Friday, January 30, 2009

Radio Rules

I always thought Rush Limbaugh was a tool, but now he officially reached low-life status last week. His four little words regarding Obama - "I hope he fails". Nice, Rush. I could go into your pill-poppin' past but let's disregard that. You're one of the more influential radio shock-show hosts in the US, and you openly state that you hope the leader of your free world fails? Of course, the result of your comment is that more people are tuning into your show to listen to your next spooge of misguided rhetoric, which translates to more advertising which means more money in your pocket. And so it goes.

Bumperstickers of the week:
I'm a PBS mind in a Fox News World (of course...on a Prius)
Online degree worked for me (on a POS Ford truck)

I just saw that Coldplay's Viva La Vida made Rolling Stone's top 10 albums of the year list (#8 I believe). Rush Limbaugh and Coldplay on the radio all the time....And so it goes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Gainer's Fuel"

I slip on one of my team jerseys last Sunday and g-damn.  It's tight.  I think the Rocky workouts in my 33 degree garage are starting to show some results after 60 days of work.  Hmmmm.  Competitive cyclists aren't in the business of gaining weight, but since I'm not really all that competitive lately, who cares.  I feel good.

18 years ago, my last semester at NAU was nearly a complete joke.  I only needed 9 credit hours to graduate which consisted of two easy electives and one class for my business major.  Being a stereotypical fraternity (don't say wouldn't call your country a c*nt, would you?) guy, I was all about socializing, lifting weights, and screwin' off.  Damn....I miss those days.  Anyway, one of my all-time best friends Kenny B - got me into "Gainer's Fuel".  64 ounce jugs of this calorie-laden "muscle powder" could be had at any GNC.  Mix it up with whole milk and you had a 32 ounce glass of 2,000 calories just waiting to be turned into lean muscle mass. 

A typical day started by lifting weights, hitting class if it were important, then slamming a shake around 11am.  A calorie coma would then kick in and I wouldn't wake up until 2pm.....hit another class around 3pm, down another shake and then go out for beer and chicken wings with the boys because wings were 10 cents and beer was free thanks to my younger sister working the bar.  As the semester went on, I still drank the shakes, but it was making me so tired I started skipping the workouts.  So 5,000 to 6,000 calories a day for 60 know what I got from it?  Bloated.  Lactose intolerant.  Sick.  I got so sick for two weeks I was forced to stop drinking the shakes, had to skip class, and I lost every pound I gained in the weight room and plenty more as both ends of me were like dueling faucets of discharge.  I had to scramble before finals to make sure I would graduate - and one of my classes was the "History of Skiing".  No shit, you get credit for that at NAU.  All of this was stressful to the point where 3-4 times per year even today - 18 years later - I have a dream about NAU revoking my degree because I was short credit hours.

I'll keep at it in the Rocky Gym .......and stick to soymilk this time around.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Harden the Fuck Up

My own version of a Senate Confirmation Hearing was on Saturday and fortunately I came out with little more than a few raspberries – scuffs if you will. Our homeowner Board was cordial, inquisitive, and surprisingly gracious. So the bottom line here…..I still have a job. Profits were down in 2008, but, we still did a hella’ lot better than the rest of the economic market segments.

So I needed to blow off some steam on Sunday, and a 50 mile road ride through the lava fields of Sunset Crater would surely do the trick. AA and myself started at the top of the loop ‘round 8:30am. 39 degrees and windy – not bad. We had a tailwind for most of the 3000 foot drop into high desert country north of Flagstaff…..oh, we definitely had a tailwind as our average speed for the first hour was 31mph. It was in the high 40’s at the bottom. Then – we turn South….hmmm a little headwind there, then we turn Southwest and head up the climb back to the car. Holy…. Freakin…. Headwind Batman. We realized we had to paceline or it would become a side by side deathmarch up the mountain. 2 minutes each, rotating so we could catch a breather by drafting behind each other – and recover at least a little. Time to harden the fuck up. With one push left to the summit at a little over eight thousand feet, I blew…I blew like a broken VW Bug engine. It took me about five minutes to recover and I finally caught AA on the downhill after the crest. We hightailed it across the flats until we hit a wall of wind dropping us from 13mph to 5mph in seconds and it was that kind of hell ride back to the car over the next five miles. Then AA blew a gasket and fell off the back with noodle legs. He found me huddled at the car on the leeward side waiting for the fucking keys. FREEZING. It was still a great ride – call it a character builder if you will.

