Random Things

The Internet is a magical place

From NYMag.com:

By extension, the NSA leaker Edward Snowden (“a little narcissist”) and “the pack of idiots” that see him as their hero were also on her mind. “Surveillance is important in the war against terror, which exists,” she said. “Snooping into what? Most sane people would say, ‘Go ahead, look at my e-mail correspondence, what do I care? As long you stop the bombers in Boston.’ I mean, that is the normal, visceral American response.”

……………………..

On the bikes otherwise benign human beings become menaces, because they don’t feel bound by traffic laws. “Unless I was having too much wine after dinner, I actually saw somebody on a bike stop at a red light,” she said. “Once. That may have happened. If it happens more than once, I will submit myself to psychiatric examination on the grounds I’m having a delusion.”

Also from NYMag.com:

How has your life changed since [the EP] came out?
The EP has been pretty popular here for kind of couple months, so it’s dying down now. But, you know, I get recognized, which is weird, when I’m at a restaurant and I’ve got my mouth full of food. And because I currently have a single digit in my bank account. I had to make a different Facebook the other day because I get weird messages from dudes saying “We’re going to be the best of friends,” and I’m like, “Ewww. We aren’t.”

And Dooce.com:

You are happiness in all of its definitions, in all of its forms, unable to be contained, unable to stay here forever. And because you won’t, because you will run head first into the burning building of what it means to grow up, of what it means to develop a sense of guilt and dread but also an appreciation for beauty and the ability to value who and what you are in these words that I have written, I’ll just look forward to the bumpy ride. Take me with you.

The always-interesting Slate.com:

There are parts of the chawl I can’t shake off to this day. I am absolutely disgusted by roaches and fanatic about scrubbing my house for fear that one may find its way into my apartment one day. I am obsessed with running water. To this day, I find myself standing in my shower, with its marble tiles and jacuzzi tub and marveling that I don’t share this with anyone. It’s my bathroom, and when I turn on a tap, water comes out, and if I want I can stick my face in it and drink it! And I can stay in it as long as I want—I don’t have to share it with anyone!! I walk around secretly delighted that I can run my hands along the walls, and they are uncracked and dry! And I have a dog. I have a dog!!

From thechive.com:

do-what-i-want-24

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The American Dream

My trip home from Redlands earlier this week began with an American Airlines flight from Ontario, CA (ONT) to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), followed by a 90-minute layover before the second flight. I was waiting at the gate at ONT before the scheduled departure of 2:25pm, but by 2:15pm, there still was not a single airline employee in sight. I looked the flight up online and saw that there was a delay, but no announcement was ever made at the gate. This was not unlike my trip out to Redlands, where the American flight was delayed by 90 minutes without explanation or apology.

I started to get anxious; the flight was now scheduled to land 19 minutes before my next one was due to depart. It didn’t look promising. A phone call to the airlines and a visit to the gate counter indicated that (a) if I missed my connection, the only option was a flight the following morning and (b) my suitcase might make my connection or might not, but they couldn’t say.

When the flight landed at DFW with 11 minutes until my next departure, I was still foolishly hopeful. I sprinted through the terminal past 25 gates. Nobody was around when I got to my gate, but the door to the gangway was open so I ran in. The first thing I saw when I got to the end was the plane….with the cabin door already closed, which in airport land means the plane might as well already be at 35,000 feet. A rabbity little American Airlines employee was standing with his back to me as I pathetically gasped, “Is that the plane to Washington?”

Instead of answering, he demanded to know how I had gotten in. “Uh, through the door?” He was outraged, furious that I’d evidently broken some commandment by walking through an open, unattended door. By the time he and I walked back to the American counter near the door I’d so HEINOUSLY entered, we’d established that (a) he sucked tremendously as a person and (b) he was the one tasked with fixing my situation. I would rather have eaten my now-defunct boarding pass than been there with him.

