Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway

WTF

First off, a WTF moment. Yesterday Obama essentially told the gay community that they were on their own, at least by action. His words said something else, but his actions said, “good luck kids”. But Rush Limbaugh and the GOP are calling themselves the “Oppressed minority”. Really? Google it. It’s their new mantra. But seriously you OxytContin addled hot mess, you couldn’t get health care for your family? You don’t have the right for them to be present in the hospital room if you’re gravely ill? Your step children can be taken away at a moments notice? Really? Someone held a gun to your head and told you that you couldn’t vote? Somebody shot you for your beliefs? You couldn’t get a job because of the color of your skin? Or in Rush world, you got a job because of the color of your skin. STFU. If I could oppress you I would, just for being stupid, arrogant asses. You had eight years of power and you made an unholy mess. Now you’re blaming Obama for TARP money that was handed out under the Bush Administration when Obama was still campaigning for the Presidency? Do you guys really think we’re all that stupid? OK, Michelle Bachman is that stupid, but really? Speaking of tragically stupid, I wish I could find the tape of Senator Tom Coburn saying “But what if I want to drive a gas guzzler?”. Hey jackass, it’s your job as a leader, as a Senator of these United States to say to any one who would make such an infantile argument that they are behaving in a selfish, childish manner and to grow up. We are all members of the same society and we are not entitled to waste this earth’s resources, nor are we entitled to endanger others with our emissions or our behavior. Grow the hell up you freaking baby.

Traffic school 2.0

I just finished yet another round of traffic school. It’s always boneheaded stuff. This one was going 80 on Highway 4. Those of you who live out there wonder how the hell I managed to do that. In the middle of the day the traffic is light and moves really quickly. I was on the phone and didn’t notice everyone around me hitting the brakes. Coupled with not realizing that I was going 70 in a 55 on Vasco Road last year made traffic school my out. Now, I don’t drive worse that everyone else. I just get caught. I actually drive a lot better than most. Two days ago I was going up Ygnacio and I saw a cop car come up on a car and totally ride the guy’s bumper. I figured he was going to light the guy up, but no, he was just tailgating. How do I know? Because East Bay Regional Park District cops don’t do traffic stops on Ygnacio. The wannabe cop pulled into the right lane and passed the guy and then got on someone else’s bumper and did the exact same thing. Cops can’t do that if they aren’t making a stop. East Bay Regional Park District K-9 car numbered 202, what they hell were you thinking?

What I did learn from my online traffic school, which took a lot longer than I had hoped it would, was that most of the stuff I’ve been complaining about is all illegal. All of it can be ticketed. Not giving a cyclist a lane, illegal. Blaring a horn behind a cyclist? Illegal. Dusting a cyclist? Illegal. Throwing crap out the window at us? Illegal. Then I got to thinking about it, and the fact that I do have a forum. And I have successfully mounted a couple of good fights here. I don’t have the exact name for the new category, but basically it’s going to be for folks who are ruefully inconsiderate. It will be for those asshats of the road. Send in your camera phone pics, go ahead and get their plates. The guy in front of you threw a cigarette out the window in Malibu canyon? Send it in. A pick up truck didn’t let an old lady cross the street? Get the photojournalism. I’ll take grossly inconsiderate park jobs too. Get the plates. I’m going to throw them up there and shine God’s flashlight down on these folks. If I have to pay 53 moving violations and go to traffic school 18 times, they can take a little humiliation at the Wine Dog’s hand.

On a happier note

Yesterday I was driving through Crystyl Ranch after checking on one of our properties. Yep, there’s one of our signs in Crystyl Ranch darling. Worse yet, it’s the smallest unit up there by over 1000 square feet. Anyway, I turned the corner and there was a woman working in her front yard, and two Dobermans out in the yard with her children. A big beautiful red and a black and tan puppy. I stopped to chat, because I know most of the local Doberman people. I knew her name, but had never met. The puppy is 6 month old Enzo and he’s spectacular. He’s out of a Marj Brooks breeding and he was the pick. I’m glad I stopped because I got to meet a really nice lady and two beautiful dogs. And yeah, I really don’t know any strangers.

I also did the Ygnacio Loop yesterday. I haven’t done that ride in a while and quite honestly, I miss it. It’s downhill in the beginning, a flat stretch and the climb up Ygnacio to get back home. I was supposed to be doing speed work so I kept the cadence really high. It dropped to around 65-70 coming up Ygnacio but the average for the entire ride was 80. That’s some cadence. The wind was horrible and I had to really brake coming down the hill, it was blowing the front wheel out from under me. I fought the wind all the way out and a little on the way back. Still, I made the run in 1:05, got up Ygnacio in 9:31 and made it a great little ride.

This is the final preparations for the LiveStrong 09 in San Jose. The ride is July 12th. This weekend I have a 65 mile ride with 4000 feet of climbing. Next weekend I’m powerlifting so the ride will be 40 or 50 miles and then one more 40-50 miles on the Fourth of July and it’s time to ride with Team Fatty fighting for Susan. If you haven’t clicked through or maybe have a few extra ducats that could become a charitable donation, give me a click. And thanks for your support.

