Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The smell of stupid...

So, the plan was to go on this massive ride last weekend. I'm talking huge: up Katella, through Santiago Canyon, down to PCH, up to the Santa Ana River, and home! And I'm still planning on doing it, too...

But when I left home Sunday, I had no idea that day would be filled with more stupid than anything else.

I get to my first stop light and, once it turns gree, I set off... and my chain falls off...

Crap. I'd done this before and I knew how it ended. I wouldn't be able to do the ride so I went back home. Thankfully, my bike took me back.

I decided to take the bike into the shop that morning but, before I did, I checked the tire pressure and gave the front tire a little air.

I get the bike in and the guy, Al, puts it up to have a look. "It seems to be fine," he said, shifting through gears the way some people shuffle cards.

"Really? Because it definitely fell off."

"No. It's fine."

I started to get a bit uncomfortable... like I'd just farted. "Well," I said, "last time this happened, something had broke so I figured it was a good idea to bring it in."

"Nope. Nothing's broke." He looked at me like the pathetic kind of can't-do-shit-for-himself kind of guy I am and added, "But it's good you brought it in." He was about to take it down, when he looked at the front tire. "You notice anything about your front tire?"

"Yeah," I said, trying to sound knowledgeable. "It's losing a little air."

"It's completely flat," he told me. "Think you need a new tube?"

An image of me putting air in the tire flashed through my head. "Um, you might want to check the valve. I think I might have left it open."

He checked. "Yes, you did." His words betrayed what we were both thinking... a suspicion that I might be too stupid to get on a bike in the first place. He didn't say it and neither did I... thankfully...

Friday, November 21, 2008

The New Phone Book's here! The New Phone Book's here!...

Yes, I remember when that used to mean something... but then, I'm old. What the hell are you still getting a phone book for, anyway? You can look up anything you want on the Internets!

Get rid of your old phone books (recycling is nice) and get on this list to stop receiving these wasteful, old dinosaurs!

No voucher required.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's obviously clear that I don't get it...

I've been wondering lately. Whatever happened to me?

No... I'm not referring to the play (though I appreciate you catching that), I'm just wondering...

I mean, somewhere along the line, things got fucked up.

Right now, I'm working on my paper for philosophy class. I'm writing out a working theory for free will based on Newtonian physics. Impressive, don'tcha think? Yeah, well, I tell people and their response falls somewhere between "Oh, okay. You have fun with that." and "Do I know you?" Free will! Newtonian physics! Hello?! I mean, it's still not entirely proven that free will exists and I'm going to prove it using 400 year old science!!!! That's like flying to the moon with a running jump!

... but nobody really cares.

It brings to mind Climbing Maya, my book on success. First person to define success - that's me. Not that anyone bought the book, mind you.

This is how my life is going and it has me a bit depressed.

Did you see the recent episode of South Park, where the guys finally catch on to the whole High School Musical phenomena just as it dies. I'm feeling a great deal of empathy, believe me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cough... Cough... Cough...

I know. I know. I haven't written in a while. But what do you expect with all this smoke?

Seriously, the fires down here have been pretty bad the past few days but Vicky and I have been, fortunately, far from harm. If the worst thing we can complain about is soot or ash or smoke or a little inconvenience, then we're doing pretty well.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dad in a Box...

I was going to call this "My Dad Came In The Mail Last Night"... but that's just sick, right?

One way or another, I received a box from Blanche yesterday and, opening it, I found a tasteful, silver urn inside. And I realized... this is my Dad.

And I thought, How fortunate I was careful opening it. Or I'd end up with my Dad all over the place!

Granted, it's not all of my Dad. Blanche had his ashes split up into an urn for each of his kids, and herself I would suspect.

And, of course, that has me wondering... what part of Dad do I have? The urn is no larger than a miniature soda can - what's in there? His hand? His liver? His penis? I don't think I very much like the idea of having Dad's Penis Ashes in my house. For that matter, any ashes aren't that Keeeeeuuuuwwweellllll...

