Friday, August 29, 2008

I'm TOTALLY patting myself on the back for this...

My Blog. I can.

Those of us who populate the sportbike club are of a like mind when it comes to gear. On Sundays, we all wear as much gear as we can. Most of us carry that habit into the remainder of our time on our bikes as well. So when we see a guy on a ginormous-engined sportbike, in a t-shirt and shorts, sunglasses, baseball cap (on backwards, of course...for aerodynamics) and flip flops, we pooh-pooh them as a "squid." Mostly because they do the rest of us "actual" riders no good in the eyes of the non-motorcycling public, but, personally they amuse me because they almost never leave town, likely have not yet crashed in that get-up and had to have ground-in gravel removed from their skin (after my first crash I wanted more gear than I already had on and I didn't even suffer more damage than a jammed shoulder), and they sport HUGE chicken strips on their tires. Yeah, but they look cool and have that giant cc motorsickle. Pffft.

Motorcycling terminology lesson: "Chicken strips" are the unscuffed strips on the outside of the tire tread, indicating that the rider does little-to-no leaning in a turn. Any fool can go fast on a straight. But it takes a special kind of stupid to lean into a turn. And Mister, I am that kind of stupid. See here: First, a photo taken of a squid's 1000cc sportbike outside Gold's Gym...

That lighter colored 1-inch-or-so strip? Chicken. Also, the rider has spent WAY more seat time upright and in straights than any turning. That's what that sharp angle is closer to the center of the tire. This tire would be more commonly found on a cruiser in this condition because cruisers aren't designed to do much in the way of leaning, so instead of a round even wear, the tire develops a flat spot down the center.

Now...after this past weekend and my "graduation (which I will speak of in another post)", here's my tire (shiny bit along the edge is my chicken strip):

I'm pretty damn impressed with myself. But...hey, HUGE TANGENT. That's not what I'm all self-back-patting about. Though I did. A lot. This past Sunday was AWESOME (later post). Back to the squid thing.

Mostly Naked and I were sitting around La Casa de Gasa, when he asked me, "Do you have some kind of software where you can mess with a picture to make it look like something else?" I just happen to be brushing up on InDesign and Photoshop at work to add to my skill set. So I was excited about this project. After posing my subject outside squid-like...mostly naked (status quo)...and a little Googling for the right background...and about seven hours of noobie-style poking around in Macromedia Fireworks...and some nagging to finish the thing...I present Mostly Naked and his squidly impression. In flip flops.

No Mostly Nakeds were harmed in the making of this photo.

Here's the two pictures I used:

Goood job Meeee...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What?! There's a girl under there? Who knew?

I had an impulsive burst of girly shopping and picked up a few things...

And NO girl should be without one of these sweet, sah-weet modes of transportation...

I also picked up a pack of white crew socks. Hey, they have "Hanes" stitched in pink, okay??

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First one in, last one out da club

About three weeks ago, our sportbike club hosted their 22nd annual Laguna Seca ride...which, if you are keeping track of professional sportbike racing, is nowhere near the actual Laguna Seca race. Anymore. But "CVSC Ride Then Drink Thingy" seems trite.

It's held on a Saturday, we have about a 150 mile ride beforehand and an after-party at a bar/hotel about 20 minutes or so south of EC in Osseo. This year I decided to skip the ride, mostly to help out the other two club members in the kitchen cooking up the fixin's, but also because the Laguna ride usually attracts many more people outside the club and I wasn't all that thrilled with the idea of riding with so many new people at once. Besides, HELLO! Food! All day being around it!

One of our club members hooked us up with a pig and roaster and did all the shopping for the rest of the chow. We had (aside from the roast pig) ho-made salsa, ho-made potato salad, and baked beans. He also picked up bacon from Sam's Club that was maple-flavored and was DELICIOUS. It was so good, I could smell maple syrup the rest of the night...though I think it was on my upper lip.

He and the other club member got to the bar way early to start cooking the pig. I showed up later in the morning, after getting lost on a county road and then spending about 5 miles worth of Cty Rd K poking along in newly laid, deep gravel. Honestly, the DOT is out to get us motorcyclists.

The remainder of the day was spent with the chop, chop, chop, boil, blend, mix and drink. Then...THE PULLING OF THE PORK! SOO-EEE!

Me, the Master Chef (Andy) and Sous Chef (Andy's son Zack)

Meanwhile...on the ride...

Mostly Naked on his newly mostly naked bike (hint: I've recently re-nicknamed him "Dances with Pine Trees")

Brother on his pristine machine

My Roomies...out front

The after-party...well..

Our 19-year-old club member ("son" to Mostly Naked and I) who, last week, left us for his first year of college in North Dakota...and to learn to fly Army helicopters. We miss him already, the little punk.