He remained huffy and indignant while booking me a new flight for the next morning, offering no apologies and making the arrangements without a word about flight times or seat options. When I asked about the status of my suitcase, he became even more irritated, telling me there was no way to know where it would spend the night. “It will either go to your final destination tonight or it will not!” My one option was to go to baggage claim at DFW and wait there “for several hours” to see what might happen.

By that point, I was furious and exhausted and trying not to cry. He handed me vouchers for a hotel and $19 worth of food (which buys roughly one granola bar at the airport) and that was it. Not a single kind word or apology on behalf of the airline. I snapped. Before leaving, I snarled, “You could be a little less rude considering that it was YOUR airline that f***ed up.”

His only response was a haughty “Nice language!”

Let’s not talk about my reply.

**********

When I first boarded the plane in Ontario heading towards DFW, I was seated next to a stately older lady. She and I chatted through takeoff and discussed the possibility that I was going to miss my connecting flight and have to spend the night in Dallas. “I had that happen to me once,” she explained, “and now I always put a clean pair of panties and a nightgown in my carry-on.” I replied that fortunately space constraints had left me with no choice but to put all of my socks and underthings in my carry-on.

After our plane landed and I unsuccessfully sprinted to catch the next one, I shuffled dejectedly out of the airport to catch the hotel shuttle. I was standing on the curb in the dark when she walked by and saw that I’d clearly missed the plane.

“That’s a shame,” she said. But then she smiled a little as she turned to walk away and whispered conspiratorially, “Clean panties!”

**********
My boarding pass said Gate C17. I entered the airport at Terminal A, boarded the inter-terminal Sky Train, and proceeded to slowly circle the entire airport on my way to Terminal C (which oddly enough came after both B and D). After over ten minutes of riding, I used my phone to check for a flight delay. No delay…but my gate had been moved back to Terminal A. I got out at the same stop I had boarded on over fifteen minutes earlier.

**********
Two men boarded the nearly empty plane out of DFW together. The flight attendant gestured at the row after row of empty seats and announced to them, “Sit anywhere!” The first guy filed into a row of three seats, followed a moment later by his friend. As the friend was about to sit down, the first guy exclaimed, “Dude! Get your own row! I like you, but not that much.”

**********
While sitting on the plane waiting to take off, I started texting with my boss. She reminded me about a meeting I’d scheduled for that afternoon (when I was supposed to have arrived home the previous day), and I told her that I’d make it back on time to attend the meeting in person versus calling in. Since she knew I’d been delayed overnight without my luggage, she made a joke about me showing up in the same dirty outfit and then texted, “Send me a picture of what you’re wearing!!”

There was a time in my life where a text like that meant something so much more saucy.

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Chicken or Pig

While reading the blog of a fellow racer recently, I came across something interesting. She talked about the book “Base Building for Cyclists” by Thomas Chapple and included the following excerpts:

“Commitment to being the best possible athlete must go beyond following a schedule and completing workouts. Commitment is the details of how you live your daily life, how you track your training, how you listen to and take care of your body, and how you act to change whatever is holding you back from reaching your goals.” (p. 243-244)

“The athlete who attempts to train through an injury rather than adjust his goals always believes he is committed, but he is not. He is acting obsessively rather than remaining committed to his objectives. Remaining injured is not the way to progress, and by not resting he creates long-term setbacks. This is when obsession is mistaken as passion or commitment.” (p. 245)

This made me think. When I came home from the hospital, the first thing I wanted to do was get back on the bike and resume training. The back injury was serious and the pain was significant, but I needed to stay on track with my riding and not be derailed by anything, even if that meant prolonging the overall recovery. I saw that determination as a good thing at the time, but maybe that single-minded focus isn’t actually healthy.

After Sunday’s ride (in which I did extra intervals as “penance” for the tequila and chocolate cake from the previous night), I sat down on the couch intending to watch something deep and meaningful on Netflix and ended up watching snippets of every episode of the first two seasons of TLC’s My Strange Addiction. Those are like documentaries, right? Documentaries about very strange people who like to eat house cleaner, keep dozens of hairless rats as pets, or the hair from shower drains. In a nutshell, they are obsessed and unable to control their impulses. As one concerned family member helpfully advised a devout eater of toilet paper:

“You should really consider not doing it…at all.”

