Monday, May 31, 2010

I was on my left

Dear Mark

I hope that all is well these days. I know that Siobhan had a birthday and I trust you two celebrated the day well. I've already sent her notes on how to stretch the birthday into a week-long celebration. I've been doing this for years. I found that it helps to take that much tequila over several days rather than one night, so all the best.

Recently it was Bike To Work Day in Seattle. I prepared several events for the group at work. My work site can boast that we have nearly 8% of the on-site population riding to work in the good months and we only drop to 5% during the icky months (for those of you outside the NW that reads like this; Good Months = July-Sept, Icky Months = rest of year). This day is like a religious day for those that pray at the altar of a piece of leather stretched over a metal pole that we find comfortable.

It was fun to ride in that day. I love seeing everyone turn out and nod to each other with an acknowledged grin that it is indeed our day. I have not been riding much because we will drive Jack to daycare in the morning. I've pulled him to daycare in the trailer, and plan to do so soon again as the mornings warm up. While it would be super character building of me to do this all-year round, the kid is up to his neck in character and there is no need to get him all cold and discouraged in the morning like that.

On the bike ride home and interesting thing occurred. I was riding along on my good bike (I do love my titanium Davidson bike) and was going a good pace. Not breathing hard, just pushing the pedals and rolling along. I could tell you about the laptop in my bag weighing me down. I could tell you my weight which would make an eyebrow raise (mostly from me) or I could refer back to my lack of fitness. Keep all those framed in your mind as my tale continues.

I was riding along our Burke Gilman Trail and a rider passed me. No problem. It's not the Tour. I didn't throw down my water bottle and blaze after him to assert my trail dominance. I was riding a bike with a light and rack for crying out loud. I was cool.

I caught the rider at the light and started chatting him up as we rode along (I know, shock that Jeff talks). He was a nice guy and like efforts at his work to get more people riding (bravo!). I got to take a closer look at this individual and his bike that passed me.

He was riding a mountain bike, with fenders, and slick tires. His helmet was a cheaper model, not the aero race style I've been riding for years. His glasses were meant for another sport. He was not dressed fully in spandex, shorts yes, but the top was not a team kit. He just looked thrown together. This is not a judgement description from me, just an observation. It caught my eye.

Anyway, he said his good-bye and pulled away from me up the hill. Now, stop. He pulled away from me. It was not like I let him or was standing still. He just picked up the speed and sped a way. Here I was the older, better put together rider with years of experience. I bleed cycling lubricants and I preach cycling goodness. But he pulled away from me.

It struck me why it seemed so silly. I had been passed by myself, circa 1996.

That person pulling away was me from back when I first started commuting. I used to laugh at guys like myself when I passed them wearing a t-shirt, hiking boots, and on my mountain bike. Lordy how I laughed.

Well, I got mine and it felt good. I was grinning the rest of the ride up the hill as I watched that guy pull away. We often say the only person ahead of me is my damn ego. He just took a time machine and got some physical form this day.

Your brother is not only getting older, but he is proving that he's human too.

On your left,

Friday, May 28, 2010


Dear Mark

Recently I fancied myself the idea that I could build a table in my office. I wanted to build a nice long and tall table that would be a good work surface for Lavinia and myself. I wanted shelves underneath to hold my many comic book boxes as well as they needed a new home. I got to work on a design in my head and eventually put it to paper to calculate it out. I had the basic idea by now.

The table was going to be 8 feet wide, 36" deep and 36" tall. It would have 2 shelves under it. I would have 6 4x4 legs and braces (I've learned you call them styles would be 2x4. I would use 5/8 plywood for the top surface and 1/2 plywood for my shelves below. I would then top it with a smoother surface, maybe a piece of glass or something. I would use lumber and stain the wood. I had it all figured out.

I bought my wood and started in on it while on vacation 2 weeks ago. Below are some early pictures.

These two are pictures of the legs and you can see were the top will go. This in one half of the table.

I ran into one problem where I did not calculate the extra 3 inches I needed so my top was a bit short. After a quick call to you I had it all figured out. I needed to take the styles off and and shorten them by 3 inches.

I set out to do that at the end of the day. As I was re-drilling a screw back into the style the power drill slipped and I struck my thumbnail quite dramatically. Now, let me tell you something. That hurts. A lot. I quickly got it wrapped up, seeing my busted thumbnail and wondering just how bad it was. I got inside from the garage, found Lavi and apologized for making such a blunder. At this point the pain was literally washing over me. I said, "I think I'd better lay down because I may faint." I never did faint, but Lavinia said I turned whiter than you on a snowy day. I got the ER later and they wrapped me up. No busted thumb, but I did a number on the nail. I'll carry that scar for a long time, but it won't emerge until the nail falls off. Joy to me. Here's a picture the day after.

