Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trailer Mashup Idea

Somebody find me a mashup of Dark Knight scenes with video from the 1966 Batman.

Chop chop.

On Wielding a Plastic Butter Knife

Rutgers cyclists, when riding the roads around Rutgers University, often wear Rutgers Cycling shorts and jerseys, which are adorned with Rutgers insignia such as Rutgers Athletics' Big Block R.


We are recognizable.

Knowing this, and knowing that it would only take one angry phone call from an overzealous driver to convince Rutgers to decimate the team, we follow very strict rules of road etiquette.

For example, we don't run red lights or stop signs ... or at least, we only do so with very rare and 100% safe exceptions.

Also, we stay as far to the right as possible... unless we're attacking or we just feel like riding 2-abreast.

Okay, forget those. We mostly try to be good "ambassadors" with regard to the rules of the road, but sometimes pragmatism trumps our desire to promote the image of "Rutgers Cycling: Law Abiding Citizens".

The one rule that I've never seen a Rutgers Cyclist break isn't even a law, at least not outside of our team's guidelines (and the FCC rulebook, I guess). That rule is: NO MIDDLE FINGERS.

[Confession: I broke that rule last night, rolling around on my bike as Jay pulled into the parking lot, 40 minutes late. I flipped Jay the bird].

Sometimes cars do insanely stupid things, which is something over which we lycra-lovers have no control. Unlike the drivers, our vehicles lack the horns to voice our disapproval (well, some have little bells and are silly). In lieu honking, some hotheaded cyclists will give the ol' one-finger salute.

The very same discrepancies that makes drivers so dangerous are what make middle-finger retaliations so unbearably stupid. They are inside GIANT METAL WEAPONS. We are wearing COLORFUL SPANDEX. A simple touch of their brakes could put us in the hospital without so much as denting the fender of their rusted 1992 Tercel.

There's a questionnaire floating around the blogosphere. One of its questions is:
You’re riding your bike in the wilderness and you see a bear. The bear sees you. What do you do?"
Here's one answer that comes to mind. DON'T POKE THE BEAR!!!
Freakin ijjits.

Still, the adrenaline surge that follows an encounter with World's Worst Driver hopefuls is hard to suppress. A deep breath sometimes suffices. In really bad cases, I'll go so far as to let out a scream, a deep howl that starts somewhere in the diaphragm region and even surprises me.

Mostly, I like to go with the "Look of Incredulity". It can be as little as a look of hurt confusion on my face, but usually I try to throw in an upturned palm gesture.

It looks something like this:
This time-wasting illustration was
TOTALLY WORTH IT

I like to think that our self-censoring replacement of the Enraged Middle Finger with the Look of Incredulity actually makes our complaints more effective. Drivers, especially stereotypical NJ drivers (with their greasy hair and mob connections and inability to properly pronounce words like "coffee") are probably desensitized to the middle finger. I like to think that a look of hurt confusion and an upturned palm gesture cut through the apathy.

This presumes that the drivers look in their rearview mirrors after passing. And that I'm close enough when they glance to have a visible facial expression. And that there is even the slightest shred of humanity behind those anonymous tinted windows.

So yes, this gesture is as good as bringing a plastic butter knife to a gun fight. On the other hand, though, in a melee full of guns, you know who's gonna get shot last, if at all? The one with the plastic butter knife who's cowering under a table.

UPDATE: Oh holy crap, I've actually found a picture of the Look of Incredulity. Kinda.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Very Important Business Meeting

I have a casual meeting today tomorrow with a professor. I'm going to show him what my research looks like, with a brief rundown of the deliverables and the results so far. Relatively simple stuff, but I'm taking it pretty seriously.

This is the sort of meeting you want to knock out of the park. The underlying motive here is "get the professor to sit on my committee", which means I need to convince him that I'm not worthless.

Will is therefore not invited to this meeting.

If the professor is unimpressed, it's not the end of the world. There are plenty of fish in the sea, if by fish we mean tenured professors with reputable contacts throughout academia. It wouldn't be the end of the world to be denied... but in a way, it would be the beginning if I wasn't.

Big things are heading this way, here in the world of the ninja that is Don. It's and exciting and scary and nauseatingly important summer for me... so, enough writing about it. Time now to go over the slides again.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Why would someone want to miss?

