Monday, August 24, 2009

Monroe Shock Absorbers "Save the Squirrels" Campaign

I'm of two minds about this. I love this ad. If you have to pitch your product, this is about as cute a way as can be imagined. Tamar and I love squirrels so we're sympathetic....and these squirrels are adorable, if you can hear that from a buff, macho straight guy like me.

On the other hand, why wouldn't Monroe suggest that you buy new shocks at 50,000 miles so your car will be more maneuverable and stop better - so you can avoid hitting one of those cute cyclists? Or motorcyclists?

Squirrels are cute, no doubt. Monroe's squirrels are super cute. But squirrels don't have a monopoly on cute.... People can be cute too.

Why ride all the way to Indy to watch a motorcycle race?

According to, nearly every intersection in downtown Indianapolis sports a banner like the one in the photo. Numbers of Indianapolis streets have been renamed - after great racing motorcyclists!

No telling from here in Denver if Kevin Schwantz Street intersects Freddie Spencer Avenue....

Last year, Hurricane Ike pounded Indy with wind and rain, shortening two of the three GP events and canceling the third. Even in the awful weather, 90,000 fans showed up to watch Valentino Rossi and his adversaries. This year? The Motor Speedway holds 250,000 spectators....

A reminder

Hi all!

FYI: When you post a comment to my blog page, it arrives blind, meaning your email address is not revealed. I can read your note but I can't respond. If you wanted a response, please email me at, and I'll get back to you. Thanks!

Out of office announcement....

I'll be leaving in the morning on my motorcycle for Indianapolis and the weekend of motorcycle racing there, the Saturday night mile dirt-track event at the State Fairgrounds and the Sunday MotoGP at the Indy Motor Speedway.

I plan to spend tomorrow night visiting friends in Hutchinson KS, near Wichita. I should spend Wednesday night somewhere in Missouri or Illinois and ride into Indiana on Thursday, stopping that night in Bloomington, where I started college and motorcycling.

I'll stay with my nephew in Indy. We'll go to the races with my niece and her family, constituting a reunion, I believe. I should be back home at my computer on the 4th of September or thereabouts.

If I have computer access on the road or in Indianapolis, I'll try to post a report or two.

Thanks for reading, as always.

Blogger sees the errors of his ways....

As I've learned and as you will learn in the comments to my last post, the rant about cell phone "service providers," I was not treating my phone's battery properly. I am sure I shortened its service life.

In treating that battery so callously, I played right into the hands of T-Mobile, who have never wasted an opportunity, no matter what my phone complaint may have been, to upgrade me as a solution, charge me more per month and extend my iron-clad contract.

I chose T-Mobile because they sponsored a fine cycling team. I am sure that the other "providers" do business in the same slimy manner, but I'd have to pay T-Mobile serious money to find out for myself. I'd hate to pay them good money for permission to jump from the cell service frying pan into the cell service fire.

I've found a cheap online source for batteries. I promise I'll be better to the next one.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

See below for rant. Cell phones this time....

This isn't my usual rant about cell phones, about people driving while chatting or texting. This is about the cell phone business, as close to outright deception and trickery as business can get.

Tamar and I have T-Mobile phones. We started by paying in front, so many minutes cost so many pennies. Worked out great, except that if you leave your metropolitan area and drive for an hour, you have no phone. Weirdly, coverage for pay-as-you-go plans is far worse than for monthly, on-going, this-is-a-holdup plans.

But you know all that. Probably. Here finally is the reason for my rant: The battery in my year-or-so-old phone, little used but never shut off, charged all night every night, is holding less and less charge by the day. It's on its way out.

T-Mobile doesn't sell batteries. T-Mobile, again, doesn't sell batteries. They don't feel the need. All their phones are powered by batteries but they don't sell them.

If you say you need a battery, they sell you a new phone (with a new battery in it) CHEAPER than a replacement battery - and they sign you up for two or three more years of their service.

Look on the T-Mobile web site. Look for replacement batteries. Click around there. Look, as I did, in Accessories. No goddamn batteries. Before you suggest it, yes I called Batteries Plus. No batteries for my phone model in stock. Come in and order one. Takes two weeks. Forty bucks.

To T-Mobile, the failure of your battery is not a loss, it's an opportunity! Why should they sell you a boring battery when you can buy a slim, powerful, omni-featured new phone? And more years of good service from T-Mobile? For less out-of-pocket today than a battery alone....

Are the cretins behind this con the same guys who give away printers and sell short-lived $100 ink cartridges?

My PHONE isn't broken, dammit. I don't need a new PHONE. Why is it okay for cell phone companies to mislead us and upsell us? If our local merchants did it, we'd never stand for it....

