Tuesday, February 27, 2007

it's the mental scars that get you

Sometimes your friends say things that flatten a wrinkle in your brain and stay with you for a while. Yesterday, Shelli was at the shop waiting for Cecilio. They were going to run up Hibriten Mtn. Shelli made the comment, "I remember running up Hibriten trying to keep up with Shawn". Ouch. I remember that as well. I remember having some semblance of fitness in the pre-baby days. So, then I get home and the new Golite catalog is sitting on the table full of all the latest adventure racing gear, mocking me and my shortcomings. Naturally, when I drifted off to sleep, I dreamt of adventure racing pretty much the whole night.

Now mind you, I've picked on the odd multi-sport athlete here and there (that's a mea culpa of sorts), but I have to admit that adventure racing has been one of the hardest and most enjoyable things I've done in my life. Never have the words "It's like fun, but different..." rung truer. I think I'm starting to awaken from some sort of daze and starting to feel the pull of activity and training. Scheduling seems to be the sticking point, but I think it can be worked out.

The weather today was such a sneak peek at spring, it wasn't even funny. Stopped by the shop and it was going gangbusters. A little warmth, a little sunshine and everybody is ready to get out and do something, anything active! I know the feeling. I took my students outside at the end of today trying to drive away the clenched feeling I had from being inside all day. It worked for me and them. Just one more day and then we can all enjoy a 4 day weekend from school!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Kaiser roll

photo: Graham Watson Joop Zoetemelk (2nd place in TdF 6 times) follows Lemond up the Puy de Dome.

Jan Ullrich announced his retirement today. An end to a long and sordid story. I prefer the young Jan (kinda like the young Elvis), you know the partying, red porsche crashing, too fat at the beginning of the season Jan. He is much better than this older, worn, beaten also ran who may or may not have been doping, but sure hasn't done much to make us believe he hasn't. I think we have to start realizing that the european court system is a bit different from our own, in that the euros are more guilty til proven innocent than we are (except in our court of public opinion). Let's see: Ullrich consented to DNA testing, then his lawyers tried to block it and failed, and then POW! he's retired. There's something not quite cricket about that series of events, but just like everything else in this whole sordid mess, it isn't clear cut either. Pro cycling is caught in some dime store detective novel of rumor and innuendo and there is no end in sight. Given the current battle between the various race organizers and the Pro Tour, the whole thing is about to implode. Poor Unibet.com, they just want to race...

Got this from Chris in Tally:

Hey dude,

I know you don't like swimming, but please don't assume that anyone who's comfortable in the water is in danger of becoming a triathlageek. Not all those who drink are drunks. Not all who swim, bike, and run are interested in in the athletic version of a three-way.

I might further add that your offspring is likely sensing your dislike for the water (it's pheromonal, trust me) and that's the source of his discomfiture. Let Uncle Aquaman get the lad in a pool and he's soon become a cooing chlorinaholic.

Should the boy ever aspire to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he'll have to be reasonably comfortable in the water. A graduation requirement at Carolina is passing the Red Cross swim test. Other schools that require some sort of swimming competency include
Cornell, Columbia, MIT, Dartmouth, Notre Dame, Davidson College, Swarthmore, and Duke.

Please also note that I don't consider you a lost cause in terms of swimming. If I can ever get my ass there long enough, and can give you some rudimentary coaching, I could turn you into, if not a shark, a mullet.

Yours in aquafilia,


Now let me be really clear: some of my best friends are triathletes and I have nothing against the sport. Cyclists just treat the whole sport of triathlon as a kind of convenient whipping boy. Could be the speedos and singlets that get us started. It is kinda hysterical that cyclists clad in skin tight lycra can feel any sense of macho elitism about anything, but then again, we're a bunch of guys and we can work ourselves into a testosterone induced, chest beating frenzy in just about any situation. Imagine the knock down, drag out fist fights that men have about {insert subject here}. Ego we got, judgement we can be short on... As for me swimming like a mullet, I think I have a better shot of growing one than swimming like one. My aversion to water goes way back. My parents can show you pics (and home movies) of me doing such seriously warped things as taking a bath and wading in the ocean with my shoes on at the age of 4 or so. Hopefully (and I say this with all honesty), Owen will enjoy the water. We plan on taking him swimming as much as possible this summer. And no, I wasn't sending out any "hate swimming" vibe! Given the current state of youth activity levels, I'm going to be exceptionally happy with Owen being athletic in any sense!

Got an email from Double Down Dave Brown, Luna Cycles Afghanistan correspondent:

Hey Everybody!!