It’s time for dinner now let’s go eat

Professor Cousin and his daughter, the Chemical Engineer are still here.  We discovered during his original adventure out here years ago, a mutual love for cooking, and heat.  He lives in Indiana where food can get pretty boring if you’re not careful.  When he comes here we take turns cooking amazing meals.  The first night they were here I did salmon with a molasses chipotle glaze on a cedar plank.  They made a salad and we had some amazing whole wheat bread from the Model Bakery.  Unfortunately, there was a hole in the cedar plank and it caught fire and the salmon was slightly over done.  Tasty, just over cooked.  The next night he wanted to go down and pick up Mexican food.  Unfortunately, it was 8pm in Clayton, California on a Sunday night.  With the noted exception of the Clayton Club, the town had been rolled up and put to bed two hours ago.  So he picked up some corn tortillas and cheese and proceeded to make amazing quesadillas.  Probably the best quesadilla I’ve ever had.  Monday night I came home to dinner of a Mexican risotto which featured a risotto laden with black beans, corn, tomatoes and peppers.  The Chemical Engineer loves to bake and is quite good at it.  She’d made an apricot/blueberry galette that I really should have taken a picture of because it was gorgeous.  And ridiculously good.  Last night was my night.  While making my rounds in Brentwood on Monday, I stopped at one of the fruit stands out there and got avocados, tomatoes, peppers, and corn.  They made the avocados into guacamole and I grilled the corn last night.  Since we all know that I like to work a theme, I also made an orange, chipotle molasses glaze.  I had two pork loins.  I rubbed them with a Santa Maria rub and then brushed them with my glaze and threw the little dears on the grill.  It was perfection.

cornroast

roast

No, actually perfection was pairing this with the Cannonball 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.  I have a couple of bottles of this little gem.  It’s not a typical Cab.  It’s lively, full of vanilla.  It dances on the tongue, something you don’t get from most Cabs.  It is full of dark blackberries with a creamy finish.  And it was perfect with our dinner.  You can’t go wrong with the Cannonball Cab, it’s $12 most places and goes great with a dinner full of flavor.

I’ve got my foot on the accelerator, driving

How do you spell dumb ass?  Apparently the “Contra Costa County Assessor” will work.  If this story gets legs look for a new Assessor in CoCo county.

I’m stuck working my way through one of those online traffic schools since I’ve been a bad dog.  Did you know that you may not use your horn when approaching bicyclists or horses from behind?  I just thought it was obnoxious.  I didn’t know you couldn’t do it.  They also talk about one of my pet peeves, yielding to emergency vehicles.  Those guys have their lights lit up because somebody is in trouble.  I always think about somebody I cared about dying because they were waiting for an ambulance that was jacked up because some asshat didn’t pull to the right.  I think the fine should be minimum $1000 and should be assessed based on a camera on the front of the ambulance.  And yeah, this is due today and I had three months to do it.

Professor Cousin is here.  We barely saw each other as children, they lived all the way in San Diego.  As adults we’ve spent a lot more time together.  In 1978 when I was on my way to Europe, I stopped in New Jersey for seemingly forever two months.   At the time he worked for CBS News.  His job was to create the predictions for the 1980 Presidental election.  He was a California boy working at Rockefeller Center.  I was always amused that he and his colleagues finished the New York Times crossword puzzle before they started their day.  They also called the Philly Bureau and gave them the Boggle letters of the day.  The winner of the day was tallied at 5pm.  Naturally there was no email or cell phones so it was all done via telephone back then.  He’s that smart.  He and The Brother have friendly competition.  Professor Cousin informed me that he was thrilled that The Brother now needed reading glasses.  The playing field was level again.

He has been here three times in the last few years.  First with his eldest daughter, to show her the Motherland.  Then returning with his wife and finally now with his youngest, who is now a Chemical Engineer.   He wanted me, naturally, to take them to the wine country.  The original plan was to go to Landmark.  I was looking for great places with great wine and great stories.  Then I passed BR Cohn and knew it was a stop.  We pulled in to find they were releasing their Woody Wine.  Then the guy behind the counter asked the Chemical Engineer for her ID.  She reached in her bag and came up with a blank look.  She is brilliant like her Father.  But sometimes brilliance has it’s price.  She’d presented her ID for TSA and then shoved it in her suitcase where it remained.  We tried a few tricks but the guy behind the counter, who didn’t look old enough to drink himself, wasn’t giving.  The one thing we didn’t try was her business cards.  You can’t be 20 and be a Chemical Engineer.  She was furious with herself, but The Professor and me just tried to defuse it.  It’ll just be a different kind of Wine Country day.  We headed over the hill to Cindy’s Backstreet and had lunch.  As usual lunch was great.  I’ve noticed that the kitchen has gotten ridiculously slow there.  I understand that it’s a higher end so the kitchen isn’t going to be like a short order house, but they’ve been lagging in recent visits.  Still the food was awesome and it’s worth the wait for the warm pineapple upside down cake.  We ran back up the hill to Keenan, which was The Professor’s favorite stop when he was there with his eldest.  When we arrived Laura was in the parking lot.  She made sure to tell us they were closed for a private event.  Then she saw it was me.  Was I picking up?  Yes.  Come on in, we’re closed, I can’t pour you any wine, I’m supposed to be folding napkins.  That’s fine.  This day was different than we thought it was going to be so what?   We walked in and she pulled out three glasses and said “Well, I’ve got a couple of bottles open.  I have to go fold napkins though”.  In walked Michael Keenan who now recognizes me, so I got to introduce them to the Winemaker.   We explained to Laura that the Chemical Engineer was 23 but we understood if she didn’t want to pour for her.  She hooked her up.  Day was looking brighter.  On the way back down we stopped at Dean and DeLucca.  She’s into baking.  Really in to baking.  So we putzed around the kitchen gadgets and amazing things they have in there.  All in all, a different kind of a day, but a good one.

