Friday, November 30, 2007

Quadro-Frankia

Like a good rock opera, this image says it all.

Act I: Shock. This self-indulgent image of some bloody lunatic named Frank provided a stinging rebuke of Bryan's initial Face-Painting Arsonist post. Awesome!

Act II: Disillusionment characterizes the second part. A few days passes with only a couple comments on Frank. Surely, there's gonna be more. But after weeks of the same thing, the viewer is only left with a retina-burn of Frank and a cold, hollow feeling. Is this the same Ace Face that we once knew? Is The Punk and the Godfather known as fredcube even aware that he's larger than life due to his loyal fan base? Who are you, anyway?

Act III: Is It in My Head, or is everyone feeling the inconsolable frustration at this point? In this act, the blogo-viewer is ripped with angst about the static nature of things at fredcube. We've had Frank for an entire month -- I need something fresh! So leaving no other option, I came to realize that I've Had Enough. Fine. Good riddance! I'll pass my time at the mountain biking forum reading sweet postings about Chipotle burritos.

The Final Act: Call Dr. Jimmy, I'm going insane!! No offense, but the other blogs lack the dry, sardonic humor of fredcube.

Yet somewhere in the midst of this depressing stupor, a sudden moment of pristine clarity overwhelmed me... like the sort of noise you'd expect to hear in heaven, if there is such a place. It's gonna be ok. In fact, the insight is validated by a recent comment posted by Fred on Munson's blog. Indeed, there's hope! Still in a weakened state, yet refreshed by this late development, this blogoviewer is now steely resolved to go forth.

I can't sleep and I lay and I think
The night is hot and black as ink
Oh God, I need a drink of cool cool rain


Frank can stay on your blog, Fred. Keep him front and center for another month, a year, forever. Once an obstacle, this icon is seemingly an omnipresent inspiration.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This Little Piggy

One of the things I've enjoyed learning this year is how to dress for cold weather riding.

Last winter, it was about running. I learned how to manage just about any foul weather, even a blizzard. I don't recommend the latter unless absolutely necessary, like if you're hypothetically stuck at work, the city shuts down, MAT recalls all their buses and your boss is calling for T.P.S. reports from the warmth and coziness of his/her home. Not that that's happened to me. More than once. Last winter. At 2:52pm on March 1, 2007 when it was 27 F, snowing with 31.1 mph steady winds and 43.7 mph gusts. If this happens to you, bundle up with everything you've got, put yaktrax on your boots, say a prayer, call your loved ones and take care of any unsettled necessary business. Then, say another prayer for a tail wind, head outside and run straight down the middle of the street. Don't worry about traffic as cars are stuck, buried, or in the hypothetical case of my boss, is parked securely in the warmth and coziness of her attached garage.

But I digress. This post is on what I've discovered on my last four cold rides: my toes can't take it.

T-Day +1 Ride with Murphini at 11:00 AM in KC.
26.1 F with 9mph Winds. From head to toe: helmet, helmet hat, muffler; silk thermal, long sleeve tech shirt, long sleeve woolie, glove liners, mittens, tights, bib overalls, smart wool socks and road shoes. After the initial shock, the head and torso were very warm. Legs and hands were cool. Feet were deathly cold and I couldn't feel my toes. They felt like this for about 60 minutes.

T-Day +2 (Shabbos) Time Trial at 1:00 PM in Omaha.
35 F with 12-16mph winds. Same gear as above. Feet were cool, toes were cold but bearable.

Tuesday, 11/27 commute to work at 7:00 AM.
21 F with 8mph North winds. Same gear. In the 20 minute ride, the torso was just warming up while the toes were working toward freezing. It's amazing how tingly a hot shower is on those little fellas afterwards.

Tuesday, 11/27 15 mile lunch ride.
28 F with 9mph winds. Same gear. This time, after 55 minutes of riding my feet and toes were both frozen. It should be noted that I followed Fredcube's advice to pick the one day of the week that was nice enough to ride. The weatherman promised 51 F. Maybe he was looking at a weather chart for Houston.

