, and I'll be able to make calls.

Despite all of this, it's merely crabgrass in the lawn of life, as my dad would say. I was reminded by Sideways that tomorrow is the day a very dear friend goes into the hospital to have a tumor removed. Instant perspective.

So, my very best wishes go out to the Genteel Sailor. I know that your positive attitude will yield the most favorable outcome. My thoughts are with you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Random Brevity

Steve told me to post more, so I'm going to oblige him even though I don't feel like I have anything worthwhile to write.

So, here's a short list of what I've been up to lately:

-On the way back to Jersey from Illinois, I stopped in Bedford, PA, home to the Cannondale factory. My friend Troy, who runs the demo program there, gave me a tour.
-I gave myself the week off to organize some things and prepare for Canada.
-I didn't do much but ride and take Frazier to the beach for the first part of the week.
-A severe Spring Nor'easter took residence over South Jersey causing very bad coastal flooding and wiping out large sections of beach. Before the worst of the flooding, I took my mom for a drive to see how high the water was. I even took pictures.
-Sat around and watched the water rise to within 30 feet of the back deck (the yard is about 150 feet long).
-Took a few walks down to the high water level on the road until the high water level was at the driveway. The road was closed at some point during the day.
-Woke up to sunshine and blue skies on Tuesday. Took Frazier to the beach to see the post-storm damage. Decided at 5pm to go for a group ride at 6 that I'd never done before. Somewhere between 30-35 miles.
-Went and got milk this morning, and supplies for car cleaning.
-Frazier to the beach. A different one this time, down in my old neighborhood. Not much of it left, sadly.
-Cleaned the car out.
-Finished laundry.
-Began packing for departure to New Hampshire tomorrow.

I head up to Canada on Friday for 10 days worth of work up there. I'll start out in Quebec and end up west of Toronto. The last time I was in Montreal, I was an infant. I've never been to Toronto. My former housemate Allison read somewhere that every new experience adds 45 days to your life. I'm going to add a good stretch in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Thing about Ticks

New Jersey, being not so far away from the area around Lyme, Connecticut where the disease of the same name was first recognized, has a lot of ticks. Some of them carry the bacteria that leads to Lyme disease. My mother has had it. It seems like I can't take my dog outside without him coming back with a tick on him. Sometimes they are the bigger ones, sometimes they are the smaller ones, which are the vectors for the bastard bacteria.

Among the creatures on earth that I loathe the most are ticks. Roaches really gross me out, and ticks used to. I was forced to overcome my disgust of ticks (somewhat) back in 2004 while I was living in England. This story isn't unfamiliar to many of my friends, but if you haven't had the pleasure to hear the full-blown account, I'll give you the abridged version here:

-Trail building for the 2004 Mountain Mayhem Course
-Fresh set of woods that I was allowed to design the course through (later known as 'Christina's Woods')
-Lovely bit of ferns with the makings of a trail already going through it
-Marking of said path as part of the official course, clearing bits of fern where needed
-Evening shower at the local inn/pub
-Scraping off bits of dirt that stuck to me during the day
-Coming across particularly resistant bits of dirt
-Finally getting one off only to notice that it had legs
-Continue picking until finally I had to shut the shower off and sit down in the tub for closer inspection
-Count the lineup of ticks that I pulled off and put on the side of the tub. Total: 36
-Address Chipps' concerns when everyone else realized that I'd been gone far longer than the 15 minutes I said it would take.
-Had Chipps look at my back, upon which he found 2 more ticks. Total: 38

Everyone was pretty cranky with me, I think, when they thought I was hoarding the shower. I had to pretty quickly get over the feeling of wanting to peel off my own skin in order to get away from the ticks, and buckle down and get them off me. It was quite a line of ticks on the side of the tub.

The problem with being in tick season is that suddenly every little hair, or piece of fabric, or twitch that is on my skin feels like it's something crawling on me. Every time a nerve fires off, or my head itches, I'm convinced that I've got ticks moving along my epidermis. Every freckle suddenly becomes suspect. Every location of a bite becomes something to watch for the telltale target shaped mark that indicates transmission of the disease. I'm tempted to shave my head.

I've decided that if I'm ever standing before the countenance of God, and was given one question to ask, it would be 'Why ticks?'.

Seriously, they serve no purpose. They aren't a food source for much of anything. And even if they are, there are far more of them than are needed by whatever it is that eats them. They are an absolutely pointless creature. I could say the same about the mosquito, really, but I think they are easier for birds to eat than the blood-sucking, belly crawlers.

I mean, they really are rubbish! They just hang out, waiting for something to come along that catches one of the hairy appendages they have. 'Oops! Hey look! I'm on something!' It's not like the tick jumps on. Everything about how a tick operates is accidental. They have no control over their legs. They can't let go unless they've done their vampire act and are heavy enough to fall off. They don't even have sense enough to realize what they are biting. I caught one today trying to burrow itself into Frazier's rain coat.

They are a creepy/crawly that should be banished from the earth. I really don't see how the butterfly effect could be detrimental if ticks were suddenly wiped clean from terra firma.

Monday, May 05, 2008

"You guys got any milk?"

Well...After some considerable delay, I've managed to find the time and motivation to write another post. I'm not entirely sure that my cogitations and musings have been missed, but either way I'm happy to present you with more.

I've had a very busy April. The busiest I've had since becoming a road warrioress, it has to be said. I was fortunate enough to have gotten to work with the ever-pleasant DaveO, and this past weekend Mr. Demo Derrico, whose music collection is the best I've ever heard since it meshes so well with my personal tastes.

As a result of the business, I haven't done much that's worth telling. I've ridden, I've worked, I've not taken many pictures, or had any moments of gut-busting hillarity. It hasn't been without some enjoyment though.

My encounters with people who continue to provide me with reasons Why I Hate People has also been minimal. There have been some examples here and there, as there always are, but nothing terribly glaring.

