Archive for the ‘Pissing and moaning’ Category

The path of most resistance

October 26, 2013
The streets are safer, even with a light coating of leaves.

The streets are safer, even with a light coating of leaves.

If you ever wonder why so many Americans have so much trouble making their government function, just watch them making a shambles of another shared space — the infinitely simpler bike path.

I nearly got crashed twice yesterday — first by a pair of knucklehead roadies in team kit who cut across my bow in Goose Gossage Park, exiting the bike path for the street without bothering to check for oncoming traffic, and a few minutes later by some helmetless dipshit on a beater road bike careening down the wrong side of a sketchy slope coated with sand and pea gravel.

Mind you, these incidents constituted the cherries atop a turd-cake that included the usual ingredients — oblivious strollers three abreast, untrained dogs sans leash, and fleawits wandering across the path without checking to see whether they might be about to violate the laws of physics by trying to occupy the same space at the same time as a 180-pound Irish-American on a 30-pound touring bike traveling at 15 mph.

The offenders invariably wear the blank, bovine gaze of a feedlot cow doomed to wear a soggy bun, a slice of pickle and some processed cheese “food” in the afterlife. And yet some of us we marvel at the popularity of Rupert Murdoch’s various entertainment outlets, which shove a similarly toxic product at the feeble-minded through the flat-panel windows in their living rooms.

How hard can it be to walk, run and ride to the right, pass left, and keep your fucking eyes open?

Hi-def’, where is thy sting?

October 8, 2013
I had a little fun shooting the video of the Jones bike. There's plenty of room for gadgetry on that 66cm H-bar; I was going to add a flower vase, but ran out of hose clamps.

I had a little fun shooting the video of the Jones bike. There’s plenty of room for gadgetry on that 66cm H-bar; I was going to add a flower vase, but ran out of hose clamps.

In comments, Patrick O’B. asks whether I’m having trouble deciding which bike to ride since adding a nifty Jones rigid-specific 29er to the Mad Dog fleet.

Nope.

I haven’t been on a bike of any type for a week — a terrorist wasp nailed me in my left ankle during a hike last Wednesday, the sonofabitch swelled up to the size and shade of a ruby-red Texas grapefruit (the ankle, not the terrorist wasp), and I have whiled away the hours since full of Benadryl and bad ideas, trying to get a metric shit-ton of work done with my shoeless left leg propped up on a box.

And the weather has been picture-postcard, Chamber of Commerce, fall-in-Colorado perfect, too.

Gah.

The Co-Motion Divide Rohloff got its closeup today.

The Co-Motion Divide Rohloff got its closeup today.

I did get out for a short while today. The ankle looks more or less like an ankle again, rather than a botulistic bratwurst, and I needed to shoot a bit of HD video for an online review of the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff, having just wrapped production on a Jones video. So I spazzed around in Palmer Park for an hour, playing Quentin Ferrentino with a couple of dusty old Hero 3 Black Editions.

The Adventure Cyclist gang and I met with the GoPro people at Interbike, but only editor Mike Deme walked away with one of the new Hero 3+ dinguses, though I thought I batted my eyelashes most fetchingly at the product guy. Bitch.

So I had to make do with obsolete technology in my latest projects, and as usual it is the little people — you, the viewing public — who must suffer.

Still, that makes two videos in two days. Stick that in your hobbit-pipe and smoke it, Peter Jackson.

Interbike 2013: Leaving Las Vegas

September 26, 2013
As has become traditional in these outings, a storm chased me out of town, finally catching me in Santa Fe.

As has become traditional in these outings, a storm chased me out of town, finally catching me in Santa Fe.

BIBLEBURG, Colo. (MDM) — After all these years you’d think I would know better than to try to blog from Sin City. I should just post a “Closed Until Further Notice” sign and save us all the aggravation.

I attend Interbike for three primary reasons: First, to gather salable intelligence for my various employers; second, to reassure said employers in our one get-together per annum that, despite all published evidence to the contrary, I am not a rabid dog hellbent on biting the hand that feeds me; and third, to reassure the reading audience that I am a rabid dog hellbent on biting the hand that feeds me and somehow getting away with it. Which I am, of course. (Don’t tell my employers.)

It’s quite a tightrope to walk for an antisocial old drunkard who has trouble navigating a wide sidewalk after happy hour. And it’s particularly sketchy when I’m bunking in a casino hotel with all the ambience of a Donna Summer retrospective in Hell. Never again. It was a 20-minute walk from my room to the show and I never left the building.

When I finally hit the door running I was very tired of the sound of my own voice and desperate for a smoke-free environment, proper music and the open road.

As I battled traffic on Flamingo a roadside political scientist announced via hand-lettered poster that Jewish communists control the media. He never met the crowd I work for; a variety of faiths, creeds and religions, but capitalists one and all. Racing the commuters through Henderson I saw a disintegrating paceline fighting a massive headwind on a gradual climb. Glancing at the dash I noticed it was 96 degrees outside. Who’s crazy here? I wondered.

Me, of course.

