Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Does this make me a bad person..?

(No interest in proofreading right now...I'll try to get to it tomorrow...but this isn't why I might be a bad person...)  On Saturday I went out for a bicycle ride.  I purchased an upscale two wheeler last summer upon my return from DA KINE (Well, semi-upscale...think Nissan Altima or something like that...somewhere in between a Kia Rio and a Mercedes AMG series...) and I never bothered to tune it up after I brought it home.  I only made it out for a few rides so it wasn't that big of a deal.  This year I wanted to start things off on the right foot so I scheduled a tune up for it at the local cycle store in the 207 and convinced my parents to drop it off for me and then give me a ride back to the 617 after I picked it up.  I know a little bit about a little bit but not a lot about a lot about bikes but I knew this thing was a little rough around the edges as far as its internal organs went.  Sure enough, it was a bit more than rough around the edges, to the point where hipster bike nerd #1 made a point to call over hipster bike nerds #'s 2, 3, and 4 so they could see the sharty state of the bearings that were in my wheels when I brought it in.  Go choke on a bottlecap, hipster bike nerds.  It was the other guy's fault!  I got bamboozled on the craigslist, just like many car buyers!

This is not really the case as it wasn't a lot of money to get my baby shipshape.  But it did kind of bum me out to be looked down upon by hipster bike nerds when I was TRYING TO TREAT MY BABY WITH LOVE AND TENDERNESS AND RESPECT.  Yet, in their eyes I was the asshole.  It also isn't a fixie.  Maybe my cause was hopeless from the start.  D'oh.

At any rate I conned Papa Skip into a southbound ride for repayment for ruining my Mother's Day surprise of, well, ME!  Home for the weekend to get drunk by night and sleep on the couch by day!  HELLO, PARENTS!  The weekend was too short but it was extremely nice to be home, and also be able to get my hands on my performance whip as my classes and the track season were winding down.  While as of Mother's Day weekend summer was just a sunset many days away, now it's more or less here.  Boo yeah.  Twenty seven going on twenty eight and still reaping the benefits of poor pay in exchange for summer vacations.  I'll take that trade off until I'm 30.

Man, I'm all over the place.  It's been a long time; I swear it's not usually like this...

My last track meet of the year was on May 17&18, a Thursday and a Friday.  This left me with my first Saturday off in quite some time so I decided it was a pretty nice day for a bike ride and decided to set out into the countryside.  I had no idea the best way to the countryside so my first errand Saturday morning was to my office to craft a route on Google maps that I could print and store in my underseat pouch, because I have no maps of Massachusetts nor sense of direction outside of my little Somerville bubble.  In Maine, at least close to home, I have a pretty good sense of route numbers and roads and how things link up but down here I didn't have the slightest idea of what was close and what were good roads to ride on or any of that nonsense.  So I picked a couple of landmarks and printed some directions and a couple of big maps and set out with my waterbottles full and my helmet on (Proud of me, mamacapone?) to see some sites.

As it was a day of exploration and self-discovery (hardly...) I set out to Walden Pond by way of Lexington and Concord.
I had a good sense of how to get to Lexington on backroads because during cross country season we occasionally travel to Minuteman National something-or-other (I don't think it's a national park but I'm pretty sure it has "national" in there somewhere...national historic site/place, maybe?) to run on the Battle Road.  My first trip I rode shotgun, in early September, just a couple of weeks after I set up shop in the big city.  My second trip a couple weeks later, first as a driver, I couldn't quite make it the two-ish miles from campus to Route 2 (a big, ole highway) due to multiple factors.  First was I told my head coach I was going to follow her there because I wasn't quite sure where I was going...and she promptly dusted me out of the parking lot and probably ran a yellow to leave me on my own.  But as I pick up loose information here and there I knew we were ending up on MA-2A in Lexington, and I knew of where MA-2A ran into Somerville.  So I went with what I knew, it took about fifteen minutes too long, but we made it.  Got the XC'ers extremely confident in my leadership..
Anywho, I had a pretty good sense of how to get to Lexington and from there Concord and Walden Pond were just a couple more miles.  And easy enough it was.
Here is where I'll let the cat out of the bag and say I didn't get caught off track once during the course of my travels.  No big deal..
Earlier in the spring I had been traveling in a car and we drove past Walden Pond on the way to a field trip (Yes, graduate school field well spent..) and it looked quite idyllic.  This was on a rather chilly day in early March.  Fast forward two months and this place looked like Range Pond State Park.  A little, okay, moderately depressing.  Guess it's not the 1870's anymore...but I digress.  The whole scene was just a little bit silly.  There were serious cyclers using it as a home base to set out from, there were foreign tourists who no doubt wanted to see what America's "nature" was all about, and then there were plenty of Bostonians who brought there little kids to piss and shit in a shallow pond fifteen miles from their houses, because on apparently on sunny days bathrooms just will not do.

