Friday, December 28, 2007

Picture time

Well, it's time for another few pics. You've got one of me in my most recent cyclocross race. Yup, the overweight dude gasping for life in blue, that's me. Somehow I ended up 10th, even though I fell apart on the last lap and a half and lost three places. The TX state championships are on the 12, so wish me well in San Antonio.

The rest of the pics are of my Spitfire. Not sure what to name him/her, but in the meantime I riped out most of the interior, cleaned out the trunk, and began cleaning everything. Plus the electrical system is mostly operating, save the hazard flashers, maplight in the storage cubby, and stereo. Well, it might be better to call it a radio. As you can see it in the picture, it's a total late 70's radio. I'm almost tempted to put it back all that era specific sound will come blasting out of that speaker.

Yes, not only is the car about as technologically advanced as a hammer, the audio system is equally primitive. One speaker in the cubbyhole. Can't wait. The tonneau cover is in really good shape, the kick panels, dash brace, top boot all are getting better. I am in the process of cleaning them gradually. Every time I work on the car, I clean the top and all the other bits. I need to see if the top is worth saving or if I need to replace it. That tan bit, the top boot, covers the top when it's folded down. Problem is, now I'm trying to figure out what color to repaint the car and what matches the boot cover.

Like these are any real problems, I know, but it keeps me out of trouble.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sad day

Today is a sad day for a few reasons. Bhutto is dead, the tiger is dead in CA, and a little girl died on Christmas day in San Antonio after being hit by a car while riding her new bike.

I'm tired of politics, but with Bhutto's assasination, I'm really saddened. Though her career wasn't marked by any huge achievement, she was a calming influence. The great tragedy is that now there will only be finger pointing and distrust. Even if some radical group killed her, it looks as if Musharraf is responsible. Which opens up Pakistan to some radical to step into the void. Not what I want to think about considering nuclear weapons are in play here.

The tiger appears to have been taunted. I'm upset because I've helped a friend who is a vet examine bengal tigers in the past. Very playful and loving, but also immensely strong. A cub knocked the wind out of me when we were wrestling and he smacked me with a paw. I knew I had to respect him and the others. Now the father of the victim is typically blaming everyone and thing except his son. I'm sorry you lost your son, but I'm reassured that Darwin was right.

Lastly, say a prayer for the family in San Antonio who lost their little girl. She was so excited she got a new bike Christmas eve, but was told it was too dark to ride. Christmas day she was allowed to ride, but had to stay on the sidewalk. Her brother went inside for a drink, and she rode in front of a car at an intersection. The driver had stopped and was starting to get going again when he hit her. I know accidents are many events that stack up against someone, but this really gets to me. An innocent 7 year old is killed by her enthusiasm on a day that should be rewarding her youth. I really hope she's riding her new bike totally care free from now on.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Hopefully you all had a good holiday. Mine was pretty good, and I'll bore you with details. No, just kidding.

I'm a jaded person, I admit. Born in NY, 100 miles from NYC, and it's a genetic trait. What made my Christmas were two things at work. One, a family came in with a young girl who was afflicted with some kind of dwarfism. I was reluctant to help because I saw all these kids piling out of the van, it was the end of the day, etc. But then I saw who this little kids bike was for, and suddenly it wasn't important the time of day.

I had to cut the seatpost twice, and we had to add blocks to the pedals, which my coworker Ron helped with. It took some dooing, but it was well worth it. The parents said how all she wanted was a bike, and she was so excited to be coming to the bike shop. She said thank you with a big smile as she left. I'd have stayed the extra half hour for free if I needed to.

Christmas eve I helped a man whose foster grandaughter was mentally challenged but wanted a bike. We went through all the options, and since she was too big for a kid's bike, we finally found a pretty bike that we were able to put a handle on that would give a steadying hand as she learned. This was because no training wheels fit a full size bike.

The grandfather said this would make their Christmas perfect, as she really wanted a bike. I can give a damn about the high dollar exotica I play with in the business if I make kids like this happy and feel like they're not being left out, to give them a little bit of experience of a normal childhood.

Finally, my father in law and his mother came up from Mexico, as well as my mother in law from FL. Presents don't matter so much when you don't get to see your family that often. Material things break, but memories only fade, they never totally go to black.

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

And so it begins

I took a few hours the other day to start the rebuild of my new car. Of course, first I had to get it over to where I'm going to be working on it. That involved renting a tow dolly, etc. It went well, except for me not being able to push the car off the dolly. I ended up chocking the rear wheels and then slowly driving forward. Then it was a matter of easing the car down the rest of the ramps with the emergency brake.

I was able to make a good list of what needs to be done, and even bgan some work. Things are mostly as I thought or better, so I'm excited. I even got the engine to cough to life for a few seconds without really trying. That's a very good sign. Here are some more pics. I see the diamond in the rough.

I also still have the state cyclocross championships in a few weeks. I'll be happy with a top 10. Oh, and that Samantha, our silly cat. She thinks she runs the house. Dreamer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Any doubts about my sanity?

Well, if you've ever met me, you'll know I'm unique, just like everybody else...hmmmm. Anyway. Today I need some help. I'm on a quest for certain Dr Seuss book. It's the one where a kingdom is below sea level, and there are two shifts of cats, one at night, one at day, to keep these birds from eating the roots of the trees that keep the sea from crashing in. Anyone have any idea what story that is?

Now, to really let you know how insane I am, I just bought a 1977 Triumph Spitfire. It needs some work, but I have had many Spitfires in the past. The question is how long will it be before it's road ready? Crazy. I know.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sometimes it's not fair

I have a job I love. Of course, I wish I was paid more, but don't we all. However, I just got back from Morgan Hill, CA. Home to the world HQ of Specialized Bicycles. In a word: fantastic. I got to ride bikes I dream of owning in breathtaking scenery (well, it was the hills that were causing the breathlessness) and learn all kinds of cool things.

I'd bore you to tears if I told you what I learned, but this pic is my idea of paradise. Everyone rides there. All 180 employees. The newest employee already had a bike, and she had only been working for about a month. Every once in awhile you'd see someone zipping down the hall to the cafeteria on their bike. How cool is that?

In the halls alone there was almost $1,000,000 worth of bikes laying around. No locks, just leaning against the wall. At lunch there's a training race. Most people take a ride in the middle of the day for an hour or two. Pretty neat.
So maybe the weather was wet and cold, and I rode for a few hours yesterday in the pouring rain and sub 50 degree temps, but it was worth it. Besides, if I crashed, it wasn't my $9,000 bike that would have been mangled.
On the way home some kids behind me in the plane were pounding the back of my seat. I popped up over the seat and asked them to stop, and when they resumed a few minutes later, I popped over the seat again. This time I told them to not make me get out of my seat, to which the mother took offense. I told her maybe she should sit with her kids instead of behind them and try parenting.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Being an adult

My last post may or may not be entirely true. After researching, it seems like all versions are credible and yet contrived at the same time. Go figure. But I'm here to be an adult and admit I didn't dig deep enough this time, and am on record as saying so.

Good, now we got the unpleasantness out of the way. Next week I go to Morgan Hill, CA for the week with work. Hopefully I bring my camera this time. Can't wait.

