Thursday, February 27, 2014

You ought to know

I've written more words this week than any other in the history of me writing words.  Ironically, none of those words are suitable for this forum at this time.

Well, maybe it's ironic. I'm not quite sure.  I guess that depends on what ironic means.  I'm going to make this brief because I don't want to do it at all.  I also will not mention you-know-who or her song about irony, because, c'mon.  Boring.

When somebody says, "Wow. That's ironic,"  they're usually talking about some coincidence.

I'm not sure anybody knows what ironic means but I've found a few definitions.  Without looking them up, I'll describe what I think they are.

I always think of it as something that happens as a result of actions taken in an attempt to stop that thing from happening. That's ironic.

Back in 8th grade or something, they said it was like sarcasm, but nicer.  The idea is you say the opposite of what you mean and since it is so ridiculous, it makes your point.  Like "Oh yeah, I really want to get eaten alive by mosquitoes!"

Then there's the one they always talk about with some philosopher (plato or socrates)  Where you argue with someone by simply asking questions that force them to contradict their position.

There's one that has something to do with theater.  But that requires you to go to the theater, so ...

The last and most important definition of irony I've ever seen is: "Like iron"

To me, that's true irony.  Not coincidence.  Is it coincidence that aluminum is kind of irony?  The correct answer is a resounding "nope."

In fact, coincidence may not actually exist.  Many have said they don't believe in coincidence.  Maybe they're right.  Maybe that's why they call it irony.

"Woah.  You have the same birthday as I do?  I suspect some sort of conspiracy.  That's ironic."

So anyways, I got to thinking.  Would it be possible to have one huge circumstance or entity that was all forms of irony (including 'like iron') at the same time.  As an added bonus, if it could be a coincidence, I'd send the result to you-know-who and respectfully request that she write a song about it.

So it should be obvious that I am making this up as I go along.  I haven't a clue what situation could fulfill all senses of the word.  Oh wait  Back up.  Let's skip the theater one because who wants to sit through a play?  Actually - if you want to have a go at adding it, fine.  I don't care.  Just keep me out of it.

So the situation/event has to have:

1) bringing about your own demise by trying to thwart it
2) nice sarcasm
3) dumb questions to illustrate that your enemy is dumb
4) having similarity to iron.

Bonus: The mythical notion of coincidence.

So let's just say there was this guy.  What he wanted more than anything was to be obscenely wealthy.  He also wanted a hot girlfriend.  He had the girlfriend, just not the money.

But this girl did everything for him.  I mean everything.  He loved her so much he could never imagine being with anyone else.  He told her he'd hold her until he died, until he died.

As the years went on, however, her career was not going too well.  She was basically a failed singer.  So he dumped her.  He found an older, richer version of her.

Well, this upset the ex-girlfriend so much that she wrote a song dripping with irony (sarcasm).  She said things like:

I wish nothing but the best for you both.
I'm sure she'd make a really excellent mother.
I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner.

Well this song was a big big hit and the ex-girlfriend made 100 billion dollars for the song (one penny for every time it was played on the radio).  So Mr. Duplicity missed that boat (ironic that he left her for a 'sort of rich' woman).

These cover the first 2 in my list above.  Next there's the socratic (or is it platonic) type - dumb questions to prove your point.  Also in the most ironic song ever written:

Is she perverted like me?
Will she go down on you in a theater?  (strictly speaking, this is probably not the "theater version" of irony)
Does she speak eloquently?
Would she have your baby?

Maybe that theater one is irony.  Because (rhymes with cabanas) was trying to use her mouth to get pregnant.

I don't know what kind of cross she bore, but I'd be willing to bet it was iron.

Anyway - I'm tired of hearing people say her song has nothing to do with irony. It's all over the place in the lyrics.

Hmm? What?  They're talking about a different song?  She wrote another song?  What a coincidence.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lick The Glove

As I've stated herehere, and here - I ride bikes in the winter now.  Particularly the Saturday morning ride that gets posted to Group Ride Omaha.

