Common Goods Submission: Pandora’s Blender

This project was challenging because I had no real vision for the finished piece. I wanted to let the process itself drive the outcome, and it’s that element of ambiguity which made this a rewarding effort.

I knew that I wanted some sort of “boxy” base for the work, onto which I would assemble the more interesting and visually appealing components…whatever they were going to be. I started with a frame roughly 11″ x 32″ x 4″ made of poplar:

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I mitered the corners as best I could, then filled the nail holes with putty:

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A piece of 3/32″ birch plywood was used for the top:

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I then applied several layers of shellac to the top and sides, sanding between each coat. Next, a few coats of gray sandable primer gave the base a smooth finish:

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I floated another plank of MDF about 3/4″ from the base and added some chrome shower door handles that I removed from the upstairs master bath, much to Laura’s consternation. Then I worked up this color scheme:

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After a great deal of browsing in various local stores, I came upon the idea of incorporating vegetable steamers into the work. I needed more chrome elements and these steamers had a cool look when they were closed. But I still needed a capping element on top of the steamers, so I again went hunting. I settled on glass bottles of some sort, but they needed to be the exact right shape. An upside down oil & vinegar bottle seemed to do the trick, but the store where I found them only had two, and I needed five, so I ordered some more from Amazon.

The top of the piece needed to echo the color scheme from the base, so I painted some wooden dowels with a spiral motif and jutted them up into the overturned bottles. I also added four chrome drawer pulls to the corners, since the shower handles fell a bit short of the piece’s length. I ended up with an artwork that met my expectations; a work that appears to offer some oblique function, but just sits there and tries to look pretty instead:

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This work was finished just before the expiration for a local competition, but I needed to come up with a catchy title, so I “friendsourced” a few options on Facebook and finally chose Pandora’s Blender. I entered it in a juried show called Common Goods, hosted by Visual Art Exchange, and it was accepted.

After a couple of weeks passed, the show opened on the First Friday art crawl in downtown Raleigh on April 3rd, 2015. I arrived half an hour late because I was drinking some craft beer with Gary and Carrie at The Pharmacy in Cary. When I walked into the show, I saw that Laura was already there. I also saw that I had won first place. That was a good feeling.

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Another Post About Food

I doubt I will live forever, but it would be nice to live at least a very long time. We see articles almost daily that enumerate what we need to do in order to stay healthy and prolong our existence. There are the usual suspects: exercise, eating the right foods, stop smoking, and so on. But more and more studies reinforce the idea that we must reduce our food portions as well. I don’t like this. I don’t want to go through life feeling hungry all the time, like a scrawny underfed rat in a laboratory. It’s an awful habit, but I tend to eat until I am full…usually somewhat past full. I’ll stuff my gullet until my blood pressure rises and my heart rate increases, and I’ll bitch to no one in particular about how my tummy is uncomfortably bloated. But you know what? That feeling is better than feeling hungry. With satiety comes a feeling of accomplishment, of a job well done, and maybe this is just a part of our DNA. Maybe I’m more a living atavism of my paleolithic progenitors than I thought; I eat too fast, I eat too much, and if I’m hungry enough I will toss any semblance of a judiciously crafted diet out the window and eat anything in sight. How is it I do not weigh 400 pounds?

 

Almost every day I’ll tell myself that I will start watching my portions, but it almost never seems to happen. Oh, once in awhile I’ll make a serious attempt and manage to control portions for a day or two, then I give up. Because food.

