Monday, June 30, 2008

Still don't believe in global warming - then, you're a retard...

You've probably seen the story all over the news. The north pole will be navigable - its ice melted - for the first time in human history. For thousands upon thousands of years, it's been frozen... but I'm sure the rising CO2 levels in the atmosopher, consistently climbing global temperatures, and increasing pollution have nothing to do with it. Look away, folks! Nothing to see here!

I was picking up my car from getting serviced on Saturday and some guy there started kidding Vicky about her Hybrid. He even mentioned how the north pole was going to melt. Like most Americans, he'd heard the news and chosen to make a joke about it or ignore it.

I just don't understand that attitude. Yes, Vicky drives a Hybrid. My car gets about 44 mpg and I also commute by bike. We try to steer clear of factory farmed food and avoid plastic. It's a little difficult but it's not impossible. I understand how some people might not be able to do the same.

I don't understand people that joke about it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Passed 6 MONTHS without a thought…

My last cigarette was six months ago… no wait… my last cigarette was six months and several days ago! (June 25th to be exact.) I forgot all about it!

It’s become much easier for me not to smoke. In fact, the thing that reminded me I’d missed my anniversary was waiting at the car wash today, getting nauseated by the guy smoking! Times, indeed, do change!

I went out and picked myself up a pair of Armadillos for my bike as an anniversary gift… except, I did it before I realized it was my anniversary…but, hey, whatever the justification, it comes just in time!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I’m commuting by bike…


Yesterday, I began commuting to work by bike, which I plan to do a couple of days each week. The plan is it’ll save me gas (which means money), car repair bills (money), the chance of getting a ticket (money), and… money. Not only that but it will also help me lose a little weight, which would be nice.

But there was plenty that was not on the plan, and that’s what I wanted to talk about today.

Here’s something that wasn’t on the plan: It changes how I look at my commute. Driving feels competitive, to me, needing to beat the other guy, get into the faster lane, move ahead, etc. etc. I get so irritated when I’m in the slowest lane or when I can’t get in the faster lane. And nothing’s more frustrating than the guy who’s slowing everybody… and you can see him… just ahead… and there’s all that empty space ahead of him… But on the bike, it doesn’t feel competitive at all. In fact, I feel connected with the other bicyclists on the river trail, because they’re in the same boat. We’re sharing the trail together. Sure, I need to pass people and people pass me, but most of the time it’s not an issue. We’re not jockeying for position like in a race.

Here’s something else that wasn’t on the plan: Bicycling is so much safer! If I crash on my bike, I might get a skinned knee. I might even break a bone. But I won’t end up mangled flesh in a metal heap. If I have to perform roadside repairs, like fixing a flat, I don’t have to worry about getting run over – in fact, bicyclists will sometimes help each other out!

Here’s another thing: I’m not losing that much time. It takes me about 40 minutes to drive to work and 45 minutes to drive home. The commute by bike takes about 60 minutes to work and 55 minutes (yesterday’s time) to go home. (What can I say? I like going home.) And, since my commute is also my work out, I can skip my morning routine and get a little more sleep. I like that, too.

Finally, bicycling is just easier. I know that sounds counterintuitive but it is. Now, I grant you, I have the perfect situation. Both work and home are very close to the Santa Ana River Trail so I get to stay off of roads 96% of the time and I don’t have to go out of the way. It’s a straight shot up a well-maintained, sometimes pretty (though not often) path. I have showers at work (though keeping a fresh change of clothes is a logistical nightmare). It may not work for everyone. But, I’m telling you, if you can make it work, you should give it a try.

The more I get into riding my bike, the more it turns into an obsession for me. I’m looking into Kevlar tires, for instance, supposed to cut flats by 90%. And Vicky and I are talking about getting a bike rack for the car… so we can drive our bikes to where we want to ride them… like Cambria… maybe, eventually, I’ll talk Vicky into riding our bikes there…

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ken gets the bird Part 2...

And here is the proof that Ken got the bird at Red Robin



Sunday, June 22, 2008

Riding my bike to the beach…





I get these ideas in my head. And I really should let them stop at ideas.

For instance, I needed to see how long it would take me to ride my bike to work. I’d like to commute a couple of days each week by bike. You know, save gas, burn calories, make the world a better place, etc. So, that was the plan for yesterday. But then, I got this idea: Since it was Saturday, and I didn’t have to actually go to work, I could keep going from there and ride all the way to the beach. Yeah, the beach. Now there’s a swell idea.