Now after all this I still have a table to finish. So a week later our father came over to help me. I was ready to not make a mistake and finish this thing. I stared down that power drill and dared it to try that again, ala "'enemy mine" from the 80's. At the end of the day my table was done. Final pictures to be posted soon. The thumb is healing and I should be able to tie my shoelaces without wincing soon.

What is the status of your futon couch table?


Thursday, May 20, 2010

State of cycling

Dear Mark

Today Floyd Landis dropped a confession to doping during his entire racing career. Even worse, he implicated many other cyclists including Lance Armstrong. Lance responded that it was untrue. The implications even land on Jonathon Vaughters who is the leader of the Garmin-Transitions team and the annoitted poster child for clean cycling.

This news saddens me for a lot of reasons. First, as a cyclist everyone freaking asks me about it. It's like punching a bruise. I'm happy to do it but it hurts and the fact that it hurts make me do it more and more. Second, I drank the "Lance Armstrong is clean" kool-aid a long time ago. I hold to the great taste of that drink. Third, it is hard to think that a sport I enjoy so much could be so dirty.

A funny email thread ensued between myself and two friends. I'll protect them poorly by calling them "Joey-JoJo" and "Bill Wiggins" below. I wanted to share that thread. We got to the heart of the matter. Talked about our feelings of betrayal and discussed the state of cycling that we can hope for. I hope you find this enlightening and funny.

FM: Joey-JoJo
To: Jeff, Bill Wiggins
Subject: what an a-hole

FM: Jeff
To: Joey-JoJo, Bill Wiggins
Subject: what an a-hol
I mean... DUDE! What the hell.

I’m torn. I want dopers rooted out. I want them kicked out and turned into cycling male servants with not fun parts. But I can’t handle allegations that the entire US Postal team did this. That everyone he knew did it.

I’m reading reactions on velonews now.
I should start searching twitter results.

I really don’t believe him, but I am also unsure how any one could ever lie to this degree. I think lying is very hard. But others can do it easily. I just don’t see what he gains by doing it.

FM: Joey-JoJo
To: Jeff, Bill Wiggins
Subject: what an a-hole

The part that makes me think this is unbelievable is this:
""In the email sent on April 30 to Mr. Johnson, Mr. Landis said that in 2006, after leaving the U.S. Postal Service team for a team sponsored by Swiss hearing aide manufacturer Phonak, he said he told Andy Rihs, the team's owner, that he had been involved in a blood doping program in the past with his old team and wanted to continue doing so with Phonak. He said Mr. Rihs, who is the chairman of Sonova Holding AG, the Switzerland-based parent company for Phonak, agreed to pay for the same doping operations at Phonak.""

I have a very hard time believing that he just approached his new boss and said "um, can i keep cheating?" and then his new boss says "oh, sure. let me just put our entire org at risk by purchasing a new refrigerator for your closet."

anyway... more on this tonight at the Dray.
looking forward to it.

oh, and Bill, you are welcome to come to the Dray too.
same Dray time. same Dray channel.

FM: Bill Wiggins
To: Jeff, Joey-JoJo
Subject: what an a-hole

Yeah - even if he's 100% right, he's being a fucking baby about it and comes off as a sore has-been. His credibility is shot after the 3 year campaign to convince everyone he didn't cheat. I hate the Amish, never can trust them.

I'm just going to watch the Giro and see if Vino dopes his way back pink or if grandpa Sastre can keep his advantage. I love Carlos, but man he's sucking.

I actually wonder the most about Contador, Sanchez, and Valverde - they have the protection of crappy Spanish anti-doping regulations and IMO are the best 3 GC cyclists right now.... though FABIO could probably make each of them lick his balls if he wanted too.

I've turned the corner on Evans - that guy is a stud - I used to resent his "surprise" attacks off the front of a break and his unfortunate butt-chin, but he's attacking like a pro and I hope he gets a grand tour win.

I need the Dray tonight, but might not show up until 9:30 or 10:00.

FM: Jeff
To: Joey-JoJo, Bill Wiggins
Subject: what an a-hole

Said wisely my friend. The Amish are not to be trusted. (He’s a Mennonite though just to be technical about it). Funny that a guy that came from a community that doesn’t use technology embraced science to cheat. There is a Mennonite pastor working on a really good sermon right now.

