Smoking the Gear Addicts

September 20th, 2012

My wife and I own but one car. When we moved from the Twin Cities, we sold the second car. I became a full on bicycle commuter. When I need to wear a suit, I take the bus. Sometimes the bus drivers give me guff about wearing a tie. I prefer to bike. The cost of maintaining a bike as a regular cycle commuter beats bussing or owning a car easily.

The psychic cost is another thing. There are a lot of things that wear on a bicycle commuter, and while I expected drivers to be the biggest issue, I have been surprised by my fellow cyclists. We are not, as a group, as realistic with our abilities as we should be.

There is on group in particular that I am not particularly charitable towards: middle aged gear addicts. I’m sure you’ve seen the type. They range from a bit heavy to very tubby, they’re wearing bike shorts, have clipless pedals, a super expensive bike, and they aren’t going very fast.

Look, I’m sympathetic to the idea of buying the gear so that getting your money’s worth is motivation to keep at it. Maybe they want to lose some weight, get in better cardio shape, whatever. That’s great. But maybe just the bike would have cost enough to motivate them? Either way, this subsection of the cycling community seems to take the fact that I’m in jeans and a t-shirt or maybe a button up shirt as proof I’m going to be slow. They don’t bother observing my actual biking, they just plop their buts in front of me at stop lights and then proceed to poke along. Now I have to pass some guy who anointed himself a speedster because he’s wearing tight pants.

I bike out of the downtown core. Traffic is often fairly heavy on the path I take. I’ll take the lane if I have to, but it’s not something I’m excited about. Yet cyclists who only catch up with me when I stop for lights seem to think that getting stopped at the light means you need to get passed. They go popping out right after the light changes. Fellow riders, the intersection is often a bad place to pass. The cars accelerate faster than you do, so you’ll be forced back into the bike lane almost immediately. What does that mean? It means you’ll be cutting off the cyclist you were just ineffectively trying to pass. But despite the fact that this happens on about two of every three rides home, never once has one of these guys, as he huffs to try to put on a bit of extra speed to get around me, considered that he’s working awfully hard just to get around a guy who was pulling away from him a block before.

When will these guys learn that blowing almost 3 grand on a swank carbon frame did not automatically catapult them into Cat 3 racing circles? The racers pass both of us, and good on them. Me? I’m just trying to get home as fast as possible without breaking any traffic laws. I’m tired of getting caught behind these chuckleheads, so I’m going to the gym. My goal is to make sure I smoke them in the first 10 feet and don’t have to worry that my inferior commuter acceleration gets me stuck behind any newly minted gear addicts and their total lack of staying power down the stretch.

In my youth, Highlander was popular. Not world beating everyone knows all about it popular, but popular. Several movies were made. There were, I believe, two television series. From around seventh grade on, people would ask me if my name was like the Highlander’s.

The first thing that was absurd about this was that they always said, “Macleod, like the highlander?” There seemed to be some suspicion that I would surprise the world, and English spelling, by saying “No.” Of course Macleod like the damned highlander. It was, in fact, spelled the same way.

The second thing that annoyed me was that they always seemed to want me to gush about the movie or show. Now, while they’re hardly high art, there are certainly worse things that humans have produced. But that doesn’t mean I’m a particular fan. I don’t own the DVDs or any of that. So it baffled me why people always seemed to expect me to gush about the Highlander franchise. As if I was somehow expected to be grateful that my surname was somehow lifted from obscurity to the heights of stardom. But it’s really the “no relation” category that’s supposed to bother you, so Highlander being fictional, it felt like I was not allowed to be annoyed. While there are plenty of at least marginally famous Macleods out there (many spellings) none of us seems to have risen to the point that I have to declare that I don’t know them. (I checked on Wikipedia by the way, it seems that there are several Macleods writing science fiction, several politicians, and one female Macleod who’s greatest claim to fame is being topless in Snakes on a Plane. Thank god that movie didn’t do well at the box office, Highlander was annoying, I’d hate to have to answer “Macleod, like the lady who got her tit bit in Snakes on a Plane?”)

You can imagine that I’ve enjoyed the franchise’s slip into relative obscurity.

There are many men named Ian. It was once one of the most popular names for boys in Britain.