Unfortunately, I didn’t stop at the idea phase.

I woke up at 5:15am… took my bike out at 6:10am, rode it on down to the Santa Ana River Trail, watched my new cyclocomputer (fancy name for speedometer, odometer, clock, etc.) inform me that I was jugging along at a nice 15-20 miles/hour, listened to my iPod and… before I knew it, I’d made it to work. One hour. That’s how long the commute was. Not bad at all, considering that in my car it takes about half an hour. Great. So, things looked good for commuting by bike.

And, yet, I still had to keep going. I had to keep riding to get to the beach. On, I went – and, wouldn’t you know it, half an hour later I was standing on the shores of the mighty Pacific. I even took a picture to show I was there. Beautiful. Majestic.

… and hot. It was getting warmer all the time. Even then, shortly after 7:30am, the day was turning into a scorcher.

The joke was on me, of course. Turned out that yesterday was one of the hottest days we’d had in quite some time. 101˚ or so. Perfect bike riding weather. Mind you, I didn’t know that then. Here’s what I did know. I’d forgotten to pack my second bottle of water. I’d forgotten my sunscreen. I’d forgotten that I’d have to ride all the way back home.

Ugh. For such a smart guy, I can be something of an idiot sometimes.

So, I turned around and headed back. I hadn’t had breakfast, yet, so I pulled up to a Carl’s and ordered a BBQ’ed chicken sandwich (for protein, to keep my strength through the long ride back) and a Cap’n Crunch shake (for… cause I’m 9). I don’t often do the fast food thing so this was my little treat to myself. And even as I ate, I could feel the hot sun beating down.

It was already taking longer to get back then it took to get there, and I’d only made it as far as MacArthur. Some miles later, my butt started getting sore. I’m usually fairly good at distributing my weight between my hands and my butt, but as I grew more tired that went right out the window. My speed dropped to 10-15 miles/hour. I shifted into an easier gear.

There were, surprisingly, a lot of people out on the trail. Teams of bikers, the guys who truck along far faster than I can go, numbered well over two dozen. Single riders and small groups were too many to count. More and more, they passed me, and my speed kept dropping.

As I neared Anaheim Stadium, I came to a park along the trail. By this time, it was past 9am and the heat was incredible. Every bit of shade was occupied by a biker and his vehicle, panting and exhausted. I pulled my bike up to the water fountain and drank greedily of the last drops in my bottle. Then, I filled it up… with nice, warm water… ick. I was sore all over and could feel myself crashing. I’d sweat so much my entire shirt was darkened by it. But I knew I couldn’t stop – there was no shade and I wouldn’t let myself call anyone for help. I got back on my bike, focused on moving my feet, and kept going.

My speed barely hovered at 10mph and yet, as I neared my street, I came on a couple people going even slower. The sun was melting us on the hot tar. But I was soon off the trail and back on familiar streets. I pulled up to my house and checked my odometer.

I’d gone 37 miles. More than twice as long as my last ride. It was the longest bike ride of my life.

Today, my body’s feeling better while my sinuses and throat feel baked from breathing the hot, dry air. And I have a tan that starts at the end of my short shirtsleeve and ends at the top of my biking glove. And my sunglasses made my face look slightly like a raccoon.

I gotta try that again sometime!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Today's assignment...

Next time you're out to eat at any fine establishment offering drinks in small, medium, large (and possibly other) sizes, order the small.

I took myself to Panda Express for lunch today and, when asked what size soda I'd like, I looked at the range of mammoth drinks and chose the small. I was surprised to find how big a small is. I mean, my cannine, I wasn't there to fulfill every last desire for soda I could possibly have! It's just to accompany my meal, and this thing was a quart - easy!

So, from now one, I'm going to stick with the small and I'd like to encourage you to do the same. Heck, stay away from the soda completely if you can - it's fulla crap! (I had tea.)

Now, if I could just switch to small ice creams...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ken gets the bird...

Believe me. Vicky has a picture. I'm not kidding.

What kind of grown man attracts the hijinks of a mascot? There he/she was, the Red Robin... Red Robin's Red Robin... walking around the restaurant for all the kids. Hey, I didn't try to attract him/her. I didn't do anything, but he/she came on over anyway.