From here I had plotted out a possible route to circle through some little hamlets before ending up in Waltham, about seven miles from my house.  I had so much fun that once I arrived in Waltham and took a little break for snack and drink I decided I felt so good and it was such a nice day that I'd just head back the way I came.  And this leg of the journey was a little bit tiresome but a couple miles away from Walden a couple of guys who were returning to Walden from their ride to southern New Hampshire caught and passed me, so I hung with them to learn how non-rookies handle stops and shifting and drinking water and all that goofy stuff that I've been self-taught on.  Yes, I felt like a little kid and didn't tell them any of this; I just clung to the rear and didn't say a word.  Sneaky, am i..

I tried to say hi to most every passerby I could, whether they were on bikes or on foot.  I kept pulling out the "Nice bike, man!" the couple of times I wound up stopped at a light next to a guy on a motor cycle.  It's good for a laugh EVERY time, except for when I say it to the guys who would rape guys like me in prison.  In those cases, it's good for a gut-busting laugh from me (after the drive off without raping me..).  Most people on bicycles are too damn serious.  Lance, man.  It's not the Tour.  Take the needle out of your asscheek and smile on this beautiful day.

None of this is really relevant to what I really set out to talk about here.  Whoops.  To sum: I made it back to Walden, pretty tired, but still about twelve or thirteen miles from my house.  And those last miles were downright miserable.  I don't care about my "look" a lot (clearly, because I usually look like a vagrant..) but I don't like to look like some schmuck who can't hang for a little loop around town.  And I was hurting a tad rolling back through Arlington.  All tallied, I was in the saddle for close to 70 for the day and it felt AWESOME.  Those hipster dickheads were onto something with whatever all natural, probably vegan and non-animal tested shit they threw on my baby: now she rides like the wind blows.  If the weather clears I'm hoping to get out for a little session in the AM Wednesday, but if not I'll have to wait until next week to find the FREEDOM OF THE OPEN ROAD

This is the best commercial to ever air on television.  This guy needs to be the third one of Adam Sandler's lackeys that show up in bit parts in every one of his movie.  It's too perfect.


K, onto the real story.  Post-ride I got home and started to cook up some pasta and some sauce and I sliced the bejeezus out of my left index finger when I was chopping the onion and I got blood all over the cutting board.  I don't have any bandaids because I have toilet paper and duct tape so I threw some of that on to stop the bleeding and continued with my evening.  Sunday morning I woke up early to work Tufts' commencement ceremony and in an effort to class myself up I traded the duct tape dressing for an athletic tape dressing.  This stayed on for the morning and also for my afternoon ride down to the Charles and walk around Harvard with my finest cutoff Carharrt's and sleeveless tie-dyed on.  The shirt is irrelevant but when you look awesome it's important for everyone who wasn't there to know about it.  I went to a friends house for an early barbecue supper and while I was having a beer with him and his girlfriend I saw a coffee table book of from some magazine photographer that I can't remember so I went to the kitchen to remove the dirty dressing and wash my hands.  The book was kick ass, and I didn't bleed on it.  That didn't happen until i was outside opening a bag of charcoal, for some reason with my left hand, and the cut opened back up like a sieve.  They just moved to the second floor and that afternoon their new downstairs neighbor who I had never met was moving in.  As I was walking upstairs with my bloody finger I dripped blood on the young lady's tupperware cupcake box.  I tried to wipe it up but really just kind of made it worse because my right hand already had some blood on it so when I heard someone coming I just darted up the stairs.  When I came back down, band-aided, the box was already inside.  Does this make me a bad person?  Or just gross?

