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Monthly Archives: February 2013

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On Movie Critics

I’ve always dreamed, that if I ever had the opportunity, if I ever had the forum, I’d write a criticism on movie critics. When I was a child I would hear about what the critics said about the newest movies coming out on the news (yes, I watched the news as a kid). I learned early on that if the critics hated the movie, not only would it make a mint, it would be excellent.  Before long, my friends and I would check to see which movies the critics hated and base our “to see” list simply on the movies they panned the most.  Of course this method wasn’t without its flaws, every once in a while they were right and we’d end up blowing a few good dollars allowance on a flaming turd of a movie, so we learned to pay attention to the manner in which the movies were criticized.  There were certain words that appeared in good movies that they hated that were absent in the bad movies that they hated.

In fact, our little hypothesis worked in reverse as well.  The better the review, the worse the movie did and the more boring it was for a kid – now this part of the hypothesis was infallible, any five-star rated movie assured us of a few things:  The movie would be obscure, might make a buck or two at the box office but would induce snoring should we be forced to sit through it.

Worse, my mom being the chauffeur, didn’t understand the hypothesis – she took the critics seriously.  If I had a dollar and invested it for every time I heard (after sitting through yet another boringly crappy movie), “but the critics loved this movie, they said it was excellent”, I would be retired on my own tropical island – like Marco…  Keep in mind, I’m 42.

There are a few things we normal people know about movie critics:  They are/were quite possibly the most self-important, overrated, pampas people on the planet.  While they have improved since I was a kid, they still drive me nuts.

Take the movie The Expendables, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The critics called it things like “excellent junk” or “dumb fun”.  In the good old days they would review a movie like that as if it were some artsy Indie film (I can remember the reviews on Stallone’s Rambo:  First Blood (also excellent by the way).  In any event, The Expendables made $274,000,000 at the box office and cost only $80,000,000 to make – that’s what I call a good return on investment (Expendables 2 did even better).  For a perfect example, we only need look back to Star Wars:  A New Hope, from 1977.  Read this review from the New York Times…  The movie, in the box office alone, made Eight Hundred Million Dollars and turned out to be one of the most adored movies of all time (Next to The Empire Strike Back – though they were right about The Return Of The Jedi).

In short, the critics are often pampas, long-winded jackasses who wouldn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to a great movie.  This, of course, makes sense when you take into account their propensity to show off a silly high-priced education that was supposed to separate them from us, the little people.  Well separate them it did:

Often it takes an intellectual to say something so stupid.

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Cycling Is My Ritalin Too… Though I Can’t Be Sure – I Never Took It.

I bumped into a fantastic article at Bicycling Magazine’s website entitled, “Riding Is My Ritalin:  ADHD and Cycling“.  For me, it’s one of those articles that makes everything make sense.  The person at the center of the article, Adam Leibovitz, seems to have a much stronger case of ADD (or ADHD) than I do, but my results mirror his in many ways though finding cycling took me a lot longer that it did Adam.

Some of the more interesting points in the article center around replacing (or lowering the dosage of) Ritalin with cycling, running, swimming or all three.  The thought is that the cause of ADHD has to do with a lack of neural transmitters in the brain.  I’ll give you two guesses but you’ll only need one:  What, other than Ritalin or Adderall, boosts those transmitters?

So many things click into place for me after reading this article.  For instance, while I show up early to the office almost every morning, I get more done in the three or four hours after lunch than the six or seven hours before – all winter long I’ve been riding on the trainer for 30 minutes to an hour before lunch…  I am more focused and can perform multiple tasks in rapid succession after a short workout and I’m vastly more focused after the longer workouts.

The linked article is important in many ways.  Not only does it detail perfectly how strenuous aerobic exercise can significantly diminish the need for narcotic solutions (Ritalin is a small dose of Meth’s cousin to put it simply), the article uses Adam’s case as an example of how exercise can replace, in many cases, the need for drugs altogether.  This is a huge issue for boys and men as we are diagnosed with the problem 3-1 over girls.  I have my own hypothesis as to why this is the case – boys are more rambunctious as kids, that’s how we’re wired.  Also, the vast majority of grade school teachers are women who couldn’t possibly understand why we boys act the way we do – they can know, but there is a cavernous difference between knowing and understanding.  This truth notwithstanding, I won’t be holding my breath for a new Title to the public school system which would level the playing field and help boys to excel.  After all, we already rule everything and are, as a matter of fact, the root of all evil anyway.

