Thursday, January 29, 2015


Note: This was one of those start to finish, no looking back posts.  It may ramble a bit more than usual.  but I'm not feeling like putting in any effort right now.

I've been undergoing a transformation of sorts the last few months.  I think some of it has to do with aging (getting old).

But mostly, it's a recent reaffirmation of my faith.

When I was about 13 or so, I stopped believing in God.  Immediately afterward, I felt a peace like I'd never known.  I don't know why.  It had nothing to do with "Hey! I can do whatever I want."  It had more to do with "Church people are dorks."

Then when I was around 21 or so, I slid back to the dark side.  I became a Bible thumping born-again Christian.

Once again, I was miserable.  Not completely miserable.  I enjoyed learning the tricky stuff about salvation and everything.  Eventually though, I began to read sciency things and moved ever so slowly back to where I belong (despicable non-believer).

I was at peace again.

I don't think this is because being an Atheist is the way to go.  I am starting to think that people who are at peace in their "souls" are that way because they are able to admit who they are.  To be true to their beliefs (or non-beliefs).

As an atheist, I generally keep my non-belief pretty quiet.  Even though we are supposed to be free to worship (or not) as we wish in this country, the only acceptable religion is non-practicing Christianity.  Practicing Christians take as much crap as anybody.

I never looked for a reason to not believe in a god or magic and stuff.  I just believe in it less and less as the years pass by.

When I was a Christian, I constantly fought against my judgment to convince myself that Jesus and God and floods and 6000 years ago ...

The reaffirmation of my faith?  I have heard from many Christians that being an Atheist takes more faith than being a Christian.  I heard it when I was a Christian and didn't believe it then either.

But I think I understand why Christians say it.  They believe in God.  It doesn't feel like faith to them, because they know there's a God.  For them to be atheists would be to deny themselves.  They would know the torment I knew when I tried to muster up faith in a god.

It wasn't real for me.  I was a fraud.  I wanted it to be true.  I wanted to live forever.  But I was never at peace.

About 15 years ago, I realized finally that I am and always have been (since about age 9) an atheist.  I was a little panicked by this.  It meant a considerably shorter span of existence for me.

But here's where the peace comes.  I'm not trying to tell anyone what to believe or not believe.  I don't think these thoughts necessarily have anything to do with anyone else.  It is what is in my brain and what puts me at ease.

Since I have this ridiculously short time as a person and then nothing.  Since I'm not waiting to die so I can be happy - or my joy isn't derived from a posthumous promise of squishy feelings - I can live to the fullest now.

Some might say that means I need to do more.  But that's not it either.  Living happens wherever you are.

I've been reading these difficult (for me) books lately on what scientists think about the universe and where it's going.  Like how they currently think the speed the universe is expanding will eventually (like in eleventy billion years) increase to the point where galaxies that are not attracted to each other will become invisible to any observers for a number of reasons I won't go into right now.  Mind blowing stuff.  These are books written to the general public, but still hard for me to understand,

It's actually much harder to believe than "In the beginning ..."

So I guess I need to back up now and say that atheists do have more faith than Christians.

And by "faith" I mean brains.  Oh snap.  Just kidding.  There are plenty of idiot atheists and a few smart Christians, so ...


Note:  This is not tonight's post. It's something I started writing last June and never finished.  I publish it now because of a conversation we (the family) had last night.

I've been seeing this one a bit lately.  I had to look it up.  It wasn't obvious to me what it stood for in the context I saw it.  But since I've seen it, I don't know how I've lived without it for so long.  It stands for "Shaking my head."

This should not be confused with SHM (Shim Hate Me).

For me it's nice to see these new stage direction shortcuts.  Some have been around forever and everybody knows the meaning.  It makes me wonder how new ones get started.  Especially the ones like "SMH."

I guess it's true with most of them though.  It's just that they've been around for so long, we don't really need translation anymore.  When you think about it, ROFL is not obvious.  It's just been around long enough that everybody knows what it means.

My fingers are a little tired just typing all that in.
Now, every time there's an argument among the people of the comments areas of the world's social and news sites, I become aware that I am shaking my head.

