Archive for the ‘Bad news’ Category

Zapped

March 4, 2023

Another one bites the dust.

Zapata Espinoza and two colleagues just got the old heave and also the ho from their gigs at Hi-Torque Publications.

According to my man Steve Frothingham at Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, Hi-Torque plans to croak Road Bike Action and Electric Bike Action. Hence the pink slips for Zap, Tony Donaldson and Alex Boyce.

“(The) head winds proved too mighty” for the titles, Espinoza told BRAIN in an email.

Oof. When even a Mountain Bike Hall of Famer like Zap can get dropped you know them headwinds is fierce. Here’s hoping the lads find new homes soon.

Snow joke

January 16, 2023

I guess we can leave the skinny skis in the garage.

Well, it must be true, if both The New York Times and The Washington Post simultaneously catch up to the sad story about Rio Verde Foothills, where dreams go to die in the dust.

It’s an old story, with the new wrinkle being Scottsdale finally putting a cork in water sales to Rio Verde, saying it had to consider its own residents first and foremost. From the WaPo:

“The city cannot be responsible for the water needs of a separate community especially given its unlimited and unregulated growth,” the city manager’s office wrote in December.

The stories share a squeaky wheel — Cody Reim, who has a wife and four kids, works for the family’s sheet-metal business, and is looking at a water bill that could surpass the tab for his mortgage, when he’s not chatting up the national press. Again, from the WaPo:

“I thought, this is the United States of America, we do so much in humanitarian aid to other countries that don’t have water, they’re not going to let taxpaying citizens of this county go without water,” he said.

“You don’t think this could happen,” he added. “You have this belief that there’s going to be help.”

I have sympathy for the Reim family. Like them, we chose to live in a sandbox — the northern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert — and our water gets humped uphill to El Rancho Pendejo via a series of pumping stations. If we paid what this liquid gold is actually worth, or had to fetch it here by bike or burro, you can bet your ass we’d use a lot less of it.

Either that or we’d move to where the water is. Yet here we are.

Deciding to build your base camp in the desert is magical thinking going toe to toe with mathematics. As John Fleck observes in his ongoing Dead Pool Diaries, decent runoff this year will not change the fact that Colorado River water is overallocated and always has been.

“It’s just arithmetic!” he says.

If God wanted us here, He would’ve stored more agua fria under the rocks and cacti. But clearly He wasn’t expecting quite so much company.

“Hey, you come to the desert to get wisdom, 40 days and nights, tops. And then you go back where you came from. You silly sods never went back.”

Heart full of soul

January 12, 2023

Jeff Beck has left the building.

I seem to remember catching him and Foghat at the City Aud in Bibleburg when I was a Mad Pup, not yet gone full Dog. But I was usually full of those gosh-darned old drugs back then and often saw and heard things that other people swore up and down were not really there.

The Yardbirds were definitely a part of my teenage playlist. And you have to tip your sombrero to a fella who’s down to punch it with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Keith Moon, and Nicky Hopkins (“Beck’s Bolero”) or slow it down with Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg (“Over the Rainbow”).

But that train was comin’. And Jeff had to get on board.

Update on the Live Update Guy

January 8, 2023

Remember this guy? Well, it’s Tip Jar time again.

Our old buddy Charles Pelkey, the Live Update Guy famed in song and story, is in a tight spot.

The big LUG could use some
spare change, man.

Regulars here know the story. Charles fought breast cancer to a draw, then got back to living his life as a lawyer, legislator, and family man.

But he’s since had a few setbacks, the kind that dollar up on the hoof awful fast, and another friend has set up a GoFundMe site to help Chazbo stay one long step ahead of the bill collectors.

That’s right, folks — it’s Tip Jar time again! Doesn’t matter if it’s dimes or dollars, every little bit helps.

And if you can spread the word on your various social-media accounts, that would be swell, too. Thanks in advance.

R.I.P., Mary Pigeon

November 20, 2022

Heather, Beth, Mary, and Shannon in 2004.