That's it. Except that I can't find the title for my car so I can register it. Good one, there. Sometimes being a boring adult isn't so bad.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Starbucks = Evil

So I learned that some troops in Iraq contacted Starbucks to let them know they liked their coffee, and would it be possible for Starbucks to donate some to be sent to the troops? Starbucks' response was thus:

No, because we don't support the war.

Jackasses. I already hat Starbucks since they have some serious lack of ethics as a business, and now this. I don't drink coffee, but if you do buy from Starbucks, please try to refrain from now on. Seattle's Best is part of the evil empire, too. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Purposeful Performance

You read about or see someone having a breakout performance every now and then. The kid on the basketball team who was always good, but suddenly gets a chance and is truly great. The singer Paul Potts on the Brit talent show. Question is, have you ever had something like that happen, or has it happened multiple times?

When I was in the Army I thought I was an average soldier. Except for being a Green Beret. But still an average one of them. Until on one of my first deployments when things went really wrong. I was able to pick up the slack and never look back. My commander told me he knew it was in me, it just had to be brought out. But I had another time, too, under much more pleasant circumstances.

I like being the underdog, the fly in the ointment. When I raced cars I was regarded as pretty good, but not the best. A friend of mine wrote about a particular race I was in when I went from a name that was known to a name on everyone's lips.

I was driving a D-Type Jaguar, and had qualified well. 3rd row, actually. On the warmup lap the guy in front of me spun off the track since it was cold and so were his tires. As the green flag dropped, I let out the clutch and shot into the vacant spot ahead of me. This is all legal, but the officials didn't see it like I did.

They contended I jumped the start. With me having gone from 6th to now 3rd, and battling it out with the lead two cars, I was in a really good spot. Yet 13 laps into the race I was brought in for a black flag, with a 30 second stop and go penalty. My team owner was furious, and they let me race until his appeals were heard. As I came in I stopped where I was directed, and asked the official what was going on.

When told, I began screaming and pounding the steering wheel. When my 30 seconds were up, the official stepped aside and I tore off, now in last place by a long way. Actually, I was in 38th place. I began passing the slower cars, and got to where it was only the fast guys ahead.

In 9 laps I went from 38th to 17th. But the big news was the fact I was knocking on the lap record for my most recent laps. As my car got lighter with less gas, I began really throwing it around, and the lap record fell. My friend said it best: "Suddenly, the crowd and everyone else began looking at their watches. Two fastest laps in a row, both under the lap record! The next lap, and still faster! An excited hush fell over the crowd, and even the pits seemed quiet. Could driver and car maintain the pace, or would one of them break?"

Now amongst my true competition, it was harder to pass, but I was still on a tear. At the midway point I had moved to 11th, and I pulled in for refueling. I was sensing something from the crowd, but unsure what it was. I took off, and vowed to drive the wheels off the car. Tom's commentary is best:
"Mike continued his assault, driving each corner as if on a qualifying lap. It was now apparent that we were seeing something special. The pit board only said one word 'DRIVE', and drive he did. The scoreboard now had all three fast lap positions filled by Mike's #61, yet that was only part of the story. The lap record was now nearly a full second lower, and Mike had broken the old record 9 times. 7 laps to go and Mike was in 3rd place, closing the gap on 2nd quickly.

He made short work of the pass, and was soon on the bumper of the lead Aston Martin. With all his effort, Mike was unable to pass for the lead, but the crowd roared it's approval when he crossed the line. Even the other team crews were on the pit wall cheering him on by race's end."

So I got 2nd. But I proved I could drive, and that particular race opened up many doors for me. Too bad none of them lead to me making a living at racing, but I'm happy I was able to try. How about you? Anything like this happen?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Yes, we are finally moved to our new place. Not anywhere near unpacked, but at least we're in one place. How do two people have so much crammed into a small two bedroom apartment? Hard to figure out. But the new place is great, and much bigger, so hopefully it'll suffice for awhile. Now for some real news.

Not really. It's a bit weird, but there really isn't anything to blog about, or that inspires me to do it. As you know my grandmother died, and I just found out my aunt on my dad's side passed away Sunday. She was actually my grand aunt (grandmother's sister) but I spent quite a bit of time with her. I'm fortunate in that none of my relatives on either side were mean, so we spent time with everyone as kids. How many people can say that about their extended families?

So, since I've been a bit quiet, what else is going on? Not much. I finished off road season with a string of good performances: a 6th and 9th in a stage race, giving me 5th overall, and a string of top 10 finishes elsewhere. About time my legs showed up. Now I'm into cyclocross season, and it could be going better. Maybe if I trained more, but with the traveling, the funeral, work, and moving, I'm just starting to get back into a routine. We'll see. Three races and 17th, 9th, and 12th aren't bad, but I hope to improve.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own safety, is a miserable creature, and has no chance of being free unless made or kept by the exertions of better men than himself.

What are you willing to fight for? What would you be willing t o fight for? Where is your line in the sand? Or are we the Romans of a later age?

Friday, October 05, 2007


My grandmother passed away peacefully last night. She had a fever and brain swelling from the massive stroke Tuesday. The doctors said she wasn't in any pain and never suffered. I wish she could have died in her sleep peacefully some night at home, but this was the best outcome.

I called my father to see how things were, and I told him to make sure to tell my grandmother I wished I could be there. I also told him to tell her to not wait for me, it was ok. Five minutes after he told her, she stopped breathing and went to the next life.

I said I was her favorite, and her sister remarked how it's a Polish trait/tradition to wait until you've heard from everyone you want to before dying. I was the only one she'd travel with in her later years, and if she was being stubborn, I was the only one she'd listen to. Even when we went to eat, no matter who else was there, she'd insist on buying my meal, no one else's.

I'm glad I got a message to her, and I'm glad she didn't suffer. Most of all, though, I'm glad she was my grandmother and I'll miss her.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I've faced fear many times, and we all do day to day. But today I'm fighting the most paralyzing fear I know, the kind I can't fight back against.

My grandmother had a severe stroke yesterday. She's well into her 90's, lives on her own, and has worked so hard to get where she is now. But now she's in a sort of coma, and is paralyzed on her left side and can't speak. Details are still cloudy.

My mom spoke to her Sunday when we were in the car coming back from a weekend in Lake Conroe, TX for my cousin's wedding. She was fine, and looking forward to the coming week. I know these things are always shocking, but we had no indication.

I'm the youngest of 13 grandchildren, and to be honest, I was more likely than not the favorite. But I never told my grandmother how much of an inspiration she has been. She worked in sweatshops in Amsterdam, NY, getting paid by the handkerchief that she hand embroidered. Eventually, she went to night school to get her GED so she could get a job with the DMV in Albany. This way she'd have a small pension. And she never drove a car in her life.

We used to take her with us on trips in the summers, and Babi (pronounced Bop eee, a modified Polish word meaning grandma because my older cousins couldn't pronounce it right) also traveled extensively on her own. Europe, all of North America, you name it, she somehow got there. In more recent years she didn't go far, but we went to her. It was always fun to visit, as she had a very dry sense of humor, and always had a few great one liners.

Through all of this, she dealt with severe macular degeneration, and other ailments of age. I also look back on what she lived through. World wars, cold war, how many presidents, etc. Never did she show fear, only confidence and grace. All coupled to a slightly stoic but realistic attitude. Now I'm afraid.