Buying bread from a man in Brussels

I must clean my office today. The housekeeper isn’t allowed in this room.  The last thing I need is her changing my stacks around…as if I knew what was in a single stack here.  I’m almost over this cold.  I’m postponing my ride until tomorrow.  I’ve decided to take it easy and make it a mostly flat quick 50 mile run.  A total of 1000 feet of climbing equals mostly flat after last week.  Truth be told, my legs need a rest, clearly my body has had enough of my bullshit.  Time to listen.

So when I went to Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants last night to make my club pick up, the last thing, and I do mean the very last thing I expected was for my palate to be back.  Oh palate how I missed you.  The winemaker from Henry’s Drive was going to be there.  All the way from Down Under.  I had to go.  She had her entire line out there.  Or at least all of the reds.  There may have been some whites, I didn’t pay attention.  I’d had the Pillar Box Red in the past, so I skipped over that and went right to the Pillar Box Reserve.  It’s a Shiraz blend and a beautiful one at that.  Dark ripe fruit, spice and an earthiness made it explode in the glass.  Next up was the Henry’s Drive Shiraz.  They had a vertical of that out.  2003, 2004 and 2005.  She said that the growing conditions were very different on the 2003 and 2004.  Apparently 2003 was a wet year down under, 2004 was more dry, leading to some more concentrated fruit.  I started with the 2003 and had a Tourette’s moment.  I couldn’t help myself, I took a sip and backed up and exclaimed “Wow!”  And Wow it was.  It had a little menthol on the nose, none in the palate.  Full of fruit, chocolate, a little jammy with a nice gentle finish.  Really a beautiful wine.  I should have left with a bottle, but truth be told, the cellar is full and I have a case and a half on the floor next to the cooler and another case sitting at Keenan, Chappellet, Freemark Abbey and Clos Pegase waiting for me to come and get them.  I must drink more.   Next stop the 2004 Henry’s Drive Shiraz.  It was just as amazing but in a different way.  It was a lot more subtle and elegant than the 2003.  Strange as it’s usually the other way around.  It was going to develop a little bit differently.  More of steak and potatoes wine than the 2003, which screamed for a bright lively meal.  The Trial of John Montford is named after a famous Australian outlaw who committed his crimes with a brown handkerchief over his face, with two eye holes cut from it.  It’s the one on the right.

henrysdrive

Really clever labeling and really clever names for the wines.  Henry’s Drive used to be where the post office was, so everything has a postal theme.  According to their website:

In 1863, the bushranger John Montford, wearing a brown handkerchief to cover his face and brandishing a revolver, robbed the mail coach a few miles from the Padthaway in a town known as Maracoorte.  Making off with over £75 in cheques, Montford’s brazen act scandalised the local population.  On arrest, the said brown handkerchief with the eye-holes cut was found in his swag, providing the evidence needed for his conviction.

OK, that’s kind of cool.  I have a bottle of DLO sitting here so I skipped that one too.  I did have the Parson’s Flat.  They were selling it for $37 to the wine club members and that was one hell of a deal.  I’d pay $60-75 for that wine.  Beautiful lush blackberries, spice and chocolate.  It had velvety mouthfeel that you don’t usually get in Aussie wines.  Gentle tannins on the finish.  The lady next to me was looking for something to take home and have with their steaks.  I asked “How are you preparing them?”  Her husband was doing them, she didn’t know.  He had these steaks in a marinade that included soy and garlic.  This was the wrong wine for a marinade.  Get a couple of nice filets, salt and pepper them and throw them on the grill and that’s what I’m talking about.  Perfection.

Renae Hirsch was engaging and quite informative.  I’ve found most winemakers to be real geeks and it’s hard to get them to really talk about what they’re doing until they realize that you really get what they’re talking about.  Once I got her dialed in I got quite the education about Australian grape growing.  A great night from my pals at Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants.

The Sierras kicked the Donner Party’s ass too

It’s a good day when today’s title is a dolphyngyrl quote.

