Friday, May 29, 2009


The following post is long, and it's probably rambling, and it may not make a lot of sense, and it may not mean much to anyone who never knew my little buddy, Guero...but I don't care, it's cathartic to me. So, indulge me a little. I'll probably write another post later to tell you a little about this cat, but I can't right now...

We lost our cat, Guero, yesterday morning, after a sudden downturn in his health. Well, it was less of a downturn than a cliff dive. He was just about 13 years old, not that old for a cat. His sister, Cherise, died in 2005 after suffering through some pretty bad times caused by, believe it or not, irritable bowel disorder. In her case, we had to make the decision to put her down, which was not a decision that either Robyn or I relished.

Guero, too, was fairly recently (in the last year) diagnosed with IBD, but nowhere near as bad a case as Cherise had, thankfully. We were able to manage his more with diet and meds. And he seemed to be doing well, all things considered.

Until Friday of last week, that is. We’d noticed some loss of appetite and he looked like he was loosing weight, so we made an appointment to see the vet. He was down to 8 lbs 5 oz. For perspective, in November, 2008 he weighed 11 ½ pounds. The vet decided to add one more antibiotic to his regimen and re-start his B-12 shots, since last time he went through a series of B-12 injections, it really seemed to perk him up. He had a shot Friday and I was supposed to give him follow-up injections every four days.

He didn’t seem all that much better, so we decided to try to give him one Monday night, rather than wait until Tuesday. I couldn’t do it. I don’t know if it was because he seemed more wiggly than normal or because when I tried to pull the skin up for the injection, it just felt like there wasn’t enough to do it, or maybe I just chickened out. For whatever reason, though, I decided to take him in Tuesday morning to allow the vet tech to do it. That way I could also get his weight again.

He was down to 7 lbs 13 ½ oz. The tech also had a hard time giving him the shot, there just wasn’t enough tissue to get the fluid to stay in, I guess.

I should say that over the weekend, Robyn had picked up some adult cat milk to see if we could get him to get some more nourishment and he seemed to like it, so he was getting that fairly regularly. Otherwise, he was picking at his food, but not really eating enough.

I should say here that this cat loved to eat. He never had a weight problem, so he was never an overeater but he was not hesitant to let you know when the food bowls were empty and he chowed down with the best. So, Guero not wanting to eat was worrying. Especially since cats, once they’ve stopped eating for a while, generally don’t start up easily again, their bodies just stop wanting it, apparently.

So, the shot seemed to perk him up some and during the day on Tuesday, the vet called Robyn and told her to pick up some junk food (cheap cat food) to see if he’d at least eat that. (He’s normally on a special diet of Venison and Pea food.) and he did seem to eat it some. But Wednesday, when I got home from work, things were not good.

He hadn’t touched any of his food all day. He’d thrown up, so he’d lost what little he’d eaten in the morning. And he was very, very weak.

And I freaked out. I called the vet and told them I needed to bring him in. Our regular vet wasn’t there but one of the other doctors said to bring him in but I’d most likely have to leave him and they’d look at him between appointments (it was 5 PM, they closed at 7 PM) I rushed him over and left a message at Robyn’s office phone that we were going there and for her to call me (she’d left her cell at home…)

They took him in and the tech was also very worried looking, but they were going to start him on fluid and said they’d call when they could tell me something. By this time, Robyn had called and was on her way to meet me at the vet, so I waited outside for her (forever, it felt like) and then we went home to wait.

I have to admit, I was very, very worried. And more than a little emotional. I just wasn’t ready (like that has anything to do with it) for Guero to die.

When the vet called and we went back, they were really worried. His temperature was 92 degrees (cats are normally up just over 100.) and he was pretty unresponsive. They had us take him to the 24 hour emergency vet clinic so someone could keep an eye on him overnight. I don’t remember everything that the doctor at the overnight place said, but basically, they did some blood work while we waited and Guero’s blood sugar was highly elevated, off the charts. It appeared that he’d suddenly developed diabetes. Probably brought on by everything else that was going on. His blood pressure was very low, though they were successful at getting his temp to begin to go up.

When we finally left at about 9:30 or so, they planned on continuing to monitor his blood sugar, give IV insulin and other meds and fluids and continue to try to keep his temp normal, and when the critical care doctor arrived in the morning, they planned on doing a sonogram to see what they could see. We left them with instructions to call, of course, if anything major happened.

When I woke up yesterday and realized that no one had called all night, I thought that was a good thing. I figured that I’d call once the critical doc got in and they did there thing, I’d probably go get him and take him back in to see his normal vet and we’d get to bring him home. But when I called to check up on him, they told me that he had been pretty unresponsive to most of what they were doing, though the insulin seemed to be bringing down the blood sugars. He had not responded well to the aggressive fluids, and they were just waiting for the other doctor to get in.

I called and left a message for our regular vet, asking her to call the emergency place first thing and catch up.