Saturday, August 22, 2009

PS: Another Pine Shot

The mountains you see in the distance are the Rockies, not far away. Tamar and I are south of Pine on the way to Deckers. You see very few road bicycles on Pine Valley Road, but lots of mountain bikes and motorsickles.

The mountain bikes are loud and the motorsickles are quiet.... Uh, have I got that right?

Lovely day, fine lunch at Zoka's. Wish you'd been there with us....

A motorcycle ride to Pine, Colorado

Tamar and I just returned from our favorite motorcycle destination, Zoka's Cafe in Pine, west and south of Denver off Hwy 285 in the Pine Valley.

Tamar took her digital camera and shot a few photos from the moving motorcycle. As you can tell from the clarity of the shots, the motorcycle wasn't moving too fast. Here are a couple of shots from today's lovely ride.

We think Pine is at about 8,000ft of elevation. It's 80 miles round-trip from our elegant digs in metro Denver.

Evidently there was a fire out there at some point before we moved here. The home you see above all those burned trees couldn't have been there then, could it?

The river in the lower shot is the South Platte. It runs through Denver about a mile from our place...and like us, enjoys its journey to Pine.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A heartwarming Costco tale

A nice story from an elderly gentleman forwarded by my buddy Jim in the Springs (that's what Coloradans call Colorado Springs):

Yesterday I was at COSTCO buying a large bag of Purina Dog Chow for my loyal pet, Biscuit the Wonder Dog. I was in the checkout line when the woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had, an elephant?

Since I'm retired and maybe a little bored, on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again.

I added that I probably shouldn't start that diet again because last time I ended up in the hospital, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before waking up in Intensive Care with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet. The way it works is that you load your pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The nuggets are nutritionally complete - so it works well and I'd decided to try it again.

I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.

Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me.

I told her no, I stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter's ass and a car hit us both.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard.

Costco won't let me shop there anymore.

Bicycle Friendly? Nuovo Ultegra?

My buddy David S, from Seattle, sent me these thoughts as part of an email note:

For a business to say they are bicycle friendly, that they accommodate customers arriving by bicycle, the business needs to have secure, indoor bicycle parking. That business should provide a space inside, out of the elements, devoted to receiving and storing my bike when I'm shopping.

Why do I need to carry an unwieldy lock? Why do I have to worry about banging the frame on a piece of galvanized pipe stuck in the ground? Why do I need to worry about which bike I ride to go to the store? Why do I need to have a clunker to get around?

Why can't I just stop on my way home from a ride and grab some groceries - without worrying about where I'm going to stash my nice bike for a few minutes? Wouldn't it be cool to ride in and hand the bike to a concierge who hands me my claim ticket? That's bicycle friendly, to me.

I rode into Gregg's Cycle yesterday to check out the new Ultegra group, see the stuff in person. Every slot of their indoor bike rack, the one right next to the door, was filled with repair bikes. I had to find a spare wall to lean my bike against. I stood there for a minute wondering what the hell.... Then I remembered- oh yeah, I'm just the customer. Who do I think I am?

The Ultegra stuff looks okay, by the way. The levers are great with both cables routed along the bars. The finish is nothing to write home about. Makes Dura-Ace stuff look spiffier than it already does.

From the How long does it take the average worker in these cities to earn the price of a Big Mac

The link....

PS From a comment to this post by Anonymous: They should do another chart showing the relative healthcare costs resulting from a diet of BigMacs in various countries!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I wouldn't go there, if I were you....

I was born in Flint, Michigan, and lived there until I was 10, when my family moved to Indianapolis. I've never been back to Flint. I've wanted, not so rationally, to stand on the corner where my dad's grocery store was - to see if memories would come flooding back, if clear pictures would replace gauzy ones.

But when I tell folks from Michigan that I'm tempted to do that, I'm warned away. It's a wasteland these days, they tell me. You've seen Roger and Me. You've read about the unemployment and crime. Don't go. You'll only be disappointed.

And maybe they're right. Probably they are.

In the early '60s, a buddy and I on two motorcycles rode from Indianapolis south into Kentucky, intending to ride east to Harlan County. That's infamous "bloody Harlan," where the violent labor unrest and a good leaving-alone by law enforcement created a badlands, a xenophobic area like the OK Panhandle. We were middleclass white boys from Indianapolis; we were curious.

In a civilized hotel near Louisville, the proprietor warned us away from bloody Harlan.

"Couple of strangers like you two, college boys on nice motorcycles, you ride over there and you're liable never to be heard from again," he said, shortening our journey considerably.

As you will see in this NY Times piece and slide show, not everything about Flint is bottomed out and still sinking. A neighborhood called Carriage Town is doing just fine.

I'm going to Indy next week to see family and attend a couple of bigtime motorcycle races. I can spend a day riding to Flint. I can have a coffee in the Good Beans Cafe and I can stand in front of my father's little market. Or whatever's there now.