Last year, there was always a pretty good group.  This year - not so much.  Not that the group is bad or anything. It is just smaller.  Fewer people.

But I will always go as long as I can figure out where the mystery meeting place is.  Oh and also as long as there isn't some sort of scheduling conflict.  Like my son has built  some sort of baseball playing robot for some competition or something.  Then I'd probably have to go watch as this evil robot cyborg ball player thing destroys the competition or whatever it is they do.

Last year - it seemed like it was not less than 11 people each week.  This year, it's more like 4 or 5.  There's always Rafal.  There's usually Paul Webb.  Brady often appears.  Savery's been showing up the last couple of weeks.  Then me.  But I'm only there because of this:

That was Lou Gossett Jr. playing Rafal and Richard Gere as me.

Haven't seen Shim, Spence, or Leah lately.  Lucas Marshall has shown up once or twice.  

Obviously, there's a perfectly good reason for the sparse winter crew.  My knee jerk intuition guess is that since just about everything else is a better thing to do, they've got better things to do.

Please disregard that last explanation.  We all know it's because those guys are all a bunch of pussies.

Oh sorry.  Please disregard that last explanation.  It's because sometimes the meeting place directions are vague.  Then if you ask for clarification, a smartass answer is coming your way.

For example:

january 18th 2014

meet at Blue Line NODO
I've got bunch of  stuff to do in afternoon and so do other people.
I't's going to be breezy
coffee 8:30  (if you inclined)
rollout 9:00 am
the route is gravel pavement mix .
see you there

For the uneducated what is NODO? Thx.

is north of SOMA

Last week, it was this:


Meet at culprit 9:30 am
Rollout 10 am
Going south to glenwood
Road bikes 
Bring money for the toll
No freeloaders
That is all folks

I had never heard of "culprit" before.  I didn't want to ask where culprit was, because I was thinking the answer would be something like "where we meet."

Also - No freeloaders.  So bring your own money for the toll.  More on this later.

So I googled culprit and sure enough, an address came up of 16th and Farnam.  Then I took a break from all that investigative work.
Sneakiest Coffee Shop In the World

As you can see, even the cook guy logo is wearing a mask!  Ooh!  Culprity!

 Anyway - Before last Saturday's ride, I took a gander at the hourly weather forecast.  It looked to be about 50F by the end of the ride.  There was a 30% chance of light snow early in the ride.  It was 28F when I went out the front door, dressed for weather later in the day of about 45F.  There were a few flurries coming down.

By the time I got to the meeting place, it was snowing.  Hard.  Also, it was pretty windy.  I was getting a little chilly.  I took the optimist point of view that maybe there's something to that whole brown fat thing, and cheerily shivered on down to this mysterious "culprit," place.

Because there is so much salt on the roads right now, you could [do something that takes a lot of salt to something really big], 28F was warm enough to keep the snow from accumulating on the street.  

The bonus there is when the water splashed you, it was colder than ice!

When I got there, Rafal, Paul, and Savery were already there.  It was about 5 minutes until rollout, but Savery had received a text that Brady was on his way but running late.

So we waited for a few minutes.  At roughly 12 after the hour we rolled on without Brady.  The plan was to ride south to Glenwood.  Initially, we would have taken roads, but the shitty weather precipitated a plan to use bike paths in Iowa for a while via the Bob Kerry Ordinary Bridge.  I guess - less splashy than the streets since the bike path is not covered in enough brine to marinate a [something really huge that needs marinating].

As we approached the bridge, I received a text.  This required me to remove my glove and reply.  Brady was asking if I was on the ride.  I figured he must've bailed, so I just replied, "yes."

Then I tried to ride and put my phone away and put my glove back on.  My hand was getting cold.  While this was happening, I was falling behind the other 3.  I figured I'd catch up.  They were sort of waiting.  Taking it nice and easy.

Just as I got my glove back on I got another text from Brady letting me know that he was at "culprit."  Obviously he knew where culprit was.

So I took my glove off again, told Brady I was at the bridge and gave up on Rafal, Savery and Paul who were now out of sight.