Afraid that she won't recover. This is a fear I can't fight. I can only hope. In combat, you're scared, but you can shoot back. You at least feel like you're influencing events. Not so right now, and when all you have is hope, and nothing makes sense, a little faith doesn't hurt, either. Babi has taken care of me and said prayers for me my whole life. Now I need to take that role. Keep her in your thoughts, I'll be forever indebted.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

So this is what the real world is like?

Every now and then I get the urge to regale you poor readers with some memory of mine from my Army days. This is one of those days. It's not often I think about those times, because truth be told, it sucked. But it's a great tool for perspective.

One of my more vivid memories is from the wonderful continent of Africa. We had been sent to bail out another worthless dictator ("but he's a benign dictator, and he likes American technology", thanks, Clinton administration) due to typical strife in that region. Of course, not one local can be trusted, so our intel was a bit sketchy at best.

Fast forward to two days of finding noone, but lots of indicators we weren't in a good place. As night fell, we got hit so hard I still can't believe it. We had a defensive position. This was a rare full company sized operation for us. About 150 of us all told. I have no idea how many attacked us, but it was a huge number.

My squad was in a good spot, as there were only two avenues of approach, so we were able to mow down anyone who came at us. Other squads and platoons weren't as lucky. Yes, our lines were overrun, and we had to watch our backs, and we fought like savages for what seemed like hours. We got word that three of us including myself were to reinforce another squad about 45 meters away.
We never were able to get there.

45 meters. We got to within maybe 30. for awhile we were able to provide supporting fire and ease the burden. But when another wave came, we had to turn back for mare ammo. I led my guys again, but this time we could see that they were being overrun. Again we were able to beat them off by taking down anyone who dared pop their heads up. Yet we still couldn't get across to them.

Finally I knew it was desperate, yet there wasn't a thing I could do. When another wave came, my stomach dropped out of me. I heard seven shots, then no more fire from their position. They had commited suicide to avoid capture with their last rounds. At that point I called in a mortar barrage on their position. The enemy apparently thought it wasn't worth the price anymore and broke off.

The rest of the night was quiet. In the morning, we found the remains of our buddies. Also, bodies were stacked around their position like cordwood, often three or four deep. Mortar rounds do a number on human flesh, and the stench was nearly unbearable. Not much was said amongst us, as we had been smacked around pretty badly. 150 started the night, 97 made it to morning. I've no idea how many we killed, but it was definitely over 150-200. It wasn't important.

Back at our base of operations, we debriefed, then had the task of figuring out how many of us were ready to go out again. We knew where we wanted to go, and wanted to be there. It wasn't long.

Deciding that carrying a big stick and using it would be the best option, we went after the headquarters of the group that kicked us so hard. As we got briefed, we were told "send a very clear and obvious message". It was personal.

I told my squad to shoot for the head and upper chest and to double tap, which is when a rifle is on semi-auto and you pull the trigger rapidly twice in a row. It ensures that any good hit will take down the enemy, and any wound would be severe.

We hit hard, and the enemy never knew what hit them. The entire camp was annhiliated. Our message was clear. There were no prisoners.

Sometimes I think back to that night. Would I be here if we'd gotten over to them? Would my buddies be here? I'll never know. I know there haven't been too many times in my life that were worse, and I hope there never are again, for anyone.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Resolution, but nothing is any clearer

Finally UPS paid me for my bike. It's over with. Now off to order new goodies. On the cycling front, things aren't great, but not bad. I got third in the TX State Criterium Championships a few weeks ago, so I have a bronze medal. I'm happy with that. Mostly.

Motivated by that performance, I began to seriously train for the state time trial campionships. Pretty simple. 1 person at a time every 30 seconds, and whoever covers a given course the fastest wins. I had to ride a 40kilometer course, roughly 25 miles. 20k out, turn around, then 20k back.

I took this the most seriously of all my races so far, and it showed. With only about 2 weeks of serious training, and only 2 rides on my bike in the time trial setup, (I had what we refer to clip on aero bars on), I got 23rd of 42 in my category.

This may not sound great, but think of it like this. I wanted to be done in about an hour. I did it in 1hr 2min, averaging slightly over 24mph, with extreme humidity and heat. (We were about 25 miles west of Houston) At the turnaround I had covered the first 20k in 29 minutes, right on target. Towards the end the wind got me some, but that's ok.

Now I know the course, what I need to do, and there's next year.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Some commentary

So, I'm sure many of you (all twelve of you who read my blog) by now know about the two helicopter collision in Phoenix, AZ. Tragic, almost. I say this for a few reasons, and we're to blame as a society. By the way, I love my wife - she's the best ever.

Some guy in a flatbed truck runs a traffic stop. Suddenly, live coverage usurps the normal programming, and all the networks are scrambling for the scoop. When did a person fleeing the police become so important? The guys with automatic weapons in LA a few years ago, yes, because it was a matter of public safety. But be real, some loser in a flatbed truck? Not really. Hardly, actually.

So we're to blame because we let the networks sell us on the premise this is important. It's not. It has no bearing on our lives whatsoever. Yet many of us want to watch the drama unfold. So, knowing the ratings bonanza this type of event can be, it shows up on our tvs.

So two news choppers collide, four people are killed, and the Phoenix police state that the driver of the truck might be charged because of his involvement. What?!!!??!! In no way is he culpable. Did he force the pilots to risk their lives? Or the photographers? No. The station managers and the viewing public are to blame. Give the driver the proper charges for what he did, but someone needs to draw a line.

If the public would complian when crap like this is broadcast (remember the OJ slow speed chase?) and the stations saw their ratings go down, they wouldn't broadcast this junk. But too many ignoramuses (or is it ignorami?) like it. Guess what? You just killed 4 people, you mindless lemmings. I hope liked the show.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Things are really hotting up

Work's good, the weather is finally drying out down here, and I'm slowly getting my carcass into shape. I've got all kinds of things to say about politics, etc, but screw that. We all have our opinions, and we all can't agree. Same with the enviroment. Oh, and shame on Subaru touting themselves as big enviromentalists. In order to avoid having to inmprove the mileage of their cars to avoid EPA fines, they somehow conned the EPa into letting their cars all be considered light trucks or SUVs. This way they meet minimum mileage requirements without doing anything about it. Way to go, just change your category, not improve the vehicle, thus it's still sucking down resources.

Other than that, I raced in Dallas a week ago at the State Fairgrounds. Pretty neat, as we were about the only people there, so it felt like a weird abandoned city. It was also crazy hot. Like over 100 in the sun, and no rain for the first time in weeks. I did two races, and somehow got 18th in both. Go figure. anyway, time to get in shape for the state championships this weekend in Lufkin. Hope I stay upright, then I'll worry about a good result. Here are somepics from last week.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

There is no sense to be made

I know normally I go on about some inane stuff, or my bikes, or any other random item that gets me ruffled. But today I'm going to address something a bit serious.

Most of you know I was in the Army. I was a squad explosives expert, and a close quarter combat instructor/specialist. That meant that I did underwater demo, defused land mines, homemade bombs, unexploded shells, anything that could go boom. I also left them behind when it was needed. I also was good at hand to hand combat, so much so it was my job to make sure my squad was as good as me.

