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Thursday, June 30, 2011


I pass this sign on the way to work by bike. I have to wonder, will a certain corporation's lawyers stumble upon this and decide it is an obvious infringement of their candy's trademark?

I think it's supposed to be a play on the 'Dotte' as a nickname for the city/county unified government of what was once Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Coulda Shot a Fitty Cal

A Rotary buddy of my Dad's holds this event every year, and this time I took the girls and attended.

I knew our host must be, as they say, a man of substance to hold such an affair; his invitation is utterly open-ended, he only requests RSVPs to estimate the catering. Then he includes a note on everything that if you don't RSVP and find out you're free at the last minute, you should absolutely come. Bring a side, BYOB, moon walks, fireworks, live music and so on provided by the host.

It's a bit out in the sticks. I've known a few people who aspire to living 'out in the country,' and I have no idea if our host commutes in the way some people I know do. Me, I only moved to the boondocks because I had a job there, and when I was traduced out of that gig, I found myself with a longer distance to cover. Life happens.

But I've never really understood people who are doing really well intentionally situating themselves into a major commute. I know that, above a certain income threshold, the price of gas isn't likely to be a factor, but what about the time lost sitting in the car?

Maybe sprawlers love to drive: I know they often profess a love of yard work, claiming they can't imagine life without a lawn to mow, fertilize, weed and water. That way they can look out the window and realize they can't go to Slippy Village or that free U2 concert because they have to mow, fertilize, weed and water their lawn.

My bike commute from my fiance's house isn't exactly a short hop, I spend about the same amount of time getting from there to my work as I do driving from my house to the same place. I get there in a better mood, leaner and more focused, but I spend at least as much time on my bike on those days as any boondocks commuter does in his coffin...err, cage... uh, I mean car. Car! CAR!

Anyway, the food was great, Jack's Stack Barbecue, something even I can justify driving forever and a day to get to. There was a band and games and a moon walk Mo failed to enjoy to my astonishment. One of my all time favorite pictures of her is in a moon walk at the Roots Festival a few years ago, and here was one I didn't even have to pay to get her into, and she had it to herself, and she stood in the corner for less than a minute and got out.

I heard the crack and pop down field and assumed it was fireworks. The invitation had asked not to bring our own for safety reasons, so I wasn't sure what was up since it obviously wasn't the commercial display.

I bullied the girls into a hay ride, one of three that were roaming the property, thinking it was just a way to sit on hay bales and look around, but it turned out to be a ride to the cracking and popping.

And booming.

What I'd heard was small arms fire, mainly skeet shooting, but when we got down there, the main event, shooting-wise, was getting underway. A .50 caliber sniper rifle was put on a tripod and a two-liter bottle of soda was put on a hill 200 yards away.

And anyone who wasn't drinking was free to take a shot at hitting that bottle. I'm no gun nut, but you don't have a hair on your balls if you'll pass up a chance to shoot a fifty. Even with my ears plugged, it was louder than any shotgun I've ever fired. Bullets that missed threw clots of dirt six or eight feet in the air. One that missed threw the bottle a good piece (that's the shot that you hear me declare a 'direct hit' in the video, but no, the bottle was still intact).

But our host had one question for anyone who wanted to take a crack, a question born of legal necessity, no doubt, as that rifle is more whoop-ass than most people can afford the license fees for. 'You been drinkin?'

And me with an empty bottle of Bully! Porter in my hand. My first one, mind you; I could have legally driven a school bus, but there was no way I was getting my hands on that trigger.

The fireworks were cool, though. Biggest display I've ever seen that didn't have a city's backing. He does it a couple weeks before the Fourth to avoid competing with the public displays. Though given that every relevant politician and half the law enforcement community from three or four counties were on hand, it wasn't, strictly speaking, a 'private' affair.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Strange Combo

Never seen a bike rack on a sports car before. At least not on a Lotus. Seems about as likely a combination as panniers on a carbon fiber time trial bike.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Unsafe at Any Speed

Saw this gorgeous convertible on the highway the other day. It may be unsafe at any speed, but was it any more dangerous than all the other cars sold at the time? I doubt it.


My wheel was rubbing on something, and I couldn't figure it out until I spotted the broken spoke.

Lucked out at the Trek store, Vince said he could fix me up while I waited. Then he had a devil of a time truing the wheel and eventually asked me how many spokes I'd broken.

Six? Eight? I'm not sure at this point, but now I know this is a sign that the wheel itself is at the end of its life. Crap.

I asked another mechanic I know about it and he suggested building me a 36 spoke rear wheel. I pointed out that I had a 36 and I was breaking spokes. How about maybe a 40?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

So Metropolitan

This Honda Metropolitan was parked by me when I came out with my breakfast the other morning.

I get breakfast on my bike-commuting days at the Brookside Price Chopper. They have a breakfast special that allows me to truly be a pig on the cheap. I only allow myself to eat it when I've ridden to it, which is how come I only weigh ten pounds more than I did in October when I didn't ride to work at all but never ate breakfast.

Anyway, the cute young Brooksider who came out to the scooter while I was eating was really deferential to me, asking if she'd parked in my way.

No, not really.

Then as she explained how she usually rides her bike, I realized she felt guilty for using a gasoline engine when she could have pedaled to get there.