You know when you wait half a year for your vacation. And you’re going to go someplace absolutely fabulous like Mexico or Hawaii and have fruity drinks with umbrellas and lay in the sun and forget about your life for a week? And then you get there and you get a cold and spend the whole week sick? There’s actually a reason why that happens. Our minds are funny things. They can actually hold our bodies together for longer than they should. When the mind lets up then the bug takes you down. It’s actually a pretty common phenomenon. So when I finished the Century last weekend, it was like my brain was hopping on a plane to Maui. Unfortunately, my body was stuck here in Concord. By Tuesday I had a sore throat and now I’ve got a stuffy head. My palate left about two days ago and while I’m not that sick, I’ve definitely got a bug. I slept all afternoon on Wednesday and then slept in (clear to 6:30) yesterday. I started with the Zicam on Tuesday which I think has something to do with why it isn’t as bad as it could be, but my body is beat up. I’ve missed three gym workouts so far. I missed Tuesday morning, yesterday morning and I’m not at the gym right now. And won’t be. There’s a test called the Delta heart rate test. Basically it measures stress to your heart. If the difference is over 10 BPM you need to reassess your workouts. When you’re sick it can get as high as 30 BPM difference. I think 113-74 equals no workout today. I’m thinking tomorrow’s 50 miler will be put off until Sunday. The good news is that my broker is out of town this week and in his absence the office is getting the crap beat out of them, but they don’t have time to annoy me. So I’ve been able to take an afternoon nap on Wednesday when I needed it and I’ve been able to catch everything up. I’ll probably nap today too.

Yesterday I had to report to my trainer what the hell happened to me last weekend. After a bit of discussion she flat out told me that it was the nutritional errors. One of the things she said was “You ask your body to do a lot.” I do. I don’t want to miss anything that I could be doing. What if I got run over by a bus this afternoon? I want no regrets. So yes, I expect a lot, but I train for it too.

One thing I had forgotten about was the lack of breakfast. When I ride from the house, I make a multi grain waffle with egg whites and fat free cottage cheese. I put molasses on it. That waffle is full of protein and good carbs and the molasses is a slower burning sugar full of iron. There was no restaurant at the hotel and the “breakfast” they had at the ride was Starbucks. So all the white flour, white sugar laden snacks that you can find every day at a Starbucks was what they had for breakfast. That was my mistake. If I had spent a little time thinking about it, I could have made a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before I left the house and had them for breakfast. Quite honestly, the hotel had a microwave and a fridge. I could have brought my wafflemaker and had my normal breakfast. At the end of the day, I started out with not enough fuel and didn’t have enough fuel on the bike and just straight up ran out of gas. She agreed based on the May 23rd ride which I rode strong, and had enough fuel. We had to juggle a ride at the end of this month because of the powerlifting meet I decided to do down in San Diego. I like that meet. It’s the one I try my best not to miss. My trainer did her job, I feel much better about the Century. One of the things we talked about is my 11 years of powerlifting. I’ve washed out of a total of three meets in 11 years. That’s actually a pretty good track record, especially for someone who holds numerous records. I washed out of my first meet, one two years ago in Chicago and one in San Bernardino after I got food poisoning. In San Bernardino, I managed to come back and lift in the deadlift only division after missing all three squats and all three benches. I went down to the hotel gift shop and bought a big bottle of Gatorade and some Gaviscon and managed to rally to get in three good deadlifts that day. I thought about that day out on the hill Saturday and that’s one of the things that helped me finish. Knowing that I was tough enough and strong enough. So if I felt better today, I’d be on the top of the world.

Bubba had another acupuncture appointment yesterday. She calms him right down. And then he dozes off standing up.

bubbaneedles1

bubbadozing

She gave me a diet for both dogs which is primarily raw beef and brown rice, with enzymes, bone meal and a few other things added. In the morning they will get Taste of the Wild wetlands diet, with enzymes added. Bubba did ok on the salmon version but she thinks the duck will be perfect for both of them. Today I’m off to find some bulk beef. I’m starting at a little butcher in Antioch. I was in there two days ago but the lady in front of me bought up the last of the dog bones. I knew what she was doing by her order. Beef kidneys and livers, turkey necks, pounds of ground beef and a bag of bones. This guy is very popular on the local raw food circuit. But you’ve got to get there early, so that’s today’s mission.

Don’t forget to lock up your car, small time Hawaiian borrowing going on over there

Today’s a link dump, and probably so much more.

First off, something that really pissed me off. Are you guys freaking kidding me? He weighed 5 pounds and they shot him three times? Uh, did you guys think he was on dust? If you try and catch a dog and can’t, shooting him is always the best solution. Did they teach you how to make that decision in Police school? Bet not. These morons don’t need badges. Or guns.

Speaking of morons, for those of you out of the title business, wake up every single morning and thank your god. You don’t have to deal with lenders who refuse to hire enough staff to deal with the volume. You don’t have to deal with shitty prelims from San Bernardino. And there’s a possibility that someone will return a phone call that you make. AB957 is headed to the State Senate. I really don’t see what good it’s going to do. There are already laws in the books that lenders break every single day by arrogantly forcing deals to these REO centers, but maybe. Maybe when they start putting the executives who make these decisions in jail we’ll start seeing some real change.

