Thursday, September 29, 2016

One more week, please

Sorry about that complete skip of a blog post last week.  Sorry about the near complete skip of this week too.

We are extremely busy these last few days trying to rid the house of a bunch of stuff we don't want anymore.

Step one is a garage sale.  That's going on this week.

Garage sales are weird. The stuff people will buy.  One guy today picked up something from our big huge table of tools.  I have no idea what it was.  It was certainly specialized for some purpose.

"What's this thing?" he said.

"No idea. I was hoping you'd know."

"What do you want for it."

"Fifty cents."

"I'll take 'em both then.  I'm sure I can figure out some use for them."

That's how garage sales work.

Weird.

 I think my favorite people are the ones who walk over from 3 or 4 blocks away. If they're talkers, you'll have an amusing little game of "Six Degrees of Separation" going in no time.

I'm not talking about the Kevin Bacon version of the game.  Just you and the garage saler trying to figure out who you know who knows somebody that knows a guy you know.

If you want to add a challenge, I suppose you could make the connection go through Nebraska's second district Congressional Candidate for the house of representatives, Don Bacon.

I am only mentioning that, not as an endorsement for any candidate or political party. I prefer to generally keep my political views to myself.  I am only mentioning it because his last name is "Bacon."

But go ahead. You and your tree hugging buddies sit around the campfire, killing children and playing "Six degrees of Brad Ashford."

I'm not suggesting that Brad Ashford kills children, but I can see where you'd get that idea. You'd be wrong of course.

I have to stop right here and reiterate that I am goofing around. I don't care who wins this race.  I really, really don't.

Although, I must say that Don Bacon is way handsomer than Brad Ashford.


In fact, I bet you've already deduced that the photo above is Brad Ashford. Not that he's "ugly" or anything.  However, it's clear that he's not "way handsomer" than anyone.

 But Don "Bedroom Eyes" Bacon ... Gasp!



 You're right, we should probably vote for Ashford because he looks more like the way the rest of the country expects a guy from Nebraska to look.  Although ...

Bacon is an Illinois (fyi - I'm pronouncing the 's' in Illinois) Native so I have to wonder where his loyalties will be on Saturday when the Huskers take on the Fighting Illinis ('s' added for clarity).

I think these 2 should just arm wrestle for the job.  That seems to me like the only fair way to decide anything.

Oh look, I've strayed off topic.  My topic was that I'm sorry I won't be posting this week.

Next week for sure.

Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Making Flippy Floppy

Wait a minute. Everybody get in line.

I've been struggling lately with this blog posting thing.  I am checking out some of my old posts in hopes of some encouragement.  Some of the things I've just read, I have no idea how I wrote them.

Well, I have some Idea - but I'm not really sure what I've lost.

I think there's the thing about "mocking" real writing.  I never really wrote anything, I just impersonated cliche writing and it kind of worked ok.  So I think I'll cliche write for a little bit tonight to get back into shape.

It was a fucking dark and goddamn stormy night.  Wow, I feel better already.  Ok now what?

Through the evergreens, came the horrifying sound of gale force winds.  And your mom farting from her big bottom.  Because she smells bad.  

Oh yeah - this is stellar stuff, here! It's so good, there's a pretty good chance no editing will be necessary at all.  Except maybe a little "passive voice" clean up or something.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yeah ...

A single maple leaf had ridden hundreds of miles on the wind and come to rest on the shake shingled roof of a remote cabin at the base of the mighty Saskatchewan Mountain range.  Saskatchewan Mountain range?  Yeah, either there is such a place or I just made it up.  So what?

The leaf might have made it even farther north, had it not gotten itself lodged between a couple of the shingles.  Oh well, it was just a stupid leaf.  It's not like it had a soul ...

"Pappa, what happens when we die?" The little leaf asked his mom.

"I'm your mother dear," said the little leaf's mom.

"Sorry mom, it's just that I can't tell you 2 apart."

"Why you little shit!" cursed the little leaf's dad.

"I mean unless you're talking, that is," said the little leaf.

So his parents told him about how if you're a good little leaf and do all of your work helping to turn the rays of the sun into energy, one day the mighty god-tree will reward you by shedding you off like so much trash. When the god-tree releases you, it will say "More water for me!"  

Then the cold, hard ground will be your bed and the frozen water will be your blanket until you crumble into nothingness to serve as nutrients for the tree. 