Maybe this story starts on Saturday evening, when I wandered around the college-town neighborhoods in New Brunswick looking for a street I'd never heard of.

Maybe this story starts on Friday, when Jay convinced me to venture out to the bars with his Johnson and Johnson friends. I still have yet to enjoy an evening with Johnson and Johnson. Ever. After an hour with them, we went to Harvest Moon and made some friends, one of whom had a party in a house on the street I'd never heard of.

There's a hole, there's a hole, there's a hole in the bottom of the sea.

Whatever. My brother and I walked into a house full of stangers. Four hours later, we stumbled back towards Highland Park (by way of some late-night pizzeria or other).

What happened in between was just dandy. Dandy is how I would best describe it. Splendid?

That was stupid, so I'll try again. The point is, I could say that the party itself was pretty average - some music, some beer, some pong... but that wouldn't be fair.

The music was from a series of live bands in the attic. (Also there was a weird metalhead with a mandolin). The beer flowed freely, and for free, from a keg... and it wasn't terrible! The pong was great, mostly because we were unstoppable.

Ben and I have now played beer pong together on two separate occasions. Our lifetime record is something like 10-2. The only defeat at this weekend came in double-overtime.

As FatMarc pointed out, beer pong is like softball, but with slightly less running around. A win in beer pong is nothing to get excited about, it is not exactly the pinnacle of sport. (Older Phi Psis will recall the summer epics between Brendan, Ed, and Rob the Deke, which ended around sunrise and often involved difficulty standing and uncanny, near-miraculous accuracy).

It feels good to win, certainly. It feels better to be those guys. You know those guys. The guys at the party that nobody knows, but who seem to know everybody. Listen, neither my brother nor I are particularly charismatic, maybe (maybe) slightly above average. Put us together, though, and we somehow transform into those guys.

It's one thing to have an opponent rib you - in good spirits, of course - for missing a shot. It's another to be flooded by trash-talk - in good spirits, of course - so densely packed that you can't get a word in edgewise.

At one point, we spent about a minute riffing on the theme of "why would someone want to miss?" Goddamn, we are those guys.

Coincidentally, you know what's great? Being the only two people at a party who speak Hebrew. It's like being Windtalkers or something.

Moral of the story: I should crash more parties. But probably with my brother.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Uncomfortable - DELETED

I wrote a whole long post, but then I realized it was terrible. I went on a long bike ride on Saturday. Things happened. A blog post about these things would inevitably be lame.

Consider yourselves spared.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Post from an Alternate Timeline

Man oh man, it was hot yesterday. Standing in the outfield, baking in the sun, with gnats swarming around me. If I didn't love this sport so much, it might've even been unpleasant.

Softball is the best sport in the world, truly the game of champions. It's like baseball, but without the fans. It's a cute pastime that the kids do for fun, but when you reach a certain age, it takes on an importance that is derived not from winning or losing, but from the competition itself.

What can I say, softball has gotten under my skin. I read all the softball websites, I let softball analogies work their way into my daily conversations, I even occasionally dream about softball. My boss doesn't get it, and I don't think any of my non-softball friends really get it, but I love it.

We're doing okay this season. I'm pretty damn mediocre, no matter how much time I spend in the batting cages. It sucks. I want to win!

All the weight I've put on over the past few years doesn't help, but it sure doesn't hurt. Maybe I can't run the bases as fast as I used to, but damned if it's not easier to put some distance in my hits. Having a little meat on my bones is probably healthier, anyway. A bit of belly is a small enough price to pay for all the beer I've consumed over the years.

Oooh, and it's Thursday today. That means it's Bar Trivia night at the Golden Rail! Cheap beer, easy girls, and Trivia competition, here I come!

So, you know what's awesome? My goatee. I think that without it, I'd look like some sort of Mirror-Mirror version of myself. Kinda weak.
Goatees... all the cool kids have 'em

Life is good, my dear audience. I've found a sport I love, and I have my dream career. Being a Widget Engineer for Spacely's Sprocket Co. is the best job a man could ask for. As long as I install enough widgets every day, nobody bothers me or asks questions, and that's just great.