Maybe this is why Brookside liberals in their automobiles are so much more courteous than drivers in other parts of town. I've been buzzed and crowded in Brooside, but it's rare.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


The people I get my eggs from have puppies. But where they sell their incredibly fresh, free-range eggs for two bucks a dozen, they want five bills for one of these pups.

They're cute, but I don't know that they're any cuter than the much more affordable puppies you can get at the pound.


I designed this feather flag for the Jazz Ambassadors.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Riding Home

The last night of Corinna's road trip, she made a comment to the effect of, 'How do those military families do it?'

I'm not sure. One or two in my acquaintance have built a marriage on separation, a foundation that seems to crumble when the military career is over.

The novelty that I could surprise Robert the Psychic by stopping off with a six-pack of Bully! Porter without any worry of being late for dinner wore off after the first week.

It's not like we didn't talk every day; I think you could count those days on one hand since we met.

My ex wife resisted my idea of a scale model of Stonehenge as yard art; I've been divorced for five years and never have got around to attempting the project. Robert was at a home improvement store when they were giving away landscaping stone leftovers for a nickle apiece, and it's not Stonehenge per se (he calls it a 'generic neolithic church'), he is living the dream.

Pinko Mobile Opinion Library

I've been accused of putting too many stickers on my bike (and at times past, on my car), but this one takes the cake.

Of course, it's a Subaru. I'm not sure what it is about Subarus, but apparently they have a policy of only selling vehicles to hopey, changey people.

I just wish I could park my old FX-16 next to this for a comparison shot. One of the stickers on that said, 'You're a Feminist? That's so Cute!'

I went to a Melissa Ethridge concert one time in that FX-16, left before the encores were over because I feared my tires would be slashed or even the vehicle set on fire for some of those bumper stickers. Including 'Choosy Mothers Choose Life.'

Yes, that last one with a color scheme reminiscent of a national brand of peanut butter.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I got a bit of a late start on the sequel to Tomatosaurus Rex.

Well, not really, but the original plants are all dead thanks to hot, salty compost. I made the girls come with me to stake the replacement plants which, I hope, will at least have me eating BLTs by August.

I didn't get all 31 plants replaced but I got a good sampling of bicolors and black varieties, and Missouri Organic agreed to either refund our money or give us four yards free next year.

The girls had fun no matter what they might say about it.

Everything else seems to be coming up, too. There are still a few beds that haven't been planted, Corinna's roommate is supposedly going to try some sweet potatoes and watermelon in those.

And some of my replacement plants don't really seem like they're going to grow up and go to college either, but if my luck isn't fantastic hopefully I've compensated with sheer numbers.

Softly as in an Arizona Wildfire?

Around the time I took this, I saw a story about how the sunset shots in Kansas and Nebraska were being enhanced by the smoke in the atmosphere from the Arizona wildfire.

I think the sunrises were getting a boost, too. I noticed haze in the air downtown the evening before but didn't realize it was from a fire over a thousand miles away.

I don't know if this shot was related to Arizona or not, there was a few days between shots so maybe not. I just know as I passed Lake Olathe, riding back from taking my millstone to the shop, I had to stop and take a shot of this.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Some of my oldest and bestest friends, I've known most of these people since around the beginning of high school. We get together pretty much any time a quorum is all in town at the same time, typically the holidays or summer.

Corinna was traveling on business, which was a bummer but at least I got to arrive by bicycle.

It was a great party, with conversation ranging from food to out of bounds political issues to shamanism, fashion and the Joplin tornado (two of those in attendance had documented that disaster in their professional capacities).

Rachel had been thrift-shopping and got a leopard-print dress for her upcoming visit to NYC. When I got excited about shooting her in this getup (which, naturally, meant it was bound for this blog), I think she got a twinge or two of either buyer's remorse or at least model's remorse.

I mean, really, I loved it. Later, she noticed my Amish horse-cart triangle hanging from my Camelbak as I prepared to leave and wanted to hijack my camera. I couldn't resist putting up her leopard dress pics, but I figure I at least owe her a bit of turnabout as fair play.

It's always hard as a heterosexual male to judge these things fairly, but I think the dress was far more flattering of her than my triangle was of me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nick the Cross Country Cyclist

I got a text from Corinna one evening:

"Picked up a cross country cyclist at the Library. We're now at City Market getting a catfish."

I wasn't surprised, really.

But I don't think I've ever met a cyclist who didn't love beer, so I picked up a six of Boulevard Pale* on the off chance that our guest wouldn't have had the chance to sample our little, local, world-class brewery's product.

Our guest turned out to be a kid named Nick, who bought a bike, panniers, some camping gear and flew with it from Boston to L.A.; then, without having trained for it or even doing much riding, set off to ride back to Boston.

I did more training, preparing, and worrying before my first bicycle commute to work; come to that, I think his bike was loaded a little lighter than mine is for commuting, at least winter commuting.

I asked him what the letters on his fork meant, and he said it meant he had letters leftover after he labeled some other stuff. I guess I can relate, those pink polka-dots on my fenders meant I had a garage sale and leftover pricing dots.

*I prefer Bully! Porter to the Pale Ale, personally, but I figured the Pale Ale has a broader appeal. Nick turned out to be enough of a beer geek I could have safely gone with even the most adventurous of the Belgian-influenced Smokestack series beers.