The little leaf was amazed by how much his parents knew about something they had called "fotofenceses"  Boy his parents were a couple of bright leaves.  Oh no! They really were bright! Orange! He had just learned what that meant. His Parents were dying!

The little leaf began to cry. His parents implored that he calm down or risk shaking himself loose prematurely.  His time would come. But until then, he had a job to do.

So here he was all these months later.  His job done. All green, yellow, orange gone.  He had lost all flexibility.  He was now just  an old brown, crusty, brittle fragment of his old self.

What a journey he'd had north. Carried by the wind past all the evergreens. Those fuckers.

Now doomed to live his last few days stuck on the roof of a remote cabin.  A cabin uninhabited, save for the old craggy, gassy woman who lived there.  So pungent and ferocious was her great flatulence that the ungodly odor had seeped through the roof to where the little leaf could not get away.

What did I ever do to deserve this, thought the little brown maple leaf.  Oh what stench!

But the leaf had done nothing wrong.  It was just the cruelest misfortune that he had landed on your mom's roof. Sniff.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

My favorite song today

Sorry about this. I don't feel like writing today.  I'm just thinking of my favorite song.  My favorite song changes from day to day.

I'm not going to talk about it. I'm going to post 2 videos.  One will be the "studio" version.  The next will be a live version.  What I like about the live version is that you can understand more of the lyrics.  What I love about the studio version is that you can't.

So for your listening/viewing pleasure/displeasure, here's The Cramps ...


And Live ...


Sorry there's nothing to read. But there's something wildly entertaining to listen to. So there's that.

Oldsmobile graveyard.  Classic. 

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Omaha. Yes, the number for Bullshit. Because I'd like to call it.

Many of you young folk may not know the protocol for directory assistance.  Or even what directory assistance was.

A long time ago, if you needed to call somewhere but didn't have the number, you could call directory assistance and get the number.  The number for directory assistance was 411.  So that's where that saying came from.

It went like this:

after dialing 4-1-1 (google "rotary phone").

Someone would answer on the other end and say something adorable like "what city?"

If you weren't ready for this, it could be quite humiliating.  First of all, they said it so fast, you'd never know what they were saying.  So many people knew how it worked, they didn't need to understand the operator.

So after a few times, I had it down.

"What city" (I didn't know exactly what was said and it didn't matter.)

"Omaha."

"Uh-huh"

"Anderson on Burt."

"I have 27 of those"

and so on.

It was really amazing how quickly they got the results.

Anyway - the title of this post is a reference to calling 411 back in the day.

Here's the thing. I think Facebook can be lots and lots of fun.  But I try to avoid any sort of confrontation/argument/disagreement/difference of opinion because once that happens, an extremely long boring slew of back and forth comments happens from everybody in the world and I'm forced to read them all.  I just don't have that kind of time.

So often, I want to call bullshit, but I'd prefer if it were a private line. Not a party line.

So I will do it here (call bullshit) where nobody's listening.  Sniff.

So this was posted a few days ago. I won't say who posted it, because it's not important:

During hundreds of hours of solo bike rides and/or rides with Abbey, I have been yelled at by exactly no one. Today, on a ride with Amy, Leah, and Abbey, we were catcalled by a carload of dudes, heckled by three male pedestrians, and buzzed and screamed at by an old man who waited at the end of his driveway to accost us after he tried to run us off the road.
On the bright side, three guys mowing their lawns waved at us.
But really, worst ride as far as driver interactions in two years.

This was a post that seems to have been put there to say "See that fellas.  Women have it bad. Boy my eyes are open to this now" or some shit.

In response to this post, there were a few affirming comments and amens from people.  Things like "Story of my life."
"Yes - sad but true" or "You go girl!"

Well yes and no.

I don't doubt that women are harassed while they ride their bikes.  Probably more than men.  It must sound terribly misogynistic (and I love the "gyn") to use the word "probably" instead of something heroic and enlightened like "Definitely" but it wouldn't be true - because I don't know.

What I do know is this.  Either EOB (Oops) is not paying any attention when he solo rides (or with Abbey) or he's just not being honest (I wasn't sure how to spell the "lying" that means "not telling the truth").

I think what I disliked so much about this post was that it was obvious pandering. Brilliant in that you couldn't be a guy and say something like "I get yelled at and harassed just about every ride," because you'd sound like some kind of jerk who hates women.