A little puke on the beer pong table, which, predictably, ended the beer pong tourney.

And this...well...I might have to get permission to tell this story. This is above a stall in the women's room. That's all I think I should say.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Suck it, Thoreau!

I've been hard pressed to come up with a viable post this past week or so...I have new purchases to share and still need to blog about the big club party, but I can't sit down and type much more than this at the moment.

Mainly because I am struggling to read every last word of Walden. I am fighting tooth and nail against using the book during the early morning hours on weekends for target practice on those GOD-BLESSED NOISY ASS CROWS. Because Walden? Totally sucks. Please, SOMEBODY tell me why this is a classic? Is there a deeper meaning in the discussion of growing beans? Should I do complex math in order to see the "Aha" moment in the ridiculous lists of expenditures and profits? I can't even find a meaningful line to add as my signature in the sportbike club forum so I look all pretentious and smarty. BTW, the current signature is one of my own quoting, "In the end, there can be only one. Two usually requires some stretching."

I'm becoming more and more worried that my comprehension is shot, because I thought a "classic" book was loosely defined as a beloved story passed down from generation to generation. What's with this book? Is it me? Is there some adult version of a reading comp test? Fahrenheit 451? That was a great book. I deem it a classic.

Walden has been in the "library" next to the "throne" for the past week, and when I realized we were down to our last roll of poo tickets, I glanced in the direction of the book and yes, just briefly...

"Will it hurt less if I wad it or fold it?"

Friday, August 8, 2008

Why am I here, after all?

Given my freakish ability to recall the most useless bits of information, my brother suggested I start a "Ask the Geek" website. I thought maybe I'd start small. And here. After all, this is the pipeline for useless knowledge.

So ask away. No question is too trivial. Occasionally, I even surprise myself when I'm right. I will do my best to answer without searching for the answer. But I will come clean when research is, indeed, needed. Anyway, we all know you're just too lazy to google it yourself...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I'm evil, I'm evil, I'm evil...

I'd hang my head in shame, if I wasn't so darn amused by two incidences that have occurred in the last week.

I think I mentioned in a previous post that becoming a motorcyclist has awakened a sort of hyper-awareness. It creeps you out a little when you realize you can anticipate other driver's actions. You no longer look at the car, you look at the driver's head and their eyes in the rear view and side mirrors. They telegraph what they're going to do before they act on it. Which, even if you're in a car, it's a better way to be a defensive driver. I think the vantage point from a motorcycle might be better though, because you're up higher than most car drivers. This newest ability has come into play in both cases.

The street I live on has no stop signs for about 3 or 4 blocks. The cross-streets in that distance all have yield signs, which nobody pays any attention to. My theory is that the morons flying through the yield signs think that the traffic on my street has a sign too. They don't. I've lived here two years and there have been 3 accidents in that time, right on my corner. My belief that the doling out of rules, regulations, and safety precautions by the government to "protect" the public, is merely the answer to society revolving around the weakest mental links. Enough stupid people crash at these intersections, soon there will be yield signs all around. Then stop signs. Then traffic lights. With cops directing traffic.

Incident #1
I'm leaving my house (on bike) to deposit my paycheck. Normally, I won't go left out of my driveway because that's the direction of all the intersections with the fools flying through them. But I was pressed for time and that's the shortest route to the bank. I gassed it a little more than I usually do down that street, so I was probably at about 10 over the speed limit. Two blocks from the house I see a guy on a bicycle hauling ass towards MY intersection and we are about to have a meeting. Except that I see him first and let off. Two things happen. I see that he looks left first (I'm to his right). Then I notice that a car parked on the side of the road blocks his vision of my approach. He was truly moving...I wouldn't doubt that he was rocketing along at 30.

So when he finally looks in my direction, I watch as both his hands mash down on all the brakes he has. I was going to let him pass in front of me, but when he decided to park his mountain bike, I slowed down enough to look him square in the eye as I passed him and shrieked with loud, obnoxious laughter at him as the look on his face was truly priceless. It was a mixture of adrenaline-powered fear and the realization that the slamming noise he likely heard behind him was his butthole. Which reminds me of the dog we used to have that would sit on the floor between my mom's and stepdad's chairs during dinner and would fart audibly (wood floor), then look at his butt curiously. Hence the hysterics. Also, there's some genetic bit in our family that mocks another's misery. In particular, I laugh first, then ask if you're okay.


The main road outside our neighborhood is a four-lane road with a median. It basically allows traffic to sort of bypass our downtown area and the Chippewa & Eau Claire River's confluence. I realize it's not the bypass you'll find around the Twin Cities or Atlanta, but in a town of 62,000 people, it is fairly busy. Many intersections, many lights.

