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."


"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.


Grandpa ate canned peas every single day.

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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."


"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.


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.