But I was informed by my sister in law this holiday season that “Uncle Ian” is the villain in Alvin and the Chipmunks. My nieces and nephews apparently love that franchise. So now, sharing baldness with the villain, it appears I’ve got a new piece of cultural detritus to live with. Other Ians, please become more famous. I need you to overshadow some chipmunks.

Emerging From Stasis

August 11th, 2011

Finishing a graduate program can feel like getting back a life you did not know you had lost. I finished with the bar exam a few days ago, and suddenly feel as if parts of my personality I had not known were shut off have re-emerged. It is a surreal feeling. I look around and find that I am judging myself, not on my past actions, but on the viewpoints that I have. I do not argue with the viewpoints themselves, but I find myself questioning why I had felt the need to shut off certain ambitions, hobbies, etc.

Two nights ago, I picked up my bass guitar for the first time in at least a month. I had done scale work when I was highly stressed during finals, but this was the first time in a long time I had picked up the instrument purely to enjoy playing it. It was as close to revelatory as you can get without actually experiencing a revelation. I found myself wondering why I had voluntarily subjected myself to this kind of self abnegation.

I’ve also pushed through several books without feeling guilty. More on that later. It’s a great feeling, a feeling of freedom, a little fear over the debt that’s looming. But it was a reminder, I think I got out fairly close to unscathed. But in this economy, people talk about the debt you can take on going back to school. There are other things you can lose. I should have considered that more closely.

Scheduling on Gmail

August 17th, 2010

I can’t set a time for emails to send through gmail. How the hell am I supposed to prevent review staffers from knowing I’m still up and working on stuff at two in the morning? If I leave it in the drafts folder then I’ll forget to send it entirely. Come on Gmail. What you want me to use Outlook or something? Not that I’m about to start using mail.app, but that would necessitate cron last I checked. More Google staffers should spend time catering to my whims, and bringing me grapes. Someone needs to dedicate their 20 percent time to making my life mirror Hedonism Bot’s.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpugML3CsSQ[/youtube]

I Just Got a Lot More Boring

August 8th, 2010

Since the last post was the 500th I’ve posted here, I find it fitting that it was one of the most banal that I’ve ever managed to pump out. Banality: just one of the many exciting new services we hope to provide you with here at Some Words.

Continuing on that front, I think I have been getting a lot more boring recently. At least, if my recent purchase history is to be believed. I have it on good authority that Americans are best defined by their recent purchase history. No one has ever failed to follow through after buying those running shoes.

That said, spending just above my comfort level has always been one of the ways that I motivate myself to actually get over the initial hurdle on some challenges. When I wanted to deal with my fear of heights? I bought climbing shoes. Shortly thereafter I was getting up on the rope. I still have overgrip problems, but I wasn’t looking to become a world class climber.

So what would you know from the recent purchases? And here’s where things really start to sound like a Jeanie Teasdale op-ed. I got a bunch of nice pens, and have been practicing my handwriting. Yes, I’m working on penmanship. Apparently I’m not happy with the cheapo pens that come in twelve packs anymore. I would have hated this in the past. Why bother, most of the stuff I do is typed. But like a time bomb, the heckling that my handwriting drew at one of my first post college jobs appears to have finally tipped my over the neurosis threshold into trying to do something about it. While I was working on edits for the past few weeks, I was also carefully working on my print letters. Now I’ve got a cheap fountain pen and have started on cursive.

I read somewhere, and I think I’ve used this quote on the blog before, that “people like to buy books because they think they are buying the time to read them.” I wonder if I like buying pens because I think I am buying the time to write my own projects with them.

Teenage Ian would have wanted to kick my ass for this. Fortunately for me, even if someone invents a time machine, teenage Ian wasn’t so big on climbing, biking, or generally staying healthy. I had more of a cola and video games lifestyle back then. I could probably take seventeen year old me in a fight.

And We’re Back

May 16th, 2010

With the usual post finals apologies to friends I haven’t written. I’ll be hunkering down tomorrow before starting the summer job to write everyone an email. Maybe two. We’ll have to see. The summer has some exciting work ahead, and the weather here in Portland is finally nice. I look forward to climbing onto the bike every day.

Travel, and Other Misadventures

December 22nd, 2008

Well then… after surviving finals, getting out of the Portland airport just before the snow closed it down, then getting out of the Denver airport just before one of the planes went off the runway, and tonight riding 18 miles in near whiteout conditions, I’m done with close calls for the month. Thank you. Check please.

