Monday, December 29, 2008

...because he's a DICKHEAD

The man should be colored "clueless." There should be a color crayon in the Crayola box that is as close as they can get to his "undisclosed location - seconds away from his next heart attack" pasty colored skin and label it "Cheney Clueless." I'd buy a box.

What set me off? This.

This is a despicable man, who has set back the executive branch 100 years. Who's been the most foul mouthed executive in recorded history. Who's hated the world around. There is not one thing he's known for that is the least bit positive. He should have been impeached and I wish someone had the guts to charge and get a conviction for war crimes against him. Rotting in a cell like Gitmo is only too good a finale as he deserves.

Clean Coal My Ass

Okay, you might not know it, but I'm a Chemical Engineer by degree. So this is something I'm trained to understand.

There is no such thing as "Clean Coal." Its a myth. A plan. A hope. A dream is probably most accurate.

Need evidence other than the ramblings of a geek? Try this. If burning coal was reasonably clean to begin with, would Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have millions of gallons of sludge left over after a coal burning plant was through burning the coal? Sludge that will contain trace amounts of lead, arsenic, magnesium and other items that can be leached into the water.

So, put clean coal right up there with "Clean" nuclear energy. Sure it's clean if you only look at a subset of the whole picture. And don't look at the entire scope where the residue left over is as bad or worse than other energy production methods.

And hey, won't it be nice to have a President that can pronounce "Nuclear" correctly? Yeah, I know that both pronunciations are now considered correct, but, I'm sorry, I'm old school. Saying it the Shrubbery way just makes you sound like an idiot.

Monday, November 17, 2008

How the rest of the country view US

See that failure with a Captain Kangaroo mustache John Bolton hear what the rest of the world thinks of his administration and the US. From a program on the BBC.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Good grief, what kind of idiot

In case you're still on the fence and actually considering voting for McCain, who loves to talk the talk of a maverick and then vote with the party in power,  check this out.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Most Disgusting House, Ever

In case you've not seen it already, may I present the photos from the most disgusting house ever.

It's in Texsucks of course. Its amazing that they didn't even have like 500 cats or anything. Should have bought stock in tobacco companies though. That and Whataburger.

Okay, lets get real. These people have some serious mental problems and I sincerely hope they get some help.

Considering they live in the state that first elected George "the Shrub" Bush, I'm guessing they won't. But them there oil companies are sure making one hell of a profit, now ain't they?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Call Yer Ma!

Hey! I'd call mine, if she weren't underground.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

No Respect

In the city that never sleeps there is proof. Automobiles don't respect cyclists in America. NYC has been putting in bike lanes on specific thoroughfares and it is routine for taxis, delivery vehicles, and anyone else that thinks they are more important to use them as a personal parking zone.

Arrogant bastards. I hope fuel goes to $16 a gallon in the very near future. So many car owners suck it isn't funny. Its the one thing that keeps me from riding more. You crazy well insulated assholes scare the beejebers out of me.

Don't just believe me, its in the NYT. Sorry you'll have to register to read. Its the NYT, you should register and read it.

Or not. Be ignorant, I don't really care. Just don't hit me when I'm cycling on the road.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Elephant Takes One For The Team

The photo below is of a bolt. A three and 3/4 inch long bolt to be exact. It was sticking out of the passenger side rear tire of the elephant on Friday. I could hear it thumping when I left in the morning, but had an appointment I couldn't miss. I was a little early, so I picked a parking spot away from everyone. I checked the tires thoroughly and then pushed the Elephant a few inches forward and looked again. I found it easily because it was shiny from rubbing the pavement. It tried to move it and knew I had a leak when I moved it a little. It was raining, so I knew the tire was leaking as the water was bubbling around the edges of the bolt head. Rats. I considered going to see Thing 1 and getting it fixed right then, but went to work instead.

On the way home after work I put air in the tire as it was rather low. When I got home it was raining harder. I took the injured tire off and I put the little dinky spare on. Driving with the spare in the rain was no fun. Cornering was weird and uncomfortable. I had to drive it to take the tire to a tire repair shop. They didn't have time to fix it last night.

They tried to fix it this morning and the plug wouldn't hold. The bolt had gone in at a severe angle and had ruined the tire. It took them awhile to locate something used of the same size from another shop. Kiss that $50 goodbye.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Different Kind of Monkey

Yesterday in Japan, history was made in the sports world.

Danica Patrick won an Indy car race in Montegi, Japan.

What's the big deal? She is the first woman to ever win an Indy car race.


In fact it was just 1977 (when I graduated from high school) that a woman was permitted to race an Indy car along side men. You know the drill. They aren't strong enough, they don't have the endurance, they don't have the body strength, they aren't emotionally stable, they can't endure the heat of the open cockpit vehicle. Well that monkey's off her back. Blah, blah, and blah.

And bullshit.

At just 26, Danica has set a mark that will go down as an achievement for all people. Given a fair opportunity, anyone, can be capable of anything.

In this case by better fuel management, Danica passed in the last few laps the race winning racer Helio Castroneves. Even he said after the finish, "She beat me fair and square. She managed her fuel better, and passed me. I simply didn't have the fuel to compete even though I wanted to."

So what's the big deal CC? Lets start with I have a daughter and I want her to get every opportunity she deserves. Next I've known brilliant and capable women since I was in high school that were better at something than me. To see a woman win at a sport dominated by "good old rednecks from the south" is just the type of "finger in your eye" type of situation I enjoy. Its not just the underdog winning, but its the person that the rest of the tribe of racers conspire against to prevent winning. Between Danica Patrick and Shirley Maldowney (the first woman licensed and went on to win in the male dominated sport of NHRA drag racing, shame on you for not knowing) will go down as the firsts of the sports. Someday some young woman will climb a podium or accept a trophy and point out that when she was a little girl she saw Danica win for the first time and realized she was capable of anything. ANYTHING. Now that's a legacy.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Boobs in the News

See yah later Frank.

