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Monthly Archives: December 2014

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Merry Christmas, Friends… What I’m Grateful For.

Merry Christmas my friends, and a Happy New Year to you and yours from me and mine. May we forever remain grateful so the misery of the mistakes in our past remain ugly rather than begin to look attractive again (the recovering drunks in the crowd will know exactly what I’m talking about).

One of the most enjoyable keys to happiness is to remain grateful. I maintain a veritable grocery list of things I’m grateful for, however in this season there are a few special items I’d like to share…

I’m grateful for my wife, and for Bill Thompson who taught us how to (and that we could) be happy together.

I’m grateful for my kids, they are the best thing I’ve ever done or had happen since choosing to get sober and my wife.

I’m grateful for my sobriety and that God saved me from the Hell I created.

I’m grateful for Christmas Eve at my mom’s house, for seeing my sister (home from LA for a few days), my other sister and her family and for my brothers and their families…

I’m grateful for my friends. Sober and otherwise.

I’m grateful for 24 Hrs of A Christmas Story and for finally buying a copy of National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.

I’m grateful for cycling. For Matt Assenmacher, Mike, Phil, Brad and Chuck. I’m grateful for my wife’s enthusiasm for getting into triathlon (and for my daughter being old enough to babysit this year so neither one of us will have to miss a ride for the other’s plans).

Finally, I’m grateful for prosperity and for being able to afford this, for my wife, because every triathlon chick should have her a tri bike:

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It’s a Specialized Alias Sport Tri 54 cm frame and out of the box it’s less than 19 pounds as shown.

I’ll be sure to put up a review later but I’m here to tell you… It’s an AMAZINGLY beautiful bike. The attention to detail is astounding.

One final item… I’m grateful that giving is more enjoyable than getting.

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My Christmas is Complete, Already… I can Die a Happy Man.

Really. Christmas Eve and I’m good for the year. I’ve gotten what I wanted and had my fill:

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They’re my mom’s coconut cookies. I’d post the recipe but she uses some kind of voodoo magic to make them. They are, without exception, my single favorite food item on this planet. I can die a happy man – until next Christmas Eve.

The Pistol Theft Public Service Announcement…

If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a PSA out there showing a kid stealing his mom’s pistol out of her dresser drawer (who is that stupid with kids in the house?), taking it to school and dropping it on the desk asking the teacher to take it because he doesn’t “feel safe with a gun in the house”. I wonder if he’d feel better with a criminal with a knife in the house and no viable way for his mother to protect herself. Remember kids, gun control is saying it’s better to find your mom raped and strangled with her own pantyhose than to find her explaining to a police officer how her attacker ended up with all of those holes.

Never mind the fact that the idiot places his finger inside the trigger guard, on the trigger, when he boosts it from her dresser, never mind that the kid would be expelled and doomed to repeating, for the rest of his life, the all important I didn’t graduate line, “You want fries with that”? Technically that’s unfair to fast food employees because even that job requires a diploma or equivalent… I digress. Never mind that, when the dip s#!t pulls the pistol out of his backpack to give to the teacher, he puts his finger back on the trigger… You know, there’s a theme here. Leave it to Lib/Regressives to teach a kid how to handle a pistol in a manner which will get his balls shot off (twice), steal from his mother, lose his allowance for the next three years to pay for a new pistol (and a good safe, c’mon ma) and get expelled, dooming himself to poverty for the rest of his life, once he gets out of jail for illegally transporting a firearm… All in less than three minutes. That’s Public Service for you. Look at the bright side though… While he’s in jail, he’ll meet plenty of great people who can teach him how to make a living selling drugs! Woohoo!

And you wonder why I don’t want them anywhere near my healthcare?

My Struggles with the Godforsaken Trainer…

This winter is proving a lot harder than last to get my miles in on my trainer. Most is mental or work related, the rest is the weather that hasn’t been near as bad as last year (our worst winter in recorded history). Last year at this time there was already close to a foot of snow on the ground, this year nothing. It’s even been average temperature-wise which means “rideable” in.

On the down side, we were getting rain or mist on a regular basis. I can handle wet and I can handle cold but I don’t do both at the same time. In fact, several times the weather would be great all day and then we’d get freezing mist for the drive home. I’d sit there all day at the office, skip the trainer for an afternoon ride outdoors only to drive home in freezing mist or drizzle.

On the up side, while temps have been average, we haven’t gotten much snow and the wet weather has abated somewhat (today and tomorrow we’re getting rain but we’ll have several great cycling days thereafter). I’ve been riding outdoors much more than I could last year. Even with all of the Christmas preparations, I managed two days in a row Sunday and yesterday.

Now, back to the trainer… I’m feeling like the trainer is finding a place in my heart next to the treadmill. I was more than happy over the last couple of years to put in 45 minutes or an hour a day on the trainer as long as I had a movie going. This year I’m struggling mentally with anything more than a half hour. The truth is, I just have to muscle up and get my time in on those days where I’d rather opt out of riding outside because the true nature of riding well depends on one simple truth: It’s easier to keep the train rolling than it is to start it back up.

Symphony Etiquette… How to Mess with Someone Who won’t Shut Up!

One of my sponsees, a couple of weeks ago, gave me four tickets to the Holiday Pops, performed by the Flint Symphony Orchestra.

I know, right?

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When I was a younger lad, I’d get all duded up and take my wife to a show because I knew she appreciated it. Even though I’d gone quite far and become quite good on the alto saxophone in high school I still had a tough time appreciating just how cool the show was – I slept through most of them.