Here’s the WineDog looking kind of okay at the Sierra Century. Not $25 worth of okay, but okay. This is long before things got hinky.

Rita had her last day of Novice 1 class yesterday. We’ll be repeating. She tries. I think she has a hard time distinguishing the voices in her head from the things I’m actually asking her to do. She’ll pause instead of sitting. Then she’s sit perpendicular to me, or like a Japanese mail order bride three paces behind me. In class she lacks the confidence I see here all the time. She walks the neighborhood with confidence too. We’re going to start hanging out at a Starbucks or a Peet’s for an hour here and there and see if I can build more confidence in her by having different people and situations presented to her more regularly. She wants to do good, it’s like she loses focus or something. Still, she’s visiting other handlers while we wait our turn, even nosing them for treats. She spends a lot more of the class with her tail held high and her ears forward and alert. She’s getting there.

0610rita

And from the Asinine File: I just want to scream this from the rooftops. What the Hell has happened to customer service? I remember back at Old Repulsive when Waldo got rid of the receptionist and went to an automated answering system. I thought it was the end of the world. I was right. I regularly in the course of my business day have to call PG&E, any one of several water companies, a title company or two and probably several other businesses. Very rarely does a human being answer any of these phones. When you call PG&E, East Bay Mud or the City of Antioch in particular, you have at least two minutes of automated mazes to work your way through before a phone rings somewhere and gets put on automated hold until the call center picks it up.

Thank you for calling Pacific Gas and Electric. Para Espanol, prima nueve. For account payment or billing information press one. To start or stop service press 2. To report an outage or a downed tree press 3.

To stab yourself in the temple with a fork, press 5. To get past the system at PG&E, after the first prompt say “Operator”. It will then ask you if you want to start or stop service, say “Operator” again and you will actually get a live person. This takes about two minutes to get to the queue, but it’s better than press or speaking your account number. Sometimes you get this script:

You estimated wait time is 45 to 51 minutes. If you would like us to call you back in 45 to 51 minutes, press one. If you would like a description of a call back press two.

If you would like to stab yourself in the temple with a fork, press three. Yesterday was the water department for Bay Point. I got to a person fairly quickly, but then it went downhill. Apparently the policy makers at these utilities haven’t picked up a newspaper in two years. While they were watching Wheel of Fortune, there was a mortgage meltdown and a bunch of banks took over a bunch of property. Strangely the people who didn’t pay their mortgage also didn’t pay their water bills. Imagine that? So when I call and say we represent the bank and need the water turned on they say “We need the Deed of Trust and your listing agreement”. Well, dumb ass, you don’t need the Deed of Trust, you need the Trustee’s deed and we don’t get the listing agreement until it’s ready to go on the market. Now the banks require that the water be on and the grass be green, but that allows all sorts of other shenanigans. There’s vandalism. There’s the guy who ran a hose from our property to his to fill his swimming pool. Mr. Letstalkthisout. Dude, you’re stealing from me, there is nothing to talk about beyond whether or not I have you arrested for trespassing and stealing. Or the jackass agent who left the water on at one of my sites (I had it off at the gate) and flooded the place because the icemaker didn’t have a valve on it. So I don’t love turning on the water, but the byproduct of leaving it off is people coming into our house and using the facilities and being unable to flush, leaving the place smelling like a barn. So getting my chops busted by a water company really sends me to the moon. Every one of these asshats requires $30-$50 just to start service. I have to have the water off at the house gate because if there is any water running they won’t leave the service on. Of course, I can’t tell what’s wrong when the water’s off so it’s a Catch-22. I’ve got one of those right now. Today I have an appointment between 8-12 to have water turned on at an empty house. Bullshit. I’m not sitting in an empty house for 4 hours until your assklown meter reader decides he’s drank enough coffee and decides to drive up to the property. Give me a proper appointment. We don’t do that. Bullshit. I work. Ma’am we all work. Yeah, but you don’t have any respect for my time, that’s the difference. Which gets me to my next subject.

When did it become okay for companies to be totally disrespectful of the customer’s time? The cable company expects you to sit at your house with your thumb up your ass for a four hour period of time waiting for their guy to show up. I actually had a service guy show up early for an appointment when I hadn’t arrived yet and then the company told me I’d have to make another appointment because their guy who didn’t show up within the 4 hour time slot allotted me and couldn’t get back there within the assigned period of time. I’d have to take another afternoon off. This is completely disrespectful to the customer. Companies do it all the time and think it’s okay. It’s not.

The other thing is software companies letting their customers pay for a product and then doing their beta testing. Microsoft is famous for this one. It’s one of the things that pisses me off the most about Windows. They sell you an halfassed product, screw your productivity so they can find the bugs in their software. Wrong. Or Apple pay for play technical support. Yeah you can dig through the forums and probably get an answer, but my new mac won’t properly stamp the date and time on anything. I run on GMT so I subtract 7 from every incoming email so I can figure out when it got here. Some stuff arrives in the future. And there’s still no fix for it, two months later. Bad form. It’s time we said enough.

I’ll leave you with a little bit from America’s Best Christian. I love Betty Bowers.