Well I have finally arrived in Afghanistan and finally have an internet connection. These are the only email addresses I had for all of you so update me when you can if you have alternate ones that you prefer. So far we have flown 3 times and made things fall from the sky on two occasions. I have plenty of pics so far so but will wait to show them when I get back. I am back on the stationary trainer which sucks, but it is all we have. I was able watch a couple stages of the Tour de Calf. while I rode so that was cool. AFN TV is cool!! Life is good believe it not ... I have a bed and my own little area where there is a small amount of privacy from the rest of my crew (6 on a crew). We eat, sleep, and fly together which is a good thing because we all get along. We also have 11 more crews and maintenance folks here as well. It is kinda cool to see 6 airplanes from Charlotte on the ramp and know that we are running the show until Wyoming shows up to relieve us. This is not a bad place but the difference from being in Kuwait is that sometimes when people leave here, they don't come back. I am talking of the army and the sacrifices they make everyday in their efforts to suppress the Taliban. We mainly drop beans and bullets to the guys on the ground and its really cool seeing the loads go out of the airplane. That is the best part of my job - flying with the ramp and door open at high or low altitude.

Enough about me ... How is everyone? I understand the weather is still crappy and riding I bet has been difficult or at least not as fun. To Jeff and Shawn I hope the shop is doing well and school is good. Race season is approaching and Shelli, are you going to do the Duathlon thing? John, the triathlon thing? I have registered for Valdese and Riverwood with Valdese coming on the weekend after I get back so I'm sure I will suck in that one. I get home on the 6th of APR unless we break somewhere in route. Lets hope not! Feel free to forward this email to the rest of the crew if you want. Chuck, Jack, Mark, Max, Golden, Mike, Bob, (holy cow the list is endless!) to all of you I say hello and hope all is well. The food is great here but it is not pulled pork from the Hammer trust me on that one!! You all take care and I will get back to you soon.

Supreme Air Wing Commander and oh ahhh part-time bike rider,
David "DD" Brown

Having known DD through several deployments, I know how committed he is to the Air National Guard and how much he misses being around his friends when he's deployed. If you get the chance, drop him an email, I know he'll appreciate it.

Just heard on the radio that Barry Bonds is refusing to cooperate in an MLB investigation into steroid abuse in the pro ranks because they won't guarantee that he won't be prosecuted for perjury for his previous statements. Good thing we've got Dick Pound thinking cycling is the dirtiest pro sport in the world...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The dust up

Lance Leipheimer won the TofC today. Yeah (note deadpan sarcasm). I like Levi, I really do. But Discovery (nee US Postal) have been about the worst thing to happen to stage racing in my opinion. Their formula is soooooo simple: 1) take the lead and then grind everyone into oblivion, 2) team leader must be strong time trialist so lead can be padded against the clock, 3) if someone on another team can give you a run for your money in either the tt or climbing specialties, offer them a contract so you can control their talent. Simple and absolutely boring. Armstrong's first 2 victories were great displays of power and tactics, but the fun factor went seriously downhill from there. The last couple were just straight up snooze-a-thons. Pros don't go for it anymore. They have become risk averse. Except for Vinokourov, that guy is just nuts. Pick the spot that would be the absolute worst place to attack, and that guy is gonna give it a go. He is a breath of fresh air in what is becoming a stolid little sport.

It has been a few days since I posted, so I have to bring you up to speed on a few things. I created a bit of a tempest in a tea pot with my postings on the city council and the recycling affair. You can read some of their comments. Suffice it to say that I was very prompt in communicating with them. Notably, Mr. Purdue realized that he and I had a misunderstanding, but to completely clear the air I would like to say that I am very pleased with the receptiveness to recycling that most of the city council expressed. I am pleased to say that several council members have stated that Lenoir will have recycling in one form or another in the next fiscal year. So come July 1st, things should be up and running.

With that being said, I want to delve a little deeper into the world of local politics. I would like to present the council members with a few questions and would like to present their answers in an unedited form here. Too often we get just snippets of what they state, and given the reaction that my own writing provoked, I think that our city council members are passionate about our city's future and need a forum to express that in. I would like to call on anyone who reads this to email questions they would like to see answers to from our city council. I am especially interested in their vision of Lenoir's future. I expressed to Mr. Purdue that part of my intention with this 'blog is to promote people taking an interest in our local political scene, so please let me know what you would like to ask the city council!

Owen has finally cut the tooth he has been working on for a month. It is a sharp little thing with a buddy coming in right beside it. He's been pretty good about it, but by the end of the day he's pretty grumpy. He fusses with his toys like they just won't play right. We took him swimming at the aquatic center this afternoon and he wasn't exactly thrilled. There was a lot of crying when we first got in the pool. He didn't cry the whole time, but he never really settled into an "ooooooh, this is fun" kinda mood. It was a bummer to see him unhappy, but a small part of me was secretly pleased since it's going to be hard for him to be a triathlete if he doesn't like swimming! I know, I know, pools can be fun and he's a little kid and all that, yada yada yada. If he doesn't like swimming though, he will have come by it honestly 'cause I can't stand it, never have. Golden asked me if I was afraid of water and I told her no, I just don't like it.

Here's to the start of a three day work week! Enjoy!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

All hail the cricket!