Christmas Diary

Elizabeth and Chris were scheduled to arrive around 2:00 PM on Monday before Christmas, but flight delays put it much later. When they finally got to our house, they scarfed up my chili which I had prepared a couple of days prior. I think the chili may have been a bit too spicy for Elizabeth. Mom and Wendell were to arrive late on Christmas Eve, but the airlines had other plans. They missed their connecting flight at DFW due to gate SNAFUs, which is typical at that airport. They ended up spending the night in Dallas and arrived at RDU the next morning. Laura, Benita, and I worked furiously to prepare a Christmas feast of Honeybaked ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and a pretty good dressing concoction that Benita put together using Stovetop Stuffing as a base. Later, we opened gifts. I got the things I had put on my Amazon list as well as a quad copter from mom and Wendell, which was a pleasant surprise. Wish lists are a good thing, but they remove the element of creative gifting. Friday morning I broke out the copter (to hell with reading the directions) from the back deck and let ‘er rip. I flew it up over the roof of the house and into the front yard, whereupon I contemplated the effective range of the remote control. It lost signal with the copter just as it was hovering over the tallest tree in our lot, and became stuck fast in the uppermost branches. No amount of tweaking from the remote was able to dislodge it, and the battery soon died. Great. It was about three stories from the ground, so we set about trying to free it by winging golf discs at it, hoping for the best. Not once did we come very close to the copter, and even if we had, I’m not sure what we were expecting to happen. I must have assumed the disc would arrive at the vicinity of the copter, then ask it politely to climb aboard and ride it gently down to terra firma. After repeated throws from beneath the tree failed, Elizabeth and I got on the roof of the house to get a better vantage point. Those attempts also failed, so we brainstormed other ideas. Wendell and I went to Home Depot in hopes of inspiration from the vast wonderland of building products therein. We seized upon the idea of a small plastic canister which could be filled with hardware and tethered to masonry line. When we got home, we set about filling the canister with a few nuts and bolts, then went outside to test our theory. We recruited Chris, who has a decent throwing arm, to launch the missile toward the branches near the drone, in hopes of then using the twine to shake the tree vigorously enough to free the imprisoned toy. This did not work. The string was not heavy enough to withstand the tugs to shake the branches, so it broke. We heaved it into the tree once more to try again, but then it too got stuck. Back to the drawing board, but now it was getting late and we were losing daylight. We would assail the conundrum tomorrow, tomorrow being Saturday. Chris, Wendell, and I went to Home Depot (and then Lowe’s) and managed to find some 10 foot garden stakes which could be coupled together with PVC. We got enough for about 42 feet, which we assumed at the time would be plenty. After only 15 minutes of prepping the rods, we were ready. Gary from across the street came to observe. Once we strung the pieces together, we found that we were a full 20 feet short. Curses! Undismayed, I climbed the tree, found a secure position a third of the way up, and had Chris and Wendell feed me the garden stake/PVC contraption length by length. When all connected, the rods were unwieldy and difficult to maneuver, swaying to and fro like a drunkard. I then endeavored to cradle it in the crooks of strategically located branches in order to attain some measure of stability. After several tries, I found the right crook, and had a straight-on shot at the drone. With this arrangement, I was able to extricate the forlorn copter from its arboreal gulag, and down it plunged, unsullied and whole. We played with it some, keeping it far from the clutches of the gnarled behemoth in the front yard. Anyway, we ate some more meals, went out a few times, went on some runs, watched movies, and played Cards Against Humanity over the next few days. I felt it was a good visit, and as usual, I was sad to see my family leave. I hope to see them all again for St, Patrick’s Day in Dallas soon.

Led Zeppelin

What is it about this band? It’s no great mystery that which makes for an exceptional musical group: talent (of course), cohesion among the members, time and place, a good producer, et cetera. Led Zeppelin had all these in spades, but it seems there’s something more, something almost ineffable about the group. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s no question that the confluence of all these qualities helped create what became arguably the greatest rock group of all time. It’s not just that they oozed talent, but I think it’s this: that they oozed talent effortlessly.

They were also literary. And they paid homage to their blues forebears. And they often experimented with instrumentation outside the domain of rock music. Sure, sometimes Page/Plant could get a little wordy with lyrics; Carouselambra reads like an epic poem, but it’s still a musical tour de force. However, there’s one song that combines not only the best in each band member, but is a masterful amalgam of all the best anything: The Rain Song. This number has it all. It’s got strings, including a heart-wrenching cello part. It has a plinking piano track that evokes, you guessed it, rain. It features achingly beautiful lyrics, and it has a double climax. Everyone loves double climaxes.

