Thursday, March 31, 2005

Let The Birthday Celebrations Begin!!

Sure, my birthday isn't until Saturday, but that's not going to stop me from celebrating. We're meeting my friend Larry at Famous Dave's in uptown tonight. The band is Commander Cody whose most famous song is Hot Rod Lincoln. Debbie has talked herself in to taking tomorrow off, which is nice. Now we don't have to get up at 5 am. I have an 8:15 appointment for a haircut in the morning and then it's off to the DMV to re-new my driver's license. What shirt should I wear for the picture? I'm thinking something Hawaiian. We should be able to get in a good bike ride after the license stop. Maybe we'll take out the "Dragger".

Ma seems to be feeling better after spending a night at our house. She needs to eat more to keep her strength up. I should buy her some Gatorade to keep her from being dehydrated. It works for me. I slept in my recliner for three hours and then moved to the floor. Big mistake. The dogs didn't know what to make of the sleeping arrangements.

I feel like taking the Salsa out tonight. Something short in the neighborhood of 15 miles. Out to Bloomington and back sounds good.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Small World

I met a guy yesterday while out riding that bought the duplex in NE Minneapolis that we lived in for over 6 years about 20 years ago. The house was sold while we lived there. Both the old landlord and the new one tried to sell it to us. I think we could've gotten it for like $50,000. We had no interest in rental property back then. We still don't. Anyway, the young man (Dan) was quite amazed to meet someone by chance who knew his house from top to bottom. Dan rode a Fuji road bike with a flat bar and toe clips. I hate toe clips. I could never get my big fat feet in and out of the damn clips fast enough. I told him to get rid of those toe clips and get a set of clipless pedals.

We have a program called the Shape Up Challenge at work that starts on April 4th. It's a team thing. You get points for regular exercise, eating fruits and vegetables, switching to menthols, drinking light beer and other assorted items. Out of about 30 of us, I think only about 4 people exercise regularly. Maybe this will spur some of the boys to get off their ass.

Mother just called. She's not feeling well and would like to spend the night at our house tonight. I haven't told Debbie yet. Looks like I'm sleeping on the floor tonight. Ma can have the bedroom. Debbie can sleep on her too short GD couch. There goes any planned sobriety for this evening.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Paperwork Is My Life

I'm putting the tree planting list together. This job basically involves a shitload of data entry. I hate data entry with all of my being. It would go better if they allowed me to do it with a bottle of whiskey and a glass at my desk. But, the City has some kind of rule about drinking on the job. I think I read it in the employee manual somewhere. My co-worker Duane is pretty much a $42,000 a year data entry clerk. Day after day after day at the computer entering data from various sources. I don't think I could do that for a living.

Bolstad (my friend who lives in Missouri) called my cell phone at 3:39 am. I heard the phone but didn't get up to answer it. He was watching Scarface and had some interesting commentary about it that I needed to know at 3:39 am. I'd turn the phone off at night, except that's the number Ma is trained to call. I always want her to be able to reach me.

Only rode 15 miles after work yesterday. I was able to do it in 52 minutes. That put the average speed at 17 mph. It was good to see so many people out on their bikes. I'll ride tonight, too. Maybe out to St Louis Park on the Cedar Lake Trail.

What did you buy me for my birthday at Marshall Fields last night, Miss Debbie. Pajamas? Underwear? A lime green sweater? I guess I'll just have to wait and see.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Ride, Ride, Ride

I rode 3 times on Saturday. By myself, with Debbie, and the Saturday Night crew. I think the total for the day was like 60 miles. The pace was casual with loads of conversation Saturday night. We hunkered down at Pizza Luce for quite a while. I agree with Josh in that I haven't met anyone on the ride that I didn't like. I took off before the group and still was the last person to Josh's apartment. Too much conversation with the drunks downtown ( I hope these people weren't driving cars) at stoplights and one wrong turn. I had a good night's sleep from 5 to 6:15 am. After a copious amount of coffee, I accompanied Debbie to Uptown Diner for breakfast. After breakfast I showed Debbie some of the highlights of the ride. More napping ensued after we got home and by 2 pm I was a new man.