I never did visit Harlan County. And I don't know a soul in Flint. I suspect I'll never have a better opportunity to visit if I pass on this one.

Will I go? I'll let you know....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bored with the Conference Bike? Here's the PedalPub!

Thanks to an anonymous friend, here's the PedalPub....

Carla and Henriette Hochdorfer

Remarkable youtube video from my buddy Jim, who never misses a trick. Nor do Carla and Henriette....

And now for something completely different: the Conference Bike

From James Raia's Examiner post, here's the Conference Bike! Please, don't miss the video!

Friday, August 14, 2009

A very Special Olympian

As most of us know, we have lost Eunice Kennedy Shriver, among whose accomplishments was the founding of the Special Olympics. This NY Times farewell piece, by a brother of a Special Olympic athlete, seemed to me to be especially touching. See if you don't agree....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul.....

Les Paul and that other Paul. Les died today, 94 years old. I'm sure my buddy Phil will comment on this sparse post. I'm sure too that his comment will be far more meaningful than anything I could write. Godspeed, Les Paul....

When the light just WON'T change....

When you're on your bike, pedal or motorized, and it won't trip the light-change sensors, in eight states (now including Missouri) you can proceed cautiously.... No kidding! Here's the word from Kansas City MO.

The only Woodstock anniv article that's any fun

Here's a NY Times piece about the TOWN of Woodstock, NY, 50 miles away from the site of the concert, lo these 40 years ago. Unlike the several reminiscences I read about the concert, about what it meant or where we've gone since, this piece is kinda fun. The hero (a genuine rock star) runs a bicycle shop for chrissakes! Raise your hand if you remember the Blues Magoos....

Bravo, Montreal! (and not JUST Montreal)

Again from today's NY Times Online, here's a short piece from Green, Inc, a blog about living green with an eye on the bottom line. It's about Montreal's bike-share program - it's spreading to Boston and London! Be sure to check out the Related Posts at the bottom.

Retired pro athletes - Where'd all my friends go...?

Here's retired ballplayer Doug Glanville's NY Times op-ed piece about life after the big-league career...or after any sports career in the spotlight. All that'd think life'd be a dream, huh?


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where does he find these things...?

My buddy Jim sent me this link. It's a bikie rap video, or whatever they're called today, by MC SpandX. I could not understand all the words through my $2.49 speakers, but you will, I bet. Take a look - it's pretty cool....I think.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Eyewitness rebuttal witness from Ogden

A second side heard from....

Maybe after she got hit by a full Big Gulp, the driver did get upset. Do we believe the writer when he tells us that Critical Mass is a family event, wiener roasting and kids in bike trailers, celebrating bicycle awareness? Or that the overreaction by the cops provoked the melee?

Do we trust our narrator?

What's the statement CM is making? If you ride in a (Friday evening rush hour) minefield, how surprised can you be when you hear explosions?

I'm sure CM is one of the things that's not too loud; I'm just too goddamned old. I flat don't get it.

Movies and the news from Ogden

I like movies that have at least one good guy in them, one character minimum with whom you can identify, maybe even like. Here's a news item from the Deseret News in Ogden UT. No one in it to like.

Gun to my head, I sympathize with the woman motorist. Who'd have thought that a buncha cyclists would act so badly that I felt sorry for a driver...?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Where have you gone, Alexi Grewal....?

This two-part piece from the Orange County (CA) Register gives us a peek at Alexi today. Click on the link at the beginning of part one to see part two.

It troubles me that Alexi's not better known here in CO where he lives. He won the Olympic road race in southern Cal; hence the media attention, I suppose.

I've seen Alexi behave badly and heard stories about his stubborn weirdness, but I've always liked him. I don't believe he does any of the outrageous things he does for effect. He's totally himself and nothing like anyone else. If he says he feels called to minister to his flock...I believe him.

Cycling in Boston? No way! No longer, maybe....

My old friend Addison alerted me to this NY Times piece. I've known Nicole Freedman for years but not seen her since she retired from racing and became Boston's Bike Czar. I've been seeing her name in the news in connection with positive developments for cycling in that great city. Here's what the Times has to say: Click right here.

The Monotones, Mickey & Sylvia...and W.H. Auden re: love

In 1958, the mono-hit Monotones (Thanks, Phil!) asked us, "Who Wrote the Book of Love?"

"Chapter One says you love her.
You love her with all your heart.
In Chapter Two you tell her,
You never never never never ever gonna part.

In Chapter Three remember
The meaning of romance.
In Chapter Four you break up
But you give her just one more chance."

About the same time Mickey and Sylvia sang:

"Love, love is strange
Lot of people take it for a game
Once you get it
You'll never wanna quit (no, no)
After you've had it (yeah, yeah)
You're in an awful fix."