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Went all around the world just couldn’t spit it out

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Today includes the Bucket List and so much more. The Century is like a bucket list item. So is a marathon. So is bench pressing my weight.
(Only happened once in competition) But my bucket list isn’t really like any others. And there are things that I can tell you that I’ll never make, and other’s I probably won’t make. And then there’s things that I can say in my life I’ve been lucky enough so far to see or be part of, some more striking than others. In no particular order, things I’ve been lucky enough to see or do. And remember this morning

    Lauren Bacall perform live (that one was huge)
    Lynyrd Skynyrd before the plane crash
    A World’s Series
    Met Pelé
    Went a World Cup of Soccer
    Saw the Rolling Stones when they were still relevant
    I do hold numerous American and World powerlifting records
    Played for a National rugby title in the title game
    Saw a sitting President in person -Clinton
    Saw a sitting Vice President -Mondale
    Went to Czechoslovakia while it was still Soviet run
    Seen Annika Sorenstam play in person
    Met Grace Slick (her eyes say “I’m insane”)
    Seen a Tony nominated performance (Dorothy Parker in “Waiting in the Wings”, I went to see Bacall that night)
    Had a rock star actually pick me out of the crowd to sing to (Terri Nunn of Berlin) I was standing alone in the balcony at the Fillmore. She started singing and everybody came over and tried to stand in front of me. I stepped back and she followed me.
    Saw both Joe Montana and Dan Marino play in person
    Worked at the WTC for a month and took the subway
    Saw Eartha Kitt in a small house
    I’m one of a gazillion people who used to see Diane Feinstein every morning when she arrived and San Francisco City Hall for work.
    Knocked back cocktails with Tab Hunter one night

I’ve got some swing and a misses in there too.

    Arthur Rubinstein is the big one (had a chance to see him in LA. Didn’t, he passed away the next year)
    I went to a couple of games that I figure might be the one when Bonds got the record. Didn’t see it.
    I’ve been offered All Star tickets twice, both times didn’t allot enough time to get there to actually see the game
    I’ll never play a round of golf with my Dad

I’m sure there’s more swing and a misses, that’s all I can think of right now. And then there’s the list

    See a Super Bowl live
    Go to the Masters
    The Kentucky Derby
    Wimbledon
    Shake a sitting President’s hand
    I’ve never met our Governor or even seen a sitting Governor up close. Then again, Brown, Deukmajian, Wilson, Davis? There’s a clown carload.
    Run a marathon (this ship has probably sailed)
    Complete a triathlon (this ship has sailed too.)
    Be published.

I’m sure there’s a ton more, but that’s all I’ve got this morning.

One thing is for sure, in this tabloid society, I would never want to be famous just for the sake of being famous. Or famous and irrelevant at the same time, like say Jon and Kate. And stupid. I was standing in the grocery store the other night and I saw the new People. You know, one where Jon is on the front saying “Enough is enough”. Dude, you’re the jackass that created the mess you’re in. Now, if I wanted to be left alone by the media, it seems to me like the best way would be to stop talking to the media. Moron. I wouldn’t ever want to be one of those people who was capitalizing on those 15 minutes of fame, unless I pulled a drowning person out of a rushing river or kept a child from being crushed by a steel girder or something. I might market that, since it would become a tv movie anyway, but really who would they get to play me anyway? Especially now that Valerie Bertinelli has gone out lost all of that weight.

With the barbeque sauce and a dental floss chill

Alright the part you’ve all been waiting for. First off, lets just say, the Sacramento Wheelmen are a bunch of sadists. I was talking to Professor Cousin last night and he said “Don’t you mean masochists?” No, I don’t, none of those assholes rode in the ride.