Perfect scenario for me in the coming months:
  • Vino wins Giro, but gets caught doping in the bedroom celebrating with Viagra and ecstasy. While confessing to this he admits he won the giro by snorting cocaine off of the podium girls.
  • Cadel Evans wins the Tour de France in a boring way. He is clean but still manages to be grumpy about it. Making Sastre’s win and interviews seem jovial.
  • George Hincapie wins World’s with a lead out from Levi and Tyler. The two said George deserves it. George tattoos them on his back with a phrase that says “Only Lance can Judge me”
  • WADA extends governance to hair styles. Vladmir Karpets and Pozzato (the mullet and perm) are immediately banned for life. Steven Cozza is put on notice to shave. Dave Z is also warned to leave the foo-Manchu on American soil.
  • Cyclocross is recognized as an official Winter Olympic Sport so that Belgians can finally win some medals.
  • Tom Boonen pulls a David Lee Roth, ditches his team, goes it alone and fades to obscurity.
  • Fabian Cancellara finally lays off the Swedish pastries, learns to climb a hill and goes on to win every grand tour he enters.
  • Alberto Contador slips and “finger bangs” himself when he wins the Vuelta by 2 hours. Such a large margin prompts an investigation that links him to a Kentucky derby horse doping scandal.
  • Carlos Sastre writes a book called “Clean in a dirty tub” and talks about his strategy to winning was to know when other riders took masking agents thus lowering their performance in that stage, and how he really only wanted to be a fiddle maker.
  • Lance Armstrong retires again, but only after beating Alberto Contador and forcing him to acknowledge the king. Miguel Indurain is on hand to finger bang Contador himself with a wet noodle.
See you tonight

Monday, May 17, 2010


Hey Bro,

So I’m working out calculations for cell voltages and I have the music on shuffle. With my library collection this means I’m shifting from Goodness to Bob Dylan, from Rob Zombie to Enya, from Gaelic Storm to Barry White, basically it’s musical whiplash, but I’ve developed a strong tolerance. So I’m listening and trying to remember Ohm’s law and Jale’s – River comes on. For those of you not around Jale was this small female lead band from somewhere in Canada that Jeff and his buddies saw, bought the album (Rod might have got the T-shirt
J). Since everything Jeff listened to, I had to too and got my own copy (never saw them live though). Now, umpteen years later, I’m still listening. Not actively, but when it shuffles on I’m listening. The members of Jale have probably gone off to other bands or some liberal arts careers. I wonder if they, or any of the random small bands we picked up back in the day (Flake, Sister Psychic, Blackhappy, etc), still imagine there’s someone out there digging their old stuff.

Now I wonder this and also wonder if my friends consistent teasing that I don’t listen to any thing after 1993 might be true. Perhaps it is just me…….?


Monday, May 10, 2010

Cycling on Oahu

This guy was my favorite cycling pic from Hawaii this week. Mid morning commute. Surf board and a cup of coffee in hand. The only issue was no helmet, but I give him a pass on that.


- Posted via mobile

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Jumpin Jupiter it's the Dragon Men (an ode to my Mom)

Hey All,

Mark here, (insert your shocked face here) hoping to lay out some words for the best mom ever. It was a few weeks ago that I was working 2nd shift and this means driving my 50 min commute without anything good on NPR. For Xmas my Mom gave us some CDs that were recordings of old records we used to listen to as kids. Spider-man and Batman adventures, along with Return of the Jedi. We used to listen to these over and over and over, which explains why Jeff and I can quote Star Wars verbatim to this day. As I listened I could remember the old records and when Spider-man belted out "Jumpin' Jupiter it's the Dragon Men!!" I was totally taken back to when I was 5. It also made me think about my Mom and all of the things she has done and still does.

Now most of you know my Mom. Sure to you she's the internet savvy, grammar maestro, super organized, diligent lady, but she's much much more. Of course if fretting were a super power she'd be Superman on steroids. If worrying was a state, she'd be Texas. Of course, I think one of the reasons we were such good kids is that we knew Mom would worry herself to the point of sickness if we stayed out too late.

I love her for her intentional sense of humor and unintentional sense of humor. Mom is famous for her out of nowhere zingers.
To a ~26 year old Jeff when he had long hair and joked about cutting it and selling it "who would want to buy a bunch of long gray hair?"
Although she is slightly more famous for her oblivious comments.
To Casey "have you ever done it before?"
To the whole family at the dinner table "I just love my stool!"

I credit my mother with my analytical skills. Dad has always said that Mom would have been a great engineer if raised in different times, or more likely a different state during those times. Using her prognostic skills Mom forced us to take typing and made us work on the giant Lanier word processor. She knew those Com-put-tors were going to be a big deal.

Mom tried many things with us, not all took. Neither of us can play the piano. We don't sing any Gilbert and Sullivan. We can't speak fluent french. Despite all of those things I know that she's still proud of us and I will always work to make sure that's true.

I have many vivid memories and one that sticks out is my folks standing on the front porch as I drove away in Pepe on my way to Cali. My Mom had joked "but he's not finished yet." Being away from family sucks, it just sucks (sorry Ma, I know you hate that word). I feel like I miss so much. Fortunately my folks and I are able to stay close via the phone, but still it just sucks! One of the things I'm missing today is Mother's Day. In the ideal world we could just zip over and spend the day with my Mom, have a nice dinner, relax and share stories. Alas, Mom and I have to spend another Mother's Day apart. I hope the day in Seattle is wonderful. We'll see each other soon.

I miss you Mom. Happy Mother's Day!