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Monthly Archives: February 2013

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.

The Theory of Cycling Relativity…

I bought a new laptop the other day – my old one, while a Ferrari in its day (huge 18.4″ screen, 2 Gigs of RAM, etc.)… When it comes to computers, I only do laptops and I like ’em big, fast and top of the line. The old laptop was six years old and still performed admirably, quickly and for the most part without error (no blue screens of death etc.). In fact, the way I saw it, I really didn’t have a reason to upgrade – my system works quite well and I’m pleased with it. So much so that I’ve worn down the braille bars on the F and J. Unfortunately, my industry specific software is just about to render the old machine obsolete – so it was time to move up. I thought my old computer worked great, until I had two days with my new Ferrari. It’s the very top of the line, though I opted for the less bulky and lighter 17″ (and change) screen. Startup is mere seconds now, shutdown just as fast, and the operation of my programs is seemless. A re-calculation on my old machine that would take 10-20 seconds is now done in a flicker. I didn’t know what I was missing. I’m even more efficient now than I was two weeks ago, and that’s saying something (the two days it took to transfer files and get used to the new system was a little rough going, but that goes with the territory).

This got me to thinking, cycling is really not much different when you think about it. My mountain bike of choice is a Trek 3700, the low-end of the totem pole in the high-end bike world, but I love it just the same as if it were a $3,000 carbon Cannodale Lefty 29’er… This is, of course, only because I’ve never ridden anything better. This is the Theory of Cycling Relativity.

Last year, my buddy Tim offered to let me ride his Trek carbon mountain bike on one of our trips – and was shocked when I opted to stay with my 3700. Why would I pass? The Theory of Cycling Relativity which posits that you don’t really realize how big of a piece of shit your bike is until you ride something better. I have 21 speeds that work flawlessly on that bike – I know where the shifters are without thinking and I can shift within milliseconds when I need to. I know just how much to lay off of the pedals if I’m shifting going up a hill – I know that bike, and I know there are vastly superior rides out there, but in theory I can’t know what I’m missing until I ride one.

The same theory applies to a road bike. While my road bike is vastly superior in fit and finish to my mountain bike, I’m still rolling aluminum rims (even if they are “aero”). I know that putting a good set of carbon wheels on there would greatly increase my comfort but the Theory of Cycling Relativity protects me from knowing exactly how much more comfortable they’d be. I used to ride an old (though gorgeous) aluminum Cannondale SR400 with down tube shifters and a 14 speed drivetrain that I loved, admired and enjoyed – until I test rode a full carbon Trek 5200 with Ultegra integrated shifters and components with 27 speeds and the road smoothing comfort of the carbon frame. I owned that bike shortly thereafter – it’s the Theory of Cycling Relativity. This is, in part, why I refuse to test-ride a new bike at the shop… Once I’m clipped in, one way or another, after I feel how much better that new ride feels on my butt, that bike’s going home with me. It’s all Relative.

So, my recommendation is this: Buy the nicest bikes you can possibly afford, don’t skimp a penny. Then keep your ass off of anything nicer until you’ve got the funds to part with, because once you feel how much nicer those high-end bikes really are, you’ll spend yourself into the relative poor house before you damn well relatively figure out what just happened.

That’s BgddyJim’s tip ‘o the day. 😉

My Biggest Goal For 2013 Is Small: Two Miles

I got to thinking about my goals for this season while I prepared for work this morning and I was a little disappointed.  In fact, this year’s goals are much the same as last – so I defined one small addition that had been lurking at the back of my mind since the close of last season…

This season will not about a half Ironman – that’s the icing on the cake, the one day ride across Michigan, the Ride for Recovery or the Assenmacher 100 – I already know I can do the distance.

I doubled my winter training this off-season for what I thought was a multitude of decent reasons, but it boils down to, when the fluff is carved away, two miles for all of the marbles.