She called and spoke to Robyn a little while later. The news wasn’t good at all. While, she said, she would never tell us that we had to, her thoughts were that there was nothing more that could be done and that the time had come for us to make that hard decision again.

As much as I hate it, that’s what we decided to do. Robyn and I got in the car to go. When we were about half way to the vet’s, the doctor called and told me that Guero was dying…that he most likely wouldn’t make it until we got there. And he didn’t.

We got to spend a little time with him after talking to the doctor about what all had happened. I don’t really remember all of it, honestly. Nor, I guess, at this point does it matter.

We decided, since we now owned our home and weren’t planning on moving, that we’d take him home and bury him, instead of cremation. It wasn’t an easy choice, and honestly, I’m still not sure it was the right one, though I’m sure, in time, I’ll be okay with it more. To be honest, it was, at least a little, about the money. The fact that it cost over $200 to have done was part of the decision, especially in light of the probably $1000 + worth of bills we’d racked up already since last Friday. So, we took him home.

And I had to dig a hole. And I had to lay one of my best friends in it. And I had to fill it in with dirt. And it was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

He was always thirsty, too. Did I mention that? And so, before I filled in his grave, I placed in it his favorite coffee cup full of water. It was the cup I bought when we got snowed in in Beaver, Utah when we were driving to Salt Lake during our move. At the Garden of Eatin’ restaurant. I thought it was funny. It said “Garden of Eatin’, Beaver, UT”

I hope he’s not thirsty now.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

100 Miles of Nowhere - Ride Report

Well, yesterday, my friend, Jason, and I participated in's 100 miles of nowhere race by riding 100 miles around Sugarhouse Park. The road through Sugarhouse park is 1.4 miles long, meaning we got to ride around the park 72 times. Here's the final map from my Garmin:

When we arrived at the park, we discovered that the entrance gates were closed. Thinking that they must just close the park to cars at night, Jason parked his car next to the park (he drove so we'd have water and a place to have rest stops out of the back of his Impreza.) We saw joggers and such running, strolling and otherwise utilizing the park with no impediment, so we figured, so could we.

We set off at a little after 7 AM. When we got around that big loop at the bottom right of the map (where it turns back to the left after approaching I-80) we saw some kind of sports events people setting up something and I thought, looks like they're going to have some sort of sports event here today. On the second loop, they were setting up what appeared to be a stage to the right of the roadway and I thought, they're going to have some sort of sports event here today. On the third or fourth lap (at this point I'd already grown tired of counting laps and decided to trust the mileage indicator on the Garmin) They were laying down some sort of finish line and setting up cameras and I though, they're going to be having some sort of bicycle race today. It was not long after that that young men on expensive bikes began showing up at the park.

Well, it turns out that Saturday was the Sugarhouse Crit.

This race as it all! Hills, Flats, Turns, and the entire road to work it all
out!!We have the whole park... Bring a picnic, play on the slides, lay on the
grass,this is a great race for the whole family.It is a great event... come out
any have a good time!!

Little did they know that they most certainly did not have the whole park, it was home to the 100 Miles to Nowhere! Well, we decided not to say anything and just keep riding (when I say that we "decided" I don't recall a specific discussion of anything, but we kept riding, so I'm assuming that a decision was made, albeit, possibly at the subconscious level.)

Well, when the Juniors lined up to race and the race officials began yelling at us to not cross the line, we rode over and explained what we were doing and how much more important what we were doing was than some silly bike races. Well, actually, Jason was ahead of me at this time so he did the explaining. Since we didn't have timing chips on our forks (and it's apparently very important to have the chip on you fork and NOT in your pocket - they announced this repeatedly, as if this was some kind of pie eating contest or something. I never got to ask what would happen if I kept my fork - with timing chip - in my pocket...) we wouldn't interfere with the race timing, we were admonished to stay to the left and try not to get in the racers way on the course, but since they didn't actually "have" the park and it was still open to use, they couldn't stop us from riding. We win!

So, for the next 60 some odd laps, we had an unofficial cheering section each time we passed the finish line. When we first went through, they actually announced that we were riding a century in the park and that's why we were allowed to go on. Only once did we have any of the riders yell at us (well, at Jason). I think it was the Cat 3 men, one of whom yelled at us to clear the course. I think they were very confused. I believe that they looked at us on our old bikes and with our hairy legs and with our obvious race hardened physiques and assumed that we must have been Cat 1 racers warming up. We didn't concern ourselves with this too much. Cat 3 racers are known to be temperamental, being the "middle children" of the race category system.

We stayed off the course completely for the Cat 5 race as everyone knows Cat 5's can be unpredictable and often crash. Sure enough, there was a crash right at the finish. No one seemed hurt, though I did see what I believe was a rather twisted up mass of carbon fiber being dragged from the course. Ouch.

The race officials would occasionally announce how we were doing, and toward the end, one woman spectator seemed to really get in to ringing her cowbell as we passed. (She was not wearing said cowbell, it seems to be how spectators show support at one of these events.)