When your club puts on the ride a lot of your guys are working the SAG’s and stuff like that. This map is deceptive. There was actually nearly 6500 feet of climbing but we only went up 2800 feet. That means we took the long way up. The ride started off innocent enough. Nearly 30 miles that seemed pretty flat compared to Contra Costa County standards. I knocked that out pretty quickly. I should back up a minute. I made two critical errors when I left the house Friday evening. I forgot the electrolyte tabs and my gels. So I was going to have to make this ride with Power Bars and SAG stops. That’s where things got a little hinky. I have to wonder on a ride like that why wasn’t someone like PowerBar or Cliff or Hammer or Accelerade or even a local sports shop handing out gels at the SAG stops. But they weren’t. Anywho, I’m heading up the first bunch of hills and I’m thinking, this is no big deal. If all 6500 feet are rollers I should be ok through this. Oh, the third screw up. I took the wrong chest strap and I had no heart meter on this ride. How the hell I managed to have three screw ups like that in this ride is a mystery to me. Actually, I have a hint, more on that later. I hit the first SAG stop in great shape. Grabbed a banana, filled up my water bottles that were empty and headed back out. Then things started getting a little more difficult. I just kept hammering away at the rollers but they were getting more unforgiving. And more unforgiving. And there were a couple of brutal ones in there. I heard some guy say “Yeah this one’s 14%”. WTF. Still, I’m hammering away. I can’t watch my heart rate so I’m basing everything on cadence. I’ve been keeping it high. By the time I roll into the second SAG stop I’m tired, but I know the top of the last hill is less than 20 miles away. I notice a guy there talking to his wife. She has a Schepperke mix with her on a leash. I notice that while there are a good amount of people at this SAG stop, the food is thinning out. I know I’m starting to drop back so I get my ass back out there. The next five miles were tough but I had a new banana, fresh water and another PowerBar. But my feet were cramping. Bad. I was having to snap out one foot, then the other out on the decends and shake it out, then stretch the calf a little to get enough relief to keep riding. I was pounding my Accelerade at this point because I knew it had some electrolytes in it and some potassium and that would help my feet. The next 5 miles were the longest 5 miles of the ride. I was beaten. All I could think was “this is soul sucking”. I was doing the math in my head and just couldn’t see how I could put in another 40 miles of this crap. But I knew the last climb was just before 71. And I was at 61. It was only 10 more miles and then I’d be fine. My feet were excruciating. But that was all that was bothering me, if I didn’t count that I was now moving way slower than I wanted to be. In this little 15 mile stretch I lost most of my MPH and nearly lost out completely. Then I met this guy Gary. He was having a tough time too. He wasn’t sure if he was going to make it. I said “You know what? We’re going to finish this bitch together”. And we did. I told him about my feet and he handed me a package of Shot Blox. They helped intermittently. My feet still hurt this morning. We rolled into the 71.4 mile SAG stop and there was nobody there but the volunteers and crickets. And Gary’s wife with their Schepperke Tucker. They had broken down most of the food. Gary’s wife pulled in ahead of us. She had a map of the route and showed us what we had left. I filled up my water bottles, mixed another full of Accelerade, ate half a Powerbar and said to Gary, “Let’s get down this hill”. The SAG guys said there was one little climb left that wasn’t bad and they were right. They said if we got enough speed on the downhills were would nearly coast over the rest of the grades. That was also true. And Gary and me were nearly the last two people in. We got passed by a lot of SAG trucks with people they’d picked up. But they didn’t pick us up. And if that’s as good as it gets for me, then that’s as good as it gets. Time to complete 9:33. Total distance 101.4 miles. MPH 10.7. Cadence 69. Heart rate is a complete unknown.


Contributing Factors

As usual with me, I always do something stupid that contributes to my issues. Saturday was no exception. After Rita’s procedure on Thursday, I went down Friday morning and rounded up a couple of Hispanic day workers. Rafael and Sergio stripped the back 40 of foxtails and weeds and basically left raw dirt. However, when you get guys at Home Depot, you have to work with them to assure constant movement. So I probably worked too hard on Friday.

30bagger

Yep, that’s 30 bags of weeds. I’ll have to load that into the truck tonight or tomorrow and get it over the hill to the green disposal in Pittsburg. We also ran out of line for the weed eaters so I have to finish off the back myself, but the most of it is gone. We didn’t get to the front yard. I’ve decided to tell the City when they try to fine me that it’s a native garden. I was going to do a not completely native installation but since they won’t allot me enough water to landscape, that’s what they get. I’m in the mood to go before the City Council on this one. You see, I’m Contra Costa Water District and we’re being rationed. However, if I lived in Antioch or Brentwood, who also gets Contra Costa County Water District water, I would be required by the City to keep my lawns green. Same water, different rules. I’d hate to be the schmuck who sends the letter to me about the front yard.

In other news

The old man turned 85 on Friday. I know he never thought he’d make it that long. There were certainly times when we didn’t think he would either. But he’s a tough old SOB. And now he’s working on his 86th. The Brother has a plot in the community garden by his house. This year he grew rhubarb. Weird stuff that rhubarb. Anyway, the Old Man likes strawberry rhubarb pie, so The Brother put one together.

pie

The Brother makes the best pie crusts of anyone. Bar none. He’s that good at pie crusts. That pie is as good as it looks.

Happy Birthday Old Man.

oldman85

Symbolized bar code quick ID

Today was going to be about something a lot different, but that’s how things go sometimes here at PBE.

Now we know that Rita went to the vet a week ago and they said she had crystals.  $200.  Then they both went in for their respective issues two days ago $600.  Yesterday Rita came running in the house sneezing like a fool and yeah, sneezing blood.  It was a foxtail.  $350.  For those of you who haven’t met Rita, she is a creature in constant state of motion.  She wakes up and starts jumping on and off the bed to wake me up.  Unless she’s trying to be nice and then she crawls into bed next to me and pushes my arms around with her nose until I get up.  Then she spins her way all the way down the hall, generally yipping as she goes.  Even Bubba looks at her in the morning as if to say “Dude.”  She moves quickly and often.  She’s started checking on me in the office and she’s started coming to get me to show me things.  It’s frantic.  That’s Rita.  When she’s in her crate waiting for me to let her out she spins around just like the cartoon.