Every Tuesday we start out loosely with a fairly easy four to six mile warm-up before joining the group to wait for the big start. All of the big shooters are there, Mike (a guy who doesn’t look like he should be able to ride as fast as he does) and Mike (a Nationally ranked triathlete in his heyday), Kevin, Matt, Brad, Phil and a long list of others. Even the guy on his Time Trial bike, who I thought was a pampas ass until late last summer.  I saw him drop back to a group who were falling off the back to give them a draft – he pulled them back.  He did this more than once that night and completely changed my perception of him without uttering a word.

We start out promptly at 6 pm at an easy 19 mph pace, a group of 30 cyclists of varying talents in a double pace line.  One mile in, the pace picks up.  We ease up to 20 then 21 mph…  The fun starts at mile 7 – 22 mph, then 23.  We have a short stop to cross a busy intersection 11.55 miles in – and then all hell breaks loose.  Over the next mile and a half we descend all of twenty feet, but it is downhill nonetheless, at 25-26 mph.  We ease onto the last busy stretch of road after a sharp 80′ ascent at 20 mph.  I try to be towards the back of the A-pack at this point – too far back and you can drop with the stragglers, too close to the front and it’s a miserable pull up the hill that Matt Assenmacher assures me is not really there.  By the time we hit the crest of the hill we’re pushing 24 mph, and then it gets fast.  As we turn onto the hard stretch of road, the group fractures and I always end up out front with the fast guys to the back (you guys who know about group riding have a light clicking on right now – I shouldn’t be there).  After a minor climb, over the next mile and some change we drop another hundred feet at an average speed around 30…  And we hit my two miles.  We’re at mile 18 of a 32 mile ride and my lungs were bitching at me about five miles ago.  The descent was nice, but now it’s time to work – and I don’t have much left in the tank at this point – or at least I haven’t been able to dig deep enough yet.  Over the next mile we climb, followed by a short drop, followed by a straight stretch and another sharp climb again, that I’ve been assured really aren’t there.  These two miles are where the big dogs try to hurt each other, and they destroy me.  These are the two miles that I want this year.

Those two miles are this year’s goal.

 

For clarity, I have it on authority from at least two of the faster guys that the group calms down after that stretch because they’re spent – if I can hang on for those two, I’m in.

 

 

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot…

This was going to be one of those posts that you just shouldn’t write.  For the love of God.  This is filed under politics, but we’re talking about life politics, not DC Politics.

Being Fit Over 40…

I have been a relatively healthy weight for much of my life. I’ve also been physically active for the vast majority of it. I had active jobs, in manufacturing and then construction that certainly helped as well. It wasn’t until I took a desk job in management that I began to have problems. A few years into the desk job I decided to quit smoking… Not ironically it was then that I discovered that food actually tastes good. Rather unfortunate, that.

Through my 30’s I ran and stayed relatively fit, then 40 hit and for the first time in my life, I felt it. I dropped my running down to two days a week from three. That worked for a spell but I got bored. I picked up cycling just in the nick of time. I went from skinny chicken legs and a bit of a gut to right where I’ve always wanted to be in about six months… And I’ve gotten better since.

There are a few tricks to this though:

1. I can’t/won’t quit, my misery is waiting for me. I have no room for negative melon chatter – I have to stomp it out the second it enters my conscious mind. This takes practice because the ‘f-ck it’s’ don’t stop, I just have the ability to laugh at them. This takes practice.

2. Staying fit and trim is work – and not run two miles at a fifteen minute per mile pace, twice a week – it takes some effort. Of course, it must be stated that anything to get started is a step in the right direction, but while a marathon begins with just one step, it’s completed with tens of thousands more (about 45,669 by the way, give or take, if you’re walking that).

3. Once I got used to working hard it didn’t suck so bad.

4. Running in the cold doesn’t suck as bad as a dickie-do, though it has its down side(s).

5. If 2/3’s of the population is overweight or obese, and kids are a small percentage, how much of that weight falls on the over 40 crowd? If you’re fit at 40 (and beyond) you’re breathing rare air and that’s all good baby!