A plaintive half-step drop on the guitar establishes the main musical motif; it’s not exactly uplifting, but not altogether sad either. What it is is perfect. A second acoustic guitar is strummed almost wetly in the background. When the strings come in around 1:37, The Rain Song becomes this towering thing, anchored by the brooding cello track. Just listen to the interplay of the piano, strings, and guitars during the stretch between the two main verses, capped by Bonham’s gently urgent percussion until the 3:50 mark.

And that second verse! “Speak to me only with your eyes.” I melt at this stuff. But the climax at 5:01 is downright heroic. Page’s guitar riff at 5:11 is subtle, but it’s also the sound of triumph made melody, as Plant sings “(Hey!) I felt the coldness of my winter…” and two-note piano chords stack joyously upward. This is about the time I’m pumping my fists in solidarity with musical perfection.

And there’s more. A second, more subdued climax happens at 6:16 when Plant really gets to the point: Upon us all a little rain must fall.

So…writing about the details of a song is a fool’s errand. I can’t pretend to adequately express what it is that makes a musical work so enjoyable and moving. You just have to listen for yourself, but hopefully you’ll take notice of the high points I’ve mentioned here.

Tennessee-Texas-New Mexico Road Trip 2014

Friday 7/18: Left work at 11:45 am to hit the road to Nashville. Rained off and on starting in Asheville, all the way to Ted and Linda’s. Arrived around 7:30, had a beer, then went to Chili’s and ate/drank at the bar. Food was good. Went back to T&L’s to play DJ for the rest of the night. Got drunk but had a blast.

Saturday: Drove the rest of the trip with a hangover. Got to Pete’s around 5:30. Ate at Casa Cha Cha with P, K, and Ellie. Watched an episode of the Sopranos with P&K.

Sunday: Got up and ate breakfast at Hubbard’s with P, K, and the Macharts, then drove to San Antonio, but not in time for lunch with E&C. Checked out their crib until they arrived around 3PM, then went to tour the Riverwalk downtown with C’s mom and niece who is preggars. Saw “Wish I Was Here” which was kinda sucky. Watched a few choice episodes of Family Guy and Louie with E&C, while grubbing on pizza.

Monday: Met E&C’s friend Carlos, whom we floated on the Guadalupe with after lunch. My iPhone got waterlogged and would not power on, so I put it in a baggie of rice when we got done with the river. Ate some excellent BBQ with Carlos.

Tuesday: Got up early and headed back to big D, via 287. Played cat and mouse with an Audi S4 part of the way. Made good time. Got to Pete’s office around 12:15 and waited for him to go to lunch. Ate at Buzzbrew’s, which was very good. Fretted about my iPhone and tried several things to get it to power on, to no effect. Dreaded having to get a new one; did not think my Applecare would cover water damage. Watched another Sopranos.

Wednesday: Met E at Cafe Brazil for brunch, then we both went to the Apple store to see what could be done about my phone. Crowded, so had to make an appointment for 3PM. Drove E back to get her car. Met with the Apple “genius” who informed me that my Applecare+ would mostly cover the damaged phone, and I only owed $49. Yay! Set up the B&W/Adcom system in P&K’s living room. Later, P came home and made a yummy pasta dish while we jammed to the new sound system and drank B&C’s. Later, P and I started “Cabin in the Woods” but did not finish it.

Thursday: Met E again for brunch, then I went to Erwin Park to ride the MTB trails. Snapped a pic of the spot where I crashed a year ago. Oh, and it was very hot, but had a good ride. Visited with E again at Olive Garden; met the rest of her crew. P made burgers for supper.

Friday: Hit the road to SF around 9:30. Took 287 to Wichita Falls where we ate at El Chico’s. Then got on 70 west and made good time while jamming to fine tunes. Traded driving duties. Missed a turn somewhere in NM, but was not a big deal. Got to M&W’s just after dark. Unbeknownst to all, Koji snagged a pair of gloves from my bike bag and devoured them. We visited awhile then went to bed.

