Thursday, May 24, 2012

Got Any Paper?

On New Year's Day I made a resolution to do things more traditionally. It started with putting down the smart phone and focusing my attention on the people around me. Next came a pledge to not miss another birthday or anniversary without getting a greeting card off in the mail. I was also going scrawl hand-written notes to long lost friends. On real paper. I even had a grand idea of writing an entire blog post on a Big Chief Yellow tablet and sending you each a copy in the mail.

I looked around, but realized that I didn't have any good paper. So I made a special trip to buy some decent stationery and greeting cards. Paper, cards and pens purchased. I cleared my desk. I was ready.

But did I do any of that?


I gave up on January 3rd, the day I missed getting a birthday card in the mail for my brother Matt. Sorry Matt. Sorry world. I suck.

Lots of those ideas were great. I may still do them one day.  I especially like the idea of a hand-written blog post. The best part of this idea is that it eliminates random comments from appearing beneath the post like, "Nice Blog. You wrote about a topic I like. Click here to buy Viagra".

What you see above is called comment hijacking.  Comment hijacking is an off-topic remark that results in a non sequitur. Unfortunately, regular readers of this blog practice comment hijacking too.  Shim does this a lot. His go-to comment hijack is a local musician named Charlie Burton.

ATTENTION: This blog has been hijacked. Continue reading on the fifth comment posted here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Hipster Highway

Bryan was pretty bummed out after the latest edition of Wednesday Night Worlds. Apparently, he was among a group of 20 cyclists that were momentarily detained at some Washington county crossroads for rolling through a stop sign. Bryan was irritated and defiant. He wondered whether they were being unfairly singled out. See for yourself:

I know of plenty of roads where cyclists don't have a bulls-eye on their backs — both for unnecessary law enforcement and idiots in pickup trucks.

Bry-bry-bry-bry BRYAN!!!

Relax buddy. You need to bring it down a notch or two.

Come take a ride with me down idyllic lane. No bulls-eyes, or idiot pickups. Just free lovin' cyclists and motorists co-existing on the same stretch of tarmac.

And best of all, its right here in Sweet Home Algomaha.

It's called "Benson Route #1 and it connects Downtown Omaha to Historic Benson.

I like everything about this bike trail but its name, "Benson Route". That's a terrible name. A better name could have been the Hipster Highway. Why? Because everyone who rides the Hipster -- Benson Route #1 is all about freedom, man.

Hang on. This one's for my dear Mom, who may not know what a hipster is. Hi Mom, the Urban Dictionary describes a hipster as:

A person in between the ages of young teenager to early thirties who wears vintage/thrift store clothing and tends to embrace the underground, indie culture (art, books, music) instead of the mainstream.

Or, in unequivocal terms, hipsters are the modern day hippie.

Anyway, somebody recently suggested that the reason Omaha's Mayor Jim Suttle created Benson Route #1 was strategic. It's not necessarily because he likes bicycles or alternate forms of transportation. No, it's more about the relocation of undesirables. Like, Mayor Suttle is some sort of modern day Pied Piper who's been tasked to shunt the hippies out of the Old Market and into Benson, where an eclectic mix of grungy pubs, coffee shops and tattoo parlors await.

Recently, I went down to check out the Old Market's hipster scene. And what I found there was true: no longer were there clove-smoking, bearded men in skinny jeans riding single speeds on the Howard Street's cobbles. Sadly, there were even visible indications that cyclists were no longer welcome there. Here's one such example:

No, I didn't see any cyclists on the sidewalk today. But nobody seemed to mind this feller on the skateboard. Tsk. Tsk.

So anyway, I set about looking for the hip clan by tracing the Benson Route to its terminus. I picked up the trail on 16th and Burt Street in NoDo.

A mile or so later I came upon my first distance marker to Benson

3.6 miles to Benson. By the city planner's calculation, I'd arrive there in 25 minutes. Wait, what? 25 minutes? That comes out to 8.6 mph average. When I was a runner, I could cover 5K in 17 minutes. Maybe the city planners were also also trying to drain the Old Market of runners/joggers too.

The thought of our aldermen being runner-inclusive made me happy.

See Bryan? Look what the Hipster Highway does to a guy's disposition. Smiles everywhere.

My smiled carried me through Bemis Park and past Olympia Cycles

I then rocketed down Hamilton St and past the Homey Inn...

... through the historic Country Club neighborhood

... until I arrived at the termination point: Benson

Wait a moment. Begins? This is not where the Benson Route ends, but where it begins? I was confused. Was this some sort of Mayor Suttle paradox -- like when you travel the speed of light you can see the back of your head or something?

It's a trap!

By then, it was too late, for my eyes had already come to rest on the Beercade.

The Beercade is the latest to land on the Benson strip. It's half pub, half arcade and 100% hipster nerdville. It was like arriving in heaven.