Paolo Bettini nailed it at the line today in the TofC! Check him out, resplendent in the rainbow stripes and don't forget the gold toe caps on the shoes (in deference to his olympic gold medal at the last olympics). The guy is one of my favorite riders in the peloton. Il grillo is always a threat!

Got a comment on the 'blog from our esteemed City Councilman, Mr. T.J. Rohr. I hope this is the beginning of an open line of communication between our little progressive community and the powers that be. I wrote the city council an email, but I'm not sure it worked as the computer at work runs Windows and I think it knows I don't like it. Anyway, after the city council meeting on monday, I got to thinking about the numbers that were being thrown around. It goes something like this: the cost estimate for a recycling convenience center will be $450,000 (according to city manager Lane Bailey), the cost of curbside recycling for the city of Lenoir was $155,000 per year when it was eliminated. Now anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not a bright man, but I'm thinking that curbside recycling will be cheaper. Now the real kicker is that by being more convenient, curbside recycling should, theoretically, have a higher participation rate than a drop off program. Now, I know what you're going to say, "But didn't the city get rid of curbside recycling to save money?" Why, yes they did. But wait. If each household in Lenoir pays a $1.80 per month "recycling fee", curbside recycling would be fully funded! I suggested this in my email to the city council, along with the following incentive program: compare monthly totals of garbage (in tons) that the city pays to dispose in the landfill with the historical averages and publish them in the paper. Further incentivize recycling by committing money saved by the city when compared to the historic average landfill cost to a "Lenoir Beautification Fund". So for example: if in the month of February, the city normally pays to dispose an average of 20 tons of garbage in the landfill and this February's total is 18 tons, then the city would contribute 2 tons worth of garbage fees (or $64 at the current billing rate) to the beautification fund. The paper could keep on ongoing little column about this and stir up public support for increasing the amount of garbage kept out of the landfill. Anyway, it's just a thought.

Tomorrow is Friday and not a moment to soon. I am ready to ride in the warmer weather, just as long as the wind calms down to something shy of good sailing weather. I took Owen out in the stroller and had to fight a headwind to make progress. I had to push pretty hard DOWNHILL against the wind at one point. That is stupid windy, in my opinion. Hope to see you Saturday morning at the shop, 10 am!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Tonight was the city council meeting to again request a recycling center in Lenoir. Another big crowd and multiple speakers in support of the request. Jeff and I both spoke after Charlie Frey and James Lowicki kicked things off. My Dad spoke after us in an effort to offset the city council's aw-shucks-ain't-these-youngin's-cute condescention. If you ever need an aging hippy to give credibility to your cause, my Dad's the guy you want on board. Shell-bob Welch rounded out our little group of vocal progressives.

I think that there is definitely some support on the city council for our request. And now, I turn to all of you to help drive the point home. Drop the members of the Lenoir City Council a quick email, just to keep their feet to the fire. The tactic I took with them was to applaud them for the progressive leadership they exhibited by getting Google to come here. Butter 'em up real good; politicians just eat that kinda thing up!

The weather has taken a turn for the pleasant. I've got some new Adidas road shoes on the way, so I can't wait to go try them out without shoe covers! They will be my first new pair of road shoes in years. I'll let you know how they are.

I got some good responses to my Ben Franklin quote. I think that the Matthew 15:11 reference was positive. At least it seemed positive to me. Chris in Tally sent me a George Bernard Shaw quote:
Life's pleasures are either illegal, or immoral, or make you fat.

It's been a long time since I've given you guys any homework, so I appreciate the torent of emails to the city council that you will unleash!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Who you calling dopey?

So the TofC started yesterday. Levi Leipheimer won the prologue (enjoy it now, Levi before Basso makes you an errand boy) just edging out Jason Donald of Team Slipstream (formerly TIAA-CREF). What is so cool about Donald's performance is not that he beat the world time trial champion and most of the hot shot tter's of the pro peloton, but that he is undeniably a clean rider. Team Slipstream has partnered with the Agency for Cycling Ethics in a unique testing program that offers every incentive for a rider to ride clean. Unlike the UCI and WADA's systems of better-not-let-us-catch-you system of testing, the ACE is focused on establishing a "clean" record for each cyclist on the team. This comes out of the philosophy established by Don Caitlin, a scientist and medical researcher. Don was featured in Discover magazine years ago in an article that outlined the faults that he found with the then current system of anti-doping checks. The ACE and Dr. Catlin's system is voluntary. Each rider submits to a rigorous and thorough testing process that lasts 12 months and establishs a baseline for their system. Any time subsequent tests look hinky, the rider undergoes counseling. Continue to look hinky and your out of the program and therefore, not "clean". Much better than the current state of catch-me-if-you-can vs. Dick Pound polemica that doesn't seem to get anybody anywhere.

Hats off to Donald for his strong second place and his donning of the Points Leader jersey. Congrats too to his teammate, Taylor Tolleson for taking the best young rider's jersey. Just last year, Tolleson was stomping the pedals around these parts while he attended Lees-McRae College. Support the boys in argyle as the put their mark on the peloton! If you want to actually support the move that Slipstream has made towards a new way of cleaning up cycling, you can join the Argyle Armada. Buy a jersey and 100% of the money (not 100% of the proceeds!) will go to the Agency for Sporting Ethics.