While I cringed and laughed through the episodes, I can identify with the underlying impulse. I love cycling and racing, but sometimes that love feels more like a compulsion. I have to ride, I have to train, I have to add extra intervals and work harder. In reality, I don’t have to do anything except pay taxes and die. But I imagine my compelling need to ride sometimes feels very similar to one of those Strange Addiction people’s need to dress in a fur suit.

On a normal, non-injured basis, this obsessiveness is fairly harmless and has been instrumental in helping me be a tougher racer. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? I think it’s good to feel compelled to work hard and face suffering head-on. And if I have a few more glasses of tequila than I should have, then yeah, I’m going to feel the need to add extra work to the next day’s training. If that makes me cry from pain, good. Tears are just tequila leaving the body.

But I sometimes worry that these obsessive tendencies are going to burn me out either physically or mentally. There have been times where my body is nearly dead from fatigue and I can’t help but be furious at the inability to keep going. There are other times where the idea of having to reschedule a workout due to life obligations leaves me nearly consumed with anxiety. Nevermind that I can see on my calendar that I will still do all the required rides; maybe if I do those intervals a day late, they won’t count and I’ll shrivel up and be slow.

It could be worse. There was an episode all about a young woman addicted to taxidermy.

“I love finding dead animals and stuffing them…in my apartment are dead animals, everywhere.”

[The woman, Divya, is shown walking through a park and looking under bushes while carrying a backpack for collecting the carcasses.] The narrator says, “Divya is constantly hunting for dead animals.”

See? At least I’m riding my bike and not bringing home dead animals. Oh, wait.

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All Smiles!

Reasons I Am Delighted By Life:

1. Colavita. For the win! Like a boss!
2. M Coupe. This car is the shit. I’ve never really understood that expression, but that doesn’t stop me from using it. I recently learned a new term: contronym. This term is used to refer to “words that, by some freak of language evolution, are their own antonyms.” I think ‘the shit’ qualifies and thus that elevates it from common slang to linguistic art.
3. Sausage. One of my new team sponsors happens to be the maker of the chicken apple sausage I have eaten every day for the past eight months. I don’t know about fate, but I do know about sausage.

Reasons I Just Poured A Very Reasonable Serving Of 12-Year Old Irish Whiskey:

1. Work. I love my job and my company, but I have a lot of concurrent projects at the moment and they are making my head want to explode. Also, sometimes the cycling/work balance makes me panic a little and today is one of those days. Life would be so much easier if I could somehow outsource things like sleeping and bathing. Except that I love showers and have often remarked towards the end of a 25+ minute washstravaganza, “It would be awesome if I could get paid to do this!” And I probably can, but I don’t think working with webcam sites would do much for my resume or my Sunday dinners with the parents.
2. My ex-ish-husband just informed me that he’s living with his girlfriend. This is fine, really, and the adult in me is happy for them. The non-adult in me wants to barf just a little. In a totally mature, supportive way. Housewarming snake deliveries are a thing, right?
3. Cake. We can put people on the moon and instantly send videos of toddlers to people all around the world, but we have not yet invented a tasty, fat-free, calorie-free, chemical-free cake. WHY.

Posted on in Cycling, Life, Random Things 1 Comment

Dude! Something other than cycling!

While this blog might lead you to believe otherwise, once in a while I stop riding a bicycle. Some long overdue updates:

The Dogs. To make a long story short, Scout got cancer, Scout got cured of cancer but brought home fleas, the fleas made me lose my mind for a little while, I got the furniture cleaned and banished the pets to the floor, and felt guilty for kicking Scout out of his armchair so I bought him a fancy bed. Then Kobe refused to get out of the bed, so I got another one and now both dogs have taken up permanent residence in the beds. As in, I have to physically peel Kobe out of the bed to get him to go outside. The good news is that Scout made it through the first November in three years without developing any serious health problems, which would be cause for joy were it not for that whole cancer thing a few months ago.