Frank Thomas was nicknamed the "Big Hurt" while at the Chicago White Sox. Indeed he had that ability and was feared among pitchers everywhere. Yet the biggest hurt he put, was on himself. He was never a team player, and was never well liked any where he went. When the dirty Sox won the series, FT wasn't on the bench due to an injury. I recall he was not awarded a full share of the series win due to his behavior. Winning teams are generous, but they will spite someone that has been a thorn their entire career and FT was a huge thorn. To everyone, trainers, managers, teammates, and owners alike.

Maybe you and Barry Bonds can start your own team of whiners and complainers? Think you'll win anything?

Nah, I didn't think so either.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Some nut

At a recent breakfast at Al's in Dinkytown, the Knights of the Al's table were surprised by some knucklehead documenting the event with a camera. Damn Yoopers, you can take them out, but you can't stop them from embarrassing you.

Jon Rode!

Bob, Curt, and Tom

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Charelton Heston

Good riddance. You were possibly the most wooden actor to ever win an Oscar. Soylent Green is people! Yawn. The only movie where he was worth a hoot is Touch of Evil. Its made by Orson Welles and Chucky plays a man put into a tough position like a good Hitchcock movie. Shot in 1958 (I think) its in glorious black and white which I think makes it better. Then again, I loved seeing Chuck getting spun around a few times by fate.

You know, I think there are lots of guns where Chuck went. Only I'm guessing they are all pointed at him so he gets to feel what the other end feels like.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Amperage Up! or How I spent 02/28/2008

The VibroChamp I've been playing through was borrowed. Its an old amplifier and I probably can't do any damage to it, but it's still borrowed. So, I've been studying CraigsList and Harmony Central and the Music Electronics Forum to learn about cool versus not so cool amps. Once you get past the kids posting how "Crate Rulz" and "Peavey sucks!" and figure who you can learn from its pretty straightforward. Basically I fall into the tube amp crowd wanting that warm sound without a need for 8799 modulated colorations to my crummy strumming and picking. I did kind of want something a little bigger than the VibroChamp.

Why? I dunno. Ego? "My amps bigger than yours?" Needing to make up for other undervalued areas of my being? You pay for the therapy and I'll go.

So, I didn't want something gigantic. No Marshall stacks. No Bandmaster head and 4 by 12 bottom. Just a combo with a 10 or 12 inch seemed fine. I'd stop by GC and play a few. Fender Deluxe, a Fender Blues Jr. Reissue, a Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue, even a used Peavey Delta Blues, okay, maybe a old Champ or VibroChamp if it were vintage and not solid state like

What I did come across is an advert for a '90s vintage Blues Deluxe. Not a reissue. Several times there were folks claiming they were crap. After I'd become really interested I discovered there were non of the reissues in the country to try. There was one in the GC in Roseville, but it was sold. I really liked the tweed vintage look and it didn't have a lot of extras to fool around with. So I called the guy. He was busy at work, and didn't get to call back.

Eventually Thursday night he says tonights the night. That was the night of snow and crud all over the roads and freezing rain and junk. I live far north of town. He lives far south of town. Crap. I got cash out of the bank, went home and got Earl. It seemed like he was never going to call back and I started to think he wasn't going to.

We he finally did call back with directions I drove down to see it. It looked horrible. Dirty, filthy, grungy and well, a cyclist would refer to it as a healthy "patina." Including this stupid microphone stand bolted to the top. Yet it sounded good. He said the line one sometimes gets cranky, but line two always worked fine. As we were testing it out, the power went out. No joke. Now what? He found the circuit breaker and none were tripped. Um, what? Finally after looking next door and stuff it was obvious. The block was out of power. I should have played it more, but instead we stood at his kitchen table counting out cash by cell phone light.

The trip down was a calamity as well. I knew the windshield wiper blades on the elephant were failing, but I didn't bother to change them. I had already bought new ones and they sat on the credenza in the living room. Stupid move buttnick. By half way there I was down to a two inch section of blade still attached and the rest of the blade rubber flopping around like loose shoe laces. So every few miles I'd end up stopping and using the scraper to gain a decent amount of visibility. Good thing Thing 3 didn't come for that ride and realize what a procrastinating dingbat his father was. On the way back I kept thinking, "Yeah, crash on the ride home, roll the elephant, and demolish the fantastic deal you just go, mo-ron." I drove slower and carefully and made it home.

He then asked for something odd. A photo of me holding the bills. It seems he'd been given a counterfeit $20 once. Later in the week spent it at the bar while bowling and spent the night in jail. He made it sound like a very unpleasant experience. I didn't really understand what me in the photo would do, but then again, I wasn't passing counterfeit bills.

Since then I've got it home and it sounds great. Capable of volumes my home can't really handle. Certainly Sparky can't. When I start flipping switches on it an putting Earl's strap on, he runs. Not walks. Some times he comes and peaks in the office door, but he really dislikes the thing. Me? I'm loving it. I took it apart and found that the amplifier electronics are very clean and unmucked with. The tubes might be old and about to fail at any moment. The driver is original and an Eminence product which is supposed to be a good thing. I didn't get a foot switch and for what people want for a vintage one, well, I'll have to learn how to make my own. I was able to figure out the date code which is July 1995 which means its an honest to Leo Fender made in USA product. The original year 1993 models are supposed to have all kinds of circuit board and other issues, so that was a good sign too. I plan to get a cover to keep dust off and am researching how to clean it. So far the best advice is to go at the Tweed with a soft brush, warm water, and a little Dawn dish washing liquid. A small area at a time, and let it dry before moving on to the next so that the cabinet doesn't warp. Color me thrilled.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Good Things for February 18, 2008

Thing 3 had Monday off so we spent a bit of it testing out stomp boxes or pedals for use with guitars and amps. I actually hauled Earl along with the amp I have borrowed to test it out. Got lots of great help from a guy at Guitar Center and bought this. It sounds as good as it did in the store. Having a blast playing Earl through it to the venerable Fender Champ. See the photo below for Sparky's feared look that I might just turn the dang thing on again. Every time I flip the power switch on the Champ, even at the low volume I play at (cause I suck , word), he skeedaddles for another room. At loud volumes he begins to howl in a call and response manner. Chord. Beagle bray. Chord. Beagle bray. Repeat.
Ever heard a beagle howl? I thought you have. Not exactly what you want for accompaniment. Oh well, he hasn't stopped me from playing. Yet.