I can't make sense of what I did, but I think about it every now and then. Of my squad, I'm the only living member. All the others (13) were killed in action. I see what goes on right now, and again , realize there's no making sense of that, either. Many good people are maimed or killed as we speak, just as when I was in.

My father told me "when someone has something someone else wants, there will be war". It's that simple. Really. Except that there's no reason, in any sense of the word, so unreasonable acts follow. It's not a political party thing, as Clinton was President when I served, and we were sent to fight myriad dirty little wars.
I don't know why we went where we did. My absolute best friend in the Army died in my arms, but I don't know the reason. I literally tried to put him back together.

For all the good missions, we had horrible ones, fraught with misinformation and logistical screwups. I had wounded buddies we couldn't get to in time, and we heard them kill themselves to avoid capture. I remember the fear that gripped me momentarily when our outpost was under attack, and we couldn't shoot the enemy fast enough, and then my mind screamed at me "DON"T PANIC, THAT"S HOW PEOPLE DIE!!!!!". At that moment, my mind morphed into a hyperprocessor.

What am I saying? Not totally sure, other than there is no logical explanation to a logical mind for what's going on now. I've got to live with these memories, and scores of others. I've taken lives from a distance, up close and personal, and I can't always wrap my mind around it.

I'm not scarred. Not physically, and sometimes I think it'd be easier to explain all this to myself if I were.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

UPS + bike = bad day

My bike arrived Friday, and I was all excited. Until I saw the end of the box. Let's just say that I'm waiting for a call from a UPS claims person to inspect my bike. The frame and fork have some structural issues, as in it may just snap while I ride it.

So if you need to send something really near and dear to your heart, drive it yourself. Considering how tough carbon fiber is, and that it was wrapped in bubble wrap, carefully placed in the box (remember, I do this for work quite often) and had gaps filled with other things to make sure the contents wouldn't shift, it amazes me that they actually knocked it out of alignment. Plus chipped the carbon all the way through clear coat, lettering, into the weave.

Right now, UPS is dangerously close to being on my blacklist, which individually isn't too big a deal, but lots of their business is from cyclists. We all talk to each other. Many of us have websites. You get the idea. Besides, I insured my bike. I expect the full amount it's insured for. This ought to be fun.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Back in the Black

Well, we are finally back from vacation. It was really good, everyone was nice to my wife, the weather was crazy muggy and mostly good, and I had fun. Other than the fun of flying to and from, but that's another post entirely.

I'll spare the details, but I saw my nephew for the first time, all my family was together, we played wiffle ball, saw everyone we needed to, and ate all the time. I gained almost 8 pounds!

As for my bike, I raced Memorial Day, and I got 10th, 28th, 33rd, and 31st respectively in my races. Considering I was there at 720, and my last race fired off at 2, and it was sunny hot and humid, I think I did ok. A few tactical errors, but that's life. I was able to ride some up in Lake Placid, too, but not nearly as much as I wanted to. Maybe next time.

So, that's about it. Time to put my bike back together when it gets here, and start getting into shape again. I feel like I've lost a whole season, but it's not even half over yet. There's still time.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


I'm packing to go away for a while. See the relatives, do some racing, etc. Four crits in a day. I hope I don't embarass myself. Especially since my parents will be there.

So while I was packing I was thinking of the meaning of Memorial Day weekend. It's a time to reflect and thank those who gave their lives for us, and had the courage to do so. But what other types of courage are there? Who's courageous?

Lance is courageous, he fought cancer and many other battles and won. But my vote goes to Michael J Fox. He's battling a disease which as of yet has no cure, he is all there mentally, but he's helpless as he sees himself slipping away. Yet he keeps working when he can, generating awareness, fundraising. That's courage. Facing certain death, barring a miracle, and still fighting with all you have.

Davis Phinney is another. I saw an interview with him about a month or so ago after he did a fundraiser in Central Park. My first impression was how sad it was to see him fighting to control his head and speech and arms. Then I realized it wasn't sad, it was great on an epic scale. He was on national tv, laying it all out there, no hiding, no fear of what people would think. Courage.

All these guys have is hope, and they refuse to let it go. I look at these individuals and I think "Wow, I really don't have any problems, do I?". What am I whining about? Michael J Fox and Davis Phinney are leading by example, without much realistic hope of being cured, and that's courageous.

I once said "There's a fine line between courage and stupidity, and I often straddle it." Maybe that's true, maybe not. I'm here today because of the courage and selflessness of others. Memorial Day is about my friends I'll never see again for me. It used to be a day off, time for fun, but it's personal now. At some point I'll take a few minutes for my memories.

Happy Memorial Day, take a second to reflect on what it's all about, and enjoy what that has brought you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Throttling down

I know it's been some time. I needed a break to deal with Jasper and to try and catch up. It might be some time before I post again. I need to get ready for a trip, try to get in good enough shape to salvage something from this season, and in general live again.

I hope all of you have a great and safe Memorial Day weekend. Take a minute to think of those who gave their lives so we could live ours. It's not a lot to ask. I have a few friends I'll be thinking of. Nothing's worse than doing something for your fellow man and being forgotten. Let's make sure that doesn't occur.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Goodbye, Big Fuzzy

I learned today that my cat Jasper, whom I left with my brother's family in NY, died this past weekend. He was only five, and I was really excited to see him in a month when we went up. I'll find some pics. His sister (biological, even) isn't sure what to do, as she's always been with him since they were born.

Big Fuzzy was what I called him, and he's now in heaven. We shared some of the thoughest times of my life together, and he was always there, ready to purr, drool, and snuggle. Say a prayer for both of them, and for my nieces, brother, sister in law, parents, wife and myself. I'm devastated, to put it mildly. We all are.

Most of all I can recall the fun we had, and his silly antics. I'll miss you, Big Fuzzy. Love, Dad

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Stars at Night

Yes, the song "Deep In The Heart of Texas" is true. At over 5000 ft and with no artificial light to interfere, the night sky was amazing in Ft. Davis. So that was the amazing part. Well, besides the scenery, the hotel, the food, the prices, and the sheer epicness (is that a word?) of the race. More amazing is that I finished.

Let's just say that I'm happy to have finished, especially after the hillclimb Saturday. I rode a mediocre time trail in the morning, but with the winds and some other things, didn't do too badly. That afternoon we rode the 16 miles from Ft Davis to Mt Locke, the UT observatory. Which is at an altitude of 6790 ft. Thin air, yes. 40 mph gusts, yes. Me struggling due to the extra weight I'm still carrying. Oh, yeah.

Somehow I got up the road, which is crazy steep. I finished 53rd out of 57, I think. All I could do was rest up and hope the road race Sunday would be better. It wasn't. A little over 70 miles, and we gained over 6000 ft of elevation. I'm no climber on my best day, so this was a tough day.

I hung on for the first 40 miles, then got popped off the back. The next 30 miles were spent riding a race of survival. I finished second to last on the stage, and ended up last in overall position for final results at 49th. However, the other guys quit or didn't even start the race. So I'm happy I toughed it out, even if it was the worst I ever felt on a bike and after the race was over.