Saturday: Picked Laura up from their place in town, then went MTBing at the La Tierra trails…not bad. Met 3 women who told us about some cool whoops there, so we rode them twice. Hung out with Benita in the railyard district, visiting a few galleries. Later we tried to decide what to do for dinner, then P discovered a glove that Koji barfed up. The mood soured when we could not locate the glove’s mate. We all knew what this meant.

Sunday: Mom really not feeling well. L and I rode the Dale Ball trails off of Hyde Park road. Very nice trail system. W took Koji to the vet to make him puke. It worked, so catastrophe averted. Later, picked up B and drove round SF looking for a parking spot, then gave up. Ate at Tune-Up later with P, K, B, L and Oma.

Monday: Took a run with P in the morning. Ran along the river bed, which was still wet from storms the previous evening. Watched most of “Snowpiercer” with W and P, then picked up the women to take to airport (Oma) and ABQ (Benita). Came home and ate W’s excellent chicken tiki marsala. Watched “Enough Said” with M, W, P, and L. I then watched the remainder of Snowpiercer and sipped B&Cs.

Tuesday: Got up and rode the Winsor trail with Laura. Poor signage made for a less than stellar ride, but quite a workout: tough climbing and fast descents. Finished around 12:30. Mom feeling better and doing her group therapy and blood work. Ate a sandwich. Lazed around the house until we ate at Osteria Italian restaurant near the square in SF. Scrumptious. Watched “Please Give” then crashed.

Wednesday: Took L to the SF airport around 9AM, then came back and started packing up. Ate with M&W at Tree House in DeVargas mall. I had enchiladas, which were really tasty. P and I got on the road at about 1:15 and made good time to Lubbock, despite losing an hour. Got to G&D’s around 7:45, just in time for a supper of Swiss steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, and brownies afterward. We watched an episode of True Detective, but I fell asleep in the middle of it.

Thursday: Took a 4-mile run with P at about 8:30. Ran past M&W’s former house on Clinton. I wanted to sob. After showering, we went with G to meet Dylan at his new apartment, then to lunch at Garcia’s (awesome), then to look at some artwork for an upcoming group exhibit that D is participating in. I bought one of his pieces. P and I headed back to Dallas via 84/20 and got in before 7PM, then watched an episode of Sopranos.

Friday: Slept in a little, even though P and I had intended to run. Too wet to ride, so I pondered packing up and getting on the road back to NC. Had lunch with Adam at Saigon Block, then got under way at 1:00. Arrived in Nashville at 11:40 and had some wine with T&L and listened to their new audio system

Saturday: Had breakfast at Vitile’s with T&L, then got on the road at about 9:45. Trip seemed loooong. Got home at 7:05. Laura had dinner ready.

Music and Memory

I think about this topic quite a bit, probably because I think about music a lot. And that’s because I love music, in case that isn’t clear. When I was about 20 years old and spending summers with my dad in Plano, TX, I remember playing with a dinky little Casio keyboard. It had about 22 keys or so, and it also came pre-loaded with a few songs. One of them was a sped up version of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, the Andante movement specifically, often referred to as “Elvira Madigan.” At the time, I was not aware that it was Mozart, nor that it was a famous passage of music at all, but I did recognize its brilliance. I played it over and over, until I could pick out the melody and play it myself. It’s a simple but elegant piece, often considered the most beautiful passage of music in the world. That’s a highly subjective claim, but I’m hard pressed to disagree. Anyway, it wasn’t until years later that I realized it was Mozart, and that it was just one small part of a sublime concerto from one of the musical greats. The entire concerto remains one of my favorites, and I cannot listen to the Andante without tearing up a little, particularly a minute or two in when the main theme is played. I will weep instantly, but I have to wonder if it’s because of the sheer beauty of those piano notes, or because I miss my dad.

Ears to Your Health

It’s the end of July and no blog posts for this month, until now.