Good Things for February 20, 2008

Heard from a friend when I forwarded her a listing for a new book about cycling for women. She appreciated it and gave a little update on her life. I was grateful to hear from her and she seemed to be doing well. She was a very good listener when I was going through the worst of my drama last fall. I sincerely hope she continues to do well and that she and her family have a great spring and summer.

Good Things For February 22, 2008

Calvin Sampson resigned from Indiana University (IU) as their basketball coach accepting a rumored 3/4 million dollar buyout. He cheated. He committed the same acts that got him in trouble at his former employer, Oklahoma University (OU). Bob Knight was an ass many times in his life, but his players graduated, and he never was close to an NCAA violation. Sampson brought cheating to IU and now the IU team will pay the price. He'll get another job. Hopefully Bob Knight will stay unemployed. I know there are many that would like him to return to IU, but his time has passed. Relax and watch some games Bob.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Good Things for February 15, 2008

Spending the day working from home when Thing 3 is ill. And actually getting things done.

Having a meeting go well.

Spending an hour at Guitar Center trying out amplifiers. And successfully avoiding making a stupid impulse buy.

Only drag, the amp I most coveted had been bought and I didn't get to try it a lot. Tough. I need to save up more money anyhow. The amp I wanted to try was a Fender Blues Deluxe in tweed. There are a lot of things I'd like. This will have to wait.

Good Things for January 31, 2008

Thing 3, the newly minted survives the hell that is the Minnesota DMV and passes his drivers written test. Cost $10.25.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Good Things so far for February 14, 2008

The tooth fairy here at work left candy (a small package of Skittles and a heart shaped sucker) on everyone in my organization's desk. Bravo to her! She's really good to us. Happy VD!

Patrick James Reusse's column in the Stribe today regarding the Roger Clemens testimony in Congress yesterday. Read for yourself. Favorite quote which is from a writer in Boston, who no longer is a writer there or possibly anywhere?

"If Clemens had not once been able to consistently throw a baseball 95 miles per hour past men with bats in their hands, he would be wearing bib overalls and sitting on a milk crate at the open end of a trailer somewhere, brushing his tooth, while shooing away flies from his head," Barnacle wrote. "The man is a complete dope."

Breakfast with the boys at Al's Breakfast in Dinkytown. Short stack of whole wheat wally blues is good for what ails you!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Good Things for February 13, 2008

Playing your new to you guitar until your fingers are sore. In a good way.

Getting VD greetings from a friend. Even if I think its the dumbest holiday ever.

Snow is again in the air and I lurve snow.

Breakfast tomorrow with a few of the boys at Al's Breakfast in Dinkytown. Six bells or all won't be well. Hope I get up in time!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Things and Good Things for February 8, 2008

The cyclist who wrote in prolific amounts and was ultimately killed while riding by a drunken driver was Ken Kifer. I know someone already gave this in a comment on my Sheldon obit, but it bears repeating. Both Ken and Sheldon gave a lot of their time to the cycling community and their passion will be missed.

Visited the Electric Fetus for their Valentines Day annual twenty percent off sale. I didn't buy much for me, just a few items. Specifically the new Magnetic Fields and the latest from Sons and Daughters. Lurve them both.

Stopped by Guitar Center. Got some Everly Star Picks. I really like the hole in the center as it gives my weak hand a better grip. I bought too thin ones, they are the 0.050 inch or red ones. The orange (0.060 inch), yellow (0.073 inch) or green (0.088 inch) might be better. I'll buy some of the other thickness to give them a try.

What I'd really gone for is the eMedia Blues Guitar lesson cd. So far I'm working on Muddy Water's version of Hoochie Coochie Man. It has this illuminated fretboard just like Guitar Hero except its real and not some fricken play guitar. I suck, but I'm trying. I highly recommend the disc to those that want to try to learn blues guitar.

Otherwise I spent the weekend being unproductive. And beating myself to bits about it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Good Things for February 1st, 2008

Awhile back, I asked a pal to lend me a guitar (he owns several) so I might try to play again. I'd played through high school and college, but could never afford one. I'd just gravitate to someone's house that owned one or managed to always have one to borrow. I'd not actually owned one.

Then once I got married it was one of those hobbies I ditched. Too expensive, no time, blah, blah, and blah.

So this friend has a terrific piece he lends me. Its too nice for the newbee likes of me. Fact is I was scared to death to lug it to lessons or something for fear of scratching, denting, or who knows what. It was enough to give me the bug. See it was a guitar I'd always dreamed I'd own. A
Fender Stratocaster. Yeah like Hendrix, Clapton, Robin Trower, Stevie Ray Vaughn and countless other guitar gods played. Yes I know its the player and not the axe that makes the music. No one will be spray painting "The Curmudgeon is God" anyplace. Yet it is fun to dream, right?

So after playing around a bit and enjoying myself far more than anticipated, I started to save and look. I discovered that yeah, if you wanted an original 1954-1974 you'd better be prepared to pay an arm or a leg. A '64 draws about $15,000. A '74 might draw $3,000. So I began learning while the money accrued in the bank.