Home, hot tub, chores, a fire in the wood stove, 24oz of Tecate, an hour in my “old man” chair, nice conversation with the D, a colossal bowl of granola….in bed at 9. It was a good weekend.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Can U Hook a Brother Up?

OK, so I throw down a bunch of trash talk about getting serious about riding again and…….then I get hit with a cold because that last race at the White Tanks took my immune system down to empty. So what have I done all week? Worked, and hit the Rocky gym in the garage. None of that will make me any faster come February 7th in Phoenix for series race #2. Major white-guy problems came up too, because it’s snowing out and I feel compelled to snowboard in the powder instead of riding in the rain.

The reality is that I’m choosing to dwell on those “problems” above rather than think about the real stuff: cutbacks in the tourism industry – hitting me and my crew, and a bank account that seems to get closer and closer to the definition of living “paycheck to paycheck”. So, I’m going to capitalize on the one thing I have left besides a full pound of fresh coffee beans in my grinder – good credit. Refinancing soon could reap a 4.35% or 4.5% 30-year fixed interest rate if your credit score is 750+. Hopefully, Obama will throw me a solid and help bring those rates down a full percent or more from where I’m at now. A full % over 30 years is the difference between THIS, THIS, and THIS versus a handful of mortgage and nothing to show for it when you die at 62. Then again, I better die at 62 or I'll be outta cash.

I know, I’m a one-track-minded Bike Loving Tool, but as any Arizona Cardinals fan would say “He is who we thought he is!” – Tribute to Dennis Green.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So you have a facebook account because....

1.) You love to get scads of e-mails each day that say “Tommy is reading Freakonomics with his twin cats Aldo and Biko at his feet”
2.) You enjoy telling people your current ‘status’: “I’m walking hand in hand on a naked only beach with a chocolate covered midget named Louie and we’re eating strawberries and drinking champagne as the sun goes down”
3.) You love to get “friend requests” from random acts of societal dysfunction like the assclown that sat behind you in American Government in 8th grade?

You might have a Facebook account if:
-You don’t have any kids to raise*
-*notable exception – You’re a stay at home mom who needs a social network of other miserable stay at home moms
-you’re a Club owner who markets wisely on the cheap
-you’ve got more issues than an airport newsstand

Call me old, call me crazy, call me anti-social media networking non-Blackberry, non-I Phone having……whatever……but I missed the point of MySpace, and now I simply cannot get on this runaway train called Facebook. My great pal Sheck finally caved last week and said something to the tune of “Dude, I’ve had it…..I can no longer keep up with the demands of my own webpage, a Flickr account, a MySpace page, and a Facebook page”. “It’s taking 2 hours a day, and I’m DONE”. Consider another friend who lamented about “turning down a friend request from someone I barely know and feeling guilty about it”. Wow. We all have enough peer/societal pressures already – and ya think we need more from self-inflicted punishment websites like Facebook?

Are you with me? If you’re not…..and you still like your little Facebook account, then why don’t you sign up for this. You can dress your pets up, share pictures, tell others what your pets are doing right now, and maybe even pee on each others walls. Good times!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Did You Get The Memo I Sent?

My boss handed down a memo today that probably should have been called “Next to Worst Case Scenario”. She wanted to know what a 15% cut in payroll would do to our staff. For my first draft, I threw together a spreadsheet that cut everyone’s gross income 15% across the board. Ouch. It reaffirmed to me how most of us are pretty much living paycheck to paycheck, or pretty close to it.