I had heard that Bolstad had called about 4 am while I was still out on the ride. The ring of the phone probably scared Debbie a little. Is it the cops calling? The morgue. Is the big dummy calling from Vegas?

We picked Mother up at 3 pm on Sunday. We brought her back to our house for dinner. I think she thought it was Mother's Day. Poor girl. Parkinson's Disease is robbing her of mind. So paranoid. I can still make her laugh, though. That makes me feel good. I still need to take her to Target or Wal Mart. I take Debbie with because she has the ability to keep Ma somewhat focused. Actually, Debbie has the ability to keep me somewhat focused at times too.

I really need to ride tonight. It's just so damn nice today.

Friday, March 25, 2005

No You Can't Have Another GD Dog!

My request for a third dog in my blog was greeted less than enthusiastically from my wife. Even a small dog the size of say a football was turned down. Since I brought Snowy home 8 years ago without prior approval, I'm not going to push my luck. However, the lobbying effort is an ongoing process.

My interview this morning with my forestry student Dustin went well. We spent an hour and a half talking about all kinds of tree stuff. He seemed impressed by my knowledge. He liked the idea of being a tree inspector but said he would have a hard time making people remove their backyard dying elm trees.

Rode the Surly 27 miles last night and passed Debbie in opposite directions on the Parkway trail. We stuck our tongues out at each other as we passed. I took my main route through the lakes, Cedar Lake Trail, downtown and the River Parkway. No riding tonight. Debbie has a doctor's appointment and then it's off to the Poodle Club for cocktails and a bite to eat. I'd like to ride one of my longer routes tomorrow out to Hopkins on the Salsa.

Holy Dogshit! My neighbor down the block is selling her house. A 980 square foot two bedroom house for $225,000. I'm glad we bought our house when we did.

In case you were wondering, Ma's underwear is still missing. Oh well, I guess I'll just take her to Target for new scivvies.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Did You Learn Anything?

My return to work each year after tree school is always greeted with the title of today's post as asked by my boss. Yes, I found out some new information about tree diseases and planting. I also found out that Edmonton is virtually untouched by Dutch Elm Disease. Edmonton still has hundreds of boulevards lined by elm trees. This may call for a road trip. All the experts (that doesn't include me) are predicting another banner year for Dutch Elm Disease. Sounds like I should stock up on orange paint.

I rode 15 miles with Debbie last night. We each rode our Surly because it was still a little too wet in spots for the Princess Dragger. We stopped at Freewheel where Debbie picked up her Category 6 Racing squad jersey from Tyler. I promised him that the check was in the mail. The pictures on the C6 web page don't do it justice. It's really sharp. It even has pockets in back for her flask and smokes.

I went with Debbie and some of her co-workers to Let's Dish on Tuesday night. It's a big kitchen where you put meals together. There were 2 groups of 8 there that night. I don't know if she'll take me with again. You'd think these women were in a laboratory trying to find the cure for some disease. Now I'm not the most serious person in the world. Actually, I'm just a big GD goofball most of the time. I want to do the Let's Dish thing with the boys from work. Of course it will be hard to get them out of the bar to get there for our appointed time. Once in the kitchen I'm sure the boys will distinguish themselves. You can see it now, can't you Debbie, Debbie, Debbie.

A little over a week to my birthday. Since my wife reads my page once a week or so I'm going to take this opportunity to ask if I can get a third dog for my birthday. The answer is always no, but I thought I'd give it a shot in this forum.

Monday, March 21, 2005

You Can Interview Me At The Poodle Club

Some forestry student at the U e-mailed me this morning asking if I'd be willing to be interviewed for a research paper he's doing. I responded to his e-mail affirmatively as long as he's willing to pop for drinks. Just kidding. I hope this kid isn't under the impression that I'm knowledgeable about trees.

Ma informed me yesterday that someone from her building stole all her underwear. Son-of-a-bitches! When I told Debbie of this theft, she almost died laughing. If I didn't laugh about this stuff, I think I'd go nuts. Or more nuts than I already am.

I have a nice bruise that appeared on my hip yesterday. Still can't sleep on that side. I also found a couple of scratches on my Surly. Oh well, I'm sure it won't be the last time I crash with it.