The beauty of the Internet is you can learn if you truly want to. Oh, sure there are lots of bogus sites and if you believe every review of every piece of gear you'll find most stuff is polarizing; either its the greatest thing they ever owned or its a piece of shit that wasn't worth the postage used to mail it back. I learned about US made Strats, Made in Mexico (MIM) Strats, Made in Japan (MIJ) Strats which aren't even technically sold here. You can order them individually if you like from a website. Fender doesn't import them here. Then there are some called Crafted in Japan (CIJ) which are another flavor entirely. Fender offers a line of Stratocaster by Squire. Bargain models if you will.

I liken guitars to automotive tires. Sure Firestone is a good company. They make tires that are cheap, have the traction in inclement conditions equivalent to banana peels and wear like iron. Oh and they ride like iron too. Then they make middle grade tires which blend the best of all worlds; which means they suck at all the extremes. They give a reasonable life, have decent traction, and ride comfortably. Then there is the tires for racer wanna bees that wear out quick, give great traction, and fail at the first nail and cost more than most people want to spend. Last they make real honest to track racing tires that are used by their sponsored drivers and gear. So, you pick what you want and you can be happy or sad with your decision.

So, I was really jonzing to buy new. I dunno why. Maybe my nephew that said all the used guitar he bought always needed something fixed. He was tired of buzzing frets, no longer magnetic pick-ups, and saddles that were better off on horses. Then I started scouting out used stuff locally. Most shops have a few. Some have more. Then one day I started skimming Craigslist. Some days five new Strats would appear. Most were crap. Beat to hell, or of the Squire vintage or worse. Lots of people like to put the word "Strat" in the subject even if it resembles nothing even close to a Stratocaster. Sounds like, plays like, feels like, heavy as or whatever; you get the drift.

Then I stumbled on an advert where the guy said if he didn't sell by a date he'd store the bugger. He hadn't mucked with it. It was made in Japan (a good thing), and it was in great shape. His price was fair and included a solid hardshell case. I smell a wiener.

I figured the guy probably has sold it, put it in storage and just forgot to pull the advert because the advert is over a week old when I stumble by it. I sent a message anyway. I'd like to come and see for myself and I would really like to play it. This apparently endeared me to him as most people sent messages asking lots of stupid questions that grew annoying. There are lots of things on a guitar that are minor and if you don't like them, change them yourself. Our schedules didn't match too swell and so I finally got to see it Friday.

Its everything he said it was. He showed me the two minor dings from a slow life. Its spent more time in the case than in someone's hands. He had replaced the saddles from the stock stamped with nicer ones that say Fender. He also upgraded the tuners, but he'd said that in the advert. But that is it. It really plays nice and was very well set up. He put on a new set of Ernie Ball Super Silkies for me.

He had a really sweet Marshall amp to play with. All tube and didn't think to ask for vintage. His preferred model is a US made Stratocaster of forgotten vintage, but another re-issue. He's a machinist and had painstakingly replaced all the screws for the saddles of his. They aren't stainless, so he made stainless to fit. He'd also made his own replica knobs and pup covers from I think a high nickel stainless. He also makes customer pick guards out of a number of materials he machines himself. His favorite is aluminum which is dual anodized so you can have your name carved, engraved, loaded or two colored if you wish. He has my email so he said he'd send me a link when his website was ready. He had three Strats in progress of rebuilding. He has someone else do refretting and does rewiring. Mostly he works stuff others muck up and he returns to original. I didn't ask what his user name is on
Harmony Central, but I'm guessing he knows his way around there. The only thing he mentioned was he never does eBay. Too many losers and scammers.

One of the funny stories he told about how to tell a MIJ (versus CIJ) or even a US is the area under the pick guard. He'd pulled off this one and was astounded at how clean it was. He'd never seen that. When he'd got the US one he said there was flux from soldering and they'd just applied the nitrocellulose right over all kinds of sawdust and other crud. Kinda like lifting a rug to see the owner had swept all the filth under it. He was just a really nice guy and I could have stayed a long time.

Last he directed me to a little guitar shop I'd always ignored (they are really big into Gibson, more "V" than I'd ever seen before new and used), but were really competitive on pricing. I got a strap, braided cord and thinger bobs to hold the strap on. Just a generic black and white strap. No HD or skull and crossbones. The guy I spent a lot of time with there looked like he could have stepped into any punk band you can name. More piercings in view than I have fingers and tats and black hole hair dye. So I quizzed him just for fun and he's more a classical guitar player than anything for fun. He named a Spanish classical composer who died in 1884 who he is currently playing. He just shreds for the dough. He likes giving lessons a lot but the pay sucks. Plus nine hours a day in a shop. Tons of Marshall gear. Not a single fender except beat to snot used stuff. Most half the size of the Champ. Or else a 4 by 12 or some monster.

All in all a pretty awesome day. And yeah like the previous owner it feels like an Earl so that it's name. Now its back to saving for an amplifier.

Weird Things for February 4, 2008

Read this via the Velo News. Cannondale has been bought by the same company that ruined the reputation of Schwinn and GT. The same company that brings such fine reasonably priced (that is sarcasm folks) Schwinn and Pacific bikes to WalMarts, KMarts, and Target near you. And they are pretty worthless. When they fail, and they will fail, they are hard to repair and often cost more than the owner paid to begin with. Disposable bikes in a world that needs less disposable and more people riding bikes.

Sure they talk about splitting the company in two and that the Cannondale Sports division will focus on direct to bike shop sales. Whoopie. I can hardly wait. I've owned several beer can mobiles and I actually like them. I've come to respect and appreciate a steel ride more, but for what I got at the time, I liked. Cannondale for a time was the only big company marketing a bicycle for touring and it came with fenders included. At one time a real leather Brooks saddle too.