The rest of the weekend was great, and I'd love to go back. It's really pretty out there, really isolated, and unique. This weekend we saw everything. Wild hogs, skunks, impalas, javalinas, hawks, roadrunners, mountain goats, wild turkeys, the list goes on. Also, staying at the Indian Lodge was quite the find. Check it out:

It's immaculate, friendly, unique, beautiful, and has a neat history. I really want to go back. My friend Trav and his dad who went with me were really impressed. Trav got 25th overall, I think. Maybe 20th. So, next year, I'll go back. I'll also go back in much better shape, because I never want to suffer like that again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Weighing In

The Va Tech shootings are a tragedy. I'm pissed the media are giving so much coverage to it, for it just feeds another psychotic mind out there. that mind now thinks it'll have to top this to get noticed. Instead of giving the event dignity, the media has given it celebrity. But we love tabloids in this country, and this is more of the tabloid mentality.

I feel bad, but a little angry. Bad for the students, angry for the fact that they'll get all the counseling they need, while we as a country can't provide basic mental services for our armed forces. Not much has changed since I was in, and that's another American tragedy.

There's now the gun control debate. Face it folks, if a criminal wants a gun, he'll get one. With as deranged as this individual was, he'd have gotten one eventually. Ask the Brits, they have crazy gun control and the criminals still have them.

I'll address the matter that these students thought they were safe, and thus it was a more traumatic experience. Fair enough. Yet we should all know we're not safe anywhere. Call it the 6th sense of combat that never left me, but I'm always looking, scanning, listening. You should be, too. Play the "what looks out of place game" sometime, it's amazing how much you really can observe.

I'm off to Ft Davis in the mountains for a race tomorrow, so have a good weekend. I hope that all the students get the help they need and recover quickly. We should also hope that our armed forces should be so lucky.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Might as well be speaking Chinese...

Maybe you've heard: China is banning bad manners, spitting, and unintelligible English in preparation for the Beijing Olympics. So I guess the US will be leaving many athletes home...oh, did I say that? Out loud?

It's an effort to present a better public image to the world, and to some extent, it's a laudable effort. Trying to get taxi drivers to at least know some English to help with the influx of fans, hoping businesses will have signs that don't confound people. But there's a problem, and it's that the businesses were given strict guidelines for their signage (a stack of regs that weigh about 2 lbs) but aren't following them. Here are some examples:

A store selling tobacco products advertises: "An Excellent Winding Smoke."

On a billboard, this mysterious message: "Shangri-La is in you mind, but your Buffalo is not." Maybe we don't want more Chinese signs translated. Yet, it's not just the private sector. Look at this gem from the Beijing airport:

On the floor at Beijing's Capital Airport, a sign reads: "Careful Landslip Attention Security." People have the nerve to say our airport security is out to lunch? Or this one, that I'm not sure what it means:

In an elevator, parents are warned: "Please lead your child to tare the life." tare weight is an empty shipping container's weight, maybe the Chinese government is worried the youth of China is leading an empty life? Yet all is not lost. As always, the Chinese governement, that benign body of bureaucracy, has selected an eminently qualified person in the form of Liu Yang, who heads the "Beijing Speaks Foreign Languages Program" for the city government. In all their wisdom, the Chinese have selected someone to whom English isn't their primary language.

Of course, as the interview went on, I began thinking I was mistaken, especially after reading this statement: "We will pass the message on to authorities in the advertising sector," Liu said. "If English translation is needed it must be subject to the standards set forth in the regulations." Sounds like any English speaking lawyer to me. My confidence restored, I continued.

Much like a Honeymooner's episode, though, you just know what's coming. Somewhere, our Ralph, like Liu, despite all the good intentions, will faceplant into the pavement. And so it began with this quote.

"In the future when we set up new signs in public places in English, we hope all these standards will be followed to avoid more additional mistakes." More additional mistakes? Hello, can I please have the Government Department of Redundancy Department? This is who the Chinese have in charge of the program? It gets worse, as like any good $19.95 TV offer, there's more.

Beijing has 15 million residents, of which supposedly 5 million speak English. Liu backs this up by stating many fall into "low level" English. What exactly is that? According to Liu, this:

"They can have very simply conversations, like: `Who am I? Where am I going?"' Very simply put, Liu, you might be going soon, too. Maybe the US will be able to send all it's athletes, after all. They might even have some, like the basketball team, teach some English. How much worse can it get?

Some of this post consists of quotes from an AP article. No author was listed, otherwise I'd have gladly given credit for the inspiration.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I think I see the end of the tunnel, or is it an approaching train?

Been a bit, it seems. Not much to relay. I did forget to mention that all Subaru's sold in the US are made up by Lafayette, IN, right off I65. Somehow I've survived to this point, but not sure how.

It's interesting when you take a moment to look at your life, and you see how much is really going on. Right now I'm working more than I have in a long time, (another story entirely), trying to get my hair back to a normal color (ask my wife, I just sat there...), work on taxes, get ready for some racing this weekend, and try to figure out our trip logistics when we go back to the northeast in a little over a month.

How do we not go insane? But we don't, and that's the cool thing. Well, to add to all this, today I have a sore nose, throat and ears, plus I ache all over. Guess I'll go eat something and rest. So I can make up for the lost time today by being sick...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Damn it I'm an American! No you're not! No YOU'RE not!

Well, you asked for it, and I'm finally delivering. I said if you wanted to buy American in the auto industry, you might as well buy a Toyota. Straight from my favorite source of auto info with factual content, Consumer Reports, here's the skinny.

Ford like to say "Red, White and Bold", but they along with GM are lowering the use of parts made in America and Canada. More and more they are utilizing their factories in India, Mexico, and the Orient. So, while 90% of a Toyota Sienna is made in the US and Canada, only 65% of the all American Mustang is made here. Both are assembled in the US, unlike the Chevy Avalanche and Ford Fusion, which are totally born in Mexico. "American Revolution", my ass, Chevy!!!

Most BMWs are built in South Carolina, and a few Mercedes are built in Alabama. So, what makes an American car? Saab 9-3s are all built in the US. Saab is owned by GM. Is it an American car? Maybe. Or are they immigrant cars? Aston Martin and Jaguar: British built, but Ford owned. Daimler Chrysler, well I don't even think they know who's running the show.

This is just like the immigration debate, isn't it? Makes you wonder.

Heck, then we can move onto auto advertising. "Fully indepenent front suspension". Big deal. Last time a car had a beamfront axle was the 30's, folks. Hell, even the Edsel had independent front suspension. Basically, every car commercial states a car has fuel injection (just using the company specific terms) independent suspension, and an engine. Most people other than those of us who've worked on cars really care or know what the terms mean. If the car starts, runs, gets decent mileage and does what you bought it to do well, that's good enough. Or is it?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Well, I tried

Here are two pics of me finishing Stage 1 of the Fayetteville Stage Race this past weekend. I finished. The first day I was lying in about 60th overall after the road race and time trial. I suffered, but it's mostly from a lack of fitness. Also that pesky crash isn't totally healed.

I'm the guy getting pipped at the line with the red and yellow shoes. Normally I'd win a sprint like this, but since I'm just getting used to standing on the bike, I did a seated sprint. Following this stage we had a time trial where each of us goes one at a time to see who can cover the course the fastest. Again, I did ok, but I have much more work to do.