School this week at Bethel College. Tree stuff. Some of the speakers are actually interesting. On the other hand, some of the speakers are so damn boring that you have to struggle to stay awake. I usually come away with something from this school to use on my job.

My co-worker Duane is off this week. Duane has an old shitty radio that he listens to country music and Rush Limbaugh on. I don't know what I'll do this week without the expert commentary from Rush. I'll have to find a way to cope.

Boy, do I hope my home state team (University of Illinois) beats UW-Milwaukee in the NCAA tournament. I could handle losing to anybody besides them. Reasons are personal.

I officially took the headlight off my helmet yesterday. There's enough daylight after work to get my rides in. Today is nice and sunny so I'm riding. I guess I'd be riding if it was cold and snowing too. I'd rather not fall on my left hip, at least not for a couple more days.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Now, It's Broken In

I guess it was inevitable that I'd wipe out in the winter. On the way to Caribou I found a patch of ice yesterday morning and was on the ground in a hurry. Got up, rode 15 feet and wiped out again. You people in your cars on Minnehaha Parkway were treated to a pretty good floor show. My left hip hurts quite a bit. Can't sleep on that side. Don't worry, my Surly came out of the two wipe-outs unharmed. I've been lucky. This is the first crash in over 4000 miles of winter riding.

Thursday was a ball. I rode the 4 bikes that are rideable for a total of 18 miles. Then it was off to downtown for a day with Big Daddy and Cindy. The Local was quite festive. I ran into Jeremy from the Saturday Night Ride and talked to him for a while. His Bianchi fixie is really sweet. I see what the fixed riders are talking about. Without brake levers and shift levers the bike looks so classy. Debbie met us after work at Lyons Pub. Josh and Cip met us there too. The day ended at the Cardinal Bar by the 38th Street LRT station. Never made it to Marshall Fields for the flower show. Debbie and I are taking the train downtown today after I get off work. There's a big sale at Fields, so I think she's going to have her shopping shoes on. We started at 4 am. Plowing should be done by noon. No ticket writing today. I'm answering the phone talking to pissed off people that aren't happy with our plowing.

Thanks to Corson at Surly. He sent a Surly patch with Derrick that I got at coffee on Friday. It took the sting out of the crash. I'm going to put the patch on a black fleece hat. The Surly blog is one of my favorites. I read it every day. Those boys have a way with words.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Where's This Wire Go To?

Well, we finally did it. We screwed up the computer connections so bad re-arranging the office that we had to call the IT people from City Hall to straighten it out. They like us, so they weren't really pissed off. My boss found all the crap I've hidden in his office over the years. Now I have to find a place for all of it in my new work area.

As of 4:30 today I'm off for 4 days. Unless it snows. Then I'll have to come in to write parking tickets. Four days of basketball, biking and other fun stuff. I'm meeting Big Daddy and Cindy downtown tomorrow at The Local. Debbie is meeting us after she gets off work. If I'm sober enough I'll accompany her to the flower show at Marshall Fields. I'll be taking the train downtown, so my family members shouldn't worry about me driving a car.

I hope it snows big like the National Weather Service is predicting. I haven't ridden in a good snowstorm in a while. It's supposed to be snowing heavily Friday morning. My plan is to ride the Surly to the Caribou Coffee on Penn and Crosstown to meet the QBP people for coffee. That's dependent on how I feel Friday morning.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Is That A Hairpiece?

After 15 years I still can't tell if the my dogs' vet wears a hairpiece. Debbie isn't sure either and women pick up on that kind of thing quickly. The girl who had to hold Snowy so Dr. McDougal could look at her ears probably needed a drink after work last night. The ear problem turned out to be allergies. Wu is better at the vet. She just grumbles when he pokes and prods her.

Apologies to my neighbor Paul for cutting you off on 42nd Street last night. You had a good opportunity to hit me and didn't.

Received my new cycling jacket from Foxwear yesterday. Lou's a great guy and very trusting. He encloses an invoice with your stuff. He's custom made jackets for a 4'11" woman and a 300 lb man. The fits are always perfect. Now I can just order clothes that he has in stock. I like that.

The City owns an old mortuary that we bought with the idea of selling for a big profit some day. We use the building as storage. There are two apartments above the mortuary. I'd been in one of the apartments when my friend lived there. I got a tour of the rest of the building today. It's a little creepy.