Best of all, Joust World Record holder Lonnie McDonald will be here this Saturday to flip their machine.

That's it. If you need me, you can find me at the Beercade playing the Jurassic Park pinball machine. At least until 2:00PM Saturday. Cause that's when Joust will be on like Donkey Kong. Or something like that.

Care to join me Bryan?

Friday, May 11, 2012


Recently, Katherine and I took a rented jeep on a long road trip to Santa Fe, NM. From Omaha, that's 14 hours by car. We did it in one day. A drive like that would ordinarily be exhausting, but the scenery along rural highways stretching across the eastern Colorado plains to Santa Fe was invigorating.

We stayed in Santa Fe for a couple days. I left the bike back home so Katherine and I could have some time to ourselves.  We hiked, went sight seeing and even took the jeep off-roading on deep rutted trails.

Our route home took us north through Taos, NM and Pueblo, CO before jumping back on the interstate system.  There was one stretch of road so desolate and expansive that signs were posted to beware of freely roaming cattle and horses on unfenced, open ranch land. It's uplifting to know that there's still wide open spaces on this planet.

Somewhere along this leg of the trip, Katherine mentioned smelling a foul scent. She said that it had started hundreds of miles back, possibly even in Santa Fe. She said that it smelled like death. I began to wonder if we had run over something. Perhaps a bird was stuck in the car's grill. Or that a small rodent had crawled into the engine cavity to escape the chilly Santa Fe temperatures.

So at the next gas station, I did a once-over on the car. I popped open the hood but found nothing unusual. Same for underneath the car.  Mystery unsolved, we cracked the window for fresh air for the remainder of the trip.

I may have never discovered the source of that smell until Bryan's recent post on "Relics" helped me connect the dots.

To be comfortable on the long drive home, I had taken my shoes off and stowed them beneath the driver's seat.

Could that have been the source of the mystery stench?

The shoes in question were an eight year old pair of Adidas Sambas. I played indoor soccer for two seasons before they became my casual shoes. Lately, I had grown accustomed to slipping them on and off without wearing socks.  But they didn't stink. Right?

I had to test the theory.  At arm's distance, I detected no odor.  I brought them up close for a second pass. Wow! They were indeed pungent.

Feeling more confident that I was on to something, I decided to repeat the test, this time with Katherine as the tester.

Katherine took a whiff. As she did, her face darkened and her body convulsed in a gag reflex.

Yea! Happy success, the stinky mystery had been solved. Case closed.

Hey Bryan, I've got some relics too.

At least, I did.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Breakfast Serials

On my last post, Fred left the following comment:

How about some sort of pact/agreement to blog on a schedule. I will if you will. Something like it doesn't matter what you post, just post. Charlie Burton rocks.

It's funny that Fred should suggest a pact to blog on a schedule. I've been trying to get him to write regularly for years now. And suddenly he comes up with this brilliant idea to just post on whatever?

Yeah, whatever, alright.

You're a good writer, Fred. You're certainly a good story teller. And your grammar, spelling and fundamentals are spot on.

But to post something regularly? No offense, but you're not that type.

First of all, writing takes discipline. Sorry, strike one, buddy.

Secondly, those who post regularly are typically serial people. You're not.

Serial people have running dialogs on a specific topics. They follow set sequences of events that loop continuously. You can take this off line and look at Bryan's style on the GamJams-Midwest website. Over there, he lays it out methodically. There's a theme for each day: Monday's Media recap, Tuesday's Could've Should've Would've, etc...

But you're not a serial writer, and that's by your own admission. I present exhibit A, where you literally flaunt your story as part 1 of 1:

Seriously, who labels a post, "part 1 of 1"? 

But to your credit, at least you finished that one. Yes, those who write regularly finish what they start. Sure, good story tellers may leave you dangling on that cliff-hanger from time to time, but they'll eventually let the gas out of bag. I mean, it took six months to learn that it was JR's angry sister-in-law Kristin who done it. But that was prime-time dramatic television at its finest.

In blogging, cliff hangers should dangle for 24-48 hours. Three days, tops.

Yet how many times have you promised, 'To be continued...' only to never finish the damn story? 

Did you ever think about what this reckless abandonment does to your audience?  And by your audience, I'm speaking of Wesley Johnson. (Hi Wes, I'm taking this point directly to the Man for you).  I'd be willing to bet there's a mark on your stat counter every day that originated from Wesley's cubicle.  He's waiting for you to tie up all those dangling threads. But you never will. 

I'm begging you. Unless you're absolutely committed to this pact, please, do us all (and by all, I am thinking again of Wesley Johnson) a favor and don't take up this pact. Because if you do -- and leave us (Wes) hanging --

Ack! Thpppt!!!!!  Crap, another hair ball's coming up.

Hang on, I'll be right back