So, what I'm discovering is that in these temps, most of my body can take the cold except the feet and especially the toes. They just can't bear it.

Looks like some Neoprene booties will be on the stocking stuffer for Christmas this year.

Until then...Hey Munson! Teach me how to duct tape my road shoes. I'm looking for an R-Factor 49.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Giving Thanks

Merriam-Webster's etymology of "thank" is from Old English thanc thought, gratitude; akin to Old High German dank gratitude, Latin tong─ôre to know.

This past weekend's Thanksgiving road trip to the Murphinis was a refresher on knowing that I belong to the Murphy clan.

Let's start with a wonderful meal: tortellini soup & fresh greens salad mix, bacon-wrapped sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, strawberry fruit jello with pretzel topping, a golden-brown brined turkey, decorated ginger cookies and two homemade pies: pumpkin and strawberry-rhubarb. Delicious. Who's Rachel Ray? Connie's kitchen was where it's at and was worth the trip in and of itself.

But there was more than just fine dining. It's the companionship, the kinship, that I relished the most.

To illustrate, the Murphinis have some traditions at Thanksgiving. One is to watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. There aren't many better ways to cope with holiday zaniness than to watch the antics & dysfunction of the lovable Griswalds.

Another Murphini tradition is to name something for which we are thankful during the Thanksgiving meal. Doing so is an exercise in communicating those things important to family.

I told about the lessons I learned the first time I ran away from home. I don't exactly remember why I did it, but it was probably because of my older brother Matt. I was eight; he was ten. There is a thin line between love and hate among brothers at that age. In truth, I loved him but despised what he inflicted upon me. His favorite torture was to pin me down and thump my chest and put wet-willys in my ears. But this was just a prelude to the dreaded, hacked-up, deep guttural goober being dangled precariously over my forehead. It would hang there for a few seconds before being voraciously sucked back into his mouth. I tried to play it cool by counting - one... two... three... fou - "Sluuuuurp!!!" Matt sucked that nastiness back in and the cycle resets. Each time that snot ball got closer and closer while I anxiously mumbled another ten-count. Inevitably, the goobery weight would snap the over-extended sinuous snot-strand. With a warm and viscous slap, it hit my forehead and drove this eight year old mad. It was probably something like that that compelled me to run away. With burning tears running down the cheeks, I ran with fury for a few blocks, believing in my heart that each step would lead me away from them forever. After exhaustion hit, I was forced to rethink this strategy. I was cold and hungry. Fifteen minutes after I ran out of their lives for good, I returned and asked Mom what was for dinner. I'm sure that I wasn't even missed because I didn't even tell anyone of my plan to run away. Still, it meant a lot that they were there when I came home.

"You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have any blood to stick to you."    --Colonel Abner Snopes to young Sarty in William Faulkner's Barn Burning.

It wasn't the last time that I ran away from them. I made some painful choices later in life that could have resulted in them shutting the door on me for good. Still, they've been patient, correcting and compassionate when I returned to my senses and came home.

I suppose that I'm little like Cousin Eddie. My wife's name is Katherine, I have a large clumsy dog and my neighbors would tell you that I've worn goofy hats and robe outside plenty of times. And even though I don't have an RV to abduct your boss in, like cousin Eddie, I've had my shares of blunders.

This year, I have gratitude to know that my family has stuck with me through it all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shabbos Time Trial

My triathlete friend Scott has proposed a Time Trial out at Epply this Saturday afternoon with beer and food at his Old Market apartment following.

I'm IN and will be wearing my heart rate monitor to get a good lactate acid threshold base test.

All are welcome...this includes YOU!

SATURDAY November 24, 2007: Time-Trial & Beer

1:00 PM
Meet at Delice's in Old Market. Drop off extra gear at Scott's apartment nearby.

Group ride to Epply Service Road for the start of the 9.3 mile time-trial (individual starts in one minute increments).