I'm off on Thursday, Friday and the weekend. Readers of my blog should be starting to get the picture. I like my job but I love time off.

The new floor at Freewheel is really nice. I'd try to get a part-time job there, except I don't do nights and weekends. That and Kevin would probably want to kill me within a couple of weeks.

Congrats to Big Daddy and Cindy who will be married two years tomorrow. Debbie and I went to seven weddings in 2003. I haven't had a tie on since.

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Dog Days Of Winter

Winter doesn't seem to want to loosen its grip these days. The weather isn't all that bad, I'm just ready for some warmth. Ready to put the fleece and heavy socks away and ride with less clothing on. That 60 degree Sunday last weekend may have something to do with my attitude. Was able to ride 61 miles over my three day weekend. I introduced my co-worker Mark to a bit of winter riding on Friday. By the time our ride was over, it was snowing quite heavily. I saved a two mile finishing segment down 42nd Street into a 30 mph wind for him. That kind of cooked his goose. But he didn't complain. I think he quite enjoyed himself. My other year-round riding cohorts all know that sometimes the elements occasionally grab you by the boo-boo. The streets are dry so I've been riding the Salsa. It's a ball to ride. Effortless to pedal.

Mother called at 3:36 am today. I was too comfy in bed to get to the phone. She called back at 5:15. She told Debbie she must of called while she was still asleep. Bolstad likes to call at 3 am. Maybe he and Ma can trade numbers so they can talk at that hour. It's just a thought.

I lost a bet and now I get to do the dishes for a month. Debbie picked me up from Big Daddy's on Saturday night after a softball "fundraiser" at Tailgate in south Minneapolis. I bet that I could stop at Backyard Grill for only one nightcap. Do I have dry those dishes too?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

My Corner Suite

I'm in the process of getting moved from my old cubicle to a corner set-up by two big windows. Loads of room and plenty of light. Awesome! Now I can collect even more crap around my desk. I'll even have enough room to put my bike when I start riding it to work.

One of the guys at work wants to go riding tomorrow. He doesn't ride much, but he's in really good shape. I rode the Ironman with him a couple of years ago and he blew my doors off. Of course, I weighed over 300 pounds then. I know he'll be cool to ride with. And then he'll want to go for a beer. Great all the way around.

I have to take Ma to the doctor tomorrow so I took the day off. My nephew Paul will be proud of the 3 day workweek. Now, if they only let me work Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays the rest of the year.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Hey, Where Is Everybody?

A 30 degree temperature drop sure thins out the traffic on the bike trails. It's not that 28 degrees is all that cold. But after you have a 60 degree day, 28 and any wind seem awfully cold. I rode 20 miles and found enough standing water to get my feet wet. It's hard to come back from wet feet on a cold night. I do love riding my new Surly. The lack of gear choice is kind of nice. Just concentrate on pedalling. I may have Freewheel raise the stem just a little so I'm not quite so hunched over. I want to ride it at least a month before I mess with the stem.

Work is starting to pick up. I'm in the process of bidding out the private property diseased elm tree removal contract. It's hard to find qualified bidders because Richfield has so many tight backyards. Even with some removals costing over $3000, contractors can lose money. Would you like to ring doorbells for a living so you can tell homeowners that they have 20 days to remove a tree. You're not the most popular person in town. Sometimes, you can just see the hatred in their eyes. I try to take control in the first 30 seconds after they answer the door. It's not always easy.

We're closing in on every college basketball fan's favorite time of the year. Conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament. I'll watch a load of basketball the next 4 weeks. It's also fun to fill out all the office pool boards too. I used to run the board at work here but got tired of chasing people down for their money. Fourth place on my board was always a stale box of Girl Scout cookies. I'll need to take more time filling out Debbie's board from the hospital. That one has over 100 people, so it's for some serious money. Money's nice, but bragging rights are better. Gamblers say that money won beats money earned anytime. There may be something to that.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Pick Any Color You Like, As Long As It's Black

No, I haven't been in jail. I've been off for 4 days and haven't been near a computer. Yesterday, Debbie and I pretty much talked each other into calling in. Every day I don't go to work is one that goes in my column. I'm never going to have a problem retiring some day.