The weather is looking up for this week. If you can get out and ride. Think of me sitting in a classroom full of knuckleheads trying not to convince myself that the work ethic of my students will spell doom for the social security system that I pay into so dearly. I'm a little disappointed that not one Star Trek fan made a comment about my Kobayashi Maru reference... I'm just going to have to get even more obscure on you to pay you back for that sleight!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Just like Dad

I find more and more that my Dad taught me some of the best ways to deal with middle schoolers. Rather than calling the parents of my plagiarizers during the test, I pulled them aside one by one right before school got out for the day. I talked to them about what they had done and offered them the opportunity to talk to their parents this weekend before I call on monday. This is right out of my Dad's playbook. It's like the Kobayashi Maru scenario in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. You could see the thrill of the weekend just drain right out of their faces when I presented them with this situation.

Today's ride was sooooooooooooooooo cold. It started off cold and then, mysteriously, got colder. I rode the new bike by myself. There isn't enough that I can say in praise of the BMC SLC01. I can enthusiastically say that it blows the ride of my Scott CR1 (from last season) out of the water. Never has a bike made me feel more unworthy of riding it! The ride is nimble, plush and no power is wasted through frame flex. The bike accelerates with undescribable quickness. Never have I felt that so much of my (meager) power output was transferred to forward motion. The frame seems to disappear beneath you from any lack of unwanted frame twist or flex. In a word, this bike is superb!

Tour of California starts tomorrow. Hopefully, Levi will be able to get some good results before he has to play errand boy to Ivan Basso. Think about it, you sign with Discovery to be the team leader and then they go and sign Basso, and all bets are off. That would suck, big time. You know that Levi's clean. You know that Levi's competitive. You know that Levi's been slowly, but surely improving year by year. And you know that Levi's never going to be let loose in any other capacity, but to flog the peloton for Ivan "E.T." Basso.

Looks like Hamilton and the Tinkoff boys will be riding in the Giro this year. I think we'll be seeing Tyler unleash a whole lot of angry. As to all of the people who so crassly comment about Hamilton even racing (including Dick Pound), whether you think he's guilty or not, the guy served his suspension and is now putting the pieces back together. If you point to the Operacion Puerto suspicions against Hamilton as further evidence of guilt, then you are seriously deluded to the major problem of the anti-doping crusade in cycling. Make a 100% public, completely above board (as in WADA follows its OWN damn rules) process that is beyond reproach (rather than beyond prudence), then doping tests will have the credibility needed to end the controversy. Until that time, stop following rumors, leaks and innuendo and just enjoy the bike racing!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Help me, Jeebus!

Be prepared to hear about this for the next few days. The long and short of it is that the Tour of California didn't bother to test riders for EPO last year. Sort of a gaping hole, wouldn't you say? And this right after Dick Pound spouts off about "prudence" not being applicable to stopping doping in cycling. Please. We've got the Keystone Kops taking on the Bad News Bears on the world stage of competitive cycling. This is serious bush league... Thanks to Chris in Tally for the heads up on this one.

Got this in the inbox:

Shawn, good to hear your Praxis results came at such an appropriate moment in your life. I just finished a bottle of Poperings hommel ale (a toast to you) its a Belgian oddity; cloudy and fruity like a witbier, a punch like a golden ale, a rather hoppy note like an IPA. Thanks for your musings on life, I enjoy it !Hope to see you on two wheels sometime soon. Or around a bottle from Belgium.

Thanks for the toast Howard and keep sending those belgian beer reviews. A Lenoir beer and wine store is in the works as we speak. I'll keep you informed. And for all of my churchgoing buddies, remember the words of Benjamin Franklin: "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Amen to that.

Be sure to check out the Cyclocross video link on the sidebar. 2007 World Championships is up and running. I checked it out today just to see the first 2 laps that I missed during the live coverage. After watching Wellens get positively slammed to the deck by the traffic barrier, I'm surprised that ATV driver lived to video the rest of the race! The race is definitely exciting enough to warrant a second look!

Tomorrow's temps don't look super promising, but I got the new bike built and I'm definitely not missing the chance to ride it! So the scoop is, I am now on a BMC SLC01. Built with Campy Record, Ksyrium Elite wheels (a bit piggy, but good for general purpose stuff) it weighs in at 16 pounds 1 oz! Some race wheels, a Record carbon ultra torque crank and it'll be pushing the 15 pound mark! Hope to see you on the road tomorrow!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The blahs

It must be the weather. I walk my kids to the cafeteria at 11 am and the weather has seemed pretty decent lately. Then, by the time I get off work and home, the temps are dropping, the wind is blowing and everything is generally not nice. This coupled with pictures of guys getting paid to race in places like Mallorca, Langkawi and Qatar, seems to be driving me slightly bonkers. Rode the bike home from the shop last night and had to take 20 minutes to warm up afterward. I touched Owen's cheek and he got the most shocked look on his face! It was so cold, the base of my skull hurt.

