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Friday, April 27, 2007

Bikes are pretty

I'm not a very good cyclist. I'm also not a good photographer.

But, and this will come as a shock to regular readers, I have a highly developed bicycle aesthetic. Honey and I are back from our annual pilgrimage to the Tour de Georgia. Despite the whole lesbian thing, I think biker boy legs are sexy. And bikes are sexy (which defies sexual categories).

Herewith a few pictures I snapped of the pretty of it all. Oh and feel free to click on the pictures. That way you can see my bad photography REALLY big.

Thusly, the things enjoyed, though not excelled in, become one for a moment.

Janez Brajkovic, the eventual winner:

Ok, you've got to admit, this is a pretty leg. It's Brajkovic's.

David Canada, ultimately 3rd in the race. He was leading at the start of this stage.

Christian Vandevelde. He finished second, and like all American riders taking off from the Chickamauga stage was sent off with a blast from a rifle fired by a group of Confederate reenactors. I didn't take a picture of them.

My bike is also pretty. So, here are some pictures of it. I wouldn't want it to get jealous...

How fast do I ride? Here's my sense enacted in bar plugs.

My snail and I are happy to go, slow, though. That way people can see how pretty the bike is a little better.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Woo-Whee, Now That's a Teevee

We have acquired two new items to make our lives in the living room (that's where one is supposed to live, is it not?) better.

The first was a result of a moment of weakness as I looked (as I often do) on Steepandcheap is a site that sells one item at a time until it sells out. It's like a woot-off on all the time, but instead of electronics, steepandcheap features outdoorsy stuff. I buy socks there (smartwools) when they pop up and have bought a handful of other items. A couple of weekends ago, I happened upon them selling a dog bed. Now, Honey thinks I'm obsessed with dog beds, and she may be right. I do have a tendency to comment on them when I see them in a store and to paw (sorry) through them. This is especially true if we happen to be in a big box or discount store like Costco or Pic 'n Sav (which is now Big Lots, but I still think of it as Pic). It's been a while since I've been in either store, so to see a dog bed on steepandcheap gave me that little thrill I used to get at Pic.

My first "I'm an adult and can get a dog" dog, Carter, the neurotic basenji from hell, loved dog beds. I could even tell her to go get on her dog bed when she was being neurotic and then she was neurotic on her dog bed instead of in my face. Red also liked dog beds. He sighed a lot, did Red, because of his arthritis. The dog beds seem a small mercy to his comfort.

Biscuit doesn't so much like them. I bought her one and she treated it like a giant dog toy. Then I bought her another one and she did the same thing. There's a lot of stuffing in most dog beds and Bisc thought spreading it about was great fun.

Now that we have Scout, I had been thinking I might give the dog bed thing another go. And then...steepandcheap came through for me. I hit "Buy 1" without thinking. A few days later, a gynormous box was sitting on our porch. The Insulmutt dog bed is made from recycled tents and other outdoor equipment. It comes in medium, large, and extra-large. I had inadvertantly gotten an extra-large for our 30 pound bahuashepchowpei. He's a big fella, but not that big.

I put it in the corner and both dogs sniffed at it. There may have been some dragging it around on Biscuit's part. The cats thought it was fantastic and on several occasions Honey and I came home to both cats engulfed in it.

Then, yesterday, Scout discovered it.

Biscuit prefers to nap on the most expensive piece of furniture we own. I don't know how much it cost, as my parents bought it. I'm willing to guess it cost well more than any piece of furniture I've ever purchased by quite a lot. They gave it to us when we took Red from them. He liked to lounge on it. Biscuit does, too. Must be a spaniel-head thing. Biscuit may not be smart, but she has expensive taste and she's pretty. Come to think of it, that's true of so many people one sees on teevee. Honey was walking Biscuit and Scout the other day and a guy stopped and told her, "the black one is pretty." The yellow one, apparently, is not.

So, the dogs are set for lounging. That's good.

Our other acquisition was a result of a convergence of spheres. Honey said she wanted to go see a cheap movie yesterday. Honey likes the 11am $6 movies. Seems like the right price to pay, she says. I can't disagree.

After the movie, I proposed we walk a few blocks to a bookstore to which we had gift cards. We're travelling later this week and I'm in my usual "what am I going to read on the plane?" panic. So, off we trekked, over the hills, across the street and through the mall. As we approached the bookstore, we saw a woman waving a sign that said "CompUSA going out of business 10-50% Off Everything." Honey doesn't like sign waving as a concept. She thinks it demeaning to the sign person. I agree, but I like me a bargain. So up the escalator to CompUSA we went. I had visions of $500 iMacs. Surely the Apple products would be 50%. Surely. I kind of want a new computer, as my trusty swivelheaded iMac is a little long in the tooth. The Apple products were 10% off and well more the the Apple certified refurbished ones sold on Apple's own site.