Overall, the ride went really well. Only a little pain from the repetitive stress on the knees on the two short climbs:

It was a great day of racing, and guess what? We won!
That's right, Jason one the lugged carbon category for riding his Specialized Epic Allez lugged carbon bike (which began creaking ominously, btw.) and I won the Best home-made ride snacks category for my version of Allen Lim's Sushi Rice Bars! (Yes, I know that maybe winning a cooking contest during a bike race may not be as glorious as winning the bike race but screw that, I won!)
Here are the rest of the ride stats...

Friday, May 22, 2009

And now for something completely different...

A few weeks ago, I moved some old fencing and a large gate from behind my garage. I used the gate as part of my tomato bed (we're going to try to train the tomatoes to climb and grow them vertically this year.)

This past weekend, I was doing some additional yard work, pulling up a path of grass and weeds, or truthfully, weeds and some grass, from the front yard to create a path to lay some slate stepping stones (came out really nice so far, btw.) I didn't know what to do with the sod I'd cut out so I decided to dump it behind the garage, where I'll eventually either spread the pile out or move it to the street when we have bulk pick-up this summer. After dumping the second wheelbarrow full, I reached down and pulled a big clump of weeks from in front of and the top of what looked like a big rock that was up against the back wall of the garage. (the gate had been resting on top of it for who knows how least the past four years, since we've been in the house that long.)

Well, it wasn't just any ol' rock, it turns out.

That looks a lot like a grave marker to me, right? So I leaned in a little more...

Mother an Baby. Um, this was getting a little interesting.

There are no other inscriptions on the stone. Just "Mother and Baby." Needless to say (and yet I'm doing it anyway) I was a little freaked out, but after taking these pictures and showing the stone to Robyn and a couple of friends who came over for diner that night, I came up with a few theories.

  1. There were two people buried in my back yard.

  2. My house (or one nearby) used to be occupied by a stone cutter, who left this scrap laying around.

  3. Someone, at some point, stole this from somewhere (possibly, I admit, the least formed theory.)

The fact that it only said Mother and Baby for some reason made me less likely to believe theory number one and lean more toward some version of number two, that this was, at least, a left over stone that had never been used. I mean, don't people generally put names on markers? I suppose that it could be for a Jane Doe or something, but still. I'd prefer to think that there's no one buried there, and the position of the stone, conveniently moved against the back wall of the garage, indicates strongly that it had been moved. So, not knowing where it had originally been, I decided not to take a shovel to the whole yard looking for skeletons (yet.)

But, being the slightly morbid person that I am (did you not know that about me?) I couldn't stop thinking about the stone, and what a cool conversation piece it would be displayed somewhere prominently in my yard. Perhaps at the head of a mound of dirt or something. You know, with some tasteful flowers? No?

So, anyway. On Wednesday, I decided to move the stone around the garage and into my back yard.

Stones are heavy. I just thought I'd get that said. I had to really work to get it into the wheelbarrow so I could wheel it around to the front of the garage. And when I did get it in, and I had to flip it over to do so, I saw this...

Those are inscriptions. Look closer...

Well, now I was intrigued. I mean, it's not every day that you find an old grave marker just laying about your back yard, right? Unless, of course, you live next to (or in) a cemetery, in which case it probably is every day that you find grave markers in your yard; or if, perhaps, you live in a Wes Craven movie or Stephen King novel, in which case, now would have been the time to run. Fast.

Since I live in neither a cemetery (that I know of) nor a horror movie or novel (that I know of) I was surprised.

I tried to brush as much of that dirt off as I could to read the stone. The engravings were faded to say the least, and more so toward the bottom. So, I decided to try to "rub" the stone (get your mind out of the gutter.) Unfortunately, not being a gravestone rubbing hobbyist (there are such things), I didn't have the proper equipment. I found a large post it note presentation pad in the basement, and a couple of pencils and got this...

[I have to tell you, something about seeing the words "George W" on a gravestone sent a nice little wave of pleasure, or anticipation through me, though I'm not sure why (in case the Secret Service sees this...)]

From what I can read, this is what's written:
July 2, 1861
Oct 23, 1899
Born [?] 22, [?]
I plan on getting some proper materials and trying a rubbing again this weekend. I really think that I should be able to read more if I do it right.
My guess so far? Deliah L was the wife of a J A Smith and they had a son, George W. I'm pretty sure that both Deliah and George died in 1899, I assume at nearly the same time since there is the one marker.
Our house was built in 1902, three years after Deliah (and I think George) died. It's possible that the grave was on the property somewhere that was subdivided out to build our house and the stone was found at some later point.
It's also possible, I guess, that it was never used at all. Maybe something is misspelled and they cast this aside for a correct stone. But I have the feeling not.
Who they were, I hope to find out. How their stone ended up holding up an old gate in my back yard, I don't know.I think some research is in order. If you have any suggestions or ideas, feel free to leave a comment or two. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Some not so random quotes from a random day...