I recently got a copy of Wuthering Heights on CD to listen to in the car. I wanted to read the book that was written so near to where I used to live in England. I needed to do something about the fact that I'd never read it, and now after having finished the audiobook I'm left with the following that I pose for debate:

If you listen to a book on tape, can you say that you've 'read' it? If someone asks me if I've read Wuthering Heights, can I say yes?

I've thought of the following possible answers:

1) Yes
2) Yes, er no. Um, yes but no.
3) Yes but not really.
4) No, but I have listened to it.
5) I'm familiar with the story.

In truth, I think that I am much more focused on it while listening that I would be if I were turning the pages myself. I don't glance over details or narratives, and if I do miss something it's only in the time it takes me to make an exit or turn.

In other notes, SSUK was over the weekend and I'm not at all bummed about missing it. Oh no. I mean come on! I was in Peoria. How could I possibly have entertained thoughts that Scotland, along with my best friends in the world could be better than that?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Isolated Rain Shower

I had a dark cloud over my head today.

I finally had a chance to ride some trails down in Baltimore/DC last weekend. Yay!

I was back down there for a couple of nights and went for another ride on the trails yesterday. Yay!

Today, I'm supposed to meet up with Demo DaveO and our Philly sales rep for a ride, before heading into Philly to hang out with Lockwood. The forecast is calling for scattered thunderstorms, and if the drive home is any indication of what's to come, they are going to be heavy.

So I thought I'd better sneak out for a little ride this morning while it was still bright and sunny. Just something to spin out the legs after yesterday's hard singlespeed affair. To the beach and back. Sounds good.

Frazier was wanting some exercise, so I hopped on the bike and rode down the street with him trotting along. He managed to find something disgusting to eat. Probably a dead fish or some poo. Hooray.

Anyhoo...I got him back and noticed the sky was changing to grey, clouds were approaching and the wind was picking up. I start to pedal out and decide to go a different direction in case it started to pour. There are lots of straight-as-an-arrow flat roads around here that link up to other roads of the same ilk. It was doing that big-drop sprinkle thing, so I decided to do a giant square and head back to the house.

Just as I turned on to the road here, it started to rain quite hard. The house is 2 miles or so from the other end of the road, and it rained hard on me the whole way. Just enough to ensure that I was soaked by the time I got home.

To add insult, I looked to my left and noticed the gorgeous multitude of blue sky. It was just a passing shower, but one that followed me every direction I went. Within 5 minutes after getting back to the house it stopped raining and all evidence of the passing rain was gone.

Unbelievable. My luck couldn't be any worse!

In lighter news, today is Simon's birthday. Happy Birthday man with lovely lips, and eyes like limpid pools! Or, LLLP. ;~)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

We don't need no stinking plate!

So possibly the worst salad eating experience ever just happened to me.

My mom made an awesome salad for dinner. Custom and everything. She knows how much I love olives, so an extra helping was given to me. Some green onions, some sliced cherry tomatoes, mixed greens, and topped with some balsamic vinegar and oil. So I took it to the back room because I was engrossed in a bad movie. I plonked on the futon and began to dig in. I either had a dull fork, or tough veggies. Here's what happened:

1) One olive launched itself over the edge when my fork slid across the plate trying to stab a piece of lettuce.
2) While attempting to stab at one of the tomatoes, the fork bucked, splashing dressing and 3 more olives off the plate, and onto the quilt covering the futon.
3) I decided to give up on stabbing, and thought scooping would be the answer. I had a forkload, all of which fell except for one olive.
4) A few more bites later, I attempted stabbing one more time. The stalk of a piece of spinach was wrapped under the leaf and sprang loose just before I got the fork to my mouth, causing vinegar and oil to fling into my right eye. That did not feel good.

Finally I finished, but with a somewhat less than satisfied feeling. I felt like I had been waring with my food.

Fortunately, I went and got some Banana Bread Beer to wash things down. Who needs salad!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

When will the sleep come?

I haven't been sleeping well the past few nights because I've had that 'work's about to start' anxiousness. My brain has been making lists and I've had to start piecing together a plan before heading out.

This is why I am awake at 2:30 in the morning, despite having spent the entire day walking around Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, ME with my sister. We've been planning a trip over to the coast for some time now. It was always due to be on a Wednesday since Ruth doesn't work on Wednesdays. We've been thwarted by one thing or another (mostly crap weather). We were running out of chances since I head out this weekend, and neither one of us wants to deal with the tourons who flock there in the summer.

The weather last night was telling us it was going to be a sloppy day. It started snowing around 11pm last night, but by the time I got up this morning the sun was out. So, we made a spontaneous decision to go for it and make the long awaited trip. It was well worth it. The day got more gorgeous as it progressed; the temperature topped out around 50. I took loads of pictures, we collected some cool rocks, and we shopped. We didn't make it home until just before 10pm. Then, Sara called for our overdue catch up chat, courtesy of ITV.

My head hit the pillow just after midnight. I didn't even have the energy to edit photos. Despite that, my mind went into list making mode. Flip, flop. Toss, turn. SHUT UP BRAIN! How can I not sleep despite being this tired!? I need to reply to this email, and that email, and I need to send emails to these people. I've got phone calls to make, and scheduling items to firm up. Shipping to consider, laundry, packing...Get that cracked bit on the hitch fixed. Dog gets a haircut in 7 hours now...TAXES!! Do my expenses, send that form back to Boulder to let them know I can't possibly do jury duty because I don't live there anymore.

So I've spent the last hour catching up on the email portion of my to do list. After that, I wasn't quite tired enough yet, hence this post. It's now 2:48am. I'm going to shut the lid and try to get some sleep now.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cow Flop Doesn't Freeze

So I went out with my nephew tonight to get some shots of the moon. We have some pretty cool moon rises around here. I thought the best place to shoot would be along a road out of town next to a large field. At one point along the road, there is a parking area. I turned into it and discovered that there's actually a road out the other end of parking area and into the field. I thought this would lead to a great spot for shooting.