So it goes

RIP Sheldon Brown

The crazed looking man was a bounty to cyclist everywhere and last night he passed away, probably due to a heart attack. His name is Sheldon Brown and I've know of him and communicated with him almost as long as I've know and been on the Internet and into bicycles. His websites included those of the shop he worked for Harris Cyclery are the stuff of legend among cyclist. Often in some cycling discussion either on the Internet or in person when someone asked a question it would be followed by a question; "Have you checked Sheldon's site?"

On his site you could not only buy the normal parts like wheels, tires, saddles, brakes, shifters, but many of the little bits that no one else might carry. Then to top it he had or had others write guides to many things. Want to know the vintage and origin of some Japanese bicycle you scored at a garage sale? Its there. Want to know how to take off and correctly clean and then lube and re-install your first chain, tire, handle bars or whatever? Its there. Want to know how to adjust your brakes for the maximum stopping power? It's there and he'd tell you the brand and type of shoes that would work in the rain too.

The man was not only a font of knowledge. He was funny. Every April 1st you could depend upon Sheldon propagating some crazy method, product, or something that was hilarious to cyclist. A saddle for real men was a rock he found in exactly a saddle shape. Want to clean your chain right? He offered a kit and method where you completely disassemble the chain link by link until you had a completely useless pile of bits although spectacularly clean.

He was irascible. With his knowledge he would discuss, argue, and educate those who wanted to know in the best manner. There are those that write in a way INTENDED to make you feel foolish for not knowing what they are about to teach you, but that was not Sheldon. He didn't need to denigrate you to help you understand. Now if you chose to go out of your way irritate him, he'd simply ignore you.

He was more than a cyclist. He sang old sailing songs with a group in his Boston area home. He took photographs and was willing to share anything he knew about a piece of photographic gear that worked well or poorly with anyone that asked. He had websites to shed light on the accomplishments of his spouse. He could be depended upon to have updates on what his two children were doing as they grew from youngsters to teenagers to young adults in college.

Recently Sheldon had to stop cycling in the normal two wheel way. He'd come down with MS and it didn't stop him. He bought a trike style of recumbent and kept on moving. He had to resort to a scooter to get around the bike bike events, but that didn't stop him. He wrote volumes about his impressions of the shows and included dozens of photographs. I know others that would have been embarrassed. Not Sheldon. Not being able to walk a show about pedaling bicycles didn't matter. What mattered was being there. Probably harassing his friends and needling his enemies alike.

Once there was a great cyclist who wrote a great deal and had created a huge website for his writings. Unexpectedly he was killed, while riding, by a drunk driver. Sheldon took on the task of providing a home to all those valuable writings. Did he publicly ask for funding to support the weight of all those servers? Not that I've ever known. I've no idea what the cost of the bandwidth he had to manage cost, but it was significant.

Sheldon Brown was a great man of the highest sort. He gave to his community. He gave to his family. He gave to his fellow cyclists around the world. He was a champion of a variety of products and was one of the first to show the greater good the Internet could do. In Sheldon's world no bicycle couldn't be saved. In Sheldon's world, no cyclist couldn't learn more. And he I'm sure was a huge benefit for the shop he worked for.

So, how do they replace a man like Sheldon? You don't. So it goes...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Disappointment Is

Disappointment for your freshly 16 YO son is to arrive at the DMV for his written test, 4 minutes after they close.

Kinda cruel to close at 3:45 when most kids at that age are in school until about 3 PM. Even when your dad leaves work early and beats you home so you get there as fast as you can.

Lesson learned? No matter where you are, nice guys finish lunch.

Good Things for 01/30/2008

I found a week old advert for a used guitar that I really like. It includes a hardshell quality case and looks to be in fine condition. I hope to try to play it and see it Friday.

Once again my mischievous Sparky annoyed me. I guess I didn't pay enough attention to him last night as I was trying work on work from home.

He pushed over my hamper of dirty clothes. Dug out a pair of worn underpants. And chewed on them. As in there is no longer any crotch. Just the section that goes around one's waist. Or in other words; they are rags. Pets? I get no respect. I count this is the sixth or so pair he has done this too. This was the first time he intentionally pushed over the hamper to get at them. I guess I'll have to close the bedroom door now.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Good Things for 01/28/2008 Again

Happiness is washing dishes by hand with your 16 YO kid and listening to music you both might find interesting. I only say might because 16 YO don't always voice everything they think. And that is okay.

I think the pipes froze in the house next door. I'm not sure anyone lives there. It is owned by a long retired couple. He's been in a nursing home, and maybe she is too now. There was a company carrying out a lot of what looked like soggy stuff yesterday morning.

I stumbled upon Mavis Staples website. I'm always torn. Buy a cd or vinyl LP direct and hope it puts bucks into the artist's pocket? Maybe even a little more? Or support our local businesses and I go to the Electric Fetus. Let me tell yah, I heart the EF. So I notice old Mavis is on this like nine year tour. And she has four disc remaining already signed. For a buck more. Yeah, you know what I did. I ordered one. Ever heard the song "99 and One Half"? Find it and hear it. Okay maybe YOU don't like gospel. Yet, you should admit its a great song and well done if you get the chance. Well, that is on Mavis' latest disc. So go out and buy it. Just cause I want you to.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Good Things for 01/28/2008

My reply to a friend that asked me to attend a work oriented, but yet social golf outing.

Can you tell I hate golf? It needs a goalie. And full contact. And hecklers. And cheerleaders. More guys shaped like Jon Daly. Bullhorns, lots of those. Maybe some marine air horns, like they blast at hockey games. Extremely over-served guys with paint where their shirts should be. And play in sub zero weather. I mean Fahrenheit. None of this wussy degrees “C” either. I want golf in wind chills in negative number. And no gloves or hats so they really suffer. Those are the only conditions that pathetic pastime should be played. Then I might watch on television. Bloody hell.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Good things for 01/27/2008

Got a bunch of work-work done to catch up from being out those few days. Not caught up, but not feeling like I'm drowning.

