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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Joel Dyke, RIP

Rest in peace actually sounds wrong to me, Joel as far as I could tell wasn't that into resting. Actually, there's nothing about this that sounds even vaguely right to me.

I met Joel right around the time I met my wife. She'd said she was planning to go to Friz on Monday evening, and wasn't sure she was interested but she was interesting, so I went. Joel and his wife Michelle are a fixture at Friz.

They're also the heart and soul of Kansas City's Trashboat Regatta. Some years, in fact, they have been the whole regatta.

It's a cliché to say he was such a nice guy, I know lots of people I'd say that about if I found out they'd suddenly died. But I can think of at least that one instance where they were a total dick to someone, except with Joel I can't. I literally can't think of a single instance when he was anything but sweet to people.

Even when he'd twist my nipple as a way of saying howdy, which was truly painful and I didn't dig it, he did it out of friendship, I always knew that. It's hard for me to believe I won't have to defend myself against his fiendish advances ever again.

If you don't know Joel, that last bit might seem disrespectful, but I know he never would have twisted the nipple of a man he didn't like.

I've been going through old photos looking for shots of him, and to my surprise I'm having trouble finding him flipping the bird finger, which was sometimes his way of smiling and saying cheese when I'd shove a camera in his face. Again, if you didn't know Joel, that sounds wrong but really, he had a beautiful middle finger and great comedic timing.

Okay, I'm lying a little bit. I found this one of him right before he retracted the non-message-bearing digits, but the shots of him flipping me off are blurry and not really up to Lobsterland photography standards.

I broke a spoke on the way home one night and stopped at his house to see if I could borrow a 700C wheel for a day or two. A bike mechanic/bike nerd of the first order, and he lived on the way home for me. Instead of loaning me a wheel, he whipped out his truing stand and repaired my wheel on the spot.

I went by his house after hearing of his passing on Facebook. I didn't really think it was possible that he could be dead, that's the sort of thing Joel would just shake off, right?

I'd just come out of a seeing the latest Hobbit movie, and I was seeing people talk about his passing on Facebook. My first thought was that it was a joke in terrible taste, but Zeke, Jones, the guys who were sharing this information, they don't seem the type to make a joke that bad. Maybe one or two degrees from it, but not that.

And you always want to offer help, but what help is there to offer? In my case, being a designer in a print shop, actually there is something, funeral programs, I can do that. I went by the house to offer that, make sure Michelle had good contact info to reach me if she wanted that or any other help I could deliver. But mainly I wanted Joel to answer the door and explain that he was the victim of some horrible practical joke.

Unfortunately, no, and that's a damn shame. The Big Grin is gone, impossible as that seems.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

I'll be honest, this has been a stressful Christmas for me. People are so freaking complicated.

I won't go into detail here, but it may have ruined Monopoly for me, true story. But still, I know I'm a lucky so and so no matter how you cut it. And the photographic evidence suggests that it was still a swell Christmas.

The cherry on top was I got to go for a bare-armed bike ride in the ridiculously warm 53ºF late afternoon. It was windy as hell, but with no destination I was able to ride against the wind going out and enjoy a tailwind coming home.

My wife's stepfather asked me when he saw me heading out to ride, 'Is there somewhere I can drop you?' It was one of those moments when you realize just how little some people who aren't cyclists really get it. It being that you might want to ride a bike just for the hell of it, with no destination.

Foster, the smaller of our dogs, was just full of holiday cheer. Every once in a while I'd wonder who was ringing bells so vigorously and realize it was the dog scratching her head.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Part I

My Mom decided she wanted to have Christmas the Saturday before since it's on a Thursday this year. Which is fine, even if it's technically not even Festivus yet.

It's become kind of a tradition that my Mom cooks fried chicken for Christmas dinner. Growing up, that was also known as just dinner, but these days we don't eat that way much. I had a heart attack at 32 and bypass surgery at 44, fried chicken isn't on my plan most of the time.

An occasional indulgence, though. My nephew was so excited about opening presents he basically couldn't eat. Mo had the same problem, but her reaction is to eat as fast as possible, figuring if she cleans her plate then it's time to open.

Em drover herself to the event in her new car, BC. A '93 Honda Civic, black, she nicknamed it Black Citrus because she figures any car you get for a grand is bound to be a lemon. I got her a Club for Christmas because I have firsthand experience with how easily those old Hondas are boosted.

We got out the Monopoly after the gift exchange and before dessert. Should have played Scrabble, after 1800 games of Words with Friends, I'm a fiend on the Scrabble board, but Monopoly is more Corinna's forte. She has a frantic sort of competitiveness that Monopoly seems to bring out more than other board games.

I really enjoy my nephew, though I've learned it's a mistake to try and wear him out. Can't be done. When the weather warms up, gonna get out the old model rockets and let him chase some of them down.

Chwistmuss Lights

I see people riding with cool Christmas lights on their bikes, and I wanted the same. My first attempt to buy such off Amazon yielded a string of LED lights with a freaking 110 volt outlet plug (the item name included 'bicycle lights' go figure). At seven bucks, they were too cheap to bother returning, I strung them on my desk at work for a little holiday color there.

My second attempt at least came with a battery pack. But they're white and not that many of them. And not that bright. Describing them, I feel a vague racist joke coming on.

At Cranksgiving, I asked a guy who had really kickass Christmas lights on his bike where he got them, and his answer was, 'Target.' So the plan now is to hit a Target store this coming Friday, see if I can't pick up some better Christmas lights for next year on after-holiday clearance.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sunday Ride

I used to take this kind of outing for granted.