Here’s something that I think about from time to time. Whenever I have a few drinks (beer, mixed drinks, wine, whatever), I notice something about music, or more specifically, the way music sounds. It sounds worse, as if the limitations of the audio equipment have become glaringly obvious. This is especially so with my car stereo, which admittedly is not nearly as good as my home system. So, what’s going on?

I believe one of two things is happening. Either 1) the alcohol has heightened my perceptions (at least for audio), and any shortcomings in musical fidelity become clear, or 2) the alcohol has degraded my ability to hear as effectively as when sober.

And now, what this post is really about. I always assume the worst. About everything:  my health,  relationships,  my talents at whatever. Everything. I blithely assumed that all of my audio equipment was inferior, and alcohol made that fact more apparent. I also assumed that others heard music the way I hear it after a few drinks. But what is more likely? Instead of bemoaning the idea of lousy stereo equipment–I spent years and some amount of dollars piecing together a system that anyone but the most ardent audiophile would be proud of–it’s more likely that alcohol impairs my hearing just enough to make music sound kinda crappy. However, this is just a guess. The point is, an alcohol buzz is temporary, and once it wears off, music sounds wonderful again. But if all of my efforts in assembling a sound system are in vain, made clear by the simplicity of a few Maker’s and Cokes, then that would be much worse.

This will require some internet researching, where I can seek out any answer I want.

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Can’t you just see how good it sounds?

A Fear of Hunger

Some people are afraid of dying. Others are afraid of the dark or of drowning. Most of these common fears have some sort of scientific name, some “…phobia” or another. As for me, I am afraid of hunger. I don’t necessarily mean fear of starving to death, but more like a deep-seated anxiety that there will not be enough food. As near as I can tell, the word for this is borborygmuphobia. 

I was at a wedding a few years ago and there was a buffet dinner at the reception. I remember making sure I was near the buffet table when the time came for loading our plates. There was this irrational fear that the food would run out before I had a chance to eat my fill. But the fact is, there’s always enough food. Usually more than enough, but my phobia persists nevertheless.

That reception was at my cousin Chris’ wedding a few years ago in Houston. My daughter Anna was there as well, and when it came time to eat, I noticed she was posturing at the front of the line the way I was. She confessed that she harbors the same fear of not being able to sate her appetite. We discussed our mutual affliction and agreed that the fear manifests itself most readily when one is hungry. A few months ago, I went to a Mediterranean buffet for lunch. This place tended to get crowded during the noon hour so I made sure to arrive at about 11:45 in order to beat the rush, though I was still a little nervous. I got ahead of the lunch crowd no problem, but get this: as I was devouring the food on my plate, I found myself resentful of the arriving patrons. I was fearful that they would consume the remainder of the food before I could get my second plate. So I ate hurriedly in order to get back in front of them while they were still paying and getting their drink cups.

I don’t know where this comes from. As far as I can recall, there was no childhood trauma involving the confiscation or withholding of food.

I don’t know, maybe I’ve repressed such an event.

Just this past September, I attended the wake for my dear departed cousin Chris. The same Chris who was wed just scant months earlier. We all miss him sorely. It may seem clumsy to insert that fact here in this particular post, but the point is, I was beset with the same hunger phobia as before.

I paid my respects, I hugged and consoled the bereaved, and I recalled with joy all the happy times I had with Chris. Then I made certain there was plenty of food. It was a nice spread: DIY breakfast tacos and other assorted brunch-type fare. Again, I was among the first to be served. I think Anna was too.

I hope this does not come across as disrespectful of Chris. I loved him greatly. We all did. The thing is…Chris, while a perfect gentleman, may have had a similar anxiety about food, so I believe he would have understood.

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We miss you, Chris.