In 1938, W.H. Auden published "O Tell Me the Truth About Love"

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes.
It's quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I've found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like Classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.

One year tomorrow....

Tomorrow marks a year elapsed since my crash and broken femur. I'm walking well now, thank you, and riding my bike as well as ever, meaning well enough but not super well. Everyone passes me these days, even when passing seems reckless or suicidal - approaching blind corners on busy bike paths, say.

My left middle and ring fingers have never shrunk back to pre-crash slimness. Tamar and I exchanged comittment rings; I wear mine on my right hand. Won't slide over my knuckle on the left.

I have good mobility in those fingers but not nearly what I had before. When I curl my fingers back into my palms, my middle finger cracks audibly, reminding me more than my leg does of that day.

My left leg, the one that was broken, looks like the right one now. I can't see the scars from the surgery and I never sense the presence of the titanium rod or screws in my femur. Weather changes do not announce themselves in my leg. Good as new, I'd say, or good as old-but-sound.

I'm spooked now by sand on the bike path, even sand of insufficient depth to cause a bike going straight to crash. Our paths here in Denver run alongside the South Platte River and along several creeks, so after a rain the water covers low-lying sections of the paths. When the water recedes it leaves gravel or sand or silt, making passage difficult for the fearful - like me.

We've had an extraordinarily rainy summer. It rains in the evenings typically, and the paths are dry by morning. But the sand remains. Most riders intrepidly blast through it. I can't do that yet.

I still owe a few hundred dollars on my medical bill - for the ambulance ride. I got help from the government and from the hospital with almost all of it, I'm delighted to say. Ruinous otherwise.

I'm enjoying my motorcycling despite a love/hate relationship with my Kawasaki, in many ways the worst executed bike I've ever owned. I enjoy my bicycling but I don't enjoy every ride. I feel sure I'll have to stop using bike paths on weekends until the weather turns cold, when many fair weather path-users return to their caskets in the darkened cellars of boarded-up Victorians.

What do I remember about my crash and the months of recovery? I remember an orderly, a black guy, offering to clean me up after one of my first forays out of bed and onto a toilet, an offer I hope never to have to accept. I remember my first shower on my own - able to climb into and back out of the tub.

I remember Tamar's visits and the good coffee she'd bring with her. I remember when she pushed me in my wheelchair to DazBog for coffee - how scared I was at the speed, how rough the ride up and down the access ramps and over the sidewalk joints. I remember how every person with a crutch or wheelchair or cane would say, hi, howya doin'?

I remember learning how to get around on crutches - first two, then one, and how mobile I was on them - eventually. I remember lying on my back and trying to lift my leg off my bed (even an inch) for my wonderful physical therapist.

I remember favors from friends, lifts here and there, taking me to coffee or picking up my bike at the firehouse where the EMTs took it after the crash. I remember the humankindness and efficiency of the Veteran's Administration Hospital here in Denver and at Denver Health Hospital where I spent eight unreal days beginning a year ago tomorrow.

Maybe I will, as Peace Nique suggests in his/her comment, ride out there to where I crashed and look the devil right in the goddamned eye - see if that sumbitch blinks....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On Craigslist: It's what you always wanted....and it's comfrotable

My buddy Jim, newly relocated from Saint Louis to Colorado Springs, never misses a super buy on Craigslist. Here's his latest pick.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Top ten facts about the annual Sturgis motorsickle rally

Here's the link. I just rode through Sturgis, a cute, prosperous Black Hills town nothing like its scruffy, drunk-biker-hangout reputation. It's a biker destination all through the nice weather months, not only at rally time.

Seldom (in Sturgis) is heard a discouraging word, 'cause you can't hear sh-t over the exhaust noise.

Paul Krugman from this morning's NY Times: "Rewarding Bad Actors"

Here's the last 'graph:

Neither the administration, nor our political system in general, is ready to face up to the fact that we’ve become a society in which the big bucks go to bad actors, a society that lavishly rewards those who make us poorer.

Here's a link to the piece....

PS Thanks, Anonymous! Gulp....

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Copenhagen by bike - LA Times

Does this piece make you want to go to Copenhagen and take one of Mike Sommerville's tours?

The NY Times' Gail Collins on gun legislation: Have Gun, Will Travel

Because I'm a shooter, I'm posting this link to Gail Collins' remarkably funny, even-handed piece about firearms concealed-carry laws. I do this with some trepidation. It's a great piece and worth the few minutes it'll take to read it.

It is not incendiary, I'm happy to say, but it's not kind to Plaxico Burress or South Dakotans who insist that arming strolling tourists would bring SD-style safety to Central Park.

I do not carry. I think of myself as a shooting sportsman. I have no wish whatever to turn my blog into a Second Amendment forum. There are plenty of those already. Feel free to comment, but post civilized comments or post elsewhere. Thank you.