It's weird, though... occasionally I have these ideas out of nowhere, and they consume me. The other day, for example, I was wondering if maybe there's some way to quantify the mechanics of how I swing a bat, to compare me to better batters. And last week, it occurred to me that a fielder predicts the trajectory of a ball in flight too fast for the brain to be the primary processor. I feel like maybe there's a body of research on this sort of stuff, like maybe I'd be really interested in it, in research itself...

Thoughts like that aren't easily shaken. So I drink a lot of beer, and that shuts 'em up but good.

Holy Definition, Batman

Leg muscles - scary, scary leg muscles - courtesy of our friends at Ag2r


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Before Al Gore, there was a more elegant solution

No more pollution
No more car exhaust
Or ocean dumpage

From now on, we will travel in tubes!

Get the scientists working on the tube technology immediately.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bicycles and Heartbreak

Ricardo Ricco got caught doping. The cycling world is angry at Ricco, and for good reason. His wins in the Tour have been impressive, even heroic. And now it turns out that they were fake.

I should be heartbroken. On Sunday, Jay and I were sitting at the bar, re-watching Stage 9. We watched Ricco charge away from the field on his way to a dominant stage win, and we dismissed the rumors of doping. "It doesn't make sense to chase him, he's too far down in the standings, the finish is downhill, they're saving up for tomorrow".

What wasn't being said was how Ricco had just turned himself into an idol. I could see myself jumping away from the 4/5 field in my next race, charging to a glorious solo victory. It could happen! Ricco had shown the way!

I think I should be heartbroken.

After watching today's stage, I drove to the Cognitive Rehabilitation Hospital where I do my research. The therapists and I went over a list of subjects with whom I'll be working next week. It's a long list. Say hello, statistical significance.

"Hello, statistical significance!"

Oh, statistical significance, you're so funny and awesome.

Of course, these people wouldn't be my subjects if they didn't need rehabilitation. All of them have been in horrific accidents, and as a result, large sections of their brains are dead.

One subject, with whom I spent only a few minutes, absolutely knocked me over with her story. She'd been riding a bicycle, just cruising around, and in a moment of panic she forgot how to use her brakes. Now she needs frequent hospital visits, without which she can't use her hands normally.

Okay, it's official. Now I'm heartbroken.

Yesterday, I spent a few hours chasing Charlie around Chimney Rock, trusting that my tires would find some traction on the wild, rocky descents.

But it's okay, I had styrofoam on my head.

I don't know how doctors do this. Or nurses. Or even special ed teachers. To constantly face the reality of life's horrible risks, every day. To know how easily it could be you. I just don't know how they do it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Escape of the Monster

I've decided that I do not like turtles.

People don't seem to grasp the freakiness of the monster in the basement. My previous post includes one poorly focused photo and some unnecessarily bombastic prose. Neither of which do Grendel any justice.

So let's give some perspective.

Here is Grendel next to deck of playing cards. He's not huge (yet)... but he's big.

I managed to get a video of Grendel escaping from his tank. As soon as he sees me, he freezes (as happens at :08 in the following video), so I haven't been able to record a successful jailbreak. Generally, he flips over the lip of the tank, lands on his back, and immediately reorients himself with a violent jerk.

video

Once Grendel's out, he wanders around in search of a hiding place. It'd be cute, if it wasn't so annoying - simple tasks like doing laundry or fetching a bike come with an adrenaline rush when accompanied by the surprising discovery of a monster on the loose.
video
Cute, see?

Of course, he can't stay out of the water too long, because he'll dry out and die. So we have to put him back in his tank. Being suicidal, he climbs out about 4 or 5 times a day and resists our attempts to return him.

Here's how he reacts to contact. All I'm doing is putting a little pressure on his back. He does not enjoy it.
video
You may be asking "holy hell, did that turtle just jump?" Yes he did. Didn't know turtles could do that, did you?

So we (and by we, I mean Aaron or I, because Karen's not quite comfortable with the monster) pick him up before he can jump. He'll hiss a bit, but that's more bark than bite. His next line of defense consists of the claws on his legs. They aren't razor sharp, but they're sharp enough.

If you don't pick him up properly, if you leave any room between your pinkies and the shell, he'll dig his hind legs' claws into your palms. Observe:
(warning - I curse a little bit)
video

But doing this four or five times a day, one eventually becomes quite proficient - both at returning Grendel to his tank and at unleashing a string of expletives at the thought of losing a finger.
(don't worry, no expletives in this video)
video

Notice in this last video how there's a gap in the fence. It's fixed now, so at least he can't wander around the basement.