Perhaps next summer, on the anniversary of his death, I'll take him down to the ocean and set him to sea. My father loved the ocean. He also liked Disneyland... maybe a little should go to Disneyland... And Big Bear. He was a fan of Big Bear. Shit, by summer, I'll have a whole fucking list of where my Dad should go. (Stop yourself before you make the obvious joke. I'm an atheist; the only hell I believe in is where I spend my days until I find a new job.)

I watched my Dad's urn this morning as I readied myself for work and came to realize there is something to this, though. I tried to tell Blanche but it came out wrong, I think. The thing is, I keep feeling like he's not really gone. He was absent from my life for so long, his death doesn't feel tangible. With those ashes sitting in that urn, placed in the front of our living room, I can meditate on the reality of the situation and come to terms with what it really means for him to be gone. And accept that.

You go 54 miles and what do you get...

... another day older and fucked up.

You're probably wondering how adding just four miles to my ride turned me into a whiny little bit... more of a whiny little bitch than I was before. Well, let me tell you, it wasn't easy.

It wasn't easy.

First, okay, my bad, I probably could have checked the weather forecast. Had I checked, I would have learned that the day was going to be cold and windy... right...

But just the day before, on Saturday, Vicky and I had taken a 14 mile ride that left her a spongy mass of jelly... yes, spongy jelly - she was hurting! But it had been a nice, little ride through a warn, sunny day. We'd taken the Santa Ana River southwards on some newly paved stretches, all the way down to the golf course, nearly into Santa Ana. I was proud of her, as I always am. I can't wait until she's ready for some longer rides! On the way out, she was making some great time, too! With a bit more motivation, I'm sure she'd enjoy longer rides... just not yet.

So, on Sunday, it was my turn to complain. I awoke at 6am, ready for some serious riding and stepped out into some serious cold. It had rained a bit and I was happy to go back inside and wait to see what 7am would bring.

An hour later, it wasn't much warmer but it was an hour later. I knew I couldn't keep waiting and figured it would get warmer, by and by. So, eschewing my cold weather gear, I went out in my cycling shorts, a thin, short-sleeved shirt, and fingerless gloves... Smart, huh? The Santa Ana River Trail has recently benefited from some repaving so that passed under my tires very quickly and, before I knew it, I turned off onto Chapman. I'm not a big fan of riding on surface streets - I've been hit by enough cars - but that's why I do out early, so I can avoid traffic. Sadly, though, I didn't avoid traffic lights! Every one I came to turned red, and it was laborious to be starting and stopping and starting and stopping. My back started to hurt, too, and I wondered what that could have been about.

To explain that, I'll need to back up to the previous night. Vicky had brought me to Burke Williams for a kind of late birthday gift. It started with a birthday bath. Now, I'm not fan of baths and I'm even less a fan of public baths. Vicky painted me a picture of a private room with attendants (hopefully hot and blonde and female) feeding grapes... um, no. The room was semi-private at best - no attendants - no grapes. Just this guy who asked me, when preparing the bath, "Do you want anything in it? We got, uh, milk and, uh, seaweed..." I really hoped it was his first day. But once I was in the bath, my mind was changed. I realized the last time I had a bath was when I was a kid! (All through my adult life, bathtubs have just represented another way to get women naked.) I'd never really enjoyed a bath as an adult, but here I was with hot water and jets and suds, with my head back on a rolled-up towel... it was pretty damned good. Next up came a 50 minute Swedish massage with Rosanne. I have to say this. If you go to Burke Williams at The Block, go to Rosanne. I can afford to say this without worrying about her being too busy for me to get in and see her because nobody reads this blog - she is the best. She has the perfect touch. And the best thing about her, as strange as this might sound, is that she will massage my shattered arm. Most people are so put off by the scars, they won't touch it. But having her touch my scars and massage my broken limb... I don't know if I should propose or offer her a few hundred for carnal services!

... sorry, where was I? Anyway, she told me later that I shouldn't do "anything crazy" the next day. I thought she meant jumping off of skyscrapers, thinking I was Spiderman. While she might have meant that, it turned out that probably included long bike rides, too.