The Parents. My father was scheduled to have a minor procedure performed the other day and, upon hearing this news, I jokingly reminded him to update his will. He said he had and was leaving everything to charity, specifically plastics recycling. He is going to have the recycling plant named in my honor. I am hoping what he really means is “I have instructed your mother to give you my BMWs.” Then he texted me today to talk about his bellybutton. My mother is doing well and is delighted that, despite her objections, I made my sweet potato souffle on Thanksgiving. No problem, Mom. I’ll make it for Christmas, too. And your birthday.

The Job. It’s good. I like it. My coworkers make me laugh every day. At a headquarters meeting the other day, we collectively agreed that I have no tact. I like to think of my style as efficient.

The M Coupe. I sold it back in September. As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, “Big mistake. Big. HUGE.” In the movie, she went on to say, “I have to go shopping now!” I couldn’t agree more. Thus, I have spent the past few days scouring the Internet and trying to avoid sounding desperate when emailing the handful of people selling M Coupes around the country. Please feel free to share your strong feelings about the sensibility of this choice by clicking here.

The House. I still live in a shitty neighborhood. On Halloween night, I put a jack-o’-lantern on the front steps of my building around 11pm. Somebody smashed it on the sidewalk by 7am the next morning. Last week, there were men smoking weed behind the dumpsters. The other night, I took the dogs for their nightly walk and ended up chasing thugs away from the playground because they were lighting things on fire. It helped that Kobe behaved like a little shit and tried to eat them. When Santa Claus comes to my neighborhood to deliver presents, he should probably expect to be mugged. Hooray for home ownership!

Other. (1) I turned 28 at the end of October. Soon I will be 30 and then I will die of old age. (2) My 10-year high school reunion was last weekend and, unsurprisingly, my fellow graduates went on to become frighteningly accomplished (lawyers, doctors, software developers, people working at hedge funds, people doing post-doctoral work in physics or mathematics). I decided to stand out by pursuing a dream that does not require me to use my head, only my legs. This choice fascinated my classmates. (3) After seven months of small sips, I finally finished my first bottle of whisky. My father promptly bought me another, much larger bottle. (4) Thanksgiving was great. The Bayer family gathered at my parents’ house, I drank enough that scouring the house for my father’s special snickersnee [aka, carving knife] became my life’s singular purpose, both my parents did musical performances, and my aunt made “fucking A, man” the official slogan of the holiday. Christmas can’t come soon enough.

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Places I Have Eaten A Boneless Barbecued Rib Speared On A Fork Recently:

1. The kitchen counter
2. The patio, while walking the dogs
3. The wooded paths around my condo, as I walked to pick up my car
4. The shower
5. The bedroom floor, while stretching

I could explain why, but it’s more amusing if I don’t.

Posted on in Cycling, Random Things 1 Comment

If I win this weekend, it will be brought to you in part by Nicki Minaj

When it comes to music preferences, I love Rufus Wainwright, Radiohead, Elliott Smith, Gomez, and a whole library of artists that would not be featured on a typical top-40 station. If you take a word and stick “The” in front, I will probably like their music (The Fratellis, The New Pornographers, The Like, The Black Keys, The Sounds, etc). When somebody asks what I listen to, I smugly answer “alternative” or, when I want to feel hip and edgy, “indie rock”. I scoff at fans of Katy Perry or Ke$ha. “What obvious drivel,” I think with a self-satisfied smile as I flip to an obscure song by Of Montreal.

This is not the case while on a bicycle. When I have headphones in on a ride (blah blah blah, you can scold me all you want, my music is too loud to hear you anyway), I am listening to music most suited to high school homecoming dances. If you ask me what’s playing, I will avoid the question or flat-out refuse to answer, but the truth is, it’s probably some brilliance by Flo Rida, Pitbull, David Guetta, or the like. It’s motivating, it’s catchy, and best of all, it’s highly informative.