We think we know why he wants to escape - it's something to do with the lack of hiding places in his habitat - and we're going to fix it. To be perfectly honest, though, I'll be disappointed if his jailbreaks stop completely. Sure it'd be nice to not have to handle a monster every couple of hours, but at least that gives me some sort of interaction with him.

Grendel's not exactly a cuddly pet, you know? Can't quite play fetch with him, either.

Oh, and get this... Grendel might actually be a she-turtle. There's just no way of knowing until it hits puberty, which has not happened yet. So I might have to stop calling it a "son of a bitch", and just stick with "bitch". For accuracy's sake.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What do I do with my hands? - A Karaoke Primer

Singing Karaoke can be scary. Looking at the crowd, knowing you've just forfeited the comforts of anonymity, realizing "oh shit, I can't actually sing"... it's downright terrifying.

Fret not, my dear n00b. This post will help you navigate the treacherous waters of Karaoke.

I'll start with what this is not: It's not a song-selection guide, nor is it an intervention (you'll perform better if you're not wasted, you drunk bastard).

Instead, this is intended to get you over your body issues... or at least over yourself.

Let's start with the hands. One hand is holding the microphone, that's guaranteed.

Okay, sometimes both hands will be on the mic... but that doesn't last long, because it's biomechanically awkward and restrictive.

Advanced Karaoke-ists dare to sing no-handed, thus facilitating the air piano.

So what do you do with your other hand? There are a couple of options, depending on your comfort level.

When I'm not really feeling very confident - maybe I don't know the lyrics well enough, or maybe the crowd hasn't been too responsive, or maybe I miss my beard - I tend to lock my free hand behind me. I actually stick the thumb in my back pocket, which forces me to have "open" body language. It's a good trick.

Another thing to consider is that you're singing a song, not reciting a textbook. Songs have emotion, are rife with angst and joy and gravitas. If good times have never seemed so good (so good! so good! so good!), why aren't you acting like it? Someone who was living in a powderkeg and giving off sparks would do more than just stand still. You're going to have to convince me to not stop believing!

Gesticulation, my friends. It's not just for ethnic stereotypes.
Oh, also, there are often instrumental breaks during rock songs. I use them as an opportunity for thirst quenching. Feel free to air guitar.

And then there's the question of what to do with the rest of your body. The easiest answer is "dance", but of course it's not that simple.

I do recommend dancing, for the same reason you should gesture. The emotion generated by your body will feed forward into your voice, and the whole performance will be better for it.

Bear in mind, though, that you're an awkward white kid from the suburbs (if you're reading my blog, it's pretty likely, no?). You're not Michael Jackson, nor are you Mick Jagger. You don't have to strut like the latter, nor do you need to be as smooth as the former. If you can, then more power to ya, but just remember that you don't have to.

The point is, you should make the song yours. If the only dance you can do is stomping your feet, then just go ahead and punish the hardwood. If you can't dance at all, there's always the Sinatra-esque dance, wherein you sway slightly and hold a highball in one hand.

It's always better to immerse yourself in a dance that is your own style than to awkwardly mimic someone else's... always.

In fact, this whole post boils down to one simple truth: The best Karaoke performances come not from the best singers, nor the best dancers, but from the most committed.

Commit to your performance, and the rest will follow.

But if you only get one thing from this, let it be the following:
NO JOURNEY BEFORE MIDNIGHT!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Official USCF-approved Race Report Template

Paragraph 1: Introduction
Today I drove to ______ to race the _______ (select one: criterium/tour/grand prix). Based on the way my rides have gone this week, and where I am in my training cycle, I was (aiming for the podium / not expecting much). Looking at the list of registered competitors, I saw that _______, ______, and _______, all of them very fast, were signed up, but I tried not to worry about it.

Paragraph 2: Warm Up
I (got on the trainer / pre-rode the course / found some back roads) and warmed up. My legs felt adjective . Before I knew it, it was time to line up at the start.

Paragraph 3: Start
The official gave the command, and we were off. It goes without saying that it was a crazy start. Why can't (people / I) clip in without swerving?