After the last finisher, maybe another quick loop as a group and then back to the Old Market to Scott's apartment for beer and food

2:45 PM

Post Time-Trial Showers, Beer, and Food

There are five riders in for sure. The more the merrier. I was thinking that it would be sweet to have a prize purse. Everyone could pay $5; we would put $1 of that in the prize purse for the winner and $4 in the Pizza and Beer fund.

I Bet the Mavs Could Beat the Huskers, Part II

While mum's the word on Callahan and the state of Husker Nation, the Mavs sure are stirring up some hometown excitement.

I saw first hand at Al F. Caniglia Field what that means while running 1200m repeats with Gerald and Scott last night: new bleacher railings were being installed under the stadium lights for this Saturday's second round playoff game.

The lights were an added benefit for our Tuesday night track workout. One of the nice things about running is that you can do interval workouts well into late autumn without too much difficulty. Last night, it was 43 F with 81% humidity and a 12 mph N wind, feeling like 36 F. While I suppose that getting a decent bike workout in such weather can be done, it's so impractical trainers and rollers are used more frequently. Good options, but it doesn't compare with being outside. But you can go out for a run without much discomfort in these conditions while wearing a hat, long sleeve tech shirt, knit gloves and sweatpants.

If the winning continues, that crazy lady who complains that the Mavs should be on the World Herald's front page might just get her wish.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Suppose I built a large wooden badger...

Wow. Tough crowd. Thanks to Bryan for bailing me out with at least one comment. And to the rest of you: Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

It wasn't really that bad was it? Nudge-nudge, wink-wink?
I mean look at the similarities! It's uncanny!

Ok. I'll put it to rest for now. I suppose it's one of the those things that just because I think is funny doesn't mean that it is for you.

Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fetchez la Vache! LHF Recap

Twong....mooooooooo!

I -- Patsy -- didn't actually run LHF this year. Sorry! Sorry! It's sad but true. After putting this splendid get-up together, all I could do was run around the old neighborhood while banging those coconuts together.

You see, the cycling crowd has brought out the race-entry slacker in me. When I went to register for the race online Friday afternoon, I got the following:

"Sorry: Register at packet pickup on Fri. Nov. 16 at Living History Farms at the intersection of I-80 and Hickman Rd in Urbandale IA.- 5 to 8:30 P.M. Fee will be $40 for the 7 Mile. No entries will be accepted on race day."

At $40 and no plans to spend the night in Urbandale Friday evening, Patsy stayed home. Maybe next year. I've got extra materials for more costumes...anyone care to join me as one of the Knights of the Round table?

Hey, if the suit fits, wear it. It's only a model...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Another One Rides the Bus

When I'm not commuting by foot, cycle or carpool, I take the MAT bus to and from work. Good old MAT. Awesome!

By now, you've probably figured that I have a slight tendency toward neurotic/obsessive behavior from time to time. Scratch-scratch. I tried to weed that undesirable trait out of my life years ago, but it just turned into a downward spiral of obsessing on obsessing. So I gave up on trying to root it out and just let it be. So, I'm a nutjob; tell me someone who isn't.

Instead of struggling, I enjoy making healthy concessions to my neurosis. One of these happens to be in taking a log of every MAT bus ride I take. I record the bus number, date, route, and comments about its state of cleanliness, disorder, etc.

I should note that this logging trait runs deep in my family as I picked this idea up from Murphini, who diligently logs every business flight he takes. Thanks, Murphini!

While I've been riding the bus for nearly seven years, I started taking a log only a few months ago. Here's some highlights of what I've recorded so far:

  • I've ridden 46 different buses at least once
  • Most rides on a single bus: I've ridden two buses 6x each (2015, 2016)
  • Nearly one of every five has at least one cracked window (2004, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2022, 2030, 2034, 8022, 8041)
  • About 5% have advertising on the exterior
  • Two have multiple cracked windows (2011,2014)
  • One had a broken Air Conditioner (8026), which made for an interesting ride one hot summer day. The smells were extraordinary!

    My personal favorites are the #9500 series. MAT picked up these rigs this past summer for a total of $100,000 at some sort of used bus auction from Gainsville, FL.

