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Daily Archives: June 7, 2012

Happy Anniversary To Me… Er, Us, For Real This Time

Fifteen years ago today I married my best friend.

Marriage is a funny thing.  It’s a lot of fun, a ton of work, it’s stressful and sometimes it’s hard.  Everything in life worth fighting for is.

I still can’t help but feeling lucky that I’m waking up next to her.

Happy Anniversary to us sweetheart.

How To Get Stuff Done

On a particularly busy part of my normal ride route, we have a new construction project that started up a couple of weeks ago.  As the site work has kicked into gear dump trucks leaving the site, full of dirt, have made a mess of the bike lane:

     

Now, this situation has been progressively getting worse over the last week or two and it’s gotten so bad that it’s almost more dangerous riding through that crap than in traffic (I’ve opted for traffic the last two days).  I’ve been dragging my feet on doing something about it but yesterday conditions were finally bad enough that something’s gotta be done.  This post is about how I am going to get this cleaned up.

Now, in the States, the semi-popular reaction would be to write to the company running the site accusing them of corporate profiteering while crapping on the little guy, possibly with a little 1% mumbo-jumbo thrown in there.

Forgive me, but this reaction would be, and generally is, stupid.

The dirty road is a failure of the little guys, not the big guys.  The big guys are polishing a chair with their ass in an office, they don’t know (nor could they) that this is going on.  Not only that, larger firms (and this one is huge) have no desire to make a mess of the communities that they’re working in.  In addition, the company that is making the roads a mess is a subcontractor, so two things are happening:  The sub, a small business, is rushing and not paying attention to their own community roads (they appear to be local, I’ve spotted a couple of trucks pulling out of the site) and the superintendent is not doing his job, which is to make sure his job gets done right, cleanly, safely and in budget and that the subs do their job correctly.

So, here’s what I did:  First, I Googled the company and got on their website…  I chose the proper email address out of the directory and sent them the following (with the four pictures above attached):

To whom it may concern,

My name is Jim [Redacted]; I own and operate [Redacted] and am also an avid cyclist living in Swartz Creek.  You currently have a job that you’re working on the South side of Miller, just west of downtown Swartz Creek.  I have three routes that I ride daily that take me through Miller road (on the South Side, the same as your project).  I am writing to inform you of the condition that your trades are leaving the bike lane on Miller road.  The bike path is currently (as of yesterday afternoon at 4 pm) so cluttered with dirt and debris that it’s impassable on a common road bike.  Last week I had to deal with two puncture flats due to that stretch of road and the conditions grew far worse over the last several days – so bad that I have had to ride in traffic for the last two days rather than risk a fall (or another flat), and I roll with Kevlar reinforced tires.  Please take a look at the attached photos that were taken yesterday afternoon.

I know that [Redacted] Construction strives to be an upstanding member of any community that it works in and these conditions are not typical of the fine work that you normally do – my company is also invited to bid regularly on your work so I’d rather continue my good standing with your company while hopefully seeing this issue resolved quickly and quietly.  I’d estimate that a laborer with a broom could have the bike path swept clean in less than two hours (we’re only talking about maybe 300 yards of road heading east from the site).  I would greatly appreciate it if you would have your site superintendent get that stretch cleaned up.  It’s exceptionally treacherous and currently poses a hazardous risk to any cyclist that rides that popular stretch of Miller (it’s the only stretch of Miller that actually has a bike lane).

That message went to the general mailbox.  Then, about ten minutes ago, I called the company and asked to speak to the project manager of the project…  Now this guy might have a clue as to what is going on – if this company follows the template of most larger construction companies, they have a site meeting with the trades once a week.  I say “might” because most people don’t look at the world through the eyes of a cyclist…  Most people see a little dirt on the ground and figure “meh, it’ll get washed away next time it rains”…  For a fella who rides that road every day, that little bit of dirt could spell a $60 tire or worse, a rim – and if I continue riding on the street, I could get mushed.

I got his voicemail, so I left a message simply stating that my needing to speak with him was important.  I’ll give him two hours to return my call before I call him back (and I’ll keep calling every few hours till he calls me back or I talk to him).  If I don’t speak with him before tomorrow morning or get a reply to my email, that’s when this gets nasty and I call his boss (senior project manager or VP of construction).  If I get no satisfaction after that, I bring it up to City Council and take out an Op/Ed in the local paper – but if I have to resort to that, my working with that company is over.

In any event, that’s how something like this is handled, with one caveat:  I did give too much information in my initial email, but I don’t believe in hiding or anonymity in such matters.  I’ll post updates as they happen.

Well I’ll Be A Monkey’s Uncle…

I’ve always been skeptical of wild claims; this juice will magically make you healthy, blueberries are so good for you that we decided to pack the good stuff from 150 bushels into one pill to make you healthy, take this pill to “naturally” boost your testosterone, etc.  Most of the claims are marketing gimmicks and highly dubious.

I used to feel this way about chiropractors and my doctor was kind enough to prove me wrong by snapping me back into shape after a car accident (I was rear-ended on the expressway by a kid that was texting on his cell phone, and I saw him coming).  I also felt the same way about massage therapy (the whole hoo-hah about the massage releasing toxins, so make sure and drink lots of water [which I did anyway – hell, I don’t know any better and if it’s true, better to be on the safe side, and all I had to do was drink a lot of water which I do anyway]).  In fact, yesterday during my massage, the therapist – who actually happens to be a very good friend of mine and my wife – said that she would be “releasing my hip flexors” as she was working on my upper legs and in particular, my fabulously taught glutes.  She had one leg bent across the other and was pressing into a spot on my butt that was tight and incredibly ticklish at the same time while she was saying this.  I gave it the old mental, “yeah right” without saying anything and just let her do her work.  I figured I’d be the judge of that.

[Insert Title of Post Here]…  I’ll be damned if my hip flexors weren’t released.  I did a really easy recovery ride yesterday after the massage, head high, not worrying about aerodynamics and just tooling along…  I got stopped at every stop sign and stop light on the way and even took some time to snap a few photos (more on that in my next post or two) – and still wound up with a 17.6 mph average.  On top of that, I woke up this morning and my hips really feel loose, like they’re not bound up.  This really surprised me, in a good way…and now I understand why the pros have a masseuse that travels with them.

I thought I felt good two days ago – and that just goes to show how much I know, this is a lot better.