When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. — Elizabeth West

Little by little, one travels far. — J.R.R. Tolkien

Not all who wander are lost. - J.R.R. Tolkien

The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. — Christopher Morley

Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

To attack the pedals may be strenuous over the short run, but is an expression of trust in one’s own powers, for with the bicycle everything depends on the self. Those who wish to control their own lives and move beyond existence as mere clients and consumers - those people ride a bike. — Wolfgang Sachs

A bicycle ride is a flight from sadness. — James E. Starrs

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. — H.G. Wells

Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short, as you feel. But ride. — Eddy Merckx

I especially like the quotes from Merchx and Sachs. Happy riding.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

media bias

"Boy critical after brother's ATV accidentally runs over him"

NO! He's in critical condition because his brother ran over him with his ATV! Why does our media insist on putting the blame on the machine and not the actor who actual caused (notice I'm not saying was necessarily at fault) the act?

And in this article today about two separate car - bicycle collisions here in SLC:

Notice how, when it's obvious that a cyclist is at fault, no one has a problem saying so. In the first incident, the cyclist ran a red light and ran into the driver's side of a car, unfortunately for the cyclist, receiving severe head trauma (no helmet.)

"Police are investigating to find exactly how fast the vehicle and bicycle were
traveling, among other details...Snyder said it appeared the bicyclist was at
fault, and police have not issued any citations in the accident."

Clear, right? Cyclist at fault. No argument.

In the second case:

"The bicyclist was heading westbound on 100 South when an eastbound vehicle
turned left directly in front of the bicyclist."

Clear, right? Driver at fault for an illegal turn in front of the cyclist.

"Snyder said the driver in that accident might have been temporarily blinded by
the sun. "

And? While this may explain why the driver made an illegal left turn, it in no way excuses the behavior, why are the police making statements justifying the driver's actions? We as a society are quick to make excuses for our behavior; quick to make the people who are like us or are doing the thing we do seem reasonable and not at fault when things go wrong. Why? I don't know, maybe it's a psychological need to feel like if the shoe was on the other foot, and we had been the one driving the car that pulled in front of the cyclist, we, too would have a convenient excuse. After all, we couldn't have been doing anything wrong, could we? Like, not paying enough attention? Not exercising extreme caution when our visibility was impeded by the sun? Not us. So not her, right?

Yes, it's all semantics. But everything is. Meaning is. Life is.

edited to add:

I forgot to mention that, on my way to my doctor appointment this morning, as I travelled down 800 South, there was a woman cyclist towing a baby trailer, I'm assuming with a baby safely ensconced inside. I followed her, and / or was able to see her in my rear view mirror, through three or four lights. I wasn't driving that slow, it's just that the lights here in SLC were timed by a sadistic brain damaged person, it doesn't matter what speed you drive, you will never make it more than two blocks without catching a red. But I digress.

The reason that I was able to witness so much of her ride is because she ran every red light. I've made my arguments against doing this as a cyclist. If it's not enough that it's illegal, just read the comments on the article I linked to above...readers are actually threatening to kill cyclist to "get rid of the whiners." So think about the situation you're creating for the rest of us.

But even more importantly, I can't think of a reason to consistently run lights myself, some may have arguments to do so. And if you're one of these, lady, and are willing to risk ending up like the fist story in the Tribune article above, fine. But to do so while towing your child? What kind of idiot are you? As far as I'm concerned, that's child endangerment. Motor vehicle drivers have a hard enough time figuring out what we, as cyclist, are on the road, much less what that thing is you're towing. Why the hell would you think getting anywhere was important enough to risk your child's life?

The nose knows

Got back from a follow-up visit with my doctor. It's been just under a month since I had my deviated septum fixed. Just as I thought, the cartilage in the tip of my nose is buckling back to the left. Which is what I went in to have fixed in the first place. He said it happens, but he looked rather irritated by it (as am I.) I'm supposed to wait another month (there's still some healing going on, which otherwise looks good, I'm told) and go back to see how it looks.

There's the possibility that I'll have to have a "touch up," which means another surgery, though he said it would be a piece of cake compared to the last one.

Cartilage, apparently, has memory. And though part of the purpose of the original surgery was to "break" that memory, sometimes the memory is stronger than you'd like.

If only my brain would work as well...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cycle Salt Lake Century Ride Report

But first, a rant...

I arrived to work this morning as usual at about 6:45 AM (I work 7 - 4, this gives me time to change.) I immediately notice something strange, the bike rack is bright silver. I then notice something irritating. My U-Lock, as well as the other four locks attached to the rack (one being an abandoned U-Lock that's been there for five years or more - since I moved to SLC, the others belonging to two of the other occasional commuters here at work), were also silver, or mostly silver. Someone (our company facilities people, I assumed) spray painted the bike rack and didn't bother to try to not paint the locks. Nor did the company make an announcement of any kind on last Friday warning those of us who regularly leave our locks on the rack, that they would be painting the rack over the weekend. I see company-wide e-mails two or three times a week, announcing everything from corporate business and promotions to plans to do work on the parking lock and free ice cream events (our company's idea of wonder most people here get winded walking up the stairs.)