Photograph A - Warm Up
Choose a photo that is of awkward pain-faces
or of butts

Paragraph 4: Early Break
Needless to say, somebody tried to attack right away. I (jumped with them / sat patiently in the pack)
because (optional: even though) I knew the break would be caught, (and) I just wanted to wake the legs up.

Paragraph 5: Mid-Race
The other racers were so sketchy. How hard is it to hold a line through a corner? Anyway, it was that other dude's fault that he crashed. Not mine. I did nothing wrong.

Photograph B - Mid-Race Obscurity
It's okay if riders are all but indistinguishable from one another;
your family will find you

Paragraph 6a: Success
Having (made the race-winning / caught the last-ditch) breakaway, it was finally time to sprint. I tried to position myself towards the front, but we were flying! It sure is hard to move up when the field is going actual speed + 3-5 mph. At (2/3)00 meters, I opened up my sprint and was able to come around everyone (but the first 1 - 9 people [for 11th or lower, see 6b]).

Paragraph 6b: Failure
It was finally time to sprint. Some guy from team name totally (changed lines through the last corner / touched his brakes / boxed me in), so I couldn't unleash my massive wattage. I was pretty disappointed to finish mid-pack, because I know I could've done better if not for that guy.

Paragraph 7: Excuses
[Note: for use in case of 2nd or worse... or even if you won, if that's how you want to play it] Select at least one from the following list. Add transitions like "also", "anyway", and "of course" as necessary.

I...
  • drank too much last night
  • couldn't sleep last night
  • got lost on the way to the race
  • didn't get enough warm up
  • had to close gaps that people were opening
  • spent too much energy in breakaways
  • didn't expect the last breakaway to stick
  • nearly got crashed
  • have been training too hard
  • haven't been training enough
  • hate this sport and quit forever
Paragraph 8: Waxing Philosophical
When all is said and done, I can look back on this race and honestly say I (gave it everything I had / had more to give). The result I got is satisfactory, but I still want more. On the other hand, it's just bike racing, and there are so many more important things in life! Even though I'll be reliving every moment of that race obsessively for weeks to come, I assure you: I'm not letting bike racing stress me out.

Paragraph 9: Sponsorship Obligations
I can definitely say that my (success was thanks to / mediocre finish was in spite of) the totally sweet bike I ride. It's a stiff and light ____ frame, with superlight ____ components. The guys at the ____ shop did a great job wrenching it, and of course all the fuel in my belly was provided by _____ energy supplements, which are as delicious as they are viscous.

Paragraph 10: Gender-specific Team Acknowledgment
As always, it was a ton of fun to race with my teammates, (insert list here, preferably with indecipherable nicknames), who are (male: awesome and strong / female: beautiful).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Unbunch your undergarments

upcoming [uhp-kuhm-ing]

-adjective
coming up; about to take place, appear, or be presented.

not necessarily the next.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The thing that precedes Part B

Some of the NJ-area members of the ol' fraternity had a mini-reunion at my house on Saturday. I had only briefly met some of them, but that's the beauty of a fraternity like mine - the continuity that enables camaraderie across "generations". We were the loud table at Pad Thai, as rowdy and high-spirited as any group of my close friends is prone to being.

"Reunion" may technically be an inaccuracy, but it definitely felt like a return to the old days.

There was beer pong. There were drunk sing-alongs. Towards the end of the night, there was an unceremonious Thai expulsion.

The most blog-worthy part - which is not to say best, most ridiculous, or even dumbest - occurred towards the beginning of the evening. The party-goers had not yet arrived, we Phi Psis had already started imbibing, and frankly we were bored.

Solution: Drinking game.

The Food Channel had some ridiculous program in which an air-headed "reporter" attended a conference on candy. As far as content goes, it was rather wanting... in fact, it downright sucked. Excepting for the drinking game.

The rules were simple. Every time the hostess or any interviewees said "candy", you take a sip of beer. Like a grown-up (but not too grown-up) version of the Word of the Day on PeeWee's playhouse.

When we realized how frequently that terrible word came up, we changed our drinking cue to "sweet". This, too, was a confoundingly common word at the candy conference.

Finally we opted for Plan C, in which we drank cued not by a word, but by a concept: sexual innuendo. Again, I remind you, this was not the pinnacle of maturity, but a throwback to the old days. And it was fun.