So what brought this on? I’ve had a couple of moments over the last week or so. Nothing serious, just questioning whether I’ll have the drive to get my 5,000 in this year… If I’ll have the drive to hit my three centuries, one 200 k and my 150. I’ve gotta work myself up with spring right around the corner. Just bare footing it I suppose.

Spin/Exercise Bike Vs. Trainer. Which Is Better?

Joseph Lampen and The All Seasons Cyclist are heroes, of sorts, to me. They ride in conditions that most people refuse to run in. I’ll run in deplorable conditions (snow, ice, frigid cold, it’s all good after you warm up) but when it comes to cycling, when the temp dips below freezing, I’m done. I don’t like the fact that my muscles don’t work properly at speed and that the cycling clothing required to make them do so comfortably costs more than most big-box bikes so I relegate myself to the indoor trainer four days a week to keep myself in shape through the winter months. Many other bloggers choose to take spin classes – and the owner of my LBS leads classes to stay in cycling shape.

Terence, over at Jesus Was A Roadrunner is doing yeoman’s research on the difference between spin bikes and running on a treadmill that really got me to thinking about the differences between spin bikes and riding your own bike on a trainer.

First the pros for riding on a trainer:

Cost effective: At a mere $100 used or $250-$600 new (computerized versions up to $1,500-$2,000), trainers make a lot of sense for those, like me, who would prefer to spend the big bucks elsewhere (like on more cycling shorts, jerseys, jackets, lights, etc., etc.).

Comfort: While it is possible to dial in an exercise bike or spin bike, nothing can compare to riding your own bike, which is assumed to be fit properly to you (crank arm length, stem length, bar height and saddle height just to name a few).

Space, mobility and weight: A trainer, by comparison, is tiny and ultra-light when viewed against an exercise bike or spin bike. I can pack my trainer and my bike into my small SUV in a matter of minutes. Try that with an exercise bike or spin bike – without a help and a pickup truck.

No membership required.

Bikes make a lousy clothing rack: If you even like your bike a little bit, you’ll loath to drape clothes over it. Exercise bikes, on the other hand, frequently find themselves relegated to becoming a $6,000 clothing rack.

Pros for the spin/exercise bike:

Superior workout resistance: Trainers are great for maintaining fitness but they lack in the resistance department, something that the exercise/spin bike has in abundance. With a spin bike it’s “easier” to get stronger – if you’re willing to put in the effort.

Calorie burn: You can expect to burn between 600 and 800 calories an hour on a trainer. With the increased resistance you can burn much more on a spin or exercise bike.

Classes: Being a part of a fitness group has too many benefits to list. Though a group could gather with their bikes and trainers at someone’s house, it’d have to be one big house! Actually, that gives me an idea for next winter (my house is rather smallish, just under 2,000 sf, but my living room is huge. The point is, it’s easier to pack a small bag and hit the gym for a spin class than it is to get a bunch of people to bring their bikes and trainers to your house for a weekly jam.

Eye candy: While I have heard of people choosing some rather interesting viewing material during their spin time, real-life eye candy is much more interesting.

Wrap up:

If you happened on this post to investigate the best choice, celebrate the fact that you have willingness – follow that up with action and build the you that you’ve wanted.

Having done so myself, I can tell you there is little in life as rewarding as liking what you see when you look in the mirror.

How To Fill A Coffee Mug In The Dark

To be filed under amazingly awesome trivia:

Visiting my in-laws, their bedroom is just off the kitchen. Typically I wake up about four hours earlier than they do. I make my coffee by flashlight so I can keep the light disturbance to a bare minimum. To fill up my mug though, I do that in the dark. Pitch black, can’t even make out the coffee maker, and I won’t spill a drop. No under-filling or overfilling, a perfect cup, every time.

How is this possible? The answer is below the fold.
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