I have, of course, complained, and have been assured that one of the facilities people will be contacting me to "make this right." Meanwhile, since we have rotating doors at the building entrances through which it is impossible to get a bicycle, and due to the fact that when I rubbed my finger on both the bike lock and rack this morning, it came away silver, and due to the fact that, quite often, bike locks and racks will rub on bikes parked in them, I've wrapped my U-Lock in paper towels and locked by wheel to the frame. They should hope that my bike doesn't have any silver on it when I leave today. Though, it could use a new paint job...

I'm pissed about this because, as I mentioned above, the company's not shy about sending out mass e-mails notifying us of almost anything, and the fact that they would see a bike rack with four or five locks and at least one bike on it almost every day and not think to maybe notify the employees of the plans to paint it shows a general disrespect for the users of the rack, namely, the bike commuters, namely, me. To me this is no different than them coming in and painting the walls around someone's cubicle and painting over a picture that someone's hung up. Or re-painting the parking stripes in the parking lot and painting across the hood of a car that's over the line, or perhaps on the wheels that are too close to the line. That wouldn't happen. But, hey, it's just cyclists, right? Who cares?

And before you start thinking that maybe we shouldn't leave our locks on the rack and expect nothing to happen to them, or that perhaps the company is justified in doing this because they're not responsible for them or it's somehow not allowed; I've left my U-lock on the rack instead of carrying it around since some time in 2004, when I started commuting regularly and got tired of carrying that heavy steal bar with me (I carry a cable lock which I also use in conjunction with the U-lock here.) If this was somehow not allowed, someone should have let me know by now. And no, I don't hold the company responsible for the little bit of rust that it's gathered by sitting out in the elements this long, nor would I hold them responsible for someone cutting it off (unless, of course, it was them) but this was something that was in the company's control. It is laziness and it's unacceptable.

End of rant.

The ride Saturday went well. I felt more tired than I'd have liked to, though it was expected since I haven't really been training for a month or so and I did just have surgery three weeks prior. I rode to and from the event, so I ended up at 114.6 miles for the day. Total time, around 8 hours 35 minutes (from leaving the house to arriving home.) I estimate about 6 1/2 hours or so on the bike, give or take fifteen minutes or so. Not a bad day. The middle of the ride was the hardest, I finished feeling better than I would have thought, probably due to the fact that the route didn't seem quite so long and lonely on the back half, since it was re-routed through some neighborhoods north of SLC that didn't exist this time last year.

We started strong, and probably too fast, averaging well over 20 mph for the first third to half of the ride. Little bit of a tail wind but mostly we just kept catching nice trains. We were at the first rest stop before we knew it and only stopped for me to switch out one bottle of water for some Gatorade.

Once we turned back south and then west out to Antelope Island is when the real misery set in. Jason, my friend I rode with (along with Nate, from work and his brother) had pretty much split at this point (Jason dropped off the back, as he said, he "lost his rhythm"), I dropped the train I was in with Nate and his brother because I was trying to wait for Jason (or maybe I just couldn't hang, who knows. I tell myself it was to wait...)

Crossing the seven and a half mile causeway to the Island was, to put it mildly, gross. Apparently, even though it's been a relatively cool Spring so far, it's been warm enough for the dead brine shrimp in the Great Salt Lake (the only thing that can live in there, btw) to begin fermenting or whatever it is they do to create that horrible Great Salt Lake Stink. And stink it did. But I would have gladly worn Great Salt Lake Stink cologne if it somehow allowed me to pass through the swarms, and I mean black cloud swarms, of gnats that enveloped the causeway and stuck to the hair on my arms and legs and my jersey and shorts and (worse) my beard and teeth and hair and, well, anything exposed to them. As a vegetarian, I feel kind of guilty for the mass quantities of gnats that I consumed. This, alone, would be reason enough to shave my legs, too. It was gross. And the return trip, after the loop up and over the hill on the Island, was worse, they were even thicker. It felt like I was being pelted by tiny little rocks. When we arrived at the lunch stop a few miles after the Island, I removed my helmet and brushed tons of gnats from my hair. Appetizing.

The rest of the ride was pleasant. The headwind I expected wasn't bad at all. And over all I finished pretty much where I wanted to. Not last. Considering that this is really a training ride in preparation for the Desperado Dual in August, not a bad day on the bike.

Speaking of Desperado, I ran into the guy who I rode the first half with last year, Brian. Got to chat with him a bit coming off the Island until the gnats made talking impossible. He said he's not planning on riding the Desperado this year. Too bad. It's always nice to have people to chat with on these long rides. Brian, if you happen upon this, it was good seeing you again and congrats on finishing last years DD. If I'd just stuck with you when you left lunch, there's a chance I'd have made the whole way!

Happy riding.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's all semantics, but..