It was also moderately horrifying, because we're talking about middle-age (at best) women and men doing things to candy that are reminiscent of sex. If it hadn't been so hilarious, it would've been mortifying.

The rest of the party will not be blogged about. I don't have pictures (thank god), for one thing. I guess it would be fun to write "race" reports of my many, many beer pong victories, but that's not happening either.

It was a good weekend. 'nough said.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Write this down

Blogging is the cornerstone of excellence,
and excellence is the foundation of awesomeness.


Too busy to blog. Sorry guys.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Impending Offense

I have a post a-brewin. It has potential to be somewhat funny, at least among the bike racing sect. It's good to let posts meet their potential.

HOWEVER, there is a very very good chance that the very same constituency that is supposed to be entertained will actually take offense. For good reason, too, as I'll be making fun of them.

So now we weigh our options on the proverbial balance of blogitude. Shall I hazard the risk of a possibility of umbrage being taken? Or should I sacrifice what might be a slightly-above-mediocre blog post in the name of diplomacy?

Well that's actually pretty easy. It's my party, and I'll blog if I want to. DON'T CENSOR ME!!!

I guess this is less of a debate, and more of an advanced notice. If you are a bicycle racer, if you write race reports, then you shouldn't take my upcoming post too seriously. And indeed it is upcoming.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

MAGIC EYE!

Today, in my 25th year of life, I finally saw the hidden image in a Magic Eye picture.

Finally.

It's amazing that after an entire semester learning about perception and illusions - learning how Magic Eye works at the retinal level and even how to create one from scratch - I still couldn't properly see a Magic Eye illusion.

It is disproportionately pleasing to me that today, out of nowhere, a Magic Eye illusion actually worked.

Thank you, Abtruse Goose!

p.s. It's not a schooner

Friday, July 04, 2008

Thank you, Estelle, for not singing about the War in Iraq

I shouldn't care about this, because it's from an anonymous Top 5 list from some third-tier internet magazine. One of my friends posted it on Facebook, and it so irritated me that now I'm blogging about it. On some fourth-tier internet blog.

From the article, which is about the top 5 songs of summer 2008:

Eminently hummable, lighter than helium, and generously uncritical of the United States' foreign policy and obesity epidemic, "American Boy" is everything we could ask for in a summer anthem


"generously uncritical of the United States' foreign policy"

It takes some serious cojones to critique foreign policy in an article about music. Perhaps this is why the article is anonymous?

Has it ever been so common for such non-expert authors to go so far off-topic to disparage the policies of the government? Rather, has that sort of flippant faux-expertise ever been so widely accepted?

I know that at least one reader of this blog is writing a thesis about anonymous authors, and so I'm willing to wager that he has something to say... seriously, please chime in.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Marriage of the Captain

It's been a month since Captain Chaz got married, but I'm only blogging about it now. It was worth the wait, though, because now this post can include photos. It's just not the same without photos. A picture is worth a thousand words, sure, but also the pictures help break up the text. Mustn't bore you, right?

This picture summarizes everything. Just look at their faces!

Some of our classmates asked me, "how was Charlie's wedding?" and obviously they wouldn't be satisfied with a simple "um, wedding-y". Frankly, that answer would not have sufficed for this wedding, which is more than can be said for most.

The answer I've been giving is this: You know how Charlie is pretty much always happy? Well this is the happiest I've ever seen him.

Witness, the above photograph. There are a few hundred more (no exaggeration) just like it.

As would any good blogger, I've got to give a quick shout-out to a fellow blogger. Charlotte was an absolute pleasure at her uncle's wedding, a charming young lady to the very core. Even though she tried to disassemble my boutonnière.


I was one of four ushers, and it was an honor to be part of the wedding. Of course, wearing the super-snazzy morning suit didn't hurt. Still, this was an intense gig, and we brought our A game to the church that morning.

Mark knows that preparation is the cornerstone of success, whether one is bike racing or ushing. So he prepared himself.


By stretching. Don't question it.

The ceremony was nice, with some wise words from the Reverend into which were interwoven some clever cycling references. Marriage, it seems, is like a paceline. Don't question that either.