Sunday I was riding just to survive, but about halfway through I completely fell apart. I'll be looking at my preparation for future races. Plus I hit a really hard bump on the road and my left shoulder (which is a bit wonky since the crash, droops a little) popped out, and I wasn't able to hold onto the top of the handlebars when I had to climb. So I thought of bagging it, but stuck it out to be the last official finisher on the stage. Turns out, I was the last official finisher overall, but of 77 starters, I ended up 49th. So it was a victory just in finishing.

Now I have quite a bit of time to get in shape for my next races in April, so let's hope I actually have something worth writing about in that department next time.

Friday, March 09, 2007


I finally got on my bike today. It was bittersweet. My hip feels better, but is still tender. Oddly enough, it didn't hurt at all riding, in fact it felt the best it has since the crash. It's my chest, especially my left side and peck. I can't stand and pedal easily. I can do it, but it hurts so much I had some tears coming out.

So, what does this mean? Nothing really, except that I'll have to adapt my riding style until my chest stops phoning it in. And I'm getting sick of those bills, by the way, chest. Just so you know. I'm hoping to race in a week.

I was emotional because today I finally fought the crash demons (who are a super secret division of Squirrel Interpol) and won. I was nervous for the first few miles. Last thing I need to be is nervous on the bike, it just invites another crash. Without asking the host (me) if it's ok. So the nerves settled down, and I had a nice ride from Libery Hill through Bertram and Oatmeal back to Liberty Hill.

I rode ok, actually better than I thought I would. I just hope I can get some good miles in my legs and heal some more. But we'll see. I have a history of surprising people and myself on occasion when the odds are long. Next weekend is a stage race. first race of the year was a stage race and I did much better than I thought I would. Let's see if I can improve on that.

Oh, and if you want to buy an american vehicle, buy a Toyota, not GM. Toyota, Honda and a few other "Foreign" brands actually are assembled here and use higher percentages of parts made in the US. It's a forthcoming post with details.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Squirrels and Beavers

Well, since I alluded to some squirrels possibly skulking about in my last post, I guess I ought to come clean. Let me just say that squirrels are the smartest fuzzy ones out there, except beavers in my opinion. Beavers have advanced engineering degrees for water systems. Squirrels are the countermeasures experts.

It all happened in 2004 on my way to a bike race. I ran over a squirrel with my car just inside the MA line. My teammate Scott looked at me we just kind of shrugged our shoulders. Not much we could do. During the race, another squirrel ran out and I happened to be the one who ran him over and finished him off. Again, not much I could do, but I'm sure I was now being watched.

On the way home, I mentioned to Scott that "one more and I'd have a hat trick", and not more than a mile from NY I ran over another squirrel. Hat trick, indeed. At that moment I'm positive the squirrel version of Interpol was tracking my every move. I was definitely a menance to their existence. Later that summer, I had another hat trick, but this time it was a robin into my windshield, a chipmunk during the race (I wasn't the only one to hit him but I did end his misery), and of all things, a squirrel a block from my home. If three in a day weren't enough to get me on the most wanted list, this was.

Since then, I've kept a low profile, tried to be nice to squirrels, and shrugged off when nuts and branches would come down at me from above. But deep in my mind I knew. I knew that the squirrels were on to me. I knew that they were firing warning shots across my bow. I knew the squirrels in white lab coats were in the back room, monitoring my every move, looking for a routine, calculating revenge, justice and retribution. They analyzed my bike, the physics of the whole thing. They knew I have a predisposition to falling up stairs, so that wasn't a good plan. Gravity was their friend, except the time I greased the sheperd's hook one winter in my parent's backyard. (The bird feeder was for the birds, after all.)

It took almost three years. When I moved to Kerhonkson I threw them off, and they had to regroup. Then the move to TX really caught them by surprise. Yet squirrels are resourceful. They came up with another plan. And they knew two things about me.
1) I ride my bike all over the place.
2) I've missed Einstein's Bagels since 99 when I moved from Indianapolis to NY.

With those seemingly incogruous pieces of information they formulated a plan. Near Einstein's were oak trees shedding acorns. By calculating my path, they could arrange the acorns and thus, control my trajectory. Into the parked car. Very clever. They knew from profiling that I'd head down to the end of the lot with the traffic light, since I always ride like I'm on a motorcycle in traffic.

It worked perfectly. I'm not sure if it was severe enough a sentence to absolve me of all the times I let my dog out to chase the squirrels from the bird feeders, or the snowballs I threw at them to keep them away, or the grease, but I sure hope so. Otherwise, the squirrels will be the end of me.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I don't want to be near a 3rd time

I crashed again today. After my morning ride I went to Einstein's to get a bagel for my wife and myself. Riding through the parking lot, my bike went right, brushed a curb, hit the left pedal, gave me hope, then slid sideways out from under me. Next thing I know I'm on the deck and under a parked car. Moaning. Feeling like I was going to throw up.

I sat up, took off my helmet (split in 4 places) and tried to collect my thoughts. They were still spinning past my brain. A few people checked on me, but I called my wife, and she picked me up. After going to work for half the day, I went for x-rays. I may have fractured my hip. It sure feels like it. Plus my entire left side of my torso is killing me. Oh happy day.

So, no racing this weekend. But I'll be home and Lost and I can spend some time together, which is very rare. I'm supposed to stay off the bike for a week. Blah.

I might have been felled by some acorns. Or some squirrels in white lab coats. Squirrels and I have history, and after almost 3 years on the run they may have found me...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Everything turns somehow. Even stationary objects move a little. Which explains how I somehow get things done. I did race again Sunday at Pace Bend Park on Lake Travis. I did much better, except about 2 miles from the line (if that) my legs phoned it in. so again I finished 58th. How's that for consistency?

I am still very tired from the weekend, but tomorrow I'll ride for a bit and get some errands done. Funny, but all this stuff I need to do really isn't important in the big picture. Even my cycling isn't a huge deal. To me it is, but that's about it. And that's my point.

What is important? Really? It's all about the circles around us, and how much different things overlap in them. Bottom line, take away cycling and the world won't stop. But my world would. So I immerse myself in my world. I taped every minute of the Tour of California, and got my motivation back. I read with disbelief the transcript of Jan Ullrich's retirement press conference. I feel George Hincapie's pain from his broken wrist, and how that little fall a few days ago may cost him his spring campaign. A campaign that may have included his first major spring classics (certain races are classics due to difficulty, length, and how long the races have been around) win.

So here I sit, tired, a little saddened by events in my world, but happy to be in it. See you on the road.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

It's a long post, but the most important part is at the end

Ok, so I raced today, or at least showed up. With the wind, my lack of fitness (but I have lost 8 pounds) and having crashed yesterday, I didn't do too badly. Not sure how badly it was, but at least I finished when many quit. Now I just need to get out and ride myslef into shape, but another race looms tomorrow. I hope to do better.

On the way to and from Walburg, I used the new toll road to get to I35 from Mopac. Growing up in the northeast, land of tolls, I feel 75 cents each way for a more direct and less congested route was a steal. If you live in TX, use these roads. It's so much easier.

Now, here's something that strikes my heart. It's an article about a helicopter pilot in Viet Nam who finally is to get the Congressional Medal of Honor for a battle he was part of in 1965. Without him and his company, the 1st Cavalry's 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment would have been wiped off the earth. It's the battle the book We Were Soldiers Once...and Young and subsequent movie were based on.