Editor’s note: Coming up — a few bikes from Interbike 2013 that an adventurous cyclist might find interesting.

Welcome to the working week

July 22, 2013

It’s Monday. Know how I can tell? There’s a plumber in the driveway and my Visa card just spontaneously combusted.

One of the few downsides to living in an old neighborhood like ours is that the plumbing is even older than the residents. I think Hammurabi laid the original pipe, and the Romans handled most of the maintenance (But other than that, what have the Romans ever done for us?) until the Vandals came along and ensured that the pumps would no longer work by appropriating the handles.

Anyway, the lone bathtub at The House Back East™ has become something of a wading pond, and a plumber is over there panning for gold as we speak. I expect he’ll find some.

Burning daylight

March 21, 2013

Today started and ended well, lightly toasted slices of metaphorical bread comprising an actual shit sandwich.

On arising I recalled that we had a huge slab of meaty Ranch Foods Direct bacon in the fridge, so breakfast included coffee, eggs over easy, American fried potatoes, buttery English muffins and great thick rashers of pigmeat. Your basic heart-attack special, but I like it.

My plans for the workday hinged on breaking a piece of new technology to harness, but despite a hearty breakfast I couldn’t even get my rope on it, much less my brand.

Being something of a persistent cuss — you may call it “obsessive-compulsive,” I call it “persistent” — I kept working at it, trying first this and then that and finally the other, all the while taking copious notes on each fresh dysfunction with an eye toward eventually tattooing same on someone using an icepick and ball-peen hammer, with a sack of wormy dogshit for ink.

Thus the hours passed and the daylight faded, and the technology breezily countered my every move. By late afternoon, which saw the mailperson deliver an overdue check for services rendered that was redeemable for slightly less than half the expected quantity of Dead President Trading Cards, I was at a rolling boil, hissing like a teakettle full of vipers, blistering steam boiling out of both ears.

Herself and I had earlier scheduled a joint birthday dinner with friends, so I stuck my head in the freezer, counted to a thousand in Irish, and off we went to The Blue Star, where the four of us ate all manner of good things while discussing music, metaphysics and literature. Also, we solved every last one of the world’s problems save mine (you’re welcome).

Now I’m hardly pissed off at all. But tomorrow is another day.

A fine soft day (yeah, right)

October 6, 2012

The green is wearing a bit o’ dew.

The first cold, clammy day of autumn always reminds me of why my forebears fled the Emerald Isle for Americay. It wasn’t so much the Limeys and the Prods as the weather.

Doesn’t help that Herself is enjoying a weeklong vacation on the Big Island with a gal pal. Beaches for her, bitches for me. ‘Tis not at all the same thing.

Of course, last time I went to Hawaii the locals endured a volcanic eruption and a tsunami. Maybe it’s better that I stay put. For them, anyway.

Somewhere, over the … yeah, right

July 31, 2012
July's final rainbow

God help that leprechaun should I ever find him so.

Rainbow, goddamnit, wrong house again. Where the hell is my pot o’ gold, friggin’ illegal-immigrant leprechauns, goddam socialist Muslim Kenyans, mutter mumble grumble.

Get your kicks on Route 666

March 2, 2012

Until yesterday, I was congratulating myself on a rare bit of frugality, having chosen to fly to Sacramento for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show instead of driving.

Gas prices were on the rise again, and motels never get any cheaper, so when I weighed the costs and benefits of a six-day road trip versus a quick flyby, the flyby won in a walk.

Until yesterday, that is. Now I’m down $342.10 and never got closer to the Sacramento Convention Center than Concourse B at Denver International Airport.

The first bump in my aerial Route 666 came when my 9:53 a.m. flight out of Bibleburg was delayed. The plane was undergoing “a test flight,” we were told, and after it finally arrived and we boarded, it sat on the deck for a spell while the crew awaited paperwork. The original departure time had left a comfortable margin for me to catch the 11:28 a.m. flight to Sacto, but the delay gobbled that up and then some, and my bird was long gone by the time I’d legged it from gate B50-something to B28.

No worries. A gate agent booked me onto a later flight — four hours later — and I whiled away the time wandering Concourse B and inspecting my fellow travelers, a joyous throng that reminded me of Russians queuing up for bread and vodka in the old Soviet Union, Germans trundling wheelbarrows full of marks to a Weimar Republic café, or Americans camping out for cheap shit from China on Black Friday.

I overheard muttered conversations about canceled flights, missed connections, and various other tales of woe, so I started checking the board now and then. Sure enough, lots of time changes, gate changes, flights vanishing right off the board, you name it. Gate agents pitched like carny barkers, announcing that their flight of the moment was “in an overbooked situation” and soliciting volunteers to lay down their seats that their brethren and sistren might fly, offering the less-than-powerful inducement of a $400 travel credit good for getting boned up the ass the next time they dare to set foot in a United concourse.

My own flight, slated for 3:30, got bumped to 3:50, then 4:15, and finally 4:50 before being canceled altogether. We never got a straight answer as to why from the gate agent, who took to hiding in the jetway after mumbling something about unspecified mechanical issues involving “a couple of valves” that needed replacing.