The reception was where the most fun was to be had... which is probably not unusual. It would have been un-classy for us to dance in the church, for example, but the reception saw lots and lots of dancing.

Some of it was heart-warming and beautiful.
The sort of dancing you'd expect between a newly minted husband and wife. And then there's the surprising dancing. Like the hora.


They danced the hora. It wasn't nearly as long lasting nor as all-encompassing as what you'd see at a Jewish wedding, but it was there. Jay and I both saw it, although if either of us had seen it alone, he wouldn't have believed his own eyes. The hora, go figure.

As with everything, be it a conference or a bike race or bar-hopping, the awesomeness of the Captain's wedding was amplified exponentially by good friends.


...although Jay and I did get a little competitive on the dance floor. Elbows out, like.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Domesticated

I've always loved Highland Park. When I was a kid, I swam for the Highland Park Sting Rays, and I used to marvel at the way the town was set up, especially on Raritan Ave (which becomes Priceton's Nassau St, if you follow it far enough south).

Growing up in East Brunswick, where "Main Street" is Route 18, a teen is basically at the mercy of his parents' availability and permission. Getting a slice of pizza with friends is a big to-do, with carpooling and arrangements and so on. This doesn't exactly cripple a childhood, but it's a stark contrast to Highland Park's quaint little downtown.

Now that I've moved to big boy housing, it's clear that Highland Park is the best town in New Jersey. Everything is within walking distance. Everything. Coffee shops and banks and art galleries and pizzerias and delis and barbershops. I'm so glad I moved here.

I really can't get over the experience of Highland Park, in which I should have lived since I started grad school. People actually converse with one another... I hadn't exchanged more than a "hello" with my neighbors in 3 years of on-campus living!

So, before I go on, I've gotta give (another) big thanks to Captain Chaz, whose apartment I took over when he moved in with the lovely Mrs. Captain. Without this opportunity, I'd probably still be living in a small cell in the facility between the Freshman dorms and the Civil Engineering building.

I've undertaken two little projects since I've moved in. The first could have happened in the grad dorms, hypothetically, but the rooms were just too small to accommodate it. I walked to Robert's Florals, a local business on Raritan Ave, and purchased a project #1.

My air purifier, my interior decorator, my confidante: Moishe the Spathiphyllum.
You can call him Moishe the Peace Lilly.


Project #2 would have probably been impossible on campus. Not only did I not have a porch, but I also had a roommate who left his stinky shoes and socks by the one big window, because it's just not a living room if it doesn't smell like foot-sweat.

Now that I have a stoop, and also now that I live in a neighborhood that feels more like a community than a penal colony, I can make Sun Tea!

To be honest, Sun Tea is no easier to make than Iced Tea. It's no less expensive, and frankly it doesn't even taste better.

I make it because I can, you know?

4th of July Race

Damn the July 4th race. Damn the race and the horse it rode in on.

There is a special level of hell dedicated to short races. I'm not sure what punishment would suffice, but it stands to reason that Satan would design something involving dozens of 40lb, full suspension, front disc- and rear V-brake WalMart bikes. Beelzebub has a devil put aside for short races.

Mind you, I'm not bitching about the length of the race because of the difficulty, or perhaps the lack of difficulty, imposed by the distance. Long races don't hurt any more than short races, nor vice versa; it's just a different sort of hurt.

No. The good people at the Bicycling Hall of Fame decided to set their race distances at 5 miles below the cutoffs set by USACycling. Like jeans shorts, these cutoffs are arbitrary and unpleasant, but they're unavoidable.

To earn points to upgrade to Cat 3, I need to race at least 20 miles. This Friday's race is 15 miles.

Thanks, Bicycling Hall of Fame, for nothing.

Mind you, I'd still race it, if I wasn't so dead-set on having a social life. Waking up at the ass-crack of dawn on Friday morning after enjoying my Thursday evening is dumb, but certainly doable... it's paying $30 to race a bunch of overzealous Cat 4s (says the overzealous 4) with no possibility of getting a return on my investment that makes my blood boil.

I'll find some other races later in the summer... life's too short to take this upgrade thing seriously.

Don's Final Thought: Coffee shops can be fruitful venues for getting work done, but they are public places, so people should probably not scratch their nether-regions in coffee shops... or at least not appear to be enjoying it so much. I am officially grossed out.