All joking aside, the article also delves into the reasons behind the fact that little research is being done into just how much exercise can impact kids diagnosed with ADHD.  First of all, and this is made clear if you pay attention, this is not some corporate conspiracy.  Drug companies fund the bulk of the research in this field, why would they pay to prove their medications aren’t needed?  Only a fool with a company that will soon be facing bankruptcy would do that.  The bicycling industry could chip in some cash for the research, but the demographic benefit would be pretty small.  As far as I’m concerned, it really isn’t all that necessary either – what is necessary is that the message that drugging little boys and girls into compliance doesn’t have to be the answer be shouted from the rooftops and become general knowledge.

In fact two schools, according to the article, have been experimenting for some time, with great success, starting the kid’s day with an early morning workout – the kid’s test scores, not surprisingly, improved significantly – and they’re turning out the fittest kids in the country at the same time.  Of course, they receive little publicity.  What a shame.

So please, for the sake of our kids and your own sanity, read that article and take it to heart.  Then put your butt on a bike and reap the whirlwind of benefits – and pass on your success story so others can benefit as well.

The Goat Goes Under The Knife…

 

Take care, Doc.

Take care, Doc.

My ’08 Trek is about to go under the knife for some much needed adjustments in preparation for the ’13 riding season.  I completely wore out the bottom bracket – so much so that the chain rings “warble” when I push too hard on the pedals.  So it’s getting a new chain, a slightly upgraded crank and a new bottom bracket (and possibly new cable if necessary).  I could probably go another year before serious problems develop, and I actually thought about upgrading my mountain bike rather than mess around with fixing this one but I’ve got another item on the agenda that will require that much cash:  My accountant is selling her 2010 Specialized Secteur with 105 components and a compact double crank – and it just so happens that she and my wife are the same height within an inch – in short, that bike will be too perfect to pass up.  While I loved keeping the Cannondale around, it’s the wrong bike for my wife.  With a seven speed cassette and a racing double crank, she doesn’t have enough low-end to ride efficiently when we vacation in the mountains and I’d rather ride with her on vacation and know that she’s safer on a bike with shifters on the brake levers than have a nicer mountain bike.

So the Cannondale will be going up for sale next week and we’ll be picking up the Secteur, hopefully before riding season makes it to Michigan.  The bike I’ll be picking up for my wife is the black on grey model with a full compliment of 105 components and was meticulously maintained.

2011-specialized-secteurI’m getting a little itchy – the season’s almost here!  Woohoo!

Joe Biden: Buy A Shotgun and Shoot It Off of the Balcony To Scare Intruders Off…

Just as I think I can finally stop writing about political s#!t…

Well, joltin’ Joe strikes again.  In an attempt to show his omnipotence when it comes to firearm choices and with how he thinks you should choose a personal protection firearm, that he (as a Democrat) approves of, the Vice President of the United States, advocated for Americans to, if they find themselves in the unenviable position of having their home broken into, to take a double barrel shotgun and shoot it off of the back porch to scare the intruder.

This is a perfect example of how stupid the people are who are trying to shape the political landscape when it comes to my right to keep and bear a firearm according to the Second Amendment of our Constitution.

First, shooting a shotgun out the back door at my house, even though I have two acres, would be stupid and I doubt the neighbors to the rear of my property would be too happy with me firing that shotgun at their home.  Imagine how stupid you’d have to be to do this in the city.  I swear to God, please keep talking Joe.

Oh, by the way, he recommended that his wife, Jill do this if she were in that position.  Unfortunately, not only would firing a shotgun out the back door be unbelievably stupid, it’s also illegal in their home State.  Now stick with me because this even better…  Joltin’ Joe is tipping his hand here by recommending a double barrel shotgun – this is the weapon he thinks you’re allowed to own, nothing more.  He won’t say this, ever, straight up but you can be quite sure that this is the case.  So the crooks break in and Jill takes that double barrel shotgun to the back of the house and fires off a couple of shots just like the VP suggests.  First, because double barrel shotguns are the only legal guns, assuming Democrats get their way, the crooks know that Jill is holding a hunk of steel – it’s an empty gun – it’s USELESS.  So a crook that isn’t as stupid as Joe knows that other than being able to use the gun like a stick, Jill (oops, that’s Dr. Jill) is relatively defenseless.  On top of that, they bought semi-automatic handguns, smuggled in through Mexico (because if they can’t stop drugs, you know they won’t stop guns either), and have Dr. Jill hopelessly outgunned.