Herself the Elder, a.k.a. Mary Gaye (Kerr) Pigeon, went west on Thursday in Albuquerque. She was 89.

Born in 1933 on a farm in East Texas, the youngest of 10 children, Mary raised three girls of her own and spent a quarter-century working for Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Her father, B Kerr, was a sharecropper. Her mother, Mary M. Kerr, was a homemaker.

Mary attended schools in Nacogdoches and Abilene, graduating from Abilene High School in 1951. Afterward she studied at Massey Business College in Nacogdoches.

In 1958 she married Robert Pigeon of Ontonagon, Mich.

Their first child, Beth, was born in 1960 in College Station, Texas. Shannon (Herself) was born a year later in Nacogdoches. And Heather was born in Frederick, Md., in 1962, after the family moved east so Robert could take a position with the Atomic Energy Commission.

With all three children in school, Mary went to work. In Frederick, she took a job with the First Baptist Church. When the family relocated to Oak Ridge in 1980, Mary signed on with the First Presbyterian Church.

Two years later, the couple divorced. Her ex eventually remarried, but Mary never did.

In 1992, Mary began working at ORAU, in a temporary position. It proved anything but. By the time she retired 23 years later — at the age of 82 — she was the executive assistant to a vice president in health communication. Mary loved that job and was proud of her accomplishments at ORAU.

Armed with quick wit and sharp tongue, Mary did not suffer fools gladly. But she had a lighter touch with animals, particularly cats, and supported the Helping Paws Animal Network of Oak Ridge.

She devoured mysteries on her Kindle, especially Susan Wittig Albert stories. Other pastimes included crossword puzzles, dining out, shopping, spending time with family and her wide circle of friends, and binge-watching episodes of “The Big Bang Theory.”

Beth, Mary and Shannon share a giggle in The Duck! City circa July 2021.

In her later years Mary wanted to be closer to her daughters, moving first to an apartment in Palm Bay, Fla., near Beth, and then to assisted living in Albuquerque, near Shannon.

She arrived in The Duck! City just as the novel coronavirus began triggering lockdowns in elder-care facilities, and endured quarantines in tiny rooms, conversations with loved ones through closed windows and/or over the phone, vaccinations, and masking, all piled atop the traditional indignities of advancing old age.

In her final year, with restrictions lifting, Mary was able to rejoin the wider world, enjoying in-person visits with family and friends, getting her hair and nails done, shopping, and going out for meals.

Shortly after her 89th birthday, COVID finally found her. It did not keep her long.

Survivors include Beth and Darren Morgan of Woodsboro, Md.; Shannon and Patrick O’Grady of Albuquerque; and Heather and Bill White of Smyrna, Tenn.; two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

No services are planned. Come spring, Mary will return to East Texas, where memory took her in her final days.

Out out out!

November 16, 2022

They said they wanted to get everyone outside. Turns out they just wanted them out of the building.

Well, Outside Etc. is at it again, driving an additional 12 percent of its staff into the vast publishing wilderness.

Newspapers and magazines made it possible for a wastrel like Your Humble Narrator to earn a meager living and even have a bit of fun while doing it. But at times it seemed that half the job was keeping one step in front of the headsman.

I got laid off once and frequently fled under my own steam upon hearing the thin keening of file upon blade. Oh, it’s not good here. How about over there? Or there? After a half century of this I managed to coast across the finish line more or less intact, albeit with two flats and a broken chain.

Lucky doesn’t even begin to describe it. I could’ve been broomed off the course and into the tumbril at any point, and plenty of spectators and competitors would have cheered as the ax finally fell.

It was and remains a rough old road. Betimes I miss it. But not often.

“Information wants to be free,” someone once said. Not someone who actually collects and distributes the information, of course. But plenty of their customers feel that way, even as they insist on being paid for their own labor.

I haven’t “joined” Outside Etc. for the same reason I don’t watch “sports” on the TV. I’d rather be doing something than reading about it, listening to it, or watching it.