I also gave up on the use of my hand.  It was really cold by then.  

When Brady got to the Bob Kerry Average Bridge, The weather was snowing and blowing harder than ever from the direction we were heading.

The other guys were long gone.

Brady said, "What are you thinking?"  

I said, "I could go home right now.  Hot Chocolate.  I believe in Miracles.  etc."  But I figured we should just see how it went for a while.  After a few minutes, and with no provocation that I could discern, Brady mysteriously decided, "Let's just go in to Glenwood."

"Yeah," I said.

I think this might have been to put the test to something I had said to him a few minutes before.

I didn't believe anyone should be out riding around on road bikes in this weather.  It seemed pretty stupid.  The problem was the forecast.  It was supposed to be nice later on.  But I had mentioned to Brady that I thought the ride happened because nobody (myself included) had the guts to be the first to chicken out of it.

Somehow, Brady spent a few minutes in whatever hell he lives in and returned with "Let's just go to Glenwood."

Before I said "yeah," I heard from inside my head, the sound of my tongue clicking.  My tongue did not actually click, but the sound was there (in my head).  Also, I think I sighed internally.  Then I geared myself up for the long miserable ride ahead.

The ride to Glenwood as we generally take it has 2 routes.  The longer one is hillier and Brady and I were both willing to take the shorter route.  We hadn't really hurried or anything, but there was still a chance we'd catch the three guys in town if they took the longer route.

They did  take the long way, so we got there about 10 minutes to an hour ahead of them.  I figure they were about 5 minutes in front of us all the way to Glenwood, so that was pretty good.

Everything I've said up to this point was to talk about one thing in particular.

Savery was first of all surprised that we (Brady and I) hadn't bailed.  They all assumed we must have.

Secondly, he was surprised that, even though we went the short route, we got into town before them.

Luckily, he quickly realized the only possible explanation.  Still reeling from the shock that we got there before them, he said, "Wow.  Brady.  You must have motorpaced Fred all the way here!"

Thanks Mark. 'preciate it.

Then we all did the rest of the ride.  By that time, it was warm and sunny and everybody was happy.

We got to the toll bridge and I paid Brady's (because I had told him I would) otherwise, I think he'd have gone the non-toll way.  Also - the guy who posted the ride and the mystery start place and the no freeloaders admonition.  He couldn't locate his coin purse so I paid his too.  Then I paid for the car behind me.  An idea I got from Ryan Feagan.  As I got going again, I had to put my glove back on.   The rest of the group was already rolling up the hill.  Then I dropped my glove and had to go back for it.

"Not again," I thought.  But I was able to catch back up to them eventually.

Stupid glove.

In conclusion,  I've just learned that my son has finished work on an evil baseball playing robot.  I am saddened that I will be unable to attend this weekend's ride even if I can figure out where it starts.

Have fun fellers.  Try not to miss me too much.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Click, swish, ahh.

My second favorite joke from when I was 9:

So there was this guy, right?  He was having the whole inside of his house painted by professionals.  It was a pretty big job and the painter guys told him that he'd probably be best off if he crashed over at a friend's house for a few days so the painters could leave all their crap lying around until the job was finished.

So the guy called his brother because his brother had always told him if he ever needed a place to stay, not to hesitate.  There was a spare bedroom right next to his, so it would be cool.

After getting all situated in the guest room the guy heard a peculiar noise from the next room over.  It was his brother's bedroom.  It sounded like, "Click.  Swish. ahh."  The "ahh" sounding like a sigh of relief.

Strange, thought the guy.  Then he forgot about it until the next night when he heard the same thing.  "Click. Swish.  ahh."

Curious, he went over to his brother's room to ask him about it, but when he got there, the light was off, and it sounded like his brother was already asleep.

After the third and final night of his stay (by the way, there always has to be 3) when he heard the mysterious sequence of sounds, he decided he had to know what it was, even if he had to wake his brother to find out.

So he went to find his brother fast asleep and gently woke him.

"What's up bro," came the cheerful but sleepy reply.