I got assigned a teaching intern from ASU. She graded some papers for me and wrote a test that I will administer tomorrow. It was a great help and I actually got to spend time grading papers and then sifting through the papers she graded looking for anything "suspicious". Now, let me briefly say that by no means does one have to be a rocket scientist to identify plagiarism. I had several papers that just didn't seem right. Perhaps it was the 8th grade essay on "How global warming affects me" that cited an article from the scholarly journal Science or the fact that the font changed size half way through a paragraph in another essay that raised my suspicion. Anyway, a little Google and about 2 minutes and I had pulled up every uncredited source article that my students had used. It isn't amazing that they try to plagiarize, but it is amazing that they absolutely, positively do not see anything wrong with it! Well, tomorrow while they are taking the test, I will be making phone calls to parents to discuss the situation. I feel like I have to address academic dishonesty firmly at this point in their education in order to try to prevent it from occuring again. 8th grade is a better place to learn from a mistake than a university is...

This weekend sounds like lower 40's temps. I'll get the "Real Deal" weather report from Jeff and share that with you tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dog vs. Bike

The big dog out towards Rocky Rd. claimed a victim today. Jeff got hit in the rear wheel going about 35 mph. The rear end swapped. Rear tire blew off the rim and the saddle blew off the rails, but somehow he kept the damn thing upright, saving himself from a pretty nasty crash. We've gotta be careful out there when it comes to those dogs. Some are cool and predictable, but some are seriously sketchy.

Look out for Max "ghost faced killah" Dyer on his new BMC this weekend. We weren't able to find any little bike stickers with x's over them to put on his top tube a la WWII fighter ace style, but we'll keep an eye out for them in the future. Max already has that lean predatory look of a crit rider and it's only February! Look out for him this season.

Happy Valentine's Day! Hope you got to spend it with someone you like, at least.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

le bien, le mal

Today was one for the books. I got ambushed by two coworkers during a parent-teacher conference. Fortunately, both administrators were present and both of them reassured me of their support for what I do in the classroom. Nevertheless, this led me to come to the pretty abrupt realization that, no matter what, I can no longer continue my career at my present school. This is difficult for me to realize, but I think it's for the best.

The good news for the day came when I got home and received my Praxis scores (the test I thought I bombed last month). I passed the test pretty soundly and now I can be certified to teach High School. I think that the Karmic wheel took a positive turn for me today, providing me with both a reason to leave and a means to do so as well.

The weather is cold and rainy. I heard someone say today that the worst kind of weather was 32 degrees and raining. You can't do a thing except stay inside and try not to get sick. Weather should clear up by the weekend, though. Good thing too, as I have a new road bike to ride! Details will be revealed later...

Nothing says you have arrived in cycling like the understated charm of your own personal trailer. Here is the kind of pimp-style you get to throw down when you win Cyclocross World's two years in a row like Erwin "Papa" Vervecken! Imagine cruising to the local 'cross race in this machine. Kinda like the Sandhills Syndicate, but with rainbow stripes. We'll just have to see what kind of ride Jonathon Page is able to score after his silver medal this year. Maybe one of those cool Ford Euro vans with a couple of hammocks...

Now for a bit of the political. By now I'm sure you've heard the recent US accusations that Iran is supplying some of the more deadly IED's to the Iraqi insurgency. When commenting on these accusations (which, I have to say, I would not be surprised to find out were factual), the Iranian government said that there is no credibility to the claims given the "history of American manipulation" of intelligence to suit it's own purposes. Reeaaaaaallllly? I mean, did our administration lob that big softball up to the world, or what? We have set the whole world up to be able to say, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." We have shot our credibility with the rest of the world. Our me first (and only) attitude has turned so many of our allies against us. Can it be repaired by the next administration? Who knows? Do we have a serious amount of work to do in order to regain credibility on the world stage? Absolutely.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

the sad goodbye

There's a special, tiny heartbreak you feel when you wave goodbye to the group ride as it heads off without you. Today was that kind of day for me. I have too many balls up in the air right now, and I needed to take some time to try and regain some control. Fortunately, the temps were just cool enough to keep me from regretting not riding too much. As a frenzied work weekend draws to a close, I feel a certain sense of accomplishment. Now, the work week begins to rear its ugly head.