Hell, I didn’t even want to work for Outside Etc. Not once I’d seen the contract. And they were proposing to pay me, not the other way around.

Maybe some things just don’t scale up well. I think I grasp the general concept — build a one-stop shop for all your sweaty fun — but it struck me as sort of a Spandex Ballet, some anonymous cable company with a thousand channels I didn’t want to watch.

It sucks to get the heave-ho. And I know a few of those heaved, and also ho’d. But some of them will stagger away from that crumbling tower of babble to build something a little homier, maybe more like the corner bike shop instead of the sporting-goods section in Sprawlmart. The rumblings are already out there, in forums, on Substack, even Twitter (though this last may be about like shouting “Fire!” in Hell).

Who knows? Without all those grandiose schemes weighing them down, Outside Etc.’s refugees might just find a living in it. And maybe a bit of fun, too.

Goodness, gracious. …

October 28, 2022

Oculartober

October 4, 2022

HAL 9000? Eye of Sauron? Nope. The last of the morning coffee.

Some people say I suffer from ocular rectitis — a condition that causes the nerves of eyeballs and asshole to switch roles, leading to a shitty outlook on life — but I knew that the PNM project PNM says it has not been doing in the arroyo for the past couple of weeks would eventually provide some entertainment around El Rancho Pendejo beyond the monotonous “beep beep beep” of heavy equipment in reverse.

So color me unsurprised when Herself texted me at the grocery to say our Internet had gone down as she was trying to do a bit of eBay bidness before heading out on her own errands.

Not a PNM project. We were never here. Now you gonna believe me or your lyin’ eyes?

Now, our elderly ActionTec modem takes a conniption from time to time. But I knew this time would be different. Just ’cause I got the ocular rectitis doesn’t mean I’m blind, y’know.

And sure enough, when I got home, the DSL indicator on the modem was bright red. And it stayed that way through three reboots.

So I step outside, stick my head over the back wall, and ask one of the hard hats, “You guys didn’t happen to clip a cable by any chance? Our DSL is down.”

And yea, all was revealed to me. The backhoe giveth, and the backhoe taketh away.

Neither PNM nor CenturyLink* could give a rat’s ass about our little predicament, so it seems we will be MacGyvering our online presence here for at least a week. An iPhone 13 makes a swell hotspot, but Lord, does that shit ever burn through a battery.

That’s the bad news. The good news is, Eric Idle isn’t dead yet. Cue the crucifixion scene. …

* Props to Raoul at CenturyLink for getting us back up in running in less than 24 hours, not the week-plus we had expected. He was down in a hole on a rainy day, which is a good deal more like work than cycling a DSL modem/router on and off while swearing a lot.

R.I.P., John O’Neill

September 25, 2022

Some of the Dogs take a break at Rampart Reservoir Back in the Day®. John and Cindy O’Neill are front and center, with Your Humble Narrator at right. At left, Michael Porter; behind, Herself and Michele Porter.

Our old pal John O’Neill has gone west on us. He was 69.

He’s probably already telling stories about his unscheduled departure over margaritas on the Other Side.

“I said I wanted to go doing 69, not at 69!”

That’s how John rolled. He would say anything at any time to anybody, and how you felt about that was strictly your problem.

We met John and his wife, Cindy, way Back in the Day®, after we moved to Bibleburg from Fanta Se.

They were both cyclists and runners, with side interests in the winter sports, and as he and I were both irascible potata-atin’ tosspots who had married well above our stations in life we naturally hit it off.

John and his spirit animal. Photo poached from the CRC website.

If you were in John’s orbit it was not uncommon to pick up a ringing phone and instead of the usual “Hello” getting a growling earful of “You suck.”

At least once, after he dropped by Chez Dog to find me not at home, I returned to a note on my car.

It read (wait for it): “You suck.”

A mutual friend, Michael Schenk, eventually declared that John’s Hebrew name was “Usuk.” I don’t think he consulted his rabbi on that one, but it stuck nonetheless.