"I always say to people: I don't care if you wear a raincoat or a Volkswagen
Golf, you're a human being, and I address you as a human being. I want you to
behave as a human being. I don't care what kind of vehicle you drive." - Hans Mondermann

From Ecovelo:

A recent article in the New York Times covered the closure of the Third Street
entrance to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Apparently, some motorists are inching
around the barriers and driving through the park, ignoring the “Do Not Enter
Except Bikes” signs prominently displayed at the entrance. This is not so
surprising, and on its own wasn’t worthy of a blog post, but I couldn’t help but
notice the language used by Seth Solomonow, the city Department of
Transportation spokesman who was quoted for the article. He said, “The idea is
to reduce the spots where cars conflict with people

The concept is great, and I support closing roads to automobiles where it’s appropriate, but I’m sorry, cars don’t conflict with people; motorists conflict with other road users. Without a driver, a car doesn’t do anything. This kind of language, whether spoken subconsciously or purposefully, moves responsibility away from the vehicle operator and places it on an inanimate object (the car).

I agree. And while I know that I will accused of nit-picking, this kind of thing bugs me all of the time. Why do we speak of "accidents" when referring to collisions on the road? Most collisions are anything but accidental, they are almost all caused by driver inattentiveness, or distraction, etc. But we call them accidents, as if some act of fate beyond our control caused it. Our default position is that no-one is to blame. And it's made us callous. Everything is no-fault. We shirk our responsibility and allow others to do so as well.

From today's Salt Lake Tribune, in an article about two recent deaths, both killed in their front yards:

Cyrus McKell, of Holladay, had dug a hole and was preparing to place a sprinkler
at the entrance to a complex at 4000 South and 2300 East. A northbound car
crossed to the wrong side of the 2300 East, jumped a curb and continued along a
sidewalk into McKell...

Arrangements of memorial flowers sat in front of the now-crushed garden in Roy that Wendy Kerbs was planting when a sports utility vehicle rolled into her yard and killed her...

Richard Bash, 40, was driving his SUV as fast as 60 mph to pass another car near 3100 West and 5800 South on Wednesday, police said. The SUV flipped into Kerbs' yard about 4:45 p.m. It uprooted two large pine trees and struck Kerbs...

Look at that first paragraph. "A northbound car crossed to the wrong side..." No, that's not right. This reads as if the car did it on it's own. It's not the car, it's the driver of the car, an 86 year old mad who has yet to be identified. And while it seems that there may have been a medical condition involved that caused him to loose control of his vehicle, it most definitely wasn't the car's fault. Same with the second paragraph, " when a sports utility vehicle rolled into her yard and killed her..." Really? All by itself? No, a driver, while speeding excessively, crashed his SUV and rolled into her yard and killed her. The SUV didn't kill her, Richard Bash killed her with his SUV. (the third paragraph gets it right.)

I know that you're thinking that this is just picking at words, and you're right. I am. But words matter. And we as a society have become accustom to words that insulate and protect us from the consequences and realities of situations that we find uncomfortable. No one likes to point fingers and blame in these situations, after all, if it can happen to Mr. Bash, it could just as well be us. And that's my ultimate point. Words matter. But responsibility matters more. And our insulating ourselves from the true causes of these events allows us to go on thinking that it won't happen to us; allows us to not think about Mrs. Kerbs the next time we speed past someone who's annoying us by driving the speed limit in front of us; allows us to ignore the fact that we're the one's responsible. It's not the car. The car is a vehicle. A tool. And used incorrectly, it's a tool that can kill. And to paraphrase our "friends" over at NRA, cars don't kill people, people kill people. And perhaps it's time that we just come out and say it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bike to Work Day report

Yesterday was Bike to Work day in Salt Lake City (and lots of other places around the country.)

So, naturally, I rode my bike to work. Much as I do every, most, well, approaching most, other days of the year. So, naturally, I had a rather crappy day. I woke up later than normal, lost time in the shower (no joke here, I do this occasionally, I think I actually fall asleep standing up in the shower. I suppose that I'm lucky I don't fall and hurt myself...) and couldn't get my Garmin to turn on*. At all, nothing happened. And I couldn't find the owner's manual and I was late so I didn't have time to look it up online.

But I biked anyway, all the while not knowing how fast I was going, whether I was in mile one, or mile two, or mile three, or mile four...the only real thought in my mind was, why do I care? I guess it's because I track my miles. Because I set goals for the year, and miles is one of them and I don't ride enough non-commuting miles to count them as junk miles, so they count.

I looked it up when I got to work and sure enough, it's pretty easy to re-boot one of these things, you just have to know which two buttons to push at the same time. (Mode and Lap, btw.)

So, I approached my ride home in a much better state of mind. Until I changed, got to my bike, unlocked it, pulled it out of the rack, looked down and saw the flat rear tire.

No big deal, I thought. Being the prepared cyclists commuter that I am, I, of course, have not one but two spare tubes in my saddle bag (this becomes important later, though I guess me telling you this gives it all away.) I quickly change my tube, inflate said tube with the handy-dandy compressed air cartridge, re-mount the rear tire (realizing that it was past time to clean my chain) and started off.