Spent a bunch of time on Thing 3's iPod. Dang, I think I'm reasonably smart and I still can't get it to load more than 70 or so songs. For a 40 gig, it should swallow 100 entire cds, but no, it pukes after the 70 or so. I've tried wiping every file off of it. I've tried hard resets until my fingers hurt, I've achieved disc mode many times, I've tried Norton Disc Doctor and it even finished once. I managed even to get Norton Disc Wipe to run once and finish and it didn't make a difference. I still think if I can wipe the firmware off the disc, those pesky hidden files, it would restore just fine. Yet it crashes during every restore to date. Bugger.

Managed to properly record on DVD a little documentary called "Punk: Attitude". Includes interviews with either living member or members when they were alive of many of my favorite bands. The Dictators, MC5, Stooges, Dictators, New York Dolls, Ramones, Sex Pistols, Clash, Blondie, Chrissie Hyne, Buzzcocks, and more I just can't remember or spell including Jello Biafra himself and Henry Rollins. Man its way cool. Recorded it commercial free from IFC. Who needs regular television.

Took Sparky the WunderBeagle in for his three week checkup. The final results were he's probably just fine. They were very happy that I'm able to keep his weight down at 37-38 pounds. The vet was oh so very cute. And half my age. Sigh. They did feel he needed a booster shot and insisted on taking his temperature. As if he wasn't scared enough, there comes the rectal thermometer dude! Then that big poke for the shot. So far he's not having any reaction to his shot. No excessive lethargy or anything. They did suggest another food. The Beneful he was eating generates a lot of tartar on his teeth. I've been giving Iams and that isn't helping so they suggested a Science Diet to reduce tartar. He eats it just fine so I'm guessing it tastes okay. What am I worried about? Dogs don't care about taste!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Great things for 01/24/2008

Dinner at the Vineyard with your newly minted 16 YO son, Thing 3.

We each ate massive prime rib, baked potato and their famous salad (which is very yummy by the way). The salad puts that crap at Olive Garden to shame. (My apologies to you vegan pals. so I'm a flip flopper when it comes to food. Sue me.)

I even talked him into dessert. After all, it was a celebration type day.

Man, am I lucky to have such a fine son.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Among the Living 01/24/2008

January 18-22 were spent barking like a seal. Congested enough that I bought a vaporizer and brought my bedroom to near jungle like humidity. Added something called Vicks VapoSteam to the solution so when vaporized it smelled like menthol and camphor. Sort of like smoking Marlboro menthols without the smoky goodness.

At times the congestion was bad enough that my teeth hurt. Man I hate that. And oh my did the work pile up while I was out a few days.

It worked, so don't knock it if you haven't tried it. Really. I was less congested every morning I used it. I didn't use a lot of over the counter dubious drugs, just let the respiratory flu take its course. So much for this year's flu shot working to prevent it. I did drink lots of juice, water, 7 up, and other liquids. And plenty of naps.

I've now had the annual dose of bad daytime television. Actually not so bad, with satellite, you can always find some re-run of Diagnosing Amy, Judging Matilda, Law and Disorder - Middle School Principal Assistant Janitors (L&O-MSPAJ) or something. That is when I didn't find the energy to change the cd in the player. I listened to a fair amount of music and its the one time I thought; "Huh, a changer would be cool about now."

I wish I could listen to 89.3 "The Current" (I dislike the name, but its not my fault), but my tuner and it don't get along or something. I've tried a variety of antenna and no luck. When I can get it I tend to get a lot of weird annoying feedback as if someone is pulsing power to something within the circuit. Sometimes they are easily ignored, but at least once every half hour or so one "pops" loud enough to really annoy and for all I know distress the speakers. Two different amps, different pair of interconnects, two pair of speakers, two different homes, and the problem is the same. I'm guessing its the tuner. Its easily 20 years old, but little used for the most part and a quality Yamaha piece. I give up. Its a digital tuner, so I can't figure out what would be pulsing inside.

Good things; Thing 1 was out at the house working on a car and it was another nice visit. Sure am proud of that guy.

Thing 3 got to visit a couple of times with Thing 2. Glad she found some time for him.

Sparky has been fine. He really gets a case of the nerves when it comes to putting him into the kennel, but that's tough. The house is a lot cleaner and he gets into less trouble this way. The 10 minutes it takes to carry him to the kennel (I think it'd take a cattle prod and pain on his part to get him into it otherwise) and get him to drag himself (oh, I do mean drag, his legs move in slow motion, like I might change my mind in the meantime) into the kennel its hard not to laugh.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Good things this week 01/19/2008

A very nice respiratory flu keeps me home from work yesterday.
A nose sore from blowing it constantly.
Temperatures which might make it above zero for the high to signal that mother nature still has us in winter.

Bummer for the time period:

We didn't get any of the snow predicted. Would have made things look much nicer.

Time for another nap.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Good Things for 01/16/2008

I'm reminded of an old joke by Jack Benny. Jack's character was that he was cheap. Really very cheap. In reality it wasn't all that true, but its a character bit he stuck to a great deal of his comedic life. The joke goes, a robber comes up to Jack with a gun, knife, or whatever and says, "Your money or your life." Jack replies, "I'm thinking!" when the robber becomes impatient with his lack of a quick response.

Good things for this week? I'm thinking.

Oh, there were good things. Things in the mail here at the shack.