Ten Truths I Have Learned About Life From Pop Music:

1. The only things worth living for happen at night, once the sun has gone down, in the dark. The sooner you can hit the lights, the better.
2. The three-second rule does not apply, as the more time spent “on da floor”, the better.
3. If you are female, you need to be “bad”, “a wild one”, “dirrrrrty”, or some variation therein, or you might as well not exist at all. Sources have not yet determined, however, whether it is preferable to be a girl or a women. It is best to be prepared to respond to either.
4. There is never a word that cannot be made at least three syllables longer than originally intended (i.e., “beach” becomes “be-ee-ee-ee-ach”)
5. It really is a small world after all. South Beach, NYC, Brazil, Miami, Morocco, Australia – you will want to discuss your visits to these places and more all in one breath. Not to worry about travel time, though; with your G6, you cross the globe in no time at all.
6. There is no number except number one. You want to be number one, refer to yourself as number one, be somebody’s number one. Unless you are trying to tell somebody you don’t care, in which case you are permitted to say you do not give a “number two”.
7. Gangstas be frequently poppin’ bottles, but gangstas do not apparently deal with hangovers, bar tabs, DUIs, or cirrhosis of the liver. There are also no repercussions to those many times you “lose control” or “lose yourself”, so you are encouraged to do so early and often.
8. If you do not wake up and immediately go to the club, you might as well have stayed in bed. While you may be tempted to regularly ask “where my boyz at”/”where my girlz at”, look no further, as the answer is clearly “in da club” or “on da floor”.
9. No sentiment is sweeter than when uttered through Auto-Tune.
10. Eating disorders need to be a thing of the past, as all men prefer curves, a booty, apple-bottom jeans, etc.

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Thank you for shopping at TrailMart

While my training plan today called for a light workout while pre-riding the Liberty Classic course, my day unfolded in such a way that had me getting on the bike much later than planned and while still in Virginia. That is what happens when spend the morning cleaning the house, lounging at a coffee shop, and delivering your beloved pets to a stranger’s house. The ride ended up being awful – the weather was perfect, all of my newly-installed parts hummed flawlessly, and my legs felt great. I like my pre-race rides to be miserable sufferfests so that the race itself can only be an improvement.

Anyway, while I was out riding on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail (the W&OD, to the locals), I came up with a great idea. One day, when I am not preoccupied with suffering through intervals and rocking out to whatever auditory brilliance Flo Rida recently threw up, I am going to set up a stand alongside the W&OD. My stand will not be offering the usual lemonade and Gatorade (or, as more fitting on some parts of the trail, cans of Natty Light in paper bags and packs of Black & Milds). No, my stand will be giving away good, old unsolicited advice.

Here’s a teaser of the pearls of wisdom customers can expect to receive:

1) If you were driving and smoke was pouring out from under your car’s hood, would you keep going? Probably not. If your bike is shrieking, grinding, or clanking, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Just because the bicycle is still willing to roll forward doesn’t mean that terrible noise should be ignored.

2) Some people love antique furniture because they feel like the old stuff was ‘just made better’. This rule does not apply to helmets. Unlike fine wines, they do not improve with age. Please don’t believe that helmet you have kept in your hot garage since 1992 is still going to protect your head in the event of a crash. Styrofoam ages and weakens. I applaud your willingness to wear a helmet, but let’s bring your headgear into the 21st century.

3) Speaking of helmets, if you can feel the breeze caressing the entirety of your forehead, you are wearing it wrong.

4) There are other people using the trail on most days. Much in the same way that people do not drive on whatever side of the road they want or stop in the middle of 495 just because (although my recent travel experience would indicate otherwise), there are rules the govern the trail lanes that are there for everybody’s safety. This isn’t Europe. We drive/walk/ride/whatever on the right and observe the center line.