I guess I'm simultaneously RME (rolling my eyes), but I don't know if RME is a thing yet.  Also, it's possible that on occasion, I will GDATTR,SH (glance down and to the right, sighing heavily).

Thursday, January 22, 2015

No Fatties

A history lesson that is more opinion and incomplete information than fact (history is boring otherwise):

A few decades ago, pickup trucks were primarily functional.  I mean people bought them if they had a regular need to cart a bunch of stuff around.  Pickup trucks did not handle well.  They were not comfortable.  If you wanted comfort, you bought a Cadillac.

Then country music became popular.  I think it's because people started realizing that overt racism was becoming unfashionable.  A subtler approach was required.

Hello country music. 'Redneck' became a badge people wanted to wear.  Now millions of people who didn't need to cart anything anywhere wanted a pickup truck so they could wear cowboy hats and twang on about their troubles.  Also, they weren't going to drive some Buick down to the newly opened Honky Tonk Tavern.  It was wet t-shirt mechanical bull night for Jesus's sake.

But there was a problem.  Pickups were still a "bumpy" ride.

Finally, all the auto makers came to the rescue and made pickups all cushy and expensive.  It was win-win.  All people of every white race could listen to their music seated above all the inferior citizens in their "rice burners."

Yes - "All the rice in ... Japan".  My favorite saying.

Anyway ...

Another nice touch was that all of these big comfy pickups had American sounding names like "Dodge", "Ford", "Chevrolet", etc.  Actually, Chevrolet sounds french, doesn't it?

If I was involved in the Pickup Truck Calvin and Hobbes graphic pissing contest, I think one of my myriad back window stickers would point out the fact that Chevrolet sounds like some french entertainer.
Real men wear zee bow ties, no? - Maurice Chevalier
But there was one group that was not happy about the new popularity of pickup trucks.  Now that everybody was buying them, the compensators needed something bigger.

There are those who must be in the biggest thing ever.  They are called small people.

So - Monster Trucks. Then competitions between monster trucks in arenas.

You know what?  I started this post to talk about how annoying the constant barrage of Fat Bike pushers has gotten, but the monster truck thing is way stupider.

I'm usually annoyed when I get asked the same stupid cycling related question several times a day by somebody who doesn't really know/care about cycling.  Lately it's been "Do you have a Fat Bike?  You should get a Fat Bike.  Those thing are cool."

I just kind of smile and nod hoping the discussion will change course.

I have no reason to have a fat bike.  Also, they look stupid.  I see guys riding them on the keystone in the middle of summer.  There are Fat bike owners all over town waiting for a huge blizzard to justify riding that idiotic monstrosity around. Ok fine, but not for me.  I can sit out a day or two if I can't get around on my 29er.

To be fair, I probably thought 29ers were just as stupid a few years ago.  It takes me a while to come around.

But let me get back to the point.  I came here to bash Fat Bikes.  I cannot in good conscience do that now that I've realized how much I hate Monster Trucks.


One last note.  I was sitting here thinking I might actually post something tonight.  I was wondering what it might be.  I was staring at the Facebook.  I really hate the Facebook.  It is worse than television in idiotic addictive mindlessness.  Anyway, I saw something Scott Redd posted and was reminded of this very blog post.  The one you're reading now.  I wrote it a couple of weeks back but abandoned it to talk about singing to fast food workers at the carry out window.  I have a proud update on that, by the way.  I sang a portion of "Black" by Pearl Jam to the girl at the Chik fil-a drive thru window the other morning.

"I know some day you'll have a beautiful life - I know you'll be a star in somebody else's sky ..."
I belted out to her look of dismay and a slight smile.  It wasn't for her I was singing.  It was for me.  I have stopped right in the middle of a great song before just to make some sort of cheeseburger transaction.

Don't get me wrong, I was only singing because I would have been singing otherwise.  I wasn't going to stop wailing to pay for a breakfast burrito.

On the other hand, I would not go out of my way to sing just because I'm at the drive thru.  It must be real.

But the reason I came back to post this one is that on the Facebook, I saw that Scott Redd posted that he bought a Fat bike.  Even though it's too late for Scott.  Maybe I can help others.