At first, I thought the Red Robin had come to our table for Vicky's amusement. I mean, look at me. Do I look like the kind of person who attracts people, let alone birds? People usually stay away from me. My lack of charm and charisma is usually enough to make them think, "Fifty miles in the opposite direction sounds good."

I said, "Uh, oh. I think the bird's gonna land over here," or something. Sure enough he/she did. Right next to Vicky. So, I was assured this was all about my girl and I could stay out of it. I joked, "Just act like you don't see it. Maybe it will go away." And that was the wrong thing to say. Because the next thing I knew, the Red Robin was picking up my Freckled Lemonade and taking it away. Stupid bird!

When he/she began to taunt me, that's when I really didn't know what to do. I laughed uncomfortably. I joked a bit. Then, it did this hand sign... Come here.

Um... what?

Come here!

Vicky said, "Make friends!"

Ewwwww.... uhhhhh... here's the thing: I didn't know if that was a man or a woman. All I knew was that skooching over would put me directly at crotch level. Little "homophobia" thought bubbles startled to circle nearby. I didn't have much time to think, though. Vicky and the Bird were egging me on. So, Iskooched... and the Red Robin put his/her arm around me.

And then, the Bird gave me back my drink.

Vicky immediately expressed her sadness at not getting a picture.

"Too bad you didn't bring your camera," I easily quipped, relieved.

But then, she pulled out her cell phone.

I swear, the freaking bird preened! I might have squaked a bit but I skooched on back and Vicky snapped her shot.

Feeling entirely too weird at being that close to a strangers crotch - and, let's face it, the strange part was thinking it might have been a guy - I said something like, "I sure hope that was a woman."

"Of course, that was a woman. Look at her legs," Vicky answered. "Those are too thin to be a man's legs."

Good, I thought, relieved.

Then, I told Vicky that the bird had slipped her phone number into my pocket.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Artsy outlet

As Ken said a couple of weeks ago, we went on a shopping spree and I got my new camera. I fell in love with photography several years ago when I took a Photograpy 101 class at a local college. I had my 35mm cameras, but I really wanted one of those new fancy digital SLR cameras. Well here it is (go ahead feel free to drool a little)



It is a great entry level SLR camera for under $1,000, 12.2 megapixel, live view shooting, 3-inch, 230,000-pixel LCD, ISO 100 to ISO 1,600, image stabilizer lens, up to 3.5 frames per second...I could go on and on but I'll spare you.


We took the camera out to the Fullerton Arboretum so that I could have some hands on practice time with it. You can go to our photo website and check out some of the pictures in Vicky's Artsy Photos album (http://www.onepath.myphotoalbum.com/)

I'm just getting back into this, so the pictures aren't great, but tell me what you think, I'd love to hear from all of our readers.

Driving like it's 1999

Since I got my new Hybrid Escape I've become more aware of my driving habits. My car has a readout of my ongoing average MPG, so I'm very aware when I'm driving like I have extra fuel to burn. Since I got the car at the end of 2007, my MPG has ranged from 30 to 32, which is good for my small SUV. I'll admit, I had about a month when I wasn't paying attention to this stuff and my MPG suffered, but I'm getting it back up there again. But here's the thing, I don't race away from or to stop lights, I accelerate slowly, I coast to red lights, I drive slower on the freeway...and it's working, I'm saving on the cost of gas. So what the hell is wrong with every other driver I share the road with...They drive like they have all the money in the world to burn. The price of gas is going to hit at least $5 per gallon this summer, probably even more, and yet people are still driving like it's 1999.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gay Marriage Day!...

Okay, that's probably not what they will call it... whoever "They" are... if "They" are even gay to begin with... but I am really happy that this day has come.

Yes, I'm straight. I'm married to a woman and I like having sex with her. That doesn't change the fact that homosexuals are human beings and deserve equal rights with those of us who like sex with the opposite sex. So, I'm very glad that day has come, at least, to California.

My memory goes back many years ago to Tim and Axel and how the ex wanted to throw their wedding in our back yard. I had to be the one to point out that a real wedding was illegal. Once it's legal, she said, we would do it - but then, she and I divorced. (Note to Crazy Conservatives: this was BEFORE gay marriage was legal.) I wish Tim and Axel were still together so Vicky and I could watch them wed... but Tim's an ass and, love him as much as we do, he's living through a very difficult part of his life where nothing's going quite right and he's racing to rock bottom. There's still hope, though. We'd still like to see things work out and be there to witness them take their vows.