I wandered off and was inextricably drawn into the teevee zone. If dog beds are a long time focus, a widescreen HDTV is a medium time focus. For six months or so I've been looking at them. Calling Dish to find out how much upgrade would cost. Almost buying a really no name one on a woot-off. I've held off in the face of the aligning spheres. My parents got one for their KITCHEN. Then they got one for the vacation home. My brother got one.

Last weekend we went to Honey's parents and they had one. I watched the Masters on it. I abhor golf. It was really pretty. The golf. On the hd teevee. I watched the Dodgers play the Giants. I don't like either team. Barry Bonds' head looks even bigger in HD. Not in a good way at all.

So, there we are standing in amongst the teevees. And they have one I had researched and was interested in. In the size I wanted. For 25% off. And they hadn't jacked up the price. It was really 25% off the price it was supposed to be. Unlike several others, they still had one in a box.

Within moments, mere moments, I was up at the front proffering my debit card and then off to the car, several blocks away, to bring it back to the place where the nice men in red shirts put the teevee in the car.

Honey helped me get it in the house. It's set-up. The old 27" is in the bedroom. Dish has been called and is coming soon to make it HD and HD dvr.

We put it on fishing to take pictures of it to show how good it looks even when it's broadcasting something as stupid as fishing.

I think the rawhide in the second picture looks like the dogs' small offering to the coolness that is the tv.

Now, we just need to get down to the business of living in the living room. Dog bed? check. Dog lounger? Check. Big teevee? Check. We're all set-up. When is everyone coming over?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

If I admit I have a sickness, can I have what I want?

Ok, I have bag lust again. This is bad news, as I just bought a new bag a few months ago. I heart it still. It's a Chrome messenger bag with a seat belt buckle. It must be worn over the body. It can't be carried in the hand. It's impractical as such sometimes.

In addition to this bag, I have:

A custom Timbuk2 messenger bag in red/grey/ivory. It's nice, I like it. But I don't wear much red. I mostly use it to carry my clothes for after work bike rides on such days as I feel motivated to do them.

A large leather bag. It's nice. It's too big, though, and has no top handle.

A grey Timbuk2 that's a little frayed for my taste. It's got a vertical orientation and is a tidy size. On a recent business venture I used it. It felt a little shabby in context.

A very small yellow Timbuk2 bag. Small notebooks only in this one. Really, it's a purse. Shh. Don't tell it.

A black leather dealio my mother gave me. It would suit her terrifically well. I think it rather fussy.

All of which is to say, I would like a bag about the size of my worn and red Timbuk2 ones that would be suitable for occasions when I would prefer not wearing a seatbelt over my shoulder.

I have found the bag. It costs too much.

Plus, if you've been counting along, I currently have six bags which I deem unsuitable. And I'm not counting backpacks (shudder) or the two bags made for carrying a computer which I use on the rare occasion when I, um, carry a computer.

Here's what's perfect about it. It's small, but big enough for a full sized notebook. It's black and tan. Mostly, I love the Eames design. I'm a bit of a fool for mid-century modern. (I love Arts and Crafts, too, but I don't know how you could make a Greene and Greene bag). So, the Eames thing is a real turn-on for me.

Do I need it? No.

Do I want it? Lustfully.

So...what to do? *Sigh*

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Cereal joy and more

I'm a posting MACHINE!

Can you tell it's spring break and I have less everyday pressure? I'm working on real stuff, too. I've graded 10 midterms a day all three days this week, wrote two probationary performance evaluations, reviewed an article for a journal, created some new curriculum, cleaned out my e-mail, and it's not even noon on Wednesday.

Anyway...I have been in cereal crisis. Honey and I like cereal for breakfast and for the past few months, we have given over to the magic that is Kashi. Honey likes Go Lean Crunch. I like it too. But I found personal cereal nirvana in Strawberry Fields. What's not to like? Organic? Check. Available at Trader Joe's? Why yes. Tasty? Mmm Hmm. Soggy danger? Low.

That's all well and good, until it disappeared from Trader Joe's. No shelf space disappeared. One week there were a few boxes. The next, no space. I searched for it. Honey, sweet person that she is, went to another Trader Joe's looking for it. No luck. What was I to do?

I made do with Cinnamon Harvest, which is tasty. Then I went to Trader Joe's Vanilla Wheat Squares. Bereft probably best describes my cereal feeling as I spooned the vanilla pockets into my mouth on Monday.