Tomorrow, I'll be finishing "An Inconvenient Truth" with my students. Attempts to draw them into a discussion about it on Friday were less than stellar. Hopefully, tomorrow will see more lively discussion. One class was very much into talking about the movie and the issues presented. You can hear their parents and FOX News in some of their comments, but others were surprising with insightful questions. We'll see what tomorrow brings...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Rage against the machine

photo by:Mark Adkison

I'm reading The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. It is putting words to many of the feelings and observations that I've had over my short teaching career. Quite simply, we are not providing a rigorous, challenging education for students and it is partly the low-expectations of our society coupled with a lack of desire to do anything that isn't "fun", that is to blame. The gears are spinning in my head; have been for quite some time, in fact. That isn't a good thing for me. I feel so conflicted about trying to foment real change because I know how difficult and thankless of a challenge it is. Up until this point, my teaching career has pretty much consisted of me repeatedly pissing off parents and incuring the dislike of students due to my "high" expectations. I say "high" because I don't think that my expectations are high, I think they are a bit on the low side, given the employment future that my current students have before them. A true sea change needs to occur...

Didn't make the ride today. I've committed myself to knocking out all of the loose ends left on the bathroom this weekend. If the plan holds, all that will be left will be tiling the floor. The long ride today was an 80 mile jaunt around Lake James (the infamous "Lake James, bitch" ride). I think that the wind and cold worked a double whammy on a lot of people as I saw a couple of truly shattered countenances rolling in. There will be another ride tomorrow at 10 am.

Too Tall Trey picked up his brand spankin' new BMC Fourstroke 03 mtn. bike, yesterday. With a 23" frame, it is the largest full suspension mtn. bike I have ever seen. It fit Trey like a glove and made him realize pretty quickly how cramped up he's been on all of the too small bikes he's been riding. I can't wait to hear his ride review next week!

Check out the new BMC Pro Cycling Team and read a review of the Blackburn Ultra Trakstand Trainer that we just got in stock (we have 2 left)!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

a kick to the balls

Luna Cycles Florida correspondent, Chris Harris, sent this in:

hey man. the kid keeps on surprising. his team was in the state regional semi-finals tuesday night against jacksonville wolfson, the team that knocked them out of the tournament last year (and had beaten them back in fall). after regulation, it was 0-0. they played two 10-minute overtimes, same result. then on to penalty kicks. the scenario: dylan's teammate davey beck makes his, then wolfson makes one. a leon player misses, but dylan blocks the wolfson shot to keep it 1-1. nick brinson makes it 2-1, and dylan follows with a second diving block. clayton hinson makes, and it's up to dylan. he guesses right and blocks his third PK in a row. the
student body section, well into the hundreds, pours onto the field. they and dylan's teammates pick him up on their shoulders. when they finally let him down someone hands him the school flag and he takes a lap. the match goes down as a 1-0 win. dylan get's his 20th shutout of the year,
setting a record. his goals-against average is now 0.55. he made headlines in the paper, and was featured on two TV sports segments.

Newspaper article

check out his quote. i think someone should offer him a scholarship just for using the e-word.

Check out the article. Dylan's in high school and managed to use the word emanate in a post-game interview! Gives me hope for the future that maybe my students will absorb something. Anyway, I think Dylan is like some kind of ball whisperer or something. All of a sudden, the kid just figured out he was a goalie. I'm still trying to find the sport I'm a natural for...

I'm looking forward to working with my kids on their robots tomorrow. They're starting to really get into it. Although the robots are simple, the kids do have to program them using a TI graphing calculator as the robot's "brain". I'm really trying to drive home the fact that computers don't think, they just do what you tell them to do. By having them program, they are getting first hand experience in identifying and correcting their mistakes. check out the robots I'm using here. I think Isaac Asimov said that as a society becomes more technologically advanced, it's technology will seem to operate by magic. I really want to demystify the whole thing for my kids...

Tomorrow afternoon is the school Valentine's dance. It is a truly painful experience to endure. The music is way too loud given the acoustic qualities of a gymnasium and for the most part, all of the kids just stand around (or run around like idiots, in the case of 6th grade boys). Fortunately, Owen will preclude us from attending. Darn...

Speaking of Owen, we have finally discovered that he doesn't like to eat anything sweet, but he can put a serious dent in some mashed up vegetables. Tonight, he eyed our thai noodles with tofu and spicy peanut sauce like a little bobcat eyeing its prey...

Highs this weekend in the upper 40's, so should be decent riding weather. Hopefully we'll have another big group like last weekend. Come join us at 10am saturday at the shop!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Not much to say tonight. Pretty thankful that wednesday is in the books and its on to thursday!

I put some robots in the hands of my students today. It was my favorite way to teach: minimal, but key instructions and then turn them loose to actually try and solve a problem. Some success and some sitting and staring, but pretty successful given that the students had to program them to perform three seperate tasks. Little do they know, it is just the beginning...

Owen keeps getting cuter and more animated everyday. I feel like I'm getting to know somebody every time I'm with him. It is the soolest and most unexpected aspect of parenthood so far. A coworker at school is expecting his first child this summer. I recognize myself in his sort of jokingly cynical demeanor, but I know that, like me, he's scared shitless about the whole parenthood prospect. I have purposefully avoided saying any of the millions of cliches that people said to me to him. I feel that there is know way that anyone can tell you anything to prepare you for having a kid, so why even try? I prefer to experience it all fresh with no preconceptions gleaned from the "wisdom" of others. It is nice to hear people relate their own expereinces though. Then you know that you're no the first to have experienced some weird occurence with your child!