"What's that noise coming from this room every night."
[ at this point, I will mention that the brother did not need to be told what the guy was talking about, because we were 9 years old ]

"Oh that,"  said the brother, instantly understanding what the guy was talking about, "Every night, when I go to bed, I shut off the light (the click) I leap through the air to my bed (the swish) and land on my comfy sheets and pillow (the ahh).  Whenever I do this, I fall asleep instantly.  It is the most wonderful thing.  You really must give it a try some time."

Nonplussed by this totally bizarre explanation, the guy said, "Um.  Okay then. (under his breath) Goodnight weirdo." 1

When the guy got back to the guest room, he figured he had nothing to lose, so he'd give it a try.

Five seconds later, the guy's brother heard the curious sound of "Click, swish, AAAAAHHHH!!!" where the "AAAAAHHHH!!!" sounded a little like a scream of incredible agony.

The brother rushed to the room, terribly worried.  When he arrived and turned on the light, he saw the guy doubled over in pain on the floor.  "What happened, guy?"  the brother asked.

Through clenched teeth, the guy explained, "The click you heard was the sound of me shutting off the light (labored panting).   The swish was my leap toward the bed.  The AAAAAHHHHH!!! was when I hit my nuts on the bedpost."


Freddy Hans told me that joke.  He was one of the kids my mom watched when we were young.  So then my mom asked us what was so funny.

"Oh nothing," I said all guilty and nervous-like, preparing to leave the area.

Then, to my horror, Freddy Hans said, "One time, this guy was getting his house painted ..."

I was panicked.  I couldn't believe he was telling this joke to my mother.  There was really no way to stop him.  I would have to explain why if I did.  Freddy had a bit of a course mouth and my mom and I knew it.  I knew it would be terribly embarrassing when he told my mom the punch line.

Finally, he got to the line.  My heart stopped.  My god, he was really going through with it.  "The AAAAAHHHH!!! was when I hit my" (at this point he glanced over at me and stretched out the 'n' sound) "knee on the bedpost" he finished.

You sonofabitch, I thought.  He did that on purpose to freak me out.  Good one, Freddy.

At that, my mom kind of shot a smile/smirk glance at us, letting us know she was onto us, but she just turned and went about her business.  Her brand of cruel punishment.  She was leaving me the rest of the day to worry about whether or not she was going to relay the story to dad.

But Cube - Surely you didn't gather us here today to tell us that stupid joke.  Did you?

Well no, not exactly.  It's just that I was reminded of it recently when I jumped into bed and went AAAAAHHHH!!!

No bedpost - and it was the "knee" version of the joke I was reminded of.

About 2 years ago, There was a noticeable buildup of fluid over my right kneecap.  I went to the doctor and since there was no redness, soreness or excess heat, he said, "Yeah pretty good.  Carry on as you were, etc."

I was happy about this.  I had been concerned that I'd need to back off on the cycling.  But the Dr. said it was cool, so.

Then last week, I jumped into bed and got a sharp pain on the outside of my lower right leg, just below the puffy knee.  I made an appointment with the doctor and pedaled softly until I got consultation.

The doctor examined me and said, "looks like some kind of a temporary pinched nerve dealy or sumpin'.  Otherwise, your knee is in great shape.  Mash away!"

Yes!  So for the first time this year, I set up the magnets behind the rollers.  The magnets add resistance using something called "science."2  It's pretty cool.  They are nice when you want to work hard.  They're similar to the fluid trainer.  It gets exponentially more difficult and your speed increases.  It's more linear with the rollers and no added resistance.  See?  Science.

It reminds me of this time long ago, when I was ... Oh wait, I think the pizza delivery guy is at the door or something ...  I will be right back.  I promise.


That "Click, Swish, aah" joke was my second favorite joke.  My favorite joke was the one about Charlie Brown getting fancy new Speedo swim trunks so people would think he was cool.  When he showed Lucy, she said, "I always thought you were crazy Charlie Brown, but now I can clearly see your nuts."