Later that evening outside she mentioned to us that she is an RN.  So CLEARLY I'm not a bad person; though I brought her work home, I'm certain this was not the first time she had to clean up after a homeless person.  When you're used to something it becomes second nature and no big deal, right?  Cheers.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pretty sure that tonight I witnessed the universe implode upon itself..

Got sucked into the television tonight.  Had nothing to do.  My track season's over with for the summer time.  Classes are over until, well, Wednesday, but TONIGHT I had nothing to do.  So I sat to eat a fine, home-cooked supper in front of the tele to take in some Family Guy and Two and a Half Men reruns on the WB.  I don't get cable just the bootleg 10-12 channels but any station that has an house of Family Guy followed by an hour of Two and a Half Men is, in my opinion, flat out awesome.  These are the old, good Two and a Half Men, too, with Charlie Sheen in his pre-bloated/drugged-out-chic prime.  They're so terrible it's impossible not to laugh at the simplicity of Charlie Sheen playing himself.  But that, of course, is not what I'm here to talk about.

At the 8pm hour I still had absolutely nothing to do with my life so I flipped through my ten channels and forced myself to watch CBS for no apparent reason.  Full disclosure: Antiques Roadshow was an option but I turned it down tonight.  Don't judge.  Anyway, the television for the next two hours is irrelevant to what I hope to eventually discuss, though in that timespan one of the new Two and a Half Mens with Ashton Kutcher came on and I didn't find it to be as bad as the other one and a half I've seen.  That's disturbing, but nowhere near a cleverly disturbing as what came on CBS at the ten o'clock hour...Clash of the Commercials: USA vs the World.

The premise of the USA vs the world thing isn't all that crazy.  Anyone who has spent more than 1000 hours on the youtube knows that the world has much much much better commercials than the US, as few countries have the wormshit, Bible-thumping squares that good, ole AMERICA has in its censorship department.  The fucked up aspect is CBS ran the program...and then aired commercials at the usual programming break points.  A TV show of commercials with commercial interludes.

Yeah, that was all that was really on my mind.  I think I found the rock bottom of television tonight.

Quasi-aside: How shitty is Tiki Barber's life?  Quits football to do TV and ditches his wife for some young twenty-something but gets skewered by the media so no deal happens, tries to get back into football but no one wants his sorry ass because he shit on his former teammates when he was trying to make a name for himself in the studio.  Then the Giants win TWO Super Bowls (boo yah!) and CBS brings in a Tiki Barber doppelganger (doppelganger may be a bit too strong...but, another smallish, similarly builded, bald man with unnaturally white teeth..) to co-host that Commercial monstrosity alongside Heidi Klum.

Hah.  Go Giants.  And speaking of football and commercials isn't it a little ridiculous that this program is airing oh, three and a half months AFTER the Super Bowl?  Couldn't CBS have raked in a hell of a lot more viewers right after the big game, when all everyone in the US is thinking is about the new funny commercials that they just saw?  No commercials stand the test of time in terms of longevity on television, so shouldn't you strike while the iron is hot?  Did they have to wait to air until all of the spots were off of the air so the companies the ads were for wouldn't have to be compensated or something?  I WANT ANSWERS.


That was weak.  My apologies.  GO GIANTS.  Cheers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i..