It absolutely amazes me how stupid the anti-gun crowd can be – and this example is incredibly stupid.  In two minutes you have:

1 Political Gaffe:  Defined as a Democrat who accidentally tells you what he/she really thinks.

1 Instance of a politician advising the American public to break the law with one of the few firearms he actually thinks is ok to keep legal.

1 Instance of a husband explaining how his wife should run herself out of ammo instantly in the case of a break-in.

1 Instance of the Vice President of the United States recommending that people shoot their shotguns off of the back porch, thereby endangering the general public.

Finally, joltin’ Joe went on to say that you “don’t need and AR-15, they’re harder to aim, and you don’t need 30 rounds to defend yourself”.

Well Joe, an AR-15 for reasons I won’t bother detailing, is easier to aim than a double barrel shotgun and it’s easier to fire (an AR is much shorter than a shotgun and has a pistol grip – a sawed off shotgun with a pistol grip would be as easy to aim as an AR, but those would be illegal too, yes?).  It’s easier to hit someone with a shotgun because the pellets spray a bit.  That said Joe, if Dr. Jill decided to defend herself as you outlined, not only would she wind up in jail, she would need significantly more rounds because you just told her to blow off her only two into the back yard at her neighbors rather than at the crooks breaking into the house.  And Mr. VP, we don’t all live in mansions.  Most of us, if our homes are being broken into, won’t have the time to saunter out to the back balcony to squeeze off a warning shot or two.

Finally, my brother, having carried an M-16 in Iraq and trained with it extensively, has said on more than one occasion that he’d rather his M-16 over a handgun any day of the week – even for home protection.

Well said boss.

The NRA pokes fun at the Vice President’s expense, here, and offers sounder personal protection advice.

Is 16 mph On A Road Bike Good?

I get a lot of search traffic on my blog and the majority of the searches ask different variations of the same question: Is “x” mph on a road bike (or mountain bike) good. These people find my posts because I write a lot about speed, what I believe is “good”, what others believe is “good” and I try to make a generalization about what’s average… The more I enjoy cycling, the more I find the question itself, flawed even if it is valid to a point.

What is good, no matter how fast one can ride, is getting out there and putting in the miles to the best of your ability. If that’s 16 mph and you’re going all out for an hour-long ride every day, eventually you will find yourself in good shape – as long as you’re eating properly and push yourself passed ‘comfortable’. The trick is that you have to judge for yourself if that’s the very best you can do at a given time. If you find yourself holding back, then you’ve got several miles per hour that you can add before you max out (shoot for 20-21 mph, but only once you’re fit and you’ve had a talk with the doctor about your ticker – I went so far as to have mine checked with an ultra-sound just to make sure I was good – technically the doctor recommended it).

That notwithstanding, there is a different way to look at this that doesn’t carry a stigma of “good” or “bad”.

I went through my workouts for last August and came up with a fair value, per mile, of how many calories I burn at speeds ranging from 16 to 21 mph, and for anyone looking to lose weight, these are the important numbers.

Last August I weighed 154-155 pounds – I’m 6′ tall on the nose, so I am slim (not too skinny). This matters because the heavier you are, the higher the rate of calorie burn. If you’re 6′ and weigh 200 pounds, you’ll burn more per mile than I will at the same speeds.

15 mph=49 kcal/mile
16 mph=50″
17 mph=51.5
18 mph=53
19 mph=54
20 mph=56
21 mph=58

My average for last summer, including every ride I went on, was somewhere in the neighborhood of 19 mph. Now consider that I rode an average of 600 miles per month. If I were trying to lose weight (and I wasn’t, I had to seriously learn how to eat to keep my weight up last summer), if I averaged 15 mph over that stretch I’d burn 30,000 calories for the month. On the other hand, I averaged 19 mph so that’s 33,000 calories… Almost an entire pound per month more. So over a seven month riding season, you’re looking at an extra seven pounds gone for riding just four miles per hour faster. There are also a number of other factors – cardiovascular health, endorphin high (yummy), etc. that you gain from riding faster.

BUT

If you can’t ride that fast, there is absolutely no sense in beating yourself over the head with it.  We do the best we can, no less, and call it good.  If you get to a spot where you plateau, push harder – and remember, to be fast, train fast… Just not every day.  The best mix I’ve found is two fast days, two midrange days one long steady day and a recovery ride (slow) day.  To cut to the chase, I do the best I can with what I’ve got and let the rest work out in the wash.