Short one tonight. Maybe after hammering on the bathroom for a while tomorrow, I'll be sufficiently inspired. Weekend weather holds promise for being nice riding conditions. Keep everything crossed on that one!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

one of THOSE days

Today was the kind of day that makes you hope tomorrow is Friday. Just my luck, it ain't. My cup hath runneth over with adolescent apathy. Today I tried to discuss global climate change with my students to find out what they think. Turns out, they don't apparently think - about anything. You would think that students would jump at the chance to voice their opinions, but noooooooo. Too much effort I guess. And then I checked out the Lenoir News-Topic and saw the one political cartoon that they ran was mocking Al Gore and his call to action to fight global warming. It labeled it "hysteria".

I've gotta say that the hysteria label was especially ignorant and the fact that the local paper chose such a cartoon especially egregious given the announcement by the UN Meteorological Study on Friday, that global warming is "unequivocal" and that serious, sustained action must be undertaken now to slow it down and mitigate it's effects. Read more here and here. Amazing that something which has been studied since the 1950's and seriously warned about since the 1970's-1980's can be labeled hysteria. The US is going to pompously remain out of step with the rest of the world on this and many other big issues right up until we find ourselves a marginalized, 3rd world country. We lag behind in so many ways and still proudly boast "We're #1!" That's okay, I'm going to show "An Inconvenient Truth" to my classes this week; we'll see how that goes over...

Came home this afternoon and worked out my frustration with some continued remodeling on the bathroom that wouldn't die. Played with Owen (which really helped brighten my mood!) and watched him "eat" some broccoli. Here is photographic evidence:

Back to the trenches tomorrow to fight the good fight...

Monday, February 05, 2007

A little love

Looks like the "Cannibal" of 'cross is none too popular with his veteran teammate, Richard Groenendahl. Not surprising, given the fact that Groenendahl absolutely pinned it at World's after Nijs went down.

The weather forecast for this week is pretty grim. Day after day of cold, cold weather. Now is definitely the time to get some bike work done! Jeff and I have been trying to pass this email around to our local customers and since we don't have everybody's email address, I figured this would be as good a place as any to spread the word! So, brief email:

Wanted to drop a note to all the people we had e-mail addresses for and give
you a heads-up of some things going on at Luna Cycles. We have only a very
limited amount of e-mails so we ask that you forward this update to
others in our area that you know are cyclist. This is our idea of grass roots
On to the news...As it looks like we are in for the worst temps. and
general bad weather for at least the next week now would be a great time to
bring in your bikes for the Spring Overhaul, Winter tune-up or component
up-grades. The reason now is the best time for this is several fold. First
off, our business is really slow and we could use the business, this also
allows us to have a quicker turn around on the work we are doing for you.
Next and most importantly is that everyone is not in a rush to get out on
their bike in this kind of weather so getting the work done does not have
you off the bike during a time that the weather is nice!! Also our
distributors have most of the new components in stock right now so there is
limited waiting for the latest parts to arrive.
Our pricing structure has changed a little bit for 2007; Tune-ups are
$35.00 (up from $30.00), we have added a Performance tune-up for $55.00 -
$60.00 which adds new cables to the original tune-up, Overhauls will remain
at $90.00 plus parts and of course we still offer a drive train clean for
$20.00. For a limited time we will offer 10% off parts being purchased with
an above mentioned service!
So now is the time to act and please remember to forward this to the other
cyclist in our area (mostly you guys in the medical field)
Thanks for being our customers and we will see you soon!!

*Just in: We have received a double shipment of Blackburn Ultra Trakstand trainers! We have been trying for 2 months to get 2 of these that had been pre-sold and now, we have received not 2, but 4! We want to offer these to our customers first, before we contact Blackburn about this mistake, since these trainers are so difficult to obtain. They are $299.99 each. You can learn more about them at Blackburn to learn more about these trainers. If you are interested in one, please let us know in the next couple of days either by calling the shop or emailing Jeff.

Jeff and Shawn
Luna Cycles

I want to stress for the sake of all of our dealership commitments that this is strictly for in store business only!

Owen has started standing up when you support him. He used to get a bad case of the jelly legs, but no more. Eating food is still a train wreck, but we've decided to just let him progress at his own rate. At least now he holds his spoon and gets the food in his mouth MOST of the time...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The hip check

The wind was positively howling when we pulled up at Kerr Scott reservoir. There were even a few flakes of snow blowing by, but it never amounted to anything. Jeff, Kevin, Trey and I went mtn. biking while Golden to Owen for a little offroad slog in the jogger stroller.

Conditions were somewhere between snail snot and owl poop, in terms of traction. The truly entertaining factor was railing into a downhill curve that looked dry and grippy, only to realize that you were in a two wheel drift dancing on the razor's edge, counter-steering like a fiend in an attempt to stay upright. Everyone crashed, save Jeff. Tires would pack with mud and dried leaves to the point that my 2.1's looked like 2.8's. Anytime you picked up speed, the tire in front of you would let loose with a hail of quarter sized mud balls that would invariably hit you, usually in the mouth. In short, it was a good time. We rode for 3 hours and I only crashed once, landing on my right hip in some lovely rocks.