Somewhere around Beach Boulevard or Knoff, I was getting pretty damned tired of all the stop lights. Little did I know that would be the last of them. From that point on, I got nothing but greens! Down Chapman, up Valley View, down Katella - all the way to the 605 freeway and the San Gabriel Valley River... non-stop. When it rains, it pours.

I'd forgotten how shitty the San Gabriel Valley River Trail is... it's pretty shitty. But far worse was the wind that had been beating against me the whole way there. All the way from Valley View and Chapman, the wind just wouldn't let up. It wasn't just difficult to navigate in; it was COLD! And the river trail, raised up as it is got more wind that I could ever care for! It blew my bike over, over, over, until I was riding at a tilt. Stranger still, though, was how riders around me were stopping, one by one, congesting the trail even more to watch the river fill with birds. The birds were taking to the land, far smarter than I, keeping out of the wind. Dicks.

By the time I hit PCH, I was beat. I took a short break to stretch and try and warm up but the wind just wouldn't allow any comfort. I kept going, this time it was south on PCH, through Seal Beach. After Seal Beach, there's a break between the cities for a wildlife refuge and Naval Weapons Center - I kid you not! As strangely justaposed as that may see, the wind had cleared out a wonderful view all the way up to the moutains. Heading down a bridge at 23-24mph, the experience was sublime. Dangerous, beautiful, everything I cycle for.

But the ride wasn't over. At Warner, I left the road and took to the beach's byways. The speed limit the whole way down to the Santa Ana River is 10mph for cycles and I found that I could keep that speed without hardly peddling. All around me, though, the wind was whipping everything into a frenzy, beating the few beachgoers I could see. After a while, it dawned on me: I was being pushed! The wind was helping me out - at least, for that stretch - but then, I passed the Santa Ana River, continued down PCH, and hit Superior.

Vicky had suggested I go a little farther on this trip by heading down to Superior. This would also be an opportunity to take a hill, something I haven't been able to do too much of thanks to my incredibly poor choices of hill. But ahead of me, Superior loomed and I thought, "Vicky sucks." Still, there I was. The light turned green and I started up, dropping down through my gears and pumping the pedals for all I was worth. Up, up, up, I climbed, until I realized... I was doing it! I was going up that hill at 7mph. That might sound slow but, believe me, I've done far worse! I got to the top, approached the light at the top, and it turned red. "Fuck you," I panted. I didn't stop. I coasted, hoping the light would turn green for me, and it did. On Placentia, I turned into the wind and, when I finally returned to the Santa Ana River, I knew the wind would be beating against me the rest of the way home.

By the time I reached my exit, I decided to go a bit further still. I traveled up one exit after the one I normally take and looped back around, thinking that I'd really added to my total. I pulled up, cold, winded, and beaten, in front of my house at 11:30... and I'd only done 54 miles - four miles more! The joke was on me.

But every little bit helps, right? Next stop: 60!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

My wife thinks I'm a madman...

5:00am. My alarm went off and I could swear I just went to sleep. But I know I have to hit the gym cause I've been eating some real shitty food lately...

5:05am. "Come on, Vic. Time to get up." I wake up Vicky because she said she'd go to the gym with me. I know it's a bad idea but... she did say she'd go.

5:10am. "Come on, hon. We need to get going." I'm already dressed and ready as she slowly rolls over in the bed.

5:15am. Vicky has gotten out of bed and it taking Shipoopi out to pee... while I wait impatiently. Normally, I'd be gone by now. But I try not to say anything because she's already pissed and her brother owns a gun.

5:20am. Vicky's driving quietly and I'm in the passenger seat. "So, I had this dream where I'm in some city - Hong Kong or - no, wait, that would be the wrong part of the world - maybe somewhere in Europe, maybe Miami. Yeah, it could have been Miami. So, I'm swimming just outside of Miami when this great white shark gets spotted. Actually, the water's only up to my shoulders so I can just stand so I just stand there and watch as it takes out some kid next to me. Then, I decide to walk back to shore. But I can't walk back to shore because Godzilla is fighting some other monster and tearing up the city..." Having me as her passenger seems to be the closest possible thing to hell Vicky can imagine this early in the morning. Maybe if I had less energy. Maybe if I had a caved-in skull...