Good luck.

Some Days The Simplest Things Amuse The Hell Out of Me

So have you seen the VW Commercial, where the mother get’s into a Honda Del Sol tuner – or should that be half-tuner?

I laugh my ass off every time I see that spot – what a fantastic commercial! Chamillionaire’s song Ridin’ Dirty is my new favorite – just as long as I stick with the chorus and ignore most of the other lyrics… Let’s see, I’m white as the day is long and for fun, I ride a bicycle.

Here’s something more my speed:

How Stuff Works: The Instant Sobriety Pill…

So the rumor mill is cranking in high gear and everyone is excited, yet again…  They’re testing an instant sobriety pill!  Of course, it takes a real drunk to point out how it will be used in reality versus how the powers that be think it will be used.

Now, it’s being billed as “instant”, so let’s assume it takes less than five minutes to work… I’m not going to bother looking it up because they release news about a new sobriety pill every six months to a year, and have done so for decades – nothing has ever come of it.

So, the hope is that this pill would end drunk driving, or at least this is how the media is portraying it – you hit last call and wash your pill down with the last swig. You hit the john on the way out the door and you’re sober by the time you get to your car, free to drive home safely! Woohoo! Drunk driving becomes a thing of the past!

Folks the notion that this will happen is foolish wishful thinking. We drunks need the buzz, we’re not going to kill it to drive home – especially when it won’t be able to be re-kindled once we’re there!  It is assumed that the pill would block the ability to get re-drunk.

No folks, drunk driving won’t be slowed much at all and here’s why: To get your blood alcohol level to .08 (the legal limit) takes about three beers in the first hour and another every hour thereafter to maintain it… People don’t drink like that because they’re thirsty, they drink like that for the buzz. Now, .08 is not a buzz to a drunk, .2 is buzzed (just less than three times the legal limit) – that’s how it is when you build a tolerance. There are records of drunks surpassing and functioning at a BAC levels beyond .4 – enough to kill a normal person.  You don’t blow that much on booze at the bar just to kill your buzz for the ride home!

No, here’s how this works in real life: a drunk drives home in the bag. If he gets pulled over, he pops the pill and lights a cigarette before stopping the car.  The cop checks the license and registration, comes back and asks the driver to extinguish the smoke.  By then the pill has kicked in and the drunk, who would otherwise have gone to jail, skates.  How could that be, you ask? What’s that, the timeline doesn’t work?

Oh yes it does. Here’s How Stuff Works, Drunk Pill Edition:

As the drunk is being pulled over he pops his pill, right?  Remember that cigarette that he lit?  That’s a timer right there.  The check on the license and registration takes from three to five minutes as it is – and the officer has to wait at least five minutes after the cigarette is extinguished to run a breathalyzer test, because the smoke messes with the test.  The pill won’t stop drunks from driving, it will help them to keep from getting caught in the act.  Drunk driving will go up because it will be easier to get away with it.

Now, you may be thinking – “hey, jackass, don’t give the drunks any ideas”!!!  Oh, you silly, silly, well-intentioned yet entirely incorrect person.  I’ve been sober for twenty years now and I figured this out within five seconds of hearing of it for the first time – the practicing drunks are salivating waiting for this pill.

Finally, we need not worry.  This pill probably won’t see the light of day anyway.  It’s got three strikes against it (maybe four or five) before the FDA has a chance to look at it.

First Strike:  Liability.  Can you imagine the legal ramifications if someone gets into their car and that pill doesn’t work and the driver slides into a family of six?

Second Strike:  Governments will lose the revenue generated by prosecuting drunks, and make no mistake about it, DUI prosecutions are big business…  They’re one of the few crimes committed that cops can actually stop in progress by cruising the streets.  No chance that revenue stream will be shut off.  Now there is a chance that the costs to government in prosecuting and monitoring the probation of offenders is significant and a lot of money could be saved if they weren’t prosecuting drunks, right?  Now you’re trying to use logic when talking about local government.  No government jobs will be cut as a result, they’ll just lose revenue.  Trust me on this one.

Third Strike:  This pill would make policing miserable, if not near impossible.

In short, I predict a swift and sound dismissal from the FDA.

Oh, by the way…  One more thing I forgot to mention:  It is my understanding that this pill messes with brain receptors to counter the effects of the alcohol.  Taking this pill will have disastrous consequences in terms of the liver.  That’s one more strike.