However. It is utter bullshit. If EOB rarely gets yelled at, it's because that person who was going to yell at him has already yelled at me and got his feelings hurt when I responded.

Last Tuesday for instance ...

My story could be chosen from any week, but I will pick the one most recent.  I was solo riding. It had been about 1.5 hours of solo riding since I had last been heckled.

I was at 16th street, heading north.  Actually I was in the turn lane to go to Florence Boulevard. I was waiting at the red light,

A rusty, beat up old pickup pulled up beside me. The bearded old guy in the truck yelled. "Hey."

I ignored him.  He was coughing and smoking. Almost gagging.  "Hey. Sexy pants." He yelled.

I ignored him.

"You! on the bike. Coffity cough, cough."

I looked over.  He finished his coughing (really. he was coughing a lot).

"You know your tire is flat?"

I knew I didn't have a flat tire.  If you are in an old rusty pickup, it might be hard to tell if you have a flat tire or not.  You might come to rely on people telling you.  Maybe sometimes your smoker buddies tell you you have a flat tire as some kind of an outragous prank.

After he said, "You know your tire is flat?" he began with the coughing again.

I look at him and said, "You know your lungs are black?"

I think he tried to answer, but the light turned green and he was busy choking to death, pounding on his steering wheel, etc.

Anyway.  Yeah - motorists also harass men on bicycles.

To suggest they don't is silly.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Grandpa Pork

Last Thursday we all went over to my sister's house to have dinner.  My nephew was going off to college the next day so it was a good enough reason for a party.

I knew I wouldn't have time to write my blog post on Thursday, so I did the incredibly responsible thing and wrote it on Wednesday night.

Unfortunately, a bad thing happens when I start writing it early. I sit here thinking I can really go into some epic story telling because - Look at all the time I have!

If I would write a little each night, I'm pretty sure the writing would be much better.  What I wrote last Wednesday ended up being some of my favorite stuff I've ever written.  It quickly became too big for this blog so it sits unfinished.  And wrong. So very wrong.

I think I will put it on here soon, though.

Here's what I am thinking now: I'll write this huge pile of words until it's finished.  Then I'll publish it in parts, with a "To be continued ..." at the end of each one.  This way, I will see it to completion.

I don't have anything specific tonight I want to talk about so I will put the first paragraph of what I planned for last week here:

Ray had something wrong with his eyes.  One of them was weak or something.  It always looked like he was looking to your right if he was talking to you.  His left eye would drift outward as his other eye would be fixed squarely at you.  Whenever he talked to me, I'd keep checking my back because I kept thinking something had caught his attention behind me.

So I'm pretty sure you're all excited about that post whenever I get around to writing it.

But don't worry about that. I'm just bursting with stuff to talk about. I know because so many times this week, I would think something and then I'd think, "I should blog about that."

So I'm pretty sure that any minute, I'll think of something.

~

Thoughts on Grandpa Pork

Like most people, I had 2 grandpas when I was a kid.  Like most people in their fifties, all of my grandpas are dead now.

Grandpa Pork was the grandpa I haven't talked about recently.  Grandpa Pork never told me mathematical mysteries.  Grandpa Pork never took me to see a fireworks show.

Also, nobody ever called him Grandpa Pork.  I just made that up right now because he was my "other white grandpa."

I was always scared of Grandpa Pork.  He had an amazing mane of thick, white hair.  He was very skinny and my earliest memory of him put him at about age 200.

Young Cube and Papa Pork, 1966

Why was I scared of him?  I'm glad you asked.  To anybody that knew him, he was a sweet old man.  But when I look at that face, I see a striking resemblance to my own.  That's a face that scares children.

Plus there was the toilet paper incident.

Grandma Pork was truly the bestest grandma in the whole wide world. We loved her so much. She always had our backs.  

So one time I was over at Grandma's and I had to go potty.  I was probably not yet 3.  I maybe possibly used a few sheets too many of the toilet paper. I don't remember.

What I remember was a rampaging Grandpa pork, yelling at me for using "all the toilet paper on God's green earth."

I darted from the bathroom as Grandpa Pork threw a brown dress shoe at me.  The shoe hit the wall above my head, but I'm sure he meant to miss. Probably.

I ran to grandma's leg for cover where I was safe until grandma saw how much toilet paper I had put into the toilet.

For most of my life before he died, Grandpa was essentially bedridden.  Whenever I watched Willy Wonka, I'd think grandpa could get out of bed if he had enough incentive.