Also, I made a funny comment:

Don't be like Scott.  If you don't buy a fat bike in the first place, you won't have to put it on Mid West Velo Swap when they come out with Morbidly Obese Bikes.   

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The answer 2.0

Like most of the people I know who are bike riders, I am always looking for a way to get faster.  Last year was not a good year for me.  I won't go into the details, but I had several setbacks.  Family commitments.  Injury.  Etc.

In 2013, I blogged several times about various things I was learning about improving.  And I did improve.  A lot.  But I never quite made it.

Last weekend I learned the final piece of the puzzle.  Actually, I didn't learn it last weekend. I've been figuring it out over the last couple of weeks based on some observations I've made about recent group rides.

When I started getting serious about my riding a couple years ago, I was introduced to "The Rules."

Now these are mostly tongue in cheek sort of entertaining things to read.  Especially if you're an avid cyclist.

At first, I went a little overboard with it because it was fun and (to me at least) funny.  But then I relaxed and let the rules have their rightful place in my brain.  More of a "yeah but - who gives a shit" guideline.

Sure "HTFU" is good advice for anyone.  But as soon as we let "rules" keep us from what we enjoy, we've lost the point.

I only bring up "The rules" because today I figured out that there is only one rule that matters.  If you follow this rule, you are well on your way to becoming one of the best cyclists in the area.

Which rule could it be?  There are so many.  Maybe it's Rule V.  The cornerstone.  The aforementioned "Harden the fuck up."  It makes sense.  The only way to get faster is to work hard.

But no.

Could it maybe be rule #20:
There are only three remedies for pain.
These are:
  • If your quads start to burn, shift forward to use your hamstrings and calves, or
  • If your calves or hamstrings start to burn, shift back to use your quads, or
  • If you feel wimpy and weak, meditate on  Rule #5 and train more!

Yeah - that's basically rule V all over again.  I don't know how I didn't see this before.

Or how about:
Rule #67
// Do your time in the wind.
Nobody likes a wheel sucker. You might think you’re playing a smart tactical game by letting everyone else do the work while you sit on, but races (even Town Sign Sprints) are won through cooperation and spending time on the rivet, flogging yourself and taking risks. Riding wheels and jumping past at the end is one thing and one thing only: poor sportsmanship.

This is a good one.  It's one I try to stick to.  I try to contribute to a group ride as much as I can until I am dropped.  Some would argue that I should save myself if I can't hang.  But I say I need the work if I can't hang.  Besides, what am I there for if only to sit in?  That's just stupid.

But that's not the answer.

Last year, I specifically detailed the importance of:


The answer is Rule 43:
Don’t be a jackass.
But if you absolutely must be a jackass, be a funny jackass. Always remember, we’re all brothers and sisters on the road.

When I first read this, I laughed.  The rest of the rules are kind of jackass in the first place.  It doesn't seem to belong.  Through recent observation though I've learned that there is some mystical power to not being a jackass.  And I can prove it ...

I was recently ... uh oh.  what's this?


I had a plan to go into great detail - but I'm starting to get a migraine.  I get them from time to time.  A lot of people think that if you have a bad headache, it could be called a migraine.  This is not quite true.  I can't really see the screen right now.  Not if I look right at it.  My vision is impaired by a bunch of colorful zig-zag lines.  It looks sort of like a packaging design for tortillas or a blanket you might buy in Arizona.

Anyway, I'm going to go to bed and close my eyes now.  It won't stop the zigzags, but it seems to allay the nausea.

I promised proof of the effectiveness of not being a jackass.  That will have to wait.  I will say this however ...

I have been witness to - and victim of - all sorts of jackassery in the last few weeks.  I have also experienced a lot of encouragement and people coming inexplicably to my defense in some of these instances.

In every single case, the jackasses are not among the best riders in the group.  If anything, they are bottom half.

The nice guys?  Toughest mofos in the state.  Seriously.

So if you want to kick ass on the bike, you better learn to be a good human.  Or you can keep on sucking and being a jackass.  It's probably a lot easier to put others down than to actually gain any skill or talent. So you've got that going for you.