It's currently undergoing a major overhaul, so all the traffic is diverted to one side. At each intersection, the through lanes veer to the right to make room for left turn lanes. I've been noticing that a majority of car drivers either don't realize the lanes veer to the right, or they change lanes there deliberately, like a straight shot from right lane to left. At any rate, I've been near enough to a handful of cars that decide they want my lane, but since I anticipate this, I ride just ahead of any car that's next to me.

Incident #2
Except the one day recently...apparently I had enough. When a woman traveling in the right lane (I could tell later by the outfit that she was a nurse), decided there was one too many cars in her lane as we approached a light, she barely registered a turn of her head (and no signal) in my direction as I was passing her and moved over. Well, now this time I actually was next to her and had to brake hard to avoid getting hit. I let her get in front of me, but this time I was pissed. And I rode the twenty feet to where the lanes veered right with my horn full on. When I got no response from her, and she stayed in the left through lane, I rode up to the driver's side in the left turn lane and proceeded to wave both flippin' arms in the air at her. "Do you see me now, you STUPID BAG?" "DO YOU?" I'm yelling uselessly into my helmet. I realize this probably lacked the explanation I was so wanting to give her, but it made me feel better. Also, when I finally showed up in her peripheral vision, riding inches from the side of her car, waving my hands in the air like a maniac, she jumped a foot out of her seat, which made me collapse into a bout of hard laughter. Explanation conveyed.

At the next light, which was turning red, I signaled in a grand way that, in addition to my left turn signal...I'M GOING TO TURN HERE. JUST SO YOU KNOW. She totally blew the red light. Fear?

That was a good day.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Excerpt from the Sneaky Mother's Manual

I'm totally blaming my mother for my bravery at trying new and exotic foods, because she used low-down, mind-warping, down right subterfuge to get me to eat weird stuff as I was growing up.

Your average American would recognize squid as deep fried rubbery rings typically known as calamari. One night, though, after returning home from school, I find my mother in the kitchen cooking up what looked like breaded, flat sticks. "What's that?" I ask. "Fish sticks," my mother replies. Love fish sticks. Hell, I love anything deep fried.

Let's clear something up here. I'm a flippin' sucker. If you can pull off a convincing act when reeling me in, I'm on the hook, wriggling right along with your con. Am I at all curious as to why they're approximately 2" x 4"? Of course I am. Do I say anything? No-oh-hoh. I believe what my mother tells me. Those are fish sticks.

I can imagine her sitting there, watching me eat "squid sticks" with a smug sense of satisfaction, but I can't, for the life of me, figure out how that woman can keep the punch line to herself. When I took a bite, and immediately realized that it wasn't quite the same consistency of an over-processed fish stick, I'm sure my face just slightly registered the oddity, but I hope that I didn't do that "EWWW, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?" face. I imagined a spotlight popping on and shining down on my mother, sitting at the end of the table. I hear a chorus of angelic voices in the background, holding a single note, as she patiently awaits my response, "They're good."

"They're squid."


Goat burger.
Many years ago, my mom worked with an Indian man who introduced her to an Indian restaurant in Chicago (on Devon or Milwaukee, in the same neighborhood as Superdawg, if I recall correctly) called the Standard India Restaurant. Back then, I was a fairly picky eater, and the thought of Indian food was terrifying (don't they eat dogs?). So when I was dragged, against my will, to this restaurant for an evening of weirdness, I remember sitting in the dark thinking, "I'm too young to die...particularly from food poisoning." But, as it turned out, Indian food is the same stuff, just different prep. No dogs (I think). Tandoori chicken is basically just skinless chicken coated with some spice that makes it turn bright red. Nan is just flat bread. Wha...? They have burgers?

Mom: "Wanna try this burger?" <---notice the lack of "ham." Do I know that Indians who are Hindu believe the cow to be a sacred animal? Yes. Do I realize that Hindus would not EAT a sacred animal? Of course. So why is my heinously slow-functioning brain not firing off this message to the alive part of the gray matter? SUCKER <--ME.

Me: "Okay." The consistency? Kinda mushy. But not bad. Tastes like meat, anyway.

Me: "It's all right."

Mom (spotlight/angelic note): "It's goat." Damn it.

Golden brown.
This is just the Tribe's failsafe excuse for over-cooking food.

Me: "This looks burned."
Mom: "No, that's golden brown."
Me: <-- SUCKER "Mmm, charcoal-y." My mom's cooking has gotten so good over the years that I actually MISS "golden brown." Luckily, my stepdad loves me enough to make sure anything he cooks on the grill is golden brown. Love you back, Stepdaddy.

Thanks, Momma. Without you, I'd still be eating snakelips and hamster belly.