Two knew lamps from JCPenney that were on their clearance site at a great price
Two new mattress pads for Thing 3's bed to make him sleep more comfortably
Several new calendars for work and the house, here are the ones I remember
The official George W. Bush Out of Office Countdown calendar which gives a "Bushism" every day
Ansul Adams monthly calendar with beautiful photos by the great photographer
Futurama monthly calendar for the house
Simpsons monthly calendar for work
Richard Lederers wacky English page a day calendar for work (has a abuse of the written English language taken from adverts, publicity releases and the like)
That's Funny - a page a day calendar with a joke by a stand up comic each day (example Ballet is basketball for homosexuals - by I forgot who)
Art Calendar - a beautiful photo of a piece of art every day for Thing 3 who is very interested in art
A new copy on vinyl of the latest Heartless Bastards recordings
A new copy of the latest Amiee Mann disc (a Christmas recording) so my collection is still complete (I heart Aimee)

Gee, by the looks of the list I should just quit whining and look for those good things. Once I get started I have lots of them I just fail to recognize them sometimes.

My Monday (01/14/2008) and the rest of the week...

It was a long day
Work from home in the morning. See Thing 3 off and Sparky kennelized
Shower and then drive to work
Re-fuel elephant, get a cheeseburger at Holiday (yuck)
Drive to school and get Thing 3
Run into traffic snarl - tipped over truck closes 35W southbound entirely eventually. We luckily get by it before they close the whole southbound lane.
Get Thing 3 to therapist
Get call from Lard while talking to therapist about homework and recent events
Patiently wait outside while they talk
Drive home, release Sparky
Get Sparky some exercise
Put Sparky back into kennel
Drive Thing 3 to Drivers Training
Grocery shopping
Release Sparky
Store everything
Don't feel like dinner see re-fuel, eat two yogurt instead
Go and pick up Thing 3
Watch Futurama
Collapse in bed

Monday, January 14, 2008

Good Things for 01/13/2008

The Cowboys LOST! Again! Jessica Simpson (shouldn't it be simpleton?) or not in the stadium. And wasn't Jerry Jones look on the sideline priceless. PRICELESS! Rich old face lifted geezers holding back the anger that the world still won't bend completely to their will. As Marv Albert would say, "YES!"

Bummed the Colts lost. I think they would give the Pats a better game. Especially if the two injuries really hurt the Chargers. Eh, its just a game. I'm sick of Fav-ray. Just sick of him already. Retire already. It would be nice to see him crushed by the Pats though. CRUSHED. Physically. Personally.

Went to a family holiday get together and ate and played Trivial Pursuit. The women won (again). Although it was competitive. Both sides have individuals that are sharp at different subjects. Sure there are questions everyone is ignorant of, but most of the time someone has a clue. Its fun. Even Thing 3 plays along.

Thing 1 has been working on a project car in the garage. Sunday night he came with his bride to finish it. He got it running and took a drive and didn't need a bail out. Meanwhile I was lazy and watched "Capote" with Thing 1's Spouse. We have the same taste in movies and so I lent them my copy so he could watch it later. I was really nice to have them visit.

Saturday night Thing 3 and I went on a big shopping expedition. Clothes for him. Yikes. He's easy to shop with. He has a plan to start with, we go in, he looks things over, he makes his choices, I pay and we leave. He's not one for expensive things or anything. His requests are realistic and he's past the "I gotta have" and maybe that's true of males and less so females. I give up.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Annoyance for 01/12/2008

While working on bills and listening to "The Sound" a defunct band from the 80s, Sparky managed to get into mischief. He pulled down both loaves of banana bread from the counter. No, they weren't like teetering on the edge; this took work on his part. One was in the bag, one was on a cutting board. He dined on the first partly eaten loaf first and when I caught him he abandoned that one and had gotten about 25% of the other loaf eaten.

Pets, I tells yah, I get no respect.

Things for 01/12/2008

Didn't feel like going to work yesterday. Like I have a reason. Sparky was rather lethargic, but really, I could have shoved him into the kennel like usual and gone. Its not like he pretends to enjoy it, but he doesn't seem worse for wear from it either.

So I tried out my new work from home connection. It does work reasonable well, some apps are slow to connect, save, or resolve issues. Yet it works and doesn't crash too often for mostly Micro$oft products. I did actually get work done. I left the TV off, the radio off, and didn't even play music. The only thing pestering me was sparky occasional desire to play tug of war with his new chew toy and dropping slobbered on tennis balls on my foot in hopes I'll throw it. I got lots done.

Later I showered and went to an appointment. Not one I was dreading and it went well.

Hit Target for some food and soda on the way home and found a toaster oven I liked. We make a lot of things like garlic bread and use the big oven to heat them. This will save energy costs hopefully.

Also hit Menards for some primer and sandpaper and masking materials.

I had set up the bread maker to make Hawaiian Sweet bread and it was ready when I got home. The house smelled great and even Thing 3 mentioned that. Nothing like fresh baked bread. It did sort of stick to the walls of the bread machine container. Dunno why. Tasted good enough that Thing 3 made a PBJ from it.

Today Sparky seems very chipper and has been pestering me to play. I worked another few hours this morning while Thing 3 slept. Got an important report done.

Now I can play a little. A nap sounds better!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Early End to Work Day 01/08/2008

Thing 1 called to say he'd found an engine for a clunker he drug to the house, okay driveway, Monday night. He got it as far as the end of the block and blew the engine. Left most of the oil on the street along with who knows what else. We pushed it into the driveway.

Today he called to say he found an engine. Can he borrow the elephant and get that to the house? Sure, why not.

I figured the easiest way is to just drive his hot rod home. As in a Nissan 240 with v-6 and turbo. Hit 3K on the tach and she screams like a cat with its tail on fire. So I left work early and blasted home, my ears are still ringing.

Dumb move for the afternoon. Along with the elephant keys, I gave him my house keys. D'Oh! I was able to get in the garage, but luckily after about 20 minutes Thing 3 came home and could let me in. Sparky was his usual exuberant self once let from the kennel and the day is finally looking up.

Now I have to work on the work I promised to work on from home.

Good Things So Far 01/09/2008

Breakfast with the boys at Al's in Dinkytown. Five orders of short stack whole wheat wally blues. Man we know how to live.