Now that I’m a little more seasoned, my attitude has changed. I was very much looking forward to hob-knobbing with the social upper crust, to getting all decked out, and taking my wife and daughters to the show. I’d hoped my daughter, who plays the trumpet and is more mature at 11 than I was at 20, would appreciate it. She did but fell asleep after the intermission (heh, she did better than I did at 30). The show, save one little problem, was absolutely amazing…

What shocked me was the utter lack of etiquette amongst the adults there, many over 40 years-old. Amazingly there were two sets of conversations going on while the symphony was playing. Worse, the event was televised live and through the commercial breaks it was relatively quiet. Let’s just leave it at “I was fit to be tied”. I’d been growing angrier as the show went on to a point I finally had enough… I heard a lady gabbing loudly more than ten seats to my right and toward the back of the auditorium (we had 2nd tier, side balcony seats). I turned to my right and gave her my best, “Shut up, you silly bitch” look and kept staring at her till she shut her yap. To my surprise, once she saw me, and then noticed that I didn’t turn away, she must have realized how loud she was really being because she clammed right up (she was well over 30 feet from where I was sitting).

Then there was the couple directly behind us, a couple of oafs… Jeans and a leather jacket for him (it was a peach of a look, I cleaned up better than that in my twenties without trying – my mother would have kicked my butt… The wife at least gave her attire an effort). They would whisper back and forth every once in a while but would shut it after I flashed them my best, “they don’t explain how these things work, with the talking, in the barn, do they”, look.

I thought we were good – until they came back from intermission… With a bag of M&M’s. For the love of God and all that is Holy. They tore into that bag of M&M’s like they were fresh back from being shipwrecked and rather than stop for a steak dinner first, they bought a bag of M&M’s and went to see the symphony instead…and on separate islands too because they started up with the yapping again! I kept flashing them “the look” but it became ineffective to a point that my wife and I started laughing (no sound of course).

Up until that very moment I was mad, contemplating punching the guy in the face. It was precisely at that moment, when my wife and I were laughing, that I realized this was Christmas and I was not about to go that route, especially in front of my daughters. Exactly four milliseconds later the answer struck me… I put a smile on my face, turned around, folded my arms on the back of the seat and listened in. They both looked at me as if to say, “Wha”? And went back to their conversation. I didn’t move. I kept the same smile on my face, and just kept listening to their conversation. That’s when they finally got it. I didn’t hear a peep out of them for the rest of the night.

When did this happen? People, at least once upon a time, understood that they weren’t the center of everyone else’s universe, especially at a show like that!  Of course, this must be said, on the plus side I didn’t hear one cell phone ring the entire performance.  I guess it’s not all bad.

To my civilian friends: I’m sorry

The Bro Code

To my civilian friends: I’m sorry. 
I’m sorry you have to worry about my brother & sister law enforcement officers and me. 
I’m sorry the murder of two more of this nation’s finest has you scared and fearful for the future. 
I’m sorry that your friends, family, or spouse has to return to duty without the national support for the singular profession authorized to protect & serve you. 
I’m sorry that others whose agendas benefit from the desecration of the American symbol of order and civility have voices resonating louder than yours.
I’m not sorry that despite the fact one of us will die every 58 hours, the other 800,000 of us will never fail to report for duty. 
I’m not sorry that despite celebrities and athletes dishonoring the profession standing ready to protect, we will be there every time they call. 
I’m not sorry that despite a minuscule percentage…

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Cycling: How I Stay Fast – It Isn’t Always S#!ts and Giggles

I woke up at 6:30 this morning, refreshed and happy to have gotten to sleep in for once, I’m usually up at 4:30. It’s cold out but the roads are clear and the forecast is dry, cold and cloudy with nothing more than a decent breeze (5-10 mph-ish). Mike called me yesterday afternoon and we’re set to head out at 10. Temps will be below freezing but only by six or seven degrees (F, so call it minus 3-4 C).

I don’t know anyone who looks at cycling in freezing weather with the same affinity as a sunny and room temperature day. On the other hand, with no snow, and therefore no salt on the roads, it’s going to be a Venge day. My “A” bike is, without a doubt, the only material possession I own that I truly love having – God forgive me.

At 8 am I’m starting to get ready. I lay out my jacket, my shorts, compression shorts, wool socks, base layer, jersey, neck warmer, hat, two layers of gloves, foot covers, clear glasses (the good ones with the gaskets so they don’t fog up), shoes, etc. etc.. I eat some Mom’s Best Blueberry wheat squares with whole milk (don’t even go there with that Godforsaken skim water-milk, your comment will fall on deaf ears). At 9 I’m thinking of calling in dead or something… Man it’s cold outside.

It’s 9:15 and I’m layering up. It takes like ten minutes to put on enough clothes to be some form of comfortable. I load everything into my car. Funny thing about 26 degrees, it doesn’t feel so bad standing there but at 20+ mph on a bike, it’s freaking cold. I know the suck is coming.

It’s 9:35 and I’m in the car. Fire it up and give it 30 seconds to warm up and I’m off… 12 minutes later and I’m in the parking lot. Thankfully it’s only me, Mike and Phil so we’ll be happy with an 18 mile an hour average instead of a full-on 20+. Brad pulls in a few minutes later. Even better.

Tires pumped, all of my crap on and we’re rolling. We rode well, keeping it just under 18 average and had a great time. Sure it was cold and plenty sucky but it sure beats an hour on the trainer. We ended up with 38 miles in just over two hours and I finished with a smile on my face. Having four buds to share the pain with is the best.

There’s no denying the trainer is better than sitting on the couch but taking advantage of every opportunity to get winter road miles in matters come spring time. Interestingly, and this was a bit of a surprise, my cutoff for riding outdoors has dropped every year. My first year it was 50. Last year was 40 (F of course)… This year? 23 and I lower is definitely doable – and with no newer clothes than what I had last year. Go figure.

Now that I’m finally starting to warm back up, it’s nap time. Man, that cold sure takes a lot out of you.