What the hell? I thought. These things aren’t coming in to disgorge one load of passengers and take on another, they’re fucking pitting with oil leaks, thrown rods, their bits coming off in turn three and black smoke belching out from under the hood.

We of the late, lamented Flight 6392 trudged a kilometer or so to customer service, where several computers appeared to be down for maintenance and only three United types stood ready to handle the deluge. One spent a fair amount of time teaching another how to operate her terminal.

I was somewhere in the top 20, line-wise, and I was overhearing discouraging talk like “I can get you on standby at dark-thirty,” “So we’re talking about flying to LA, then to San Francisco, and then to Sacramento?” and “Bob, how do I get the right screen on my terminal thingie? Do I type ‘2’?”

It was at that moment that I lost all faith in United’s ability to get me to Sacramento before the NAHBS closed. Hell, they’d barely been able to get me to DIA. So I told them to stuff me into the nearest pressurized aluminum tube full of opportunistic infections bound for Bibleburg and finally got out the hell out of Denver (an hour later than advertised, surprise surprise).

I’d heard about the bomb threat, of course. But that was early in the morning, before I ever arrived at the Bibleburg airport, and I wasn’t about to question anyone on that topic. Say “bomb threat” in an airport and about 30 seconds later you’re assuming the position in some windowless concrete room with your pants around your ankles and an overexcited TSA flunky taking the scenic route toward inspecting your fillings with a bullet-nosed Ray-O-Vac. (Incidentally, the scariest thing about that Denver Post story is its final sentence: “All airport operations are normal.”)

The weather didn’t seem to be the culprit, either. Not in my case, anyway. The only weather-related issues I heard about involved flights to Colorado mountain towns. No, mechanicals had been the order of my day — planes that needed test flights, valve jobs, a quick wing transplant, whatever.

This was central to my thesis that I was due a refund for my troubles when I spoke with United via the Subcontinent this morning.

“If you folks would just get the oil changed every three months and rotate the tires per your owner’s manual working journalists would be able to jet hither and yon suffering neither hindrance nor let,” I said, or something very much like that. “Give me my money back and we’ll put our long national nightmare behind us.”

Nope, said United, countering that they had successfully flown me from Bibleburg to DIA and back and offering a miserly $158.60 in recompense for not getting me to what flight attendants call, ominously, my “final destination.”

No shit. $158.60. I spent $342.10 to fly to Denver and back, a trip I could cover via Air Subaru for a half tank of gas. Call it $20. And I didn’t even want to go there.

It all makes a guy long for the day when we can travel via transporter a la “Star Trek.” Let’s just hope United doesn’t get a monopoly on that action. Step onto the platform with Chekov, Jakov or Fukov at the controls and you’d never know whether you’d be leaving your heart in San Francisco or sending it to Jesus.

Your ass, of course, would belong to United.

I hate February

February 11, 2012
What passes for snow in February

A little cranky commentary on the back deck. I thought about putting it out front but property values are already low enough around here.

Fourteen degrees with a 12-mph wind out of the south and maybe a half inch of fluffy white powder on the deck — just three of the reasons that February sucks.

Weather like this makes me want to eat grease, drink whiskey and buy things, not necessarily in that order. I just looked back through a few old training logs and the February entries are full of low mileage and foul language. The month is bad for the legs and worse for the mind.

It doesn’t help that colleagues are taunting me from Tucson, where they have spent a few days test-riding bikes under sunny skies in 70-degree temps. There’s nothing a journalist likes better than seeing an open wound and the salt shaker within easy reach. Oh, the humanity.

Me, I did an hour of cyclo-cross in a bitter north wind on Thursday and about 90 minutes of unimpressive riding in a surprisingly snowy and wet Palmer Park yesterday. Who knew that last little poot of a snowstorm would linger as it did? Not me, and now I have a bike that needs a wash and brush-up.

Today I’m trying to nudge myself into the first trainer ride of 2012, but the pep talk is not going well. Cycling indoors is right up there with daytime TV, cybersex and listening to Republicans speak.

A sound of thunder

December 19, 2011

Again with the “snow,” just enough to glaze the streets like a cop’s doughnut. I’ve seen more white powder on a proffered mirror, sighting along a rolled-up dollar bill. At least the wind is barreling down out of the north at 22 mph, with gusts to 31. So we’ve got that going for us.

Weather like this sends me straight back to the Mexican cookery for its natural-gas component. Last night it was posole and chicken-and-jalapeño quesadillas; tonight I’m simmering up a pot of beans with chipotle chile. I should whip up a batch of green chile sauce, but I think I’ll save that for tomorrow — I have a quart each of Anaheim and New Mexico chile thawing in the sink, and then we can greet the day over breakfast burritos with leftover chicken, beans and spuds smothered in green.

So, yeah. A day without beans is like a day without thunder. Just in case you thought Fort Carson was engaging in a little holiday artillery practice.