After about 150 yards of rutted bumpiness, we rounded a bend and were met with a wall of dirt and snow. Dead end. I got out and was immediately smacked with an unmistakable odor.

"It smells like poo," I said to my nephew. I figured maybe there was a horse farm nearby. We were in the middle of a field, after all.

I decided to scope out what was on the other side of the snow pile, so I approached, my little head torch showing me what seemed to be a solid mass of snow and dirt that had been dug up from the plow.

I raised my left foot and took a step to begin my ascent. I was surprised when it sank into some very soft...shit. I looked down to see my half buried foot. My mind went into that processing mode when everything seems like it's running through your brain in slow motion. All at once I realized where that odor was coming from, and the fact that it was emanating from the pile my foot was in. As I extricated my foot it made that slurpy sucking noise that you hear when you pull your shoe out of deep, wet mud...or shit.

So gross.

I immediately backed away and walked to a very white part of the snow pile that surrounded the little patch we were in. I started jabbing at it with my foot, only to discover that the below freezing temperatures had solidified the snow again. I was kicking ice. Everything around us was frozen solid...except for the huge pile of poo. Then I remembered a bottle of water I'd left in the car. By the mercy of God it was nearly full, so at least I could rinse off the disgusting crap. The worst was realizing that I'd gotten some on the bottom of my wool jeans.

"Well I guess we figured out where the smell was coming from," I said to Taylor. He was obviously getting a hearty guffaw out of this.

We finished the shoot and headed home. When I got back in and Ruth asked how it went, my reply was obvious: "Shitty."

The result:


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday Smack Down

Today it feels like I dipped my toe in the pond of darkness. My mood can best be described as 'black as pitch'.

The following is a list of things I'm absolutely SICK of:

-Not being tired until 1am
-Consequently waking up at nearly 10am
-My dog playing like shit and not letting me throw his toy, then being on my ass all day to go out constantly, only to not play well again, thus not getting worn out enough to rest
-The weather-wind, cold, cold, cold, more cold, more wind. I know March isn't supposed to be nice, but usually there are a few nice days then few cold days. All we've had is fucking cold and I'm sick of it. When it warms up, it rains/sleets/snows. Then it gets cold again. It's going to be 60 degrees in Boulder this week.
-Riding like a jerk. I can't get any sort of form at all
-Feeling like I'm working my ass off for an hour and a half to have done only 15 miles for the effort
-Legs feeling like complete shit at the slightest hint of an uphill.
-Being lied to, including lies of omission and finding out things about people that make me feel like a complete chump
-Having no will power
-Having to censor myself
-Not having Simon nearby
-Being shit at guitar
-Being shit at photography
-Being shit

I had it in mind to do 30 miles today. The wind was calm this morning, and naturally picked up just before I started riding and the it became a constant headwind. It was pushing me around. I decided at some point during my ride that I was going to bury myself. This grand illusion lasted for about 10 minutes. I started pushing hard gears, and when the wind blew, I pushed harder, only to have it slap me down again and again and again. I couldn't take it anymore, so I turned around and did the short loop, feeling like a complete failure for not being able to hack it.

I was thinking of Matt who rode every day for a year in every condition imaginable. I was thinking of Simon who is pushing himself through 30 days of riding in wind that puts our little breeze to shame. And I get beat down by 9 miles of headwind and threw in the towel.

Now I'm cold and needing a shower and food. I wish I could relax after that, but I'll have to take the dog out yet again and try to get him tired out so he doesn't want to go out again in an hour.

I shouldn't have gotten out of bed this morning.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Inbox Rubbish

Of things that line the bottom of my inbox, this one deserves a prize:

"My name is {witheld}. I am a 36 year old man. I am 6\'5\" tall, 240 lbs. I would like to become a product tester for bikes. I love the outdoors and anything sports related. I would be perfect for this. Please respond. Thank You"

This was sent to the Fit for Women Tour contact address, i.e. me.

Simon said I should be more tolerant of people. Therefore, I am *not* going to write the oratory that went through my head when this one arrived. I am simply going to leave it here for others to comment on as they will.

In other news, I managed to get out yesterday for my longest ride of the year so far. 33 miles of rolling, New Hampshire goodness. The road riding around here is pretty great, but I really wish the snow would hurry up and melt so I can start exploring the trails.

As I write this, we are in the midst of yet another winter storm that rolled in last night, and will be around for another day yet.

I'm going to use the time off the bike productively, and cut down the steerer tube. I'm sure this will be welcome news to at least Simon and Nick. :~p

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Hugh Hefner of Mountain Biking

Got an unexpected call from The Most Beautiful Man in the World shortly after 9pm Eastern Time. He's carousing even further oop north with the ever-lovely Andy Armstrong. They were 3 bottles of wine into the evening, which was no surprise given the time of night that the call came.

It took a while for me to get out of Steve exactly where he was. I'd forgotten that he was heading to Andy's this weekend. He finally told me, but not until after he'd called me "y'idiot" at least 3 times. Turns out they've got another Yank chick with them. My replacement, I joked. I think TMBMITW was so excited that he'd made another American friend, that he decided to call to find out how far I am from where she's from, which is Portland, OR. I could tell where he was going with this. He was hoping to figure out a way for all of us to get together when he's over on this side of the pond for his family holiday later this year.

I hated to burst the poor lad's bubble though, since for those of you who aren't geographically challenged, you know that Portland is on the opposite coast from me, a mere 3,047 miles from Henniker, NH. For reference, Henniker to Steve's house outside of Manchester, UK is 3,150 miles. So not that close, really. Bless'im.

Still, a call from Steve is always a pleasant surprise. Hearing him having a good time with other good friends is somewhat bittersweet. It's sort of like when my sister calls me from Mack&Manco's on the boardwalk in Ocean City to tell me that they are all happily stuffing their faces with The Best Pizza in the World. One time when she did that, it made me cry.