It was kind of an improvised affair. I originally planned to ride to my brother's house for a soirée celebrating my Dad's and stepmother's birthdays. He lives a ways out in the golden ghetto that is Johnson County, Kansas, I think door to door it was shaping up to be about a 22 mile ride. I didn't get as early a start as I wanted, and I was worried about making it on time—odysseys by bike into the deep burbs are sometimes challenging on a time-frame because you'll be counting on a stretch of trail that turns out to be torn up for a highway project and the next thing you know you've got a five mile detour, and in any case it's hard to make up lost time on a bike.

Corinna had suggested riding part way with me, then turning around to come home and get my car, meet me at my brother's. She's getting tons better, but she doesn't have the range to do a 40-plus round trip, and time wise I wasn't up for round trip. So I'd ride there, we'd drive back together with my bike on my handy-dandy rack.

She suggested that we both just ride together part way and then double back and drive together from home, saying I'd get the same number of miles in, but of course that wouldn't be true. I'm used to this, it's nothing to do with her brain injury, there has never been a plan she hasn't wanted to tweak, revise, edit or propose an alternative to. It's not that things have to be her way, she vandalizes plans of her own devising with the same disregard she shows to mine. Instead of doing A B and C, she'll say, I could just do D and E, F would cover the same bases as A and B and C was probably a bad idea in the first place.

But in this case, while I knew I wasn't getting any 22 miles in, more like a dozen, my fears of ending up an hour late compounded the delight of just riding around with Corinna and I went with it. We kind of toured Argentine and then looped through the West Bottoms before coming home and getting in the car.

She spotted these murals, they're on Leslie's Taqueria, a place I've ridden by dozens of times and never noticed the art. It's mostly tucked into an alley and behind the building, but it's obviously been there for some time, the paint is peeling.

Besides rediscovering the joy of riding bikes for the hell of it with my wife, I rediscovered my pocket camera. My Nikon D7000 has been a dream come true on many levels, I'm a very satisfied customer there. That 35mm prime lens is awesome, and one of these days I plan to add an 85mm and maybe a wide angle of some sort as well.

But since getting it, I've kind of forgotten the pocket cameras I used to shoot incessantly. They were all I could afford for a long time, and I learned a lot of manual shooting with Canon Powershots over the years that translated to the dSLR when I finally got it. But I never shoot my D7000 from the saddle as I ride around, it's too unwieldy and too expensive if I were to drop it. I picked up a used Canon Powershot to replace the last one I broke, got it off Craigslist for $80 last may, but I keep forgetting I have it.

But it's perfect for those moments when you spy some folk art and don't want to stop, haul out your big rig and all that. Or for shooting pics of your wife riding with you.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Biz Card

Also while sorting out stuff that needed to go, I found my first business card. Well, not quite, I had one and press credentials at Nadler Publishing back in my first job, but when Nadler folded and I tried to make a living as a freelance graphic designer, I had cards made. Sprung for two colors of thermography even.

A lot of things I designed circa 1996 are pretty painful for me to look at. This card isn't the next Coca Cola logo but it's not terrible IMHO.

I like it better than the logo I did for a hamburger joint that's still flying a version of my design 18 years later. I probably don't need to tell you that all the contact info is invalid these days—as if anyone has a fax or a pager in 2014. Okay, I do know some people who still use a fax machine. They're the people who call asking about the file for a job, and when I say I emailed it to them, they say, "I don't check my email every day."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Portrait of the Lobster as a Young Pretentious Dork

I cleaned out some boxes from when I moved in here at the Lobsterland Poetry Farm. That was roughly what, three years ago? Some boxes had been packed hastily and stacked in a corner in the garage and kind of forgotten about. Like they became a part of the support beam they nestled against, I was mostly unaware of their existence except every once in a while, those times when I'd say, "Most of that is probably shit I should throw away, but I'd have to sort through it."

I finally sorted through it, and most of it was indeed shit to throw away. Then there was my rocket with lobster claw shaped fins, that's a keeper. A few other things, and some pictures. And stuff. Stuff like this nametag from Okon87, a Science Fiction convention in Tulsa I attended in 1987 (the name kind of says that, huh?)—not my first con, but probably the first I travelled for.

I remember checking in and being asked my name, and inexplicably saying, "Shockley." The calligrapher nerd at the check-in table dutifully inscribe me Shockley and that was officially my name for the whole weekend. I am not named Shockley, and I've never known anyone with that as a first name (though a girl I went to junior high with had that surname).

I have no idea what that was supposed to mean, but I think that was the con where I ended up making out with a girl called Carellan Beltanis (I'm sure that was on her birth certificate as much as Shockley was on mine) in a Sheraton hotel room. My friends were impressed because this was a scene, a Science Fiction Convention, where there were about 19 hormone driven teenage males for every female of any age or persuasion: getting a cute girl to make out with you on a hotel bed, that was almost incredible enough to be the basis of a new Science Fiction novel or comic book or something.

The nametag was serving as a bookmark in a Larry Niven novel I bought and got autographed at that con, where I met C.J. Cherryh, Robert Asprin and other luminaries of the SF world. Nivens inscribed the book, of course, to Shockley since that's what my nametag said.

Monday, December 08, 2014


BikeWalk KC had a stuffing party, how could I refuse?

First off, their offices are on my ride home anyway. Second, they promised pizza. Third, while they didn't say 'and beer' when they promised pizza, I know these people, and you can't have pizza without beer. Fourth, as if I needed a fourth reason, it was a chance to hang with some of my favorite people.

I sealed a few envelopes, took a few pics. Didn't get much of Rachel which turns out to be a dirty shame because she's taking a bike advocacy job in Atlanta and has one foot out the door as far as KC goes.