In the fall my phone decided to break and instead of paying the $50 to file a phone insurance claim I instead purchased a Razr for about $20 off of the eBay.  I have to say I've been pretty happy with my decision but now the charger that came with it doesn't work very well so sometimes I wake up in the morning and my phone is not fully charged.  I managed to find a USB cord in my office that has an anatomically correct male  end to charge said Razr (it's original purpose was to connect a cheap ass digital camcorder to a computer) so I now have to charge my phone through a computer.  I don't plan to change this any time soon by buying a new wall charger...I don't think it's worth the ten dollars.
In the fall I happened upon an iPod shuffle that came in handy on my riding commutes on the bicycle and on the subway.  YEAH DUBSTEP LATE AT NIGHT WHILE I WEAVE THROUGH TRAFFIC.  Everyone wears headsets now.  Those god damned iPhones have taken over the world, so now not only do people wear iHeadsets everywhere they also talk to themselves.  It's like the bluetooth headsets 2.0 going on right now.  You may have an iPhone.  You may think it's awesome.  I don't think it's awesome.  It consumes your life.   
Want to know how I find my way around a new place?  Guess and check.  You remember guess and check?  It got me a fine score on the math section of the SAT's awhile back.  It still works today, in many different walks of life.  Apple's a pretty self-centered company.  I hated on them awhile back because it seems to me and many others that that Jobs feller (RIP) may or may not design products in such a way that they crap out after a just a year, maybe two tops.  And these products are put together in such a way that it's very hard to replace batteries.  Basically they hook you on the drug they call "i": iPad, iPhone, iPod, iMac...whatever.  They get people fiending good and hard on them and then their product murders itself and the poor shlubs are left needing a new one ASAP.  And these people buy them because they are sheep.  SHEEP.  And these people walk around all self-centered-like, as anyone that is carrying around a product that begins with "i" should.   
Reading this on one of those newfangled iMachines?  YOU are the center of the universe with that iMachine, sir or madam.  You can see the world through that screen. THE WHOLE WORLD ON THREE TO TEN DIAGONAL INCHES.  You really can.  ALLLLLLLL of life is within that screen.  Maybe you should take a time out from Siri, iFriends.  Look up.  The real world looks better, if you ask me.  End PSA.
Anyways I lost "my" iPod in a bar about two months ago.  I think it fell out of my jacket pocket when I was holding on loosely to an 80's cover band on a Thursday night.  Now I ride to work to the sounds of Somerville.  Interesting soundtrack, it is.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Where did the (academic) year go...?

Greetings, my friends.  For it has been quite some time since I've managed to put fingers to keys on this fine interweb-based pad of notes.  August and September brought changes, many many changes, some of which included a desire to focus on academics more than I had in, well, my whole life.  While there is internal debate over whether or not this occurred it became uncomfortable for me to devote time to writing about nothing when I supposedly had so much going on in academia.  So, instead of writing blog posts, and generally instead of doing assigned readings and prep work and progressing on projects in a timely fashion I reverted to my undergraduate vices of solitaire and minesweeper and scouring youtube for songs to fit my mood.  To this, I hope you've enjoyed my increased facebook posting and that we've been able to stay somewhat in touch though actual, face-to-face, human interaction.  In bars or over drinks.  Always with a touch of class.

It's raining hard right now and it's supposed to stay that way through much of Monday.  During the day, rain is my nemesis.  I have continued happily avoiding car-ownership and (it's been so long I can't remember if proper thanks were given here last fall..) was lucky enough to receive a two-wheeled gift from Brion Gallagher which has allowed me to become a hard-charging city-bicycler.  This is not the 70's Schwin cruiser or the tandem stylings of a life former.  This is a stock road bike from the late eighties or early nineties that I threw a rack on the back and, for the first time in my life, a MILK CRATE.  The milk crate is a game changer, ladies and gentlemen.  I don't know how I managed to get by for so long without one.  It makes going to the grocer a much less painful experience.  I can buy eggs and milk if I want eggs and milk and I don't need to worry about them being crushed by a bungee cord.  My kale remains in fantastic shape.  And, believe it or not, you can fit a pretty damn lot of food in one milk crate.  One freighted shopping basket roughly equals one freighted milk crate.  Granted I can get a little wobbly when I have that much on my tail, and I've blown out a couple of tires pedaling home fully loaded; all of that just adds to the adventure of city living.