    These buses are a sensational delight. They come in a rainbow of colors: green, blue, red, yellow even mauve. They have exotic fabric patterns & colors on the seats, resembling a cross between where the Brady Bunch meets Miami Vice. Groovy! The fabric itself is this heavy industrial grade poly-blend of recycled automobile tires. But take note: MAT is not responsible for friction burns.

    They also have this funky mildew smell, warmly reminding me of summer vacation motels. Breathe deeply. Hold for four seconds. Exhale....

    While I've ridden 9502, 9507, 9508, 9514, 9516 and 9517, last night's ride on #9506 has been the best till date. 9506 has a navy blue exterior and a warm peach floor to ceiling interior with maddening orange, red and blue swirly-patterned seats. But what I liked best about it was the sound. An audiophile's dream! If only George Lucas could have recorded this bus for his pod racers. It was amazing. It begs one to wonder, how does a transmission get racked enough to sound like that?!

    Indeed, the 9500s are a superb sensual experience, with vibrant pleasures for all the senses.

    Yes, I love riding the MAT. Not only a great public transport service, it also provides wonderful entertainment and a healthy channeling of a trait I gave up dropping long ago.

  • Monday, November 12, 2007

    O! Cranksgiving Recap

    This past Saturday morning, I participated in Omaha's first inaugural Cranksgiving cycling scavenger hunt benefiting the local food bank. Arriving directly from swimming practice, I quickly pulled Old Yeller out of the car and frantically attempted to install the rack on the back of the bike while shoveling mcGarbage in my mouth. It was hectic and my hands were quivering with excitement as I tried to tighten those little allen bolts.

    There was a reason for this rush: the coveted gold painted crank for the first cyclist to finish.

    I had about 30 seconds to spare by the time I gotten it all together. Fortunately, Munson was right there and said to hang on his wheel. Thanks, Munson...who knows where I would have ridden without you.

    Shortly, the race was on and we were peddling with a fury into stiff crosswinds along Fort Street with the first destination as the Irvington Wal-Mart. We passed a couple mountain bikers along the way and were the first to arrive there. Grabbing a box of pasta, I went through the self checkout while Munson opted for the express lane. The woman in front of me was taking her sweet time while I must have looked like the village fool: helmet, bike gear, road shoes and all doing a tap dance like a four year old 'bout ready to piss his pants while Barry Manilow muzak filtered down from the PA system above.

    The next stop, Hy-Vee on Fort, was the place where we got stuck in the Tuna Helper nightmare. We lost precious time checking and re-checking the baking aisle's countless varieties of *-Helpers. I mean, there was hamburger, lasagna, beef stroganoff, linguine, chicken and pork helpers, but no tuna. Apparently, we found out five minutes later, Tuna Helper is in such demand that it has its commands its own shelf space in the luncheon meats aisle. Arrggh. Another dash to checkout and off to the gas station across the street.

    When we arrived at this store, the woman behind the counter barely peeks over her copy of People to quip, "peanut butter for the scavenger hunt's in aisle four." Then, Munson and I were ambushed by Qianna Bradley, a World Herald reporter who happened on us by random chance. "You guys doing that Cranksgiving thing?" she inquired while I put a jar of Jiffy on the counter. She went on to say that she was at the start at Bike Masters and was looking to see what it was like out on the street. Pretty cool. This Cranksgiving thing was taking on a life of its own. Qianna interviewed us over the next few stops and wrote a piece that was in the Sunday Paper.

    The rest of Cranksgiving was more of the same: riding, clip-cloppity & sliding through waxed floors in road shoes and managing self- checkout machines that effervescently inquired, "Do you have a coupon that you would like to use?"