Thanks for the call, Steve! Don't worry, I didn't cry. :~)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I Believe Elephants Live on the Moon

Another turn of the clocks, another shift in the weather, and another chance for a personal attitude adjustment.

Let me skip to the end of the story. This is going to be cryptic, but hopefully there's a message in here somewhere.

...So I'm going to try and be more patient. I'm going to do the best I can to let my emotional guard down, and put some trust in someone else. I'm not going to assume that things that have happened in the past are going to happen again now. I'm going to try and improve the way I think about myself.

People adapt and change as they grow older. It might not be some huge, monumental shift. It might be something subtle. I have a fairly good idea about the things I need to change personally. They're actually pretty big. I have no idea if I'm capable of doing it or not. Believing good things about oneself is not easy to do. I worry that it will make me become an egotist, or I'll somehow otherwise change not for the better.

The twist in the plot is that I have no problems telling other people how great they are. And I believe it with every fiber of my being. I understand what it's like to find compliments hard to take. I get frustrated when they are received with the same sort of response that I normally give, yet I can't seem to apply logic to my own response when I'm on the receiving end. "Do as I say..."

I know a lot of people who are examples of those who restore my faith in humanity. It's not all doom and gloom, or misanthropic and cynical.

I'd like to try letting go some. We'll see what happens. I think I'll be ok, I'm in good hands.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Acting like a proper athlete.

Again! I rode my bike today. Yes, outside. Only for an hour, and as expected my ass hurt like a personified bowling ball colliding with pins. Every minute was a sore one. Adding insult to ass injury was the headwind I hit on the way back. Good thing I was only out for a light recovery ride. I kept it all very spinny and didn't let myself mash any gears. I've also got a very tight hammy and for a while, though my right groin muscle was pulled. I'm stretching, ooooow! Right now, as a matter of fact. I really must try and avoid such long periods off the bike.

Took mom out for errand running after. Had one minor WIHP moment at the grocery checkout with the woman at the register who decided that examining her nails was far more important than greeting the customer who's helping to keep her in paychecks. If only we'd gone to the next one over with the cheery man who actually thanked his customer for bagging his own groceries. Do you think we got that? Uh no. Not even so much as a grunt, or anything that resembled 'Have a nice day'. Customer service is alive and well at the ole Acme!

And a very Happy Birthday on Tuesday to my favorite sister Ruth! Should I say how old you are?? It's half a century ride to those playing along. Or, enough fluffy sheep to make wooly hats for 50 people. Love you Dufus!

Now I'm going to put my PJ's on and dive into the Wawa Brand Peanut Butter and Chocolate ice cream that I got today. I deserve it. I rode my bike for the second day in a row, after all.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

She Strong Like Bull

I rode my bike today. Outside even! As expected, coming to see mom and dad has found me in a place with much milder weather than those at home are experiencing. The report from Ruth is that the snow piles are so high now that you can't see the cars in the driveway. Meanwhile, down at the shore it was around 50 with a stiff wind today. I managed to eek out 31 miles. My legs hurt, which is nothing compared to the pain I'm sure I'll feel in my ass tomorrow.

It was the first major ride of the season though, and it did feel good to be turning cranks outside again. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that Spring is on it's way. Once I get back to New Hampshire I'm sure reality will hit me.

Photographic evidence:

Believe it or not, I had no 'Why I Hate People' encounters today, despite riding on the boardwalk in Ocean City which was pretty crowded for a Sunday in March. Rather than get annoyed at people who were strolling, I made a slalom course out of that leg of the ride. I scored top marks since I didn't hit anyone, intentionally or otherwise.

I read my mom my example from yesterday, and told her about some of my other WIHP commentaries. She suggested that I should try to be less negative, after all, she says, 'You can be funny about positive things, too.' Of course I can, Mom. It's just more fun to talk about the stoopidheads.

Now, should I open another beer or not? I did ride my bike today, after all.

Roll call:

Tim: Fingers crossed for Lanark tomorrow
Sara: I thought you said you were on nights? I'm still waiting for my phone call. ;~)
Ross: Two in Two woman. Tsk tsk tsk
SDB: Dumbass. ;~)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Human Petri Dish

Made the journey from Columbus to South Jersey today. I got a call from my mom last night letting me know that she and my father both had been fighting the flu. This is a different strain, apparently, and it feels more like a cold or a sinus issue with a fever. I came here in order to drop off my trailer rather than try and negotiate it back into the drive way that's had an additional 2 feet of snow since I left last week. Despite my plan to try and avoid as many things that are probably smothered with viral bacteria, I've probably inoculated myself 80 times in the hour I've been here.

My chosen method of preemptively combating this has been via Airborne and Berocca dissolving tabs, and Banana Bread Beer (which I have found at a liquor store near my parents' house). After all, alcohol kills germs. I've been sort of smearing it around my mucous membranes. It stings a bit when I get it in my eyes.

On the drive today, I went through Barnesville and passed Sheepford Road. No actual Barnes or sheep sightings, although I did see some goats.

Today's example of 'Why I Hate People":

Dear idiots who drive British and European cars around with the fog lights on in perfectly clear weather,

Just because you think it makes your car look even more cool when you drive around with those extra two lights on in front, doesn't mean that you should. They are called 'fog lights', see, which sort of implies that you use them IN FOG. Perhaps you think that the little icon on your lights with the beam pointed down has some sort of symbolism, as in people bow to you because you opted for the accessory illumination package. What it actually means is that it shines the light down low to the ground. Now, if there's not any fog around, which is often the case here in the States, you have absolutely zero reason to be blinding the people behind you. How are you doing that, you ask? Well, it's because people that design your non-domestic vehicle actually understand the concept of using the lights when conditions make it necessary to do so, otherwise known as 'poor visibility'. As such, the car manufacturers also include at least one exceptionally bright red, rear light so that cars coming up behind you don't suddenly make you a hood ornament. Now, what happens when you, Mr./Mrs./Miss resident of the State of New Jersey, choose to run your fog lights on your Jaguar when there is not a cloud in the sky and you can see all the stars in God's creation? You are searing the retinas of people in the vehicles behind you since your car has two lights that are the equivalent brightness of your LED brake lights, that's what. Furthermore, you are causing a general traffic nuisance further back since the aforementioned lights do look like you are riding your brakes, thus causing other numpties to think there is some sort of slow down ahead. Panic and chaos ensues until someone else who knows equipment features on British and European cars sees you ahead, recognizes the idiotic danger of your stupidity, and resumes normal speed, indicating to other drivers that all is well, there's just a shithead driving that car that thinks fog lights are cool to use, and who obviously doesn't know that it also effects the rear lights.