I've been pleasantly surprised to find how easy it is to get around the city on two wheels.  Though, in the nature of full disclosure I'll admit that I lucked that my move to this little city coincided with an extremely mild winter; so mild that there hasn't been a day that I couldn't manage to get around on my bicycle.  Stopping was sketchy one morning in a half inch or so of white stuff, and late evening rides were a little slippery but thus far I haven't laid it down or been clipped by passersby so I have to consider my commutes thus far successful.  I will say that it gets pretty damn cold on January mornings, snow or not, but, that's what hats and mittens are for.  Warm temperatures are just fine and much preferred but you can't always get what you want.  This is why my belly is pasty white these days.  Boo hoo.

Anyways, it's raining.  It's been raining all afternoon.  I spent the afternoon in bed cycling between napping, watching recent episodes of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report on Hulu, and listening to a lot of earlier Tom Waits.  I've done no academic work today, and I'd like to say this was a much needed break from work but generally I don't accomplish a whole lot on Sundays.  It's my day of rest, of course.  But with temperatures in the fifties I've been thrilled to have my window wide open and hear the rain fall and the wind blow and not hear the usual honks and din and bustle of traffic and voices and commotion.  I learned just last week that Somerville has the highest population density in New England and is 17th in population density in the US.  Some transition.  If I knew that moving down I would have said, "Fuck this.  That sounds miserable."  75,000+ folks living in about six square miles.  I guess that's a lot of people but I don't really have a good frame of reference for these sorts of statistics yet.  But I will tell you this:there are very few backyards and lots of multi-unit houses.  On EVERY street.  Literally, every street.  I guess that adds up to a lot of people living on top of one another (pun intended..).

Personally, I live in squalor.  I recently spent a bit of time cleaning up a couple of weeks ago but I don't think I'm going to be able, nor want, to remove all of this place's "crack den chic."  It's a five bedroom place that was straight from craigslist.  Luckily, the four other people didn't torture or murder me upon my move in.  After eight months I hope I'm safe and this isn't just one lengthy set-up.  That being said I still lock my door most nights.  Can't be too sure, you know.

When I moved in my room didn't have a doorknob, a light that worked, or blinds in the window.  Since I moved in I managed to put a new doorknob on fairly quickly but have come to live by desk lamps at all hours and I wake when the sun begins to shine.  I'm perfectly fine with this.  Through the fall I cooked cleanly and healthily, buying many fresh fruits and vegetables and fairly high quality meats and experimenting with many dishes I had never tried to create at home.  Since the new year I've lost quite a bit of evening motivation and my diet shifted to more, how should I say this...pre-packaged burritos, chicken nuggets, and curly fries.  This is a bit unfortunate but, hell, that shit still tastes GOOD.  My beer drinking has been down though on the rare occasion that I do go out I try to pull all the stops and make sure I go all the way to failure with an extended set of 12oz. curls.  Always a maximizer, I am.

Getting back into coaching has been swell, as have classes, surprisingly.  It was nice to not have the time to think about what "going back to school" would actually entail when I started in August.  If I had remembered just how unhappy I was as an undergrad then I don't think I ever would have committed to such a seemingly fool-hearted pursuit.  In actuality the coursework now is not the same filler of most undergraduate courses.  I'm pretty happy to have an opportunity to continue with both programs (xc/track and school) for another couple of years down here.

My spring coursework will be wrapping in about two weeks and track will be completed right around Memorial Day.  Then, for a bit, hilarity should ensue.  Hopefully by then I'll be back on the write train "(Get it?!?!?!).  There have been many more smiles than frowns these last eight months for many, many reasons.  As always, I've got no shortage of stories to tell.

Feels good to be back.  Cheers.