Friday, January 29, 2016

Unnoticing One's Future Home

The move went well last week. It happened in a domino effect: we closed on the house an hour after our (former) house was purchased by our buyers, and an hour before the sellers of our house closed on their new place. Fortunately, everything went according to plan, and within hours we were unpacking boxes.

Our new(er) home was built in 1948. It's certainly not "new" by any stretch, but it's a quarter century younger than our previous one. It has unmistakable mid-century modern architecture. For one, it has that Kitchen of Tomorrow look with original "St Charles" steel cabinets, complete with swiveling drawers, a built-in cutting board, all sorts of cubby holes, and my personal favorite: the spring-assisted, rise-to-counter-height drawer/shelf (probably for a mixer) with an electrical power port built in. As they might say in the 50s: it’s fat city.

I also appreciate this house’s understated appearance. You could drive by it a thousand times and never notice it. It's a plain brick ranch with a two car attached garage. The landscaping is nice, but not extraordinary. It symmetrical, has clean lines, and is simple. It's not unpleasant to the eye, but it doesn't jump out at you either. In fact, you'd probably miss it if you weren't looking out for it.

I rode past this house and not noticed it for the first time on July 4, 2007. Fred and I were at the end of my first group ride. Ever. True story. As asides: I met Munson and Redemske that day. I also gave the flags that I had used on my bicycle to recognize our Nation's Independence day to Fred's son Jack, who was getting ready to join the Fourth of July neighborhood parade as we rolled up. Anyway, Independence Day 2007 was the first day I rode by and unnoticed my future home.

The Murphys have moved in. There goes the neighborhood.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Moving Day

Today is our moving day. I've spent the better part of the past 48 hours boxing up stuff that we've accumulated over many years in this house. I haven't seen my bicycle once during it, but I'm nevertheless physically exhausted.

Packing up involves purging things: selling, giving away or making runs to the dump.The exercise is a valuable one to go through as it is very much an in-your-face lesson about the impermanence of stuff. Stuff that was once considered valuable, stuff that once held a meaning or purpose but is of no longer value for the given moment. It's all just a lot of stuff. Still, I'm a sentimental person, and it came as no surprise to me that letting go of some of this wasn't easy. But for the most part, I got through it pretty well. I suppose what I'm saying is that regardless of whether one is invigorated or exhausted by the act of purging, letting go is nevertheless a necessity.

That's life.

In a few hours, we will be signing paperwork and handing over the keys. Soon, these walls will be occupied others, and like Katherine and I, and those before us who've called this address their home since 1926, they too will one day be in the position I am in right now.

It's been a good house and a great home. I am grateful.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading

Friday, January 15, 2016

By Grabthar's Hammar

What's this world coming to in 2016? First, it was David Bowie, and now Alan Rickman.

Now I'm not going to pretend that I know much about Mr. Rickman. He was a villain in Die Hard, Sheriff Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. And of course, Snape in the Harry Potter movies. He was great in all of these.

However, my favorite role of his was Alexander Dane/"Dr Lazarus" in Galaxy Quest (1999).

Rickman's Alexander Dane/Dr Lazarus is loosely based off of Star Trek's Spock. He wears a prosthetic head piece to make him appear like an alien. From the beginning of Galaxy Quest, we quickly realize that the glory days of his character have long past. Unemployed, he tours the science fiction conventions, where he is asked repeatedly to quote his famous line, "By Grabthar's hammer, you will be avenged" to geeks seeking autographs. His disgust in palatable: disgust for those words, for his charcater, his fans, his fellow cast members, and for his life of an unemployed actor who has to whore himself at Sci-Fi conventions. However, as the plot develops, Alexander Dane goes from not wanting to even hear the line being said, to embracing his character and those words fully when he's thrust into comforting a friend dying in his arms. How Alan Rickman took a line that was scorned to moving drama was magical. That's acting right there.

If you haven't seen Galaxy Quest, it's currently streaming on Netflix. You don't have to be a science fiction fan to appreciate this quirky comedy. The cast is star-filled (Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub (the "Monk" guy)), the script is quite clever, and the action keeps building. But what Galaxy Quest does well is that it goes from seemingly lampooning its fan-base to embracing it in the end. Alan Rickman's acting was a large part of making that transition happen.