This, of course, brings me to our other gay friend, Jeff. You wouldn't know Jeff was gay, even if you knew his sexual history. You'd think he was Jesuit - the man's freaking celibate! But even if he's not ready to marry that doesn't change the fact that he should be entitled to every right Vicky and I enjoy. (Even if "enjoy" is sometimes too strong a word...)

What we really need, now that we've taken a step closer to equal rights for homosexuals, is a holiday. We in America are great at making a holiday for any, old reason. Look at St. Patrick's Day! Nobody knows what the hell that's far - but everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day. If they had Gay Day, where everyone's gay, I'd dress less conservatively and learn how to dance just for the occasion. I might even put "product" in my hair. What the hell? Homosexuals don't necessarily want you to "go gay" but I'm pretty sure they'd like you to be less uptight, paranoid, and fascistic.

So, Happy Gay Married Day to all those homosexuals enjoying a little more rights in California. It's a big step but just the beginning. Congratulations!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Just a few hours home...

This is usually when I start to get that feeling that I've made a sizable mistake... right about when it's too late.

Vicky just dropped me off at work. She dropped me off... and my bike... and my gear. The idea is that I'll ride home tonight. It's about 12-14 miles home and, before you start asking what I was thinking, I thought it would be fun...

I really need to change my definition of fun.

In moment of lucidity, I think about all the things in my life I can't change. I'm stuck in a position that's pretty intolerable, I can't write here, and I'm not moved to work on my play at home. When lucidity descends, I try to change my Can't language to Can language and consider those things I can do. Taking a more active role in improving my health is something I can do and something I've been working on - if slowly - since my last cigarette nearly six months ago. Conditioning myself to be able to ride longer distances is one step in that direction.

It's just that, when I find myself in that "no going back" place, lucidity evaporates and all I'm left with is a guy who is far too old and far too fat to even think of doing this.

...

... oh well...

... see you at home.

(Posting this after I got home, I can tell you that the ride was fantastic! I finished it in 65 minutes – only one bug went down my throat (ick!) – and had a great time!)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Where was the carton of Camels?...

I thought I caught a glimpse of the future yesterday. I was at Costco, picking up HDMI cables - don't ask - and the couple behind me were vaguely familiar...

The old woman pushed a cart with nothing but bleach...

The old man held a bottle of Kettle One tight and close...

Ken & Vicky in 30 years???

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I guess she really likes cars...

Last night, we bought Burnout: Paradise for our PS3.

We loaded it in. It went through its update routine. Then, the title screen blazed on the screen, the opening beats of Paradise City by Guns & Roses thumping to life.

Vicky lifts up her top, swings it around her head, and yells, "Whooooooooooooooooooooooooo!"

... She really gets into those video games...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Wii Fat...

Dear Nintendo,

I am writing about your Wii Fit Yoga position called Shoulder Stand. Here's the thing... are you crazy or something?

Your trainer says, "Lay on your back with your palms down at your side. Inhale while lifting your legs. Exhale while lifting your back." Now, at this point, the trainer is impossibly positioned upside-down, standing on her shoulders.

I tried this.

I laid down on the floor.

I inhaled while lifting my legs.

And then I found out my body does not want me lifting my back. My body does not work that way!

I have a better idea.

Lay on your back with your palms down at your side.

Stay there.

Feel the burn....

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Ken forgets an anniversary…

So, I call to Vicky to check the blog and later say, “Well? Well?”

“Happy Anniversary,” Vicky tells me. “But it’s not until June 20th.”

… um… what?

“It was Father’s Day,” she says.

Not my dad’s birthday, as I thought?

“Nope. Father’s Day. But it was nice of you to think of me, anyway.”

Yeah… sure… and I wonder how soon it is before I start referring to her as “That strange woman who says she’s my wife…”?

Happy June 8th!…

Last night, when we bought the camera and the PS3, I said to Vicky, “Well, happy late birthday, Vic.” And she said to me, “Well, happy early birthday, Ken.”

I told her, “This isn’t my early birthday present. It’s my June 8th present.”

Vicky gave me a blank stare.