This is yet another reason that I need to follow through with one of my invention ideas: the car message board. This would be either a lit scroll bar or a whiteboard on which you can write messages to other drivers. In this example, it would be something like 'Hey dumbass, read your owners' manual about what happens in the back when you turn on your fog lights.'

Of course, this means that I'd have to change the message to what it would say 99.9% of the time when I drive: 'Learn the concept of the passing lane.'


The UK lot has started their 30 in 30 month. That's 30 rides in 30 days. I really wish I could participate in this, but I was driving today, and I don't yet have a trainer to use up north. Maybe I'll do my own 30 in 30 and just start it when I can. Hmm...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Googled myself, and it was awesome!

I'm in Ohio. Up until this past weekend, if you had asked me what there was in Ohio that was worth mentioning, I would have said the best part about Ohio is that I have a favorite family member here. Outside of that, I pretty much only looked at this State as a pain in the ass. Bad drivers here, see... BUT! I have to admit that there is something else here that is top notch. I know you might be thinking that it's some kinda miracle that I've changed my tune about anything, but it has happened in the past. I can't exactly remember when, but I'm sure it has.

This past weekend I did an event at Ray's Indoor Mountain BIke Park in Cleveland. It was a women's weekend sponsored by my good pals at Dirt Rag Magazine. I'd heard a lot about Ray's, and all of it good. It wasn't a place that I felt the urge to drive to Ohio for though. The guy is onto something there. I told him as much. It's not often that someone comes along in this industry with a ground breaking idea. You can only change the shape of a brake lever so many times, and in the end, it's still a brake lever. What Ray has done is something special. He's taken an old, World War II era parachute factory and turned it into a winter playground for bikes only. No skaters of any sort, just bikes. I have no problems with skaters at all. I only mention it because it's not like this is a skate park where people show up on bikes. This is a bike park. BMX'ers have started coming, but there's no conflict with the mountain bikers. It has to be seen to be believed.

Sue Haywood from the Trek Pro team was there, as was World Champion Jill Kintner and Kathy Pruitt, along with a handful of other pro women. A good time was had by all.

But, no post of mine would be complete without another installment of "Why I Hate People".

SO there I was, practicing my dirt jumping. What's that you say? Dirt Jumping? Oh, did I forget to mention that I learned how to dirt jump at Ray's? Well I did...

Anyhoo...There I was, just waiting at the top of the dirt jumps on this decky platformy thing. It has a waiting area with a painted line to designate it and everything. From this deck, you drop into any one of a number of features at Ray's, all of which loop back around to the same spot. When it's busy there's a lot of people up on that deck going back and forth. Most people have the common sense to back up to the waiting area if they aren't going right away, leaving the deck clear for others, such as myself, to get a good head of steam going into the jumps.

Along comes this gaggle of boys and their adult supervision. These kids were over in another area of the park that I was using to warm up before going to the jumps on the opposite end. They were giving me a headache there too by being in the way, riding the wrong way on the one way system, and not moving out of the way when they were stopped. The man in charge did tell them once to get out of the way as I was trying to break through the 10 year old boy logjam. I was annoyed enough to leave that side of the park early.

Off to the dirt jumps I went, and much to my dismay the pack of pre-pubescents followed. I knew this was going to be trouble. They just camped out on the deck. They would ride a line, then all 5 of them would squat right in the middle of everything. The man was completely oblivious to the dirty looks that everyone else was giving them and the kids. Absolutely zero trail etiquette. Get behind the white line, stoopids! It's right there! It even says 'Standing' to indicate that's where you go if you are doing what you are doing which is standing in the way of everyone else!

I finally couldn't take it anymore and decided I had to go and say something. So, I rode over to them and pointed out the white line and asked if they could get behind it when they aren't riding because people are coming through there pretty fast and we don't want to hit any of them. That last bit is a lie. I *did* want to hit them because they were being rude.

All at once, I got 5 sets of stink eye. I didn't care. They left. The lines were clear. Success. I know I was a hero to everyone else up there. I just know it.

Weather permitting, I'm off to see my parents for a couple of days tomorrow. I'll drop the trailer off there since there's another foot of fresh snow on the ground in New Hampshire, and my next trip is back south anyway. I might even get some riding in.


I got the following voicemail from Ross last week (not verbatim):

I'm driving and was thinking about the reasons why I like you, so I thought I'd call and tell you what I have on the list so far.

1) I like that we can be in the car together but don't have to talk all the time
2) I like that you wear board shorts.

There was another one, but I can't remember what it was. I'm sure Ross will be along at some point with a sarcy comment to either deny any knowledge of this call, or to remind me what the third one was.

Oh, and I see your two posts in one week Rosstafarian. I see them. Where have you been for weeks before though, eh!? Sa-LACKER.

*Edit: As the lovely Simon pointed out below, the third item on Ross's list was that I like Tourette's guy. I can't believe I forgot that one. If you don't know Tourette's guy, you can find it here. Prepare to laugh.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Great Pollenator

A perfect example of a picture being worth a thousand words:

Or, one that is representative of many of my several things at once: Bikes, Calderdale, and some of my favorite friends (others out of shot).