Texas Road Trip Journal

Tuesday 6/4 – Left Cary at 7:45 AM and headed southwest to Ellijay, GA. Arrived at Mulberry Gap around 3:00 PM, took a rest in my closet-sized cabin, then rode Pinhoti #2 trail. It was a long climb and I needed a few rest stops along the way. After about seven miles I turned around and bombed the descent. Good fun. Showered then ate a meal of steak, baked potato, green salad, corn-on-the-cob, jalepeno poppers, and bread. Friggin’ delicious. My plan was to ride again in the morning, but I then decided to get an early start to Houston and maybe surprise Anna at her work.

Wednesday 6/5 – After another fantastic meal provided by the MG staff, I hit the road. I took 85 to 20 to 59 to 12 to 10 and then stayed the night near Beaumont. I had to scrub the plan to surprise Anna, since she was not working that night. Instead, we rendezvoused Thursday morning at Salata on I-10 in Houston and beat the lunch rush, then went to Starbucks and relaxed some more while catching up. It was a brief visit but a good one. Anna seems to be happy and doing well. I then headed to San Antonio where I found Elizabeth’s stashed key and settled into her place. After watching a few episodes of The Office, I went to bed. Chris and E showed up in the wee hours.

Friday 6/7 – Met Chris (nice guy) and got some excellent Mexican food on the south side of SA where Chris grew up. Met his mom, Juanita, as well. We then went to the mall where E bought a Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air sound system. Before going back home, we visited some of Chris’ relatives who live near Boerne. It was a graduation party with lots of food. Everyone was very kind and generous. We then went home and set up the Zeppelin and watched some Game of Thrones.

Saturday 6/8 – Got up and rode the trail at OP Schnabel near E’s place. Luckily, I found someone named Gary who was willing to shepherd me along the intricate trail system. We got a good 12+ mile ride in. Felt awesome. After returning home and cleaning up, we attended a San Antonio Missions baseball game. They lost but we a had a good time.

Sunday 6/9 – Went to a giant flea market with C, E and C’s mom. It was pretty hot, with a generous host of fat people milling about and perusing all varieties of junk. After that, we went back home and I hit the trail once more at Schnabel. There was no one to lead the way this time, so I was not able to retrace the path from the previous day. I did alright, but still managed a wrong turn at one point and got lost. I found my way out just as the skies opened up and unleashed a vicious Texas thunderstorm. After cleaning up, we went to a sports bar to watch the Spurs lose to Miami. I drank quite a bit and E bought two rounds of shots to boot. We had a grand time.

Monday 6/10 – I set out to ride Government Canyon trails, but they were closed due to all the rain. Instead, I rode an exercise bike at E’s apartment gym. Boring. We ate a hibachi supper at Osaka, then returned home and finished the third season of GoT. Amazing. E and C needed to get to bed since they had to get up early and leave for Austin/Boston.

Tuesday 6/11 – Said my goodbyes to E and C and slept until about 9:00 AM, then did some laundry. Headed to Fort Worth via 281. No way was I getting on I-35. Got to Barbara’s and settled in. Took B to Milano’s in FW for some good Italian fare. Watched some more of The Office on the laptop and helped B straighten out some issues on her PC.

Wednesday 6/12 – Met old friend Jana Johnson at La Madeleine at 8:30 for breakfast. It was good to catch up; had not seen her in 18 years. Then had lunch with Ben Cobb at Hoffbrau steak house. Went back to B’s and prepared for a ride at Sansom Park MTB trail. It was very hot. I took my standard two bottles of water, but I ended up running out because the trail had been lengthened during the intervening two years since I rode it last, and it caught me unawares like. I thought I was going to pass out from the heat and the stupid burst climbs on the Lone Wolf section of singletrack. Anyway, I survived. B took me out to Railhead for some Texas BBQ. Dee-lish.

Thursday 6/13 – Said so long to B and drove to Dallas to meet Pete for lunch. We went to Pie Five near his work and had a quality pizza. I then went back to P&K’s place to hang out with K’s mom Linda and little baby Ellie. She is getting cuter all the time, but she did not know what to think of me. Maybe she was confused because I resemble and sound a little like Pete. I’m talking about Ellie, not Linda. Ate a pork roast dish that had been cooking all day in the crock pot. It was the first home cooked meal in days and it was fantastic. Later, we met Adam at Lakewood Landing where John Harrell also showed up.