Either way is fine with me.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch the pretty Aztec light show in my brain.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Friday Evening Post: Nice Grudge , but can you hold it long enough?

I don’t give a shit if somebody wants to shop at Nebraska Furniture Mart or not.  Or anywhere else for that matter.  I sure as hell don’t want to hear about it though.

Especially at 7:30 in the morning.

I get to work at 7 each morning.  I have always liked the 7-4 shift.  I can get a good hour of work in before Lumberg comes in and starts chatting.
Obama.  Huskers. Global Warming. God and church and stuff.

Some mornings though, other people are also there before 8AM.  They come in at 7 to get a head start on their day of talking about whatever inane thing spills from their partially conscious skulls.

Normally, this is white noise for me.  But sometimes (like this morning) some words will grab my attention.  The topic is always stupid, but sometimes it's so stupid, I can't ignore it.

Is this really what you’re talking about right now, I’ll ask myself at a reasonable volume.

For a while this morning, I thought the company had installed a new office drone monitoring system or something.  It turns out the low pitched whining noise I was hearing was a woman explaining why she doesn’t go to Nebraska Furniture Mart anymore.

Again.  Don’t care.  But then the words “Since 1985” droned their way through my ears and into my brain.

Woah.  Nebraska Furniture Mart did something to this poor woman in 1985 that she’s never quite recovered from.  It must've been horrible!

She was wronged.  Big time.  This is a 30 year feud that one of the parties doesn't know about.

And you know what?  I don't blame her.  After what they did. 

Of course I didn't know what it was but I had to hear the story now.  What could possibly burn so bright for so long.

Now I’m eavesdropping.  I’ve stopped working.  It’s close enough to 8 AM anyway.  Lumberg will be here any second.  I might as well hear the story about how The Nebraska Furniture Mart set her kids on fire or punched her grandma or whatever it was ...

"So I ordered this lamp from them," Droney began.  I still held out hope about faulty wiring in the lamp that burned down the orphanage while the NFM Employees roasted marshmallows and ignored her pleas to help save the children.  They just stood there singing songs while she begged for mercy, I figured.

"Anyway, the shade for the lamp in the picture was corrugated,"  Uh oh.  This is turning into a 1 year grudge tops.  Maybe it wasn't that the lampshade was the wrong style.  Let's just let her finish.

"When I got the lamp, the shade was smooth.  Not at all what I ordered," the lady bitched.

Seriously?  Maybe they wouldn't refund her money and then they trashed her credit or something.  I guess that would piss me off.

"They said, I could return the lamp, but there'd be a restocking fee."

"I demanded they get me the shade like in the photo. They said they couldn't do that.  Never again I tell you.  Never a-fucking-gain."

Ok she didn't really say "A-fucking-gain" but she was pretty pissed off anew talking about this thing that happened involving an incorrect style of lamp shade from the time of the Reagan Administration. The person she was telling the story to was like "Yeah.  Figures. Corporate greed, man."

So yeah, I usually get in at 7 AM to get a head start on some work.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Dance of the Seven Veils

I still have a vague necessity (I must be necessarily vague).

I had a mental breakthrough today.  Or perhaps it was just a psychotic break. I've been struggling with some difficult issues for about the last 3 months or so.

When I was discussing some of the details with a good friend, he said something like, "I'm glad I don't draw any self-worth from that source."

At the time, I knew that was wise, but I didn't know how to accomplish it.

The breakthrough has been arranging itself in my head since about Sunday afternoon.  Coincidentally, I had to return to work after a long holiday break on Monday.

Anyway, I may have veered off course.

I just finished a blog entry that I decided not to post yet.  It is something about how fucking stupid Fat Bikes are.  After I read it, I realized that it doesn't matter how stupid they are.  What matters is that I've barely scratched the surface on their stupidity because I like bikes in general.  So even though I can't stand the sight of those things filling up teh Facebooks, I would ride one in a second if it was my only option.

So I'll shelve that post for a while, leaving the problem of what to talk about next.