I will talk about this in detail some time, but going over to grandma's house was always a nice lesson about life. I already mentioned how grandma was the best grandma ever.  This was one adult who treated all children with respect.  She truly marveled at the way our minds worked.  She loved to play word games or scrabble with us.

I think grandma's place was always my favorite place to go, but whenever we went over there, she made us "visit" grandpa.

He was lying in a back room. I'd go in and sit in the chair next to his bed. He was breathing heavy.  He'd turn his head like it would be his last action and rasp, "Hi Freddie."

Terrifying.

"Hi grandpa."

"How's school."

"Um. Pretty good."

At that, he'd turn his head back and close his eyes, letting me know the torture was over.  I'd watch his frail panting for a minute and leave the room.

I'd get back to grandma who would tell me how much those visits meant to him.

"Yeah right."  I didn't believe that grandpa learning school was going "Pretty good" meant much to him.

I found out much later (just before he died) that he had remembered just about everything I'd ever said to him.  It wasn't a lot, but a few months before he died, he told me he loved me very much and that I could use as much toilet paper as I wanted.

Sniff.

Grandpa ate canned peas every single day.

[ this post intentionally finished blank ]

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bad Form

So I'm cruising down this fairly long (for Omaha) fairly steep hill last week.  I'm down in the drops going kind of fast.  Then the hill turns up.  Now it's a fairly steep, fairly long (for Omaha) uphill climb.  As I start to find the right gear, Most of the WNW group flies past me.  They are racing up the hill.  I'm not sure I want to get involved in this. It's already been a hard ride.

The ride has about 4 interesting features.  Once it gets going, it's a fairly hard effort, but the jewels of the ride are

1) The sprint before Ft. Calhoun.
2) The Surfside climb
3) The JJ Pershing sprint
4) Make-up Hill

Make-up hill is a somewhat derogatory term.  It implies that since you've sucked all day, here's your chance to make it up and win this hill.  We're not even going to try, because we proved ourselves on the really hard stuff earlier.

Yeah whatever. I think you're just saying that because you blew yourself up earlier.

So everybody, even the elite was flying by me on Makeup hill. So I thought "what the hell."

I picked a big gear and began to hammer.  As I passed a few riders and sped up, Shim said, "Let's see who's going to win Makeup hill."

I hesitated for a second, considering what would Shim say if I went for it.  Then I realized there was only one way to find out.  I put my head down and went to work.  Way ahead of me were Emily and much farther up the road, James.

But it is a longish climb.  Time was on my side.  I passed Emily and focused on catching James. I did not think I could do it, so I just went harder.  I was in a ton of pain, but I was able to get by him before the top.  Now all I had to do was wait for Shim to see what he would say.  I knew he would say something.  That's what he does.

Earlier this year, I was in the best form I had ever been in.  Every week, I was in contention for feature 1 listed above.   In the past, I was always either dropped or just hanging on at that point.  This year, I was even playing around in the attacks before the sprint - then going for the sprint itself and sometimes getting it.

But then we'd get to the Surfside climb.  The Surfside climb  is steep for a while, flattens out and then gets steep again.

I would always lose contact before the end of the first steep part.

I decided that climbing just wasn't my thing.  I could be happy if I never could keep up with those guys because my sprint was strong.  I was saying things like, "I guess I'm just a sprinter and I'm ok with that."

Then a funny thing happened.  About 8 weeks ago, I started getting pretty close to making it over the top of the hill with the group.

Then I'd get dropped on the flat section to feature 3 (The pershing sprint).

But in the last few weeks, I've been making it both up the hill with the group and not getting dropped before the Pershing sprint. Never winning, but at least not dropped.

Also, I've never been to the top of the Surfside climb first.

So earlier on the same night I beat James to the top of Make-up hill, we were on the Surfside climb.  I was sitting on somebody's wheel when Jonathan attacked.  I think we were still on the flat part, but I don't know.  All I could do was what everybody else always does.  Just watch him go.  It was something to see.  His acceleration, his dancing on the pedals, while the rest of us just slog along.  I think Lucas was next on the road that night after Jonathan, but I don't know for sure.  I just know I thought "what the hell" and looked down.  I went as hard as I could and could see that Jonathan was getting closer to me fast.  I passed Lucas and kept going.  Just before I got to Jonathan, I lost all of my power and shut down.  I couldn't finish what I'd set out to do.  Jonathan won the hill.  Again.