I got 250 feet (I know this because, as I said before, I got the Garmin to work) and the rear tire went flat, again. Didn't see that coming, did you?

Well, I stopped, removed the tire, again, pulled the tube, pulled the tire, ran by thumb all through the inside of the tire (trying to find, through pain, whatever insignificant piece of whatever had caused the flat.) Finding nothing, I put in the new tube, mounted the tire and started to inflate, which is when I noticed that those little air cartridges contain pretty much one tubes worth of air. Which, of course, left me stranded, since the only other guy who rode to work yesterday (out of a company of 600+ people) had left.

So, I called Robyn and got a ride home.

Needless to say (but I will anyway), I am now the proud owner of not only two replacement tubes and three cartridges but also a nice little tiny air pump, all of which is now crammed in my saddle bag (along with tire irons and a multi-tool) for the next flat I have.

So basically, for bike to work day, I biked less than I do most other days. Fun.

I'm getting pumped up (pun intended) for the Cycle Salt Lake this weekend, and then Fatty's 100 miles to nowhere next weekend, and then (as of a few minutes ago) a planned excursion up Emigration and Big Mountain the weekend after. Cycling season is back!

[* after reviewing this post, I realize that, just in case, I should mention that my Garmin is the Garmin Edge 205 bicycle computer and not, as might be misread here, my pet name for any body part or anything...]

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cycle Salt Lake Century

I signed up for the Cycle Salt Lake Century this morning, committing myself to a 100+mile ride next Saturday. It should be good, my only concern being that "technically" I've not been cleared by my doc to do such an event. I've also not been forbidden. Shouldn't be that big a deal - except, I seem to have irritated things a bit yesterday. The following paragraph will be a little gross, so if you get queasy or just aren't in the mood, skip it.

So, yesterday, I took a shower (not the gross part) after a day of riding (only about 35 miles) and gardening. Hot showers have been wonderful for my sinuses, for the obvious reason that they tend to increase the moisture content of the air that I'm breathing. They also seem to loosen things up a bit. Afterwards, I blew my nose (carefully - I'm still nervous about really blowing my nose much, though it constantly feels like I need to) and out comes a nice wad of, well, what you'd expect to come out. Along with the normal, however, was a nice little blood clot. Truth be told, I was a little disappointed. I've read online about people having enormous clots coming out after septoplasty. Oh well, it's still only been 2 1/2 weeks, I'm probably not done yet. But I digress (and you thought blowing blood clots was going to be the gross part!) Afterwards, I filled a glass of wine and walked out to the front porch where Robyn was sitting reading (the weather here's been amazing, causing me to want to spend as much time outside as possible.) As I stood there, describing the clot I'd just produced, I felt a tickle in my left nostril. Thinking (or rather probably NOT thinking) that this was no big deal, perhaps an errant hair - I reached up, grabbed and pulled. I will not say that this was the worse pain I've ever felt, I still think that the stingray incident in 1988 has it beat, but I was definitely not expecting the RIGHT side of my nose to experience that much pain. Turns out, what I yanked on (and thankfully did not completely pull out) was a stitch, which, when I surveyed the damage in the bathroom mirror, was still hanging 1/4 inch out of my left nostril. Well, that was an unacceptable situation but as I am smart enough to learn from one painful lesson (usually) (well, sometimes), I didn't want to pull again. The only thing I could find to cut it was a full size pair of scissors (awkward). All I can tell you is that holding a stitch taunt with your left index finger and thumb as said stitch protrudes from your nostril while trying to cut ONLY this same stitch with a full size pair of scissors, and trying to do so high enough within your nostril so as to not have the remaining part of the stitch continue to protrude is not easy. Especially when you feel like you just got punched in the nose. Thankfully, I was successful and there was not blood (from neither the scissors nor the yanking of the stitch.) There does seem to be added swelling and soreness today, which if it keeps up will probably prompt me to call the doctor to see what I've done.

That actually wasn't so bad, was it?

In news of the Giro, Christian Vande Velde dropped out today after a crash. Still no word on his situation but I wish him the best. Young Tyler Farrar, also from Garmin-Slipstream, finished the day in 2nd, out sprinted for the 2nd stage in a row by Alessandeo Petacchi (LPR Brakes), and 2nd overall, 8 seconds behind Petacchi in the GC and 10 seconds ahead of 3rd place Michael Rogers (Team Columbia - Highroad). For the record, also 23 seconds ahead of some guy named Armstrong, who's currently sitting in 5th. Not a bad day.

edited to add: Apparently, Christian has two broken ribs and a severe contusion and sprain to his mid-back. Heal fast, CVV! Oh, and Tyler sprinted with a broken rear derailler cable, unable to shift. Showoff.

In other cycling news, Alejandro Valverde was suspended for two years for his alleged involvement in Operation Puerto (if you don't know what that is, I'm not sure many people do anymore, it's been going on so long. It has something to do with some doctor, some blood doping and some cyclists.)