You see, today is our 4th year anniversary. That’s right, Vic. That’s what June 8th is all about. Around this time four years ago, Vicky and I met for the first time at Dave & Busters. We didn’t go there to relive the day, as we previously had. Vicky’s been very busy and I didn’t want to crowd her schedule. But I want her to know how happy I am that we met because I am grateful to have her in my life.

Happy Anniversary, Vicky. I love you.

Happy… Birthday… Vicky…???

Believe me. We’re usually very responsible with our money. Honest.

So, here’s the thing. Vicky asked for one thing for her birthday, back on April 13. A camera. A bloody fucking expensive camera. The kind of camera where you want to yell “Bitch, I ain’t no fuckionnaire! Get your own damn camera!”… but you don’t because you realize your lack of a job means you should probably be nice to the wife who is being so supportive… or, at least, keep saying “Later. Later. Later.”

But there’s a problem with that strategy. Later often comes.

Gotta remember next time to say, “Next husband. After I die.”

But then, an odd combination of things happened. I got this crappy, poopie, shit job and thought, “Hell, if I’m making this money, I’m gonna spend it!” And then, I started thinking about how nice it would be to have a Blu-Ray player. We haven’t really bought anything new for the house since last year. It’s been a while. We deserve it. (And, anyway, I needed something to help me forget what a shithole I work in…)

It started at 3pm, when we put Suki in for grooming. We headed over to Circuit City and found out that Vicky’s camera was on sale… for $850!!!! I asked to see the Blu-Ray players and the salesman said, “If you’re wanting a Blu-Ray player, you should probably just get a PS3. That’s like having a Blu-Ray player and game machine all in one.” I thought, “Sure. Sure. Keep trying to sell.” Their Blu-Ray player was $399.

But we came to our senses and left. Anyway, their display camera was broken and, if Vicky was going to buy it, she wanted to check it out first. So, we headed across the street to La Curacao, which is a difficult store to go to with your wife because you’re surrounded by young, latina chicks with tight tops… their Blu-Ray player was $499! On to Costco, we went. They didn’t have the camera… or a Blu-Ray player… but they did have a PS3 bundle… for 499!!! Yikes!

But wait… if the PS3 bundle was $499…

After we got home with Suki, I checked the Internet(s) and… took Vicky back out to look at cameras… Another Circuit City didn’t even have a display model – but they found us one that did – in Irvine… geez, this was getting involved. But I had an ulterior motive!

In Irvine, they had a working display model as well as a young salesperson who wasn’t a dick – that’s harder to find that you might realize. So, we got the camera ($850!), a battery pack ($50!), a memory card ($20!), a bag ($43!), a 4-year protection plan (that included yearly cleaning - $220!)… and a PS3, because why not get a Blu-Ray player with a game machine included? ($399!), a remote ($25! – and how fucked up is it that you have to buy the remote???), and a game, cause, you know ($40!), and walked out spending more money that we had… oh… in a very, very long time.

So, Happy Birthday, Vicky. I was only two months late but I did it… and got a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for me.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Careful what I wish for…

After three months out of work, you can imagine how much I wanted this job. Pretty badly, I can tell you.

Then, I started. I have a two-faced boss who seems more interested in keeping me busy and keeping me there than giving me work less brain-dead or letting me leave on time to go to school in the Fall. (Yes, we discussed it in the interview – two-faced, remember?) I work in a fishbowl cubicle with no privacy and no time to relax. (This place is all about “Your job is your life.”) No bonuses, no perks, crummy benefits. (I’ve been told “This is a Chinese company, get used to it.”) And, lastly, though the job was described to me as one in which I would be performing competitive analysis and creative marketing material and creating strategies to move the products forward – it turns out that my job consists of proofing data sheets created in Taiwan and performing website maintenance, a job they could have hired anyone else to do.

Dammit.

So, what am I going to do? Well, to be honest, not a whole lot. I’m going to have to grin and bear it and keep applying for other jobs and hope for the best. If they don’t let me go to school in the fall – I’ve been threatened with disciplinary actions should I leave work at 6pm to go to school – Vicky and I have discussed this and I’ll quit. I’ll reopen my unemployment account and start looking for work again. In the meantime, I’ll do the best I can and see where that gets me.

And I’ll be none too happy about it, believe me. Though this ain’t no IMC Networks… sadly, it’s no Linksys, either.