Thing 3 suggested The Libertines while we did dishes last night. Man he is one chip off the old ear.

Not so hot: I woke up at 3 AM and couldn't fall back to sleep. Sparky (who sleeps with me most nights) wasn't much help. He was as restless as I was. And apparently he had one hell of a nightmare as he was always pressing against me. Usually he gets too warm and moves away. Not last night. So I got too warm. Pets, I tells yah, I get no respect.

On the other hand this was good, I was up and at 'em and not late for breakfast at Al's. Be there at 6 bells or be square. I won't say who overslept and was late, right Curt?

Traffic still stunk at 5:30. Driving a vehicle sucks. I so wish for the ability to ride a bus and read a book.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Good Things for Today 01/08/2008

Sparky is doing really well. Spent his time in the kennel while I was at work and Thing 3 was in school.

Thing 3 worked on homework tonight without hassle, he helped with the dishes, he helped take down the Xmas tree, and helped wire in the internet so we both can be on-line together.

We had some chicken enchiladas tonight for supper and they were yummy. Thing 3 even mentioned that he liked them and he is not an easy to please chap.

Sparky dug up an old bone from the snow and has been looking all night for somewhere to bury it in the house so it is more handy. Usually that would be under Thing 3's dirty clothes in the bathroom. Now that he has a hamper in the bath, Sparky has no place to "bury" the bone and is wondering the house whining. This bone is soft enough I could chew it. Pets are just as funny as children. And endearing as heck. Its all about character.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Miraculous Recovery

Thing 3 called to say Sparky the WunderBeagle appears to be much better. Moving slowly, but moving again. He ate his supper (from yesterday), drank some water, and then wanted to go out and pee.

Heck, let the lovable guy bark himself horse for once. (He's gotten the previous tenant in trouble with John Law for barking too much.) Apparently some third shift neighbor called the coppers at the slightest "Arf!" Then again, beagles um, are supposed to bark in the less than humble author's opinion.

And I'll point out we were there first. The fuckers moved in long after we did. Just because their house costs (and looks) about triple what our shack is worth ain't got lick spittle to do with it, now does it. I like being the trailer trash equivalent in engineering suburban america.

Things for 01/07/2008

Good things:

Bread machine worked great! I figured out that I could set the alarm to make it finish just as I was getting up. The buzzer of it finishing its sequence woke me moments before my alarm was to go off. And boy did the house smell good.

Was able to shake the loaf out of the chamber and it smelled and tasted great. Fresh hot bread, yum.

Not so good:

Sparky didn't appear to have moved all night. He hasn't eaten since breakfast yesterday. He won't eat from my hand. I got him to drink a little water from my hand, but after about three handfuls of water, he stopped. Gave me this look like, "Um, thanks dude, but that's all I have the energy for."

The banana bread came out a lot darker than last time. Last time I used metal pans. This time I used glass pans. I also added a tablespoon of vanilla instead of a teaspoon. D'Oh! Read! Nitwit! Tastes okay. Not great.

Maybe tonight I'll make a loaf of Hawaiian Sweet Bread in the bread machine.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Good Things For This Weekend 01/06/2008

Made banana bread from the three overly ripe bananas. It smells great, but its not done yet.

Got to the grocery store and bought some sourdough bread mix. I dug out the Breadman Plus TR-600, searched on-line for a manual, and the bread should be done by morning. Hot bread with breakfast!

Took Sparky the WunderBeagle to the vet. Told them about the seizure. They gave him his shots and thought they saw something. They asked to keep him a few hours and took a blood sample and tested it. They are concerned and I have to bring him back in three weeks.

Thing 3 and I went to the condo and got the big oak desk and moved it to the house. It was a really heavy mother and man do my hands and back know it.

Listened to a lot of music this weekend. Really like the latest Fiery Furnaces latest disc. Also Interpol (sorry Carl, its pretty good) and Arctic Monkeys. There are more things I've acquired, but that's enough for now.

Took Sparky for a walk to get the paper this afternoon and since then he's laid on the couch and hasn't moved. Well, he got off one spot and moved to another and once got up and drank some water, but that is it. He didn't eat his supper either. He's really not himself. Really worried about him. Hope he perks up in the next two days.

Tonight I'm recording Boogie Nights from IFC. I watched up the part at the donut shop and had to turn it off. Wow, I'd forgotten how many really great people were in the movie. Burt Reynolds got all the publicity, but there are a lot of people considered quality actors in the movie considering its about the 70s porn industry.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Good Things Today 01/04/2008

Its Friday.
Put Sparky the WunderBeagle in his kennel when I left today to minimize the messes he makes. He doesn't like it, I don't like putting him in there, but I'm tired of him ripping the boxes and peeing on the floor.

Happy Obama won for some reason. Even if he has the worst possible name for the office. President Obama just doesn't have that ring to it, but I hope it grows on America. Change is good. Politics is BS anyhow. They are all bought and paid for.

Both Romney and Huckabee scare the beejebus out of me. I think Huckabee will turn out to be a worse lunatic that Bush if elected. When the evangelicals come out blindly for him, you know he's wrong for the office.

Thing 3 doesn't have drivers training tonight. That means I don't spend an hour driving him there. Note for new readers: its my blog and I don't share my children's names. They are not things nor do I think of them as that. Its just an easy way for you and I to keep track. Thing 1 is the eldest and thing 3 is the least oldest. They are boy - girl - boy for scoring purposes.

There was almost no traffic this morning. I hate driving the elephant on a daily basis, but single parenting and cycling 30+ miles round trip to work don't work. I'd move closer, but first I've got to sell one of the two properties I already have.

The future is bright and it might be a nice weekend.

Sparky got his nails done last night (trimmed) and is still upset about it. Either tomorrow or next week shots! He'll really be annoyed with me.