A weekend spent in the UK for Chipps' Birthday Bash was not nearly enough time. What was I thinking!? I could have been over there much longer, but things on this side of the pond made that difficult. I should have just made the time. As usual, I had loads of fun. I could go on and on, but it's really more of the same story that I always tell when I'm back from the UK. And also the same is that feeling of 'homesickness'.

Apologies to Nick for not getting to see his little orange car. Next time, I promise!
Thanks to Sideways for letting me spend some time with the fam despite things being the way they are currently.
Big hugs to Matt and Tanya for being ace hosts again.
To Chipps for deciding to have a big party. I know it was your weekend, but in someways it feels like it was for me to see nearly all of my ace friends.
To Simon for being lovely. Sorry that your good name got dragged through the inevitable heckling that comes my way from the likes of friggin' Steve and Dave. :~)

And to the sheep, for being there.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"And then I ran into Derek Jeter..."

Or, More Reasons Why I Hate People...

Today was a travel day for me. I made a last minute decision to skip over to the UK for Chipps' 40th birthday bash. It's not as long a trip as I had originally planned waaaay back, but it was looking like I wasn't going to make it at all, so I'm happy to be here now.

Of course, considering that my travels began at 11:30am Eastern Time Wednesday morning, and ended at 7:30am GMT Thursday, there were bound to be some travel misadventures. It didn't take long. Unfortunately, I was lulled into a false sense of security when my arrival, check in, and security clearance went without incident. There was a bit of a tense moment when the weather looked like it was going to keep me on the ground, but I was booked on an earlier flight and made my connection 3 hours in advance.

It's the boarding of my plane in Boston where things started to be a bit interesting. Some man decided to take up residence in the aisle, despite other passengers, namely me, trying to get buy. Of course, it could be that he was completely unaware that the world other than him existed since he was on his cell phone. He let the man in front of me pass, then suddenly returned to his little cocoon of narcissism. It's a chicken and egg thing. I can't tell if I realized he was an idiot before, or after I hear him say this to the person on the other end of the phone (who was probably also blocking traffic somewhere):

"So I was coming out of the restaurant and then I ran into Derek Jeter! I don't know! He was going in...blah blah blah....."

For those of you on other continents, Derek Jeter is a pro baseball player for the New York Yankees. He's one of the superstars of the sport. This guy was clearly name dropping, and did so in the most annoying way possible. I got up to him, invaded his personal space, and waited to see if he would suddenly become aware of the existence of another human. He didn't, so I very nicely, and without any hint of irritation or suggestion (as I'm sure you can imagine), "Excuse me!". He moved, but still acted like I didn't exist.


Then I got annoyed because I thought I was in an exit row, and wasn't. This would later prove to be more problematic than I thought. I'm not short, if you hadn't noticed. So leg room is often an issue. It's even worse when the most fidgety person IN THE WORLD is sitting in front of you. It's not bad enough that she had to recline her seat all the way, a given, but then she persisted in pushing back on the flexy seat, which then kept jamming into my kneecaps over and over and over again. I still can't feel them. And then, she had the gaul to keep looking back at me as if *I* was doing something to affront her!


The two women next to me were cranky.

The people behind me kept yanking on the back of my seat to use it for leverage when they had to get up, which seemed like every 10 minutes.

Fortunately, it all ended well. Getting through Passport control was a breeze. No line at all. I'm now safely tucked away at Sideways and have had two naps. Up to the old stomping grounds with Simon tomorrow to rendezvous with Chipps for a nice ride and lunch. The weekend festivities promise to be grand!

Oh, and Ross, you are really slacking now.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Well Fuck You Very Much!

Not that I'm one to drop F-bombs unnecessarily, but given the two encounters I'm about to relay you might agree that it's sort of an apt description.

Number A:

There I was, JWA (just walking along) with Frazier the other morning when all of a sudden I hear this big, booming voice yell "LEASH!". Now, It was about 8 am, and I was fresh out of bed. My eyes weren't even open all the way and I was in PJ's. I was headed down the street along the usual morning loop when I heard this. My initial, split second reaction was that God himself was talking to me. I wasn't awake enough to actually process anything, see.

I looked up to see Frazier trotting along and heading toward this man-who looks like a cross between Jerry Garcia and Santa Clause-standing there with inversely proportionally small Westies. He was yelling at Frazier to stop as I was calling him back to me. Frazier, being the curious dog that he is, took another step toward the Westies which prompted Santa Jerry to grab a fistful of snow and raise it towards my dog. Frazier, sensing the threat, immediately came back to me and I put his leash on. I told the man that he wasn't vicious, and he blasted there's a leash law here, and 'all dog owners think that right up until they attack another dog, and my dogs are only small". I told him that the two Puggles across the street from me are smaller than his dogs, and Frazier is afraid of them. He wouldn't hear any of it. He ignored the fact that Frazier was standing next to me, while his dogs were yanking on their leashes to get to him.

-He wouldn't let me explain that Frazier is 10 years old, and I'm pretty sure I know how he's going to react in any dog situation. That reaction is always the same: he runs to me if the other dog isn't nice. He has no aggression in him whatsoever. He's never been in a single fight in his life.
-He wouldn't let me explain that my brother also has a Westie, and perhaps he though Gus had come to visit.
-He wouldn't let me explain that my parents have a Daschund that Frazier has lived with for a while.
-He didn't let me explain that he was being an idiot.

This man lives right around the corner, and since I won't be forcing Frazier to be on the leash on every little quiet street in town, this altercation is bound to happen again.

Letter 2:

I got the following Flickr mail the other day. I'm naming and shaming because, well, because I can:

From: MaLóL



I´ve seen you have some great photographs about mountainbiking. In our site we have a main banner which background is a picture of a landscape or a cycling related pic. We change it everymonth. We would like to have one of your pictures there, but obviously we need to have your permission first and we would but a small sentence saying the author of the picture or a link to your work or a post in the news section. What do you think? do you agree?

thanks in advance and congratulations for yourpics.
Manuel Torres. webmaster and cycling lover.