In other doping news, the bumbling Belgian Boonen has stated that he doesn't think he has a problem with cocaine, but rather, with alcohol, which apparently from what he said, he uses too much of about once a year and then either is so shitfaced that he thinks snorting a line of coke a good idea, or is so sodded that others decide it's a good idea to slip cocaine into his drinks for fun. Whatever. Tom, you have a problem and you should take some time to think about it, and try to get some help. It's not easy. It won't be fun. Looks like you'll have all of July to think about it though, at least. I wish you the best of luck. Honestly.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


So, by 8:30 AM start time on US, they apparently mean tune in to the TV to watch world cup diving...the Giro's online. I'm being told now that it'll be broadcast at noon EDT, 10 AM here in the mountains. Of course, I have somewhere I have to be at 10 AM today, so I'll miss Columbia and Garmin's runs...probably the whole thing.


Boonen Suspended

Tom Boonen of Quick Step has been suspended by the team following a second positive in an out of competition test for cocaine.

Hey kids, don't do drugs. Especially if you ride a bike.

I'm gonna go watch the Giro...

Friday, May 8, 2009

We're number 18!

We're number 18! We're number 18!

Doesn't quite have a ring to it, does it?

The League of American Bicyclists released their 2nd annual ranking of Bicycle Friendly States today. Utah is number 18, down 7 spots from last year's ranking of 11th (I know, you could have done the math yourself, just trying to be thorough.)

While it beats the heck out of living in Alabama (last), which could probably be said for many reasons..., I think we should be better. I mean, this place (Utah) has some of the most active people of anywhere I've lived (Texas - 36), some of the most beautiful scenery to ride through, and comparatively speaking, lots of nice wide roads to ride on. I'm not satisfied with this.

See where your state ranks here.

updated to add:

From the League's site:

What is the Bicycle Friendly State program?

A Bicycle Friendly State promotes cycling through legislation, policies, programs, and by creating new places to ride, educating motorists and cyclists, and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation. The Bicycle Friendly State Program is a two part recognition program that ranks and recognizes states that actively support bicycling. First, states are ranked annually based on their level of bike-friendliness. Secondly, states that wish to apply for a Bicycle Friendly State award designation can receive further recognition and promotion of their efforts as well as feedback, technical assistance, training and further encouragement to improve their bicycling legislation, projects, and programs.

The Bicycle Friendly State Program is generously support by program
partners Bikes Belong and Trek Bicycle.

Giro d'Italia!

Looks like for the first time in forever, I'll have the opportunity to actually watch one of the Grand Tours on something other than streaming video online! Universal Sports just announced that they'll be carrying the 2009 Centennial edition of the Giro d'Italia! And guess what? I actually get that channel on my new HDTV! (We don't have cable, a situation I'm seriously thinking about changing so I can also see the Tour this year.)

This is exciting (for wife may not be as thrilled.)

In other news since I last posted, I had my deviated septum fixed on April 23rd (15 days ago), with the goal of being able to breath more freely through the left side of my nose, possibly reduce my susceptibility to allergies, etc, and maybe help my snoring (which isn't so much a problem for me as others...) So far, so good. I was pretty much stoned on pain killers the first few days after surgery and slept a lot (I also watched a lot of DVDs) I had the splints out the following Tuesday, which was the worst experience of it all. Actually, removing the splints wasn't so bad, it was removing the stitch that was holding the splints to the front of my nose that was painful. Pulling the splints out kind of just felt like pulling out the world's largest booger. Gross, I know, but that's really the only way to describe it. Since, I've had some drainage (fun) and extreme dryness (I know, I haven't figured out how it's possible to have both at the same time, either.) And, honestly, I'm a little worried because the left side still feels restricted (though the right is extremely clear) which, if you remember from a few sentences ago, is the exact situation I went in to have fixed. I'm hoping for now that it's swelling still, which is likely. I've got my next follow-up appt. on the 19th...

Meanwhile, I started riding to work this week. I was supposed to avoid exerting myself for two weeks. I made it two days shy of that. Besides, my little commute isn't really much of a ride. It's not like I went out charging up Emigration Canyon or something right away. (I'm saving that for this weekend, I think)

I missed the Ghost Town Century on May 2nd because of the surgery. I'm still on the fence about the Cycle Salt Lake Century on May 16th (though I'm leaning toward riding).

Because of the decision to have the surgery, I've once again blown my plan to ride a century a month and qualify for the Larry Schwartz award from the UMCA...maybe next year. So far this year, my February ride is the only qualifying long ride I've done. So I missed January, March and April, which is one more month than you're allowed to make up. Oh well. I should probably stop trying to plan such things and just ride.

I'm still on for the MS-175 in June, the Desperado Dual (200 miles) in August and the LAF ride down in Austin in October. So, it'll still be an amazing season on the bike.

If anyone besides me cares, I'm sorry I'm so bad at these updates. See ya.