The mental breakthrough.  Obviously I did not want this terrifically painful series of events to happen to me.  For me it was the toughest thing I've gone through in a very long time.  I wouldn't wish it on anyone except Fat Bike riders.  They seem to enjoy unnecessary struggle.

But in the end, I've grown from it.  Aging mentally is an ongoing process for me.  Many years ago, I heard someone say that wisdom does not just automatically happen with age.  There are plenty of old fools.  I try to learn from mistakes.  I try to evaluate my beliefs often and adjust as needed.

I put too much value on the approval of others.  I know this.  I don't want it to be the case.  I don't think this is completely a bad thing.  Disapproval can alert you to some action that is potentially dangerous to yourself or somebody else.  But if you stop doing something you enjoy simply because other people think you look goofy, you're only missing out.  That kind of disapproval is harmful.

So keep riding those idiotic Fat Bikes if that's what makes you happy.

Today the words my friend spoke about 2 months ago finally became real to me.  I draw no identity from that area of my life or those people.  I will live on to do my thing no matter what they think of me.

For all I care, they can go ride a Fat Bike into a lake.  Surely, it can  be used as a flotation device anyway.

The point is that I realized it is important to consider what other people think of you and evaluate if you're engaging in destructive behavior.  If so, take heart. If not, fuck 'em.

Once when I was working at the Wendy's carry-out window, a pretty girl drove through and when I opened the window to take her money, she had her radio blasting to some ballad I'd never heard before.  She handed me the money as I stared at her in awe.  She was looking at me belting out the song with absolutely no shame.  She was not a great singer.  She just didn't care.  I was instantly in admiration.  How could she do that?  I never could.  I figured it out today (3 decades later).

I bet she's somewhere right now, singing at the top of her lungs, barrelling down some snowy trail on her brand new ...

If you work at a carry out window here in town, I hope you like Pearl Jam, because I'm gonna be singing that shit to you pretty soon.  Or maybe Creed*.

I would love to take possession of a Jimmy John's Beach Club "With arms wide open ..."

That would be hilarious.  Of course those guys are such hippies, they'd probably be totally into it. I'll let you know.

*This is a joke.  I know I said I don't care what people think, but listening to Creed is destructive behavior, so I thought I'd clarify.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Too hard.

I have been maintaining a low level of fitness for the last several months. I haven't put in too many weekly hours, but I'm sort of maintaining.

Brady sent me a text last night to inform me of a 70 miler happening at noon today.  I knew my legs don't have 70 miles in them right now.  But I figured what I always do:  I'm not going to get into better shape by NOT going on rides.

While this is true to a point, I think I would have been better off going with my original plan for today.  40-50 miles somewhere.

But no.  I went on the long one.  At no point was it really a "hard ride."  The pace was mellow and easily manageable.  I was set at ease and figured I could surely handle this pace for 70 miles.  But my current conditioning level said otherwise.

It's funny because I was fine for 50 miles.  A distance I feel confident I can cover.  After 50, the wheels started falling off.

By the time I was 3 miles from my home, all I could think about was the scene in "The Big Chill" where Glenn Close is in the fetal position, weeping in the shower.  I knew it would be about 15 minutes before I was doing the same.

As it turned out, once I got home I collapsed in the floor for a while.  I didn't have the strength to cry in the shower yet.

Another funny thing to note.  I did not bonk.  I can now say I understand the difference. If I would have really really wanted to, I could have made tiny little hard efforts at the end of the ride.

I bonked last winter during a long gravel ride.  As excruciating as the end of today's ride was, I'll take it over not being able to turn the pedals at all anymore.

I may reap some benefit from today's ride, but I don't think it was wise.  Perhaps it was even counterproductive.

Another thing I noticed is that I didn't replace fluids enough.  I think this is related to riding in the cold.  Today's experience may have been much less brutal if I'd forced myself to drink more.  You don't feel like you're losing sweat when it's cold out, but I lost 6 pounds on the ride.  "Aha" I thought as I stepped off the scale shaking my head at my own stupidity.  Even in the summer, I will typically never lose more than 2 pounds on a ride.

But damn, it was a nice day for a bike ride.  Plus, Rafal was there. So there's that.