By Grabthar's Hammer, he will be missed.

Friday, January 8, 2016


I've seen The Force Awakens three times now. Thrice. Can you say nerd alert?

Anyway, as I'm sure you've seen or heard, it's good. It is nearly as good as The Empire Strikes Back (TESB). Though TESB is a perennial fanboy's favorite in part due to Frank Oz's Yoda, it was also the first Star Wars film to introduced puppets. This was bad because the puppets gave Lucas a green light to bring on the Ewoks (n'yub n'yub) in Return of the Jedi. Boo! But the Ewoks were nothing compared to what came next: CGI Jar Jar Binks. Ugh.

Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

But then again, if we didn't have Jar Jar, then we wouldn't have this lovely Robot Chicken short:

So back to my main point. In TESB, Yoda challenged Luke to unlearn what he had previously learned. I like that. I've used that line several time when attempting to change something faulty in the way I think. Executing this successfully often proves to be more difficult than it seems. Even the simplest thing can be difficult to unlearn.

Take the Alphabet Song. Like most Americans, you probably learned the letters to the alphabet by singing it to that jolly old tune:
♬ A-B-C-D-E-F-G
Q-R-S, T-U-V. 
W-X, Y and Z. 
Now you know your ABCs 
Next time won't you sing with me 

This is a marvelous mnemonic. It has a simple melody and rhythm that incorporates the letters into rhymes to reinforce memorization.

Well, the alphabet song is done differently in Singapore. They use the same tune. That's not the problem. The issue is that they messed with the rhythm and have completely disrupted the rhyming letters. And there's also the problem with how they pronounce the letter "Z". Because Singaporeans got their English from the Brits, they call the final letter "Zed". Zed? Now how is Zed going to rhyme with anything in the alphabet song? (it can't)

So here's how Singaporeans sing their alphabet.
A-B-C-D-E-F-G   /* so far so good */
H-I-J-K-L-M-N       /* um what? */
O-P-Q-R-S-T-U      /* off the rails now */
V-W-X-Y- ZED     /* ew! that's just wrong! */

I'll tell you what. That's poppycock. That's what that is. Pure poppycock; a total hack job that has butchered the rhythm and rhymes.

There are some things worth unlearning. The alphabet song is not one of them.

I think Yoda would approve of this message.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015: Flux

2015 was not more of the same 'ol same 'ol. It was different. Things happened. Stuff changed.

For one, this happened:

Katherine and I decided to put our house up for sale after many good years in it. It was a great home, and it gave us very little troubles. But as it was on a busy street, and we wanted something more private. That, plus an attached garage. So after spending much of the year sprucing up the place, we listed it this Fall and had it sold within a few weeks. Fortunately, we're happy to say that we found something that fit our needs on 59th and Blondo. It's not far from where we live now. If all continues to go well over the next couple of weeks, we will be moving by the end of the month.

2015 was also a year of making over my athletic endeavors. After joining Harvest Racing Team in January, I hung up my running shoes and quit swimming so I could put all of my training time into cycling. I also hired Mark Savery to coach me. This was the first time I hired a cycling coach. Mark had me peak in early June, and the efforts I put in paid off. I was able to podium twice in both the masters (2nd) and cat 3 race (2nd) at Snake Alley. A week later, I was second at the KC Cliff Drive classic (cat 3), and did well enough in the other races to win the Tour of Kansas City's Omnium. Later that month, I took a cat 2 upgrade after winning the Nebraska Omnium Weekend's Ashland Crit (cat 3). Finally, I raced more in the same season than I had ever done before. From March through August, I competed in 28 road races in five States; a good twenty of them were new experiences for me.

2015 was a year of flux. Unlike other years, where things seem to follow a familiar pattern, this year was quite different for me than any I can think of. It seemed that between sprucing up the house and racing my bike, the year demanded a lot of energy from the first of the year until the end.

Still, I feel invigorated. We're looking forward to settling into our new home. And I can't wait for the 2016 road season to begin.

Happy New Year. Thanks for reading.