5:30am. We arrive at the gym and she trudges up to the door while I jog around her. She says, "Shut up," and means it.

5:45am. Vicky has disappeared and I'm jogging on the treadmill. For 15 minutes, I do 5.5 mph, which is enough to wake me up, remind me how fucking fat I am, and make me wish I'd stayed in bed all at the same time. Yes, until that point I wasn't totally awake. I just naturally have far, far, far, far, far, far more energy than Vicky... ever...

6:00am. Vicky is on the bike next to me, reading, trying to shut me out. I sit down on the bike next to her and set it on level 15 for 20 minutes, doing a constant speed over 80rpms. This might sound like nothing to some of you. Some of you suck.

6:20am. Vicky walks out with me and I'm pretty sure it's the last time ever, ever, ever. She gives me a look that says, "I'd be much happier if I could just legally kill you... with a spoon..."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Results...

Just after 8pm our time, Obama became the next President of the United States.

I cheered. I kissed my wife. I hugged Jeff, who'd actually only come over for pizza and election results. I was very relieved.

I was also a little drunk. I'd been celebrating with Shiraz.

What does Obama's election mean to me? It means that, perhaps, people have decided to stop listening to lies if just for a little while. It means that a message of hope still has power over deceit. It means that we really have moved on to a new chapter in American history.

It doesn't mean we can rest easy. It doesn't mean that the forces of ignorance and hate have given up.

That was proven this morning, when California Proposition 8 won. Odds are, it'll be overturned in court. I can think of few things less constitutional than reserving civil rights for only one group of people. But think of what this says about Californians. Easily fooled by the forces of hate? Yes. Ignorant? You bet. And just possibly the start of a movement against hope, a movement promoting hatred.

Let's hope not - but, as a Californian, I am ashamed about that.

The fight goes on.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Whatever shall I do?...

Now that we've all voted in this historical election - you did vote, right? - I thought a quick comment was in order.

As Vicky can tell you, I follow politics the way some people follow football. This is not to say I feel it is or should be a spectator sport. No, I'm talking about my level of passion.

After I left the Democratic Party and joined the Greens, I would attend their monthly meetings with great interest. The problem with the Greens, however, which I'll freely express, is that for all of their good ideas, they fall easily into the arrogance of being right. They are right - but they act as though that should be enough. So, they gather together, talk about how right they are, and wonder why nobody elects them into office. After the turn of the century, when the Republicans were expressing their contempt for the American people with such vitriol, I felt it was the perfect time for someone to express the ideas of the Green Party - but nobody was doing it. They had no pundits, no spokespersons, so I wrote to the guy who runs the Green Party website in Orange County and offered to write some regular content for them. I was promptly turned down, though, because being right they had no need to express why they were right - people were just supposed to get it!

My disillusionment with the Green Party is not the same as disagreement but it has left me uninspired, let's say.

Then, Vicky started talking about Barack Obama. I listened with a detached interest. Then, as I have said, he ran a campaign based on truth and decency, which proved to me he'd make a far better president that anything we'd seen this century.

How anyone could have sat out this election is beyond me. How could someone get excited about football or baseball - pick your poison - and not see the importance of what's happening in politics? You'd have to be deaf, dumb, and blind! The results in the political arena affect the lives of people everywhere. Sports affects only a very few. Politics can be a force for incredible good as well as imponderable evil. Even if you look at it with the most cynical eye, knowing what's happening gives you insight into how to affect change outside the political arena, in your community, in your home. The alternative to political change is social change but neither exists in a vacuum. Being informed about the world is far from boring; nothing is more interesting. It's a window into the future, into the deepest questions, into the souls of mankind.

So, I look forward to tonight's results with great anticipation, but I don't see it ending tonight. No matter the outcome, enormous change is at our doorstep and, be it good or ill, we must face it.