All chopper pilots are heroes in the Army. As opposed to the guys on the ground, the pilots are going through a maelstrom of fire repeatedly, instead of just once. Plus, a chopper is a prime target. I owe my life to the pilots we had assigned to us, as they landed where they shouldn't or couldn't to get us out of trouble. Once, a pilot told me after we got back that his bird was"just a huge tree trimmer" when he saw me staring at leaves and branches hanging off it.

Never once did they refuse to come in, even when we told them the landing zone was too hot. Several times they even did low passes to draw fire so we could move to a safer position. I'm not sure if they were fearless or insane, as there's a fine line there, but they used to look at us SF guys and say we were crazy, and the feeling was mutual.

I've recounted a few experiences here of mine, but I'd not be able to do it without our pilots. I know that not everyone agrees with the wars right now, and I don't need to know your feelings. I just hope we drop our opinions and think of these brave guys. They deserve a lot more credit than they get. So to Major Bruce Crandall, I'm so happy you are finally recognized. Without men like you, many more of us wouldn't be here to congratulate you, and you have most hearfelt thanks.

Read the item here:

Friday, February 23, 2007

New, new all so new!

Well, it's a new season, I have a new team kit (uniform to the rest of the world), and new hope that I won't be able to be called Tubbo much longer. That being said, I still have about 19lbs to go. So with all this newness, what is it exactly?

I've finally found my motivation, I'm beginning to get some overdue projects done on my bikes, and I'm now an uncle for the 4th time. So, since my new nephew is in New England, I'm hoping to get up and see him and my other relatives sometime in the not too distant future.

As for my racing, this weekend I have 2 more races, so we'll see how that goes. I did have the pleasure of riding out in Bastrop State Park again this past Tuesday. Perfect day at the perfect place to ride. No one to bother you, pretty as can be.

Other than that, I have no thoughts, other than I hope the Police are going to play somewhere nearby on tour.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Grammys and other white fluff

So we watched the Grammys while eating dinner (our 7 month anniversary) and though entertaining, that was it at best. The program seemed really disjointed, presenters seemed unprepared, jokes were not funny, and the set was pretty lackluster. That being said, a few performances were decent, but I'm glad I didn't waste time or money to attend if I had the option.

Add to this some of the nominees were weak, or in one case, the I said "That's it? That's who they nominated?" when I could have named several more diverse and deserving artists. As well as the categories not really matching up to the nominess (anyone remember Jethro Tull winning Best Heavy Metal Album when Metallica was one of the other nominees? I mean, Tull is a flute playing trout farmer in Scotland!!! Dude can rock, as I saw him in concert that year, but...) in some instances. Lastly, it seems a new category pops up every year. Almost like an "Everyone gets a ribbon for participating" mentality. Yargh!!

On to the other big news to me. Anyone paying attention to the Lake Effect snow in upstate NY? Pretty cool, in a way. It's also neat to see places on the news that I used to frequent, like the bakery in Oswego, etc. That being said, shoot me if I ever mention I want to move into the Lake Effect area of NY. Where I'm from has gotten about an inch all year. Not over 10 feet in a week. Amazing how the weather can be so different a mere 4 hour drive apart. Kind of like TX.

With that crazy transition, I'm going to be racing all over TX this year. I'm most excited about a stage race in FT Davis, as it's at almost a mile high to start, and we're going to climb to the highest point in TX on the second stage, some 9780 ft high observatory. I think it's called MT Locke. I'll have to check. And with that, I need to check out of here and get on my bike in the dampness.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Another diatribe

Anna Nicole is dead. It's a shame when anyone dies, even if it's someone we love to hate. What kills me is the comparisons to Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. There are none, other than looks. Marilyn might have been messed up, but she was at least talented. Watch Bus Stop.

Jayne was super smart (163 IQ) played violin and piano well enough to have made a living doing it, spoke 6 languages, and could act. Her comedic talents were really good, and in her more obscure drama parts (I say obscure becuase she was seriously acting in them, not oozing sex) like The Wayward Bus, she was excellent.

Anna Nicole didn't have any talent, except for self publicity, one she did share with Jayne Mansfield. So, let her rest in peace, hope her child has a life without insane influence, and stop the comparisons. All three need a break.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Well, things are picking up already. Where to start? Well, the Colts finally won a Superbowl, so I'm very happy. I like Peyton Manning and the Colts for various reasons. One, I lived in Indy for 6 years, and was there for Peyton's rookie season and I think a few more. I'm not that much a football fan for specifics. Two, the Colts play football and that's it. It's a rare day wgen you hear about a Colt getting in trouble or calling attention to himself off the field. They show up, they play, you don't hear about them until the following week. True professionals.

Rumor has it it's cold in my homeland of NY. However, being it's late in the season, it won't last too long. February is always one of the coldest months where I'm from. I'm glad I moved to TX.

I did my first race of the season this past weekend. Well, I was there. With totally inadequate preparation I was dropped from the road race Saturday, so I got something like 67th out of 85. Sunday there was a 3.2 mile time trial, which is where we go 1 at a time every 30 seconds to see who can cover the course the fastest. Usually it's my speciality. OF course, usually I have more miles in my legs, and I don't get a flat 7 minutes before my start time. Luckily the guy parked next to me had a spare tube (I forgot to bring some) so I was able to compete. I got 46th. Respectable.

Lastly I had to go to a park at Canyon Lake where we had another race on a 2.1 mile circuit. 40 minutes to suffer. Oddly enough, I felt the best of the weekend there. I stayed in the lead group for the whole race, and on the last lap, knowing I had no sprint (another speciality of mine) I backed off a slight bit to stay out of trouble. Good thing, too, as about 9 guys tangled right after the last corner. I finished 30th out of about 75 starters. Over 30 quit the race it was so fast.

So now I'm trying to get myself in some shape for my next race in a few weeks. Plus work on my tan (which never faded from last yeartoo much) with all it's funky lines. Yesterday I rode to San Marcos from south Austin, today I'm hoping to go to Bastrop state forest once my laundry is done.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


We've all had it. That empty feeling, even at times when we should feel fulfilled. Like experiencing an anticlimax. Case in point: the vintage car racing team I was on was better in the points each year in the championship. When we won it, we kind of looked at each other like"umm, well, now what?".

For the first time in quite some time, I'm not feeling empty. At all. It's been an adjustment. My job is good, I like everyone I work with, being married is everything it's supposed to be, and it feels like you've accomplished something. My racing is about to start, so Tubbo here is definitely on a quest to return to form.

But I was watching the History channel (like usual) and got that empty feeling again. It stems from my army days, and I understand it. In some ways I miss it, in other ways I'm glad it's over, and there are times when I wish it never happened at all so it won't torment me.

I won't bore or torture you with details, and I'm not sure my post is all that cohesive today. I guess I'm hoping none of you ever has to feel that emptiness. I'll just tell you that I have many friends whom I'll never see again and that I miss them terribly. If you have people who are close to you, let them know it, for the emptiness I feel is from not telling them, and I'll never have the oppurtunity to.

A good buddy of mine was shot while we were running across a village square to get a better defensive position. I dove down to grab him and try to give some first aid. While others of my squad did the best they could to protect us, I realized there was nothing I could do. He looked at me and said "it's ok, it's ok, I know you tried".