Well hello Mr. Spanish cycling lover! My reply:

Hi there Manuel!

Thanks so much for noticing my photos! I'm flattered that you find one of them worthy of your site. Unfortunately, I don't license my photos for free, so I can not accept your offer at this time.

Many thanks!


He replied wondering how much it would be. After talking to the resident expert Dan the Photo Man I replied telling him it would be $100 to use my shot.

This is what I got back from him:


The picture is not that good for that price. And not even for half that price.

Thanks anyway.
Manuel Torres.

After hearing this, Dan suggested that I should reply "Dear Juan, or whatever your name is. Kindly fuck off".


Wow. I'm sure you didn't mean to insult me with your reply, so I'll just pretend that it wasn't incredibly rude. Perhaps the translation from Spanish to English only *sounds* insulting. You might want to work on your tone.

Sorry you don't think a shot is worth paying for. I guess it's good enough for publication in magazines and calendars, but not for your website. Oh well.


He told me that his tone was my problem, not his. Odd, since he was the one that had the tone in the first place.

He added, "we have other photographers colaborating and as our site is non-profit, we don´t pay for pictures which by the way will also give you advertisement."

Simon agreed with Dan's suggestion after this reposte.

I haven't replied again. Mostly because I really don't care if my photo gets used on a Spanish website devoted to the 5 or 6 people in Spain who are obsessive and who's sole joy in life is scouring the web for the latest ridiculously light chainring bolt made by some unheard-of company with a titanium forge located in a dark alley in Uzbekistan so that they can buy said bolt and add it to the other parts they've dug up from the realms of obscurity in order to make an 11 pound mountain bike that no one weighing more than the average 6 year old would dare to ride out of fear of dying a horrible death when all the weight weenie parts simultaneously explode in a mushroom could of carbon and titanium dust. This would probably happen in the driveway on ride number one of the 'newly built weightless wonder'.

Yeah, I'm ok with my photo not getting that 'advertisement'.

Where have all the nice people gone?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Another Sad Day for Cycling

Sheldon Brown died on Sunday. Words fail me, really.

Rest in peace, Sheldon. Thousands thank you for the information you have willingly and happily passed on to us.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


One of our Florida sales reps Becky sent out a note to remind us all that it is Ross's birthday today. She is now 25 years old.

Apparently, she was trying to keep it hush hush. So I thought I would quietly post it on my blog here.

Since I can't actually be with you to celebrate today Ross, I thought I would post a commemorative picture for you. The ultimate 25th birthday celebration comes in the form of the My Little Pony 25th Birthday Celebration Retro Ponies™

I hope you enjoy this very special day, when the act of parental horizontal mambo led to the world being graced with your presence.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Creativity Lacking

Ho hum. I am in a rut of some consideration. I've got a brand spankin' new camera (a Canon 40D which is ace), a fancy new lens (Canon 17-40 f/4.0 ultra wide zoom), and absolutely zero skill or motivation to go shoot anything. I've been thumbing through my Flickr contacts and am once again humbled by the amazing talent that lies within amateur photographers who do astonishing things with equipment that isn't as 'fancy' as what I've just upgraded myself to.

Today, I picked up another basket that I started before New Year's that I affectionately dubbed 'The Thing'. I didn't have a plan in mind for it, nor did I really know what it was going to be. It began with some scraps that were leftover from my other basket project. I figured it would decide for itself what it would be. At this point it's looking like a pen holder, or something.

I've always had this fascination with things that are artsy, or colorful, or creative. I was not blessed in the creativity department. It oozes from the pores of my sister and my niece. My sister can take a piece of jewelry made with wires and beads and replicate it in about oh, 15 minutes. The things my niece has been able to do since before she hit puberty are mind blowing. I looked at this book that she had assembled from her art class this year and it is beautiful in both it's simplicity and it's skill.

Meanwhile, I sit around and try and force something cool out of things I see. It's to the point now where I can't even tell what would make a nice composition anymore. It all feels so forced and contrived. I know I should just go out and shoot things. I guess I just feel that I can only shoot so many trees in the woods or patchworks of snow with winding rivers. It's not that there isn't a shedload of beauty around me, I just can't seem to find a way to capture it that's worth looking at right now.

Perhaps this is the photographic equivalent of writer's block. The notion that I might snap out of it doesn't really relieve the larger problem of having no skills, GOSH!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

One Thousand Six Hundred and Seventy-One




Two hours of sleep total.

North Platte, Nebraska to Henniker, New Hampshire.

Sort of by accident, see.

I didn't set out to drive all night. The circumstances were such that it just sort of happened that way. Let me back up. After a frenzy of packing and loading the trailer on Tuesday afternoon, following one last round of recycling and Salvation Armying, I left Boulder (insert dramatic music here) FOREVER at 4pm. Ok, so not really forever. I'm sure I'll find my way back there at some point.

Anyhoo...I had it in mind that I would drive a ways just to start cutting into the big trip. As Simon pointed out, 10% of the trip now is 10% less tomorrow. I figured North Platte would be a good destination. It was a reasonable distance away, and had plenty of amenities. My mom asked if I shed any tears when I left. The answer is no. I had zero emotional attachment to Boulder. That is what bums me out about it. It's such an aesthetically beautiful place that is unfortunately filled with very shallow people. Perhaps I just never met the right crowd. I'll never know and now, I don't really care. I will miss my ace housemate Allison, though. She really did make it bearable.

Mother Nature gave me quite a sendoff as well. I woke on Tuesday morning to rafter shaking winds which wanted to blow me off the highway all the way across the State line. I should have seen it as a sign of things to come. After waking in North Platte to overcast skies I set off along the road that would be keeping me company through many states, Interstate 80.