Friday 6/14 – While P&K were at work, I went to Erwin Park in McKinney to ride the trail. It was the only MTB trail in the ‘plex that I had not yet ridden. It was way out in BFE, but what a sweet trail! East coast-style hardpack with a few roots and some easy climbs. It twisted around in the woods for a bit then broke out into open prairie, where the heat blasted me real good. I was bunny hopping roots and stuff at a pretty good clip when I came upon a somewhat gnarly root system at a slight left turn in the trail. I hopped it with ease, but was not prepared for the small trench running diagonally along the trail afterward. My front wheel landed awkwardly and over I went. Hard. I tumbled a few times and probably did three or four rolls before coming to a stop. I bashed up both legs and got some scrapes here and there, but my ribs took the brunt. I was in pain. I wanted to cry but there was nobody around to give me any sympathy. After lying there and wincing for a bit, I got up and mounted the bike, which thankfully was unhurt. What sucked was, I did not know this trail and I had lots of miles to go before getting to the car. I managed okay, but took it real easy. The fun part was when I encountered a series of whoop-de-doos, but I refused to walk them. Any exertion whatsoever and my ribs were aflame with hurt, both from breathing deeply and from standing and mashing. I made it back to the car sooner than expected, where I laboriously changed clothes and headed home to P&K’s. K went to a girls’ get-together that night while P, A and I ate black bean tostadas and listened to music. I feared I would not sleep well because of my bruised ribs, but I slept okay.

Saturday 6/15 – Ribs still hurt but I don’t think they are fractured. Went to Jason’s Deli for lunch with P, K and E then to Best Buy where P bought a new MacBook Air. Sweet. Hung out back at the house then went to the store to get food for a cookout. Adam brought Italian sausage from Jimmy’s and we pigged out. Spring and Laura Driscoll also came over. A, P and I watched a couple of Futurama episodes, then A had to go to work. P and I listened to music, trading songs and playing DJ until about 1:00 AM.

Sunday 6/16 – Slept kinda late. I got up and made french toast for the crew. It was a yum. P set up his new MacBook. I don’t remember what we did for lunch, but we ate supper at Teppo Sushi and it was aces.

Monday 6/17 – Said goodbye to my bro and Ellie then hit the road at 9:00. Drove almost to Knoxville, TN. Checked into a motel around 10:00, just in time for Cracker Barrel to close, so I got two bean burritos from Taco Hell. I had sworn that I’d never eat there again, but I was desperate. This town had no alternative; everything good was closed. By “good” I mean Shoney’s.

Tuesday 6/19 – Got home to Cary around 3:00 PM. 3,258 miles.

 

Saddle U-P-G-R-A-Y-E-D-D

My neighbor, who has some connections in the MTB industry, just ups and gives me this cool saddle the other day. It’s a San Marco Aspide Superlegerra, and as far as I can tell, it retails anywhere from $300 to $500 and weighs a paltry 100 grams. I have two rides on it so far, and I must say, I have no real complaints. The slipperiness was an issue on the first ride, but did not seem to be a factor when I did Rocky Road yesterday. Hmm…maybe because that trail demands a lot of standing and mashing as opposed to seated pedaling. Like Crabtree does. The firmness is noticeable of course, since it’s full carbon (even the rails), but it has some pliability to it and therefore soaks up some of the trail chatter better than I expected. The real test will be on a more relaxed ride where I’m seated most of the time. That won’t happen tomorrow at Beaver Dam, which means more standing on the pedals, especially on the South Loop. I think I will like the saddle, but the question is, does the benefit of its lightness outweigh (heh) the cost of its slight discomfort? Time will tell.

Here’s a shot of the saddle. Kinda purdy, huh?

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By the way, the two D’s in “upgrayedd” is for a “double dose of pimpin’.”

Duh.