Finals was what it was, and I think I now have some idea of what I’ll need to do in law school to survive. Hopefully this means more time to do a few other things, and work on some of the interesting projects that organizations like the NEDC. In the sort term though, I’ll settle for posting once a day and getting back to writing, at least until school starts up again.

It’s a wedding…

June 26th, 2008

To the several people with unanswered email in my inbox. I’m sorry. I’m about 100 messages behind right now. I’ll catch up… really. Very sorry to all the friends who I am once again acting like a stranger to. It’s a wedding. I underestimated how much time that took,

First Class Idiot

June 16th, 2008

Well… that was about the stupidest thing I’ve done in a long, long time. I spilled coffee on my computer and flattered myself into thinking that I’d managed to not get any inside the vents. I left it on, and now it’s looking like a best case of $400 with a worst case of a whole new computer. Plus I’m not even going to find out for a few days. It’s a very special feeling.

Making matters worse is the fact that I’ve seen this happen to other people before. I know better. Always turn off the computer as soon as you can after something spills on it.

And now, here I am, without the stuff I was working on, with the old computer back out, and wondering what to do next.

Worst Burger Ever

June 3rd, 2008

So last night I played a game of kickball with my former co-workers. It went well, we won 25-1 and I managed to not just kick high lobs and get caught out the whole time.

After that we went to a bar called “The Chalet.” While there, I had the worst burger on earth. It was a mushroom swiss burger. The mushrooms were clearly from a can, and surrounded by some sort of goo or pulp. These had been superheated, so much so that I burned my face bringing the burger up for the first bite. I wondered why this was, but when I actually got into the burger, I found out that it was because they melted the cheese that way. The meat was a little cold, and had a sort of Styrofoam texture to it. It bounced a bit and fell apart in my mouth, but not in a good way.

When I got home, K had the perfect idea for cleansing the taste buds, banana cream pie ice cream from Sebastian Joe’s. Someone, an ice cream genius, over there got the idea of making banana ice cream with nilla wafers in it. I cannot explain to you how delicious this is.

Apartment Hunting

May 19th, 2008

Well, in a couple of weeks I’ll be going to look for a new apartment in Portland. This is, over the next four months, what I expect to be most stressful in life. I hate looking for apartments. I tell myself that Kelli is the one who is going to care, but really, it’s going to be me. I’m just too spoiled living where I do right now: a 2 bedroom with free laundry, nice layout, and a backyard with a deck and some garden space. Within six blocks are four book stores, Bill’s Imported Foods, The Wedge Co-op, a regular grocery store, a bike shop, a tea shop, six coffee shops, a solid liquor store, and a good bakery. Move that out to ten blocks and you have doctor, dentist, Shuang Hur. I’m right on the main bicycle arteries for Minneapolis and my landlord is mellow and gets things fixed when they need to be fixed. The only downsides are the lack of cupboards in the kitchen and that we pay heat.

I am spoiled. The odds of finding that in Portland feel small right now. All of this is not increasing my written output for the day. Whining does not count.

Wasn’t Here

May 9th, 2008

Well, Passover came and went, and I started in with whiskey again, and I didn’t post. The other night something went horribly wrong with a batch of falafel that I was making, and I didn’t post. Side note, that was some seriously wrong stuff with the falafel, they didn’t hold together while frying. This left me with something akin to fried seasoned sand, about one pound of it. Yum.

Anyhow, yesterday was my last day at work, and now I’m taking some time off before school to finish up writing projects, finish the wedding preparations, climb, and get some other stuff in order. My financial aid situation is still not where I want it, in a big way, so that will have to be taken care of.

I don’t want to promise that this will lead to more posting. Pretty much only my friends read this space, and it’s nice to have a way to let you know if something interesting happens, but I’ve been bad in the past and probably will be in the future. There’s a lot of writing and only a little less than four months to do it. But I’m going to try, in as much as I find that I have interesting things to say, to keep posting here. One of the other things I want to do is to finally put some more short stories on the second page. Look for one in two or three weeks.

I’ll be moving to Portland, OR for school and hopefully I’ll see some of you who’re out on the west coast. I’ve lost track of too many people, and if you aren’t coming to reunion I hope to see you soon.

That’s all for now.

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