Then I remembered that there's a wondrous new invention called the internets. You can type something into a box and it will spit back information. So off to the internets I went and found Kashi's own site. I was hoping they'd have a way to match my cereal desires with a store in my area. Kashi did me one better. For a small fee (a pittance really), they sent me a CASE of Strawberry Fields in a big brown truck. Incredible!

This morning, I opened the box and there were twelve friendly box tops staring back at me. Waiting to be my cereal.

A nice Wednesday today, a fields of berry of straw morning and a labor settlement with guaranteed raises for me and my kind. *Contented Sigh*

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Posterior crisis

When it gets right down to it, I'm not very fond of my butt. I recognize that it serves a needed function. But were I to list my own favorite parts of the anatomical mess that is me, my butt wouldn't make the top ten. And, no, I'm not going to list the ten I would choose. Shout out to my ears!

Bottom line (har!), my butt has been hurting me lately. I was blaming my newish chair, which is a mesh deal rip-off of a Herman Miller Aeron chair.

My very smart Honey pointed out that the chair was probably not to blame. Rather, the most likely culprit was the Gunnar. No, not the twin son of Rick Nelson. Nor is Gunnar Peterson, the work-out guru, to blame. Instead it's my new-to-me Gunnar Rockhound.

What, you ask, is a Gunnar Rockhound? Why, it's a bicycle. A fancy green bicycle.

I often use my mountain bike to get around campus. My old mountain bike, a Cannondale F400, was aluminium. Here's the thing about aluminum. It's light. It's strong. It's rigid. It makes your teeth fall out rigid. Plus, the C'dale was too big for me. So, after months of obsessing on ebay, I bought the Gunnar and sold the Cannondale.

The Gunnar? She's steel. Flexy, comfy steel. And a blast to ride.

Since the picture above was taken, I've swapped out the seat to this:

My biggest change to the bike, though, courtesy of a conspiracy of the best kind--a birthday conspiracy--was an upgrade the the front fork. Forks are the shocks on the front of mountain bikes. They make riding more fun. I asked for high end in the fork department. I got it. Everybody say woo-whee.

So, now that my bike is everything I want to be and more, I've been riding it. And my butt hurts. Leave it to Honey to see the connection.

It's a hardtail, which means it has no shock on the back end. I am not a hardtail, which means I do have cushioning. But not so much a swingarm or 100mm of travel (that's about 4 inches). That and I'm not a good mountain biker. I gather I should ride out of the saddle more.

I have my bike with me today. My butt's here, too. How much more sore can it get? Maybe I don't want the answer to that question. I might get it anyway.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Spring's kind of fragile

It's spring break here at the fine institution of higher education. Since I am a twelve month employee, I'm here. That and my assistant director gave almost everyone the week off. Somebody's got to be here in case the provost calls. He never does, but I worry that he might.

I'm going to try to get caught up on my backlog of big projects. I lack motivation for most of them, which is why they're un or half done. I'm going to try to do a little every day on most of them. Small bites are easier to swallow.

Spring is here. I know this because UCLA lost again in some ignominy and baseball started.

Fantasy baseball drafts happened over the weekend. I didn't end up with many distasteful Yankees in the American League only Blogleague. Jorge Posada seems like a good guy, despite his lifelong Yankee status and I can still picture Johnny Damon as a Royal if I squint. Plus, I got some Angel pitchers.

In my money league (which is NL-only), I drafted better this year than I did last year. I had a little money to spare and targeted players I wanted without overpaying. As of right this moment, I'm in second place after one game. Shawn Green, bless his heart, went 2 for 4 last night in the Mets win over the Cards. That was my only stat from the night, but it was a good one. Let's just call the season done, shall we?

I tried to get Chris Carpenter and didn't succeed. While I don't think his ERA will stay at 7.5, I take a little guilty pleasure in his bad outing last night.

Plus, Tom Glavine, who I still like from his Braves days, got one win closer to 300. He needs 9 more to get to 300 and will be only the fifth lefty to get there. My favorite game of his doesn't even count in that total. It was his 1-0 masterpiece over the Indians in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series. Glavine is not on my fantasy team, and he's now a Metropolitan, but I hope he does well this year. The big numbers (like 300) can still matter.

Baseball, as Bart Giamatti famously said, is designed to break your heart. It will break my heart this year when Bonds passes Aaron. That number will not matter to me. Hank Aaron will be the Home Run king in my mind until a clean player passes him. It will also break my heart when the Angels and Braves, once again, fail to match up in the World Series. I trust that Bill Hall and Barry Zito will do their respective parts to break my heart a little, too. My fantasy players don't care enough about me

For now, though, fragile Spring holds promise. And pollen. Maybe that's why it's so fragile. All that pollen could make things brittle.