    There were already a few bikes outside by the time Munson and I made it back to Bike Masters. Damn that Tuna Helper. I felt a tad better when they weighed my sack [sic] at 20 lbs. I looked disdainfully at Munson's 13.9 lbs and gave a gorilla press to show how steel-cut I was. Then again, he was riding a 1x9 spd cromoly tank with a hub generator that looks like the fuse to an atomic bomb. Still, I felt like the alpha male until I heard another weigh-in at 39 lbs. I turned to see a 20 lb bag of flour with puncture marks being removed from the scale. Apparently, the bag was torn by the handlebars during the ride, resulting in a flour cloud and gluten mess for the cyclist & his bike. Then, another came in with a B.O.B and 76lbs of food. Dang! This guy hoisted a frozen turkey and a sack of potatoes out of his bag while someone muttered incredulously, "Potatoes weren't on the list!" It was pretty cool to see the generosity of folks and what they could do on a bike ride.

    In fact, the generosity is what I appreciated most about the event. Way to go, Bryan & Chris, on getting this thing going. I remember thinking that you were crazy to even consider doing this, especially after having a kid a few months back. I still think that, but you did it. There was great participation, in both riders and in sponsors. While the rest of us were munching down sloppy joes and soup (all terrific, but the Wisconsin cheese was my favorite), Bryan was working the crowd and stuffing people's arms with all kinds of handouts while socializing. Meanwhile, Chris and a group of volunteers were weighing-in bags, counting and sorting food. And, There must have been one heck of a clean-up afterwards.

    Memories from this Cranksgiving I shall not forget:

  • Nearly fifty bikes strewn all over the parking lot at the start
  • Munson's head-wag during the starting line sprint
  • Cyclists & backpacks peddling like mad to the next stop
  • The clerk at the quick shop reading the magazine
  • The Flour Man and his bike
  • The torn bag of flour
  • A sack of potatoes
  • Festive atmosphere in the store
  • Award ceremonies: Gold-painted crank, Silver cassettes and bronze crank arms for top finishers. Silver brake caliper for the last person.
  • Home made soups and a sweet potato? cake. That thing was awesome

    In short: it was grande. Way to go, Bryan and gang, on getting Cranksgiving-Omaha it's start.

  • Tuesday, November 6, 2007

    Newbie on a Trainer

    I'm no longer a virgin. Well, at least no longer a cycling trainer virgin.

    I picked up a used Blackburn mag trainer a year ago but never went for it. But last night, I did, as put Old Yeller to the test.

    It hurt a lot in the legs and cardio, but it was most painful for my brain. I mean, it was more boring than running on a treadmill, and I hate doing that with a passion. To illustrate, last year I ran outside throughout the entire winter -- sleet, snow, negative wind chills and all -- to avoid the treadmill. But cycling is obviously more dangerous in cold weather than running, so it looks like there's no escaping it this time.

    Heck. I wish I could escape it. In fact, I would rather spend 90 minutes in the dentist chair than on the trainer. Oh, the horror.

    Seriously, please help me out by offering your suggestions and tips so I can make it through this winter:
    1) What works for you to keep from going nuts?
    2) What are some good workouts?
    3) How do you measure your workout performance?

    Priceless: 1999 GT ZR 4000 Upgrades


    She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself.

    Credit to where it's due, a big thanks to Munson's mechanical skills in reassembling it. That, and the best that Taco Johns can offer.

    Old Yeller's back and better than ever!

    Monday, November 5, 2007

    Steel-Cut Goodness

    I never skip breakfast.

    Lots of times, it's toast with marmalade, or a solitary pop-tart washed down by hot inky coffee. That's enough to make me happy.

    But if I've got a the time, then steel-cut Irish Oats are where it's at. Slow-cooked for twenty minutes, this wholesome treat breaks the fast with a snappy bite. It's got attitude and texture, not like that mushy instant stuff. It's nutty and will stick to your ribs. Add raisins, brown sugar and chopped walnuts and you've got the perfect meal on a cold autumn morning.

    What I desire to produce here at WSCG is not unlike these steel cut oats. This blog requires a measure of patience to deal with my stubborn Irish heritage. And just like these oats, I tend to have some bite and can be a tad nutty, too. Still, my viewpoints can be as warm and sweet as melted brown sugar. Of course, it aught to have some substance to stick around for awhile.

    Yes indeed. Pull up a chair and enjoy another helping of Wholesome, Steel-Cut Goodness.