John quickly became one of the mainstays of Team Mad Dog Media-Dogs at Large Velo, the storied cluster of strays too big for their bibs that rolled around the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado calendar to no particular purpose in the Nineties and Oughts.

While the rest of us double- and triple-bunked in single rooms at the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic or Rage in the Sage, John and Cindy would rough it, camping in the sleet at some RV park, mostly to keep our horndog mutt-mate Bill Baughman from trying to drink Cindy’s bathwater.

John was working at Blicks Sporting Goods on Tejon when Herself lured him away to be her assistant manager at the Eagles Nest, at the Citadel Mall. As regulars know, she eventually fled retail, taking a circuitous route through office work, banking, and sports nutrition to become a Titan of Library Science.

But John stuck it out, a lifer in that vast army of people who see to it that you get what you came in for, even after Amazon started carpet-bombing customers in their homes from Sprinters dispatched via the Innertubes.

Today, John’s Buttface page lists him as “assistant janitor” at Colorado Running Company, and for sure he spent a ton of time on the floor over the past couple of decades, but not with a mop (as far as I know, anyway).

He helped Jeff Tarbert launch the shop back in 2000 and he’s been there ever since, though lately his contributions have mostly been from a distance, at a high-country condo, with a few days of each month spent in-house at CRC.

The original Colorado Running Company was at Cache la Poudre and Tejon, next to Colorado College, just a hop, skip, and jump from Chez Dog. It was a welcome bit of quality local retail, with regular group runs and holiday parties in addition to the solid product and customer service.

Now it’s way up north on Nevada, closer to the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (and Trader Joe’s, Pulpit Rock, and the Pikes Peak Greenway). I didn’t visit that shop so often, especially after we moved to The Duck! City, but I have no reason to believe that a change of location affected the way John did business.

But like the rest of us he was starting to notice the mileage on his odometer and thinking about the future, or what remained of it. We chatted now and again, most recently via iMessage, and he told me he had been thinking about hanging up his jock at the end of this year. Once Cindy did likewise maybe they might roam around the country in search of someplace fresh to land. Taos? Flagstaff? Albuquerque?

He’d mentioned some health issues — fainting spells, maybe a touch of something called “orthostatic hypotension” — but we did what dudes do: talked shit about it, told Death he sucked. Anyway, he had the medicos on the job and told me just last week that he thought his health might be back on the upswing.

But that was then, and this is now. John’s gone, and we miss him terribly. When we answer the phone henceforth, the callers will just say, “Hello.” It sucks.

R.I.P., Barbara Ehrenreich

September 2, 2022

She took what they were giving ’cause she was working for a living.

Barbara Ehrenreich, the journalist, activist, and author who never lost touch with her working-class roots, has clocked out. She was 81.

Her New York Times obit draws from the introduction to “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America,” in which she recounts wondering with a magazine editor how the unskilled survive on the wages paid them and then blurting out something that she “had many opportunities to regret: ‘Someone ought to do the old-fashioned kind of journalism — you know, go out there and try it for themselves.'”

Which is exactly what Ehrenreich did, of course, working and living as a waitress, hotel maid, nursing-home aide, and Walmart “associate,” among other things. Then she came back and told us all about it.

And though she would be writing it up, she wasn’t phoning it in:

People knew me as a waitress, a cleaning person, a nursing home aide, or a retail clerk not because I acted like one but because that’s what I was, at least for the time I was with them. In every job, in every place I lived, the work absorbed all my energy and much of my intellect. I wasn’t kidding around. Even though I suspected from the start that the mathematics of wages and rents were working against me, I made a mighty effort to succeed.

She was not, and is not, alone. And in her Evaluation at the end of the book, Ehrenreich proposed that those of us who live in comfort while others barely scrape by should feel not just guilt, but shame.

When someone works for less pay than she can live on — when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently — then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life.

What a gift was Ehrenreich’s life. Peace unto her, her family, friends, and readers.