5) Should you desire to stop, turn around, or look at a shiny object, please be aware that people may be approaching behind you and look first. Also listen for people calling “On your left!” or some variation, as they indicating an intention to pass. If you hear somebody yell from behind you – even if you can’t make out the words clearly – it is probably safe to assume they are going to pass and you should not do anything erratic. In the thousands of miles I have spent on the W&OD, I have never once been dismayed to realize that somebody had been trying to yell, “SHARK!”

Posted on in Cycling, Random Things 2 Comments

Recipe for an awesome health shake, as long as you’re unconscious for the last 1/3 of it

At the end of the Tuesday Night Worlds ride the other night, I was not in the mood for food. After drinking Recoverite, stretching, and putting away my gear, I was ready to get into a hot shower and forget about dinner. But skipping meals is unacceptable, especially after a hard ride, so I invented this fantastic smoothie:

  • 1 heaping scoop of chocolate protein powder
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1.5 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cold brown rice

After blending it with my magic bullet (a name which always calls to mind non-kitchen-related appliances), I took a sip and was pleased. It tasted pretty good and the rice seemed to have blended in nicely. Perfect! All of this nutrition in a few easy sips!

So I took my cup and got into the shower. That’s not weird, is it? I mean, it’s not like I’d take a sandwich or a rotisserie chicken in there, but what’s wrong with a smoothie or the occasional latte? I digress. I started to shower and get through the drink and then, with particularly angled tilt of the cup, I was confronted with the truth: cold brown rice does not blend. It was all there in a sludgy 3-inch layer on the bottom.

There was no choice; that rice needed to be consumed. It’s not like there was a fork in my shower, so I did the next best thing: scooped up blobs of dripping, chocolately rice with my fingers and tried to shovel it down as fast as possible. The fun didn’t stop until the cup was empty, which was good, because I was at the threshold of gagging.

Other than that, I highly recommend trying this.

Posted on in Cycling, Life, Random Things 2 Comments

Big Brother Is Watching Your Shoe Covers

There was an article on VeloNews.com recently about new rules imposed by the UCI with regards to lawyer tabs on forks, sock length, CamelBak placement, and several other areas. The backlash from readers was immediate, with many thinking it was an early April Fool’s prank and others irritated by the absurdity of the regulations. I don’t disagree that the UCI is wasting time regulating silly things when they could be serving a much better purpose [insert section in which I climb on the soapbox about women's racing], but it’s the other readers’ comments that are worth reading:

On the requirement for lawyer tabs on forks…
“It’s about time the UCI addressed this issue, look at how many times we see front wheels flying down mountains unattached from their bikes because the professional mechanics are inept at tightening a skewer.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, the UCI knows what they’re doing. It’s been a long time since QR technology advanced. I for one am eagerly anticipating the amazing leaps forward in the QR arena.”

On mandating sock length…
“I am glad the UCI is making a rule with regard to sock length. Makes me feel better when I watch that some riders are not getting an unfair advantage from a longer sock.”
“I agree. Whenever I see a rider with socks higher than the mid point between ankle and calf, all I can think of is how much more power I have to put out just to keep up with him.”
 
On other suggested legislation…
“And I understand the UCI is considering a rule on the ratio of hydrogen to oxygen found in the water in water bottles. A management subcommittee is evaluating what that ratio ought to be, and whether it is to be measured by weight or by count of atoms. In other news, a proposed rule change will regulate the ratio of wheel circumference to wheel diameter; following the recommendation of the Illinois legislature, a value of 3 is proposed.”
“No doubt the UCI’s crackdown on the H:O ratio is due to reports that several teams have hired top scientists to remove the neutrons from the oxygen atom, thereby saving over 260 grams per 20oz water bottle.”
“Also, the UCI and WADA are going to initiate a ban on ‘training’ that some teams have their riders go through. This ‘training’ process apparently gives the rider an unfair advantage by increasing cardio-vascular performance, building muscle, and shaving weight off of the rider. This puts other teams’ riders who don’t have time or don’t feel like training at a huge disadvantage.”
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