taz

You know when they deliver the crate, I think to Bugs Bunny, and the Tasmanian Devil is inside and the crate’s all bouncing around, Taz is spinning around inside and arms and legs and dust are coming out the sides?  That’s Rita before I let her out of the crate.  The dog never stops.  When I picked her up after her procedure yesterday I expected her to be a little toned down.  Nope.  She dragged the vet tech down the hall to get to me.  This was the first time she’s been under since I’ve had her, I had no idea that she could rally through the anesthesia like that.  We came home, she went out in the yard, checked every thing out, and then I realized she was doing it at about 3/4 tempo.  And she was really pissed at Bubba.  While she was gone Bubba was inconsolable.  He checked everywhere for her and eventually parked himself on the patio and watched the yard as if she was going to return any second.  When she did return, he lit up.  She wasn’t as thrilled to see him.  After about 30 minutes of checking out the yard, Rita came in and laid down.  It was still light out so it was a little strange.  And then she passed out.

ritastoned

She was sleeping, with her mouth and eyes open.  She never does that, she’s lots more dignified than that.  She’s still a little out of sorts this morning, but she should be fine by the time I head out to Sacramento.  God help the dogsitters.

This all occurred because I haven’t gotten all the foxtails down in the back yard.  I’ve got two deals in escrow (yea!) but I’ve been running my butt off with ridiculous requests like “I can’t get the key out of the lock on your listing so I just left it in there”.  You dumb bitch.  That cost me a ride out to Brentwood, so much for being green.   You know the key came right out when I got there.  Some real estate agents are too stupid to breathe the same air I do.  It’s tragic.  So my weeds aren’t cut (we know I can’t landscape right now) my office is a fire hazard there’s so much crap laying around and now I’m light three bills and my dog had unnecessary surgery because I can’t keep up.  And I know, PBE has been light as of late too.  As soon as I get everything running again, we’ll be back to the usual shenanigans.

Thankfully this weekend’s Sierra Century will be the last long ride, probably of the year.  It was a mistake taking on that much distance this year.  The training for that kind of distance takes too much time out of every week.  After this the distances will be shorter.  The Lance Armstrong Foundation Livestrong ride is a metric century, 65 miles and that requires less distance on the weekly training rides.  At least Rita’s adventures have kept me from being stressed out about riding 100 miles in the Sierras with 6500 feet of climbing.  Tomorrow is going to be a tough day.  But when I’m done I will have ridden a Century, and that will be totally worth it.

Cause they can’t make opinions meet about God

I was going to leave this one alone simply because it’s so controversial. But then I thought “when has that ever stopped you?” And it hasn’t. And it won’t.

There is absolutely no justification for the cold blooded murder of Dr. George Tiller. The fact that Fox News’ talking heads act like he was some sort of criminal is in itself criminal. It is what it is and it’s cold blooded murder. Dr. Tiller operated within the purview of the law. While the butterfly wingnut faction tried to call it otherwise, his practice fell within the constraints of Kansas’ laws. Murdering him did not. It is a hate crime and should be tried with hate crime enhancements. There is and will never be any justification for murdering that man.

Now, stop right there. I don’t like the idea of abortion for a lot of reasons. However, it happens to be one of those things that if society does not provide a safe alternative, desperate women will go to shady back rooms and have the procedure done anyway. And then they will show up in Emergency Rooms with dire infections and other conditions that will require life saving intervention, if they live that long. That’s what happened prior to Roe v. Wade, which is incidentally a 1973 Supreme Court decision.

Perhaps you’re thinking those women deserve what they get, that it is God’s punishment for having an abortion in the first place. I have to wonder, what gives anyone the right to determine what is and isn’t God’s will? And whose God are we talking about anyway? The God that told George Bush to invade Iraq? I don’t for a minute believe that ANY God told George Bush to do that. I wholeheartedly believe that decision was based on Dick Cheney’s ability to sell his Neocon theories and nothing that had anything to do with anybody’s God. The God that tells Osama bin Laden to murder Americans? The God that told Joseph Kallinger to murder and mutilate young boys? I think anybody who tells you that God said to do this or that is just invoking a diety to get you to do what THEY want. A person’s relationship with God is just that, personal. Some people have no relationship with any god. How can anyone tell them to do this or that because God told them to? Sometimes I think these people spouting off that God told them to do this or that might as well be listening to the dog that tormented David Berkowitz. Because the God that told Scott Roeder to walk into a Wichita sanctuary and murdered George Tiller isn’t the same God that I know. The God that told George Bush to send our troops to Iraq on his own personal jihad is not the God I know. The God that told Osama bin Laden to murder thousands of Americans on September 11th is not the God I know. God is not an excuse. God is a solution. God is love. Whether your god is a Yaweh or Buddha or Allah or Jehovah or a whole slew of gods, it’s personal. And quite seriously, who am I or anyone else to tell you who you can and can’t call god?

So when some wing nut tells me that God told him to go murder a Dr. who was doing his job within the confines of the laws of the State of Kansas, I have to say no. And once again I have to wonder for those people who are inflicting blood, mayhem and destruction in the name of God, what are you guys going to do when the Judgement Day comes and St. Peter gets a load of your ass and says “What the Hell were you thinking?”

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