We packed up and headed back in Trey's 15 passenger, former nursing home van. Rather than having seats, he has installed a loveseat that folds out into a bed. Kevin and I sat on the loveseat, put our feet up on the bikes and napped all the way home. I was starving when I walked through the door and my ever so thoughtful wife had a sandwich waiting for me. That was the best sandwich I have ever eaten...

Now my thoughts turn toward the coming work week. What new ways will I torture my students this week? Will I actually expect them to do work? To learn? Oh, the humanity!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I think winter's here

It was, no doubt about it, cold today. Temp's in the lower 30's with a godawful wind that seemed to drive the chill right into your bones. I started working on the bathroom-remodeling-that-wouldn't-die, when Jeff texted me. "You gonna ride?", it said. I stepped outside to assess the weather situation and realized in fairly short order that I am not a true hard man of the north. I texted him back, "I'm too young to freeze a nut off". He seemed down with that assessment of the situation.

We opened the shop up at noon, just in time for Randy, Peter, and Charles to roll up from the 10am group ride. You know it's cold when Randy is wearing leg warmers, so it must have really been cold because he was wearing booties, too. Come to find out, 14 people showed up for today's ride. 14! And you know something, I don't feel the least bit guilty for not riding today. I stayed warm, played with Owen and put the last coat of pain on the bathroom. I got things done...

Tomorrow is a different story, however. Jeff and I will be meeting some guys from Boone to ride the trails at Kerr Scott. It may be cold, but in the woods, you don't feel the wind like you do on the road. Afterwards, I might head up to my folks house to watch the Super Bowl. Two black head coaches in the Bowl is a momentous occassion, so I might just have to go check it out.

The City Council meeting that will feature the Recycling Center on the agenda will not be this tuesday, Feb. 6th. It will be tuesday, Feb. 20th. If you want to speak at the meeting, you need to contact the city office to be placed on the agenda. Keep writing those emails and letters to the editor! Two letters to the editor linked to readers of this site have been published so far! The more we speak, the less we can be ignored!

Friday, February 02, 2007

The end of the world is nigh

Two things marking the coming of the end of the world occured this week. First, it has finally been officially decided and spelled out that there is a 90% probability that global climate change is human caused. 90%... Jeff thinks that that leaves room for the 10% possibility that it is caused by really gassy cows. While an interesting idea, I think the reality is the far sadder fact that we are going to have to pry the SUV keys out of people's hands before they are cold and dead. Maybe the next administration can move us back into the 20th century (the 21st is probably too much to ask) when it comes to our energy policies.

Jean-Paul Sartre, existential bad ass

The second sign of the apocalypse is that France has banned smoking in public places. What are all of those french going to do without cigarettes? How will they carry on conversations? How will they emphasize their point? Will the infamous french shrug lose it's power sans fumer? I mean, this is a deep cultural identity. Just look at all of the retired French pro cyclists who start smoking! Who in the U.S. starts smoking in their 30's? Seems de rigeur for the french...

Got to the bottom of my "mystery" illness. I had a beer last night with Jeff before heading home. I tried out a new beer that was on tap and, come to find out, it was some kind of high-gravity devil brew or as Chase put it, "a sleepytime beer". Yeah, right. More like the pass-the-hell-out-without-warning beer. I thought I was coming down with Dengue fever or some exotic malaria given how I felt.

10am road ride at the shop tomorrow and mtn. bike ride at Dark Mtn. (check the link on the sidebar) at noon on Sunday!


I don't know what evil has entered my body, but I feel like crap. We had a snow day (or lack thereof) so I got to work at the shop all day. Came home, bathed Owen, ate dinner and started feeling tired. Then, I couldn't even hold my eyes open. Golden was talking to me and it took every ounce of energy I could muster to focus and pay attention. I passed out in bed, woke up burning up at some point and then fell back into a deep, sleep of the sinus congested dead. Now, I wake up with my head spinning and I think the cat threw up in my mouth. I can only imagine what my breath is like... Well, a two hour delay today is a god-send for me. I've got two extra hours to get myself right.

Golden found this on the internet. As propenents of option B and dealing with the results of option A on a daily basis, this cartoon pretty well encapsulates our lives at the moment. Owen is on the floor playing and squealing while I type this. Golden has him dressed in pants and a short sleeve white onesie. It makes him look like he's wearing a white t-shirt, '50's style with the sleeves rolled. He resembles a REALLY young Marlon Brando in "Rebel without a cause".

I want to remind you to get out the emails to the Lenoir City Council to show your support for the creation of a recycling center in Lenoir. Their meeting is next Tuesday, Feb. 6th, downtown on the 2nd floor of City Hall at 6pm.