Then, I made a new spreadsheet that was realistic – cutting real-time fat from each department to ensure that we have only minimal staff on hand at any one time. Some people just get creamed, and others aren’t impacted as much. But you know who is impacted the most? Guests. Repeat, guests. Yeah – the people that have kept coming this winter, and allowing us to make our payroll and show a profit, in spite of their own personal downturn. We thrive on repeat clientele, and a 15% cut in payroll would jeopardize that service that our guests are used to. It would be a horrendous business decision to do ‘whatever it takes’ to improve today’s profit margin, because the long-term effects would be 20-fold.

So, I’m going to return a report that is a compromise of her wishes and ours. I may get the beatdown, but after last Saturday at the White Tanks – you could drive a truck over me and it would hurt less.

I’m glad that I woke up this morning and immediately sent in our back country permits for a Grand Canyon 4-day hike in May. Having that journey on the books will be a huge circled date to look forward to. Me, Dad, and Uncle Steve goin’hiking into the Wild! Well – sorta. It’s the first time for my Dad and we don’t want to get too crazy. There’ll be small, but established campsites, toilets, purified water, and well marked trails – all in the middle of nowhere. This sounds more accurate: Me, Dad, and Uncle Steve goin’ hiking in paradise, baby.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

If you're still reading this so called journal, please click on the link below. New and improved, I promise........

The Second Half

Saturday Prison Pounding at the White Tanks

I knew going into yesterday's race #1 of the AZ series that I was in for a whipping. I had not been on my mtb in eight weeks - 'nuff said. We made the 2.75 hour drive down from Flagstaff and got out of the car in down jackets and fleece pants. It was 62 degrees. WOW! Change into the Red Rock spandex costumes and off on the road in for a warmup. 11:36am. 12 of us were racing. "Advanced Singlespeeders - to the line" called the starter. "1 minute". "15 seconds". "Gooooooooo"!

The course was 4 laps of a 6.2 mile loop. I had consulted with two teammates beforehand about which gear to run. I ended up choosing a 2:1 ratio 32x16 and that was an awful mistake. The false flat 2mile lead out didn't need such a tall gear, the climb in the middle was steep and technical so I had to hike-a-bike it, and the downhill back to the line was steep enough to spin out. In short - I should have run a 32x18 or 19. At the word "go" I found my place for the race....last. I managed to stave off the other classes of Singlespeeders, barely, to retain my so-called advanced category rating. I felt like a PGA player getting nearly knocked down to Q-School to re-qualify for tournaments. Humiliating? No, not that bad. Embarassing? No, at least I finished with a smile. Humbling? Damn straight it was.

I can't even tell you how badly I wanted to cut the course, or just quit after three laps. DNF - who cares I thought. The $30 race reimbursement by the team for finishing and 14 other teammates at the event who would know I DNF'd kept me going despite ham-fist cramps in my quadriceps that had me walking like a bow legged cowboy up the steep climbs on the last lap. I finished, felt sick for about a half hour, but recovered by just shoving food down my hatch and chasing it with water and electrolytes. The nausea left and I was fine going home. I haven't felt that bad after a race in years. The pain and sickness reminded me that I have to go through these early season race day disasters as part of early season training for the important events in May-August.

Results will be posted tomorrow. I'll get a few points towards the overall series, but the points don't mean much if I keep preparing like this. What I got was an understanding that I have to take my indoor trainer time more seriously if I don't want to be nearly puking in the parking lot on February 7th - round #2. Time to park the snowboard and get back on the bike.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Q: What do you call 53 millionaires watching the Super Bowl on TV together?