He was so at peace, but it doesn't fill the hole left.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Here's some excitement

So, the other day I was with my lovely wife house/pet sitting and where we were had a scale in the bathroom. I love scales, as well as flashlights and a myriad of other mostly workaday items. Well, we don't have a scale. So you guessed it, I hopped on. You'd think my weight at about 6 feet and being a cyclist would be low. How little you know...

First, I hadn't ridden too much since early December. Of course, I kept eating. Well, since the suspense is well, not really there, I'll let you hear it. I weighed 195 lbs!!!! Without shoes! I knew getting married and eating in Austin would be a challenge to keep off the weight, but ouch!! I weighed 168 when I left NY. I weighed about 170 when I arrived here.

So, here's the news. I'm determined to get down to my racing weight again. Why do you care? Actually, you don't have to. The genius (if it can be called that) is that since I put this info out in public, I'll be motivated to work at it. What if someone meets me and goes, hmmm, "Yo tubbo, I thought you were trying to lose weight like your blog said."? This is assuming anyone actually
A) Reads my blog
B) Meets me in person. Pretty unlikely. However, my job is expecting to see me do better than last year. Well, everyone is bugging me about it, not like my job depends on it or anything.

So, in the spirit of trying to get into race shape, I rode almost 30 miles today. This was actually the shortest first ride of a year in my life, however I did alter my position (how high the seat is, handlebar height, etc) so that took some time and I had to take it easy while my body adjusts.

Since I don't do anything half heartedly, I'm also signed up for the Tour of New Braunfels stage race in a week. Three races in 2 days. That's right, I'm going to race myself into shape. Actually, I'm using it as a basis to see what I need to work on (everything) and to set a benchmark.

Lastly, I hope everyone's new year is starting off well. So far I'm loving it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Good God, it's been that long??!!??

Whoa ho yo ho yikes!!! I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted. Well, it's one of those dichotomy days. Lots to talk about but not a lot has happened. Let me pontificate. Well, I'm not quite the pope, but who doesn't love that word?

I was supposed to race this past Saturday. I didn't for various reasons. Odd part is the fact I haven't even ridden my road bike since last Novemeber wasn't the main one. You know those watershed moments in life when you realize you don't do something for adult reasons? This was one. Like not gettting plastered because it takes too much out of you, not because you don't have the money to. bottom line is that I had been sick, didn't want to risk the drive in case the race was called off, and well, it's a long season.

So, that brings me to the next topic of this post: Ice Storm '07. Come on, folks!! It wasn't much to talk about, unless you're not used to it, which is the case down here. Crag and I are in agreement about "real" winters. (Hope all is well with you, my friend.) Now Belle has some cool pics on her blog, and she's from down here, so it's cool to see the differing perspectives. I had Mon and Tue off, then spent most of Wed getting the store I work at safe for business knocking ice off the awnings, de-icing the sidewalks, etc.

Speaking of making things safe, I'm going to give a quick pointer to TXDOT. You took a sizeable chunk of change to build elevated roadways and toll roads. Hate to say it, but I think it's time you invest in the proper equipment to keep these roads open no matter what. To have these roads shut down for three to four days due to some ice is unacceptable. It's simple physics. Cold rain cools the structure, some airflow under the structure cools it to below freezing, and you have a bad day. Those yellow "Watch for ice on bridges" signs aren't going to cut it anymore. Austin, you want to be a top running city, you got to be one across the board.

Since I'm on a crazy roll here, how about those Presidential hopefuls? Personally, I think Hillary running isn't going to be a good thing. IF it comes down to her and the guy from IL, (Obama?) I think the Dems have lost the South. I say that because he's not white, and she's, well, a she, and from NY now. Let's be honest, most people in this country don't like much about NY (though you'd love me if you met me, hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!) so IF the Republicans have the brains to get a moderate, articulate candidate on the ballot, I feel many Democrats and swing voters would vote Republican. Most likely they'd consider it the least of the evils.

Hmm, what else to talk about? Oh, the aftermath of the storm. Sat I dropped off my lovely wife to work at 11 at Barton Creek. I then decided to go to the Central location of my job at Lamar and Barton Springs RD, no too far. I saw a friend, checked out some things, and headed on over to a hobby shop on Lamar. By the time I left the hobby shop, it was after 3. What? How?

I ended up meeting two guys named Mike and Van. All three of us are into trains and cars, so we were talking about those things, plus they happen to be teachers. I wanted to be a teacher for a long time, but gladly and wisely changed course. My father retired from teaching after over 30 years, and my mom had been one for awhile, and Van and Mike and I compared teaching in TX to NY. It was a really neat discussion about how society has changed, and with that the role of teachers and schools has, too. None for the better, also.

Now for the big news. I weighed myself the other day. I was huge!! Like 195!!! Where in the hell did all that weight come from? How am I supposed to race this year? I was 168 in June when I moved here. Guess I need to literally dust off my road bike...

Almost done with this marathon of posting. Shortly I'll put up two links on this here blog. Both are cycling related. Both are for charity rides. One is for a coworker and riding pal of mine. She's doing a ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money for AIDS. It's a great cause, and she's really cool and working really hard to do it.

The other link will be for a blogging friend of mine who keeps track of weekly mileage for a large group of us. He had bariatric surgery and has lost huge amounts of weight through cycling and diet. If he hadn't, he'd be dead, according to him. Well, he's doing a diabetes fund raising ride. He's come a long way, so it'd be cool if we could support him, too.

Both of these are worthy causes, and both people are to be commended for their initiative and determination. Let's try to make their only concern getting in shape to complete the rides.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year, same thoughts

Well, 2007 has arrived. We all try to make the new year different/better than previous editions, but by the 11th, we fall back into the same ruts. Mostly. But no need to focus on that here. I'm happy to even see 2007.

I work at a bike shop, and it's great. Most of our clientele is really cool, with a few brainless wonders. But even on my worst day, I'm happy to be there. I may whine sometimes and complain about how I wish something was different. Most times I mean it, but forget that my feelings are really pretty trivial. Let's look at the facts, and yes, I'm going to confuse you with them. Or at least myself.

First, I've beaten death several times in my life. Twice with illness, quite a few times in the army. I have a beautiful and loving wife who tolerates my lunacy. My parents and I get along pretty well, as well as my brother and sister and I. I have a job, that while it doesn't pay as well as others I could probably hold, is a short commute and I love. I have great memories of childhood, and of great friends I lost in the army.

So, what do I resolve to do differently in 2007? Well, try to be a bit more tolerant sometimes, not take people for granted, and try to not forget those who aren't here anymore. Other than that, I'd like to lose the 20 pounds I've gained since June.

Take the time to appreciate your life and everything around you. It won't always be the same, but it'll always be yours. Happy New Year!!!!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Ok, so not much to write about. Work, holidyas, that's it. Went for a ride today and am now feeling it. Too much. But I need to get my ass in gear since on 1/20 I'm going to be up in Copperas Cove, and if I don't get in some semblance of shape, I'll be pissed at myself.

I hope everyone had a great new year and things are starting off well for all you. Don't worry, I'll be posting more in the near future as soon as things go back to "normal".