The first thing to mention about this one is that it also includes the word "nuts."  Secondly, Freddy Hans told me this one too.  I'm pretty sure every joke he told had the word "nuts" in it somewhere.  Also, he didn't tell this one to my mom.  Although, "Now I can clearly see your knees" would be hilarious.

1. Many of the oldest manuscripts omit this verse.
2. And this is Eddie's resistance unit, then?3
3. The sofa reference.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Zombie Bus

Now there's a headline you can really "sink your teeth into", hardy har har.

Man, I hate headlines.  Especially lately, but I've always hated them.  They used to always have some stupid pun or play on words.  Then they'd put single quotes around the cleverness to make sure the reader was in on the joke:

"Oprah's studio audience all 'Winfrey' cars"

"Tom Petty Tour Bus Suffers 'Breakdown'"

And so on.

Then people stopped reading the paper.  Maybe it's because of the headlines but probably since everybody  now has 3 computers and a smart phone every story is out there on the internet somewhere.

For a while the internet news story writer guys went with the same 'pun' idea.  But there are too many consumers and not enough news so non-stories have to appear interesting.

That's why The Super Bowl must be covered 24/7 for 14 days before and 4 days after it happens.

Celebrity drug overdoses get a minimum of 5 days with every possible angle covered.  "The step-daughter of a drug dealer who Hoffman knew, but hasn't talked to since November speaks out!"  seriously.

Celebrity drug Overdoses that happen on Super Sunday are a disaster for internet news.  "C'mon guys.  Spread the news out a little, please."

There are 3 types of headlines I see on the internet:

1) Actual story

This is the rarest.  The headline will tell you exactly what's going on.  No gimmicks.  The writer knows people want to read this story.  It's pure gold.  It will be splayed across the top of your screen in big, bold, red, sans letters so it looks hastily plastered there:

Brad Pitt Found Dead and Stuff

Now that's a headline.

But if you see, "Fight Club star found Dead" you can bet it is neither Brad Pitt nor Ed Norton - or even Meatloaf for that matter.

In fact, if the guy who played 'Norton' on "The Honeymooners" was still alive and he died, they wouldn't say, "Art Carney Dies."  They'd say "'Ed Norton' actor dies"  Then you'd be all, "What!?!? the guy from Fight Club? and you'd click on it and see a goofy old guy wearing a hat, and realize what had just happened.

We don't talk about bowling club

2) Misleading 'Teaser' Headline

These really bug me.  They actually don't tell you anything at all.  They start a fascinating sounding sentence and go all ellipses ...
So instead of saying "Area Woman Goes on a Diet"  they say something like "You won't Believe Incredible thing that happened to Woman after she ..."

3) Lying About the Existence of Zombies

Sadly, this is a common headline trick.  Whenever you see the word 'Zombie' in a headline and it's not about some work of fiction, you can just skip the story. Why?  Because Zombies aren't real.  They never will be.  I'm not talking about the voodoo tricks they do in Haiti.

A few months ago, there were a bunch of headlines about a new "Zombie Drug" from Russia.  It was some narcotic that supposedly gave you a cheap high and then ate your flesh.  It was all the rage in Russia and was making quite a splash in the U.S.

Yeah, whatever.  "Hey - do you guys have any of that stuff they're taking in Russia that eats your skin?

I don't know if there was such a thing or not, but I do know that they kept calling it the "Zombie Drug"

They were doing that so people like me would go "Really?" and click on the link and learn that "Zombie Drug" is a horrible name for this stuff.

Then more recently, "Zombie Bees"

Mutant "zombie bees" that act like the ghoulish creatures of horror films have surfaced in the Northeast after first appearing on the West Coast, a bee expert told ABC News on Wednesday.

Now wait a minute.  That sounds promising.  Sure, it's just bees and not humans, but it's a step in the right direction. This is way better than the Zombie Drug because immediately after the Zombie Drug headline, you learn, that oh wait, it doesn't really turn you into a zombie or anything.  It's just some poison that has a similar effect to some spider bites (if it exists at all).

But "Mutant?" "ghoulish creatures of horror films"?  Wow! Tell me more!