About oh, 10 miles into the trip I hit a little snow squall. Nothing significant, save for the fact that it didn't stop until about 500 MILES LATER! Yes, all the way across the rest of Nebraska and all the way across Iowa it was snowing. At one point I hit a patch of black ice that started the trailer fishtailing. A 16 foot trailer that might be ever so slightly overloaded is a lot of weight for the little Touareg to handle. I don't know how I managed to hold it together and keep it on the road. I was convinced that I was going to head off, but good kharma was with me and I righted my direction and stayed on the tarmac.

My nerves were shot to hell. I started questioning my choice to make the trip. I scolded myself for letting my overwhelming desire to be here take over my better judgement. I had Laura Bontrager's voice ringing in my head telling me to 'Make Good Choices', and thought that this time I probably hadn't. I was mad at the weather. I was mad at the road. I was mad at myself. I was mad at January and trailers and people who do stupid things like moving in the winter with trailers that don't like anything other than perfectly dry pavement.

My sister took the brunt of this frustration. I needed to know what was ahead of me. She's my weather guide and had to deal with me being short and blunt trying to figure out how much longer I was going to have to deal with this storm. I wanted to know exactly when it was going to stop. Exactly when I was going to have some relief. I wanted dry pavement. Never in my life have I wanted dry pavement so badly. Why didn't I stop?

The trouble with stopping in the middle of this mess was that I would just have to wake up to it again and keep slogging through. I wanted to get ahead of the storm and clear into what I had seen as a window of nice weather before the next storm hit New England. I finally got a break around Davenport, Iowa. By then I had resolved that if I made it that far, I was just going to continue on through Chicago.

I am not a fan of Chicago (a whole other story). The thing that annoys me the most about it is the deplorable state of driving there. And rush hour. I knew that if I stopped before Chicago that I would be fighting traffic all the way through Indiana. The best time to get around there is later at night, so I kept going.

When I was through Gary, Indiana I wasn't sleepy. When I was through South Bend I was wide awake. My motivation had returned, and I didn't stop until Toledo. Finally at 3am, I pulled into a highway services and slept for an hour and a half. at 4:30 I was awake again and the anxiousness was back. I set off and drove for a while before stopping for another half hour of sleep. The GyPSy said I was due to arrive at 6:30 and I only had 300 miles to go. That thing must not be working.

Blah blah blah, driving more miles, blahdey this odometer even MOVING!?!...blah blah...I swear this is the longest 10 miles of MY LIFE!...blah blah oh my gosh this is a very twisty little two lane road in Vermont drivedrivedrive I am never taking the trailer on this road AGAIN! Phone call to sister, text messages I can't reply to, when is the next storm supposed to start? Midnight? I should be ok...drivedrivedrive What do you mean they've moved up the time that the storm is supposed to start!?! Please, please can I just make it safely...blah blah blah Damnit if that stupid GPS wasn't right in the end. How did it KNOW that it would take so long on Vermont route 7??

And I made it. Then:
1) I backed into the driveway at my sister's house
2) Got out of the car
3) Burst into tears

My body still hasn't recovered. But, I'm here and I'm safe and happy. I am not anxious to ever repeat such a feat of driving madness.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tit dirt!

As I sit here drinking a nice BBB after a frenzy of packing for my move, I'm having an email exchange with my coworker Ross about a table cloth that I thought I remembered sending to her. This stream of consciousness was her response:

"You didn't send it anywhere. I stole it. From Sherie's desk.

I'm gonna FedEx it. I mean seriously, have you really ever tried sending a package at the post office? First of all, good luck finding the godforsaken place. Then you get to stand in line a lot. And then when you get to the front the lady with the poofy red hair won't even look you in the eye and she makes you feel like you're wasting her time even though you're only asking her to DO WHAT MY TAX DOLLARS ARE PAYING HER TO DO. Fuckin' post office. Besides, I can FedEx it when I go to Kinkos to do my expense reports this week. Plus, the friendly faces, well-organized efficient store layout, and user-friendly machines at FedEx Kinkos are a welcome contrast to the US Mail. I think the fact that they have an endangered species as their mascot is a harbinger of doom for the Postal Service."

That was worth posting.

In other news, a man 'miraculously' regained his vision after a trip to the chiropractor. This, is headline news.

So I'm going to have my last day of snowboarding in Colorado tomorrow. Not entirely sure how I feel about that. For the most part, there's not much here I'm going to miss, but every once in a while I get this pang of a reminder about something I'm not going to get to do for a while. I have to keep reminding myself that this isn't the last time I'm going to be here. I am so incredibly anxious to get out of here that only the request of my very good friend Full-hair was enough to get me to give up one day of move preparation for some turns on the slopes. He's a good friend though, and definitely one of those 'things' I'm going to miss. Plus he helped me move some stuff around today, and for that it's worth delaying my departure to spend some time with him.

But, later this week I'll be back on the road and streaking towards my new destination. Woop!

No sheep spotting today, although I did bubble wrap and pack the ace sheep figurine that Dan gave me.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A New Year of Underwater Basket Weaving

Head shown for size reference. Please refrain from suggestions that I have a large noggin.

Yeah, that's right. I know how to weave baskets. You gotta problem with that??

My sister has been doing it for a while and a few years ago she started teaching me how. I've kept it quiet, but now I'm ready to come out of the craft closet and let the world know that I CAN MAKE SOMETHING WITH MY OWN TWO HANDS (and the two hands that belong to my sister, the expert). I am not ashamed. Say what you will. It's actually quite enjoyable and I like the idea of being able to make something functional. So there.

So the one up there is the one that we started the other day. It will hold my wooly hats and gloves once I'm settled in the Northeast.

I'm now in Buffalo, NY on my way to Madison for a few days of meetings. I drove through snow storms all day long. This might have been the toughest day of driving I've ever done.

And this concludes my 'completely unrelated to the New Year' post.

Best of luck to everyone in 2008.