A: The Minnesota Vikings

The goddamn heat went out in my old fashioned car this week, and when you add that to the list of things that are no longer working, I swear, I'll be driving a frame and an engine soon with a nice stereo. So, now I'm looking at other options. If I had an ounce of impulse I would have driven straight to Phoenix yesterday after driving to work in 11 degree temps with a morgue-cold body, frozen hands, and running the A/C to stop the windows from fogging up, and traded the old fashioned car for a new all wheel drive Subaru WRX hatchback or a Mazdaspeed 3. Hey - if you're gonna go for power, go big. Good thing I'm a practical sack who can't pull the trigger....Probably saved myself $325/month. Which, turns out, was a great decision because we just signed a deal with THIS COMPANY who will provide full carbon frames or complete bikes at a price that I just can't resist. My car will be fiiiiinnne!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Storm into the New Year like my name is El Nino……January features a new hotel management software installation that invariably brings a bucket load of issues due to human error. Our “owner’s weekend” is on the 23rd and 24th – where I get to pontificate, insinuate, and proliferate Don King-style the plusses and minuses of a tumultuous year where everyone’s profits are……..surprise! down. I can’t wait for that speech. I’ll need a 3” thick layer of Right Guard so I don’t pit out my pretty-boy Banana Republic shirt, which by the way will be selected based on the need to impress and intimidate, with of course cool undertones to calm the group. So corporate, so staged, so….. I sure hope it goes well.

11 days until the mountain bike state series starts and I still haven’t ridden in over a month. You can always pick out the Flagstaff riders in the crowd. We have white legs, white faces, no fitness, and most importantly – no expectations. We take our respective place at the starting line…by securing a back row spot, and once the gun goes off we race too hard trying to be competitive, then cramp up mid-way, and then gimp back to the finish well out of contention. You have to have a hole in your head to want to do this through March when you actually start competing.

I hate our state series because it’s geared towards desert dwellers. Of course when there are 3 million people in Phoenix and 1 million in Tucson versus 50,000 in Flagstaff….that’s what you get. In every other state series – the playing field is level because the climate is the same across the state. ‘Sconsin features the best series out there that starts in May and ends in October. Everyone trains in the Spring (well, those that want to win), and they all hit the start line with the same training opportunities. Ah well, time to shut up and ride.

I just booked a ski vacation for President’s Day Weekend in Durango, CO. It’ll be the first time I get Lyza in ski school for two straight days and I hope the sport consumes her. She, like most kids, wants to start on a snowboard, but I’m being the A-hole Dad and making her start on skis. That’s how I learned dammit, so that’s how she’ll learn. Nice – I sound like a workaholic, alcoholic, stuck in my ways, flat-top sportin’, black socks when I mow the lawn wearin’, American car drivin’ 1960’s dad.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Logging a little ice time on Lake Mary. The ice was smoother than a baby's bottom!

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

72 hours from now the Minnesota Vikings will be on their home field playing the Philadelphia Eagles in round one of the NFL playoffs. The Eagles are favored. Being a Viking fan since I was old enough to understand football has given me enough calluses to endure a 17-16 last-second win, a 55-0 loss, or anything in between.

The Vikes resemble a football sized Chimichanga in every way. Each season I order one up with colossal enthusiasm.........and while it tastes great at first, in the end it always leaves me with a feeling like I just swallowed a whole lotta crap. Then, my gut aches for a few hours afterwards. I know it’s not good for me, but I keep coming back every year for that Chimichanga with a six pack of Hope, delusions of Destiny, and a wheelbarrow full of Faith. What the…? Why the….do I do this!? The truth is, you might see Hope, Destiny and Faith at a St. Paul strip club, but you won’t see or feel them very often watching the Vikes play. You have a much better chance of meeting the triplets; Anguish, Angst, and Anger.

My good friend James Scott Kersten and I were discussing how we sometimes feel that as soon as we start watching the Vikes play, they fumble, throw an interception, get a stupid penalty, or miss a field goal. Then, instinctively, you have to walk away from the TV and maybe check back after 15 minutes to see if they turned things around. It really is better not to watch. My “colorful” (read: obnoxious and controlling) Mom then pointed out something to the tune of “You guys really think that their performance has anything to do with YOU?” “Like YOU guys make a difference?” “Get over yourselves.” Thanks Mom. You're right. I needed that slap on the head.

I can’t even explain my affinity for them other than tradition - I grew up watching and waiting for them to win a Super Bowl and I can't break this apparent life-long connection. I feel like a shameless, hopeless, pathetic, horror-enduring, misguided, “wait ‘till next season”, Cubs fan. OK, it isn’t THAT bad. Cubs fans.....I'm surprised they all didn't slit their wrists last October - then again, they are used to it.

Man, I hope the Vikes win on Sunday.