An amateur beekeeper in Burlington, Vt., last summer found honeybees infested with parasites that cause the insects to act erratically and eventually kill them. It was the first spotting of zombie bees east of South Dakota, according to John Hafernik, a professor of biology at San Francisco State University whose team in October verified the infestation.

"They fly around in a disoriented way, get attracted to light, and then fall down and wander around in a way that's sort of reminiscent of zombies in the movies," Hafernik said. "Sometimes we've taken to calling [it], when they leave their hives, 'the flight of the living dead.'"

Huh? Wait, you used the word "Mutant" up there.  Um.  There was no mutation of any kind.  There wasn't even a virus.    Huge disappointment.  I really thought we were on to something this time.  It's just a parasite that makes the bees sick and die.  They don't become undead, craving fellow bee flesh.  They don't continue relentlessly until some hero bee with a glock comes up and double taps their ass. That would be a Zombie bee and everybody, including the irresponsible writer of this non-article, knows it.  These are just sick bees.  But nobody clicks on a headline that says "Sick Bees."

The point is, I don't want to be tricked into reading even part of an article, so I tend to read less of them.  Possibly even some that might be interesting.

But I didn't come here to talk about that.  I am here to talk about the Zombie Bus.

As I stood alone on that cold dark January morning I became aware of a gnawing anxiety.  What am I doing here, I thought.  There was no one else around.  Was I even in the right place?  The howling wind carried the sound of a tormented dog wailing in the distance.  Then, at the appointed time, it arrived.  The Zombie Bus!!!

I heard its deafening moan before I saw it.  My throat went dry and I swallowed hard.  My stomach was tied in knots as the behemoth charged toward me.  It was too late for me to do anything but watch as it mercilessly bore down.  The empty bus, a shell of its full potential came to a screeching stop at my feet.

The bus driver guy opened the door and I asked, "Is this the bus to Tara Plaza?"

"Que?" questioned the driver.

Midway through my repetition, The Zombie Bus Driver responded in the English affirmative.

I hadn't taken a city bus in decades.  I had been planning on it and looking for the right opportunity for a couple of weeks, but I still had great apprehension.

Normally, I would have no fear of a bus, but this time there were too many unknowns.

This was the first time I had done the "Bike and Ride" thing.  My commute is about 11 miles at its shortest.  I can do that down to about 15 or 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  Below 10, I have no interest.

On the morning I decided to try the Bike/Bus Thing, it was 2 degrees Fahrenheit, but forecast to be 40F in the afternoon. My brilliant idea was ride the 3.5 miles to the bus stop and take it to the end of the line about 1.5 miles from my office.  Then ride home in the afternoon.

Here's a list of the things I remember worrying about before this trip:

1) How to use the bike rack.  There are instructions online that I memorized.  I went through the motions in my mind repeatedly.  I really didn't want to mess up.  It turned out to be so simple, a caveman could do it.

2)  The bike rack will be full and I'll have to go back home and drive to work.  There is room for 2 bikes on the rack.  Yeah.  I was the only passenger on the bus.

3) There will be standing room only on the bus and I will have to stand in my bike boots for the whole time with my big commuter bag.   Yeah.  I was the only passenger on the bus.

4) My bike will fall off of the bike rack during the interstate part of the trip.  Not even close.

Strangely, the only thing I was not worried about was paying the fare.  I have done that many times in the past and it's straightforward enough.  All of my concerns were about the new element to the bus ride (the bike part).  Ironically, when I tried to shove the quarters into the slot at the top of the money taker thing, it was the wrong place.  That was for cards or bills or something.  The place for coins was down lower.  The Zombie bus driver didn't laugh at me too much though and I had a pleasant ride to Tara Plaza (other than worrying about my bike launching itself onto the interstate).

It was so rewarding overcoming the great fear/obstacle thing that I did it again on Monday.  This time, however, I was able to pretend to be bored by the whole process.  I even sighed with impatience as I deftly paid the fare, placing the quarters in exactly the right slot.  Yawn.