New bike is sweet. I love the two-speed drivetrain. The lower gear is really a bail-out gear (Tyler's term which I like) for bigger hills. Those hills by Red's house in Saint Paul would qualify. I only went up them once but I bet Red does it all the time. I consider the bike broken in. I've ridden it 55 miles which has included a near miss with a car, a ride home from a bar and a 28 mph downhill jaunt two blocks from my house. When it's out till 5:30 am on the Saturday Night Ride it will be completely broken in.

Note to self: The Greenway is closed by Sears. Stop going that way. It will be open soon enough. Say, 2012.

Note to self #2: 40 degrees is your threshold for riding a bicycle with shorts on. Especially if you insist on riding the Salsa with occasional speeds above 20 mph.

This is the summer I paint the windows on the house. Or at least I'm going to find someone to paint them. I bought the paint 3 or 4 years ago. A true procrastinator about everything except riding a bike.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Red Trek Is Feisty To The End

Red Trek is not giving up without a fight. I rode it 21 miles last night. Besides numerous ghost shiftings of the front cog, the chain fell off three times. And the chain slips quite often too. These lurks forward aren't that cool to a guy with bad knees. I think last night was the last official ride of Red Trek in its current configuration. I'm not getting rid of it. I may just have all the components taken off and put it up on the wall of my sitting room. You may too have a sitting room when you're 46 if you marry the right woman. Women looking for a mate need to find a man who absolutely doesn't give a shit about the decorating of the rooms in the house. Well, enough of the world according to Raymond.

This morning on the way to work I thought about Red Trek's history:

Kevin who owns Freewheel sold it to me in June of 2001. It's actually a Trek 7500 hybrid bike.

I've ridden it at some point every minute of a 24 hour day. Probably shouldn't of been on it some of those times.

It's been ridden in a temperature range of -20 to 100 degrees. Ridden in rainstorms, snowstorms, sleet and fog.

Four back wheels (I used to weigh over 300 pounds), 2 chain and cassette combos, 3 or 4 sets of tires, 3 or 4 sets of break pads and 2 saddles. I killed one back wheel when I rode it with a flat for 4 miles. Found out I could still go 13 mph. Stopping was sort of tricky.

Been chased by numerous dogs. Had to hit the brakes hard to avoid running into some hoodlum deer in the dark on Cedar Lake Trail.

Through 8500 miles I've only crashed with it one time. Last July I misses a curb cutout at 32nd and Hiawatha. The first point of impact was my left knee. It hurt for over 2 months. Bad bone bruise according to the doctor who I saw 3 weeks later. Didn't miss any riding.

Was on it when I surpassed 1,2,3,4 and 5 thousand miles for the first time. I'll ride it in its rebuilt form when I get to 6000 miles this December. But it's out with the old and in with the new. What condition will the Surly be in 3 or 4 years from now after I've ridden it 10,000 miles?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Leave My Dummy Alone!

In a dream last night I messed with a ventriloquist's dummy as I was getting off a bus in Los Angeles. The ventriloquist got really pissed off. I don't remember much past that. By the way, an E-Bay search for "Ventriloquist's Dummy" yielded 73 items. Interesting? Not really. Meaning of this dream. No idea. The Q people and Tyler didn't have any insights at coffee this morning either. Today is Scott from Q's birthday. Happy Birthday again. What's the deal with those shorts, Scott?

Tired of hearing about the progress in the building of my new bike. Tough shit. Get your own blog and beat the topic of your choice into the ground. Tyler and I picked out all the components yesterday afternoon. Mustache bars with black bar tape. Cantilever brakes. It's going to be a two-speed (dingle) with a set-up for a fixie (I think) so I can kill myself on it some day. Black is the theme, including a black chain. I should be riding it by Friday. My adopted son Josh is building it. Debbie, we may have to increase his allowance. Do kids still get an allowance? How much? Twenty bucks? A C note? I'll find out from the guys at work here.

Hurl, if you're still reading this crap, could you tell Zito that I'm out of firecrackers again. My neighbors are happy about this. If I get my bike early enough I'll stop for coffee at One on One to show it to you.