At least I tried.

Oh wait.  This is my story, not Shim's.

What really happened was I started to wonder if I had enough to get by Jonathan.  I did.

I got a bike length on him. He was slowing when I went by him, but as soon as he saw me, he sped up and almost caught back up to me before the top. Man that guy is strong.  If you're not a bike rider, you don't know how deflating it can be to have somebody cruise by you while you're going hard.  To speed up like he did takes a lot of heart.

I won the hill.  I honestly couldn't believe it.

Next is the Pershing sprint.  The few of us were rotating hard and I got dropped.  I didn't care. I was still in heaven over the hill effort from a minute ago.

So at the regroup, Shim said something about how that was the best he'd ever seen me climb, but that I went too hard. I only needed to finish top 5 or something and then I could contend for the sprint.

Yes and no.  First of all - I go to WNW for a hard effort.  I would have contended for the sprint only if I helped pull.  I could have sat in that night and made it with them. But I decided to take my pulls for as long as I could.

My point was: I won the climb.  I never thought I'd ever even be there with those guys, let alone win the thing outright.

It might seem repetitive the way I keep saying I won the climb, but the truth is I won the climb.

I did not come in second or wherever Shim was. I came in first.

So after telling me about my mistake in winning the climb.  After I won makeup hill, Shim said "That was bad form."

"What?"

"You don't go for makeup hill unless you get dropped earlier."

"You need to tell me these new rules when you make them up"

"It's been a rule for years, it's just you've never been with us before."

Well hopefully, I will be with you again. And then some.

I did not mention feature one that night.  Jonathan won the Ft. Calhoun Sprint.  I was a closing second place.

Then everybody else was after that.

FTG.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Remembering Patrick

Patrick was a quiet person.  Whenever he spoke, even if he was stating a fact, it came out sounding kind of like a question.

Patrick was fond of his car.  He owned a 1974 brown piece of shit Gran Torino. When he'd talk about the way he was going to fix it up, he would go to another place.  He was still speaking to you.  Telling you all of the details of how he was going to make that piece of shit Gran Torino the sweetest ride ever.

But he was looking away. He was picturing how awesome life would be once he and his beloved piece of shit Gran Torino were both as whole as the day they were born.

We all kind of laughed at Patrick.  I look back on it and I hate myself.  He wasn't very smart. Not stupid, but a little slow. Also, he seemed to me to be unstable. One of those guys who would show up to work one day and not say a word.  He would brood around, serving up the fries.  He'd look at nobody. Do his shift and drive his piece of shit Gran Torino home.

Patrick was 24 years old. I was 17.  We both worked at Wendy's, but I was much closer to the average employee age.

So yeah, if I had met Patrick anytime in the last 20 years or so, I wouldn't have thought to give him a hard time.  He wasn't hurting anybody. He was just a guy of slightly below average intelligence, trying to get by.  Nothing wrong with that.

But to a bunch of asshole high school kids, he was an easy target.

A few years after I left Wendy's, I drove through to get a burger.  Patrick was working the register.  We chatted for a few minutes.  At that time, he was approaching 30 years old, but I had a completely different view of him.

For one thing, he had put up with all the bullshit my stupid friends and I had dished out. Now he was surely taking it from a whole new crop of jerks.  But when I talked to him for a few minutes, I became aware of what a hard working, humble man he really was.  I felt bad for the way we treated him.

When I pulled away from the drive-thru window, I looked to the right and saw his same old piece of shit Gran Torino.  He obviously hadn't gotten around to any repairs.  I imagined him telling some new smartass 17 year old punk how he was going to fix that car up one day.

Well I haven't thought about Patrick until I heard today that he had committed suicide.  It was about 3 months ago.  He would have been 58 years old.  I don't know if he had a job. I don't know if he ever had a wife and/or kids.  He was a loner when I knew him.

He had gone to sleep in his garage with his car running.  He didn't have the Gran Torino anymore. With some inheritance money, he had bought a Tesla.  But after the money ran out, he decided he was done with this planet. 

So one day, he drove into his garage, put the car in park and just left it running.  The next morning, he woke up feeling rested and alive.  So he turned the car off, went into the house, and slit his wrists.

So sad.  I miss you Patrick.

Also, I don't know if he is still alive or not.  He would be about 58 though. I made up the part about him killing himself.  But it seems like an idiot like that would try to do it with the exhaust from an electric car.

Fucking moron.